Deadly Notes: Atlantic Soundscapes and the Writing of the Middle Passage

The ships traveling the pathways of the Middle Passage—and beyond—were anything but silent spaces. “A Kind of Chorus” [S]ince speech was forbidden, slaves camouflaged the word under the provocative intensity of the scream. No one could translate the meaning of what seemed to be nothing but a shout. It was taken to be nothing but[…]

Supernatural Sound: Science and Shamanism in the Arctic

The Arctic became a place beyond empirical grasp: the real/fantasy land of orality about which those living within the textual horizon of rational empiricism dreamed with fear and longing. Toolemak’s Voice Scanning the horizon off the coast of Greenland in 1822, William Scoresby witnessed the impossible: floating in the sky was an upside down ship.[…]

Hearing, Sensing, Feeling Sound: On Music and Physiology in Victorian England, 1857-1894

Acoustical science fundamentally transformed the ways that Victorians conceptualized the relations between aesthetics and the body. This article focuses on new developments in the burgeoning field of acoustical science that emerged in the mid-to-late-nineteenth century. During this time, sound science began to flourish in England, particularly through lectures by Hermann von Helmholtz and John Tyndall[…]

Metsys’s Musician: A Newly Recognized Early Work and Its Implications

This new attribution creates a benchmark for the late-medieval artist’s oeuvre, against which other works can now be compared.    By Rafael Barrientos Martinez and Dr. Larry Silver Martinez: PhD Student in Art History, University of California, Los Angeles Silver: Farquhar Professor of Art History, University of Pennsylvania The major late fifteenth-century portrait of Jacob Obrecht, from[…]

Tuned to the Senses: An Archaeoacoustic Perspective on Ancient Chavín

The ancient pilgrimage center at Chavín provides the multifaceted material evidence needed for an archaeoacoustic case study. By Dr. Miriam KolarLead InvestigatorChavín de Huántar Archaeological Acoustics ProjectStanford University Sound and Archaeology Buttressed into the Peruvian Andes, the ancient mortared-stone complex at Chavín de Huántar resonates with sound and story. Visitors to this 3,000-year-old ceremonial center[…]

Acoustics of Ancient Greek Theaters

The sound quality in ancient times was likely much better than it is today. By Brigit Katz It is often said that the acoustics of ancient Greek theaters were so sophisticated that spectators in the back row could hear the actors with perfect clarity, long before microphones came into the picture. In modern times, tour guides will[…]