Torsten Nilsson

Sound of work. Soundscapes from Industrial Revolution to Digital Revolution

How did things sound in the past? We can only make educated guesses. But with the help of the database that was built up in our previous project Work with Sounds (WWS) we know much more about contemporary sound of those times. To collect sound is strongly associated with the possibilities of preserving sound. In the early 1900s, film began to create moving images that showed what society looked like. When film with sound arrived, there were recordings that could describe the sounds of society. Movie sound, however, is no reliable historical source, as movie soundtracks are used primarily to enhance the images displayed.

During 2013–2015 six museums cooperated in the project WWS recording 730 sounds in their original settings. WWS was recording the endangered or disappearing sounds of industrial society – including sounds people try/tried to protect themselves from. Every sound was documented and uploaded in a database and also to Europeana and Wiki Commons.

All recorded material and pictures are free to use under CC-by. All sounds on www.workwithsounds.eu are downloadable and free to use. With the use of GPS positions, WWS created the beginning of a soundscape of industrial Europe.

New project
In a new project we want to focus on the rapid change of the sound environment in today’s society by recording both specific sounds and soundscapes. We also want to further develop cooperation with non-profit groups and organizations in Europe. Therefore, we plan to collaborate with Wikipedia when it comes to the use of sounds and work with volunteers when it comes to the collection of sounds.