Workshop Art & Acoustics: multiple perspectives Universitat de Barcelona, 14 September 2016

artacoustics_flyer_vfinalThe archaeologist Margarita Díaz-Andreu (UB) organized a fascinating workshop which took place on the morning of 14 September based around various facets of the study of acoustical archaeology. This mixed the scholarly and technical with artistic expression, from prehistoric rock art to the creations of John Redhead who describes himself as an ‘artist using sound’ inspired by rock art and its physical, sounding space. The research undertaken by Margarida Díaz-Andreu and Tommaso Mattioli is coming up with some intriguing results, which are confirmed by current research in Finland (outlined at the workshop by Riitta Rainio and Kai Lassfolk): it seems that the caves where rock art has been found have special acoustical properties which can be measured and evaluated using the technology outlined by Tommaso Mattioli and Kai Lassfolk in their papers on acoustic measurements and recording techniques in the Western Mediterranean and Finland respectively. Carlos García Benito presented an introduction to the database of archaeo-organological evidence found in Iberian sites, and Raquel Jiménez Pasalodos spoke of the archaeoacoustic fieldwork and phenomenologically-based approach being developed by a project based at the University of Valladolid.

In her contribution on music and sound practices, Margarita Díaz-Andreu outlined methodological approaches to explore the socio-cultural implications of these results, taking the triangular relationship between rock art, sound and community as a starting-point. The sites chosen for rock art would appear to have been selected for their special acoustics, giving the site outward signification for the particular society or social grouping, while inward meaning, at least at a surface level, remains to be studied through what can be gleaned about religious and ritual practice, even if we are unable to reconstruct the deeper significance for those communities.

While there are clear differences of data and approach between archaeo-acoustic studies and urban musicology focusing on cities in the early modern period, the parallels in terms of research and aims were striking, and the technology developed could well prove adaptable to the acoustemological elements inherent in sound studies. [Tess Knighton]

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