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Borders of sound

Borders of sound

Aural experiences of music, power, space and society

Aural experiences of music, power, space and society

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Published on Thursday, August 05, 2021


The theme of the next Leeds International Medieval Congress in 2022  is “Borders". We would like to explore topics dealing with aural borders. Sounds, which are created by human and ritual activities, mark practices, social groups, identities, ranks, dimensions. In doing so, they tag space, time, senses and bodies, making these categories more striking, more visible and more obvious. We will therefore explore how sound can create, extend and perform social, political and ideological borders. 



Leeds international medieval congress (4 - 7 juillet 2022) 


Sound is a key element in Medieval society and in its artistic process. It builds them, shapes them and even determines the way it is performed and experienced. Sound is an important device for exercising authority and it lies at the core of a complex cultural structure. It is transmitted essentially through Orality. The sound and the acoustic space in which it is produced become both a symbolic and a tangible issue in the building and using of ritual spaces. But most importantly, sound creates an experience, acting as a « soundmark » that can affect soundscape, musical performance, artistic gesture and human body. These places are thus both defined and tagged by their acoustic purpose.

Medieval societies can be thought of as fairly defined and hierarchically structured communities in which each group of people is given a specific function, a political role, and a way of living. Rituals — whether political, religious or social — summon these communities to join in while at the same time telling them of their own status. In these highly codified group performances, sound is very important. Some of the sounds clearly define identity or status, others set up a ceremonial experience, while others are more about controlling bodies in particular spaces. Inside the city, sound seems to work as a tag, a border or even a framework between the various communities. The sound of Otherness creates an invisible but tangible boundary for those who experience it. By choosing tones, levels, types of sounds and acoustics, the aural dimension makes these differences more striking. The sounds speak directly to the Human body and emotions and doing so, install specific « systems of hearing », depending on the location in space. Through its powerful and immersive qualities, sound can define social groups, reveal identities and make the hierarchy more immediate and intuitive. It can even provide a glimpse of the heavenly world by creating a space in between. Sound creates a sensitive experience of dynamics between the various social groups.

We will therefore reflect on these borders which are created by sound in a space. We will observe how the ritual acoustic space can influence the aural experience. We will also open up the construction of a sound identity in these spaces. How is it created, controlled and enhanced? How is it experienced by the audience? What sounds are chosen to make these sound borders more tangible? What does this aural dimension bring to the experience of group and space? Can a hierarchy be constructed through sounds? And more generally, how can these intangible dynamics be considered and visualised?

In various sessions, we will explore these structuring and identity-forming dimensions of sound. We welcome papers focusing on any of the Medieval societies (Byzantium, Islam, North and West). We are seeking comparative perspectives and methodological considerations, as well as interdisciplinary intersections, such as Performance Studies and Artistic Research and Practice. We will consider papers from both experienced and junior scholars, including those exploring one of the following topics:

  • Sonic Identity and Otherness
  • Ritual soundscapes
  • Creation and organisation of the acoustic space
  • Hearing modes and types of sounds (voices, sounds, silences)
  • Musical writing techniques and aural dynamics
  • Aural and space experiences
  • Musical gesture and interpretation
  • Opening up to the inaudible, the incorporeal or the invisible...

Submission guidelines

Proposals (for a 20-minutes paper) — including title, 300-words abstract and keywords — should be sent to :

by September 15, 2021.

Please provide also the following information with your proposal: current affiliation, e-mail and postal address, equipment and accessibility requirements.

Scientific Committee

  • Prof. Julien FERRANDO — PRISM (UMR 7061), Aix-Marseille University & CNRS, Aix-en-Provence, FRANCE
  • Marie-Emmanuelle TORRES — LA3M (UMR 7298), Aix-Marseille Université & CNRS, Aix-en-Provence, FRANCE


  • Wednesday, September 15, 2021

Attached files


  • sound, border, IMC, aural, experience


  • Marie-Emmanuelle Torres
    courriel : marie [dot] emma [dot] torres [at] gmail [dot] com

Information source

  • Marie-Emmanuelle Torres
    courriel : marie [dot] emma [dot] torres [at] gmail [dot] com


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Borders of sound », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Thursday, August 05, 2021, https://calenda.org/902539

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