This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media edited by Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog, and John Richardson. This essay examines a growing number of filmmakers who construct personal sound aesthetics that rework the rules of sound and image relations. This trend has emerged over the past decade, and it finds global filmmakers engaged in a revitalization of the affective powers of film sound in a digitally converged world. Under consideration are issues of sound authorship, acoustic markers of cultural identity, how sound tropes circulate transnationally, and whether the rules governing sound and image are culturally determined.
One of the defining thematic preoccupations in the fiction filmmaking of Philippe Grandrieux, one of the leading figures in French Art Cinema, is that of the politics of property. In Sombre, La Vie Nouvelle, and Un Lac, the relationship dynamics between a woman and a variety of agents competing to claim her are mapped out in the overlap between different registers of space. This overlap opens up complex dynamics between differing spatial practices that are evident within Grandrieux’s narratives and the stylistics with which he shapes them, breaking down conventional understanding of the distance between screen and audience. This chapter argues that one cannot account for the richness of spatial practice in these films without attention to the representation of acoustic space. Drawing on recent concepts in sound studies and critical geography, and expanding upon the literature on Grandrieux’s work, the author focuses on instances of spatial delineation that defines elements of owned property in each of these films.
This article explores the role of amateur music in the age of sound recording and reproduction technologies. It begins by evaluating concerns about the fate of the amateur in the early twentieth century. Most of the examples cited are from the United States, and the claims hold most strongly for American musical life. However, it also draws evidence from Europe and Asia to suggest the global scope of technologically mediated amateur music making. A strong user-perspective is reflected throughout this article. It then presents four case studies to examine the complex relationship between amateurism and music technologies. The case studies reveal a constant process of co-construction between users and the music. It also takes into account the social construction of technology (SCOT), as well as on the fields of cultural studies and media studies, to explore how users perform and construct identity through technology.
The history of the black diaspora is full with examples of the ways music has enabled various black cultural communities to cope with racial oppression. This article explains how sound-producing technology, in the form of vinyl records and turntables, functions within communities that endow these devices with cultural value. Hip-hop is used to center the discussion on ways in which turntables and vinyl records are attributed a racial authenticity not seen in other music communities where DJs exist. It begins with the premise that the hip-hop culture, similar to other music cultures, is a deeply technological way of life. Furthermore, it explores hip-hop and the emergence of digital vinyl systems and discusses hip-hop and race in the digital age. Finally, it suggests that the intersections of hip-hop, technology, and sound could help understand the ways the materiality of sound is embedded and circulated within society.
J. Martin Daughtry
This chapter examines the history of the militarization of the iPod portable media player during the first six years of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Drawing on interviews and correspondence with American military service members and Iraq war veterans, the chapter documents how iPods and the music they contained were used to smooth and hasten the passage of time, tether service members to their civilian lives back home, memorialize the deaths of fallen comrades, “pump up” troops for combat, maintain their focus on missions, and calm them down at the end of the day. The chapter also illuminates the degree to which the iPod has become a thoroughly militarized prosthetic technology—one deployed in the service of media consumption, one-way translation, interrogation, crowd dispersal, intelligence gathering, “winning hearts and minds,” and even precision shooting in the field.
The Avant-Garde in the Family Room: American Advertising and the Domestication of Electronic Music in the 1960s and 1970s
Timothy D. Taylor
Today, the world is surrounded by electronic sounds of all kinds, which were not always so omnipresent or accepted. This article offers a history of the domestication of sounds that were initially associated with science fiction but fairly quickly found their way into television commercials. It uses the domestication concept in three ways. The first deals with the adoption of sounds associated with science fiction to use in selling products in everyday life. The second explores the complex set of processes behind the scenes by which electronic sounds were harnessed for use in selling. Under this, the article addresses the question of how electronic musicians convinced potential clients in and out of the advertising industry that such sounds could be used in advertising. Finally, the article refers the concept of domestication to the ways in which commodities were thought to become friendly products for consumers and were brought to life by electronic sounds.
Starting from an interdisciplinary perspective of methodological integration of the concepts of body and sound in the contemporary dance scene, this chapter addresses the general aesthetic notion of sonorous body. Through a survey of some key practices and pieces by Wayne McGregor, Ginette Laurin, Angelin Preljocaj, Cindy Van Acker and others, the author analyzes the audiovisual dimension of these works, developed with digital technologies and in a collaboration of choreographers with electronic musician and sound artists such as Scanner, Kasper T. Toeplitz, Granular Synthesis, and Mika Vainio. This audiovisual tension, defined as the sonorous body, can be read through two interpretations. In the first, the sound is a body, which means the electronic sound of the scene is an acoustic material. In the second, the body is a sound, which means the body of the dancers produces the soundscape of a scene.
Heather A. Horst
This chapter analyses the digital inscription of names and identities in mobile phones contact list. Drawing upon research on mobile phones in Jamaica, it examines how the construction of mobile phone contact lists is informed by Jamaican’s historical relationship names and naming as part of auditory practice and imagination. Moving beyond an assumption of instrumental relationships between contacts and social networks, it highlights how the combination of the predesigned structure and the increasing capabilities of cellular phones to incorporate digital images, videos, and music intersects with culturally specific relationships to sound, orality, and performance.
Jan Maghinay Padios
This chapter examines the emergence of the political ringtone in the Philippines in the neoliberal era. It argues that the popularity of the “Hello Garci” and “Sorry Po” ringtones in the midst of the Arroyo election scandal signaled the convergence of significant transformations in technology, culture, and politics in the Philippines that began in the mid-1990s. By focusing on the work of TXTPower, a Manila-based consumer and citizen advocacy group for mobile phone users and political opposition to the Arroyo administration, it also contends that these transformations indicate that neoliberalism does not constitute a refashioning of liberal democratic institutions, but a threat to them.
Justin A. Williams
This chapter examines the relations or intersections between the automobile and popular music. It discusses the history of car audio and describes contemporary car audiophile subcultures. It also investigates the influence of the automobile in the production of popular music, particularly with the hip-hop music production style of Dr. Dre. It explains that Dr. Dre’s G-funk of the 1990s was specifically created for listening in car stereo systems and suggests that his work illustrates how musical materials can be reused and customized for the automotive listening experience.
Tim Wall and Nick Webber
This chapter examines the role of the transistor radio in the development of mobile music. It suggests that understanding of the introduction of the transistor radio as a transformative technology may provide insights into the way that radio created a mobile music and explains that the transistor radio was a key item of technology for cultural agents to exploit and not an agent of change in itself. It also discusses how cultural mobility and the interaction of technological, cultural, and economic factors remade “radio” and created new senses of radio space, radio time and the radio listener.
This chapter examines the role of re-presentation in the musical genre of chiptune and the relation it may have to the real and imagined mobility afforded by portable video gaming devices. It employs Gaston Bachelard's observations on imagined mobility to analyze the ways the experiential affordances of video gaming have come to be articulated with the sounds of early video game systems and how this articulation, in conjunction with the portability of gaming devices, helped mark the sounds of early video game systems as tools for the transformation of both public space and the collective musical unconscious. Focusing specifically on the Nintendo Game Boy as a central symbol of the international chip music scene, the chapter considers the implications its portability has had for music inspired by, but distinct from, early video game music.
This chapter analyzes the cochlear implant as a new acoustic medium. An introductory essay places cochlear implants in a longer tradition of experimentation with the electrical stimulation of hearing. This historical survey is paired with an interview Mills conducted with Charles Graser, an early research subject who field-tested several implant models beginning in the 1970s. Excerpts from Graser’s journals and field notes are included, which detail his novel acoustic experiences and his attempts to domesticate the technology.
Cyrus C. M. Mody
Scholars in science and technology studies (STS) have long noted scientists' tendency of converting data into visual representations. This article provides an overview of the use of visualization and sonification in different fields of STS. Conversion to the visual provided a hook to mutually implicate vision and science as hallmarks of modernity. Visual representations became raw materials for art historical analyses of science and histories of objectivity. Sonification has found favor even among scientists whose work is primarily visual. In microelectronics, acoustic microscopy has been successfully applied to nondestructive inspection of integrated circuits. The final phase of acoustic microscopy took place in a postreconversion environment where engineers no longer faced such criticisms for doing basic research. Although successfully employed in some fields of physical sciences, such applications have not yet fully found their use in the field of life sciences.
This chapter examines the foundational research concerning the applications of interactive mobile music conducted at Sony Computer Science Laboratory Paris and at Culture Lab Newcastle. It analyzes the forms and formats that music can take on when deployed on mobile devices and wireless infrastructures and looks at the development of conceptual thinking of mobile music creation outside the sphere of consumer markets and commercial applications. The chapter also discusses efforts to leverage the possibilities of contextual sensing coupled with dynamic media delivery systems to create new musical experiences that can be shared by groups of performers and listeners.
Creative Sonification of Mobility and Sonic Interaction with Urban Space: An Ethnographic Case Study of a GPS Sound Walk
This chapter examines how mobile media and sound are experienced and in particular how locative technologies such as GPS can be used for the creative sonification of mobility. The detailed analysis of a piece of mobile sound art combines sound studies and media studies perspectives to frame the ethnographic fieldwork. The headphones worn in the piece act as a form of acoustic picture frame that enables participants to reflect upon their experience of the piece, and also upon their everyday mobile media use such as listening to MP3s or using mobile phones. The chapter argues that participation in the piece creates a new hybrid sonic architecture, one that is temporal, embedded and embodied. Some of the key mobile sound themes articulated in interviews with participants and the artist include the friction experienced between different media and sound spaces, as well as the role of walking and sound for experiencing or controlling interactions with urban space. These themes are discussed in light of Michel de Certeau’s analysis of spatial practices in urban space.
Justin D. Burton
This chapter examines the concept of mobile freedom as it is displayed in the iconic dancing silhouette advertisements for Apple’s iPod. By comparing the original 2001 iPod commercial with the initial run of silhouette ads in 2003 and 2004, the chapter demonstrates the evolution of Apple’s marketing plan for the iPod and situates the commercials within the company’s general brand identity, as primarily defined through a series of advertising campaigns deployed by Chiat/Day and TBWA/Chiat/Day since 1984. The silhouette ads are shown to enact a shift in Apple’s target audience as the company markets the iPod to potential consumers who are not assumed to already be Apple product users.
Zachary Wallmark and Roger A. Kendall
Timbre exists at the confluence of the physical and the perceptual, and due to inconsistencies between these frames, it is notoriously hard to describe. This chapter examines the relationship between timbre and language, offering a critical review of theoretical and empirical thought on timbre semantics and providing a preliminary cognitive linguistic account of timbre description. It first traces the major conceptual and methodological advances in psychological timbre research since the 1970s with a focus on the mediating role of verbalization in previous paradigms. It then discusses the cognitive mechanisms underlying how listeners map timbral qualities onto verbal attributes. Applying a cognitive linguistic approach, the chapter concludes that timbre description may reflect certain fundamental aspects of human embodiment, which may help account for certain trans-historical and cross-cultural consistencies in descriptive practices.
The highly complex nature of voice quality is discussed, and elements that contribute to perceived vocal output are identified. Samples of acoustic products of speech and singing are examined by means of computerized spectrographic analysis, and physical development changes and gender differences are described. The “source-filter” model is used to discuss the way in which the waveform of the laryngeal output is modified by the configuration and resonance characteristics of the vocal tract and oral cavities to produce the phonemes of spoken and sung words. A developmental trajectory is traced, describing the ontogenesis of voice quality, and the way in which patterns of normal human growth and development and sociological issues during the years of childhood from birth to puberty contribute to the emergence of a personal voice characteristic is illustrated by examples of Long Term Average Spectra (LTAS) drawn from analysis of young trained and naive singers.
Daniel T. Neely
This chapter examines ice cream truck music from several perspectives. It explores the role of automobility in the use of ice cream truck music and describes how the experience of nostalgia in ice cream truck music through sound is achieved anamnesically. It argues that ice cream truck music is a highly specialized and refined form and explains that its sound organizes social networks of consumers while its timbre accrues ideological meaning through collective memory.