SECP Doctoral student, Bethan Prosser, has successfully secured internship funding from the South Coast Doctoral Training Partnership to work on an exciting project that will explore the use of sound as a tool for community engagement, wellbeing and research.  Hosted by Open Strings Music (OSM) and in partnership with Unlocking Our Sound Heritage (UOSH), the Sounds to Keep pilot project aims to engage local residents in The Keep’s sound archive and pilot the use of sound walks and sound foraging activities.

Open Strings Music (OSM) is a local social enterprise providing participatory music opportunities for people of all abilities and backgrounds to connect and create through making music together.

Community music making workshop. Photo by Open Strings Music

Unlocking Our Sound Heritage (UOSH) is a British Library programme to digitise and improve access to sound collections in archives across the UK. The UOSH South East Hub is based at The Keep, the regional archive centre housing collections from the Royal Pavilion & Museum, East Sussex Records Office and the University of Sussex.

Excited about the project, Bethan explains: “This internship gives me the opportunity to develop my skills and experience of sound walks, which is one of the methods I will be using in my PhD fieldwork. My PhD looks at urban seaside gentrification on the UK south coast and the lived experiences of displacement injustices. I have become increasingly interested in multi-sensory and mobile methods and, more specifically, how exploring acoustic environments and soundscapes can elicit discussions and reflections on changing relationships to place.

This project’s sound walks will explore the acoustic environments of Brighton and Hove’s Coldean, Bevendean & Moulsecoomb neighbourhoods and end with a reception at The Keep, which will showcase the sound archive. In the sound foraging workshop, participants will forage sounds in and around The Keep to co-create a soundscape piece in combination with selected sound archive material.

Click on the above to listen to sounds captured walking around The Keep recently

There are key methodological challenges presented by these methods for researchers and practitioners. For example, for researchers, how to capture participant generated data during walks unobtrusively, and, for organisation’s like OSM, how to demonstrate impact.

I will be starting the internship mid-September for three months. Both organisations are interested in making more links within the university, so please do get in contact if you’d like to discuss this further. I also hope to organise a knowledge exchange event in early 2020 to disseminate the learning from this project.”

  • Header photograph – Box of sound archive tapes from the National Motor Museum Trust. Photo by Esther Gill (Unlocking Our Sound Heritage)