Trying to Listen to Medieval Architecture: Between Audiences and Settings
In the humanities – and especially the so-called digital humanities – the study of sound and music in original settings has become an academic field in its own right under the umbrella of ‘soundscape’ studies. But though we may be capable of recreating sounds and settings in our own heads, it is much harder to translate these into virtual reality projects that seek both visual and sonic ‘authenticity’. Indeed, for the Middle Ages it has been argued that we should think instead about more complex ‘sonic systems’ (or ‘sound systems’), that enrich study of historical acoustics with considerations of structures, hierarchies and boundaries. The sonic image of a medieval building cannot be understood simply by projecting the desired sound from a computer onto a virtual sound model of the building, and any analysis must be clear about the differences between buildings in their modern and historical states. This talk reflects on the need to consider what role historical knowledge of architecture should play in the study of architectural soundscapes.
Eduardo Carrero Santamaria is titular professor in the Departament d’Art i Musicologia at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona (UAB) and visiting professor at the University of Bristol. His many publications have addressed the history (and historiography) of art and architecture of medieval Iberia and beyond, with a particular focus on function and liturgy. Recent books include La catedral habitada. Historia viva de un espacio arquitectónico (2019) and two co-edited books, Aragonia Cisterciensis. Espacio, arquitectura, música y función en los monasterios de Císter en la Corona de Aragón (2020) and Respondámosle a concierto: estudios en homenaje a Maricarmen Gómez Muntané (2020).
This talk will be followed by a drinks reception and the launch of the recent Courtauld Books Online publication Towards An Art History Of The Parish Church, 1200–1399, edited by Meg Bernstein.
Estimated at numbering between eight and nine thousand, parish churches containing at least some medieval building fabric are ubiquitous in the English landscape. Yet, despite their quotidian familiarity, parish churches have not, by and large, been treated consistently or systematically as deserving of the attention of art historical study. The ten diverse essays contained within this open-access volume explore the art and architecture of parish churches through a variety of lenses, methodologies, and perspectives, ranging from (re)considerations of the very definition of the parish church to phenomenological explorations of their component parts, as well as case studies of their decorative schemes. An Afterword by Paul Binski reflects upon his 1999 essay, ‘The English Parish Church and its Art in the Later Middle Ages: A Review of the Problem’ and considers the place of anthropology in our developed study of the parish church.
Organised by Dr Tom Nickson (The Courtauld)