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Aural Heritage Tutorials: Principles & Best Practice Recommendations

 

Aural heritage research reconstructs and preserves sonic interactivity of sites important to humans.

The uses and significance of places change over time, and so aural heritage pertains to present-day situations as well as reconstructions of past sonic scenarios.

Extensible aural heritage documentation depends on acoustical measurements that represent human perspectives. Site contextual knowledge is important in aural heritage research design.

Our best practice recommendations anticipate a diversity of purposes and practitioners. Over particular equipment choices, we emphasize “human-centered” data collection to ensure ecological validity (realism) in aural heritage preservation.

Binaural sound reception directly influences auditory experience; however, sound-sensing is a full-body activity; sound is meaningful to humans across a deaf-hearing spectrum. Binaural data collection and auralization demonstrations optimize spatial representation based on a typical hearing paradigms, while providing a corporeal locus for bodily sound-sensing.

 

Aural Heritage Data Collection Principles Overview:

• Site research to determine contextually plausible sonic interaction scenarios:
- contextually plausible/documented sound sources;
- contextually plausible/documented sound-making locations;
- contextually appropriate/documented receiver-listener locations.

• Equipment that optimizes precision in terms of site logistics, budget, and audio expertise.

• Humanly plausible sampling of the soundfield:
- microphone techniques that enable accurate spatial translations of real acoustics into digital audio data;
- microphones to receive sound and test sound sources should be located in places that are plausible for humans in a cultural context associated with the heritage site.

A selection of sampling locations that cover the range of possible proxemical relationships (Hall 1990[1966]) within each site space.

 

Aural Heritage Auralization Principles Overview:

• Auralization of aural heritage reconstructs spatial acoustics. However, spatial acoustics can be applied to any sound materials.

• Audio reproduction equipment should be selected and arranged so that spectral and temporal features of the aural heritage are not skewed in demonstrations, for accurate reproduction of aural heritage.

• Sounds to be auralized as if produced in the heritage acoustical context can be site-contextually representative (to reconstruct known or hypothesized heritage scenarios) or exploratory/imaginative (to test the heritage acoustics on novel materials).

 

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Digital Aural Heritage Project © 2019-2021 | A Research Collaboration funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities Division of Preservation and Access