Space and Sound

DSC_0185I finished a first draft of my chapter on internal acoustics (see my previous posts herehere here) and I have started to redraft and clean up the chapter. I struggled during the writing process to come up with a way to layout the various approaches and analyses that I used in the chapter. The challenge has been (and likely will continue to be) bringing together spatial theory and sound studies. The two terms, space and sound, are not easily defined and stand at the centre of my project. At the suggestion of my supervisor, I turned to a couple of chapters/articles discussing the ‘spatial turn’ to see if they could provide a way to mentally map sounds and sound studies. After some failed attempts, and a number of box switching, I started to see the possibility in mapping sounds onto understandings of space. David Harvey, in Space as a Keyword, offers a 3-by-3 matrix of spatial modalities (drawing on Lefebvre’s tripartite understanding of space and adding his own categories of absolute, relative and relational space). The various sound and acoustic analyses fit nicely with the spatial modalities.

From David Harvey (2006) Space as a Keyword
From David Harvey (2006) Space as a Keyword

In one corner, the absolute space – material space reflects the acoustic measures of physical remains (Absorption Coefficients, RT60 etc.). While in the opposite corner, relational space – spaces of representation corresponds with fantastical and supernatural sounds, mostly coming from literary evidence. The result is rough mental map of the potential relations between spatial theory and sound studies. I am sure in a couple of weeks I will have rearranged the boxes two or three times but, for the time being it works. The chart also offers a glimpse at the various types of evidence that can be used to describe the auditory culture of the ancient world. There is a conference coming up next April addressing this topic and I will be submitting an abstract this week. My project focuses primarily on the material space column, although its helpful to think about some of the other projects I have heard about in relation to there placement on the chart. So some of the literary sound projects will deal more with the representations of space columns or aspects of relative or relational space. I think I will come back to this chart throughout my project to help me think through the various arguments, theories and forms of evidence that help me understand the production of space and sounds.

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