This group of digital projects use sound as an experiential way of conceptually thinking through archives that document lived experiences of literature and music in nineteenth-century Britain.
- Sounding Tennyson (PI, Phyllis Weliver; Co-I, Ewan Jones)
- Sounding Childhood (PI, Alisa Clapp-Itnyre)
- Sounding Swinburne (PIs Michael Craske with Catherine Maxwell)
- Sounding the Salon (Co-PIs, Phyllis Weliver and Sophie Fuller; Co-I, Christina Bashford).
This consortium of scholar-led projects is bigger than a single grant and comprises individual projects that share iterative tools for the purpose of investigating aesthetic sound in Victorian Britain. It begins with proof of concept sites that are being further developed. Already, one member project uses the industry standard for machine-readable music (Music Encoding Initiative) and is the first project worldwide to add sound to an International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF). With time, the member projects will all be brought into alignment. Bringing the constitutive projects of Sounding Victorian together allows for concordance searching, while each discrete collection also retains an individual focus. Our common goal is to make more accessible this sonorous material by bringing together items found in scattered archives and/or experienced in historic locations; by providing short, scholarly essays to situate the material; and by building digital tools that help students, scholars and the public to engage in the material, whether or not they read music. Project Directors Phyllis Weliver (Saint Louis University) and Sophie Fuller (Trinity Laban Conservatoire).
Music in nineteenth-century Britain played a vital role in Victorian life—from courtship rituals to vibrant concert seasons and factory bands—but there is still a common misperception of Britain as unmusical. Music’s frequent exclusion from intellectual histories and cultural studies has had profound consequences for our understanding of Victorian life and aesthetics. The omission among non-musicologists seems to spring from today’s comparative music illiteracy, which can make music seem like an exclusionary zone (with its own language). The Sounding Victorian consortium finds in digital resources the means to present musical material and arguments to a range of users, from those who are not musically fluent (we provide a box that moves in time to the music) to the professional academic looking for archival material and scholarly discourse.
Sounding Victorian, a group of freely-available digital projects, uses sound as an experiential way of conceptually thinking through archives that document aesthetic sound (music and literature) in nineteenth-century Britain. To us, music and literature are “works” (the poem on the page, a musical composition) and an “event” (poetic recitation, music as performance). We include traditional archival items – manuscripts (musical, literary, life-writing), annotations, and rare published material – as well as performing a type of research through the recreation of historic processes (e.g., recording musical repertoire in original performance spaces on historic instrument played with historic techniques). The title, “Sounding,” thus comprises elements of verbal and non-verbal articulation, musicality, and soundscape. This richly sonorous material with its contextualizing scholarship separates our group from indexing projects such as Charles
McGuire’s splendid Musical Festivals Database. Sounding Victorian and Johanna Swafford’s excellent Songs of the Victorians are also complementary but differentiated sites, the latter being a digital repository and analysis of published song-settings of Victorian poems. These parlor and art-song settings were among the most famous of the period. Our approach begins with and mostly focuses on the rare and the archival, and where relevant carries through to published music.
· DennisDenisoff, McFarlin Professor of English, University of Tulsa
· KatharineEllis, Stanley Hugh Badock Chair in Music, University of Bristol (as of 2017/18, she becomes 1684 Professor of Music, University of Cambridge)