The Sounds of Media. An Interdisciplinary Review of Research on Sound as Communication


  • Lorenzo Portocarrero Sierra Tecnológico de Antioquia - Institución Universitaria
  • Lorenzo Bruhn
  • Jorge Restrepo Morales Tecnológico de Antioquia- Institución Unviersitaria
  • Jorge Arias Calderón Universidad del Valle


Sound, speech, music, soundscapes, rhetoric, philology, linguistics, musicology


Sound remains significantly underresearched as a form of communication, as a modality of experience, and as a resource for cultural expression and social interaction. This is in spite of the centrality of sound in most media and communicative practices, including face-to-face interaction and digital networks. Recent years, however, have witnessed a revitalized interest internationally in the area. This review revisits previous research on three sound prototypes – speech, music, and environmental soundscapes – which has mostly been undertaken in separate disciplines: rhetoric, philology, linguistics, classical musicology, popular music studies, architecture, discourse analysis, and more. The article, further, outlines the potential for more interdisciplinary research on sound as communication – as a source of meaning and as a resource for action. This potential is suggested by the diffusion of mobile media and the pervasiveness of communication in everyday contexts. At present, ordinary media users are in position, not only to receive, but also to send diverse forms of auditory, visual, as well as textual information. Users are becoming senders in new configurations of one-to-one, one-to-many, and, increasingly, many-to-many communication. Ubiquitous soundscapes and other mediascapes are even challenging received notions of what a ‘medium’ is and could be. In conclusion, the article suggests that the growing current interest in sound studies itself may be the product of a reconfigured media environment in which sound has come back in style..



How to Cite

Portocarrero Sierra, L., Bruhn, L., Restrepo Morales, J., & Arias Calderón, J. (2010). The Sounds of Media. An Interdisciplinary Review of Research on Sound as Communication. Comunicar, 17(34), 15–23. Retrieved from



Dossier (Monographic)