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Related: ambient - audio - ear - music - noise - silence - sound art - sound effect - sound film - soundscape - sound recording - sound system - soundtrack

Books: Ocean of Sound (1995)

Brian Eno: Ambient 1: Music for Airports (1978) - Brian Eno [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]


Vibrations transmitted through an elastic solid or a liquid or gas, with frequencies in the approximate range of 20 to 20,000 hertz, capable of being detected by human organs of hearing. --American Heritage Dictionary

Sound culture

Sound culture is an interdisciplinary field of studies which considers the "the material production and consumption of music, sound, noise and silence, and how these have changed throughout history and within different societies, but does this from a much broader perspective then standard disciplines" (Pinch and Bijsterveld, 2004).

Sound Culture differs from traditional academic fields such as sociology of music, ethnomusicology and history of music because it adopts a much broader perspective on music and sounds in the social world. Especially Sound studies are interested in the connection between the development of the highly complex contemporary society and the ways people developed in order to manage and rearrange objects, discourses and practices involved in the listening acts.

A strong role in developing the sound studies is played by the field of Science and Technology Studies, (cfr. Social construction of technology) inside which a clear definition of the field has been presented in the special issue of the academic journal "Social Studies of Science", nr. 34\5 (october 2004).

The first seminal contributions in sound studies could be considered the books of R. Murray Schafer The Tuning of the World (1977) and of Jacques Attali Noise: The Political Economy of Music (1985).

Current important contributions also are Trevor Pinch and Frank Trocco's Analog Days (2002); Jonathan Sterne's Audible Past (2003) and Emily Thompson's The Soundscape of Modernity (2002). --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_culture [Apr 2006]

Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Voice, Sound, and Aurality in the Arts (1999) - Douglas Kahn

Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Voice, Sound, and Aurality in the Arts (1999) - Douglas Kahn (Author) [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

"Sound saturates the arts of this century," writes Kahn, a professor of media arts at the University of Technology in Australia, in an illuminating but densely theoretical study of sound in 20th-century literature and art. Kahn begins by considering the early experiments at the Cabaret Voltaire of dadaist poets Richard Huelsenbaeck, Marcel Janco and Tristan Tzara, whose poetic and "musical" performances were intended to achieve a Rimbaudian "alchemy of the word." He then analyzes how noise in the form of screams and bomb blasts function in such prose texts as Remarque's All Quiet on the Western Front. But the artistic hero of the book is John Cage, whose monumental works with water provide the theme for the central portion of the book. Kahn devotes considerable energy to arguing that Cage's Water Music of 1952 was at least as revolutionary as his silent pieces. "Pollock's dripped and poured paintings and Cage's water sounds," he writes, "heralded a larger concurrence of fluidity, water, sound and performance" in the arts for years to come. This leads to a discussion of postmodern American composers, including LeMonte Young and Tony Conrad, who chose extreme amplifications of noise to bring the auditors back to "silence" once their ears stopped ringing. As for the "meat" part of the title, it comes from another source of theoretical inspiration to Kahn, William Burroughs's idea of "schlupping," defined as the sound of "soft innards being sucked out of a body," which is how the reader may feel attempting to get through this incisive but difficult book. -- Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

This interdisciplinary history and theory of sound in the arts reads the twentieth century by listening to it--to the emphatic and exceptional sounds of modernism and those on the cusp of postmodernism, recorded sound, noise, silence, the fluid sounds of immersion and dripping, and the meat voices of viruses, screams, and bestial cries. Focusing on Europe in the first half of the century and the United States in the postwar years, Douglas Kahn explores aural activities in literature, music, visual arts, theater, and film. Placing aurality at the center of the history of the arts, he revisits key artistic questions, listening to the sounds that drown out the politics and poetics that generated them. Artists discussed include Antonin Artaud, George Brecht, William Burroughs, John Cage, Sergei Eisenstein, Fluxus, Allan Kaprow, Michael McClure, Yoko Ono, Jackson Pollock, Luigi Russolo, and Dziga Vertov. --Book Description, amazon.com

Douglas Kahn is Director of Technocultural Studies at University of California at Davis. With research concentrations in auditory culture, the history and theory of sound in the arts, and new media arts, he is the author of Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts (MIT Press, 1999), coeditor of Wireless Imagination: Sound, Radio and the Avant-garde (MIT Press, 1992), and editor of an ongoing book series, "Auditory Culture", from MIT Press. His catalogue essays, journal essays, book chapters and magazine articles on contemporary media artists, sound artists and musicians have appeared internationally, and have included writings on Christian Marclay, Paul DeMarinis, James Tenney, Joyce Hinterding, Nigel Helyer, and Rosemary Laing. He edited a special issue of Leonardo Music Journal on Australian new music and sound art, and organized "Audio Ideas", a symposium and performance series on post-techno electronic music, at Artspace Sydney. He produced radio art and "new documentary" for ABC-Radio (Australia), was a frequent commentator on national radio in Australia, and collaborated with Frances Dyson in writing and media production through the company Liminal Product. He has a Ph. D. in art history, an M.F.A. in "post-studio arts" (Cal Arts), and an M.A. in experimental music composition from Wesleyan University, where he studied with Alvin Lucier and Ron Kuivila. --Center for Audio Recording Arts, School of Music, Georgia State University

The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction (2003) - Jonathan Sterne

The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction (2003) - Jonathan Sterne [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

"Jonathan Sterne’s The Audible Past boldly stakes out a largely neglected but important topic, the history of sound in modern life."-John Durham Peters, author of Speaking into the Air: A History of the Idea of Communication

"Jonathan Sterne confronts what is certainly the most challenging topic in the study of auditory culture-what happened when modern technologies came crashing into ways of sound making, communicating and listening-with outstanding results. Through disciplined arguments bolstered by plenty of original research, and with refreshing critiques of many cherished notions, The Audible Past forms a basis from which to address central questions of communication studies, musicology and music history, film sound and media studies, perception and culture, all those areas where listening and sound impinge upon cultural history and theory."-Douglas Kahn, author of Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts --From the Publisher

"Jonathan Sterne’s The Audible Past has come along to set the record straight on the cultural origins of sounds and systems, machines and the mechanisms of culture. He’s come here to give us the lowdown on how the technology evolved. Think of the book as a kind of sonic map of the origins of the way we listen to things around us, as a primer for the sonically perplexed."-Paul D. Miller a.k.a. DJ Spooky That Subliminal Kid About the Author

Jonathan Sterne teaches in the Department of Communication and the Program for Cultural Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. He writes about media, technology, and the politics of culture, and is codirector of the online magazine Bad Subjects: Political Education for Everyday Life.

The Audible Past explores the cultural origins of sound reproduction. It describes a distinctive sound culture that gave birth to the sound recording and transmission devices so ubiquitous in modern life. With an ear for the unexpected, scholar and musician Jonathan Sterne uses the technological and cultural precursors of telephony, phonography, and radio as an entry point into a history of sound in its own right. Sterne studies the constantly shifting boundary between phenomena organized as "sound" and "not sound." In The Audible Past, this history crisscrosses the liminal regions between bodies and machines, originals and copies, nature and culture, and life and death.

Blending cultural studies and the history of communication technology, Sterne follows modern sound technologies back through a historical labyrinth. Along the way, he encounters capitalists and inventors, musicians and philosophers, embalmers and grave-robbers, doctors and patients, Deaf children and their teachers, professionals and hobbyists, folklorists and tribal singers. The Audible Past tracks the connections between the history of sound and the defining features of modernity: from developments in medicine, physics, and philosophy to the tumultuous shifts of industrial capitalism, colonialism, urbanization, modern technology, and the rise of a new middle class.

A provocative history of sound, The Audible Past challenges theoretical commonplaces such as the philosophical privilege of the speaking subject, the visual bias in theories of modernity, and static descriptions of nature. It will interest those in cultural studies, media and communication studies, the new musicology, and the history of technology. --Book Description, amazon.com

The Soundscape of Modernity : Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening in America, 1900-1933 (2002) - Emily Thompson

The Soundscape of Modernity : Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening in America, 1900-1933 (2002) - Emily Thompson [Amazon.com] [FR] [DE] [UK]

A better title for this book may have been The Soundscape of Modernism. Compare modernity with modernism.

From Publishers Weekly
In a pioneering study of America's culture of listening, University of Pennsylvania professor of the history and sociology of science Emily Thompson depicts a culture busily rationalizing, quantifying and taming sound in The Soundscape of Modernity: Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening in America 1900 1933. Beginning with the extraordinary (and little known) career of architectural engineer Wallace Sabine, from his felt-covered acoustical correction of the Rhode Island House of Representatives to his role in the influential design of Boston's Symphony Hall, Thompson analyzes the checkered (and ultimately futile) history of noise abatement and the implications of the introduction of electronics. Her account culminates in the design and construction of Rockefeller Center, and is powered throughout by the utopianism of the scientists, architects and engineers she depicts. --Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

See also: 1900s - 1910s - 1920s - 1930s - Modernism - sound - soundscape - American culture

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