Book: Sound Unseen: Acousmatic Sound in Theory and Practice

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Sound Unseen: Acousmatic Sound in Theory and Practice

Brian Kane, assistant professor of music

(Oxford University Press)

“Sound Unseen: Acousmatic Sound in Theory and Practice” explores the phenomenon of acousmatic sound. “Acousmatic” is a term first introduced into modern parlance in the mid-1960s by avant garde composer of musique concrète Pierre Schaeffer to describe the experience of hearing a sound without seeing its cause.

Working through, and often against, Schaeffer’s ideas, Kane presents an argument for the central yet overlooked role of acousmatic sound in music aesthetics, sound studies, literature, philosophy, and the history of the senses. Kane investigates acousmatic sound from a number of methodological perspectives — historical, cultural, philosophical, and musical — and provides a framework that makes sense of the many surprising and paradoxical ways that unseen sound has been understood.

“Sound Unseen” pursues unseen sounds through an array of cases — from Bayreuth to Kafka’s “Burrow,” Apollinaire to Zižek, music and metaphysics to architecture and automata, and from Pythagoras to the present.

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