Sight and sound are equally crucial to our understanding of the world, yet the visual has dominated discussions of cultural experience. The very way we relate to, and think about, our everyday world has been influenced by this emphasis on sight over sound. Providing a definitive overview of an emerging field, this pioneering reader is the first to redress a glaring imbalance by investigating how auditory culture subtly and profoundly impacts on our everyday lives. From the evocative tolling of village bells to the grating rattle of exhaust pipes, what we hear influences how we feel and what we do. As technology advances, the world has become an increasingly noisy, confusing and disturbing place. The recent addition of mobile phones alone has irrevocably changed our auditory experiences. In order to retreat from jarring sounds, we seek new sounds sounds that calm, block, soothe. Beginning with the role of sound in historical and social thought, The Auditory Culture Reader moves on to consider city noise, music, voices, and new technologies and medias of sound. It explores, for example, the sectarian sounds of North Belfast, sounds of the powwow amongst Native Americans, football chants, recorded sermons, and the power and influence of the DJs voice. Filling a significant gap, this groundbreaking and multidisciplinary reader combines classic texts, interviews and original contributions by leading social and cultural theorists. It represents a landmark statement on a surprisingly overlooked aspect of our everyday experience.
Michael Bull is Lecturer in Media Studies, University of Sussex. Les Back is Reader in Sociology at Goldsmiths College, University of London.
An excellent introduction to this little-known field. It will certainly stimulate readers to listen more actively and critically, and help them gain a greater appreciation of the importance of sound in their own and others' lives. - Media International Australia