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.
Nina Sun Eidsheim
Over the last decades, much has been said and written about urban renewal and gentrification in Los Angeles. However, the issues addressed have been associated with the types of sounds present or created and musics played. This chapter examines the process of opera in relation to downtown Los Angeles’ gentrification. More specifically, drawing on Tim Choy’s and Ben Anderson’s notion of the “atmospheric” and “air politics,” this chapter addresses the ways in which considering the very acoustic part of the soundscape can offer entry into understanding of the process of gentrification. The listening into the acoustic realization of sound and the reverberation of distinct space can give evidence into broader and deeper shifts in the space’s value, otherwise often difficult to discern. The author does so by considering director Yuval Sharon’s and sound designer Martin Gimenez’s setting of Invisible Cities (composed by Christopher Cerrone) within Union Station’s waiting hall and courtyard. While each singer sang within the everyday soundscape and acoustics of the station, their voices were treated with a thorough sound design and offered up to audiences via wireless headphones. This partial interaction and selectively available product marks a project of “upgrading” the Los Angeles downtown acoustic soundscape—a process, the author proposes, that can be understood as an indicator of the late stage of gentrification.
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.
This chapter investigates how differing pressures on the Broadway musical theater industry can contribute to certain vocal stylistic choices. The author considers the ways in which collegiate and professional training programs have responded to these needs through their musical theater curricula. The chapter brings into relief how vocal training in such programs ensures a sonic conformity, which presumably improves the marketability of the performer in an industry demanding predictable sounds. Specifically, it considers the pedagogical philosophies prevalent in Midwestern musical theater training programs where the author has worked as a vocal coach and where many Broadway performers cut their teeth. The chapter takes no position for or against the vocal ideas taught in these or other musical theater training programs, but makes some observations for the unique demands attached to such training and what demands those pressures make on singers today. Furthermore, the chapter suggests that the growth of the Broadway musical as a tourist attraction, the rise of the megamusical, and the formation of this Broadway sound are all interrelated phenomena enabled by a new corporatizing ideology in musical theater that has disciplined the body of the Broadway performer for decades and continues to shape the industry’s sound today.
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.
Jessica A. Schwartz and April L. Brown
The Marshallese Educational Initiative has focused on intercultural pedagogy and outreach with projects such as the Marshallese Oral History Project and Digital Music Archive (MOHP), Nuclear Remembrance Day, and collaborative work with Marshallese college student members of the Ṃanit Club (Culture Club) that emphasize creative “pathways of connection” within their complex diaspora. The throat, in Marshallese sensorial approach, is the metaphorical seat of the emotions that prompts a feelingful care for others, human and nonhuman. Western acculturated individuals might say that they are “of the same heart or mind” if they feel a certain kindred spirit to someone or our community, but Marshallese have an ideal of being of “one throat” (burō wōt juon). Marshallese prize the throat and its resonance in voice as both timbre and a sonorous mediator of their language that vivifies relations of land and lineage, which are connected to their shared cosmological heritage. Contributing to collaborative studies that focus on music in participatory research, the authors work with students to assess the ways in which listening practices can be oriented to Marshallese voices as they sound the challenges of everyday life in a diaspora compelled and sanctioned by centuries of colonial and imperial interventions. Taking aspects of Marshallese intergenerational knowledge transmission into consideration, the chapter shares how the students, as well as nuclear survivors, participate in the voice challenge by stressing their voices as impacted by historical and cultural conditions that necessitate and afford particular vocal emergences.
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.