Sounding Art

Sounding Art : Eight Literary Excursions through Electronic Music

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Sounding Art is a journey that traverses a variety of aesthetic approaches to making electronic music. Katharine Norman, herself a composer, writes from a highly personal and unusual perspective. The series of eight extended essays is a long way from conventional academic writing, and covers far more than the traditional repertoire. The essays are themselves literary compositions, whose structure, language and visual appearance are carefully constructed to amplify their theme - whether it be microsound or acousmatic art, electroacoustic or radiophonic music, plunderphonics, turntables or noise. In addition to this listening travel, these essays take illustrative byways through subjects as diverse as map-making, metaphors of flight, emblem books, the history of recording, translating and walks in the rain. The accompanying CD is a route map for the ears, providing a great number of examples by many different composers and artists. Sounding Art is not a history book; it is a book about what sound might mean, and it's an invitation to listen.
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Product details

  • Mixed media product | 242 pages
  • 174 x 246 x 24.89mm | 463g
  • Ashgate Publishing Limited
  • Aldershot, England, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0754604268
  • 9780754604266
  • 2,208,714

Table of contents

Contents: Introduction; Sounding... ... spaces: Concrete tales and touching times; Several infinities (an emblem book); Sounding... ...worlds: When no direction home; The same trail twice: Talking Rain with Hildegard Westerkamp; Sounding... ...voices: Speak/Listen; Figure-toi...: listening to Sous le regard d'un soleil noir by Francis Dhomont; Sounding... ...edges: Beyond the limit and the line; The endnotes: Appendices; Bibliography; Recordings; Index. CD
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Review quote

'Sounding Art is a sort of travel guide to listening - and, according to Katharine Norman listening (really listening) is the key to fully appreciating the emerging world of Sonic Art. The form of her book perfectly mirrors the playful, profound and often accidental nature of our individual sonic journeys. Sounding Art is a significant contribution to our understanding of sound in contemporary culture and should be required reading for students and practitioners in fields as diverse as Music, Architecture, Media, Sociology and Film.' Andrew Deakin, sonic artist and former course leader of the BA and MA Sonic Arts at Middlesex University, UK. 'Katharine Norman has discovered that the most cogent and vivid way to render the sense of unusual original compositions in words is - unusual original compositions in words. Her texts create striking analogues of the expressive worlds of the musics she describes, each verbal episode is as distinct in style, structure and substance as are the musical issues which it addresses. Through her writing we get animated access to all of a very wide range of contemporary musics within an expressive landscape which might be described as the worlds which they normalize and inhabit as normal - rather than as, familiarly, being reductively conventionalized. So we get a lot to hear in sound language and word language; most of all, the varicolored sounds of Katharine Norman's expressive voice, singing of music she knows how to love.' Benjamin Boretz, Professor Emeritus of Music and Integrated Arts, Bard College, USA '... the gift of this book is that it encourages you to enter a world of sound and music that might otherwise be difficult, off-putting, alien or dry as dust. Here the reader is invited to listen to and explore, in a fresh and inviting way, sound sculptures, evocative soundscapes, new music and the world around us... The writing seems to transcend the conventional academic field and, with its literary feel, turns into an ar
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About Katharine Norman

Katharine Norman is a composer, sound artist and writer. She received a PhD in composition from Princeton in 1993 and has, since then, pursued a career as a composer, academic and, increasingly, writer. However, during the writing of this book - which became something of a personal odyssey - she emigrated from London, England to a small island near to Vancouver. Prior to this change of direction she was, for five years, Director of the Electronic Music Studios at Goldsmiths, University of London and, before that, held various teaching posts in the UK. You can find more information on her work at
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