Sound Artifacts: The Materiality of Musical Cultures
- Lauren Flood
- College of Arts & Sciences
- Freshman Seminar Grant
What is the “stuff” of music and sound? In this class, we dig past sound’s ephemeral and ineffable qualities, connecting these to the material culture behind what we hear. Topics will span recording equipment, live performance gear, ancient and modern musical instruments, archaeological artifacts, labor and work songs, artisanship and entrepreneurship, the Maker Movement and DIY cultures, electronic waste and recycled materials, architectural acoustics, ecology and sounds of nature, and “container” technologies like mp3s and rare archival record collections. Looking globally, we will ask: How do non-Western cultures source materials for instruments and conceive of the materiality of music-making? What are the roles of musical materials in times and places characterized by excess or scarcity? How do such materials circulate, and what happens when they can’t (for instance, due to international treaties, war, or power outages)? Occasionally, we will delve deeper into the science and technology that contributes to sound production. Through local field trips, we will also learn how the makers of musical materials work and how they use acoustic cues in their craft.