The Music Research Forum welcomes Dr Britta Sweers, University of Bern, Switzerland. Please register for the event using the link below
Title: Environmental Threats, Ecomusicology, and Soundscape Research: North Sea Storm Tides
Similar to other North Sea regions, including the Netherlands and the UK, the flat North German coastal areas have been shaped by severe storm tides and floods. Until present day, these extreme environmental phenomena have been playing a significant role in private and public memory. This presentation explores how these experiences are reflected in local cultural practices, particularly in traditional and popular music. As becomes apparent from a historical perspective, written and musical works that dealt directly the storm tides became only more clearly evident in the 19th century. Songs dealing directly with storm floods only appeared more frequently in Northern Germany in the 20th century.
Approaching this topic from the perspectives of ecomusicology and soundscape research, this presentation explores the perception of the actual sound of these events that has been described as extremely loud or even physical and have often been responded by silence until present day. Analyzing this relation between the actual threat, the sound environment, and musical practices, the presentation also discusses the localization of extreme environmental topics in human music making and the role of music within these extreme nature-related experiences.