The Berlin Phonogramm-Archiv was established in 1900 by psychologist Carl Stumpf in order to collect and preserve the phonographic recordings of non-European music. The recordings served as the primary research material for what we understand today as comparative musicology or ethnomusicology. The main premise of this discipline was to “collect as many examples of traditional music as possible, in order to create and follow theories about the origin and evolution of music.”

The archive was part of a German colonial apparatus in which travelers, ethnologists or colonial officers brought recordings of music and voices to the Berlin Ethnological Museum. Between 1893 and 1954, a large number of recordings were generated in German colonies and beyond. These sonic documents have contributed to a preservation of colonial structures of power and knowledge.

Cosmoaudiciones is motivated by working with materials from the Berlin Phonogram Archive, in order to release the broader worlds of meaning into the public and re-performed by the Sonic Diaspora. Questioning the politics of archiving and the sonic extraction embeded within the collection.

The project hopes to ignite participatory listening practices, discussions around the topic of restitution, return of intangible heritage and the ethics of listening to sound recordings from a colonial context.


© Copyright Miguel Buenrostro 2022, All Rights Reserved