Congratulations to Sarah Eyerly and her new book, Moravian Soundscapes: A Sonic History of the Moravian Missions in Early Pennsylvania, for being selected for the SAM’s H. Earle Johnson Subvention Award from the Society for American Music.
Sarah Eyerly’s Moravian Soundscapes: A Sonic History of the Moravian Missions in Early Pennsylvania , published by Indiana University Press, offers an illuminating analysis of the role played by sound, and its conceptual construction into “sound worlds,” among 19th century Moravian and Native American Christian communities. Eyerly asserts, “Whereas Native Christians sang hymns to bridge the spaces between the natural and the human, European Christians sang to override the ‘wilderness’ . . . [and] to sonically claim a Christian and more specifically Moravian space within the contested geographies of eastern Pennsylvania.” Bringing together sound studies, auto-ethnography, and historical scholarship, Eyerly makes a powerful argument about the centrality of sound—both natural and humanly constructed—in the construction and perception of social, religious, and spatial relationships on the so-called “eastern frontier.” Enlivened by a cogent authorial voice and enriched by a well-conceived companion website, this book promises to recast our historical narratives even as it does the essential work of filling in the record in a neglected area of American music scholarship.
View the full list of winners from the Society for American Music here.