Classification of Sound, Sound Tools and Soundscapes

A.-K. Salmi, T. Äikäs and J. Ikäheimo (eds.) Sounds Like Theory. Monographs of the Archaeological Society of Finland 2: 73–84 (2014)

How did prehistoric people relate to sound? What significance did various kinds of sound have for them? Classification represents a fundamental approach to these questions. The concepts and classifications we use are indicative of our thinking as modern humans. We often classify sound either as intentional or non-intentional, and either as music or non-music. Moreover, as researchers we relate sound to diverse categories such as religion, ritual, hunting, communication, and others. Sounds and sound tools of the past, and the soundscapes they were part of, might be approached from different angles. Music is a problematic concept with an ethnocentric bias. Intentional sound is a better name. A tripartite classification of intentional sound is suggested, distinguishing between sounds made for functional reasons, for ritual reasons, and, finally, for pleasure and pure expression.

Published in printed journal and online (oa).