The SONIC DICTIONARY is a multi-course collaborative experiment hosted by the Audiovisualities Lab. Our goal is to build a digital database of sounds that can be accessed and searched freely as if it were a “dictionary.”
The project was inspired by the lack of reference materials available for students and teachers of sonic material, whether musical, environmental, or technological. This enterprise aims to experiment with the form of a dictionary to imagine how audio recordings can be used to enhance understanding of vocabulary related to auditory culture.
Existing music encyclopedias give information about many sounds but contain actual recordings of very few. You would be hard-pressed to find a reference source that could actually inform you of the difference between the way a high hat and kick drum sound. This creates challenges for non-specialist students of music and non-musical sound. Sheet music and descriptive language cannot explicitly communicate what a bassoon sounds like, much less a film projector! With this in mind, this project addresses a void in sound-based reference material.
For questions or contributions, please contact Mary Caton Lingold at mary.caton.lingold [at] duke.edu.
Mary Caton Lingold, Project Director
Will Shaw, Digital Humanities Technology Consultant
Laura Williams, Music Librarian
Darren Mueller, Sonic Dictionary Coordinator
Jonna McKone, Recording Consultant
Special thanks to:
The Intrepid Students of “Sounds of the South” and “Audiovisualities”