The Memory of Sound
Preserving the Sonic Past
By Seán Street
Routledge – 2015 – 178 pages
This book explores the connections between sound and memory across all electronic media, with a particular focus on radio. Street explores our capacity to remember through sound and how we can help ourselves preserve a sense of self through the continuity of memory. In so doing, he analyzes how the brain is triggered by the memory of programs, songs, and individual sounds. He then examines the growing importance of sound archives, community radio and current research using GPS technology for the history of place, as well as the potential for developing strategies to aid Alzheimer's and dementia patients through audio memory.
"Seán Street's The Memory of Sound is a moving and poetic book about the act of creating and preserving audio memories. While other worthy books might focus on the technical aspects of audio production, this carefully constructed work serves as a celebration of international documentary makers who have devoted their lives to recording the memories and stories of others. Street's profound insights weave through every chapter in this masterful work, each a cherished ode to the documentation and preservation of sound. For that I thank him." -Dmae Roberts, Peabody Award winning Independent Public Radio producer
"Seán Street manages to capture the invisible with words. This book is a beautiful and poetic investigation of the impact sounds have on us as we pass through our worlds, and their power when replayed again." -Francesca Panetta, Independent audio producer and sound artist
"This is an important book by a writer who understands the power of sound as a broadcaster, as a researcher, as a listener, and, above all, as a poet. It examines, without jargon or heavy-handedness, the way that sound triggers and recalls memory, how, ‘given the right circumstances, the sound of the past can be caught by the memory like a photograph’. Drawing on his own life and experiences, and in conversation with specialists in key areas of research and practice, Seán Street, in 155 closely argued pages, brilliantly illuminates how sound, our first and last sense, runs like a flash of lightning through time lost and found." - Piers Plowright, Radio Features Producer
1. Introduction: Echoes and Shadows 2. Tell Me a Story 3. Radio: Feeding the Imagination 4. ‘Father of the Man’: Radio, Audio and Youth 5. Music Memory: Music in the Moment 6. Ourselves as History: An Encyclopaedia of Sounds 7. Walls Have Voices 8. Saving the Sound, Spreading the Word 9. Holding on to Sounds 10. The Future Sound of Memory Appendix: Radio in the Context of Memory
Seán Street is Emeritus Professor of Radio at Bournemouth University. He is author of The Poetry of Radio: The Colour of Sound (Routledge, 2012). He is also a regular broadcaster on BBC Radio 3 and Radio 4 and a poet, with nine published collections. He lives in Liverpool, UK.