Audio Culture

Audio Culture : Readings in Modern Music

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Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music attempts to map the aural and discursive terrain of vanguard musical culture today. Over the past few decades, a new audio culture has emerged, a culture of making and thinking about music and sound that disregards conventional categories and oppositions still operative in the academy and the mainstream music industry alike. Via writings by key philosophers, cultural theorists and composers, this book explores the interconnections among such forms as Minimalism, Indeterminacy, musique concrete, Improvised Music, the Classical Avant Garde, Experimental Music, Avant-Rock, Dub Reggae, Ambient Music, Hip Hop, and Techno. They demonstrate the way these musics constantly cross-pollinate each other, transgressing generic boundaries, and how contemporary composers, producers, and musicians now work within complex networks of association and influence: New York art rockers Sonic Youth release a CD of works by John Cage and other avant-garde experimentalists; Bjork interviews Karlheinz Stockhausen for a music magazine and Derek Bailey, the septuagenarian founder of Free Improvisation, collaborates with Drum 'n' Bass producers.
Each chapter opens with an introduction that situates and interconnects the writings to follow and concludes with an extensive bibliography and discography. The book also includes a comprehensive glossary of terms and phrases such as 'Ambient,' 'Dub,' 'just intonation,' and 'modal improvisation.'
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Product details

  • Paperback | 416 pages
  • 152.4 x 226.1 x 33mm | 725.76g
  • Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd.
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0826416152
  • 9780826416155
  • 85,452

Table of contents

Part One: Theories; I. Music and its Others: Noise, Sound, Silence; Introduction / 1. Jacques Attali, Noise and Politics / 2. Luigi Russolo, The Art of Noises: Futurist Manifesto / 3. Morton Feldman, Sound, Noise, Varese, Boulez / 4. Edgard Varese, The Liberation of Sound / 5. Henry Cowell, The Joys of Noise / 6. John Cage, The Future of Music: Credo / 7. R. Murray Schafer, The Music of the Environment / 8. Mark Slouka, Listening for Silence: Notes on the Aural Life / 9. Mary Russo and Dan Wamer, Rough Music, Futurism, and Postpunk Industrial Noise Bands / 10. Simon Reynolds, Noise / 11. The Beauty of Noise: An Interview with Masami Akita of Merzbow; II. Modes of Listening; Introduction / 12. Marshall McLuhan, Visual and Acoustic Space / 13. Hanns Eisler & Theodor Adorno, The Politics of Hearing / 14. Pierre Schaeffer, Acousmatics [first English translation] / 15. Francisco Lopez, Profound Listening and Environmental Sound Matter / 16. Ola Stockfelt, Adequate Modes of Listening / 17. Brian Eno, Amblent Music / 18. Iain Chambers, The Aural Walk / 19. Pauline Oliveros, Some Sound Observations / 20. J.K. Randall, Compose Yourself; III. Music in the Age of Electronic Reproduction; Introduction / 21. Glenn Gould, The Prospects of Recording / 22. Brian Eno, The Studio as Compositional Tool / 23. John Oswaid, Bettered by the Borrower: The Ethics of Musical Debt / 24. Chris Cutler, Plunderphonia / 25. Kodwo Eshun, Operating System for the Redesign of Sonic Reality; Part Two: Practices; IV. The Open Work; Introduction / 26. Umberto Eco, Poetics of the Open Work / 27. John Cage, Composition as Process: Indeterminacy / 28. Christoph Cox, Visual Sounds: On Graphic Scores / 29. Earle Brown, Transformations and Developments of a Radical Aesthetic / 30. John Zorn, The Game Pieces / 31. Anthony Braxton, Introduction to Catalog of Works; V. Experimental Musics; Introduction / 32. Michael Nyman, Towards (a Definition of) Experimental Music / 33. John Cage, Introduction to Themes & Variations / 34. Brian Eno, Generating and Organizing Variety in the Arts / 35. Comelius Cardew, Scratch Music Draft Constitution / 36. David Toop, The Generation Game: Experimental Music and Digital Culture; VI. Improvized Musics; Introduction / 37. Ornette Coleman, Change of the Century / 38. Derek Bailey, Free Improvization / 39. Frederic Rzewski, Little Bangs: A Nihilist Theory of Improvization / 40. George E. Lewis, Improvised Music After 1950: Afrological and Eurological Perspectives; VII. Minimalisms; Introduction / 41. Susan McClary, Rap, Minimalism and Structures of Time in Late Twentieth-Century Culture / 42. Kyle Gann, Thankless Attempts at a Definition of Minimalism / 43. Steve Reich, Music as a Gradual Process / 44. Wim Mertens, Basic Concepts of Minimal Music / 45. Tony Conrad, LYssophobia: On Four Violins / 46. Philip Sherburne, Digital Discipline: Minimalism in House and Techno; VIII. DJ Culture; Introduction; 47. Laszio Moholy-Nagy, Production-Reproduction; Potentialitie
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Review quote

"Audio Culture is the best introduction to the long historical fades and theoretical jumpcuts of what millions in the 21st C. now listen to as music: overwhelming noise and disturbed silences, unfettered Improv and indeterminate obstacles, the performance of recording, electricity, eclectics, mistakes and just the thought of music."-Douglas Kahn, author of Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts, and Director of Technocultural Studies at the University of California, Davis The contributors include composers from the worlds of avant-garde classical music, pop, and jazz e.g. John Cage, Karlheinz Stockhausen, and Pauline Oliveros-as well as cultural historians like Marshall McLuhan and Jacques Barzun and literary experimentalists such as William Burroughs .Students of contemporary music will find this compendium useful. -Library Journal, September 15, 2004 [Audio Culture] is an indispensable primer full of the theories behind noise, Free-jazz, minimalism, 20th century composition, ambient, avant-garde and all the other crazy shit your square-ass friends can t believe you actually like. With writing and interviews from all the players in question (quoting Stockhausen is five points in hipster bingo), this book deconstructs all the essential ideas: Cage s themes, Eno s strategies, Zorn s games and Merzbow s undying love of porno. CMJ New Music Monthly, 7/04 offers a collection of essays that filter a range of experimental musical practices in an unusually refreshing way. an intriguing selection of articles from a range of significant radio-sonic heroes as well as important thinkers and philosophers an elegant anthology ambitious Audio Culture guides the readers an intellectual journey from the year 1877 when the first recording fundamentally transformed sound, towards almost better understanding our present culture of omnipresent ipod-users, polyphonic cell-phone ringers and Bjork s Medula, helping both the experts and enthusiasts to new ways of thinking, tracing, developing and presenting audio culture. (Weekly Digest), 2/05 Writings on the new music are frequently hidden away in hard-to-find, ephemeral publications, so a collection like this is welcome just by the fact that it brings all these items together .A collection like this encourages us to realize how really vibrant and successful new music has been and continues to be both because of and in spite of its marginality and how fortunate we are to live in a time of its ascendancy. Cox and Warner have included well-organized discographies and bibliographies, and provide brief introductions to the individual entries, giving some background to each author s work and ideas. Audio Culture will certainly be a useful teaching tool in the field of cultural studies, aesthetics and musicology; and fans and devotees of new music will find a lot here to mull over as well. Signal to Noise, Fall 2004 this is a book that should be read in its totality it s truly absorbing stuff. Jazzwise, Stuart Nicholson, 1st February 2005 Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music is a cannily collected anthology of seminal music writing, your one-stop shopping destination for ear-opening essays on the nature and recent history of music. The obligatory pioneers and almost-pop icons are all there Audio Culture coeditors Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner range boldly and widely, embracing noise, soundscape listening, minimalism, glitch, plunderphonics, and collective music making Audio Culture passes the test of a good music book: It s easy to read, insightful, and inspiring. The Stranger, October 7, 2004 "Cox's and Warner's book is a wonderfully accessible anthology of essential readings for anyone-academics and enthusiasts alike-interested in the histories of experimental music and sound art."-Debra Singer, Executive Director, The Kitchen eminently readable experimental music enthusiasts and the pipe-and-elbow patch crowd should find plenty in here to peak their interest. Audio Culture doesn t limit itself to traditional ways of looking at music, just as it doesn t limit its rogue s gallery of contributors topics such as minimalist compositions and noise-based music are finally given some long-overdue critical attention. Creative Loafing (Charlotte), 3/05 Audio Culture is a book to provoke thought This is an excellent selection of texts. Radical Philosophy 133, September/ October 2005--Radical Philosophy Audio Culture s assemblage of key writings, texts, and manifestos spanning over a century tells that story better than just about anything else in print, while discovering new tributaries in the process. Frieze (U.K. art magazine), 3/9/05 Review Sonic (Scandinavia) To be honest, no one looking at the collection of 57 well-chosen essays written by some of the biggest names in music and reprinted from books and publications well-noted for their contribution to music theory will be able to resist reading and buying the book. In fact, there is just so much that makes this book valuable that it is difficult to name them all. Both the content and the structure of Audio Culture add to its strength . The end result is a complete and cohesive treatment of modern music. Anyone who has edited a collection knows that such an outcome is not an easy one to attain, but it is certainly achieved here . With growing interest in sound on web-based environments and the ease with which to produce it, Cox and Warner s Audio Culture stands as a must-read for both aspiring artists and music theorists alike. Leonardo: The Journal of the International Society for the AAS, Sciences and Technology, October 7, 2004 "Cox and Warner's book is warmly recommended. It's highly unlikely that readers will have original copies of all the books and articles featured therein, so the simple fact that the editors have gone to the trouble of bringing them together in one volume is to be praised to the skies .Audio Culture is well worth the price of admission for the writings of Russolo, Cowell, Cage, Schafer, McLuhan, Reynolds, Eno and Cutler, to name but a few." January 2005 "Ever wondered how modern music in all its mesmerizing diversity really works? If so, then this is the book for you .An endlessly fascinating read, a major reference resource, and great value for the money." Julian Haylock, Classic FM Magazine (UK) Feb. 1, 2005 Growing steadily alongside a music-writing canon loaded with the likes of Greil Marcus and Lester Bangs, the body of work sampled in Audio Culture wanders far afield from rock and ponders questions that are less than concerned with ideals of human expression. In this sphere of influence, John Cage is Elvis Presley, Brian Eno s cerebral musings trump Lou Reed s tangy antagonism, sonics mean more than lyrics, and movements have yet to be surveyed entirely through a year view . The best book of its kind, Audio Culture compiles essays and excerpts from artists, critics, and academics given to staring down music with no eyes to return the gaze . From there, Audio Culture spreads to survey various facets of music and its production, and interpretation. The table of contents reads like a greatest-hits collection: Cage, Eno, Ornette Coleman, Steve Reich, David Toop, Kodwo Eshun, Simon Reynolds .Audio Culture dangles intellectual threads fit to tie lifers and open-eared wonderers alike. The Onion, November 17, 2004 In Audio Culture, editors Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner bring to readers an educated, timely and much needed critical perspective of our contemporary musical experience through the writings of some of the most important musical thinkers, including Jacques Attali, John Cage, Umberto Eco, Brian Eno, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Edgar Varese, just to name a few. Audio Culture offers a collection of essays that filter a range of experimental musical practices in an unusually refreshing way. Maybe not since Gregory Whitehead s reader Wireless Imagination (1994) which recorded the silent history of audio, has literature on this subject sufficiently captured the attention of both the sound enthusiasts and academics at the same time. The result is an elegant anthology that compiles the manifestos of old masters such as Italian Futurist Luigi Russolo and statements by Edgard Varese and John Cage while also spotlighting an interview on integration of technology into artistic production by Christian Marclay It is to the credit of the book that it keeps up with the most interesting key texts and ideas in the field and does not make a huge demand on our Windows-culture-inflicted patience. The book is ambitious enough to cater to a broader audience and manages to respond to the numerous demands made upon it. makes the writings very accessible to readers who are not familiar with the author or topic under discussion. Texts and ideas come from a variety of sources Audio Culture succinctly captures the last fifty years that has been the most fascinating times for avant-garde experimentation, performances and sonic landscapes, By treating the existing rhizomic dots and lines between myriads of practices in a progressive fashion, it gives the last decade its attention and maybe its future vocabulary., 1/28/05 "It's a hideous fate to wish on an anthology as fine as Audio Culture, but if anyone's planning a college course on modern music, they couldn't find a better set text . . . . All in all, a wonderful book . . . the glossary, bibliography and discography are exemplary, guaranteeing Audio Culture is going to be used rather than merely dipped or cribbed. Though you can bet that'll be happening to it as well."-Brian Morton, The Wire--Sanford Lakoff "indispensable .this is a book that should be read in its totality it's truly absorbing stuff." Stuart Nicholson, Jazzwire (UK), February 2005 issue--Sanford Lakoff
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About Christoph Cox

Christoph Cox is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Hampshire College, MA. He writes regularly on contemporary art and music for Artforum, The Wire and other magazines. Daniel Warner is Professor of Music at Hampshire College, MA, where he teaches electronic and computer music.
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Rating details

676 ratings
4.18 out of 5 stars
5 46% (312)
4 35% (236)
3 13% (89)
2 3% (21)
1 3% (18)
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