Sound and vision blog

13 May 2009

Sound in Space

In a recent web usability test for Archival Sound Recordings, one of the participants – a soundscape artist – commented on the limitations of having to search through sounds using words.  Should an archive organise itself solely through the words used to describe audio (music, environmental sound, oral history etc.) or are there potentially other ways to discover and explore collections of sound?

Since a lot of audio collections are dependent on geographical location – e.g. wildlife, field recordings, accents and dialects – the Archival Sound Recordings service has recently added a map-searching function, providing a different way to explore such collections.

Based on the familiar Google map technology, users can see the distribution of recordings on either a road map or a satellite image where they are represented by ‘pins’.  Clicking on a pin opens a bubble listing all the recordings made in that location.

A map-based visualisation of recordings makes research into location-based change far easier.  For example Klaus Wachsmann’s Ugandan field recordings cover a range of different ethnic groups who live in the region.  By visualising where a recording was made, researchers can more easily analyse the effect these neighbouring tribes have had on each others’ music and identify the spread musical ideas and techniques across  cultural boundaries.

The mapping function is currently in its beta-testing phase.  Any feedback is gratefully received at asr@bl.uk

Comments

The map function is great! Geography is such a sensible organizational scheme for these particular collections. I would love to see something similar in my country, perhaps with WPA Slavery narratives, for example.

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