Sound Heritage

Lead Research Organisation: University of Southampton
Department Name: Faculty of Humanities


Music making was integral to life in English country houses during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, yet the sounding history of heritage properties is largely silent today. Conventional training often leaves musicologists and early music performance researchers poorly equipped to deal with domestic repertoires, and they frequently lack broader understanding of country house history. Conversely, country house historians and heritage professionals often lack the knowledge necessary to interpret musical holdings in historic properties, or to reconstruct a house's musical history when music collections are lacking. Domestic music making has received increased scholarly attention in recent years, and curators, conservators and visitor experience consultants have become increasingly aware of how attention to music can enhance understanding of a house's history and stimulate engagement from today's visitors. Research to date has involved a series of discrete projects, however, each valuable in its own right but necessarily offering only partial perspectives.
This research network will bring together scholars of history, historical musicology, and historically informed performance practice with heritage professionals in curation, conservation and visitor experience in a broader collaborative effort to gain a richer understanding of the way that music functioned in the country house. Activities will include three study days, each focussing on a different strand of the broader theme of country house music making. The three study days will address challenges to historical music research in heritage properties; issues in the research management of music collections in historic houses; and interpretive approaches to music for use in heritage today. The network aims to pool and extend existing knowledge and to improve communication and partnership between academics and heritage sector researchers. A stronger research base will in turn stimulate development of innovative ideas for the practical deployment of musical research in heritage properties.

Planned Impact

This project will involve benefits for a wide array of non-academic audiences. The heritage sector professionals who participate in the network will gain opportunities for significant knowledge exchange with academic researchers, providing ways of disseminating their own work more effectively within academic communities and of tapping into the scholarship produced in academic circles. Curators and conservators will gain significant new knowledge about music, a crucial element that has been largely absent from existing understandings of country house life. This knowledge will aid them in constructing research materials for use in heritage properties (the historical material used in visitor guides, room cards, and information files produced by curators) and in managing the musical collections in their care. By learning more about musical life in country houses, visitor experience consultants from the heritage sector will gain a new understanding of how music can enhance their work in interpreting properties for visitors; they will be provided with tools both for presenting music-making in country houses, and for using music to help with interpretations of other aspects of the material and historical context. The network can thus be considered as providing career development for this group, and a context for the development of valuable lasting relationships with music researchers.

Through the work of heritage professionals, the volunteers who staff many country houses and the larger public who visit them will in turn benefit from the network's activities. One goal of the network is the construction of tools for the deployment of musical research in historic properties in imaginative and innovative ways. We aim to stimulate production of better information for use in properties, including not only printed or online material for distribution (eg guidebooks, brochures, websites) but also in the briefing documents and information files supplied to volunteer room guides, house managers, and others who interact with heritage visitors on the ground. We also aim to explore other possibilities for display and interpretation, including events, interactive displays and multimedia tools. Visitor experience consultants involved in the network will help other participants to understand the challenges and possibilities, and will help us most effectively to adapt the network's outputs and activities to the needs and interests of volunteers and visitors.

Professional performers involved with the network will benefit from insights into new or little-known repertories, and will have opportunities for experimentation and development of new modes of presentation that are better adapted to domestic repertoires than the standard concert hall approach. They will gain new contacts in the heritage sector as an outlet for their work, and in cases where they regularly perform with their own or others' performing groups (eg Harvey Davies, who leads the Pleyel Ensemble) they will provide a means of disseminating information and ideas through the wider early music world.

The activities of the performers in the network will also stimulate benefits for a wider public of music listeners, whether or not they are also regular visitors to country houses. Early music listeners may be attracted to events at heritage properties because of the repertoires and performers rather than the location, but in attending will gain a new understanding of how the music fits into historic material contexts. The production of commercial recordings and concerts by the network's historically informed performance researchers will help to improve understanding and communication between the heritage sector and the mainstream early music world.


10 25 50
Title Domenico and the Duchess 
Description A semi-staged opera created as a launch event for the exhibition A Passion for Opera: The Duchess and the Georgian Stage at Boughton House (July-Sept 2019). The event, Domenico and the Duchess, drew from Domenico Corri's Singers Preceptor (1810), a user's guide to Italian singing for British readers which was dedicated to Elizabeth Montagu, 3rd Duchess of Buccleuch in recognition of her support. In a scenario based around vocal tuition, the event interspersed musical selections from the Montagu Music Collection at Boughton House with extracts from Corri's text to tell the story of Don Febeo, a pompous but passionate music lover, his daughter Rosina, and her suitor Lindoro. The pasticcio was accompanied by a chamber ensemble of piano, flute and strings-a combination characteristic of late Georgian settings-and featured singers from Opera Prelude, a charity supporting the work of early-career opera singers. The event was professionally filmed and is now available online at the address below. 
Type Of Art Performance (Music, Dance, Drama, etc) 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact First collaboration of Boughton House with the Oundle International Festival and Opera Prelude. Fully sold out performance. 
Title Jane Austen At Home with Music films 
Description A minidocumentary and 8 performance films made at Jane Austen's House Museum. The minidocumentary explores the role of music in Austen's life and writing. The 8 films include works from Austen's own music books. T 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact The films and audio were used in the Songs of Home exhibition at the Museum of Sydney; they also generated independent audio recordings which were used for the exhibition soundtrack and also by Jane Austen's House Museum itself. They provide engaging multimedia materials for heritage interpretation as well as for use in teaching Jane Austen. 
Title Songs of Home at Dalkeith Palace films 
Description 15 films of music from Scotland, representing music exported from Britain to the early Australian colonies. The music spans a range of repertoire that amateur and professional musicians of different classes knew and experienced at home in Britain, and that emigrants to Australia took in their minds and luggage to their new homes. At Dalkeith Palace, extracts from opera and from elaborate arrangements of Scottish traditional song represent the sounds of aristocratic drawing rooms of the Gordon and Buccleuch families. Many of these pieces were transported to Australia in the manuscript music books of Georgiana McCrae, who grew up at Gordon Castle and emigrated to Australia in 1840. One song was filmed in the icehouse at Dalkeith Palace to evoke the lives of servants and other workers on large Scottish estates, many of whom emigrated to Australia. 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact Used for the soundtrack of the exhibition Songs of Home (Museum of Sydney, 2019) and incorporated into website and other exhibition outputs. The films also generated independent recorded tracks which have been used for the album Songs of Home and Distant Isles by Concerto Caledonia. 
Title Songs of Home exhibition 
Description International exhibition at the Museum of Sydney, August-November 2019. Songs of Home tells the little-known story of music played and enjoyed in NSW during the first 70 years of the colony. This vibrant musical world is explored through recordings of early music, rare instruments, printed scores, and remarkable stories of people creating home through song. The exhibition encouraged visitors to experience a diverse array of music, old and new, through performances by leading Australian and British musicians, as well as students at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music. A series of specially commissioned contemporary works by Aboriginal composers, in partnership with the Ngarra-Burria First Peoples Composers initiative with support from the Royal Australian Navy Band, highlighted the powerful and continuing presence of Aboriginal music making. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2019 
Impact Extensively covered in Australian general public media and heritage outlets. Extensive marketing and visitor feedback exercise conducted by the museum indicates substantial levels of audience engagement and learning among visitors. There were approx. 14,470 visitors (final visitation to be confirmed) to the exhibition, representing 92% of target. The audience was comprised of 89% adults attending, with a broad age spread of 49% under 50 years and 51% over. Visitors were predominantly residents from interstate (19%), inner suburbs/city (18%), west suburbs (12%), eastern suburbs (11%), overseas (11%) and northern suburbs (10%). An integrated marketing campaign across print, digital, outdoor, publicity and promotions was implemented with a total campaign value of $127,443 against a budget of $73,000 plus $8,400 for the Museum of Sydney (MOS) banner. A digital campaign across paid advertising channels as well as owned and earned social media delivered a combined total of 2,613,544 impressions with 83,682 engagements with the content (click throughs, reactions, shares, comments and video views). At the end of the exhibition and campaign period the museum's social media followers across YouTube grew by 37%, Instagram by 5%, Facebook by 4% and Twitter by 3%. There was also a 3.9% increase in our eDM subscriber database over the exhibition period. There were over 22,000 views of the exhibition page on the Sydney Living Museums (SLM) website during the campaign period, 47% above target. The exhibition achieved strong media coverage across print, broadcast and digital with an estimated reach of over 11 million and equal to over $196,000 worth in advertising spend. A membership drive across print and digital leveraging the exhibition contributed to 49 memberships sold at MOS front of house, generating $4,774 in revenue. • 
Description The three study days organised during this grant provided an exceptionally rich environment for exchanging ideas between the heritage and academic music sectors. We discovered a huge appetite for specialist musical knowledge within the heritage community and have responded to requests for:
- examples of effective deployment of musical research in heritage settings (provided through a set of model case studies mounted on the Sound Heritage website)
- modes of ongoing communication and news flow between historical performers, music academics and heritage sector (provided through creation of an open Sound Heritage Facebook group (over 100 members), Twitter feed, and website news section)
- help with basics of understanding music and musical materials in heritage collections (creation of a resources guide for heritage professionals and music students beginning work in this field)
Particularly exciting findings arose from the inclusion of international representatives (from Ireland, Australia and the USA) and from the wide range of UK members including Welsh and Scottish representatives. Comparisons of both historical research and interpretive possibilities across geopolitical boundaries was highly revealing, and underlined the different interpretive contexts of colonial and postcolonial historical research, and the need for different visitor experience strategies to convey this understanding to today's audiences.
Exploitation Route The has been enormous interest in extend the Sound Heritage network to other countries and to expand the remit to include historic houses beyond the original remit of 18th/19th century English country houses. This has already been implemented through the creation of the international Facebook group, which has participation from Australia, USA, Ireland, the Netherlands, and Norway, and which continues to grow. Through the efforts of the Irish representative to the network (one of three international members invited to the project), the Irish Research Council and the University of Limerick have funded a branch organisation, Sound Heritage Ireland, to bring together heritage professionals and music academics in the Republic and Northern Ireland. Sydney Living Museums has emerged as a particularly dynamic leader of new initiatives in musical interpretation in historic houses, and will host a Sound Heritage Sydney symposium in March 2017 to bring UK representatives to speak to Australian heritage audiences, recruited from the heritage sector throughout the country (including ACT and Victoria as well as NSW).
Sectors Creative Economy,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

Description The network study days have allowed both music academics and heritage professionals to plan joint projects and outputs to increase the visibility and impact of music in historic houses. These include: - a pilot project in responsive interpretation, to take place at Chawton House Library in spring 2017 (using historic music to support narrative strands). This occurred successfully and data gathered from visitors is being analysed for use in future National Trust projects. - an immersive soundscape in the chapel of The Vyne, recreating a Tudor liturgy (launch March 2017). This project was widely reported in the national and international press, and has now been in place for over a year to critical acclaim. The Lifting the Lid at The Vyne project, of which this is a part, won both the Best Historical Site and overall awards at the Association for Heritage Interpretation awards in October 2017. Visitor data is being collected and will be analysed by the National Trust for use in future planning, but already on the basis of the success of the project, a senior NT curator has been given three months' research leave (starting March 2018) to further explore how sound can be used most productively in NT visitor interpretation; this is unlikely to have happened without the model of the project at The Vyne. - creation of a branch organisation, Sound Heritage Ireland, with funding from the Irish Research Council for research and study days bringing Irish heritage professionals into contact with music academics - organisation of a spinoff international symposium in Australia, Sound Heritage Sydney, with funding from Sydney Living Museums (March 2017). In summer/autumn 2017, this relationship was further developed and we are now building plans for a major exhibition at the Museum of Sydney, approved and budgeted for August-October 2019, built entirely through the relationships forged through the Sound Heritage network. - presentations for heritage organisations including the International Council of Museums (triennial conference) UPDATE in 2019: The major exhibition at Sydney Living Museums is going ahead: Songs of Home will open Aug 10 and run until Nov 2019. This show is a direct consequence of collaborative work initiated during the initial grant. I am also collaborating with SLM colleagues on a book, Sound Heritage: Making Music Matter in Historic Houses, which will involve authors from both music and heritage (within and outside academia) and is aimed primarily at museum professionals. The book is under contract from Routledge and is scheduled for publication in 2020. I have now become a regular yearly speaker on the Attingham Trust Summer School for curators, one of the premier training programmes for heritage sector professionals already in post, as professional development; the Sound Heritage Facebook group continues to grow through this outlet and there is regular exchange between academics and heritage professionals around sound in historic houses through this medium. UPDATE in 2020: Sound Heritage was the direct origin of the major project Songs of Home, an exhibition for the Museum of Sydney that was awarded further AHRC funding under the Follow-On scheme. The very successful outcomes of this international exhbition, which drew over 14000 visitors and engaged many others through other channels, are separately described in the impacts section of the Researchfish entry for that grant.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural

Description AHRC Standard Grants
Amount £665,000 (GBP)
Organisation Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2017 
End 10/2020
Description Jane Austen's House Museum 
Organisation Jane Austen's House Museum
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Public engagement activities including workshops; documentary film; recordings. Principal contact for the loan of museum objects from JAHM to the Museum of Sydney for Songs of Home.
Collaborator Contribution Hosting of recording and filming, loan agreements, courier training and other logistics for the construction of the Songs of Home exhibition.
Impact Section of the exhibition Songs of Home arising from the loan of the Austen music books, including portions of the exhibition soundtrack as well as objects. Peripheral activities and publications including Sydney Living Museums' members magazine article, website, floor talks, and public lectures/workshops in UK and Australia.
Start Year 2006
Description National Trust 
Organisation National Trust
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Consultation on a wide range of musical projects for National Trust properties, particularly Lyme Park and The Vyne. Contributions to pilot listening project undertaken by NT Visitor Experience staff.
Collaborator Contribution Access to a primary research materials held in National Trust properties; staff time and expertise. This partnership pre-existed the grant but the Sound Heritage framework provided stimulus for enhanced levels of collaboration.
Impact Contributions to major new interpretative project at The Vyne, opened spring 2017.
Description Sydney Living Museums 
Organisation Sydney Living Museums
Country Australia 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Among the international participants of the Sound Heritage network was Dr Matthew Stephens, Research Librarian for Sydney Living Museums. Through collaboration with him we helped to mount Sound Heritage Sydney, a two-day event for curators, music historians and performers held in collaboration with SLM and thee Sydney Conservatorium. I made the keynote talk for the event in Sydney in April 2017. The talk, as well as other presentations and concerts, is online on SLM's website and generated comment in the Sydney arts media. We continue to collaborate with SLM and are involved in plans for an exhibition in Sydney in 2019-2020 based in part on work done within the AHRC-funded network.
Collaborator Contribution Dr Stephens and colleagues at SLM have been key to organising new outputs from the Sound Heritage network through organisation and funding. They are formal partners on the Music, Home and Heritage AHRC grant that was prepared during the Sound Heritage study days, and Dr Stephens will be co-editing the essay collection that is planned as an output from that grant. He is also collaborating with us on a music cataloguing toolkit for the Sound Heritage website.
Impact Sound Heritage Sydney symposium April 2017; resources toolkit for Sound Heritage website. Multidisciplinary collaboration between music, heritage studies.
Start Year 2015
Description Attingham Trust Summer School 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Lectures for the Attingham Trust Summer School, a heritage trust that trains professionals already employed in the heritage sector. The summer school provides an intensive study of English country houses for curators and conservators, with lectures and seminars by leading experts in eg furniture, history of the book, architectural history etc. The Attingham Trust has never considered music in its training programme, but as a result of the Sound Heritage grant, I was invited to add a music lecture to the curriculum, delivered July 2016 at West Dean; a repeat engagement for 2017 has been fixed.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
Description Erddig sound workshops 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact We mounted a two-day set of workshops and activities for National Trust staff and volunteers at Erddig near Wrexham in North Wales. We introduced them to the story of the house in music, and then took groups of volunteers on interactive sound walks with recording devices to capture and discuss historic sounds. By asking volunteers to think about the sonic implications of the activities that took place in different rooms of the house, we were able to transform their understanding of how history can be understood and communicated to visitors through sensory means. The sounds captured by staff and volunteers have been used to create an Erddig sound archive, which we will deploy to make an installation/interpretation in the next phase of the project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Songs of Home workshops and lectures 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Series of public lectures, workshops and demonstrations associated with the Songs of Home exhibition. This included workshops at Jane Austen's House Museum (UK), floor talks and demonstrations at the Museum of Sydney for museum donors, members of the Jane Austen Society of Australia, and the general public; public lecture in the museum theatre for the general public
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019