Monthly Archives: May 2015

Archival Interventions – Holly Ingleton

Holly is a scholar interested in Cultural Theory and how sound can be used, and how cultural ideas are manifested in the use of sound, along with other concerns such as Feminism, Queer Theory, Antiracist, Critical Race Theory, Black Feminism, and Post-colonial Theory. She contributed to the cataloguing of ‘Her Noise Archive’ (a resource of collected materials investigating music and sound histories in relation to gender), and also researched The Devotional Collection (a collective memorialisation of black British women in the music industry), by Sonia Boyce; in a project on the ‘Women’s Art Register’ which she is currently working on, she is interested in the migratory patterns of the objects of the collection:

Regarding collection of data, she struggles with the generalised surveillance culture, and the degree of cultural and technological mediations that a material can have. Following this, she has an anti-canonical perspective on archives and as a response she questions what is missing from them:

She reflects on the Internet as an archive, whose interfaces for sound need to be re-thought, to work for us from a critical perspective:

Within the Sound Matters Framework, she thinks relational playback is the most fundamental process and she is interested in ‘jamming’ the reality of archives focusing on the relationships between people and archival artifacts, possibly through mediated interfaces such as telematic technologies:

These could bridge divides, for making connections, and for ‘undoing’ traditional processes of interrogation of data.

Do you identify with Holly’s thoughts? What are your own experiences, issues and needs when working with archives and the use of sound?

Use the ‘reply’ button on the top to leave a comment. Many thanks!


Framework in development!


Sound Matters Framework in Click on the image to view the framework.

The Sound Matters Framework is in development!

The framework illustrates a process, which involves methods, audiences, artworks and technologies already drawn from a number of sources. Sound Matters’ main objective is to create interfaces and software tools that facilitate and stimulate creative research processes for using field recordings and speech. These tools and interfaces are part of a whole system, the framework; this also includes sound files wherever they are housed (hard drive, Internet, sound archives, live streaming via the Internet or radio), and also non-sonic databases.

Our aim is that these shared interfaces and software tools will eventually facilitate and stimulate creative experiences for many disciplines (eg. history, sound art, geography, anthropology, archive studies, curation, creative computing, memory studies, visual arts), through a shared listening-led framework, specifically for new approaches to making, and re-making of cultural memory through sound and technology. This will open up field recording and speech sounds to new and, as yet, unimagined uses!

If you would like to contribute contact us on X.Alarcon[at] to receive instructions.


The Archival Threshold – Andrea Zarza

Andrea Zarza is an independent researcher and Curator of World and Traditional Music at the British Library. She is interested in how history is written and the role sound can have in this. In 2012 she wrote an instruction manual called ‘Sonic Time Capsule’, which is a conceptual framework for a hypothetical workshop in which a sonic time capsule is created although its contents are performed rather than buried. The idea with the manual was to stimulate thinking about how sound preservation might take place within a present time:

She also created a sound piece commissioned by the Reina Sofía Museum where she explored the narrative role indexical traces of sound can play. Listen to the piece via this link.

She participated in David Toop’s Archive Breathing series at Central Saint Martins with a performance where people made a paper record of the event and donated it to an ‘archive’ by crossing a line on the floor which represented ´the archival threshold´. This was a whimsical way of making explicit the moment in which a document becomes historical:

For her, working with sound is mainly about listening and she mentions “Sonic Meditations” by Pauline Oliveros (1977) and “A Sound Education: 100 Exercises in Listening and Soundmaking” by R Murray Schafer (1992) as two key references.

She is currently writing her Masters thesis at University College London on copyright for sound recordings with a focus on the 2014 exceptions on the Copyright Act for libraries, archives and museums.

Within the Sound Matters framework, she believes that all the outlined elements are connected and necessary to promote a culture of listening. She imagines the creation of a technical tool that will help her find the sounds she wants to find more easily, using very personal and subjective, nonverbal descriptions.

Do you identify with Andrea’s practices and issues? What are your own experiences, issues and needs when working with sound in this framework?

Use the ‘reply’ button on the top to leave a comment. Many thanks!

Sound Methods to explore spaces – Michael Gallagher

Michael Gallagher is a musician and Human Geographer. He has been interested in the use of Sound methods as a way of exploring spaces. He thinks that while Social Scientists often use sound recordings for interviews, much more awareness is needed to appreciate how sound can offer rich perceptions of place:

Recently he has been exploring a modernist ruin in Scotland, and was interested in the haunting qualities of the sonic experience in that site. He created an audio drift blending sounds recorded in and around the ruin with interviews about the site. The work was designed to be listened to on portable MP3 players whilst walking around the site. In situ, the drift amplifies the uncanny, ghostly feel of the place. He has written about this project here.

Michael has also been developing methods to analyse field recordings, inspired by the sound transcripts of Australian geographer Michelle Duffy. His approach, developed with fellow geographers Anja Kanngieser and Jonathan Prior, involves using different kinds of listening to explore the full sonic experience: for example, listening for the causes of sounds, their timbral qualities, the associations they invoke, the feelings they evoke, their spatialities and so on, moving between these different listening modes rather than trying to separate them:

Michael has a blog where he documents some of his research with sound and on other themes:

Do you identify with Michael’s practices and issues? What are your own experiences, issues and needs when working with sound methods?

Use the ‘reply’ button on the top to leave a comment. Many thanks!

Answering Machines – Clay Gold


Clay Gold​ is an artist who has many field recordings from around the world, which he has kept for years in his personal collection. His recent project, for which he is creating a multichannel soundscape with old speakers, amplifiers and telephones, involves speech from a micro-cassette found in a loft with answering machine recordings left by the same person, as if it was an audio diary.  The person who recorded these tapes 20 years ago did it from many locations, and he finds interesting how the acoustic environment is informing her voice and mood. He reflects on telecommunications as instruments and how the field recordist, in this case, is at a distance.

He thinks that sharing these recordings for other works would be difficult, because of the ethics of managing the found material. This leads him to think of the digital world, our current mobile phone messages, and the companies that manage these, and the right to own our own messages. How companies use these messages, e.g. if they are looking for key words for marketing purposes.

When he finishes his current project he would probably make another installation following the idea of answering machine messages.

Within the Sound Matters framework sonic inputs are the most important part in his creative process. When he is making a recording, the making is already a memory of it. For relational playback his collection of field recordings are triggers of that memory, and that helps him to connect recordings to arrive to the composed outputs which are key in his work. In the case of the found micro-cassette he is interested in learning machine led software listening to know where these recordings took place.

He feels that the process of meta-data involves extensive work, and it is not his main interest. He has developed a personal system for organising field recordings by type: atmospheres, habitats, species; description, and location, which are reflected on the name of the file.

Clay has a website where you can find more about his projects:

Do you identify with Clay’s practices and issues? What are your own experiences, issues and needs when working with sound in this framework?

Use the ‘reply’ button on the top to leave a comment. Many thanks!

Stage One – Interviews

interviewsIn April and May, Ximena Alarcon has been conducting interviews with interdisciplinary academics and practitioners who use field recording and speech in their creative and research work. The interviews aim to understand the creative and technical processes and tools that they use in relation to the proposed framework, their challenges, ideas and priorities. Also, she has been gathering information about the latest technologies that have been developed to support the processes of interrogation and relational playback of non-musical sound, specifically field recordings and speech. For this, Sound Matters has received the collaboration from Frederic Font, from the Music Technology Group at the University Pompeu Fabra, and David Moffat, from the Centre for Digital Music (C4DM) Research Group at Queen Mary University of London. Regarding re-use of sound and to understand the current national and local context of sound archives, she has received collaboration from James Knight, archivist working in the ‘Save or Sounds’ campaign which is creating the UK sound directory, and from Siân Mogridge, archivist from Hackney Archives.

Isobel Anderson, Sound Artist and PhD student, Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast
Dr Rupert Cox, Senior Lecturer Social Anthropology, University of Manchester
Peter Cusack, Artist and musician, researcher from CRiSAP, London College of Communication, University of the Arts London. Favourite Sounds
Prof. John Drever, Acoustic Ecology and Sound Art, Goldsmiths, University of London
Dr Michael Gallagher, Musician, Lecturer and Researcher in Human Geography, Manchester Metropolitan University
Clay Gold, Sound Recording Artist
Holly Ingleton, Cultural Worker and Feminist Sound Studies Scholar
Prof. Cathy Lane, Composer, Sound Artist and Researcher, CRiSAP, LCC University of the Arts London.
Tullis Rennie, PhD Research Student, Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast
Dr Tom Rice, Lecturer in Anthropology, at University of Exeter
Dr. Adam Parkinson, Researcher at Embodied Audiovisual Interaction Group, Goldsmiths, University of London
Mark Peter Wright, Artist-Researcher, CRiSAP, LCC University of the Arts London.
Andrea Zarza, Independent Researcher, Curator of World and Traditional Music, British Library

The results of these interviews will be consolidated into ‘stories’ and added to this blog from the 20th of May to the 17th of June, for the communities linked to the participants and the general public to comment and create discussions around these. Tune in!