Music, Sound and Media

Lecturer in Critical Studies Program
California College of the Arts
Fall 2009 - Spring 2012

Plato once argued that written events are less primary than the spoken word and that representing an absent voice in writing can only lead to problems of authority, identity, verification and knowledge. We ask how this idea has been both promoted and critiqued by musical practice and discourses surrounding the recording of audio events since the phonograph. We consider early responses to the phonograph, asking how those responses have changed with available technology and media.

In this hybrid lecture/ seminar course, we explore a myriad of historical, philosophical, literary, and theoretical responses to the existence of recorded sound and sonic practices including, but not limited to, radio, cinema, ethnography, field recordings, musique concrète, minimalism, ambience, acoustic ecology, noise, studio music, reggae/ dub, hip hop, electronic and computer music, sound art, sonic warfare, sound healing, plus ancient and emergent sonic practices and technologies. We pay close attention to how discourses and epistemologies of memory, identity, and culture have shifted alongside recorded media throughout the 20th century and into the 21st. As we develop a set of key terms to be mobilized as artists and listeners, we explore a multiplicity of ways of experiencing, generating, reflecting upon, and understanding critically the pervasive perceptual medium of sound.