Call for Abstracts

9.2 SOUNDING HERITAGE | Guest Editor: Pamela Jordan

The journal Change Over Time: An International Journal of Conservation and the Built Environment, published by the University of Pennsylvania Press, invites abstract submissions for the Spring 2020 issue.

Material heritage is not constrained merely to what we see – what we hear conveys a broad range of information essential to shaping and recalling a sense of place. Sounds can enhance or dominate emplaced experience and be used to test, analyze, and sensorially reconstruct heritage. Yet the many roles played by sound remain largely unexamined in conservation practice. This issue seeks to draw together the various dimensions and neglected possibilities of sound in heritage towards their greater consideration in theory and practice.

In the context of specific sites, one might initially recall restorations of acoustically-designed spaces, such as concert halls or places of worship.[1] But the significance of sound is no less manifest in spaces without specific acoustic designs, be they individual buildings, cultural landscapes, or historic districts. It is the total sonic environment, including the daily sounds of people, machines, weather, and wildlife, that helps define a genius loci and serves as a primary vehicle for continuity and meaning through sensory experiences of the past.

Upon closer inspection, site interpretation often hinges on a sonic component, whether through direct communicative strategies such as recorded play-back and guided tours, or atmospheric interventions via particular sound introductions or noise control. While sonic re-enactments of extraordinary past events (such as a speech, protest, battle, or performance) can be a powerful place-based interpretive device, the use of sound can also significantly enhance our understanding of a site’s past material and spatial attributes. Archaeoacoustics can offer alternative readings of ancient locations by scrutinizing the relationships between acoustic properties and structures, landscapes, and activities.[2] Similarly, Deafspace concepts and other design-based considerations of sound can promote universal accessibility through new imaginings for collective navigation and communication thereby providing rich phenomenological historic experiences for all visitors.[3]

Sonic conditions can manifest particular conservation considerations as well, from physical deterioration caused by lower frequency vibrations, to detrimental effects on natural soundscapes, and aggressive development in otherwise historically isolated environs.[4] A surge in measuring and modeling technology advancements has made complex conditions analyses increasingly possible, including acoustic simulations in virtual reality spaces, 3D ground-penetrating radar surveys, and digital psychoacoustic analyses of audio recordings. It is even possible now for audio recording archives to preserve all that remains of a building’s physical and sonic architecture.[5]

This issue of Change Over Time examines the impact and role of sound in the conservation of the built environment. Contributors are invited to consider ‘sound in heritage’ from a variety of disciplinary perspectives including, (but not limited to): acoustics, affective heritage, archaeology, architecture, conservation, design, disability studies, performance studies, psychology, tourism, and urban planning. Theoretical discussions, case studies concerning particular sites and/or technologies, evaluations of current practices, and policy discussions are welcome. Sound files, sonic visualizations, or web-based media will be considered in support of final submissions.

Abstracts of 200-300 words are due 4 January 2019. Authors will be notified of provisional paper acceptance by late January. Final manuscript submissions will be due mid-May 2019. For formatting and submission details see “Step One – Abstract” of the COT Author Guidelines at


Articles are generally restricted to 7,500 or fewer words (the approximate equivalent to thirty pages of double-spaced, twelve-point type) and may include up to ten images. See Author Guidelines at or email Senior Associate Editor, Kecia Fong at for further information.


[1] Bissera V. Pentcheva and Jonathan S. Abel, “Icons of Sound: Auralizing the Lost Voice of Hagia Sophia,” Speculum, no. 92, S1 (October 2017): S336-S360.
[2] Miriam A. Kolar, “Sensing sonically at Andean Formative Chavín de Huántar, Perú,” Time and Mind, vol. 10, no.1 (2017): 39-59.
[3] Deafspace concept summary, available from: [accessed Oct. 7, 2018]. Claire Edwards and Gill Harold, “Deafspace and the Principles of Universal
Design,” Disability And Rehabilitation, vol. 36, no. 16 (2014): 1350-1359.
[4] J.H. Rainer, “Effect of Vibrations on Historic Buildings: An Overview,” Bulletin of the Association for Preservation Technology, vol. 14, no. 1 (1982): 2-10. Robert Stanton, “NPS Director’s Order #47: Soundscape Preservation And Noise Management,” (Effective Date: December 1, 2000, Sunset Date: December 1, 2004). Available from [Accessed Oct. 7 2018]. Kenneth King, S.T. Algermissen, P.J. McDermott, “Seismic and Vibration Hazard Investigations of Chaco Culture National Historical Park,” Dept. of the Interior U.S. Geological Survey, Open-File Report 85-529 (1985). Available at: [Accessed Oct. 7 2018].
[5] Lamberto Tronchin and Angelo Farina, “The acoustics of the former Teatro “La Fenice”, Venice,” Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, vol. 45, no. 12 (December 1997): 1051-1062.