(edited by) James A. Steintrager, Rey Chow – Sound Objects


Duke University Press, ISBN-13: 978-1478001454, English, 312 pages, 2019, USA

The strenuous task of defining ethereal ‘sound’ as an ‘object’ can be compared to Yuk Hui’s effort to outline ‘digital objects’. The formulation of a ’sound object’ has to go through some cardinal points like the act of listening, the definition of sonic ‘entities’, and the context of post-structuralist theory. This collection of essays heterogeneously addresses the efforts of theory when forced to grapple with sounds as such. Our problematic perception, which is quite limited, or at least heavily influenced by the experience of our predominantly visuocentric culture, also has to deal with problems with acoustic memory, creating multiple issues in our auditory experience. Unavoidably starting with a genealogical reconstruction of Pierre Schaeffer’s “objets musicaux” as a centre of gravity, and the acousmatic approach as a methodology, the writings discuss different philosophical approaches. Topics range from an analysis of Pythagoras lecturing behind the curtain, in a way formalising acousmatic sound; to Adorno’s “music as commodity”, and the pivotal role of the voice; leading to the influential and invisible sociotechnical characteristics of sound and finally taking into question the technological means of reproduction. The carefully curated sequence of essays and chapters makes a significant contribution to the field of sound studies.