EAST LANSING, Mich. (January 25, 2023) – Choirs singing. Monks chanting. The reading of religious texts. These are religious sounds. But so too are the creaking of church pews and the clanking of pots during the preparation of a communal meal. Sounds of Religion is a Smithsonian exhibition that explores how rituals and gatherings of religious communities create a complex soundtrack of religions in America that teaches how people behave, how they’re different, and how they’re alike.
Welcome to the American Religious Sounds Project blog. Here you will find an archive of posts from researchers, teachers, community members, students, and ARSP team members about their experiences with all aspects of the ARSP. The blog posts, written between 2014-2022, include reflections on teaching with the ARSP archive, responses to gallery exhibits, news stories and updates about the project, descriptions of recording at research sites by both scholars and students, and miscellaneous writings about religion and sound. The blog was intended to be a space for presenting ideas in progress, celebrating collaboration, fostering scholarly networks, and sharing innovative practices for incorporating the ARSP in teaching and research.
Our audio exhibit "Religious Soundscapes" opened on Tuesday, May 24 at OSU's Urban Arts Space. This exhibition features audio collages created from the recordings in our archive, accompanied by interpretive texts to represent the sounds. In parallel with the exhibition opening, we hosted a symposium that included many of the people who have worked with us over the course of the project. We were thrilled to be able to continue our conversations about religion and sound with so many colleagues and friends.
By David W. Stowe, Michigan State University
In the pre-pandemic version of my Music and Religion course, I assigned an observation paper based on a visit to a local faith community, a kind of entry-level ethnomusicology. Since this was no longer possible under COVID, I created an alternative assignment using the well-designed ARSP Mennonite Voices exhibit.
Religion is a complex and sometimes messy topic that shapes both individual lives and broader communities. The metadata we use to tag and organize information, however, requires simplicity, clarity, and uniformity. How can these two things that appear to function in different capacities work together?
D’Arcee Neal has joined the ARSP as our new graduate assistant, funded through an OSU Global Arts + Humanities Discovery Theme grant.