Daniele Shlomit Sofer – Sex Sounds, Vectors of Difference in Electronic Music


The MIT Press, ISBN 978-0262045193, English, 380 pages, 2022, USA

The arousal power of the voice has been used extensively in music of all genres. But is it possible to quantify and qualify this use in a more general theory? Sofer attempts this difficult task in this book. They begin by defining electronic music as “any music employing electronics” and thus includes avant-garde as well as pop and hip-hop. They establish detailed sonic profiles for the representation of sex in electronic music, which they define as “electrosexual music”. The twelve case studies presented, focusing on either the ”feminised voice” or “electro sexual disturbance” begin with Schaeffer and Henry’s ‘Erotica’, from Symphonie pour un homme seul from 1950–1951, and continue through Pauline Oliveros, who composed the soundtrack to Annie Sprinkle and Maria Beatty’s film “The Sluts and Goddesses Video Workshop”, to the then revolutionary Donna Summer’s “Love to Love You Baby“, in which they recognise the use of her voice as an essential part of the composition, to Janelle Monáe’s “It’s Code” and several more. Using theory and musicology, the author’s critical position highlights the initial lack of any ethical rules for recording and acknowledging of women’s voices and the slow progress in reclaiming women’s right to first determine and then use these sound profiles in their own way, regardless of gender and style.