Sound Studies An Interdisciplinary Journal

Sound Studies An Interdisciplinary JournalVolume 2, 2016 – Issue 2
Sound Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal is an international, peer reviewed and inter-disciplinary journal in sound studies, providing a unique forum for the development of the subject within a range of disciplines such as history, sociology, media and cultural studies, film studies, anthropology, philosophy, urban studies, architecture, arts and performance studies.
The journal encourages the study and research of sound by publishing submissions that are interdisciplinary, theoretical, empirically rich and critical in nature. Situated at the cutting edge of sound studies, Sound Studies builds on more than two decades of pioneering work in the history, theory, ethnography and cultural analysis of sound.

Hearing Hart Crane: in the shape of New York’s noise
Aaron Nyerges

This essay advances the traditional literary-critical practice of “close reading” with the methods and insights of sound studies. It takes as its privileged content “Voyages,” a poetic sequence in six parts by the modernist writer Hart Crane. I argue that the sexual disclosures and enclosures of his literary language are illegible apart from the immediate New York geography of the poem, and, essentially, the noise that the urban, maritime environment makes. Theorising and realising the dialectic of noise and meaning through the rigors of modernist poetry provides important new grounds for understanding the historical specificity of acoustic environments, the reconciliation of the mechanical with the sensuous, and the political circumstances that bind language, space and sound into absorptive interpretive acts.

Landscapes and gimmicks from the “sounded city”: listening for the nation at the sound archive
Alejandro L. Madrid

By focusing on a soundscapes project started by Mexico City’s Radio Educación in 2006 and currently continued by Mexico’s Fonoteca Nacional, this essay investigates the social organization of urban spaces through sound and the use of sound. The discussion focuses on soundscapes as both descriptive as well as performative interventions that speak of socially informed models that organize urban space and our perception of it. In doing this I invoke Angel Rama’s classic characterization of the ‘lettered’ city as a ‘sounded’ city and argue that this conceptualization may help us problematize how some of these forms of aurality are shaped, controlled, and circulated within older networks of national power. I also examine their potential to engage denationalized or post-national circulations of knowledge through sound that allow for the establishment of new networks of ‘cultured’ belonging and distinction beyond national borders.

Narrative cinema’s “sounds of silence”: variations on the POA
James Wierzbicki

Cinema has often depicted situations in which a character encounters silence, but almost never are these depictions actually silent. The complete muting of a soundtrack is a gesture so disruptive of the movie-going norm that filmmakers, wisely, have seldom attempted it; filmmakers seeking to depict a dramatically meaningful absence of sound have often relied extensively on a sonic presence. This essay focuses on three cinematic tropes in which the idea of silence, or “quasi-silence”, is communicated by means of sound. One of these tropes deals with “quasi silence” caused by environmental factors. Another trope, usually associated with fictional characters who experience high trauma, deals with psychologically induced “quasi silence”. The third trope, widely varied in execution yet consistent in affect, represents the point of view – or, rather, the point of audition – of filmic characters whose “quasi silence” has neurological causes.

The chance meeting of a goose and a plover on a turntable: Chris Watson’s wildlife sound recordings
Jacob Smith

Wildlife recordings have an uncertain position within media industries and genres because they can circulate as documentary soundtracks, sound art, or music. In this paper, I explore the cultural life of such recordings through an examination of the work of wildlife sound recordist Chris Watson. After a sketch of his professional career and discussion of the relation between his career trajectory and formal solutions to the spatial and temporal problems of wildlife sound recording, I consider the status of Watson’s work as audio-based eco-criticism, via the record El Tren Fantasma (2011).

The Colossus of Memnon and phonography
Ryan McCormack

The Colossus of Memnon has been one of the most scrutinised sounding statues in the Western world. A lynchpin of Imperial Roman tourism to Egypt, it was silenced by renovations around 200 CE. Since then, speculation on its sound has drawn upon a fervent mix of ancient metaphysics and modern thought in aesthetics and the sciences. In the process, the Colossus became a potent example of the problematic relationship between sound and sculpture prior to the twentieth century. I argue that imprinting the concept of phonography onto the sonic history of the Colossus mediates this history in several important ways. For one, phonography helps frame the Colossus primarily as a mechanism in which the emanation of sound was its essential attribute. In turn, the materiality of the statue gave its sound a veneer of physical permanence that foreshadowed the mentality of sound preservation associated with the onset of Western modernity.

Book Reviews

The capaciousness of sound studies
Julie Beth Napolin

Inside sonicity
Elodie A. Roy

Irreducible listening: sound unseen and unspoken
Iain Campbell

Sound Reviews

Listening to Arab modernity?
Peter McMurray

Bernie Krause’s The Great Animal Orchestra – an exhibition
François Ribac