At the turn of the century sound art reached a new level of visibility with a cluster of high-profile shows and countless below-the-radar initiatives. Meanwhile, new thinking about sound has led to an extraordinary proliferation of practices, and in recent years a phalanx of sound recordists and sonic artists has emerged to stage a revolutionary coup on behalf of sound, demanding its right to exist both in and of itself, free of the competing agendas of music or the visual arts.
The emergence of this new world of audio was accelerated by the dual technologies of microphony and digital processing, and can be heard in the examples of acoustic ecology and anthropology; desktop synthesis; the form-destroying praxes of Noise makers; Reductionism's amplification of previously occult sound events; frequency experiments with waveforms and pure tones; and more.
A cluster of recent books on this area has showcased the range of thinking behind the new sound art. For some, this work calls for a renewed focus on the perceiving body; for others, sound art offers new perspectives on the circulation of cultural meanings; for others still, sound has removed itself from the realm of the human to occupy a world where we simply don't figure.
For this edition of The Wire Salon, artist/writer Salomé Voegelin, author of Listening To Noise And Silence (Continuum), Helen Frosi, curator of the Soundfjord gallery, and critic/sound artist Will Montgomery discuss the new philosophies and practices that have emerged in recent years to map and calibrate the new world that has been revealed by 21st century sound art.
The Wire Salon: We Hear A New World: Microphony, Technology & The Rise Of Sound Art takes place at London's Café Oto, 2 September, 8pm, £4 Ticket on the door only.
Plus: take part in an audience-participation sound art quiz and have your perception of the audio world around you reshaped!
In anticipation of the night, we've put together the following reading list with links to online MP3s, videos and texts:
• Anne Hilde Neset hosts an edition of The Wire's Adventures In Modern Music on Resonance FM. Anne was joined by Dont Rhine and Robert Sember, members of the international activist/art/music collective Ultra-red.
• Recordings of Futurist composer Luigi Russolo's compositions using his noise making Intonarumori instruments (page also contains a downloadable PDF of Russolo's The Art Of Noises manifesto from 1913)
• A selection of video work by Brandon LaBelle: Concert #2: working with participants to stage the tension between sight and sound; Perspectives: writing and listening action in public space; Z: writing action utilizing motion-tracking to generate sound in real-time.
sound art links (via Seth Cluett)
The Wire Salon is a monthly series of salon events, hosted by The Wire magazine, and dedicated to the fine art and practice of thinking and talking about music. The evenings, which take place on the first Thursday of each month, will consist of readings, talks, panel discussions, film screenings, DJ sets and even the occasional live performance.
Volatile Frequencies: Topologies of Authority, Technology and Production in Contemporary Middle Eastern Music Practices: call for papers and performances
NB: Due to request,
the deadline for the submission of
abstracts has been extended to 1 October 2010 and for full paper
submissions to 1 November 2010
The Volatile Frequencies conference seeks to collate research that translates, mediates and frames practices specific to sonic disciplines (music, sound art, musicology) arising in relation to the Middle East and North Africa, and to critically connect with wider academic currents. It will emphasise current post-graduate research and scholarly approaches to new sonic practices, prioritising practice that favours experimental and exploratory approaches.
Volatile Frequencies will be in conjunction with the first edition of the MazaJ Festival of Experimental Middle Eastern Music and is co-produced by Zenith Foundation, Sound And Music, and The Wire to be held in London in November 2010.
Academics and artists are invited to submit proposals for the Volatile Frequencies post-graduate day, addressing the key themes outlined on the conference site.
For further information visit
The man (men?) in the marshes above is performing a very rare Position Normal live date at The Outer Church tonight: well worth checking out I'd say – their self-titled last album, originally released on tape, was one of The Wire's Top 50 Records of 2009. Our own Joseph Stannard will be DJing, and best of all, it's free.
And a small competition: if you can identify where the photo in the great Lila Hunnisett flyer above was taken, email myself at The Wire, and you'll get some on-the-hoof field recordings done by myself at an appropriate location.
Tune into to Resonance FM tonight, 9 August, at 23:00 to catch the latest edition of Glossolalia, a show which, according to presenter Oliver Fay, is "produced with the intention of exploring the outer limits of composition, searching for those still thrashing uncomfortably around the perimeters of genre, the outsiders of the experimental music/sonic art frameworks."
Tonight's edition features an hour long collaboration between digital composer-improvisor John Wall and poet Alex Rogers, both of whom fit Fay's brief for the show to a tee.
John's last CD release was 2005's Cpohn, which contained just 20 minutes of material, and his live performances, while they have been growing more frequent in recent years, are still relatively few and far between, so this is a rare opportunity to hear one of the most unique and advanced (non-)musicians we have. As Helena Gough put it in The Wire 318: "His work is so intense and stark, and has this absolute precision to it. I don’t hear that anywhere else.”
John has just launched a blog too, complete with sound files, video clips, software demos, and so on.
Our monthly salon series continues with a talk by The Wire’s Editor-at-Large Rob Young based on his history of folk, folk rock, psychedelia and the British imagination, Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music (published by Faber And Faber, 5 August 2010.). The talk will be illustrated with film and audio clips and will be followed by a discussion of the book’s central themes; plus DJ Jonny Trunk will be in attendance spinning the sounds of wyrd and wired Britain. London Café Oto, 5 August, 8pm, £4.
• Read: The Incredible String Band and The Hangman's Beautiful Daughter. Extract from Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain's Visionary Music by Rob Young
• Read: Into The Woods. "Across folk, classical, pop and exploratory music, the sense of exile from Eden is key to the progress of British music in the twentieth century, writes Rob Young." Article for The Journal Of Music.
• Listen: Exotic Pylon podcast. Featuring conversation between Rob Young and host Jonny Mugwump. The show lasts 90 minutes and includes a selection of music from Talk Talk, Peter Bellamy, Steeleye Span, John Ireland, Dave Cousins, Archie Fisher, Mandy Morton & Spriguns, Robin Williamson and Alasdair Roberts.