Sound Souvenirs: Audio Technologies, Memory and Cultural Practices

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This moral dismissed the human mind and body as trustworthy witnesses of natural phenomena in favor of the registration of such phenomena by machines. Yet as Lissa Roberts , has argued, p. To understand the role of the senses in knowledge dynamics, it is thus useful to distinguish between the different sites at which scientists, engineers, and physicians perform their work: in behind-the-doors laboratories and out-of-sight fields, in the factories and hospitals, where professional engineers and doctors examine individual machines and bodies, as well as at the conferences at which they present their results in scientific papers.

These different sites are all represented in the chapters that follow. Across these sites of knowledge production, different modes of listening are involved, such as monitory, diagnostic, exploratory, and synthetic listening. Diagnostic listening refers to the mode of listening that physicians apply to identify pathologies when using a stethoscope Lachmund , ; Rice and Coltart and that engineers use to detect the origin of calculation mistakes in computers by amplifying their sound Alberts , Whereas monitory listening is used to determine whether something is wrong, diagnostic listening reveals what is wrong.

Exploratory listening is listening to discover new phenomena. Susan Douglas used it to refer to the way in which early amateur radio operators searched the ether for radio stations. The use of sound recording technologies by ornithologists to identify new bird species is a similar form of exploratory listening.

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All of these modes of listening require specific skills. This explains why we prefer to speak of sonic skills rather than auditory skills. The chapters that follow have produced highly contextualized insights into the fundamental issue of sensory selectivity in the production and validation of scientific knowledge and technological design. Rather than proclaiming a victory of the visual in science, pleading for the emancipation of hearing at the expense of seeing, or defending a perceptual equilibrium, the chapters investigate when, how, and under what conditions the ear has contributed to knowledge dynamics in tandem with or instead of the eye.

All of the authors have their own particular take on these issues, colored by the scholarly traditions they draw from. We do not want to give away all of their conclusions. We do, however, want to flag a few remarkable issues that return in many of the chapters, albeit under different headings. The first issue concerns the contexts in which an interest in sound leads to the acquisition of knowledge of objects, machines, bodies, and environments—what p.

Another relevant context involves efforts to aid those who are blind or deaf Supper and Mills, this volume. Moreover, the epistemological status of sound and the attitude toward acoustic instruments or practices seem related to the dominance of particular sensory-related crafts and instruments within certain disciplines or medical practices, such as the microscope in biology or the stethoscope in medicine Mody and Rice, this volume. To compare sounds—whether those of car engines, birds, hearts, sonar, or sonified data—and to delineate even the tiniest differences, knowledge makers need a sound vocabulary and a sound language—in short, a way to talk about sound.

He and other authors nicely illustrate the various modes of listening in medical, engineering, and scientific contexts, such as monitory listening or sonic surveillance Rice, this volume , diagnostic listening Krebs and Rice, this volume , and exploratory listening Fickers, this volume. The empirical evidence in these chapters also implies, however, that it is helpful to distinguish conceptually between the intent behind the listening, such as in our initial definition of monitory or diagnostic listening, and the more perceptual or epistemological characteristics of listening, such as in sound mapping.

Also remarkable are the many ways in which the sonic and the visual interfere with one another. Examples are recording sound by way of music notation and onomatopoeia or with the help of instruments such as the kymograph or the sound spectrograph. More important, these chapters also explain why conversion took place and what effects resulted.

This book covers many new and old sources of sound, some intentional and some unintentional. Science, technology, and medicine themselves constitute one of the biggest new sources of unintentional sounds. The machines of American industrialization such as the new weaving machines used in Lowell, Massachusetts Smith, this volume , or the industrial machines found in Nazi Germany, the former DDR, and West Germany Braun, this volume were not deliberately designed to be noisy—although extra noise may on occasion also be symbolic of power. Even in hospitals, medical technology is a source of often unintentional sound, whether it is the buzz of the ventilators of life-support systems or the beeps of more routine technologies such as digital thermometers Schwartz, this volume.

Once we understand the adverse health consequences of these noisy machines, we can design them to be quieter. Unintentional sounds produced in new sorts of locations, such as factories, hospitals, and laboratories, can lead to the reconfiguration of space. One of the scenes Braun evokes is the workers testing some of the loudest diesel engines found in the Rostock diesel factory in the DDR in a special soundproofed room that they p. Sound and acoustic architecture can together subtly change space in new designs of buildings and concert halls Thompson Urban space can also be reconfigured by mobile listeners with the use of personal stereos and iPods Bull, this volume.

Geographical space too, can be dramatically changed as with the case of the early radio dial, which was for many listeners their gateway to different cities, regions, and countries Fickers, this volume. Science, technology, and medicine are themselves important sources of innovation for new sonic technologies and instruments. Sounds that have never been heard before can be listened to through new devices and pieces of equipment such as the stethoscope, which we have already mentioned. Interestingly, in the early history of the automobile a form of stethoscope was also developed specially for listening to car engines Krebs, this volume.

New sound reproduction equipment such as hydrophonic headphones and special loudspeakers enabled people to listen to sounds under water, thus facilitating a whole new form of art Helmreich, this volume. New medical devices such as cochlear implants have helped deaf people or those with a severe hearing impairment almost miraculously to hear again Mills, this volume. New ways of producing and capturing sounds also change the way we mediate sound. With new instruments and techniques, new sorts of skills and tacit knowledge can also emerge Rice, Krebs, and Kursell, this volume and may involve new regimes of training, as well as the new types of listening skills, which we discussed earlier.

The transformation of sound to another material medium enables it to be more easily stored and transported, such as with phonograph cylinders, player piano rolls, vinyl records, tapes, cassettes, compact discs, and later a vast array of digital storage and transmission media. This is an important point for sound studies to digest and lies at the core of the STS approach to sound. The strength of science studies is in its dealing with materiality, the senses, culture, and politics within the same analytical register.

In sound studies we are dealing with an even wider range of transformations or conversions between different senses and different media for instance, the underwater sounds described by Helmreich. Scholars in this volume employ terms such as transduction Helmreich or conversion Mody to describe such processes.

New Keys to the World of Sound

The increasing movement toward sonification has produced a range of new ways of rendering scientific data into the sensory realm Supper, Sterne and Akiyama, this volume. Sometimes new inscription devices, such as the kymograph, 6 invented by German physiologist Karl Ludwig in the s, can be combined with new sound technologies such as the phonograph to provide new tools for scientific investigation Kursell, this volume. Another example is the combination of the new parabolic microphone for recording bird sound with the audio spectrogram to advance scientific studies of birdsong Bruyninckx, this volume.

Psychological states are more and more linked directly to sounds, whether these states are the audiotopia sought after by iPod listeners Bull, this volume or involve the monitoring of EEGs linked to sound sources, which has been proposed as a new way of making video games even more sonically immersive Grimshaw, this volume. However, the significance of these transformations between the senses is even deeper for the field of sound studies. The invention of the electronic music synthesizer has been described as one of the major musical transformations of the twentieth century Pinch and Trocco The boundaries between what is natural and what is synthetic in music has always been contested.

What makes a musical instrument an instrument as opposed to a machine or piece of technology Pinch and Trocco ? What counts as music and what counts as noise have, of course, been fiercely contested Kahn New instruments developed in the lab, such as the metronome, siren, and tuning fork, can become sources of musical inspiration that lead to new compositions Jackson, this volume , as can the instruments taken over from war-time sonar used to make underwater music Helmreich, this volume. The border crossings between the arts and science documented in this book reveal again that essentialist definitions of instruments and their proper domains are unnecessarily restrictive.

Instruments developed in science and engineering can become part of the arts and the commercial world and vice versa Kursell and Jackson, this volume. The role of users is crucial here as well. Users, such as Grand Wizard Theodore, who is reputed to have invented the hip-hop vinyl scratch, have in effect redesigned the technology of the record player for an entirely new use in music making Eglash et al.

This book is full of such instances, including the remarkable example of one the earliest methods of magnitizdat found in Eastern Europe during the Soviet era, documented by Trever Hagen and Tia DeNora this volume. The emulsion on discarded X-rays from the s in the Soviet Union provided a material that could be engraved as a record. A common struggle is which professional group gets authorized to use which sound technologies and where Krebs, Katz, Supper, and Rice, this volume.

Earlier struggles over noise abatement Thompson ; Bijsterveld ; Braun, this volume and new struggles over the possible damage to hearing from new devices such as earbuds Bull and Schwartz, this volume remind us that sound, as in the story of the SoundEar, is part of the lived politics of everyday life. One of the most enduring sources of unintended sound is natural phenomena, such as thunderstorms, waterfalls, the ocean, volcanoes, and the sounds made by the creatures that inhabit the natural world.

How was the sound of nature experienced, and how did it contrast with the new sorts of industrial sounds found in factories? Furthermore, how did the sounds of the new industrial soundscape contrast with the sound of another means of production—the more silent and agrarian use of slavery in the South? What machine sounds mean to listeners and how they respond to them crucially depend upon historical context, as Smith shows in his chapter. One of the most intriguing questions he discusses is how the differing German political regimes and their dissimilar commitments to the rights and safety of workers have actually dealt with industrial noise.

This community turns out to be transient.

Cleophas and Bijsterveld write mainly about car sound and how European manufacturers in the s tested what consumers wanted in that regard. They extend STS approaches toward understanding testing to this new sonic environment. Negotiating a common shared meaning—the outcome of a test—is even harder in the context of different European cultures. Schulze argues that since many products have been perfected, sensory experience plays an ever-greater role in their marketing and sales. He focuses upon ornithologists in the United Kingdom and the United States and shows how special microphones and devices for turning sound into visual traces, such as the vibralyzer, the oscillograph, and the audio spectrograph taken over from wartime uses of sonar to search for submarines , have played a crucial role.

Often trips into the wild to record the sounds of birds were stymied by the large mobile studios needed to house the recording equipment of the day. Part of his story is the role played by people in the movie industry, who were often the first to develop new sound technologies for places such as the well-known Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Interestingly, later on in another very different sonic context we find scientists returning the compliment by contributing to the movie industry.

Bill Whittington writes in his chapter about how Cornell computer scientists in collaboration with companies such as Pixar are developing new ways to digitally realize sounds for movies. Although for the purpose of organization we have divided this book into sections such as the Laboratory, Field, and Studio, the actors studied do not always respect or follow such categories.

Helmreich shows how the explorers of underwater music learned much from military underwater technologies such as sonar and the development of hydrophonic headphones. New technologies of loudspeakers are also required to produce underwater sounds. There is fluid movement between the sciences and the arts. Helmreich is one of the first authors in the handbook to raise the issue of p. Julia Kursell shows in her chapter how the phonograph and the kymograph were used by Carl Stumpf at the Berlin Institute of Psychology in the early twentieth century as a tool for the scientific investigation of sound and hearing.

Stumpf explored the ways in which these new instruments could be used for the study of language. For instance, he recorded and replayed sounds, such as human vowels, at different speeds.

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In Stumpf also established a phonograph archive that contained examples of musical use from all over the world as part of an ethnologically inspired endeavor. At the same time, the archive provided a basis for the new field science of comparative musicology—which today we would call ethnomusicology. Kursell uses German media theorist Friedrich Kittler to rethink what is involved in the standardization of a media technology. Myles Jackson also reminds us that sound travels between the arts and science in his investigation of several devices developed in the nineteenth century by scientists and acousticians interested in better understanding musical phenomena such as pitch.

He documents the invention of the tuning fork, the siren, and the portable chronometer the latter became the metronome and the different uses they acquired later in musical composition and performances in the twentieth century the tuning fork and metronome, he notes, also became important instruments in nineteenth-century physiology. This traveling across disciplines and indeed between the sciences and the arts in general makes following these acoustic and sound technologies even more salient.

As these instruments get used in new ways in new contexts by new groups of users, we start to hear a richer story of how human creativity and invention occur. While bricolage and tinkering are going on, their sounds are calling out to be listened to. What is at one moment a scientific instrument can later become a new musical instrument. Similarly, a musical instrument such as the phonograph can become part of a scientific laboratory, as Julia Kursell details. The world of sound has for too long been walled off —it is an important part of the means and methods on which the world of human ingenuity and creativity thrive.

At the start of his chapter, Cyrus Mody again draws attention to the issue of the transformation of sound by the community of probe microscopists, who developed many of the new sorts of instruments that are crucial to nanotechnology. Mody uses the term synesthetic conversion , meaning conversion and reconversion between any of the senses, and points out that probe microscopists were attempting to engage the haptic dimensions of the practice, as well as the audio and the visual.

The transformation of scientific data into auditory information is part of a wider process known as sonification. In her chapter, which concludes the section on the laboratory, Alexandra Supper looks at the recent history of this emergent field. Researchers in the field must not only find a way to reduce the residual bias toward the visual but also convincingly legitimize the various sonification techniques, often linked to music and the arts, to make this a discrete field in its own right.

Supper follows sonification through different contexts in great detail by studying its discursive formations and strategic demeanor and its attempts to professionalize. Part of the novelty of her work lies in her focus upon conference presentations by scientists—an area neglected in much of the history and sociology of science. Hospital sounds are discussed in the chapter by Hillel Schwartz. Schwartz considers hospital architecture and the ever-increasing encroachment of noise in parallel with the history of another audio technology—the earplug.

He traces its use particularly through the First World War and up to the noise-canceling headphones of today. Just as in the social sciences, where we wrestle with a concern for both individuals qua individuals and wider social formations such as groups and institutions, so, too, with sound technologies: Is sound an institutional problem to be treated by reforming hospitals, or is it up to individuals to wear sound devices to protect themselves?

Another important source of sound is the human body. We have already mentioned diagnostic listening skills, and this chapter explores them in detail. It discusses issues such as how the sound of a heartbeat can help medical practitioners make a diagnosis, how stable the categories it produces are, and how reliable the technique itself is, especially when other medical contexts such as that in the United States play down auscultation in favor of heart monitoring by echocardiography which uses another p.

Rice not only is concerned with how the listening skills are acquired and passed on but also notices how listening to the body requires medical practitioners to acquire special bodily skills and postures as they learn to position their bodies in the best way to employ this specialized form of listening. He thus engages with the discussion on tacit skills in this volume. Another chapter in the section on clinics discusses a new device that utilizes sound technology, the cochlear implant, which enables deaf people or those with a severe hearing impairment to hear again.

Mara Mills describes the cochlear implant as the most common neural-computer interface in the world with more than two hundred thousand users. She sets her chapter within the context of neuroenhancement and its futurist discourse and offers a new history of cochlear-implant development by focusing upon the previously neglected topic of the subjects actually used in the research.

One thus gains a sense of the new forms of subjectivity that these devices can enable. Immersion is an important theme in the handbook and no more so than in the section on the design studio. Grimshaw, who is himself a game player and designer, shows how, in video games, the players have enormous control over where in the game the character they operate is at any moment; in addition, the sounds must respond appropriately for instance, movement must generate the sound of footsteps. Furthermore, these sounds may convey important information to the player, such as footsteps coming from behind, signaling a threat.

Because of the vast range of sounds that need to be generated in real time, the sonic experience in video games is also much more contingent upon the sound-generating technology available. In such a scenario one could imagine a frightening sound being made even scarier because the player did not yet seem to be frightened enough! This more complete enhanced immersive experience bears an uncanny similarity to the futurist scenarios Mills discusses in her chapter, whereby brain implants and neuroenhancers will, according to some futurists, make ordinary life appear more and more like a video game.

Pixar, of course, is famous for having developed the computer-generated animation methods that replaced the extremely labor-intensive way that cartoons used to be made. Whittington shows that part of the story of this revolution in film production is a sound story. Film sound underwent a digital transformation of its own with the introduction of new sound formats and the rise of the sound design movement, which involved new sound technologies such as synthesizers and samplers.

Indeed, Whittington argues, the technological innovations and new aesthetics that Pixar developed, including the use of sound techniques from live action movies, gained credibility in part because of sound. Whittington focuses mainly on the early animated short films that Pixar made. For instance, the sound of a dog barking in Toy Story was made by combining the sound of a barking dog with that of a tiger. Whittington unpacks the cinematic codes embedded in the new methods and traces the relationships among the complicated networks of production companies, sound houses, and designers in the San Francisco Bay area, which preceded Pixar and led to its eventual success.

In the early s, commercial electronic music was first becoming realizable. Tim Taylor, an ethnomusicologist, in the final chapter in the section on the design studio documents the early use of electronic sounds, such as those of the newly invented Moog synthesizer, to sell products such as beer and coffee. Taylor focuses on two of the best known U. In the opening chapter on the section on the home, Andreas Fickers tells us about early radio and in particular the role played by the iconic radio dial.

For many people who grew up in the s as one of the editors of this book did , the dial glowing on the radio on the mantelpiece provided the first window into a global world—a world where listeners in Europe learned for the first time of the importance of, for instance, Hilversum, Holland always featured prominently on such dials. Fickers details technical developments in early radio whereby it became possible to easily tune in stations—a precondition for the radio dial.

However, the weight of his chapter is on spectrum-allocation issues that the International Broadcasting Union mediated in the and s as different national radio interests negotiated nothing less than the layout of the dial. Fickers thus bridges the detailed listening habits in the home and the wider world of regulatory authorities to provide an intriguing account of the material, institutional, and symbolic aspects of this crucial feature of a single audio technology.

The listening and performances that Hagen and DeNora document often take place in private spaces away from the prying eyes of the state. We learn how technologies such as radio, records, and cassette tapes were all important in the development of new forms of subversive practice and also how the sound technologies were in turn shaped by these practices. Indeed, the story he tells is the converse: These new devices actually facilitated and encouraged amateur music making, and manufacturers often responded to these new users by modifying the devices to facilitate more new uses.

Katz shows that technologies such as phonographs and the player piano employed devices to adjust tone, tempo, and loudness, along with the performance, so that p. In the concluding chapter to the section on the home, Trevor Pinch and Katherine Athanasiades examine a specific form of digital musical community that has arisen with the advent of the Internet. These amateur musicians, who form a worldwide community, post their musical compositions to a special website, where their music can in turn be downloaded and reviewed by other users and which offers a chart position for every piece of music posted.

Pinch and Athansiades show how online reputations at this site are established with the help of yet another form of transduction, one between sounds and music and the words and symbols that populate online ranking systems. They also show that, although the website does open up new possibilities for musical identities and forms of collaboration, many of the identities including gendered identities and processes found there actually bear more resonance to existing offline musical practices and identities. The last section of the handbook contains three chapters that deal with the new possibilities of moving sound that digital storage offers.

He points to the crucial role played by hybrid digital-vinyl systems, which allows DJs to control digital music with specially encoded vinyl records and turntables, thus preserving some of the authentic craft of analog scratching while seeming to embrace the latest digital advances. Rather than having to schlep heavy vinyl records around, DJs can now have all their music conveniently nearby, stored on a digital computer. The practices of digital scratching and the use of vinyl have, however, remained in tension within the hip-hop community.

He documents how Grandmaster Flash played an important and often-neglected role in outlining the technical specifications for one of the mixers used by DJs. The iPod along with other MP3 players and cell phones is one of the most pervasive new sound technologies ever introduced. Bull draws upon a set of theoretical concerns from cultural studies to show how internal experiences and mental states are coproduced or coconstructed with particular new audio technologies. The phonoautograph was a new way to write sound—in other words, to render sound into a visual form.

The chapter thus further explores the topic of sonification, taken up earlier by Supper. Their conclusion is a dramatic one for sound studies. The examples of sonification they discuss demonstrate that data intended for one sense can be readily transformed into another, and they claim this shows the increasing plasticity of the senses. In a way, the topic of a sensory history, of anthropology, or of cultural studies has according to them been dissolved. This offers a radical challenge for the future!

Agar, Jon. Cambridge: Icon, Find this resource:. Alberts, Gerard. Gerard Alberts and Ruud van Dael, 7—9. Nijmegen: Katholieke Universiteit Nijmegen, Alderman, John. Cambridge, Mass. Arkette, Sophie. Attali, Jacques. Noise: The Political Economy of Music. Manchester: Manchester University Press, Badenoch, Alexander. Bailey, Peter. Berendt, Joachim-Ernst. Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt, Bernhart, Toni. Bijker, Wiebe, E. Hughes, and Trevor J. Pinch, eds. Bijsterveld, Karin. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, Birdsall, Carolyn, and Anthony Enns.

Ancient Sounds Modern Healing,Intelligence, Health and Energy through the Magic of Music

Sonic Mediations: Body, Sound, Technology. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Blume, Stuart. New Brunswick, N. Borg, Kevin. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, Brady, Erika. Jackson: University Press of Mississippi, Braun, Hans-Joachim, ed. Hofheim, Germany: Wolke, Bull, Michael. New York: Routledge, New York: Berg, The Auditory Culture Reader. Oxford: Berg, Burke, Peter. Ithaca, N. Casper, Monica. Chanan, Michael. New York: Verso, Classen, Constance. Coates, Peter A. Cockayne, Emily. New Haven, Conn. Collins, Harry M. London: Sage, Collins, Karen.

Connor, Steven. Corbin, Alain. Cambridge, UK: Polity, London: Macmillan, Cottrell, Stephen. Amanda Bayley, 15— New York: Cambridge University Press, Cowan, Michael. Daston, Lorraine, and Peter Galison.

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Music in Everyday Life. Douglas, Susan J. Murrow to Wolfman Jack and Howard Stern. New York: Times Books, Duffin, Jacalyn. Princeton, N. Eglash, Ron, Jennifer L. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, Feld, Steven. Michael Bull and Les Back, — Ferguson, Eugene S. Fickers, Andreas. Fisher, Claude S. Berkeley: University of California Press, Folkerth, Wes.

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The Sound of Shakespeare. Galison, Peter. Galison, and D. Stump, — Stanford: Stanford University Press, Garfinkel, Harold. Studies in Ethnomethodology. Englewood Cliffs, N. Gaylin, Ann. Eavesdropping in the Novel from Austen to Proust. Gitelman, Lisa. Pingree, eds. New Media — Goggin, Gerard.

London: Routledge, Greene, Paul D. Middletown, Conn. Hankins, Thomas L. Instruments and the Imagination. Haraway, Donna. When Species Meet. Haring, Kristen. Howes, David. Ihde, Don. Listening and Voice: A Phenomenology of Sound. Athens: Ohio University Press, Listening and Voice: Phenomenologies of Sound. Johnson, James H. Listening in Paris. Malden, Mass.

Kahn, Douglas. Cambridge Mass. Katz, Mark. Los Angeles: University of California Press, Kelman, Ari Y. Cracked Media: The Sound of Malfunction. Kline, Ronald, and Trevor Pinch. Kraft, James. Stage to Studio: Musicians and the Sound Revolution, — Kursell, Julia, ed. Sounds of Science—Schall im Labor — LaBelle, Brandon, and Steve Roden, eds. Site of Sound: Of Architecture and the Ear. Los Angeles: Errant Bodies, Lachmund, Jens. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag, Langenmaier, Arnica-Verena, ed. Lastra, James.

New York: Columbia University Press, Latour, Bruno. Lynch, Michael. Lynch and S. Woolgar, — Music and Technoculture. Martin, Elizabeth. The making of voice letters , like the one that Eloise recorded and then sent to her Dutch lover as the finding of the tape 15 years later in a street in Amsterdam suggests , is among the several 'creative' uses of magnetic tape that were extensively promoted by manufacturers of tape and tape recorders in the early days of the introduction of the medium to the general public. The industry thus attempted to position the tape machine within the western households of the s and s as a thing with a functionality distinct from that of a mere passive music playback device, like the gramophone or the radio.

In the opening chapter of Sound Souvenirs a collection of articles around the themes of audio technologies, memory and cultural practices, recently published by Amsterdam University Press , Karin Bijsterveld and Annelies Jacobs describe how this calculated attempt to entice midth century consumers via marketing to take up en masse the recording, sharing and archiving of their daily soundscapes, failed. Have a look, for example, at the following photograph from a BASF advertisement:. Except for the unusual dress-code, but including all of the equipment, this is the kind of scene that nowadays one typically might encounter as part of one or another among current sound art practices.

As such it also strongly reminds one of John Cage's hilarious and impeccably timed performance of Waterwalk on the American TV show I've Got a Secret , that most viewers probably will know e. With the exception of but small groups of enthusiast hobbyists like the 'sound hunters' , precursors to our fieldrecorders and phonographers , if at all, the household tapes and tape machines, contrary to the manufacturers original intentions, were mostly used for the archiving and consumption of recorded music.

On the other hand, though again a relatively small group, one should also not under -estimate the number and maybe even less so: the quality of the individuals that were not so much inclined to the pursuit of a sonic equivalent of bird watching , but for which the creative applications of magnetic tape and tape recorders, becoming readily available also to non-academics and non-professionals, nevertheless were nothing short of a revelation. Many of them became initiators and propagators of intriguing and influential sub- cultural movements, like, for example, that of DIY in music and the arts in general.

But that is yet another story. Sound Souvenirs is the result of a collaboration started in between media scholars of the universities of Amsterdam and Maastricht. An earlier offspring was the Sound Souvenirs symposium that took place in Maastricht in november , and which, like the present book, aimed at investigating and mapping out the ways in which audio technologies are used to "elicit, reconstruct, celebrate and manage our memories".

The 12, but loosely related, articles that comprise Sound Souvenirs are divided into 4 main subject groups Storing Sound, Auditory Nostalgia, Technostalgia and Earwitnessing. They take the reader on a colorful tour of sound-culture phenomena as divers as - to name about half of them - mix tapes Bas Jansen , the rise and development of mobile music listening in post-war Germany Heike Weber , the personal auditory nostalgia practiced by iPod users Michael Bull , doo-wop concerts in New Jersey Timothy Taylor , the use of vintage gear and instruments by pop musicians Trevor Pinch and David Reinecke and the revival of the Theremin Hans-Joachim Braun.

Sound Souvenirs is not a book of big theories. Though some of the authors some more, some less designate or hint at theoretical frameworks or even grander schemes , most of the papers employ an anecdotal approach of their subject via a descriptive analysis of a series of well chosen examples. It therefore are most of all the sometimes surprising facts and the wealth of examples that make Sound Souvenirs a worthwhile read, despite an uneven and occasionally pretty awkward fun- academic style of discourse , that here and there manages to stop and hit one with a conclusion at the end of what until then seemed to be merely part of the introduction.

They are curious beasts, indeed. Going through the book's twelve chapters one after the other, evoked a parallel series of personal memories, anecdotes, reflections and examples, and I cannot but thank the authors for this. Thus it was a combination of the articles in Sound Souvenirs dealing with the transistor radio and the recent celebration of the fact that forty years ago man first set foot on the moon , that managed to 'take me back' to the summer of , and our own family's portable radio receiver.

Would you ask me what brand it was, I will immediately retort Aristona. And were I to describe it, I'd say it came in very vivid colors, like a flashy red and a bright yellow; and that it had a transparent, big circular disc that one used for its tuning. All of this may very well be, eh But such were my immediate associations Curiously, I have no recall whatsoever of music playing through this mid-sized rectangular plastic box, but I do remember how especially my father moved it around a lot, to be able to continue to listen to reportages.

Which mainly meant: football matches or politics. While Apollo 11 set out on its journey to the moon, we spent the yearly summer holidays at the Dutch coast. There, in one of the many summer holiday camping places, my parents had rented a small wooden cabin, where the four of us resided for a week or two, doing our best to catch a sun burn by exposing ourselves at the north sea beach that we faithfully went to early each morning, and returned from late in the afternoon.

Of course we took the transistor, and day after day, on and off the beach, we followed NASA 's lunar mission as it was aired onto our little radio by the Dutch public broadcast. Together we earwitnessed the Eagle's landing which, in Dutch time, occurred some 15 minutes over nine in the evening of sunday july 20th , and I was very eager not to miss one single sound bite also of Neil Armstrong 's first step onto the moon's surface. This was to take place a then but very approximately known number of hours later.

Meanwhile, nothing much spectacular or even interesting for earthly listeners was happening over at Tranquility base.

Sound Souvenirs: Audio Technologies, Memory and Cultural Practices Sound Souvenirs: Audio Technologies, Memory and Cultural Practices
Sound Souvenirs: Audio Technologies, Memory and Cultural Practices Sound Souvenirs: Audio Technologies, Memory and Cultural Practices
Sound Souvenirs: Audio Technologies, Memory and Cultural Practices Sound Souvenirs: Audio Technologies, Memory and Cultural Practices
Sound Souvenirs: Audio Technologies, Memory and Cultural Practices Sound Souvenirs: Audio Technologies, Memory and Cultural Practices
Sound Souvenirs: Audio Technologies, Memory and Cultural Practices Sound Souvenirs: Audio Technologies, Memory and Cultural Practices

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