Sacred Sound and Ritual Soundscapes in Historical and Contemporary Fennoscandia: Acoustic Measurements, Ethnographic Research and Foundations for Cultural Echology

Project: Foundations (Private Foundations, Non-Profit Foundations, Charitable Trusts)

Project Details

Description (abstract)

Rocks in Fennoscandia have been assigned a special status and cultural significance through the ages. Historical Sámi venerated cliffs and boulders with sacrificial gifts and Finnish sages of the last centuries regarded cliffs, boulders and caves as abodes of spirits. Today ecotourists and practitioners of contemporary folk religions visit the same sites to renew their energies or connection with nature. Curiously, all these traditions appear to involve distinct sonic rituals, such as drumming, yoiking, incanting or listening to silence. This project explores the ritual rocks of historical and contemporary Fennoscandia from a previously overlooked perspective of acoustics. The hypothesis is that the ability of these rock formations to reflect sound played a key role in the ritualization of the associated sacred sites as well as in the formation of their sonic rituals. The acoustic characteristics of select rocks in Finland, Sweden, Norway (and NW Russia) will be studied by in situ impulse response measurements and psychoacoustic tests performed in VR environments. Related myths, beliefs, practices and experiences will be gathered from folklore archives and interviews of contemporary Sámi, folk religion practitioners and outdoor music festival guests, and given ethnomusicological analyses. Moreover, workshops for artists and tourism entrepreneurs will discuss future manifestations of the recovered acoustics heritage. This project is the first to address the sacred chanting and sound making traditions in Europe in their right acoustic and environmental contexts, providing thus insight into the interrelationships of acoustics, religion, music and nature over time. The ultimate project aim is to create foundations for a new transdisciplinary field of Cultural Echology that seeks to understand the agency of sound reflections – echoes, reverberation or resonances – in shaping human perception, cultural concepts and practices as well as engagement with the environment.
Short titleKONE Rainio - Pyhä ääni
StatusActive
Effective start/end date02/12/202201/12/2027

Funding

  • Koneen Säätiö: €38,200.00

Fields of Science

  • 615 History and Archaeology
  • 6131 Theatre, dance, music, other performing arts
  • 6162 Cognitive science