New article: Prehistoric sound, modern classification

What significance did various kinds of sound have for people in the distant past? How can we approach this question today? My article “Classification of Sound, Sound Tools, and Soundscapes” discusses some issues of sound, meaning and classification. It is based on a paper given at XII Nordic Theoretical Archaeology Group meeting in Oulu, Finland, and is now published in Monographs of the Archaeological Society of Finland 2. The article discusses many ways of approaching and classifying sounds, sound tools and soundscapes of the past. For instance, sounds might be regarded as either man-made or non-man-made, and either intentional or non-intentional. “Music” is a problematic concept with an ethnocentric bias, while “intentional sound” is a better concept. The article suggests a tripartite classification of intentional sound, distinguishing between sounds made for functional reasons, for ritual reasons, and, finally, for pleasure and pure expression.

Gjermund Kolltveit

Music archaeologist, ethnomusicologist, musician – Nesodden, Norway. Main research interests: sound and sound tools (e.g. jew’s harps, lyres, ringing stones, bells) in human culture and soundscapes.

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