Sound Historian
7 October 2017

Sound Historian: The Reconstruction of the Past through Sound

Research Synopsis
Back to the Future. An investigation into the manner in which ‘history’ can claim to deliver realistic sonic representations of times gone by. How can we be sure when we etch out, for example, those Victorian times, in our representational dramas, films and documentaries, that we are authentically recreating the sonic world of the actual time?
Prior to the end of the 19th Century, when Edison produced his first recording machines, which could realistically capture recordings of sound, we are left to rely within the world of music, on musical notation, music boxes, piano rolls…. but what of the actual ubiquitous sounds of a particular era themselves? What did the wind sound like in Sussex during the agricultural revolution? The rain as it poured down on the audience in the Globe in Elizabethan England? The smelting of iron at the outset of the Industrial revolution in Glasgow?
Through research, the team of SERG artists will attempt to reconstruct sound imagery from the past with the data available to us via historians, historical documents, oral tradition and heresay. Were the sounds so different in days gone by and can we actually recapture what is seemingly lost in the sands of time? Can we bring those bygone sounds of the past back to the present and ‘bottle’ them in a time capsule for the future? Will such audial approaches of the past be able to open to us a new pathway toward our knowing, not only of the there and then, but of the here and now?

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