Welcome to the Acoustics and Music of British Music Prehistory Research Cluster website. Here you will find information about a research network of people interested in Archaeoacoustics, the relationships of archaeology, acoustics, music and sound. The site contains information on meetings and conferences, researchers in this field, introductions to basic concepts in the field, discussions of research questions and methodology and a bibliography.

Research Cluster for the Investigation of Acoustic and Musical Elements of Prehistoric Archaeological Sites in Britain is funded by:

Science and Heritage Programme Network

AHRC logo colour

EPSRC logo colour

 EMAP logo

VISTA

Visual Interactive and Sound Technology in Archaeology

One Day Symposium

Sir George Buckley Lecture Theatre, CSLG01, University of Huddersfield, Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, UK, HD1 3DH.

Tuesday 16th June 2015, 10am – 5pm

This symposium collects together researchers working in digital modelling and reconstruction, app development, acoustic modelling, interactive design, audio-visual applications, and multimedia, and their relationships to archaeology, heritage science, cultural industries and museums.

European Music Archaeology Project and British Audio-Visual Research Network

Free tickets at http://tinyurl.com/ovcc7db

Cover image VISTA 2

https://www.facebook.com/pages/EMAProject/236176096591669

https://twitter.com/RupertTill/status/598416708655788033

Programme:

The increasing impact of digital survey across Historic England & English Heritage

Paul Bryan, Geospatial Imaging Manager, Historic England; Joe Savage, Interpretation Officer, English Heritage

This presentation will highlight the increasing impact of digital survey technologies and methodologies across the work of Historic England and English Heritage. Alongside a summary of the technologies employed their variety of application will be highlighted through a number of case studies including the use of laser scan data at Stonehenge, Harmondsworth Barn and West Kennet Long Barrow and current work at Tintagel Castle using drone-acquired imagery and Structure-from-Motion (SfM) photogrammetry. As will be shown such digital survey work has multiple archaeological, conservation and presentational applications including interpretation and analysis, interactive app development and within exhibition displays.

Professional Commercial Archaeological Digital Visualization

Marcus Abbott, York Archaeological Trust

Marcus Abbott presents an insider’s view of the world of professional commercial archaeological modelling. He discusses and illustrates recent work by York Archaeological Trust.

Acoustic and Interactive Modelling in the European Music Archaeology Project

Rupert Till, Casto Vocal, University of Huddersfield

This presentation discusses the Soundgate, a 180 degree projection screen using 4 widescreen HD projectors to create an immersive visitor experience for the EMAP travelling exhibition. Footage will be filmed live at archaeological sites with digital cameras, as well further live film using anamorphic and fisheye lenses and a 4k Red camera to generate a form of digital cinerama. Digital modelling will also be used to generate cinematic reconstructions in the same format. Acoustic modelling, sound archaeology, archaeoacoustics and music archaeology will be used to create a soundtrack focused on reconstructions of ancient musical instruments being played in their original historic acoustic contexts. Digital film with soundtrack, interactive online, PC, tablet and smartphone versions will all be created.

Visualisation and Auralization: exploring digital lived experience in late medieval buildings.

Catriona Cooper
, Archaeological Computing Research Group, University of Southampton

Digital techniques in archaeological computing can offer new routes to approaching human experience. Catriona Cooper presents two case studies that demonstrate alternative and complementary techniques to explore the notion and implementation of a digital “lived experience” of late medieval buildings. A study based at Bodiam Castle uses digital visualisation to explore the lived experience of the private apartments. A second case study presents an assessment of a series of auralizations of Ightham Mote comparing recorded and modelled acoustical parameters with reference to both human responses and numerical parameters, concluding in combining the two approaches.

Intersensorality, Indeterminacy, Experimental Sound Design and Archaeological interpretation

Claire Marshall, Plateau Imprints

A focus on the VR reconstruction of the Ribchester Roman Fort in Lancashire. This will be amongst the first full 4D and multi-sensorial interpretations of a site in the UK, which foregrounds the intersensoriality and indeterminacy of ‘material culture,’ in general, and public heritage interpretation and experience, in particular.

Use of Oculus Rift for VR-Auralisation

Alex Southern, Royal Society Industry Research Fellow, University of York

This is part of an ongoing project that makes use of Oculus Rift virtual reality technology to deliver immersive, interactive, 3D audio-visual experiences of a theatrical performance venue. Software has been developed to integrate the Oculus Rift (for 3D visualisation) and MAX/MSP (for 3D headphone auralisation) to view recorded performances, and users are able to interactively select their preferred seating location. The user is also able to freely move their head and look around the venue adding to the sense of immersion and resulting in a multi-modal experience.

Lost and Found Sound in the Vale of Pickering: Exploring the sonic properties of a Early Holocene landscape through sound art

Ben Elliott, Department of Archaeology, Jon Hughes, Department of Music, University of York

The Sonic Horizons of the Mesolithic sought to apply new developments in contemporary landscape-based sound art composition to the palaeoenvironmental and archaeological data available for the landscape around Star Carr. Resulting in a series of ambisonic sound installation events across Yorkshire during the summer of 2013, this project explicitly explored the sonic environment within a context that defies traditional archaeocoustic approaches through its lack of archaeologically definable internal spaces. A landscape approach here was key, and this paper will reflect on the implications that this may hold for future considerations of sound in the deep past.

VIsta logos

Rupert Till’s research on the acoustics of Stonehenge continues to be used by other researchers and media channels. Most recently Dr. Till was interviewed by the BBC television programme the sky at night as they presented the show from Stonehenge on the summer solstice. As well as discussing sound at the sight, the programme made extensive use of digital models of Stonehenge generated as a byproduct of his research. Working with staff from art and design, computing and engineering, and most recently with researcher John Fillwalk at Ball University in the US he has created increasingly accurate digital models of the site in order to do more accurate acoustic modelling. Dr. Fillwalk’s model aims to allow the sun and moon positions to be accurately modelled.

As well as being used by the sky at night, This research has been used by the History Channel, BBC radio 4, the New Scientist, the iPad/iPhone app ‘Stonehenge Experience’, and it has featured on Apple’s recent worldwide advertising campaign.

The sky at night can be seen at 7.30pm on bbc 4 on Thursday 11 July on UK television.

Clips featuring dr. Till and his work can be seen at:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01ccpsp

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p01ccn5f

These clips may not be available outside the uk, and we will try to put clips on this website soon.
Dr. Till is currently planning a research trip to northern Spain to explore the relationships between cave paintings and acoustics, with paintings that are up to 40,000 years old. He as also just started work on the European music archaeology project, an EU culture programme funded 5 year project.

Dr. Rupert Tills work with the European Music Archaeology Project has been funded through the EU Culture Programme receiving a 5 year €2 million grant, with about 8 partners from different countries involved. Dr Till says: ‘I will be setting up a music archaeology record label, and recording perhaps Greek instruments in a temple, Roman instruments at Pompeii’s theatre or prehistoric instruments in chamber tombs. I will also be creating multimedia exhibits for a touring exhibition, which will travel across Europe, for example to Rome, Berlin, France, Portugal, Spain etc. EMAP will develop a free-to-enter multimedia touring exhibition and accompanying programme of workshops and performances which will visit ten venues in eight countries between May 2015 and November 2016. The exhibition covers the origins and evolution of European music from Prehistory to still-surviving music traditions and will be supported by a website, TV documentary, recordings and other activities.

The programme will create accurate reconstructions and working models of ancient instruments computer models of selected archaeological sites, their acoustics and soundscapes, outreach media such as books, CDs and videos, workshops and performances and a multimedia exhibition. The presentation will be designed to appeal to the general public, using the latest presentational techniques and the accompanying support materials will be presented at three different levels: adult, school-age and pre-school. The adult material will be designed to bring together generations, empowering older citizens help the younger ones to explore the musical experiences of their parents’ and grandparents’ generation and understand their experiences of shared European culture.

A Trust will be set up to continue the work of the project into the future. It will establish a lasting flagship for ancient European music culture and the development of a supra-national sense of citizenship through a deeper awareness of Europe’s interconnected past, achieved through the power of sound, even after the end of the funded project.’

CALL FOR PAPERS
Conference 19-22 February 2014 in MALTA
ARCHAEOACOUSTICS: The Archaeology of Sound
 a multidisciplinary look at early sonic/aural awareness and lithic sound behavior, toward a better understanding of human and music development.
Archaeology has often been focused on the visual and on physical objects, although the past was of course not silent. Since many cultures explored through archaeology were focused on the oral and therefore the aural, it is becoming increasingly recognized that studying the sonic nature of parts of archaeology can enhance our understanding.
 
The intent of this conference is to explore the importance of sound in antiquity, sharing focused expertise from a variety of backgrounds in order to provide a forum for expanding previous conceptions and introducing new methodologies.  We are particularly interested in the role acoustic behavior may have had in the development and design of important architecture and ritual spaces throughout the ancient world.
All presentations will be in English.  Performance proposals will also be considered.
Submission of abstracts for a 20-minute presentation and proposals for posters/demos on any topic related to the theme will be open until 01 September 2013.    Abstracts should be 300 words or less plus title and author details.  Authors of papers accepted for presentation by the academic committee will be notified by 15 September 2013.  Final papers are required by 15 January 2014.

Submissions should be made to: Conference2014@OTSF.org

Organized by The University of Malta and The OTS Foundation
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Stonehenge is famously aligned to the sunrise on the mid-summer solstice. However there is more archaeological evidence that in prehistoric Britain, people gathered at Stonehenge at sunset to celebrate the shortest day of the year, after which everything gets lighter and warmer, on the winter solstice. People often think of the winter solstice as being 21st December, however it varies between the 20th and the 23rd depending on the motion of the Earth and whether it is a leap year or not. This year English heritage will provide open access to Stonehenge on the 22nd December. The trouble is, it is often not possible to watch the sun setting from inside the stones for a number of reasons. It is often cloudy, and there are often thousands of people all trying to get inside the stone circle at sunset. Also of course, half the stones at Stonehenge are missing or fallen, compared to the prehistoric version of the site. Add to this parking problems, and the cold of the exposed countryside, and one might wonder if there were a warmer way to experience the solstice at Stonehenge.

Interactive iphone app developers Ribui, working with Researchers at the University of Huddersfield, have come up with an intriguing alternative. They have produced an iphone app that you can download, that includes models of Stonehenge. A computer model of the site has been created which allows you to see what the site would have looked like in prehistory. Advanced digital modelling has been used to provide an accurate reconstruction, an interpretation of what it may have been like to be at Stonehenge in prehistory. If you are actually at Stonehenge, the app uses Augmented Reality (AR) to work out where you are standing, and when you hold up your phone, it shows you what the site would have looked like, from your exact position, but as if you were there thousands of years ago.

You can navigate interactively around the site, and explore it at will, without seeing fences or paths, allowing the user to fly over the top of the site, or zoom towards it. You can also see how the site developed over the years, how different arrangements of the stones were set up, drawing on the latest archaeological research. You can even stand virtually in the middle of the stones, and as you move your phone around, you can look around, with no other people present, and with all the stones intact and upright. At the same time you can put headphones in your ears, and hear how the echoes from the stone surfaces would have affected your voice.

The computer model was originally created by project leader Dr. Rupert Till at the University of Huddersfield, in order to carry out acoustic analysis of the site, using architectural software. However, as the model produced by Dr. Ertu Unver and Andrew Taylor looked very accurate, the project decided to create multimedia files that reconstructed Stonehenge virtually. Commercial company Ribui, approached the University to develop the model into an interactive iphone app, and the final result is now released to the public.

Smartphone apps offer a way to explore heritage sites like Stonehenge from anywhere, and also provide information to visitors to the site, as they are walking around it. This app also features a model of the wooden circle at nearby Woodhenge, as well as information on other sites related to Stonehenge, like Durrington Walls, the Cursus and the so-called Bluestonehenge. It also allows one to dig out other archaeological finds on your iphone, and see and hear information about the archaeology of the whole surrounding landscape.

Project leader at the University of Huddersfield Dr. Rupert Till told us, ‘the interaction of Science and Heritage, and the use of digital interactive tools in this way, allows someone anywhere in the world to connect with the thousands of years old tradition of people traveling to Stonehenge, especially on the winter solstice. People have always gone to Stonehenge to connect with the ancestors, to connect with the past, but also to look forward on the shortest day to a sunnier future. They want to celebrate the return of the Sun, the ultimate source of power and light for our world, as we know we are at the darkest point of the year, but that things will look a little brighter from now on. It’s a place of ritual and spirituality, and we hope that this app will help people understand and appreciate Stonehenge in a different way, offering a window into the past, as well as an experience that can bring optimism for the future.’

The Stonehenge Experience app is available on the Apple App Store

http://itunes.apple.com/gb/app/stonehenge-experience/id486455671?mt=8&uo=4

More At http://www.stonehengeexperience.com/indexnorm.php

Daily Mail article

Hearing the Past through our ancestors’ ears

BBC Radio 4,

11 am, Monday September 12th, 2011. 

Imagine being able to eavesdrop on the sound of a ritual at Stonehenge four thousand years ago, or hear singing in the original Coventry Cathedral before it was bombed in 1940.

Broadcaster and Physicist, Professor Jim Al-Khalili investigates how latest research in acoustics is helping us to recreate authentic sounds of the past. It is changing the way we study history and experience tourist attractions. It is also helping us to improve the acoustic design of future buildings.

Jim discovers how architects of modern concert venues are learning lessons from the layout of Stonehenge. He also finds out how acoustic design goes far beyond just making our buildings sound good, in some cases it can save lives.

The research is bringing together a diverse group of scientists, engineers, sound archivists, museum curators and sound artists.

The initial project was funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC). This included the Acoustics and Music of British Prehistory Research Network described at http://AMBPNetwork.wordpress.com

‘Hearing the Past’ will be broadcast on BBC Radio 4 at 11 am on Monday September 12th. The programme will also be available via the Radio 4 website (bbc.co.uk/radio4). The programme has also been selected as BBC Radio 4’s Documentary of the Week.

The Producer of the programme is Jane Reck.

Notes for Editors:

Contributors to the programme:

Dr Rupert Till, from the University of Huddersfield. Rupert works in the area of ‘archaeo-acoustics’, which concentrates on the sound of a site and how it would have been used in the past. He describes how he has been able to recreate the sound of a ritual at Stonehenge four thousand years ago. He also explains how the site’s acoustics are inspiring the design of modern outdoor concert venues.

Dr Damian Murphy, from the University of York. He is involved in acoustically recreating the sound of Coventry Cathedral before it was bombed in 1940.

Joe Savage, a curator at the National Railway Museum in York.  Joe is interested in the use of acoustics in a museum or heritage setting. The NRM is currently re-developing its station hall area and wants to make use of latest research into acoustics. They are planning to show visitors how a railway station operates twenty four hours a day and how that working pattern has changed over time.

Sebastien Jouan, an acoustic designer. Sebastien works for Arup, a global firm of designers, engineers, planners and building consultants. He explains how studying the acoustics of sites such as Stonehenge and pre-1940 Coventry Cathedral can help us design better sounding buildings from concert halls and airport terminals to schools, hospital operating theatres, homes and offices. Sebastien will also demonstrate, through recorded sounds how improving acoustics in public places can also save lives in emergency situations.

Richard Ranft, Head of the Sound Archive at the British Library in London. This is an invaluable source of recordings for museums and historic sites. Richard is also keen to encourage people to record sounds of the world around them now before we lose them forever.

Sound Artists Louise K. Wilson (based at the University of Huddersfield) and David Chapman. Their work has centred on the Falkland estate in Fife, sourcing and collecting historic sounds associated with this former royal hunting park

There is a concert on Friday 27th May in Edinburgh featuring multimedia, music, and live performances that explore the relationships between music and prehistory.

Full details at: http://palaeophonics.co.uk/

and http://palaeophonics.co.uk/stonehenge-ritual-sound/

This will includes a short digital film by Rupert Till, Andrew Taylor and Ertu Unver which features high quality renderings of a 3D model of Stonehenge, as it may have looked in prehistory. It also includes a soundtrack that recreates the sound of the space as one approaches it. The model is placed on accurate LIDAR laser scan ground data.

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