Nina Sun Eidsheim – Sensing Sound: Singing and Listening as Vibrational Practice


Duke University Press, ISBN: 978-0822360612, English, 288 pages, 2015

Even if we consider “the voice” as a sound source, in an average personal imaginary ‘sound’ is something external, while “the voice” is something internal and intimate. If we add to that the extreme power of language, it’s even harder to treat the voice as “sound”. Eidsheim explores these contradictions in her book with knowledge and vision. Her theory of sound as a “universal connection of entities”, for example, is simply enrapturing, exploring how human needs and perspectives have been transformed through disembodied forms of communication, nonetheless claiming that, in the end, “we are all connected to each other in and through sound”. Four main case studies are analysed: Juliana Snapper’s underwater singing performances; Meredith Monk and the Vocal Ensemble project, with performers carrying and “guarding” their voices with their bodies; Christopher Cerrone and his Invisible City, a piece for orchestra and voice, performed in a station and listened to through headphones; and Alba Triana with her unique Body Music compositions, developing singing as an “internal corporeal choreography”. Eidsheim is able to sketch a new path through singing and listening; this also involves illustrating practices she has been personally involved in, such as the Noisy Clothes of Elodie Blanchard, involving language and its problems as a further element, in the end legitimising the whole sounding body as a stratified complex medium.