A photo of The  Waisenhausplatz Site

NOTES Compiled by Dr. Stella Barrows, NISG

Pforzheim has been known for hundreds of years (since the mid-1700s) for its jewellery and watch-making industry, and it sports the nickname of ‘Goldstadt’ (Golden City). 1969 saw the establishment of the first workers’ union, the “Pforzheim Gold(-metal) Craftsmen’s Union”.
The city, with its population of 120,000 is at the confluences of the rivers Würm and Nagold and the rivers Nagold and Enz. Due to its location, it is often called the “three-valleys town” (Drei-Täler Stadt) or the “Gateway to the Black Forest”. This geological land formation could be why sonic phenomena have been so prevalent here. 

Pforzheim was settled by the Romans at the Enz River in around 90 AD. These colonists constructed a ford, shortly past the confluence of the rivers, for their military highway. Due to this strategic location, Pforzheim later became a center for the timber-rafting trade, which transported timber from the Black Forest via the rivers Wuerm, Nagold, Enz down the Neckar and Rhine then across into Europe. Much of Amsterdam was initially built with timbers from the Black Forest. 
Archeological surveys have unearthed several artifacts of Roman origin, with settlements located near to where the Roman road connected the camps of Argentoratum (nowadays Strasbourg in France) and the military camp at Cannstatt (now a suburb of Stuttgart). The Upper Germanic Limes borderline of the Roman Empire crossed the Enz River and this place was known as Portus (meaning “river crossing, harbor”), which is believed to be the origin of the first part of the city’s name “Pforzheim”. 
The Nine Years War (1688–1697) caused tremendous destruction in Southwestern Germany. Pforzheim was occupied by French troops on 10 October 1688. The town was forced to accommodate a large number of soldiers and had to pay significant amounts of money to the French. When the army unit was about to depart early in the morning of 21 January 1689, they set many major buildings on fire, including the palais, the city hall, and vicarages. About 70 houses (one quarter of all houses) and part of the town’s fortifications were destroyed.


The Waisenhausplatz, where Sounding Space #023 is situated, is an area in the center of Pforzheim between the Enz, Deimlingstraße and the street Am Waisenhausplatz. It is built on the Stadttheater, the Congress Centrum (Stadthalle) and the Parkhotel. Waisenhausplatz is the open space between Stadttheater and the River Enz. A remnant of the wall and a stone-framed lawn is on the site and are the location of the former orphanage and watch-making and jewellery factory, which gives the place its name. The wall we can see on the site here was part of the orphanage, destroyed by an air raid on Pforzheim on February 23, 1945.

This site is extremely near to the meeting point of two rivers, the Enz and the Nagold. This might, in part, explain the intense sonic emanations – great, forceful and repetative stimulation can be a causal factor for an energetic eruption event. 


On 10 July 1968 shortly before 22:00, Pforzheim and its surrounding areas were hit by a rare tornado. It had strength F4 on the Fujita scale. Two people died and more than 200 were injured, with many buildings damaged. Across the town between Buechenbronn ward and the village of Wurmberg the storm caused severe damage to forest areas. 

Pforzheim is part of Baden-Württemberg, a state in southwest Germany, east of the Rhine, which forms the border with France. It is the confluence of three rivers and is lies inside three valleys. We posit that alluvial deposits from the water may be a factor in the transmission of proto historic sounds from surrounding ancient settlements, which date to nomadic humans from the Mesolithic, to Neolithic farmers and, as previously mentioned, the Roman Empire.
Geological connectivity through the Rhine and the Enz Valleys suggests that we might expect to detect Reflection Phenomena, as geological sound ‘flows’ along the riverbed via underwater Transmission Layers. Atmospheric imprinting within the surface geology of the area is expected to be a significant influence on the background sound profile in the Sounding Space.
NOTE: there is fascinating research into post-glacial river morphology being undertaken by Dr Wolfgang Lovejoy into this field in his popular science book: Meander With Me Awhile! Adventures in Alluvium.


There is an enthralling geology to this area, with a nearby Flourite-quartz vein deposit about 7.5km SE of the City, hosted in bunter-sandstones along the suture zone between the Moldanbian and Saxothuringian unite of the Hercynian fold belt. The vein trends East-North-East. It is either vertical or dips steeply to the North. There is a significant fluorite and barite mineralisation. Cataclasis and remobilixation of fluorite and repeated phases of mineralisation on ‘megaslickensides’. Various phases of fluorite generation from 160 Ma to 100 Ma, the youngest of which yields barite of 30-35 Ma.
The municipality of Pforzheim itself is mainly built on red sandstone and the Black Forest (Schwarzwald), the main mountain range of the state, rises east of the Upper Rhine Valley. The Black Forest Mountains mainly consist of sandstone on top of a core of gneiss and granites.

The  River Enz is 106km long. The valleys of the Enz, Rombach and other western tributaries of the upper reaches are characterised by glacial cirques from the last ice age.
Early data from this newly-discovered sounding space in South Western Germany, (Sounding Out Europe: Sonic Phenomena on the Continent - Denny and Lathenby, forthcoming) suggests that sonic phenomena on this site are the result of a unique combination of geological and man-made conditions. Here we experience a striking confluence of crystalline loop induction in glacial gravel deposits, amplified, possibly by the nearby Mühlacker Broadcasting Transmission Facility.
Flourite (Calcium Flourite) belongs to the Halide mineral group. These are well-known for their ability to trap sonic phenomena within their crystalline structures, a phenomenon explained by Dr Stella Barrows in her seminal paper Rocking Radiophony – Crystalline Induction in Sonic Geology.

The ‘icing’ on the site’s sonic geology ‘cake’ in Pforzheim (if you will forgive the pun) is the remarkable variety of sonically-active deposits laid down in this area during the last Ice Age. The Glaciation allowed an ice sheet spread south into the region, diverting its three rivers to near their present positions.

There is a remarkable abundance of sonically-responsive fluorite in the ancient sandstone surrounding this City. The radiophonic susceptibility of this type of rock to the loop induction of proto-historic sonic phenomena is well documented by NISG. 
As Denny and Lathenby suggest, the geology in this area may have effectively turned the entire area into a huge Crystal Set radio receiver, additionally charged by the underground concentrations of fluorite.
One would assume that this were enough to explain the abundance of proto-historic musical, industrial and conversational sonic phenomena found in the area, such as the ‘singing’ of the ancient Enz riverbed, the ‘bells’ recorded from beneath nearby churches, music from concert halls, or the geological historical echoes of the Nine Years War.

In Waisenhausplatz, next to the River Enz, sonic geology collides with the wonders of atmospheric flouridic electromagnetism and long distance radio communication, creating what we might think of as a ‘sonic sponge’ that has absorbed centuries of sound. It is with great excitement that we invite Citizen Scientists to explore these wonders through Ear Trumpet technology.