Behind the Project

In May 2015 residents of Burlington’s south-end neighborhood registered a number of noise complaints about Christ the King Church’s broadcast of church bells and hymns over a loudspeaker system. This incident, which received the attention of national media, caused many in Burlington to consider both when and how religious sounds enter into public spaces and how these sounds shape how people experience urban space. In the fall of 2015, students taking REL 103: Sacred Sounds, at the University of Vermont, used this event as a point of departure from which to examine the relationships between sound, religion, and space in Burlington, Vermont. Students in the course listened to Burlington’s public spaces, conducted research into the history of religious sounds in the city, and analyzed the ways in which religious sounds enter (or do not enter) into the public sphere. On this site they present their observations and analyses, and raise important questions for us to consider about the nature of diversity in our community as well as how we experience our environment through sound.