The evolution of communication

by Russell McBride

This soundscape project focuses on the evolution of human tools for communication. From early times where people would chisel their stories and messages into stone to communication through smoke and to present where people talk to their phone. Communication slowly evolved throughout history until recently where it has exploding into an ever changing field of technology.

Read about construction of this soundscape below.



The sounds of Roanoke Rapids

By Amanda Carter

The soundscape is a timeline of water of sorts. The sounds progress from rushing river to rushing river with events to harness the river between. Early are the sounds of a diversion dam. Transitional sounds signifies the building of that diversion dam and later a water wheel-based power plant and then a small hydro-electric power plant.

The town of Roanoke Rapids owes much to this river.

Listen for a fog horn sound – a shift horn. The sound of the horn signifies that the mill was up and running. A dispute over water rights closed the diversion dam; the power plant shut down- sounds signify those  closings. At the same time, others sounds signify that mills were continued operating despite the disruptions. The sound of cars and trucks evokes more modern events. The sound of a door closing signifies the closing of the mills.

But, the river continues…



Ava Gardner

By Cheri Lewis

This soundscape portrays a small town girl’s rise to fame in the early 1900s quiet by accident.  Ava Gardner was born on Christmas Eve in 1922.  When she finished her schooling she went to live with her sister in New York and was discovered because of some photographs taken of her.  MGM Studies gave Ava a contract and her first big success was her role in “Showboat.”  Frank Sinatra was, at one time, Ava’s husband and possibly great love of her life.  Later in life Ava starred in Knots Landing.  Ava Gardner is a local legend in Smithfield, North Carolina and is still remembered in the hearts and minds of locals for her beauty and talent.


Read about the tracks use in the soundscape below.



Sounds in Time

By Zack Ellington

This soundscape explores changes in human sonic experiences through technology and language diversity. The presence of the farm sounds at the beginning, which are crossfaded with the sounds from modern-day suburban American community suggests that we are interconnected and subject to urbanization, agricultural roots remain. Sounds from nature, a train whistle, humans  conversing, the dial-up of the digital revolution, collectively these sounds represent an historiographical tapestry of change in the American South.


Phonautogram from Ander Nikalson

The image featured on the homepage of the Historical Soundscape blog is a phonautogram from artist Ander Nikalson. A Phonautogram is made using a recreated phonautograph, the first sound recording device, originally devised in 1850 by Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville. The phonautograph turns sounds into images, producing the mysterious looking phonautogram drawings. To learn more about Nikalson project see –