Case Study – SoundConnections at the Ulster Museum

SoundConnections 1 and SoundConnections 2 was an aural, participatory intergenerational project for adults with visual impairment and KS2 children designed to increase access to the museum’s collection of objects for those with little or no sight in an engaging and creative manner with opportunity for reflection.

The project part of the Ulster Museum’s Live and Learn programme funded by Big Lottery money was run in 2012 and 2013 with different groups and different outcomes. Initially SoundMór created 6 soundscapes around groups of objects. These were used on site and then subsequently to provide an aural stimulus for collaborative music performance workshops.

The example given here from a soundscape was created to present a case of 18th century objects including a clock, tableware and silver. A diary from 1799 written by a young man born in Armagh to Dean Hamilton gives accounts of the social life of the day and these are used within the soundscape to structure a narrative. Street cries from broadsheets of the day are recreated, as is an imaginary sound world to put the objects and their descriptions into the social context of the day thus bringing them alive and giving them a voice.

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Extract from 18th century Soundscape

Workshops reflecting themes of the project posed performance tasks that participants fulfilled through collaboration. These were all recorded. SoundMór combined this material with interviews with participants, soundscape clips, and recorded chat and commentary from workshops to make a sound installation. This Social Art mirroring the collected objects origins in sea, land and mountain was arranged over 5 floors with 3 immersive sound spaces linked by a trail of speakers which guided the visually impaired participants from one space to the next. A finale section saw immersive speakers turned installationmuseum2012outward to allow a multi-layering of sounds with sound cascading from the 5th floor to the ground floor in a shimmer. The sample here illustrates what can be achieved through collaboration with the starting point of silent objects, unseen and unheard.

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Extract from finale of SoundInstallation