Crossing Borders: Musical Change & Exchange through Time

Publications of the ICTM Study Group on Music Archaeology, Vol. 2

The Sound Fabric: Towards the Sonification of Landscape Archaeology

Jon Hughes / Ben Elliott / Mark Edmonds

This paper, written at the outset of the SoundTracks project in late 2015, brings together several strands of thinking which relate to the use of sound in exploring landscape biographies. The project itself was concluded in 2017, with a series of site-specific sound installations at the Creswell Crags and the British Library.

This essay therefore represents a snapshot of the authors’ approaches to landscape and sound at the outset of SoundTracks – principals and ideas which were put into practice throughout the course of the project and realised in the final installation pieces. It sketches the role that sound has previously played within Landscape Archaeology, and develops a critical argument over the role that sound and soundscape composition could play in future discourse – a model of  working which we have come to call The Sound Fabric.

SoundTracks takes Creswell Crags as its primary focus, a limestone gorge in the English midlands, renowned for its rich inventory of Palaeolithic material and the earliest ‘cave art’ known in Britain. As our work at the Crags progressed, we found ourselves struggling with the precepts and vocabularies of earlier work on sound and landscape. Ultimately, we seek to outline a way in which an existing archaeological archive, and its components of materials, text and knowledge, can be used to both inspire and inform the creation and understanding of sound within the context of a very particular place.

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