Filed under book | Tags: · acousmatic sound, aesthetics, electronic music, music, music theory, philosophy of music, sound, sound studies
“Sound coming from outside the field of vision, from somewhere beyond, holds a privileged place in the Western imagination. When separated from their source, sounds seem to manifest transcendent realms, divine powers, or supernatural forces. According to legend, the philosopher Pythagoras lectured to his disciples from behind a veil, and two thousand years later, in the age of absolute music, listeners were similarly fascinated with disembodied sounds, employing various techniques to isolate sounds from their sources. With recording and radio came spatial and temporal separation of sounds from sources, and new ways of composing music.
Sound Unseen explores the phenomenon of acousmatic sound. An unusual and neglected word, “acousmatic” was first introduced into modern parlance in the mid-1960s by avant garde composer of musique concrete music Pierre Schaeffer to describe the experience of hearing a sound without seeing its cause. Working through, and often against, Schaeffer’s ideas, Brian Kane presents a powerful argument for the central yet overlooked role of acousmatic sound in music aesthetics, sound studies, literature, philosophy and the history of the senses. Kane investigates acousmatic sound from a number of methodological perspectives-historical, cultural, philosophical and musical-and provides a framework that makes sense of the many surprising and paradoxical ways that unseen sound has been understood. Finely detailed and thoroughly researched, Sound Unseen pursues unseen sounds through a stunning array of cases-from Bayreuth to Kafka’s “Burrow,” Apollinaire to Zizek, music and metaphysics to architecture and automata, and from Pythagoras to the present-to offer the definitive account of acousmatic sound in theory and practice.
The first major study in English of Pierre Schaeffer’s theory of “acousmatics,” Sound Unseen is an essential text for scholars of philosophy of music, electronic music, sound studies, and the history of the senses.”
Publisher Oxford University Press, 2014
Filed under book | Tags: · listening, mimesis, music, nazism, philosophy, philosophy of music, sound recording
In this lyrical meditation on listening, Jean-Luc Nancy examines sound in relation to the human body. How is listening different from hearing? What does listening entail? How does what is heard differ from what is seen? Can philosophy even address listening, couter, as opposed to entendre, which means both hearing and understanding?
Unlike the visual arts, sound produces effects that persist long after it has stopped. The body, Nancy says, is itself like an echo chamber, responding to music by inner vibrations as well as outer attentiveness. Since the ear has no eyelid (Quignard), sound cannot be blocked out or ignored: our whole being is involved in listening, just as it is involved in interpreting what it hears.The mystery of music and of its effects on the listener is subtly examined. Nancy’s skill as a philosopher is to bring the reader companionably along with him as he examines these fresh and vital questions; by the end of the book the reader feels as if listening very carefully to a person talking quietly, close to the ear.
French edition: À l’écoute
Publisher Éditions Galilée, Paris, 2002
Translated by Charlotte Mandell
Publisher Fordham University Press, New York, 2007
ISBN 0823227731, 9780823227730
Filed under book | Tags: · improvisation, improvised music, music, music theory, phenomenology, philosophy of music
Improvisation is usually either lionized as an ecstatic experience of being in the moment or disparaged as the thoughtless recycling of clichés. Eschewing both of these orthodoxies, The Philosophy of Improvisation ranges across the arts—from music to theater, dance to comedy—and considers the improvised dimension of philosophy itself in order to elaborate an innovative concept of improvisation.
Gary Peters turns to many of the major thinkers within continental philosophy—including Heidegger, Nietzsche, Adorno, Kant, Benjamin, and Deleuze—offering readings of their reflections on improvisation and exploring improvisational elements within their thinking. Peters’s wry, humorous style offers an antidote to the frequently overheated celebration of freedom and community that characterizes most writing on the subject. Expanding the field of what counts as improvisation, The Philosophy of Improvisation will be welcomed by anyone striving to comprehend the creative process.
Publisher University of Chicago Press, 2009
ISBN 0226662780, 9780226662787