Hayden Chisholm is a musician from New Zealand, who is traveling across Germany to see who is still performing the country’s folk music, which has all but disappeared due to its ties to the Nazis during World War II. The journey brings Hayden to a yodelling teacher in Allgäu, and “folkx” rock band in Bamberg, and others who are not afraid to alter Germany’s folk music to modern sounds.
Sound of Heimat is a documentary that comes across as a mix between a travelogue and a general history of folk music in Germany. The film begins by breaking the fourth wall, as the conductor of a choir addresses the audience and encourages them to sing along. This all lends towards the overall theme of Sound of Heimat, which is exploring why the folk music of Germany isn’t that widely sung anymore. Part of the reason for this is that the Nazi’s made great effort to sing folk songs during their rule, which resulted in the songs being equated with National Socialism. The musicians that Hayden Chisholm encounters in Sound of Heimat are trying to preserve Germany’s folk music by combining it with different genres, ranging from rock to hip hop.
Sound of Heimat isn’t a particularly deep documentary, as it simply consists of Hayden Chisholm travelling to different towns around Germany and interviewing different musicians about how they incorporate folk songs into their repertoire. In fact, it can be argued that Sound of Heimat is much more about the performances, which make up the bulk of the film’s running time. With Heimat being a German word that is often used to describe one’s homeland, it can be said that Sound of Heimat is ultimately a documentary about finding music that feels like home.