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Audio Culture, Revised Edition: Readings in Modern Music

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  796 ratings  ·  30 reviews
The groundbreaking Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music (Continuum; September 2004; paperback original) maps the aural and discursive terrain of vanguard music today. Rather than offering a history of contemporary music, Audio Culture traces the genealogy of current musical practices and theoretical concerns, drawing lines of connection between recent musical production ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published August 10th 2017 by Bloomsbury Academic (first published August 1st 2004)
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Aug 15, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
I'm not a huge fan of artists talking about their art, but this book is great. Edgard Varèse, Henry Cowell, Merzbow, Brian Eno, Glenn Gould, et. al. Some real heavy hitters. And their words, which the editors of this volume have culled from essays, interviews and even liner notes, rise above the merely theoretical. I've read this book twice so far—first as a novice and then again with a more substantial knowledge base—and it has honestly bolstered my subjective appreciation for the medium both t ...more
This book is so phenomenal. I use it frequently in my research. Though I have yet to read every essay collected in these pages, it is the most excellent collection I've found on music.

This book was an important part of the class I taught on music and communication last summer. Though most of the readings I assigned for the class were articles and book chapters, this was the only entire book I assigned. Frankly, I had a hard time finding any books that provided what I wanted to teach from...unti
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: true listeners
Having read this book extremely slowly over two years, it seems to me that my listening experience (and growing appreciation) of more experimental side of music must have helped in perception of these texts. I would say that this book of essays, articles, interviews and other kinds of strange texts, with extensive chronology, bibliography and discography is a great 'sneak peak' into what was happening in the music of 20th centrury, especially in the fifties and sixties. If you are open to it, yo ...more
Feb 04, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is as good an overview of the evolution of experimental / avant-garde approaches to sound & music as you're likely to find, presented in perfect bite-sized chunks. This could / should be (and I'm told it has been) used as a textbook for a class on the subject of modern & contemporary sound practice.

Even if you've done a lot of reading on this subject, you're sure to find lots here that will be new.

Audio Culture is a magnificent collection of writings on music theorism, criticism, and analyses spanning the entire age of recorded sound to the present. These writings are offered in their respective chronology and organized into sections - Noise/Sound/Silence, Modes of Listening, Music in the Age of Electronic (Re)Production, etc. Authors featured include everyone from Italian Fututist (and author of the manifesto, The Art of Noises) Luigi Russolo, to Cage and Stockhausen, and on to contempor ...more
Alastair Kemp
The idea of these reviews is to write while the book is still fresh. Hard to do as it's taken me 18 months to finish. Having said that it is great for dipping into and out of as you have the time, whereas its a hard slog trying to read it as a traditional book.

The writing is for the most part is very theoretical although not necessarily academic, having been written largely by the artists and composers operating in the respective fields covered, with the odd philosopher and music journo thrown i
Mikael Lind
A lovely collection of crucial essays on modern music. I use it sometimes like a dictionary, looking for names in the index and read the article they're in, or sometimes I just jump through the pages until I get stuck somewhere. So much material, so many good articles.

The only thing I'm missing is a critical discussion on modern music. Some discussions on atonality, and why it's still not particularly popular among audiences, and perhaps on the obscurity of some electro-acoustic music.

Great ache
Ray Dunsmore
Dec 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is that rare book that makes you see something you've known your entire life (here, recorded music) in a completely different light. It expands your boundaries farther than you've ever thought and it makes you totally reevaluate everything you know about music. Yeah, it can get incredibly dry and academic, but the fundamental ideas are what counts and those are incredible.

Especially the chapters by William S. Burroughs, R. Murray Schafer, Luigi Russolo and John Oswald.
Casey Danielson
May 03, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
From the history of the Walkman leading to the urban nomad to Brian Eno's surprisingly readable discussion of ambient music to Cage's dry, dense explorations of sounds and meanings, this is a great choice for anyone interested in electronic music of any kind.
David Ashley Pearson
Nov 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites
[Review originally written for Amazon in 2008 when I was 20... so apologies! Great great reference book which is logically laid out and wide reaching. Very inspirational.]

This book is jam packed full of information and is split neatly (maybe more so than i was expecting) into sections such as 'The Open Work' and 'Noise, Sound, Silence'.

At the beginning of each essay the editors have given a brief account of the author (who in most cases practice(d) work with sound, i.e. Derek Bailey, John Cage,
Jest kilka rzeczywiście słabych tekstów, ale są to nieliczne wyjątki, które da się policzyć na palcach jednej ręki (tekstów łącznie jest 56). Bardzo wyczerpujące kompendium, któremu w większości wypadków udaje się omówić nawet te irytujące teksty (Adorno) w przystępny sposób. Te męczące są okrajane i zaprezentowane jest tylko ich esencja. Naprawdę ciekawy zbiór. Ze świecą szukać takiego nagromadzenia esejów, manifestów, wywiadów, opracowań i to w dodatku pochodzących od tak istotnych autorów jak ...more
Charlie Mcallister
lots of really good essays in this book - there is always something missing when this much is written about music, though. i think my favorites are the two by brian eno and the one by steve reich - they seem to be the most about music and the least about themselves. i also found john zorn's explanation for his "games" very interesting, but in admission of my own ignorance, i've never heard any of his music to my knowledge, so i'm even more interested in hearing recordings.

i am also herein fully
May 28, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a compilation of interviews, articles and statements from key figures in sound art ranging from artist such as Lucier, Cage, Eno and Feldman to academics like Eco, Adorno and McLuhan. Christopher Cox, contributor to Cabinet Magazine, edits this book along side Daniel Warner. Thee variety of text makes the ambiguous line between music and art approachable and easily accessible to varying levels of interest.
Evan Cordes
Oct 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own
All sorts of different styles here. Some dry, some quiiiick.

I got distracted halfway through the book. I'm tempted to just read bits & pieces from it, but there's so much good stuff that I don't want to miss any of it.

Glad I went A-Z on this one, even tho it took awhile.
Brian Eno: "I can neither read nor write music, and I can't play any instruments really well, either. You can't imagine a situation prior to this where anyone like me could have been a composer. It couldn't have happened. How could I do it without tape and without technology?"

This is a collection of writings about modern music, music culture, electronic music and aesthetics (edited by one of my professors at Hampshire.)
So far I've read only read the article by Pierre Schaeffer, which I translated!
Malini Sridharan
I think I am close to having read all the essays. It has only taken me 7 years! To be fair, I have only owned my own copy for the past 3 years or so.

For bits and pieces to pick up and browse, it does not get much better than this!
Apr 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: music
An excellent refresher on the writing of some of the "movers & shapers" of sound art. Some really interesting context that I didn't get in those grad classes, too - a really, really worthwhile read for summer afternoons.
May 06, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fantastic collection on modern music, not much on the future of performance, but touches recorded music, electronic music, dj culture, noise music.
This is a book of reference that I refer back to often. Great intro into sound culture and musicology history.
Stubby Girdle
Apr 01, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
oh crap. about listening and determining or not determining (or indetermining which is like an oxymoron) and so much. compact pieces but oh so deadly oh so potent!
i like most of the musicians/authors anthologized within, but this book seems like bullshit to me. offensive introductions/commentary.

ahhhh,,,,, there are some real gems in here though.
Sep 03, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own-this, music, theory
Essential reading for those interested in the contemporary and/or avant-garde world of music and sound.
Dec 30, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: audiophiles, noise, free and microtonal fans
essays: Eno's are great, Henry Flynt, Split up into a historical narrative. Musings on the evolution of noise music as it ties to our cultural growth.
Jun 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great primer for anyone interested in sound theory and how it sits within art discourse.
This is required reading for my "Sound Images" course. I think Sam's enjoying it even more than I am.
Aug 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great anthology on modern music, superb selection of authors and texts.
rated it really liked it
Feb 08, 2012
Radost Galska
rated it it was amazing
Dec 13, 2015
Brian Graves
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Apr 25, 2015
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  • Haunted Weather: Music, Silence, and Memory
  • Noise/Music: A History
  • Noise: The Political Economy of Music
  • The Soundscape: Our Environment and the Tuning of the World
  • Undercurrents: The Hidden Wiring of Modern Music
  • Give My Regards to Eighth Street: Collected Writings
  • Silence: Lectures and Writings
  • Arcana: Musicians on Music
  • Experimental Music: Cage and Beyond
  • Genesis of a Music
  • Improvisation: Its Nature And Practice In Music
  • Sonic Warfare: Sound, Affect, and the Ecology of Fear
  • Perfecting Sound Forever: An Aural History of Recorded Music
  • The Art of Noise (futurist manifesto, 1913)
  • A Power Stronger Than Itself: The AACM and American Experimental Music
  • The Ambient Century: From Mahler to Trance: The Evolution of Sound in the Electronic Age
  • Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts
  • Theory of Harmony
Christoph Cox, professor of philosophy, received his B.A. in Modern Culture & Media from Brown University and a Ph.D. in the History of Consciousness from the University of California, Santa Cruz. Professor Cox teaches and writes on contemporary European philosophy, cultural theory, and aesthetics.