Recent theorizations of archival silence signal a heightened and expanding concern with information that is lost, concealed, destroyed or simply not available for scholarly use. As our access to the archive becomes more dependent upon technologies of the interface, scholars exhibit increasing concern about the impact of digital affordances and constraints on record-keeping, research and artistic production. As digital archives are technocultural artifacts, developments in the field of science studies can provide insight into the interdependence and coevolution of the social, cultural and material factors shaping archival silence. Donna Haraway, Karen Barad, Bruno Latour and others have shown how machine and human agents form tightly linked networks that must be understood as dynamically integrated wholes. Digital archives lend themselves to this kind of exploration of the entanglement of matter and meaning; content and device, human and machine elements. We can thus understand digital archives not as singular physical entities, but as a set of possibilities shaped by the convergence of social and material factors.
This report summarizes the results of ethnographic research that I carried out in 2011-12 on the music recording industry in Nairobi, Kenya, under the auspices of the European Research Council-funded Music Digitisation Mediation (MusDig) project. For more on MusDig, visit http://musdig.music.ox.ac.uk.
I teach modernism, sound studies, and film & media at the New School. I am a postdoctoral fellow in the Price Lab for Digital Humanities at the University of Pennsylvania, working on a project titled, “The Sound of Yoknapatawpha: An Acoustic Ecology.” I am particularly interested in the history of sound technology, its entanglements with race, and what these can tell us about the novel as form.
For those interested in tracing of an individual’s ancestral history using both traditional genealogical methods (e.g., researching historical records, such as census records, birth certificates, adoption records, death certificates, marriage and divorce records), and current genetic genealogical methods and technology (e.g., autosomal DNA, mitochondrial DNA, and Y-DNA testing and analysis).
Gabrielle Cornish is a PhD candidate in Musicology at the Eastman School of Music. Her research broadly considers music and everyday life in the Soviet Union. In particular, her dissertation traces the intersections between music, technology, and the politics of “socialist modernity” after Stalinism. Her research in Russia has been supported by the Fulbright Program, the Glenn Watkins Traveling Fellowship, and the Cohen-Tucker Dissertation Research Fellowship from the Association for Slavic, East European, and Eurasian Studies. For the 2019-2020 academic year, Gabrielle will be supported by a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in the Journal of Musicology, Sounding Out!, and Slate. She has appeared as a guest to discuss Russian history, culture, and politics on NBC Nightly News, BBC World Service Television, and BBC Radio Newsday. In her free time, she performs Russian-to-English translation, does freelance graphic design, and makes loud (and soft) noises on drums.
The chapter explores the human desire to experience the past (in the most radical sense of temporal distance, the birth of our universe) through sound. More specifically, it discusses the case of the so called “singing comet”, a comet with the name 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko (named after its two Soviet astronomers and discoverers). It was monitored by the space shuttle Rosetta and its lander Philae operated by the European Space Agency (ESA) until December 2015 when the mission was completed. Through a comparison between a “recording” made of the comet’s sound and 19th century audio ethnography, the role of recorded sound as material in the production of historical imagination is analysed.
Pop Up Archive is a set of web-based tools that make audio searchable and reusable for scholars, journalists, and the public through speech-to-text and keyword extraction software. Pop Up Archive unites audio recordings and voices from disparate places and eras, diving deep into our nation’s rich oral history. We seek to scale Pop Up Archive across U.S. recorded sound collections by implementing a transcription toolkit developed by the British Broadcasting Corporation, processing over 30,000 hours of digital sound from public media and oral history archives, and educating these communities on best practices for preserving and creating access to digital sound. Pop Up Archive is open source, conforms to archival standards, and requires no technical expertise of participating organizations. For the first time, digital sounds can be automatically searched to the timestamp, contextualized with topic headings, and indexed for safe and permanent backup preservation at the Internet Archive.
Musicologist, Archivist, Librarian Editorial Associate for the Journal of the Society for American Music
I am a musicologist and historical keyboardist specializing in the history, performance practices, and cultural contexts of music in 17th- and 18th-century Europe. My recent work includes Curious and Modern Inventions: Instrumental Music as Discovery in Galileo’s Italy (University of Chicago Press, 2016) and Sara Levy’s World: Gender, Judaism, and the Bach Tradition in Enlightenment Berlin (University of Rochester Press, 2018), co-edited with Nancy Sinkoff. My current book project, “Women and Musical Salons of the Late Eighteenth Century,” explores musical salons in Europe and America, between 1760 and 1800, with special focus on the women who hosted such salons and thereby shaped their musical worlds in ways little understood today. My work on salons is informed by my experience as a performer; in my two recordings with the Raritan Players, the ensemble that I direct, the acts of performance and research are mutually elaborative. The first of these recordings, In Sara Levy’s Salon (Acis Productions, 2017), has been called “simply mesmerizing” (Early Music America) and “a fascinating concept, brilliantly realised” (Classical Music). A sequel to this recording, Sisters, Face to Face: The Bach Legacy in Women’s Hands (Acis Productions, 2019), received the American Musicological Society’s Noah Greenberg Award for contributions to historical performance.