In Search of Sound: Authenticity, Healing and Redemption in the Early Modern State

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This article is a contribution to early modern sound studies, from the perspective of intellectual history. In contrast to the way visual culture has been handled, few scholars in this field have considered sound in general, or even music in particular, as an agent of change, despite the wealth of scholarship available. Starting with Francis Bacon's ambitious plan to construct a total history of sound–an enterprise ultimately designed to improve the human condition–this paper surveys a series of early modern experiments to recover an authentic golden past, to restore harmony to a chaotic present world, and to heal and restore the soul. It draws on recent as well as more canonical studies in the history of science, early music history and ethnomusicology to suggest how attending to sound can enrich our understanding of the early modern state.


Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: November 1, 2007

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