sonic studies

Journal of Sonic Studies Issue 15 Online

The 15th issue of the Journal of Sonic Studies (http://sonicstudies.org) is online, which again is an issue consisting of papers by authors who responded to our last open call for papers. While no underlying or overarching theme was set for this issue, the papers we selected all seem to explicitly address the relation between sound and culture. More specifically, they discuss the ways in which sound is used and experienced in culture, both present and past.
Journal of Sonic Studies Issue 15 Online

Journal contents:

Editorial: Sound as/in/on Culture – Vincent Meelberg
JSS15 is the second issue consisting of papers by authors who responded to our last open call for papers. While no underlying or overarching theme was set for this issue, the papers we selected all seem to explicitly address the relation between sound and culture. More specifically, they discuss the ways in which sound is used and experienced in culture, both present and past.
Riitta Rainio, Kristiina Mannermaa and Juha Valkeapää, for instance, discuss prehistoric sounds and soundscapes. In their contribution, titled “Recapturing the sounds and sonic experiences of the hunter-gatherers at Ajvide, Gotland, Sweden (3200‒2300 cal BC),” they aim to evoke the sonic experiences of the people living in that era. The results of the osteological, organological, and soundscape analyses are presented in the form of a scholarly text, samples of studio and field recordings, and a soundtrack that fuses the results together into a nine-minute piece of sound art.[More]

Recapturing the sounds and sonic experiences of the hunter-gatherers at Ajvide, Gotland, Sweden (3200‒2300 cal BC) – Riitta Rainio, Kristiina Mannermaa and Juha Valkeapää
In the summer of 1986, the Archaeological Department of the University of Gotland, led by professor Inger Österholm, conducted an archaeological field school excavation at the Middle Neolithic site of Ajvide (3200‒2300 cal BC) (Wallin and Martinsson-Wallin 2015), situated on the island of Gotland in Sweden (Figure 1, AudioObject 1). Summer weather prevailed, and under the hot sun, the temperature in the pit, surrounded by open fields, rose to a relatively high level. When an exceptionally dark-colored, ‘fatty’ activity layer was laid bare and scraped, a pungent, rancid smell reminiscent of train oil[1] filled the air (Österholm 2002a: 174). Chemical analyses showed that large amounts of train oil had soaked and impregnated the soil approximately five thousand years ago, when people were skinning hunted seals and boiling their fat for eating, cooking, illuminating lamps or smearing boats and tent skins (Österholm 1997). The residues of the fatty acids continued to gasify in the heat of the modern sun. During the field schools in 1983‒1986 and 1992‒2009, other traces of past sensory experiences, particularly auditory experiences, were unearthed as well. Many of the graves found at the Ajvide contained large numbers of animal tooth pendants, which seemed to have been attached to people’s clothing (Burenhult 2002: 43‒46). As the bearers of these clothes moved about, the pendants would have rattled against one another (Rainio and Mannermaa 2014b). A number of worked bird bone tubes resembled a type of whistle or bird call instrument and could be played as such when set between the lips (Österholm 1998; 2008: 42‒43). Owing to the calcareous soil on Gotland, the bone material from Ajvide is extremely well-preserved and contains several tons of animal debris (Burenhult 1997b; 2002). These bones, mostly originating from different seals, fish, wild boar (Sus scrofa) and birds, give a lively picture of the species present in the environment. All of these finds were left behind by people, who were culturally part of the Scandinavian Pitted Ware tradition with a hunting-fishing-gathering economy (Lindqvist and Possnert 1997; Rowley-Conwy and Storå 1997).

The Cave and Church in Tomba Emmanuelle: Some Notes on the Ritual Use of Room Acoustics – Petter Snekkestad

This article explores the acoustics of the Emanuel Vigeland Mausoleum through an associative history of reverberation. In particular, the sensory combination of reverberation and the fresco Vita in the darkened mausoleum echoes that of sound experiences in painted prehistoric caves and medieval churches. I also touch upon the notion of demarcation as a third ritual effect in these spaces.Since its public opening in 1959, the mausoleum of noted artist Emanuel Vigeland (1875–1948) has attracted an increasing number of visitors. The interior of the dimly lit, rectangular and barrel-vaulted room is in its entirety covered by the fresco Vita, thematizing the miracle of human reproduction within a deeply Christian context (Jansen 1977). The monumental painting matured through different stages between 1927 to 1947, initiated only a year after the brick construction was erected in the residential area of Slemdal in Oslo. During that time, every window of the building was bricked shut in order to prevent natural light from entering into what would become the artist’s mausoleum. The ashes of Emanuel Vigeland are contained in a hollowed, egg-shaped beach stone that rests in a niche over a conspicuously small door. Upon leaving the mausoleum one is forced to bow down to its creator.
Managing the Sonic Environment: Ambient Noise, Creativity and the Regime of Ubiquitous Work – Artur Szarecki
With the advent of industrialization, the acoustic environment of modern societies became replete with a whole gamut of previously unheard sounds: the rumbling of factory machines, the roar of new mechanical means of transportation, the clamor of gramophones and radio, etc. The increasing awareness of the problem of public noise, which was generally perceived as more intrusive and troubling than ever, generated a number of corresponding practices related not only to the perception of sound, but also its distribution, measurement, and regulation (Thompson 2002; Bijsterveld 2008). Taken together, these transformations contributed to the development of sonic culture that was primarily characterized in terms of oversaturation.

Historically Informed Soundscape: Mediating Past and Present – D. Linda Pearse, Ann Waltner, and C. Nicholas Godsoe
The Relationality of the Adhaan: A Reading of the Islamic Call to Prayer Through Adriana Cavarero’s Philosophy of Vocal Expression – Lutfi Othman
The Secret Theatre Revisited: Eavesdropping on Locative Media Performances – Pieter Verstraete