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Charles Hayward is one of the most propulsive, resourceful and generative rock-plus drummers of the past half-century. An influential percussionist, keyboardist, songwriter, singer of songs, and forward thinker through sound, Charles spoke with Phantom Power about a 40thanniversary touring with a partly reformed and enlarged This Heat as This Is No…
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Season Two erupts in our ears with a film-noir soundscape—an eerie voice utters strange and disjointed phrases and echoing footsteps lead to sirens and gunshots. What on Earth are we listening to? We unravel the mystery with NYU media professor Mara Mills who studies the historical relationship between disability and media technologies. In Episode …
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Budhaditya Chattopadhyay’s book Sound in Indian Film and Audiovisual Media: History, Practices and Production (Amsterdam UP, 2023) is an exhaustive attempt to study film sound in the Indian subcontinent through artistic research. It aims to fill a significant scholarly void by addressing issues of sound and listening within the cultural contexts of…
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Since the 1990s, many of Houston’s African American residents have customized cars and customized the sound of hip hop. Cars called “slabs” swerve a slow path through the city streets, banging out a distinctive local music that paid tribute to those very same streets and neighborhoods. Folklorist and Houston native Langston Collin Wilkins studies s…
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In Vibe: The Sound and Feeling of Black Life in the American South (University of Mississippi Press, 2023), Corey J. Miles narrates how southern Black sound, feeling, and being is constantly policed, surveilled, and criminalized. In doing so, he re-narrates the region as the "carceral South," to capture the ways people in the South and beyond can f…
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Blacksound: Making Race and Popular Music in the United States (U California Press, 2024) explores the sonic history of blackface minstrelsy and the racial foundations of American musical culture from the early 1800s through the turn of the twentieth century. With this namesake book, Matthew D. Morrison develops the concept of "Blacksound" to uncov…
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On July 18th this year, Teresa Barrozo‘s question — What might the Future sound like? — will be opened to global participation. We bring news of World Listening Day, and speak with Teresa about her intervention. We also hear of data archival developments in acoustic ecology. And we speak with Leah Barclay, the editor of Soundscape: The Journal of A…
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This episode, we talk with Jennifer Lynn Stoever–editor of the influential sound studies blog Sounding Out!–about her new book, The Sonic Color Line: Race and the Cultural Politics of Listening (NYU Press, 2016). We tend to think of race and racism as visual phenomena, but Stoever challenges white listeners to examine how racism can infect our ears…
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This time we talk with a fascinating sound artist and composer Mack met at a recent meeting of the Society for Literature, Science, and the Arts. As his website puts it, “Brian House is an artist who explores the interdependent rhythms of the body, technology, and the environment. His background in both computer science and noise music informs his …
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This episode we have a single longform interview with a media scholar of note–The New School’s Shannon Mattern. We have teamed up with Mediapolis, a journal that places urban studies and media studies into conversation with one another, to interview Mattern about her new book, Code and Clay, Data and Dirt: Five Thousand Years of Urban Media (U of M…
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On our first episode of Phantom Power, we ponder those moments when the air remains unmoved. Whether fostered by design or meteorological conditions or technological glitch, the absence of sound sometimes affects us more profoundly than the audible. We begin with author John Biguenet discussing his book Silence (Bloomsbury, 2015) and the relationsh…
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In a recording, what sounds count as music? Sounds made by a musician's body--including inhales, finger taps, and grunts--have for decades been dismissed as extraneous noises. In Sounds As They Are: The unwritten music in classical recordings (Oxford UP, 2024), author Richard Beaudoin pioneers a field of inquiry into non-notated sounds in recording…
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The basement of a veteran shopping mall located in the central business district of Singapore affords opportunities to a group of amateur and semi-professional musicians, of different ethnicities, ages, and generations to make a sonic way of life. Based on five years of deep participatory experience, this multi-modal (text, musical composition, soc…
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Today, the concept of noise is employed to characterize random fluctuations in general. Before the twentieth century, however, noise only meant disturbing sounds. In the 1900s-50s, noise underwent a conceptual transformation from unwanted sounds that needed to be domesticated into a synonym for errors and deviations to be now used as all kinds of s…
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A century ago, the emergence of radio, along with organized systems of broadcasting, sparked a global fascination with the 'wonder' of sound transmission and reception. The thrilling experience of tuning in to the live sounds of this new medium prompted strong affective responses in its listeners. This book introduces a new concept of "radiophilia,…
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Danger Sound Klaxon!:The Horn That Changed History (University of Virginia Press, 2023) reveals the untold story of the Klaxon automobile horn, one of the first great electrical consumer technologies of the twentieth century. Although its metallic shriek at first shocked pedestrians, savvy advertising strategies convinced consumers across the Unite…
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Pavitra Sundar's book Listening with a Feminist Ear: Soundwork in Bombay Cinema (U Michigan Press, 2023) is a study of the cultural politics and possibilities of sound in cinema. Eschewing ocularcentric and siloed disciplinary formations, the book takes seriously the radical theoretical and methodological potential of listening. It models a feminis…
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Bookshop.org is an online book retailer that donates more than 80% of its profits to independent bookstores. Launched in 2020, Bookshop.org has already raised more than $27,000,000. In this interview, Andy Hunter, founder and CEO discusses his journey to creating one of the most revolutionary new organizations in the book world. Bookshop has found …
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Italian courts and churches began employing castrato singers in the late sixteenth century. By the eighteenth century, the singers occupied a celebrity status on the operatic stage. Constructed through surgical alteration and further modified by rigorous training, castrati inhabited human bodies that had been “mechanized” to produce sounds in ways …
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Featuring twenty entries on subjects such as music, voice, noise, shape and the body Keywords in Sound (Duke, 2015) pushes at the boundaries of ‘sound studies’ through its intellectual overviews and suggested openings on each of the key words. In this podcast we speak to the book’s editors David Novak... Learn more about your ad choices. Visit mega…
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What stories remain hidden behind one of the most significant inventions of the nineteenth century? Kaleidophonic Modernity: Transatlantic Sound, Technology, and Literature (Fordham University Press, 2023) reexamines the development of mechanical sound recording technology by charting the orbits of writers, scientists, and artists in France and the…
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Way back in 2019, Elizabeth and John were already thinking about collaboration. Here they speak with Jared Green and explore The Electro-Library, a podcast he co-created. Elizabeth, Jared and John play snippets from a recent Electro-Library episode on the decidedly non-podcasty topic of photographs, and use it as a springboard to discuss the differ…
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Sebanti Chatterjee's book Choral Voices: Ethnographic Imaginations of Sound and Sacrality (Bloomsbury, 2023) is about sacred and secular choirs in Goa and Shillong across churches, seminaries, schools, auditoriums, classrooms, reality TV shows, and festivals. Voice and genre emerge as social objects annotated by tradition, nostalgia, and innovation…
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In his new series, Gathering of the Tribe (Headpress, 2022) Mark Goodall explores the mysterious power of sound and tone. Each book in the series is devoted to reviewing records that reveal divide and cosmic laws, voyages to other worlds, or use sound as a tool for transformation. Volume One: Acid explores the key explores the key aspects of the ac…
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The social consequences of anti-parasitic urbanism, as efforts to expunge supposedly biological parasites penalize those viewed as social parasites. According to French philosopher Michel Serres, ordered systems are founded on the pathologization of parasites, which can never be fully expelled. In Paris and the Parasite: Noise, Health, and Politics…
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Bonus to the Ways of Hearing podcast and book A behind-the-scenes conversation with the creators of Ways of Hearing, the podcast and book. Hosted by author Damon Krukowski, with Radiotopia and Showcase executive producer Julie Shapiro, sound designer Ian Coss, MIT Press editor Matthew Browne, and graphic designer James Goggin. Recorded live before …
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Whale song is an astonishing world of sound whose existence no one suspected before the 1960s. Its discovery has forced us to confront the possibility of alien intelligence--not in outer space but right here on earth. Thoughtful, richly detailed, and deeply entertaining, Whale Music: Thousand Mile Songs in a Sea of Sound (Terra Nova Press, 2023) us…
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In this podcast, Claire MacDonald and Sarah Parry discuss the history of recording, the sharing of sound art between artists, how recording has shaped communities, the impact of technology on artists and their publics, and the artist's voice and the different genres it inhabits. About the Contributors: Claire MacDonald is a curator, writer, and edi…
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Michael Gurevich, lecturer at the Sonic Arts Research Centre at the Queen’s University, Belfast School of Music and Sonic Arts, serves as guest editor of the Winter 2010 issue of Computer Music Journal. In this podcast, Michael discusses the fields of Computer Music and Human Computer Interaction (HCI). He describes how these fields intersect and w…
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Andrew Simon, a historian of media, popular culture, and the Middle East at Dartmouth College, discusses his new book Media of the Masses: Cassette Culture in Modern Egypt (Stanford University Press, 2022) , with Peoples & Things host, Lee Vinsel. Media of the Masses is an engaging book that examines the impact of cassettes, cassette players, and t…
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The sounds of spectators at football (soccer) are often highlighted – by spectators, tourists, commentators, journalists, scholars, media producers, etc. – as crucial for the experience of football. These sounds are often said to contribute significantly to the production (at the stadium) and conveyance (in televised broadcast) of 'atmosphere.' The…
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What is the nature of language? This is the question that Nathan Vedal’s book, The Culture of Language in Ming China: Sound, Script, and the Redefinition of Boundaries of Knowledge (Columbia University Press; 2022), explores. And ‘explore’ is indeed the best word to describe what this beautifully rich book does, for it looks at how language was con…
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In Soundworks: Race, Sound, and Poetry in Production (Duke UP, 2020), Anthony Reed argues that studying sound requires conceiving it as process and as work. Since the long Black Arts era (ca. 1958–1974), intellectuals, poets, and musicians have defined black sound as radical aesthetic practice. Through their recorded collaborations as well as the a…
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“Raise your voice!” and “Speak up!” are familiar refrains that assume, all too easily, that gaining voice will lead to empowerment, healing, and inclusion for marginalized subjects. Marlene Schäfers’s Voices That Matter: Kurdish Women at the Limits of Representation in Contemporary Turkey (U Chicago Press, 2022) reveals where such assumptions fall …
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Dealing with the colonial archive entails acknowledging the inability to know everything, accounting for the archive’s limited and incomplete condition. Dealing with the colonial archive is not merely about stories of the past but also about the history of the present, and how it is interrupted by the past. — Irene Hilden, in conversation with New …
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The natural world teems with remarkable conversations, many beyond human hearing range. Scientists are using groundbreaking digital technologies to uncover these astonishing sounds, revealing vibrant communication among our fellow creatures across the Tree of Life. At once meditative and scientific, The Sounds of Life: How Digital Technology Is Bri…
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Rebecca Tuhus-Dubrow‘s book, Personal Stereo (Bloomsbury Academic, 2017) , which is part of the Object Lessons series, offers a compelling and expertly researched study of the Sony Walkman, taking into account the device’s controversial origin story, the seismic cultural impact on society in the 1980s, the worries of diminishing social... Learn mor…
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In this episode of High Theory, Amit Pinchevski tells us about echoes. An echo is a sonic reflection of an emission bouncing back to its origin, which if delayed long enough sounds like a response. The echo of one's voice is constitutively not one's voice, and therefore gives an uncanny impression. Amit talks about the myths, metaphors, and materia…
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In Earworm and Event: Music, Daydreams, and Other Imaginary Refrains (Duke UP, 2022) Eldritch Priest questions the nature of the imagination in contemporary culture through the phenomenon of the earworm: those reveries that hijack our attention, the shivers that run down our spines, and the songs that stick in our heads. Through a series of meditat…
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For the hermits and communal monks of antiquity, the desert was a place to flee the cacophony of ordinary life in order to hear and contemplate the voice of God. But these monks discovered something surprising in their harsh desert surroundings: far from empty and silent, the desert is richly reverberant. Sonorous Desert: What Deep Listening Taught…
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We are not what we think we are. Our self-image as natural individuated subjects is determined behind our backs: historically by political forces, cognitively by the language we use, and neurologically by sub-personal mechanisms, as revealed by scientific and philosophical analyses. Under contemporary capitalism, as the gap between this self-image …
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Media of the Masses: Cassette Culture in Modern Egypt (Stanford UP, 2022) investigates the social life of an everyday technology—the cassette tape—to offer a multisensory history of modern Egypt. Over the 1970s and 1980s, cassettes became a ubiquitous presence in Egyptian homes and stores. Audiocassette technology gave an opening to ordinary indivi…
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Sound and Affect: Voice, Music, World (U Chicago Press, 2021) maps a new territory for inquiry at the intersection of music, philosophy, affect theory, and sound studies. The essays in this volume consider objects and experiences marked by the correlation of sound and affect, in music and beyond: the voice, as it speaks, stutters, cries, or sings; …
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Kim speaks with Julie Beth Napolin about Resonance. Julie Beth’s book The Fact of Resonance: Modernist Acoustics and Narrative Form (Fordham UP, 2020) explores resonance and sound in modern literature. In the episode she references Jean-Luc Nancy’s book Listening (Fordham UP, 2007), Inayat Khan’s The Mysticism of Sound and Music (Shambala Publicati…
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We live on a planet alive with song, music, and speech. David Haskell explores how these wonders came to be. In rain forests shimmering with insect sound and swamps pulsing with frog calls we learn about evolution's creative powers. From birds in the Rocky Mountains and on the streets of Paris, we discover how animals learn their songs and adapt to…
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Virtuality has entered our lives making anything we desire possible. We are, as Gorillaz once sang, in an exciting age where 'the digital won't let [us] go…' Technology has revolutionized music, especially in the 21st century where the traditional rules and conventions of music creation, consumption, distribution, promotion, and performance have be…
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Today I talked to Mike Errico about his new book Music, Lyrics, and Life: A Field Guide for the Advancing Songwriter (Backbeat Books, 2022). Brain teasers invite you; brain embarrassers are songs you can’t get a handle on readily enough, causing listeners to give up. That is but one of the many fine distinctions Mike Errico makes in this engaging, …
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It is one of the most extraordinary cases in the history of science: the mating calls of insects were mistaken for a “sonic weapon” that led to a major diplomatic row. Since August 2017, the world media has been absorbed in the “attack” on diplomats from the American and Canadian Embassies in Cuba. While physicians treating victims have described i…
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Making sense of sound is one of the hardest jobs we ask our brains to do. In Of Sound Mind: How Our Brain Constructs a Meaningful Sonic World (MIT Press, 2021), Nina Kraus examines the partnership of sound and brain, showing for the first time that the processing of sound drives many of the brain's core functions. Our hearing is always on—we can't …
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In 1977 NASA shot a mixtape into outer space, and it remains the only human-made object to have left the solar system. The Golden Record aboard the Voyager spacecrafts contained world music and sounds of Earth to represent humanity to any extraterrestrial civilizations. Alien Listening: Voyager's Golden Record and Music from Earth (Zone Books, 2021…
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