Eidsheim 2015

Notes on Eidsheim (2015) - Sensing Sound.pdf.

Dissects and deconstructs what Eidsheim terms the “figure of sound”—the set of cultural structures and preconceived listenings which reduce “thick vibrational events” to monodimensional, analytic, fixed-knowable objects in the ear of the listener. Still working on exactly what’s going on in it, but it’s very important.

Oral trad. resonant?
Oral versus written echoes resonance/reason
Biblical infallibility product of western reliability


Sonic reductions—that is, the tendency to constrain our understanding of sound through previously defined referents—arise from assumptions and 3 values concerning the usefulness of sound in constructing meaning.That is,

semiotic theory

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It’s the emphasis on interpretation, to the detriment of the less teach­ able, maybe even more obvious or more [sic] bodily pleasures that poetry offers. But that mental and cerebral pleasure seems to be so dominant that it leaves out other pleasures. And the other pleasures are not so

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difficult to discuss, really. So the emphasis tends to be on what does the 12 poem mean?

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In these pages I propose that sound, the narrow logic through which our concepts of music have been threaded and that lies at the center of music’s definition, is merely a trope. It is an empty concept in which we have none­ theless so thoroughly invested that it has produced a kind of tunnel vision. We

begin dialogue with O'Callaghan 2007

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Indeed, if the naming of a given phenomenon were uncoupled from the logic of the figure of sound, parameters that currently define this suite of phenomena might be considered not as fundamental, but as merely marginal.

conn. to Elder 2004—what the actual essential properties are changes

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would be destructive. But approaching music as a vibrational practice offers much more: it recognizes, and hence encourages, idiosyncratic experiences of and with music. Furthermore, approaching music in this way takes into ac­

how 'Pataphysical is this?

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I also interrogate one of music’s fundamental parameters: sound. I do this

non-sounding music?

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The figure of sound is an entity whose existence depends on an objective measurement. For instance, sound as a figure demands a concrete definition

conn. to Cardoso 2019—Ear 2.0??

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Ultimately, the figure of sound reduces sound’s being and its attendant listening practices to sound’s relative relation to a range of a priori ideas of sound. It also reduces the listener. In this dynamic, the listener’s main task is

Frame with Elder 2004?

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Hungry Listening

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Instead, my turning to vibration is fueled by my interest in thinking about music as practice, not object. Music as vibration is something that crosses, is

turn away from defined composition (?) musicking

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and listening. This chapter denaturalizes sign- and discourse-based analyses of sound, proposing in their place a material, sensory-based analysis that assumes sound to be the result of an action rather than the action itself. I compare this

semiotic theory—signifiers & signified & sound iconicity also connection to O'Callaghan 2007

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and algorithms maintains the traditional tendencies to quantify music. Conse­

orig.: "even in contemporary works and studies, where traditional scores may not be relevant, dependence on sound waves, timelines, and algorithms…"
important: can we conceive of a non-quantifying composition practice?

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areas of constraint. As I will discuss below, she questions the performance of gender and sexuality and the limitations of language in the face of nonnorma­ tive behavior. Her investigation aims to complicate her performing relation­ ship with her instrument, her voice, by pulling the rug out from underneath herself, so to speak, and implementing techniques that would undo her hardearned control.

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rising sea levels. The Judeo-Christian perspective is predisposed toward a lin­ ear sense of time and the progressive inevitability of events. The end of the world is thus inexorable and often depicted as an uncontrollable flood—not as a gateway to cleansing and renewal, as with the flood of Noah’s Ark, but as an eternal doom, an irreversible watery state. The element from which we ascended billions of years ago and that we depend on for survival, enjoy in recreation, and use as a means of transportation is also the unstoppable pun­ ishment that will obliterate humanity from the earth. Therefore, even as scien­

okay, no—but is there a Jewish view on this?

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34 through music drama.Snapper says she coined the term hystericism to de­ scribe “a non- or truly anti-di scurs ive mode of vocal performance capable of transmitting things [that] symbolic systems (language, narrative, musical 35 rhetoric) cannot.”While her performances are not about hystericism, her

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well as aural. Snapper’s exercises revealed that music making involves more than traditional theories and notation can capture, and even more than what current musical discourse can describe.

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of the sounds that humans do manage to register underwater. As a result the sound resonates in the body, going directly to the inner ear and circumvent­ ing the eardrum. Like air and water, the eardrum and skull bones are media through which sound passes, and by which its character is affected.

Resonant disruption
Resonance is grounded in materiality

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45 to be omnidirectional.Because the sound waves vibrate the bones of the lis­ tener’s body, her perception is that her own body has created the sound. The sound becomes a state or quality of the listener’s body—in Stefan Helmreich’s 46 description, a “soundstate.”in effect, at an underwater performance where the audience and performers are immersed, the singer’s body, the water, and the audiences’ bodies connect through vibration to become one mass, a single 47 pulsating speaker.

Resonance is also a crucial aspect of any instrumental practice

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the sound is sensed beyond traditional eardrum-based audition, it is the un­ usual situation of having different material afforded sensory experiences of the same musical segments that allows us to grasp that the identification of a musi­ cal piece is materially specific and dependent. Because so many discursive re­

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to locate a body outside its performative representation of culture. In other words, she recognized that material in a natural state is a phantasm to which we do not have unmediated access. Rather, the materiality that we can ac­ cess which includes sound and the voice—is determined by ideas and rep­ resentations that are unavoidably subject to power relations. The power re­

Elder 2004

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silence. Is Odysseus—or, for that matter, are we—up to that task? It is sig­ nificant that the element on which this story turns, the cause for Odysseus’s triumph, is silence. “The politics of silence often assumes a conservative guise


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at much greater length below). Unlike pitch and duration, however, the spatialrelational and acoustic dimensions are noticed and called out only when they are nonnormative. That is, when a sound is too close, dry, wet, or uneven or

Mediation of sound technology

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the documentary Inner Voice (2008).39 In 1978, Monk founded Meredith Monk & Vocal Ensemble. As the House Foundation preserves her work in institu­ tional memory, the ensemble not only performs it but, since the music is not in notated form (with a few exceptions when it was transcribed much later), the 40 members of the Vocal Ensemble hold, carry, and guard it within their bodies.

this, combined with her cross-disciplinary work, questions meaning of composer-hood

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space. Reflecting on Paul Celan’s poetry about the songs of ascent, a series of psalms sung by ancient pilgrims as they climbed a holy mountain via a series of steps, Monk created a movement, light, voice, string quartet, and percussion piece that embodied the energies and dynamics of the circumventional and vertical movement axes. Hence, Songs of Ascension (2008) was a response to

Song of Ascents—Shir ha'Maalot—temporally, personally, ritualistically grounded song—nigunim

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48 about the places in which it was produced or consumed.”Indeed, by 1932, innovations in electrical engineering and acoustic design were used to strip sound of the actual sound of space. Sound of space was now an element that could be “added electronically to any sound signal in any proportions; it no longer had any relationship to the physical space of the architectural construc­ 49 tions.”in the construction of concert halls, extrasonic concerns influenced

Elaborate this!

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The solution was to render the voice “bone-dry for that first line. . . . And then sonically, over the first line, over a minute,” Gimenez explains, “we kind of sonically pan out, and this cathedral reverb slowly fades in and you kind of 62 realize Oh, wait. He’s all alone in this vast space.’"Acknowledging that be­


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mance. And, perhaps as importantly, seeking out performance or heightened moments throws everyday life into relief as performance or as art.

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that just as the thick event of painting has been reduced to visual marks, the 26 thick event of music has been reduced to sound.

can we use this same kind of "thick event" language to talk about dance and movement?

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Pollock was explicit about the value he placed on the premeditated mark— that is, what made a painting look a certain way as a result of careful plan­ ning and the technical ability to carry out this plan. When a reporter dared

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'as not a on canvas .. . . What arena in which another 29 the mo· picture but an event.”Rosenberg read Pollock’s work as the canon ment of art to include what happened before the arrival of ť vas. Rather than focusing on the result, in Rosenberg’s view, Pollock stages hi his canvas painting’ physical and visceral situation “‘in’ the final prodit with brush and paint, and allowing th< the floor, uct to be whatever resulted from his movements. His focus was on what was happening: the canvas documented, and w¡as part of, the event. Amelia Jones : [Hans] Namuth images of Pollock offers similar observations, noting that “the show him standing above or within his huj ige canvas, overtly and theatrically performing the act of painting,” and that in 1Namuth’s 1950 movie, Jackson Pol­ lock, the artist’:act art as performance ... rather than a fixed object." Going a stej further, Jiro Yoshihara and thetwenty artists involved in Jap Concrete'Association mistook Pollock’s work

Creation as performance—Cage's 4'33" No. 2

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sound and sound making. Because the instruments used in Noisy Clothes did not seem like instruments, we managed to shift the performers’ frame of refer­ ence from playing an instrument to simply playing around. The boisterous play,

actualizing the principle of jeu

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and communicate the body’s activities. Thus, moving considerations regard­ ing singing beyond its various manifestations reveals that the singing body ex­ tends beyond that which we conventionally recognize as the vocal instrument.

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Musical notation’s entry into the compositional process seems to be tethered to working with music through signifiers. When determining distinct units for notation, and when employing notation to contain a musical event, the thick corporeal event is necessarily subject to a reduction. And, as a result, our re­ lationship to the event shifts after we access it via notation. Even in my attempt

Poss. relevant to music tech? notation does notate sound—or at least a similar reduction of event

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In broad strokes, Saussure and Derrida disagree on whether the arbitrari­ ness and “unmotivated institutions” of signs deny evidence of any natural at­ 60 tachment between signified and signifier.If the sign does not arise from any

important for semiotic questions

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77 found sensually irresistible.Indeed, this is one of Dillon’s key examples of supermusicality—that unnamable aspect of voice or music, the attraction and power of which lie beyond the reach of understanding through fidelity to words or music. Augustine’s dilemma “establishes a standard for musical sound in re­

Might we discuss nigunim in relation to this—nonlinguistic vocal sounding?

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The structuring of the individual sounds and timbres that are required for a work to retain its identity also takes place within the dynamic of the power structure that is the work concept. In the same way, the notated page and our

try to consider these ideas when reading Dodd 2007

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vocal training. This voice “serves the freedom of human expression, free­ dom from the corrupting influences of culture and therefore is understood as a truthful expression of an authentic and universally understood human 30 self.Although Linklater’s language is radically different from that of the opera

the idea that there is an individual "natural voice" unenculturated, unfixed by "outside" culture is pretty neoliberal

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work with Linklater or an instructor she has certified. Hence, while vocabulary that refers to specific sounds is avoided in this vocal training and practice, the architecture that forms the practice contains elements similar to those of clas­ sical vocal pedagogy. a specific repertoire and exercises believed to bring forth

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ment and action being the core) in chapter 3. In the dominant view, in which Í sound is the core, perhaps it is not the voice or logos but the sound that is the fetish object of the voice, inhibiting us from knowing the voice more closely 39 and understanding more about its effects on singers and listeners.Moreover, j if we were not deafened by sound, would music appear to us not as an ideal , and fetishized sound that he lps maintain the work concept, but as a compound manifestation of performers’ bodies?

Japanoise—materiality—anti-"music" practice part of deliberate breaking of figure of sound (?)—manifestation of chaotic materiality

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ing that sound and singing are singular, unrepeatable instances and articula­ tions, and that we can engage with them only at that level, would preempt all efforts to reproduce a named indexical that has since vanished.

Sounds are Pataphysical entities—each sound is an exception, a singular conjunction, unrepeatable and unindexable

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These categories are exemplified by Michel Chion’s “three listening modes”: “casual listening,” which gathers information about the sound’s source, from the owner of the voice on the telephone to the gravel underfoot; “semantic lis­ tening,” which uses “a code or a language to interpret a message,” from phoƒ nemes to spoken words; and “reduced listening,” which concentrates on the 42 . sound itself, not as a “vehicle for something else.”While Chion considers

All of these listenings are hungry, I think

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of what we have traditionally called music. To refer to music as a noun is to align it with objects and thus imply that humans are not necessarily essential to its existence. However, in the words of Brian Massumi, “there’s something 56 doing” in music.To turn music into a verb is to acknowledge that people, ac­


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nitions of music, singing, pedagogy, and listening on their heads. Rather than assuming that the emotion of love is evoked by a particular person, or that the transcendent feel of music is evoked by a particular composition, I suggest that these effects arise instead from material coarticulation, and that a variety of human and musical articulations could result in equally powerful effects and affects. Recalling chapter is discussion of music’s material base, and chap­

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answer. In other words, the concept evoked—the same sound—implies fixity and knowability, in the same way as does the question “where does the sound begin and end?” There is no “same” music. There is no externally fixed music

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timescale within which we think about it. If we go far enough back, Tomlinson observes, we can clearly see that humans engaged in “musicking” prior to the 28 appearance of “either language or symbols.”Tomlinson’s preliminary million­

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Second, when we examine music as vibrations, we see that the object of study is not only the vibrations but also, for all practical purposes, the material that vibrates. Expanding our perspective in this way reveals that the vibra­


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42 often internally heterogeneous.”Bringing the discussion back to musical in­ struments, for example, Dolan notes that the synthesizer’s boundary nature is described by Pinch and Troceo. That is, the idea of the “liminal entity” is in­ voked to convey not only the crossing of boundaries, but also the transforma­ 43 tion that takes place through that crossing.

further analyze

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However, in an organological investigation of intermaterial vibration, the nodes we think of as sound can be investigated as nodes of transmission. And the investigation can be expanded beyond musical instruments into every node that is affected during the experience of music. An organological investigation

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into intermaterial vibration could explore the dynamic between the body’s sen­ sitivity to vibration and how the body is affected by oscillatory motion or re­ configured by the extended material vibrating continuum of which it is part.

audile frameworks are what select and transform that subset of vibration

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