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Sound studies

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Sound studies

Sound studies is an interdisciplinary field of study which considers "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 than standard disciplines"[1]

Sound studies 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. Some scholars of sound culture 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 sound studies as a field of study was played on the one hand by the field of science and technology studies (cf. 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). On the other hand the approach of a cultural anthropology of sound (as proposed by Veit Erlmann and Holger Schulze) has currently a strong influence in shaping the basic terminology and research method of the sound studies: "Historical anthropology of sound and the senses implies a cultural critique from the side of experience and corporeality. [...] Besides the sensory body of emitted sound and the sensory body of the historical listeners – there is the sensory body of the researcher as a (hopefully) sensible creature."[2] Increasingly, musicology and music theory have joined the conversation about sound studies.[3]


  • See also 1
  • References 2
  • Further reading 3
  • External links 4

See also


  1. ^ Pinch, T. and Bijsterveld, K, 2004, Sound Studies: New Technologies and Music, in "Social Studies of Science", 34\5, pp. 635-648
  2. ^ Schulze, H., 2010, The Sound & The Senses: Historical Anthropology of Sound, in Morat, D., 2010, Hearing Modern History. Auditory Cultures in the 19th and 20th Century. Wissenschaftskolleg Berlin (conference proceedings)
  3. ^ "Hearing Modernity - John E. Sawyer seminar at Harvard University, 2013-2014". 

Further reading

  • R. Murray Schafer (1977), The Tuning of the World, (considered as the first contribution in sound studies.)
  • R. Murray Schafer (1994), The soundscape. In The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World. Rochester, Vermont: Destiny Books. pp. 3-12
  • Michael Doucet (1983), "Space, Sound, Culture, and Politics: Radio Broadcasting in Southern Ontario". Canadian Geographer / Le Géographe canadienVolume 27, Issue 2, pages 109–127, June 1983, [1]
  • Jacques Attali (1985), Noise: The Political Economy of Music
  • John Potts (1997), "Is There a Sound Culture?", Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, December 1997, vol. 3 no. 4, pp. 10–14
  • Trevor Pinch and Frank Trocco (2002), Analog Days
  • Thompson, Emily (2002), The Soundscape of Modernity: Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening in America 1900-1930. Cambridge: MIT Press. Pp. 1-12
  • Jonathan Sterne (2003), The Audible Past
  • Georgina Born (1995), Rationalizing Culture
  • Peter Szendy (2007), Listen, A History of Our Ears (the original French version, Ecoute, une histoire de nos oreilles, was published in 2001)
  • Michele Hilmes (2005), "Is There a Field Called Sound Culture Studies? And Does It Matter?", American Quarterly, Volume 57, Number 1, March 2005, pp. 249–259, [2]
  • Holger Schulze & Christoph Wulf (2007), Klanganthropologie
  • Holger Schulze (2008), Sound Studies
  • special issue on "The Politics of Recorded Sound" by 102Social Text (2010), edited by Gustavus Stadler.
  • Veit Erlmann (2010), Reason and Resonance
  • Trevor Pinch & Karin Bijsterveld (2011), Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies
  • Florence Feiereisen & Alexandra Merley Hill (2011), Germany in the Loud Twentieth Century
  • Kate Crawford (2009) "Following You: Disciplines of Listening in Social Media". Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies Volume 23, Issue 4, pp. 525-535
  • Shuhei Hosokawa (1984), "The Walkman Effect", Popular Music 4:165-80
  • James Lastra (2000), "Fidelity Versus Intelligibility" Pp. 138-43. New York: Columbia University Press
  • Kodwo Eshun (1999). Operating System for the Redesign of Sonic Reality. London: Quartet Books. 
  • Goodman, Steve (2010) "The Ontology of Vibrational Force" Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect and the Ecology of Fear Cambridge: MIT Press. pp 81-84
  • Don Ihde (1974). The Auditory Dimension. In Listening and Voice: A Phenomenology of Sound. Athens: Ohio University Press. Pp. 49-55
  • John Picker (2003). Victorian Soundscapes. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 41–52. 
  • Michael Bull (2008) Sound Moves : iPod Culture and Urban Experience. London: Routledge. Pp 39-49.

External links

  • European Sound Studies Association
  • A syllabus from a graduate seminar on Sound Studies taught by Jonathan Sterne in the fall of 2006.
  • Weird Vibrations, a sound studies blog.
  • Sounding Out!, a sound studies blog
  • Anthropology of Sound, a sound studies blog
  • Master of Arts: Sound Studies, study Sound Studies at the University of Arts Berlin
  • Sound Studies Lab, a research project on auditory culture at the Humboldt-University of Berlin
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