We are all aware of how rapidly cultural and musical traditions can change, or disappear altogether. And we can see how traditions struggle to adapt to new social conditions and new technological means.
There are failures, but many success stories as well.
One of the threats to any performance tradition is the changes in the acoustic conditions under which it is performed. Whether it is a cave or a theatre or a temple in the middle of a city traditions struggle to adapt. Very often, the technologies used to make this adaptation (microphones and PA systems) effect the traditions in unexpected and not very satisfactory ways.
Worldwide, there are efforts to document traditions under threat. But there has been no similar effort to document the acoustic conditions under which these performances take place.
The author in this paper will describe the examples of acoustic conditions which have changed, and as a result have changed major performance traditions. He will describe the technologies that are currently available to document acoustic properties of performance spaces; how they can be recorded and archived.
The author will describe a low cost system he has been using for such measurements in archaeological sites. He proposes an international effort at collecting and preserving such measurements in sound archives worldwide and will describe some of the ways in which these measurements can help reconstruct atleast some elements of vanishing traditions.