Past Sounds

A familiar sound from the past is like a time machine – it can take you right back – just for a flash of a second to a moment in your past. But can we get the same powerful sense of time travel further back in time? Can we travel to other people's pasts through sound? In this podcast series we meet the researchers uncovering the lost sounds of the past and discover that all sorts of long ago sound is recorded… If you know where to look. Each episode Abigail Wincott interviews the people who do know where to look, researchers who piece together long ago sounds, from prehistoric South India through the Renaissance school room to life as a slave in the American South. All of these projects to reconstruct the sounds of the past can tell us something important about real people’s experiences, and they can also tell us about ourselves and our world today. Insights that we often miss when we look but don’t listen.

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Wednesday Jun 02, 2021

Musical tastes affect the places we listen to music in, and those places also change the music we perform – from chamber music to stadium rock. Sound archaeologist Dr Riitta Rainio talks about the acoustic tastes of the Finnish stone age. Read more and share your suggestions for future Past Sounds at the website

Friday May 14, 2021

Mystery plays were a big deal for the people of York between the 14th and 16th centuries. They staged these epic events every year, yet little is known about the performances. Dr Mariana Lopez's acoustic modelling has brought their intricate staging skills to life. Read more

Thursday May 06, 2021

Sometimes we don’t know here we come from, yet our language remembers on behalf. Assistant Professor of Religion, Dr Guangtian Ha, explains the ways the unusual present day pronunciation of China’s Jahriyya Muslims gives clues to a multilingual past. Find out more on the webpage

Sunday May 02, 2021

Professor Mark Smith talks about what formerly enslaved plantation workers in the American South have told us about their sonic worlds, and demonstrates how different our experiences of the same sounds can be. Read more at

Friday Apr 16, 2021

Dogs barking, drunkenness and declaiming in the 16th century schoolroom. Find out from Jennifer Richards, Joseph Cowen Professor of English Literature what that sounded like, and how she pieced together what she knows. More information on the podcast can be found on the series webpage  

Friday Apr 16, 2021

Find out more about Past Sounds, a series about the lost sounds of long ago, and the people who make it their business to find them. Coming Spring 2021.

Copyright Abigail Wincott 2021 All rights reserved.

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