Progression of Soundscapes Through Time

The theme of soundscapes is a very broad reaching topic that could really include anything in our sonic world. Despite this, the topics of my group actually fit quite well in relation to each other and collectively represent the evolution or change of soundscapes. My topic fits into this by examining a snippet of history where the soundscape would have changed dramatically in a relatively short amount of time, making it a sonically interesting time to study and ties in well through my group’s topic of changing and evolving soundscapes. Specifically, I plan to look at the change of the natural or “ecological soundscape” of the New England region in pre-Colonial times versus when European settlers came to the area. Under this topic, I have three main subtopics, which look at how land treatment practices, hunting techniques, and language changed the soundscape.

Exemplifying sounds that would occur in the soundscape I’m studying is difficult since there were no recording devices in the time period I’m examining, but I have two contrasting sound clips that offer contrasting snippets of sound the Native Americans versus the settlers would hear. The first is birdcalls: although the European settlers undoubtedly heard them too, many songbird species and specifically the passage pigeon were hunted close to extinction.

The second clip is the sound of chopping wood; a sound well known to the settlers as they clear cut much of the forested areas in the north east.


My animated picture:

4 thoughts on “Progression of Soundscapes Through Time

  1. The ecological soundscape changed because the same sounds the two groups were hearing were perceived differently. In addition to that, the settlers made new sounds that had never been heard before in the New World. I plan to examine both facets of the changing soundscape: the change of perception and the actual changing sounds.

  2. Native Americans were in touch with a vast array of noises that the wilderness they occupied reverberated with. When Europeans came into this soundscape, they brought new technologies, which would create new sounds. Also they created more established settlements and practices that would have drowned out the surrounding sounds Native Americans would have paid attention too. This evolution of the soundscape would create new noises by deffinition, as evolution is basically a change over time and the only way to change a soundscape is to introduce or delete sound. So yeah maybe there was some overlap but they were hearing different sounds….

  3. As Katie said, wouldn’t both groups be hearing similar sounds? Would it be that different sounds would become the focus of the soundscape?

  4. Do you think that the ecological soundscape changed because people (settlers/native americans) were hearing different sounds? Or because they were hearing the same sounds in different ways?

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