An idea that is floating in the background of my current work is that soundscapes could be used to evoke places past and present. Not in an in-your-face, theatrical style as, say, in some multi-media exhibition space but rather as some form of surreptitious, background sounds that might lead your thoughts to flow in one direction more than another. This has lead to an interest in the idea of soundscapes from the past. This blogpost describes an album which attempts to explore this in a fascinating way by recreating both the objective soundscape and reflecting on the subjective responses of one particular group of people.

Using a very different format (radio documentary) the BBC programme ‘Noise: A Human History’ has similar intentions ( http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01rglcy ). I suspect that ‘A Great Silence’ is less didactic and more evocative.

SOUNDS LIKE NOISE

the great silenceI am happy to announce the release of The Great Silence. This 40 minute composition combines a range of nocturnal field recordings in order to imagine our way into the dark layers of Australia’s colonial past. The release can be purchased through 3Leaves.

A short sample from The Great Silence:
When Australia was colonised in 1788 its soundscape was so unfamiliar to the foreign British ear that it was deemed inferior and unworthy. This attitude reflected the alienation and displacement felt by the colonisers, many of whom were unwillingly transported here as convicts from the industrial townships of Great Britain. The refusal to acknowledge the legitimacy of the landscape and the indigenous peoples who lived within it was so strong that a term now exists to describe the phenomenon: The Great Australian Silence.

With the moon overhead fruit-bats compete with each other for food in a…

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About Bruce Davenport

Museum educator and researcher.
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