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Listening Through the Noise: The Aesthetics of Experimental Electronic Music

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Electronic music since 1980 has splintered into a dizzying assortment of genres and subgenres, communities and subcultures. Given the ideological differences among academic, popular, and avant-garde electronic musicians, is it possible to derive an aesthetic theory that accounts for this variety? And is there even a place for aesthetics in twenty-first-century culture? This Electronic music since 1980 has splintered into a dizzying assortment of genres and subgenres, communities and subcultures. Given the ideological differences among academic, popular, and avant-garde electronic musicians, is it possible to derive an aesthetic theory that accounts for this variety? And is there even a place for aesthetics in twenty-first-century culture? This book explores genres ranging from techno to electroacoustic music, from glitch to drone music, and from dub to drones, and maintains that culturally and historically informed aesthetic theory is not only possible but indispensable for understanding electronic music. The abilities of electronic music to use preexisting sounds and to create new sounds are widely known. This book proceeds from this starting point to consider how electronic music changes the way we listen not only to music, but to sound itself. The common trait in recent experimental electronic music is a concern with whether sound, in itself, bears meaning. The use of previously undesirable materials like noise, field recordings, and extremely quiet sounds has contributed to electronic music's destruction of the musical frame, the conventions that used to set apart music from the outside world. In the void created by the disappearance of the musical frame, different philosophies for listening have emerged. Some electronic music genres insist upon the inscrutability and abstraction of sound. Others maintain that sound functions as a sign pointing to concepts or places beyond the work. But all share an approach towards listening that departs fundamentally from the expectations that have governed music listening in the West for the previous five centuries.


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Electronic music since 1980 has splintered into a dizzying assortment of genres and subgenres, communities and subcultures. Given the ideological differences among academic, popular, and avant-garde electronic musicians, is it possible to derive an aesthetic theory that accounts for this variety? And is there even a place for aesthetics in twenty-first-century culture? This Electronic music since 1980 has splintered into a dizzying assortment of genres and subgenres, communities and subcultures. Given the ideological differences among academic, popular, and avant-garde electronic musicians, is it possible to derive an aesthetic theory that accounts for this variety? And is there even a place for aesthetics in twenty-first-century culture? This book explores genres ranging from techno to electroacoustic music, from glitch to drone music, and from dub to drones, and maintains that culturally and historically informed aesthetic theory is not only possible but indispensable for understanding electronic music. The abilities of electronic music to use preexisting sounds and to create new sounds are widely known. This book proceeds from this starting point to consider how electronic music changes the way we listen not only to music, but to sound itself. The common trait in recent experimental electronic music is a concern with whether sound, in itself, bears meaning. The use of previously undesirable materials like noise, field recordings, and extremely quiet sounds has contributed to electronic music's destruction of the musical frame, the conventions that used to set apart music from the outside world. In the void created by the disappearance of the musical frame, different philosophies for listening have emerged. Some electronic music genres insist upon the inscrutability and abstraction of sound. Others maintain that sound functions as a sign pointing to concepts or places beyond the work. But all share an approach towards listening that departs fundamentally from the expectations that have governed music listening in the West for the previous five centuries.

30 review for Listening Through the Noise: The Aesthetics of Experimental Electronic Music

  1. 5 out of 5

    Mel

    If you are interested in experimental music then you might be interested in reading this book. I thought it was very well written and interesting, with a great glossary at the end and lots of music examples to look up. Parts of this were a bit dry and I might have missed it but I thought there was a real lack of examples of female artists.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    An in-depth and very detailed look as a vast array of electronic music. Demers, as with her previous books, delights us with an unprecedented knowledge and passion for her subject. Her passages on drone, dub, field recordings, and finally on experimental music, truly stand out. One of the finest and most thoroughly researched books I've read on electronic music. An in-depth and very detailed look as a vast array of electronic music. Demers, as with her previous books, delights us with an unprecedented knowledge and passion for her subject. Her passages on drone, dub, field recordings, and finally on experimental music, truly stand out. One of the finest and most thoroughly researched books I've read on electronic music.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Fai Ahmed

    This book is huge! And I mean by huge it's full of information, you can't read it in one day!! in each page/chapter you will find something really good. To be honest, I've read books on this topic but this book is amazing, it answers my questions yet left me with a lot of questions. I found a lot of hidden gems in here, she guide me to Musique Concrete and where to start. she introduced me to Jean Michel and Éliane Radigue, talked about Electronic/Glitch geniuses like Gas, Oval and Fennesz. I mu This book is huge! And I mean by huge it's full of information, you can't read it in one day!! in each page/chapter you will find something really good. To be honest, I've read books on this topic but this book is amazing, it answers my questions yet left me with a lot of questions. I found a lot of hidden gems in here, she guide me to Musique Concrete and where to start. she introduced me to Jean Michel and Éliane Radigue, talked about Electronic/Glitch geniuses like Gas, Oval and Fennesz. I must say it's well-written in a beautiful way. I'd recommend it to any who's interested in Experimental/Electronic music/ who also want to start to listen to Electronic music but don't know where.

  4. 5 out of 5

    C.Reider

    I've read quite a few books on this topic, and this one is notable for concisely summing up all of the contemporary concerns of experimental music in very clear language (very little academic jargon). I would absolutely recommend it to people interested in experimental music of today. I've read quite a few books on this topic, and this one is notable for concisely summing up all of the contemporary concerns of experimental music in very clear language (very little academic jargon). I would absolutely recommend it to people interested in experimental music of today.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Ashley

    Honestly one of the best books I've read on contemporary music, right up there with Curtis' Roads "A New Aesthetic" as another great example of a writer who really has their finger on the pulse of 21st-Century music practice. Demers demonstrates an amazing breadth of knowledge across electroacoustic music, electronica and sound art, as well as both the historical and contemporary issues concerning aesthetics. She avoids the academic jargon that blights the work of many of her peers and cuts to t Honestly one of the best books I've read on contemporary music, right up there with Curtis' Roads "A New Aesthetic" as another great example of a writer who really has their finger on the pulse of 21st-Century music practice. Demers demonstrates an amazing breadth of knowledge across electroacoustic music, electronica and sound art, as well as both the historical and contemporary issues concerning aesthetics. She avoids the academic jargon that blights the work of many of her peers and cuts to the essence of these issues, explained in a clear and confident manner without diminishing any of the depth and nuance of these debates. As someone who is not read into these issues, I found Demers' candor and self-awareness to be very reassuring yet she does not shy away from asserting herself (and I found myself nearly always agreeing). Her writing doesn't suffer any of the 'ivory tower' syndrome that these kinds of texts often can (that is, texts written by academics for academics). On the whole, just a really smooth and enlightening read that has changed the way I listen for good. Highly recommended.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Tasos

    Very good book but with historic elements that I have read through other ones. I can't say that it kept me entertained but there were many things that I didnt know about electronic music and learned it through this book. Very good book but with historic elements that I have read through other ones. I can't say that it kept me entertained but there were many things that I didnt know about electronic music and learned it through this book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Adam

  8. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

  9. 5 out of 5

    J. Hartmann

  10. 5 out of 5

    Floyd Kelley

  11. 4 out of 5

    Ruby

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ben

  13. 4 out of 5

    Uladzimir

  14. 4 out of 5

    Davis Land

  15. 5 out of 5

    Simon

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ichiro Suzuki

  17. 4 out of 5

    Quinn

  18. 5 out of 5

    daniel

  19. 5 out of 5

    Ariel

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andrej Dolinka

  21. 5 out of 5

    Drue

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tony

  23. 4 out of 5

    Insight Dawn

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ola

  25. 4 out of 5

    Bainst

  26. 4 out of 5

    Andrea

  27. 4 out of 5

    Michael Trigilio

  28. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

  29. 4 out of 5

    Cliff

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stuart

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