1. Introduction

Sound Souvenirs aims to inform a wide audience of the results of the research project Sound Technologies & Cultural Practices. Sound Technologies & Cultural Practices is NWO-funded research at Maastricht University and the University of Amsterdam. It focuses on how audio and recording technologies have affected transformations in the cultural practice of listening and making music, both in popular and modern-classical music.

The fascinating history of the tape-recorder is central to this research. While the manufacturers who marketed the tape-recorder in the fifties assumed that the tape-recorder would become a kind of photo-camera of sound, the reality proved to be more complex. While people did use the tape-recorder to compile sound fragments of special family moments into a kind of family album in sound, they did not do so for long. The cutting and pasting of the sound tapes proved difficult as did the lack of an easy way to share recordings. Unlike photographs, sound recordings could not be handed round at a social gathering, nor could they be framed to adorn livingroom walls. Thus, it proved to be far from simple to model the use of the tape-recorder on that of the photo camera.

Sound hunters were in fact the most enthusiastic users of the tape-recorder. Their aim was to hunt down and record on tape those sounds that were difficult to catch. Cars and post-war machinery were a favorite subject. As time passed however, these sounds were no longer perceived as collector’s items but rather as noise.

Meanwhile, music collecting became more popular among ‘ordinary’ users, especially among young people who, increasingly, oriented themselves towards the outside world. This practice found its height in the sixties and seventies with the use of the cassette recorder, the ‘follow-up’ of the tape recorder.

Within Sound Souvenirs, we want to achieve a number of things with regards to the changes in cultural practices concerning the tape and cassette recorder:

With our activities we aim to do several things for a large audience, namely:

The Sound Souvenirs Project

Advertisement Grundig. Grundig Radio Handelmaatschappij J.N.J. Sieverding N.V., Amsterdam 1962. Source: Photo Archives NVG, Wassenaar. Courtesy Grundig Benelux