Kahn, Douglas


Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts

Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Language(s): English


Interdisciplinary Studies Discourse within Electroacoustic Music Socio-Cultural Aspects of Electroacoustic Music Interdisciplinary Artistic Work Phonography


In this comprehensive book, the author presents an interdisciplinary history and theory of sound in the arts. Focusing on Europe in the first half of the 20th century and the United States in the post-war years (1945-) the author explores aural activities in literature, music, visual arts, theatre and film. Placing aurality at the centre of the history of the arts, he revisits key artistic questions, listening to the sounds that drown out the politics and poetics that generated them.

Table of contents:

Part 1. Significant Noises

  • Immersed in Noise
  • Noises of the Avant-Garde

Part 2. Drawing the Line: Music, Noise, and Phonography

  • Concerning the Line
  • The Sounds of Music
  • Ubiquitous Recording

Part 3. The Impossible Inaudible

  • John Cage: Silence and Silencing
  • Nondissipative Sounds and the Impossible Audible
  • The Parameters of All Sound

Part 4. Water Flows and Flux

  • A Short Art History of Water Sound
  • In the Wake of Dripping: New York at Midcentury

Part 5. Meat Voices

  • Two Sounds of the Virus: William Burrough’s Pure Meat Method
  • Cruelty and the Beast: Antonin Artaud and Michael McClure

All references of the same author:


Kahn, Douglas (2003). Christian Marclay's Early Years: An Interview
Kahn, Douglas (2004). A Musical Technography of John Bischoff

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