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.
As social history it's hard to beat (Independent 2013-08-01)
David Hendy reconstructs the acoustic environments of our ancestors and contemporaries in words, conjuring them to life for the mind's ear. Brilliant and thought-provoking - curl up somewhere noisy and enjoy! (Nigel Warburton)
Fascinating. Noise is something to shout about (Emily Cockayne Hubbub)
Praise for the radio series: 'A strange and lovely series ... Hendy found the roots of human language in the sounds and rhythms of bodies, our heartbeats, breathing, walking' (Gillian Reynolds Daily Telegraph)
Highly enjoyable and thought-provoking ... Hendy does a great job of reconstructing a whole range of long-gone sound worlds - and, importantly, he makes clear what is assumption, what is fact and what is guesswork, while still presenting his descriptions in an evocative way. (Mike Goldsmith Irish Times 2013-08-01)