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.

This soundscape was informed by a book by Oller, D. Kimbrough titled Evolution of Communication Systems a Comparative Approach –¬†Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2004.

The sounds used in this soundscape included the following.

A Chisel

This is where the soundscape starts. This audio carries throughout much of the recording. It is the sound of a chisel. This would be an early method of leaving messages and communicating. The sound carries in the recording because it shows how far technology moves from something as simple as this.



The fire is meant to represent communication through smoke stacks or with light. It was a very early form of communication and use limitedly.


Paper Writing

This is the sound of a pencil writing on paper. It appears a few times in the audio because it is a method of communication used very often. In fact it lasts until all of the audio drops out and Siri comes on.


Horse Neigh

Sound of a horse Neigh is meant to signal the Horse and Horse Carriage sound.



This represents the early communication delivery of letters by horses. It is the sound of a horse galloping. It alone is not a method of communication but it signals the movement of communication over space.


Horse Carriage

Very similar to horses in the transition of communication over distances. This would allow for delivery of more communication than just a few letters.



This is the signal of the first instant communication over long distances. It plays major roles in early history especially in the Civil War for example. It however would only send a message in code and not recording a voice.


Type Writer

A simpler way to write letters for communication. It does not represent communication over distances however it made letter writing easier and more efficient.



This would allow people to communicate over distances and it would allow them to send their actually voice and not just a serious of taps.


Phone Ring

This sound is a traditional phone ring. Before texting people were communicating through phone lines. It was a more personable way of communication yet opened up new lines of instant communication.


Squash Typing

This is the sound a mechanical keyboard being pressed on a traditional cell phone. In the period before smart phones yet right after texting took off, this became the new sound for instant communication.


iPhone Texting

This is the sound of typing on an iPhone. It is not like the mechanical sound of a traditional keyboard phone or really any type of phone but just the sound of fingers pressing on glass. It is the new sound of texting.

Recording: Russell McBride


After all the sounds build up on one another and it reaches a high point, the audio goes silent and Siri comes in. The most recent introduction to communication is the digital personal assistant. This sound shows two things, how far technology has come and how far technology has removed us from a real interaction.

Recording: Russell McBride