Brandon LaBelle, Acoustic Territories: Sound Culture and Everyday Life

Brandon LaBelle

Continuum, ISBN-13: 978-1441161369, 304 pages, 2010, English
This is a book about “auditory life,” exploring the everyday practice of listening and how auditory studies can better interpret and influence society. Systematically divided into chapters which reflect specific urban acoustic environments (Underground, Home, Sidewalk, Street, Shopping Mall, Sky), the text extensively researches habits, practices, tactics, myths, conventions and performances which can actively shape what hits our ears, and so what aurally impacts our being in different habitats. An interdisciplinary and cultural mapping of urban topology is then accomplished, drawing from history as well as street art, architecture and sound studies, properly analyzing popular and easily dismissed concepts like “noise pollution.” Artist practices are integrated for their value of questioning everyday life in its schemes, describing a more complex, dynamic and mutually influential relationship between sound and society. LaBelle compiles here “itineraries” of acoustic domains, where the usual and potential soundscape is defined by familiar as well strange or purposely generated/emitted sounds. Each chapter starts with a quote from a famous band/composer and then develops its own path, delivering an engaging vision of familiar spaces, which is likely to definitively impact how the reader experiences these places. The final perspective is that of a small acoustic universe (from underground to sky) which is pulsating with life and perceptive opportunities. The book is very informative, a seminal work in sonic research.