Prehistoric drummers used natural acoustics to recreate natural sound. In classical Europe, orators turned the human voice into a lyrical instrument. In Buddhist temples, the icons’ ears were exaggerated to represent their spiritual power. And in modern metropolises we are battered by the roar of sound that surrounds us.
In the first narrative history of the subject which puts humans at its centre, and following the author’s major BBC Radio 4 series Noise, acclaimed historian David Hendy describes the history of noise – which is also the history of listening. As he puts it: ‘By thinking about sound and listening, I want to get closer to what it felt like to live in the past.’
This unusual book reveals fascinating changes in how we have understood our fellow human beings and the world around us. For although we might see ourselves inhabiting a visual world, our lives are shaped by our need to hear and be heard.