International seminar „Contours of Sound“ brings together anthropology, film and sound studies.

As part of the seminar, Ernst Karel (Harvard University, USA) will give a presentation, “Sonic ethnography: Phonography and the 'sound object' in anthropology”.  He will discuss the possibilities of recorded sound as a medium for ethnographic work, and present recent audio pieces from the Sensory Ethnography Lab.

Ernst Karel is a musician, composer, sound recordist, mixing engineer, and anthropologist of sound.  His recent audio works composed of location recordings include Swiss Mountain Transport Systems (Gruenrekorder) and Heard Laboratories (and/OAR).  Recent ethnographic film projects for which he has edited and mixed sound include Sweetgrass (Barbash and Castaing-Taylor) and Foreign Parts (Paravel and Sniadecki). He currently manages the Sensory Ethnography Lab and the Film Study Center at Harvard University, where as Lecturer on Anthropology, he co-teaches courses in media archaeology and ethnographic audio and video production.


Next slot of the seminar will present a series of sound walks produced in a collaboration between members of MoKS (Centre of Art and Social Practices) and students and staff of the Social & Cultural Anthropology of Tallinn University. The theme of the sound walks focus on the theme of “listening” and seeks to bring up questions relating to understanding the sonic potentials of the city of Tallinn and to understand these potentials on their own terms.

Thirdly, the seminar will unfold in the format of an interactive workshop that will feature the soundtracks of documentaries from previous editionsof the Worldfilm Festival as well as classics of the ethnographic film genre. The purpose of this exercise is to listen to the documentaries and consider the sonic qualities of the documentary's narrative.

The last event in the programme is a round table discussion with filmmakers that will discuss the role that sound plays in the filmmaking craft.  Moderators of this session and the round table “Sonic Design in Contemporary Ethnographic Cinema” are Patrick Mcginley (aka Murmer) and dr. Carlo Cubero (University of Tallinn)

The language of the seminar is English. Seminar is organized jointly by the Estonian National Museum in cooperation with the Centre of Excellence in Cultural Theory (EU, Regional Development Fund).