Listening to More Than Sounds JULIA KURSELL
This paper examines the “Berliner Phonogramm-Archiv,” founded in after 1900 as part of the Institute of Psychology, University of Berlin. The Phonogramm-Archiv was connected to the emergence of several new disciplines and research domains, including experimental phonetics, Gestalt theory, music psychology, and comparative musicology. Of the archive’s 30,000 phonographic recordings, some one hundred were made for experimental purposes. One of them in particular, containing a moment of near silence, serves as a point of departure for relating these disciplines to the sound archive as a new technology and research tool. The barely audible sounds on this cylinder challenge phonographic recording as a technical device, and recall Carl Stumpf’s inquiry into cognitive predispositions in listeners. Whispered vowels delineate the limitations of that research and of the archive itself. The paper investigates how new research methodologies emerged out of the gap between recorded items and their various interpretations in different disciplines.