Listening through the Noise: The Aesthetics of Experimental Electronic Music

By Joanna Demers | Go to book overview
Save to active project

5
Site in Ambient, Soundscape, and
Field Recordings

We are accustomed to thinking that electronic music, even more than nonelectronic music, is concerned with space, a quotient of acoustics and spatialization. There are strong justifications for this association, including the numerous works that engage with space as a formal parameter like timbre or structure. Alvin Lucier’s I Am Sitting in a Room (1969) is one of the most frequently mentioned examples of electronic music’s interest in space or, specifically, in how the acoustic properties of a room can alter sound. But space in this work ultimately refers back to listening. It is not enough to know that I Am Sitting in a Room loops the sound of Lucier’s voice so many times that the reinforced frequencies of the room eventually render his words unintelligible; listeners must hear these transformations over time if they are to have their greatest effect. The piece is most impressive when heard live within the very room where the speaker’s voice is slowly being fossilized and rendered unintelligible. In short, I Am Sitting in a Room treats space but also the embodiment of listening, the fact that we listen not only as minds or ears but as entire bodies. The concept of space risks reifying electronic works as objects separate from their surroundings, whereas any practical treatment of space in music always hinges on the listener’s relationship to sound.

Many other electronic works also address the theme of space, although they, too, end up reflecting back on listening as much as, if not more than, on space. Instead of structuring this discussion around space, we would do well to expand our focus to site, which entails not only the environments in which sound propagates but also those that listeners physically and metaphorically occupy. The terms at play in discussions of music and site are

-113-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Listening through the Noise: The Aesthetics of Experimental Electronic Music
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 201

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?