Soundscapes and ethnographies of silence: An introduction

Franco Lai


In this article I propose a reading of soundscape studies along three dimensions: the relevance of the soundscape in the historical context, the transformations of soundscapes in the twentieth century, the soundscape of sub-professional musical cultures. Beginning from R.M. Schafer’s (1977) and S. Feld’s (2009) researches, I show that studies concerning soundscapes have revealed institutional and political relevance of sound. In addition, I show how soundscape has changed in relation to broader social, economic and technological developments during the twentieth century. At last, I show how the city represents a favourable environment for production and circulation of new cultural forms, that become emblematic of cities sound.

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