The Anthropology of Sound >> Content Detail

Listening, Readings and Films

Listening, Readings and Films

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Required Books

Amazon logo Attali, Jacques. Noise: The Political Economy of Music. Translated by Brian Massumi. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1985. ISBN: 9780816612871.

Amazon logo Bull, Michael, and Les Back, eds. The Auditory Culture Reader. Oxford, UK: Berg Publishers, 2004. ISBN: 9781859736180.

1Course introduction
2Thinking about soundVitiello, Steven. Sounds Building in the Fading Light. Creamgarden Records, 2001.

In The Auditory Culture Reader:

  • Bull, Michael, and Les Back. "Into Sound."
  • Schafer, Murray. "Open Ears."
  • Ihde, Don. "Auditory Imagination."
  • Schwartz, Hillel. "The Indefensible Ear."

Feld, Steven, and Donald Brenneis. "Doing Anthropology in Sound." American Ethnologist 31, no. 4 (2004): 461-474.


Amazon logo Voices Of The Rainforest: A Day In The Life Of The Kaluli People. Rykodisc, 1991.

Public Works (aka The Tape-beatles). "Waves of Waves," (MP3 - 2.0 MB), "Earlids" (MP3 - 2.0 MB). From Music with Sound. Staalplaat, 1991. [Download from UbuWeb.]

Feld, Steven. "A Rainforest Acoustemology." In The Auditory Culture Reader.

Amazon logo Stoller, Paul. "Sound in Songhay Possession, Sound in Songhay Sorcery." In The Taste of Ethnographic Things: The Senses in Anthropology. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1989, pp. 102-122. ISBN: 9780812212921.

Lenoir, Timothy. "Helmholtz & the Materialities of Communication." Osiris 9 (1994): 185-207.

Amazon logo Evens, Aden. "Sound and Noise." In Sound Ideas: Music, Machines, and Experience. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2005, pp. 1-24. ISBN: 9780816645374. [Preview this chapter in Google Books.]



Soundwalk at MIT

Lucier, Alvin. 1970. I Am Sitting in a Room. (MP3 - 21.1 MB) [Download via Lucier's UbuWeb page.]

Amazon logo Schafer, R. Murray. The Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World. Destiny Books, 1993, pp. 3-99. ISBN: 9780892814558. (Reprint of Knopf, 1977.)

Smith, Bruce. "Tuning into London c. 1600." In The Auditory Culture Reader.

Amazon logo Thompson, Emily. "The Origins of Modern Acoustics." In The Soundscape of Modernity: Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening in America, 1900-1933. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2004, pp. 13-57. ISBN: 9780262701068.


Fay, Mark, and Melinda Simon, compilation eds. Various 20th century. One of One: Snapshots in Sound. St. Helena, CA: Dish Recordings 002.

Artaud, Antonin. To Have Done with the Judgment of God. Radio play, 1947. [Read by Artaud, in French, 1968, from Pacifica Radio Archives.]

Whitehead, Gregory. "The Problem with Bodies." (MP3 - 2.0 MB) On Music Overheard. Vol. 2. Edited by Damon Krukowski. Institute for Contemporary Art, 2006.

Amazon logo Seremetakis, Nadia. "The Screaming." In The Last Word: Women, Death, and Divination in Inner Mani. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1991, pp. 64-81. ISBN: 9780226748764.

Miller, Thomas Ross. "Object Lessons: Wooden Spirits, Wax Voices, and Collecting the Folk." In Properties of Culture/Culture as Property: Pathways to Reform in Post-Soviet Siberia. Edited by Erich Kasten. Berlin, Germany: Dietrich Reimer Verlag, 2004. ISBN: 9783496027683. (PDF)#

Amazon logo Samuels, David. "Alien Tongues." In E.T. Culture: Anthropology in Outerspaces. Edited by Debbora Battaglia. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2005, pp. 94-129. ISBN: 9780822336211.

Praat: Doing Phonetics by Computer

Pygmalion. Directed by Anthony Asquith, 1938.

Klingon language documentary from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock. Directed by Leonard Nimoy, 1984.


Telephones and radio

Soundscapes, revisited through sound sculpture

Welles, Orson. The War of the Worlds. Radio play adaptation of the novel by H. G. Wells. Mercury Theatre on the Air, October 30, 1938. [Listen to audio or download mp3 from the Internet Archive.]

The Conet Project. Recordings of Shortwave Numbers Stations. Irdial-Discs, 1997. [Listen to audio or download mp3s from the Internet Archive.]

Amazon logo The Parapsychic Acoustic Research Cooperative. The Ghost Orchid: An Introduction to EVP. Kudos, 1999.

Amazon logo Sterne, Jonathan. "Machines to Hear for Them." In The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2002, pp. 31-85. ISBN: 9780822330134. [Preview this chapter in Google Books.]

Amazon logo Sconce, Jeffrey. "The Voice from the Void." Haunted Media: Electronic Presence from Telegraphy to Television. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2000, pp. 59-91. ISBN: 9780822325727. [Preview this chapter in Google Books.]

Kunreuther, Laura. "Technologies of the Voice: FM Radio, Telephone, and the Nepali Diaspora in Kathmandu." Cultural Anthropology 21, no. 3 (2006): 323-353.

Soundscapes, revisited through sound sculpture

Coleman, Beth, and Howard Goldkrand. "Anatomy of an Amalgamation." Leonardo Music Journal 16 (2006): 53-55. (PDF)#

7Phonograph and gramophone records, compact discs, MP3s

Amazon logo Davis, Erik. "Recording Angels: The Esoteric Origins of the Phonograph." In Undercurrents: The Hidden Wiring of Modern Music. London, UK: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2003, pp. 15-24. ISBN: 9780826464507.

Amazon logo Kittler, Friedrich. "Gramophone." (1986). In Gramophone, Film, Typewriter. Translated from the German by Geoffrey Winthrop-Young and Michael Wutz. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1999, pp. 21-114. ISBN: 9780804732338.

Downes, Kieran. "'The Most Important Feature of Digital is Analog': Heterogeneous Users and the Remaking of the Compact Disc." Manuscript under review for publication, 2008.

Sterne, Jonathan. "The MP3 as Cultural Artifact." New Media and Society 8, no. 5 (2006): 825-842.

Scratch. Directed by Doug Pray, 2001.
8Sound, culture, property

Discussed in Feld

Amazon logo "Hindewhu (Whistle) Solo." Anthology Of World Music: Africa — Ba-Benzele Pygmies. Rounder, 1998.

Amazon logo Hancock, Herbie. "Watermelon Man." Head Hunters. Sony, 1997 (Reissue of Columbia 1973 release).

Amazon logo Madonna. "Sanctuary." Bedtime Stories. Sire, 1994.

Amazon logo Mama, Zap. "Babanzélé." Adventures in Afropea. Vol. 1. Luaka Bop, 1993.

Discussed in Taylor

Amazon logo Enigma. "Return to Innocence." Love Sensuality Devotion: The Greatest Hits. Virgin Records, 2001.

Chen, Bobby, Huang Lian-Yu, and New Formosa Band. "Song for Jolly Gathering." New Formosa Band — Best Live & New Remix. Rock Records, 1996. [30-second sample from iTunes.]

Discussed in Katz

Amazon logo Yarbrough, Camille. "Take Yo' Praise." Iron Pot Cooker. Vanguard, 1975 (Reissued 2000).

Amazon logo Fatboy Slim. "Praise You." You've Come a Long Way, Baby. Astralwerks, 1998.

Japanese Hip-Hop complied by Ian Condry

People Like Us. Recyclopaedia Britannica. Mess Media, 1992-2002. [Download from UbuWeb.]

Feld, Steven. "Pygmy POP: A Genealogy of Schizophonic Mimesis." Yearbook for Traditional Music 28 (1996): 1-35.

Amazon logo Taylor, Timothy. "A Riddle Wrapped in a Mystery." In Strange Sounds: Music Technology and Culture. New York, NY: Routledge, 2001, pp. 117-135. ISBN: 9780415936842.

Amazon logo Katz, Mark. "Music in 1s and 0s: The Art and Politics of Digital Sampling." In Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2004, pp. 137-157. ISBN: 9780520243804. [Preview this chapter in Google Books.]

Amazon logo Duckworth, William. "Art and Ethics Online." In Virtual Music: How the Web Got Wired for Sound. New York, NY: Routledge, 2005, pp. 123-145. ISBN: 9780415966757.

Amazon logo Condry, Ian. "Hip-Hop, Japan, and Cultural Globalization." In Hip-Hop Japan: Rap and the Paths of the Paths of Cultural Globalization. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2006, pp. 1-23. ISBN: 9780822338925. [Preview this chapter in Google Books.]

9A political economy of sound and noise

Discussed in Attali

Various selections.

Discussed in Fink

Amazon logo Glass, Philip. Koyaanisqatsi. Nonesuch, 1998.

Amazon logo Attali, Jacques. Noise: The Political Economy of Music. Translated by Brian Massumi. University of Minnesota Press, 1977.

Amazon logo Fink, Robert. "Introduction: The Culture of Repetition." In Repeating Ourselves: American Minimal Music as Cultural Practice. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2005, pp. 1-22. ISBN: 9780520245501. [Preview this chapter in Google Books.]

Warner Brothers cartoons: Porky in Wackyland (1938), Dough for the Do-Do (1948). [Wikipedia entry on these films.]
10The sound of musicVarious recordings selected by Peter Whincop.

In The Auditory Culture Reader:

  • Kahn, Douglas. "The Sound of Music."
  • Henriques, Julian. "Sonic Dominance and the Reggae Sound System Session."

Pinch, Trevor, and Karin Bijsterveld. "Sound Studies: New Technologies and Music." Social Studies of Science 34, no. 5 (2004): 635-648.

Amazon logo Pinch, Trevor, and Frank Trocco. Introduction; "Subterranean Homesick Blues," chapter 1; and "Shaping the Synthesizer," chapter 3. In Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2004, pp. 1-31, 53-69. ISBN: 9780674016170. [Preview this book in Google Books].

Theremin. Directed by Steven M. Martin, 1993.
11Sonic publics

Gilroy, Paul. "Between the Blues and the Blues Dance: Some Soundscapes of the Black Atlantic." In The Auditory Culture Reader.

Amazon logo Kun, Josh. "Introduction: Strangers among Sounds," and "Against Easy Listening, or, How to Hear America Sing." In Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2005, pp. 1-47. ISBN: 9780520244245. [Preview these chapters in Google Books.]

Hirschkind, Charles. "The Ethics of Listening: Cassette-Sermon Audition in Contemporary Egypt." American Ethnologist 28, no. 3 (2001): 623-649.

12Styles of silence

Amazon logo Svenbro, Jesper. "Archaic and Classical Greece: The Invention of Silent Reading." In A History of Reading in the West. Edited by G. Cavallo and R. Chartier, translated by Lydia G. Cochrane. Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts Press, 2003, pp. 37-63. ISBN: 9781558494114.

Amazon logo Bauman, Richard. "Let Your Words Be Few: Speaking and Silence in Quaker Ideology." In Let Your Words Be Few: Symbolism of Speaking and Silence among Seventeenth-Century Quakers. New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 1984, pp. 20-31. ISBN: 9780521275149.

Amazon logo Connor, Steven. "Edison's Teeth: Touching Hearing." In Hearing Cultures: Essays on Sound, Listening and Modernity. Edited by Veit Erlmann. Oxford, UK: Berg Publishers, 2004, pp. 153-172. ISBN: 9781859738283.

Arehart, Kathryn H. "The Nature of Hearing and Hearing Loss." Soundscape: The Journal of Acoustic Ecology 6, no. 1 (2005): 9-14.

Amazon logo In Deaf World: A Historical Reader and Primary Sourcebook. Edited by Lois Bragg. New York, NY: NYU Press, 2001. ISBN: 9780814798539.

  • Flournoy, J. J., Edmund Booth, et al. 1858. "On Planning a Deaf-Mute Commonwealth." pp. 13-26.
  • Woodcock, Kathryn. 1992. "Cochlear Implants vs. Deaf Culture?" pp. 325-332.
  • Dively, Valerie. 1999. "Contemporary Native Deaf Experience." pp. 390-405.
  • Humphries, Tom. 1996. "On Deaf-Mutes, the Strange, and the Modern Deaf Self." pp. 348-364.

Into Great Silence (Die Große Stille). Directed by Philip Groening, 2005.

Sound and Fury. Directed by Josh Aronson, 2000.

13The sounds of science

Niemetz, Anne, and Andrew Pelling. 2004. The Dark Side of the Cell.

Amazon logo Redolfi, Michel. Sonic Waters #2 (Underwater Music) 1983-1989. Hat Hut Records, 1990.

Dunn, David. The Sound of Light in Trees: The Acoustic Ecology of Pinyon Pines. Earth Ear Records, 2006.

Recordings from ESA / NASA / JPL / University of Arizona.

  • Radar echoes from Titan's surface, 2005. (MP3)
  • Speeding through Titan's haze, 2005. (MP3)

Heat and the Heartbeat of the City

Campregher, Christoph. Molecular Code Project. [As discussed and linked in Bohannan, John. "Can Scientists Dance?" Science 318 (2008): 905.]

Mody, Cyrus C. M. "The Sounds of Science: Listening to Laboratory Practice." Science, Technology, and Human Values 30, no. 2 (2005): 175-198.

Roosth, Sophia. "Screaming Yeast: Sonocytology, Cytoplasmic Milieu, and Cellular Subjectivities." Under review at Critical Inquiry. 2008.

Johnson, Emma, and Robert Lecusay. "In Space, NASA Can Hear You Scream: Examining the Meaning Behind Acoustic. Representations of Outer Space." Paper presented at the 27th Annual Conference of the Society for the Social Studies of Science, Pasadena, California, October 20-22, 2005.

Amazon logo Beer, Gillian. "Wave Theory and the Rise of Literary Modernism." In Open Fields: Science in Cultural Encounter. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1999, pp. 295-318. ISBN: 9780198186359.

Helmreich, Stefan. "An Anthropologist Underwater: Immersive Soundscapes, Submarine Cyborgs, and Transductive Ethnography." American Ethnologist 34, no. 4 (2007): 621-641. (PDF)#

Polli, Andrea. "Heat and the Heartbeat of the City: Sonifying Data Describing Climate Change." Leonardo Music Journal 16 (2006): 44-45. (PDF)#

Joachim, Dale. The Owl Project. 2006-2008.

14Class presentations of sonic communities paper


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