Chris Smith, Tom Irvine

Sounding History

Sounding History is a podcast about the global history of music with an unexpected twist. Your hosts, music historians Tom Irvine and Chris Smith, explore sonic impacts of the extraction of resources from the Earth’s environment. Instead of narrating music history as a story about performers, composers, and works, we explore how extraction economy (and the historical processes that came with it, such as settler colonialism, enslavement, and environmental destruction) made the world of sound we live in today. In each episode we introduce two "postcards": sonic micro-histories that illustrate how music can be understood through stories about labor (how we work), energy (how we power their lives), and data (how we consume and transfer information). We use this categories to explore new layers of narrative about music on a global scale. Our goal is a music history for a new era: the Anthropocene, the age of human-generated climate change. We work as researchers and university teachers in the US and Britain. But between us we have long experience outside of the ivory tower, as musicians in styles from folk to early music, as radio hosts, and public speakers. In Sounding History we turn to the new medium of podcasting, looking to share with listeners stories about people and their soundworlds that have not been heard before. Tom teaches at the University of Southampton in the UK and is also a Fellow of the Alan Turing Institute, the UK's national research institute for data science and AI. Chris directs the Vernacular Music Center at Texas Tech University. Between us we have written and edited books about the history of music and dance in the United States, the soundscapes of the Western Encounter with China, and the global history of German music. Sounding History, and the book project that goes with it (a global music history of music for general readers). Sounding History is not our first collaboration. Decades ago, we worked together in public radio and performed together in early music ensembles, laying a groundwork of curiosity and spontaneity for our partnership today. Join us as we take up this new collaboration, a music history for our times.