Finding the sounds of World Heritage

This project was born as part of my master’s thesis for a master of arts degree in World of Arts. It was developed on 2022, with the main focus on the World Heritage Site of Bamberg, Germany. There were also some explorations in other Heritage Sites such as Segovia in Spain, Reims and Paris in France. The results were published in 2022 as well as a complete soundmap from Bamberg with audios and descriptions of the sound values from the inhabitants. Future contents from the research are coming.


UNESCO’s World Heritage List has a sustained absence of sound. The focus on material and visual culture reveals a lack of consideration of the World Heritage Site’s acoustic values and their role in its cultural significance for humanity. This study aims to explore the cultural significance of sounds for World Heritage, as well as tools for identifying sounds and the acoustic value of World Heritage Sites.

Taking the World Heritage Site Town of Bamberg in Germany as a case study, this research carried out a systematisation of experiences through which strategies for the identification of soundscapes, such as soundwalks on the property, interviews and consultations with residents, were put into practice. The data collected were analysed through a thematic content analysis, which revealed the main sonorities related to the place and the meanings they have for those who relate to it.

The results show that sounds are a valuable heritage layer that is dynamic and constantly changing. Also, it is deeply linked to space, time and movement, evidencing deeper and more specific information about a society, its values and ways of relating to a place. Furthermore, the learnings from the systematisation of experience suggest that cross-research strategies must be carried out to identify the acoustic value of a property.

These should include active listening and the participation of diverse stakeholders, as the diversity of perceptions is fundamental to identifying the acoustic value of an area. Finally, the study proposes that sound can be a handy tool for heritage management, as it can support processes of evaluation and monitoring of a property, as it evidences changes in space, time and society.

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