Sound and Silence in the Ecology of the Cathedral is an interdisciplinary research project at the University of Bristol and Bristol Cathedral. We are funded by The Brigstow Institute.

This research brings together academics from the History of Art and Music departments and the Dean and Chapter of the Cathedral to explore how people respond to sound and silence in the cathedral building. This will consider both the experience of those who use and visit the building today and how medieval masons, pilgrims, Chapter and choristers might have understood the place of sound and silence in their everyday lives.

As part of the project we will be mapping different sounds across the cathedral building and precinct, recording oral histories, organising ‘sound tours’ and investigating what the architectural fabric can tell us about medieval notions of sound. Our research will culminate in commissioning two student composers to respond to the building’s architecture and acoustic possibilities, with live performances of their work at Bristol Cathedral in Autumn 2017.

Our multidisciplinary approach will deliver new insights into how sound can alter our experience of the cathedral space, encouraging those who work, perform and visit to discover deeper connections between the building’s rich architectural, liturgical and acoustic history.  Above all, we hope that this research will ensure Bristol Cathedral is the place where people can stop and contemplate, seek silence, hear something different and find solace in the city.

This project is generously funded by The Brigstow Institute at the University of Bristol, in collaboration with Bristol Cathedral.

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