This Is What 18th-Century Paris Sounded Like

Smithsonian Magazine reports on Myléne Pardoen’s fascinating project of recreating the 18th Century Parisian soundscape.

Quick—what do you hear at this very moment? Is it the voices of people you love or the click of a keyboard or the buzz of a cell phone? Whatever it is, the soundscape is ephemeral. Unless, of course, you decide to click the record button, making the sounds live on forever. Before the rise of modern technology though, everyday noise was impossible to capture. Now one musicologist is working to change that, reports Laure Cailloce for CNRS News. She’s reconstructing something that simply can’t be heard anymore: the sound of 18th-century Paris.

Her name is Myléne Pardoen, and her sonic reconstruction of Paris’ Grand Châtelet district in 1739 is the result of a collaboration between scholars from disciplines ranging from history to sociology to 3D representation. Pardoen tells Cailloce that she chose the district because it had a large concentration of the era’s background sounds, from tradespeople to the echoes captured in its unique architecture.

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