In This Chapter


Authored by: Marcel Cobussen

The Routledge Companion to Sounding Art

Print publication date:  August  2016
Online publication date:  July  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138780613
eBook ISBN: 9781315770567
Adobe ISBN: 9781317672777


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It is a Tuesday afternoon in November, approaching half past four, in a quiet neighborhood near the center of one of the largest cities in The Netherlands. Booting up my PC creates a cozy buzzing, rather like a log fire. The laughing and screaming of kids—schools are just out—is for a moment drowned out by the sounds of a garbage can, brought inside by one of the neighbors. A car passes by, and in the distance I hear the squeaking of train wheels. I begin listening to some of the sound examples the contributors to this Companion have addressed. I listen without headphones and at a rather modest volume so that the musical sounds inadvertently blend with the ambient sounds; the border between them fades—physiologically, as my hearing can no longer distinguish which sound comes from the loudspeakers and which one doesn’t, but also culturally: because each sound can in principle become music, the borders between the intra- and extra-musical can no longer be determined by comparing the objective characteristics of the sounds. I ask myself whether the sonification sounds that are playing now are sounding art. And what about the sounds coming from the rest of my environment: the kids, the cars, the trains, the computer, etc.? Do they become art when I listen to them as if they were music? And what if they are heard together, the environmental and recorded sounds, together forming a (sometimes) interesting soundscape, albeit not one to which I often pay a lot of attention? And do these questions really matter? How important or relevant is it to call these sounds art, sounding art?

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