Archiving the Soundscape

Wellcome Collection, London.

For further information, please contact Rachel Willie.

A copy of the programme can be downloaded here.

Read the workshop report.

#EMSoundsWellcome as told on Twitter



Researchers of historical sounds are beholden to the materials in which their remnants are preserved; these sources include print, manuscript, and works of art. In this workshop, we will address what we can learn from text, notation, and art about how sound was received. We will ask what issues arise from the archives when we consider non-aural media and the relationship between space, sound and identity. The workshop considers how portraiture and paintings visualise sound and why. We will discuss why scholars tend to consider words, perhaps especially ballads, as a textual form, even when they are intended to be spoken and sung aloud. Through exploring materials from the Wellcome Collection's archive, and from a selection of papers that address broader concerns about archives, sound and hearing, we will discuss what the printing of words and music and the painting of sonic interactions implies about the potentiality of sound and how we engage with transitory sounds that have already been heard.


Thursday 19th September 2019


13.00-13.30: Arrival and Welcome

13.30-14.30: Exploring the Collections 1

Richard David Williams (SOAS), "Listening to Hindi manuscripts"

14.30-15.00: Coffee

15.00-16.30: Panel 1 – Archives of Sound and Hearing

Richard Wistreich (RCM), Chair

Louise Marshall (Wellcome/UAL), "Reverb: how contemporary sonic theory can resonate the past"

Jennifer Richards (Newcastle), "Animating texts and a Wellcome Collection case study"

Thomas Schmidt (Huddersfield), "Beyond notation: early modern music manuscripts as repositories of sound

17.00: Drinks Reception

(18.00-19.00 hotel check-in for those who need to)

19.00: Dinner at The Parcel Yard

Friday 20th September 2019


9.15: Arrive

9.30–11.00: Panel 2 – The Traces of Sound

Alex Fisher (UBC), Chair

Catriona Cooper (York), "Modelling the ephemeral: the case of the nineteenth-century House of Commons"

Katherine Butler-Schofield (KCL), "Chasing Eurydice: music and its material traces in Mughal India"

Simon Smith (Birmingham/Shakespeare Institute), “Song in the archive: the case of playhouse music”

11.00-11.30: Coffee

11.30–13.00: Exploring the Collections 2

Roundtable discussion with materials from the Wellcome's archive, led by Julia Nurse, Angela McShane and William Schupbach

13:00: Finish


Image: detail from An essay towards a real character...J. Wilkins, 1668. Credit: Wellcome Collection. Creative Commons License


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