16. November 2023

Sound Sources—Everything is Music!

Two people sitting at a table with headphones and tablets, one person standing next to them.

The new exhibition at Frankfurt's Weltkulturen Museum includes an MPIEA research project on intercultural music perception. (Photo: Wolfgang Günzel)

The current exhibition “Sound Sources—Everything is Music!” at Frankfurt's Weltkulturen Museum explores the question of where the boundary between noise and music lies—and whether such a boundary exists at all.

This question is also at the center of a research project by the Music Department of the Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics (MPIEA): the researchers collected short excerpts of music, natural and everyday sounds from different parts of the world and played them to participants in an online study. The participants were then asked to say whether they thought the respective sound example was music or not.

While the verdicts were very clear on many examples, there was also an interesting group of ambivalent sounds that show how difficult it can be to make a clear distinction between music and noise. In one room of the exhibition, museum visitors can experience this study for themselves and engage with the preliminary results presented.

The exhibition “Sound Sources – Everything is Music!” can be seen until September 1, 2024 at the Weltkulturen Museum, Schaumainkai 29–37, 60594 Frankfurt/Main.

Further information about the exhibition, opening hours and more can be found on the museum's website.