Music, songs, speeches, noises - in principle, any sound remembered or imagined, any sound captured or produced by sound technologies can become a popular sonic site of memory. In practice, however, only a few select sounds become true signature sonic events.
The immediate, visceral impact of sounds as sites of memory results from the special function of sonic information in our lives. Our sense of hearing develops ontogenetically before our other senses and is faster, more efficient, and more precise than our sense of sight. Therefore, hearing serves as our primary physiological warning system with corresponding emotional import. Nevertheless, research about the history of sound and more specifically about collective memory and sound has only just begun.
SoundTrak is part of the new aural turn in memory studies and advances the state of the art in three important respects by, for the first time, (1) systematically comparing European and Asian aural memory cultures; (2) focusing specifically on the memory challenges and accomplishments of relatively small states; and (3) tracking and comparing the transnational development of communist and capitalist aural memoryscapes.
For that purpose, SoundTrak explores soundscapes in the three Cold War battlegrounds of Taiwan, East Germany, and Denmark, comparable in size and strategic setting, through a topic fundamentally related to questions of national identity: the memory of WWII warfare, occupation, and liberation.
In terms of academic output SoundTrak will produce two PhD theses, one edited volume, and a number of peer reviewed articles and will also host three workshops with external guests to discuss results. The project uses three additional channels of research dissemination: podcasts, an online data-platform, and radio programs.
The project is one of transnational collaboration and brings together two junior Danish scholars with a junior Taiwanese, a senior German, and a senior German-American scholar working on the project:
The SoundTrak project is funded by The Velux Foundation.