Sound in Amsterdam during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries

Annelies Jacobs*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper deals with sound as part of everyday urban life, based on Amsterdam during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Although it is commonly held that modern cities have grown noisier as a result of their expansion and the growth of industry and technology, we actually know very little about the urban sounds of the past. We know even less about the manner in which it was perceived and valued by contemporaries. This article poses three questions. Which sounds were produced in Amsterdam in the past? Which meanings did contemporaries attribute to these sounds? And which the role did particular sounds play in the debate on city life? To answer these questions, the article makes use of an analytical framework that allows us to look sat soundscapes from the point of view of the ecology of sound, the semiotics of sound and the politics of sound.
Original languageEnglish
JournalInternational Journal for History, Culture and Modernity
Issue numbernone
Publication statusPublished - 7 Sept 2019


  • urban sound , urban life , noise , soundscapes , Amsterdam

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