Matthew Hayes

Matthew Hayes recently graduated from the Savannah College of Art and Design with a master’s degree in historic preservation. He has presented aspects of his research at a variety of conferences dedicated to architecture, preservation and art history; these include the recent annual conferences of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Association for Preservation Technology International, and the Society of Industrial Archeology.



"Preserving America's Endangered Soundscapes: An Emerging Field in Historic Preservation"

According to a recent issue of American Quarterly, R. Murray Schafer’s concept of “soundscapes—or sonic environments”—is a useful place to begin the study of the “material spaces of performance…that are used or constructed for the purpose of propagating sound.”

In his classic book, The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World, R. Murray Schafer argued that “no historian has ever listened to history, that is, listened to those who were listening.” Nearly a quarter century later, Mark M. Smith advocated for the study of how sounds have been perceived in the past through what he termed “historical soundscape studies.” Soon after, Richard Rath proposed that scholars listen for what he called “soundways” or “the paths, trajectories, transformations, mediations, practices and techniques—in short, the ways—that people employ to interpret and express their attitudes and beliefs about sounds.” In 2010, Social Text published a special issue on sound focusing on the production and consumption of sound recordings, noting “the current excitement, audible across a number of disciplines, about new ways of studying sound and sound reproduction from cultural and historical perspectives.”

As the study of American sound history continues to evolve, the field of Historic Preservation must begin its own investigations and discover ways to preserve the physical remnants of sonic landscapes not readily visible to the untrained eye. As new theoretical frameworks are actively constructed, the role of America’s endangered soundscapes in the field of historic preservation is quickly emerging as a viable and necessary subfield.

My Speakers Sessions

Saturday, March 24

11:15am EDT