Sound studies

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For the organization for the sonic arts, see SoundCulture.

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[edit]


  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[edit]

  • R. Murray Schafer (1977), The Tuning of the World, (considered as the first contribution in sound studies.)
  • 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
  • Emily Thompson (2002), The Soundscape of Modernity
  • 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 Social Text 102 (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

External links[edit]