Christoph Cox, Daniel Warner (eds.): Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music (2004/2017)

4 February 2021, dusan

Audio Culture maps the aural and discursive terrain of vanguard music today. Rather than offering a history of contemporary music, the book traces the genealogy of current musical practices and theoretical concerns, drawing lines of connection between recent musical production and earlier moments of sonic experimentation. It aims to foreground the various rewirings of musical composition and performance that have taken place in the past few decades and to provide a critical and theoretical language for this new audio culture.

Via writings by philosophers, cultural theorists, and composers, Audio Culture explores the interconnections among such forms as minimalism, indeterminacy, musique concrète, free improvisation, experimental music, avant-rock, dub reggae, ambient music, hip hop, and techno. Instead of focusing on the putative “crossover” between “high art” and “popular culture,” Audio Culture takes all of these musics as experimental practices on par with, and linked to, one another.

Audio Culture includes writing by some of the most important musical thinkers of the past half-century, among them John Cage, Brian Eno, Glenn Gould, Umberto Eco, Ornette Coleman, Jacques Attali, Simon Reynolds, Pauline Oliveros, Paul D. Miller, David Toop, John Zorn, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and many others. The book is divided into nine thematically-organized sections, each with its own introduction.”

Publisher Continuum, September 2004
Second, revised edition, Bloomsbury, 2017
ISBN 9781501318351, 1501318357
xviii+646 pages

Reviews: Ian Whalley (Computer Music Journal, 2005), Christopher DeLaurenti (eContact!, 2006), Dene Grigar (Leonardo, 2005), Clemens Gresser (Tempo, 2005), Gregory Taylor (Cycling74, 2018).

Publisher
WorldCat

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Kees Tazelaar: On the Threshold of Beauty: Philips and the Origins of Electronic Music in the Netherlands, 1925-1965 (2013–)

16 November 2020, dusan

“The first studio for electronic music in the Netherlands was not a radio studio — as in so many other countries — it was located at the research laboratory of Philips (also known at NatLab). From 1930 it had been part of the electro-acoustic research program which combined technical, economic, sociologic and musical aspects. The first compositions realized in the Philips studio were thus test-cases. Parallel to this research, other departments of Philips, purely focused at marketing, developed plans for the Philips Pavilion at the World Expo of 1958 at Brussels. Philips planned a demonstration for the general public of the possibilities of sound and light, but through the engagement of Le Corbusier, Iannis Xenakis and Edgar Varèse this project took a strong turn towards the avant-garde. The result, now considered a milestone in the history of electronic music, was in many ways more experimental than the music produced at the Philips research laboratory.

The story of electronic music at the Philips research laboratory and the Philips Pavilion are the first two main strands of the book On the Threshold of Beauty, in which Kees Tazelaar for the first time unravels the course of events, and debunks some of the myths around the Philips Pavilion. A third historical strand concerns the needs of composers, who desired to learn how to compose in the new medium. In 1957 Walter Maas and the CEM set up an electronic studio at the Technical University of Delft for this purpose, which fused with the Philips studio in 1960, and afterwards moved to the University of Utrecht. Tazelaar writes about the works realized at this studio (STEM), as well as about the activities of the ground-breaking German composer Gottfried Michael Koenig who comes to the Netherlands in 1961 and in 1964 takes over the direction of STEM.”

Publisher V2_, Rotterdam, 2013
Revised digital edition, 2020
Open access
ISBN 9789462080652, 9462080658
314 pages
HT Raviv

Reviews: René van Peer (Eindhovens Dagblad, NL, 2013), Hubert Steins (MusikTexte, 2014, DE), Maarten Brandt (OpusKlassiek, NL, 2014), Aurelio Cianciotta (Neural, 2014), Gregory Taylor (Cycling74, 2015).

Book website
Publisher
Publisher (digital edition)
WorldCat

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Alexander G. Weheliye: Phonographies: Grooves in Sonic Afro-Modernity (2005)

9 June 2020, dusan

Phonographies explores the numerous links and relays between twentieth-century black cultural production and sound technologies from the phonograph to the Walkman. Highlighting how black authors, filmmakers, and musicians have actively engaged with recorded sound in their work, Alexander G. Weheliye contends that the interplay between sound technologies and black music and speech enabled the emergence of modern black culture, of what he terms ‘sonic Afro-modernity’. He shows that by separating music and speech from their human sources, sound-recording technologies beginning with the phonograph generated new modes of thinking, being, and becoming. Black artists used these new possibilities to revamp key notions of modernity—among these, ideas of subjectivity, temporality, and community. Phonographies is a powerful argument that sound technologies are integral to black culture, which is, in turn, fundamental to Western modernity.

Weheliye surveys literature, film, and music to focus on engagements with recorded sound. He offers substantial new readings of canonical texts by W. E. B. Du Bois and Ralph Ellison, establishing dialogues between these writers and popular music and film ranging from Louis Armstrong’s voice to DJ mixing techniques to Darnell Martin’s 1994 movie I Like It Like That. Looking at how questions of diasporic belonging are articulated in contemporary black musical practices, Weheliye analyzes three contemporary Afro-diasporic musical acts: the Haitian and African American rap group the Fugees, the Afro- and Italian-German rap collective Advanced Chemistry, and black British artist Tricky and his partner Martina. Phonographies imagines the African diaspora as a virtual sounding space, one that is marked, in the twentieth century and twenty-first, by the circulation of culture via technological reproductions—records and tapes, dubbing and mixing, and more.”

Publisher Duke University Press, Durham, NC, 2005
ISBN 0822335778, 9780822335771
xii+286 pages

Reviews: Matthew Somoroff (NewBlackMan, 2006), Greg Tate (Souls, 2007), Emma Louise Kilkelly (Journal of American Studies, 2007), George Lipsitz (Journal of the Society for American Music, 2008).

Commentary: Alexander G. Weheliye (Small Axe, 2014), Tavia Nyong’o (Small Axe, 2014).

Publisher
WorldCat

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