Edited by Frederick Bianchi, V. J. Manzo – Environmental Sound Artists: In Their Own Words


Oxford University Press, ISBN-13: 978-0190234621, English, 232 pages, 2016, UK

Environmental sound can be defined as the sounds obtained from vibrations structuring a specific environmental context (a forest, an office) producing a psychoacoustic experience. Beyond the different methodologies – from emulation to inspired compositions – that composers historically applied to this field, the World Soundscape Project, a database initiated by Murray Schaefer in the 1960s, remains central to what is now called “acoustic ecology” a field that has influenced the use of recorded ambient sounds. The impact of these concepts on current experimental music production is vast, if we consider categories such as field recording, electroacoustic music, sonification practices and immersive sonic environments. The texts collected here are mainly written by sound artists describing their respective approaches, ranging from the scientific to the very personal. The resulting collection is rewarding for the reader, who can evaluate how the act of recording assumes a different meaning and value from text to text. To record an environment means also to record in space and time a specific reality, one which we may feel will soon disappear, whether for a contingent reason or as a result of environmental degradation. But the gesture of recording, through the increasing ephemerality of the digital, can inspire and change attitudes more than mere content, even if we imagine retrieving it centuries later.