Listening at the Limits

Environmental Sound in Onkyô and Wandelweiser
David Grundy
Issue 2
April 2014

“But the experience of beauty is always linked to danger. The danger is the cessation of thought. I really want people to be aware of this.”

— Otomo Yoshihide [1]

In recent years, the improvised and composed musics of the Japanese ‘lowercase’ movement sometimes known as ‘Onkyô’ and of the Wandelweiser Group[2] have both displayed an increasing interest in the use, or presence of sounds from outside the intentional control of composers and performers. These sounds frequently occur during long periods in which the musicians make either no, or very little intentional sound, allowing the sonic environment that might otherwise go unnoticed to be heard. The entry of such material into the musical space might be seen, in the wake of John Cage’s 4’33”, as attempted ego-dissolution and receptivity to ‘the world’ in which it is the attention of the audience as much as the intention of performers that determines whether a sound constitutes part of the music. For Lorraine Plourde, “onkyô[,] as barely audible sound, is meant to privilege listeners’ ears and their perception and judgment of what is constituted as music or non-music,”[3]. For Richard Pinnell, writing on Wandelweiser, the placement of an audience within a “near silent room, suddenly conscious of every sound and movement,” “instantly pull[s]” that audience “closer to the music than if they were present at a noisy event. […] [This] music is a […] communal affair, a shared experience involving all that are willing to consider themselves a part of it.”[4] Yet, reading Plourde and David Novak’s articles on the growth of the Onkyô movement at Tokyo’s Off Site performance space,[5] one is struck by the inherent contradiction involved in this position: certain sounds are typically accepted (passing traffic, police sirens, laughter and chatter from the streets), but certain others, such as snoring and heavy breathing from the audience, are typically rejected.[6]

Similarly, at a performance by Wandelweiser composer Stefan Thut in England two years ago, the very quiet realization of an open-ended text score –which calls for each musician in the ensemble to play a pair of sounds and noises at ‘some time’ during an unspecified period[7] – was overshadowed by the sounds of a karaoke session from a nearby pub leaking in through the walls of the performance space.[8] Such sound was felt not as the openness of musicians and audience to the chance occurrence or overlap of environmental sound, but as an ugly and violent intrusion. Richard Pinnell, once more:

“It wasn’t that external sounds were present as much as precisely which external sounds. It seemed as if this little group of musicians, and the few of us watching[,] were a little bubble of calm and consideration in a world full of ugly, vociferous crudeness. It wasn’t too difficult to bring myself to bear on the contributions of the musicians and try and zone out the intrusions, but for a while at least this fifteen minute or so experience seemed to sum up so much of what I feel about modern life.”[9]

One recalls Cage’s responses to audience questions after a performance of Part IV of his text piece, Empty Words at the Naropa Institute in Colorado:

“I’ve said that contemporary music should be open to the sounds outside it. I just said that the sounds of traffic entered very beautifully, but the self-expressive sounds of people making foolishness and stupidity and catcalls aren’t beautiful and they aren’t beautiful in other circumstances either.”[10]

Cage distinguishes between the ‘beautiful’ sounds which exist outside the performance space, only coincidentally becoming a part of it, and the intentional, ‘self-expressive’ contributions of audience members who refuse to sit still and listen. Pinnell takes what would seem to be the opposite tack, explicitly contrasting the ‘calm and considerate’ ‘little group’ formed by musicians and audience to the ‘ugliness’ of that which occurs outside that group. Yet in both cases, the particular set of sounds which are perceived as ‘ugly’ serve as a negative contrast to, and interruption of, the possibility of a particular kind of shared listening, a group solidarity.

That said, one might argue that the “foolishness and stupidity and catcalls” decried by Cage are, in fact, an attempt to enact precisely the kind of anarchic politics which he espoused – that they are the rebellious audience’s refusal to accept his role as the lone artist in a superior position of power. That was a role he constantly claimed to negate, but which his decision to place his back to the audience must have seemed to reinforce. Conversely, subsequent discussion of Pinnell’s initial comments revealed a potential class analysis between what at first might have seemed a quasi-aristocratic defence of artistic ‘purity’ and refinement against the noise and bustle of the vulgar world:

“when the sound of Oxford toffs came through, given the connection of this sound to the depressing state of our country right now[,] this served as a reminder of our situation, and what we struggle against.” [11]

Such differences suggest that, rather than the inherent qualities of the sounds themselves, it is the social connotations of their placement and occurrence that determine their ‘beauty’ or ‘ugliness’ – indeed, that the ‘inherent qualities’ of any sound cannot be extricated from the social. One does wonder, though, whether the equally noisy sounds of a working-class gathering, or, indeed, of a rousing chorus of the ‘Internationale’ next-door would have been taken differently: in other words, there was not necessarily anything intrinsic to the sound of the pub sing-a-long that implied class privilege. The connection made in the critic’s mind between such privilege and the overshadowing of Stefan Thut’s piece is only a handy after-the-fact justification. Indeed, we might contrast the comments of both Pinnell and Cage to the more positive remarks made by the composer James Saunders after a similar occurrence at a performance in Bristol, of music by Burkhard Schlothauer:

“after a few minutes it became clear that there was a lot of environmental sound outside which was intruding. Initially the relatively loud dance music was a little diverting, becoming audible in the silences[,] only to be covered by the musicians. As the piece continued however, the music got progressively louder until it became unbelievably loud. It turned out to be a party boat passing by on the Avon. I think this was one of the most engaging live performance situations I’ve experienced. The contrast between the refined, quiet playing and the world outside was very beautiful. Kathy Hinde commented that it was the alternation between an awareness of being in the piece and then in the world which did this, and that captures the situation perfectly. I’ll remember this for a long time.”[12]

Here, the status of ‘the piece’ and ‘the world’ is figured not so much as opposition – as it is in Pinnell’s case – but rather as pleasurable alternation. It is a necessary reminder of the provisionality of the music that occupies the world and its place within wider contexts which are indifferent to it. Such acceptance itself, though, might become problematic if the sounds of ‘the world’ are not figured –as they are in the case of Cage’s traffic or Saunders’ party boat –as ‘beautiful’ but instead, as in Mazen Kerbaj’s piece Starry Night, associated with the use of State terror and murder. This would problematize any aestheticization as deafness to the social connotations of sound, and as potential complicity with the oppressive politics which that sound might be said to embody.

Such a position may only become relevant in extreme circumstances – such as that which led to the creation of Kerbaj’s piece, which I will discuss later – but it is worth bearing in mind, even if it does not have to be brought explicitly to bear to every single piece of music emerging out of Wandelweiser, Onkyô, and related movements. For now, then, I’ll try to suggest ways in which Saunders’ ‘world’ and Cage’s ‘outside’ might be said not only to contrast with the piece of music itself, but, as Cage puts it, to ‘enter’ that piece. Thus the use of field recordings in the work of such artists as Michael Pisaro, Patrick Farmer, Ben Owen and Jez Riley French indicates a willingness to listen to what we might term ‘nature’, or to frame such sounds for potential listening, a move we might understand in the light of R. Murray Schafer’s ‘acoustic ecology.’[13] Rather than imposing oneself on an environment, one allows that environment itself to sound, even as one realizes that the act of attention with which one chooses to listen to that particular environment at that particular time is itself a form of control or of sounding in itself. The composer or performer can never entirely dissolve, just as the human being can never entirely dissolve or dissipate or properly ‘become animal’ without a good deal of irony, performativity, framing and coding.[14] Such dissolution, to me, (and, I suspect, to many of the composers and improvisers themselves) would seem both impractical and unwanted, even as some kind of blurring may generate a certain frisson in the field itself.[15] And Wandelweiser and Onkyô are certainly more ambivalent than Schafer’s environmentalism (an environmentalism which, as David Toop notes, risks romanticizing the pre-industrial soundscape in a version of primitivism that would have potentially disastrous social effects[16]): these are musics which, particularly in the case of Onkyô, work primarily with urban sounds, created by humans or humanly-directed machines.

One might wonder though – and here we return to the issue of politics – whether, in the attempt to ‘let sounds be sounds’,[17] to listen to a sound for its timbral or aesthetic qualities rather than for what it ‘signals’, a certain blindness, or, more appropriately, deafness to meaning arises which might be harmful. Thus, to listen to a police siren as a beautiful sound – a sound beautiful in itself, or beautiful because of its serendipitous symmetry, whether this be perfect placement or an asynchronous imperfection that seems perfectly fitting or jarring at that moment – risks eliding the political dimensions to the presence of the police in particular areas of particular cities. In the UK, for example, as a potentially privatized army of hired thugs cracking down in dissent in the run up to, and following, the 2012 Olympic Games. (Such a mode of listening might further be said to imply that the listeners have either not heard, or have ignored the refrain from KRS-One’s iconic ‘Sound of Da Police’.)

Sirens suggest not only KRS-One but also the distinctive whooping sirens in Edgard Varèse’s Amériques, which form part of a noisy, machine-clang-tinged aural portrait of modernity and the city, at once exhilarating and terrifying. One might also cite here Alexandr Mosolov’s Iron Foundry, or the machine modernism of Soviet composers such as Arseny Avraamov.[18] The siren’s presence in, say, a live improvisation by Taku Sugimoto, or the field recordings of Michael Pisaro’s Transparent City, is clearly different, in that it is present, not so much as intended signification (though Varese isn’t using the siren as explicit symbolism), but as part of an environment, treated non-judgementally (though aural discrimination, as noted above, still has a crucial, and perhaps un-acknowledged role to play). Rather than being taken as an exemplar of the chaotic and new energies of the city, it is taken as part of the almost unnoticed texture in which the majority of the world’s population live their daily lives. If, for Varèse (to simplify), the siren could retain its potential as disruptive, blaring, un-assimilable – and joyously so – even to a jaded twenty-first century mindset, its audio field filled with ever more machine-based sounds, has learnt to filter out and ignore such disruption: such shock becomes thoroughly assimilable.

That said, there is a focus in the music of the Korean Balloon and Needle collective, Yoshihide’s sampling and turntable-based work, Sachiko M’s empty sampler, Toshimaru Nakamura’s no-input mixing board, and Yasanuo Tone’s use of ‘wounded’ CDs, on precisely those sonic irritants which cannot be assimilated. These are the by-products and accidents of smooth sound-making technology: physically wrenching sounds that, despite their production from the soundboards of computers or motor-assisted fans, cause an intense bodily response in the listener and the space. Furthermore, Onkyô, in particular, does not aim to re-introduce a Varèseian energy or vitality – a vitality which in any case we cannot help but connect to trends in the technologies of war or the neo-imperialist expansions of globalisation which these enabled: just as it is hard to read the Italian Futurists now without seeing them as celebrating those very same trends in a manner which is, at worst, quasi-Fascist, at best, like some parody of BBC Top Gear‘s Jeremy Clarkson.

“As soon as I had said these words, I turned sharply back on my tracks with the mad intoxication of puppies biting their tails, and suddenly there were two cyclists disapproving of me and tottering in front of me like two persuasive but contradictory reasons. Their stupid swaying got in my way. What a bore! Pouah! I stopped short, and in disgust hurled myself — vlan! — head over heels in a ditch. […] We declare that the splendour of the world has been enriched by a new beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing automobile with its bonnet adorned with great tubes like serpents with explosive breath … a roaring motor car which seems to run on machine-gun fire, is more beautiful than the Victory of Samothrace.”[19]

Plourde and Novak deplore western critics’ over-eager attempts to pigeonhole Onkyô as a ‘Zen music’ through hastily-placed Cageian goggles, though Plourde in particular suggests that a certain Japanese politeness and stoicism, resulting from the daily experience of over-crowding in cramped urban spaces, was in some ways behind the decision to make music in this particular way – exemplified by the fact that Off Site’s thin wooden walls would not allow louder sounds from the musicians without generating complaints from neighbours. This seems like a tipping-point, an almost parodic stretching of an absurd social situation by which daily and continuous noises – the afore-mentioned sirens, the sounds of drunk people, karaoke, traffic, and so on – are somehow tolerated, while occasional disruptions to that internalized sonic routine or backdrop (a concert of improvised music) are decried and regulated by complaints to the authorities. Of course, any notion of non-combative social co-existence is predicated on careful attention to one’s neighbours’ needs and wishes – it is a complex and often painful negotiation that we have to process and go through every day – and this is as much true of any socialist as it is of any capitalist form of organization.

Restraint, however, is a two-edged sword, silencing a selective tool applied to, say, a musician playing a saxophone but not a police car blaring down a street with sirens blazing and truncheons drawn. Onkyô’s revealing of internalized restriction is a celebration of potential freedoms within this – if we have to listen to environmental sounds, we’ll really listen to them. It is also, as Plourde again notes, a tension-filled social knife-edge that raises fundamental questions about listening, about how one inhabits one’s environment, and about how one relates to those with whom one shares that environment (in the case of natural soundscapes, the non-human elements – animals or plants, trees or rivers or wind – or, in the case of urban soundscapes, humans and machines, the sonic traces of forms of social organization). This is a process that can at once be calming, restorative, beautiful, and all those adjectives and adverbs easily tossed around in reviews of this music – by myself as well as by others – and wrenching, difficult, uncomfortable.

For Wandelweiser composer Antoine Beuger, ‘silence’ “has nothing to do with calmness or quietness”[20]: it is fundamentally artificial, disturbing, strange. Beuger’s claim that silence “cannot be found in nature” is, following the strict post-Cageian realization of the non-existence of silence as such, true; yet it does not go against the spirit of this claim to posit that those events which we call ‘silences’ in nature (the calm before the storm, say, when the birds stop singing) are invariably signs of danger – no contemplative silences exist for the hunted animal. Something of this perhaps remains in Beuger’s formulation of silence as an “event, a rupture into the situation one is in, a direct – not symbolic or imaginative – encounter with reality, which means with contingency, singularity, emptiness.” Silence, or the concentration on environmental sounds is not, for Beuger, an acceptance of an ongoing situation, or an aestheticizing of it. Instead it is a sense of the constant rupture involved in listening, the construction of any ‘sound picture’ as a series of continuous contingent ruptures, always subject to unpredictable change, even as we try to impose formal pattern, logic, meaning onto them. “Silence in my music always is an encounter with reality, enforced by the event of a situation being disrupted without any reason.” Silence here performs the function of ‘abjection’, that word tinged with the sense with which Kristeva deploys it in Powers of Horror. “It may well be quite horrifying,” for it is an encounter with reality, with the fact of death, of waste, as a sudden void, cessation, nothingness, non-differentiation, the breaking down of the subject / object, individual / other distinction, the stopping of music’s breath. It is that void which exists once the chatter of the television, the radio, the overhead telephone conversation, the constantly-implanted earphones – inherently distracting masses of attention-swiping phenomena that are listened to in a kind of half-conscious state, like aural channel-hopping – stop; it is that void which exists once we peal away the obvious presence of surface distraction to reveal the noise of all that sounds around us.

Here might be a way of working through my earlier worries about the aestheticisation of the police siren: if that sound which is heard in the ‘silence’ of the music brings us to a realization or encounter with reality in the more abstract philosophical sense of the awareness of death (a condition which, we remember, Cornelius Cardew listed as one of the most important elements of his ‘ethic’ of improvisation[21]), it could also bring us to a concrete political realization of the death, abjection and subjugation that we might hear as inherent in the sound of that siren. In 2006, during the Israeli bombing of Lebanon, the improvising trumpeter and graphic artist Mazen Kerbaj recorded a ‘duet’ entitled Starry Night with the IDF bombers he could hear from his balcony. Readings of this piece, posted as comments on Kerbaj’s blog soon after he had uploaded the recording, tend to aestheticize the resultant sounds. The Parisian sound artist Thierry Madiot, for example, writes: “I regret to say to you that the sound in tape is beautiful. It’s beautiful because we are not under the bomb. That silence, that space is so beautyfull [sic] for me because it didn’t mean any direct danger.”[22] In this ‘aesthetic’ interpretation, Adorno’s realization that the beautiful itself is tainted, that it cannot exist apart from murder, is made direct: not the playing of Wagner or Strauss to drown the screams of prisoners, but the incorporation of the actual sounds of warfare and destruction as part of an aesthetic construct that can be described as ‘beautiful’ in itself. Yet a further comment indicates that the audio picture contains resonances (or silencings) beyond merely the current sound of the bombers: its characteristic elements exist as a result of previous bombings as well. “When we met in albi you told that there was not so many birds left in lebanon because of previous wars. now, i just listened to the night insects between the bombs in ‘starry night’. i prefer that silence is inhabited by insects[’] songs.” This interpretation is at once more and less ‘aesthetic’ than that of the first quotation: the listener ‘prefers’ the songs of insects to those of birds, whilst acknowledging the terrible provenance of this element, the silencing that allows a particular kind of music(ked) silence to emerge.

What role, then, does the ‘aesthetic’ play in Starry Night? Kerbaj might be said to impose an aesthetic order on the particular, politically-charged sonic environment through his musical intervention in it, by which the sound of bombs becomes part of a musical construct which, operating on post-Cageian principles, incorporates chance and non-intentional sound. However, this order does not serve to conceal the much more terrible order of political violence, which it incorporates into itself. Indeed, Cageian indeterminacy and openness to the unpredictable sounds of the world becomes, not a valuable dissolution of ego in favour of some more reciprocal relation with environment, but the imposition of very real terror on the attempt to create a quiet and unobtrusive individual music. The ‘stars’ suggested by the title are not only the actual stars of the night sky, but the explosions which join with and erase them; they are not the ecstatic transformation of the empirical world through the individual artistic visionary, as in the Van Gogh painting whose title Kerbaj borrows, but the violent intervention of the social world on the seemingly private, personalized, breath-based meditation of the solo artist.

For Kurt Newman, it this contrast that gives the piece a particular poignancy: the sound of Kerbaj’s trumpet is the sound of human fragility in the face of the impersonal, technologized noise of bombs and bombers.

“Because the trumpet is an instrument played with the breath, and because Kerbaj’s breath is more present in his playing than most (classical technique in fact tries to remove the breath, that material trace of human subjectivity, from the trumpet’s sound[…]), the stakes of a duet for trumpet and Israeli Air Force bombing civilians are high. Already over 300 mouths have stopped breathing. […] The trumpeter’s breath somehow communicates to us something that the voice (allegedly the ne plus ultra evidence of the subjectivity of the Other), speaking language, English or Arabic or French or German, could not.”[23]

Breath becomes not merely an ‘extended technique’, but a symbolic reminder of the fragility and continuance of life, of Kerbaj’s attempt to, as he puts it, “be a fucking witness:”[24] it is the sound of human intention, defiance and vulnerability, as against the sounds of bombers, sounds resulting from human control and intention (to overstress their nature as ‘non-intentional’ or ‘aleatoric’ risks naturalizing them in a manner that is capitulationist and simplistic), but without aesthetic design. Where Newman’s comparison might shade into over-simplification is in its suggestion that such a binary could be part of an entirely conscious construct, for while Kerbaj is clearly playing with the environment, in both senses of that verb, he is also placed in a situation of very real perturbation, guilt and artistic frustration. As he wrote in a blog entry at the time at the time: “the tension you get in your playing is incredible […] but having regards for what is a good drawing or a good music track drives me crazy. i cannot stop saying after a bomb: ‘yeah, this one was huge. i’ll leave a long silence then make a small sound to balance the track.’ this is totally crazy!”[25] In other words, it is precisely that lack of balance, that refusal of the sound of the bombs to fit within the aesthetic order which Kerbaj might be seen as trying to impose on the situation, that gives the piece its tension, its particular structural and aesthetic quality.

The ‘aesthetic’ or the ‘structural’ is thus revealed as inseparable from socio-political circumstance. The sound of the IDF bombers, or of the police siren are sounds in or as themselves, but, just as certain harmonic or melodic elements of, say, Beethoven’s music are inextricable from their past and future historical sedimentations[26], so the sound of those bombers, or that siren, when a part of a particular performance in a particular city (whether live or reproduced on a recording) is never ‘pure sound.’ Any aestheticization of sounds that occurs in Kerbaj’s piece thus questions, as the work of Onkyô and Wandelweiser composers might do (though it is rarely, if ever, as political in an overt or direct sense), the boundaries drawn between art and world, between what Beuger calls the ‘symbolic or imaginative’ and ‘reality’. This does not mean that we have to listen to the ‘real world’ sounds included in these music purely as information – the siren in the Onkyô café is not coming for us, to shut us down or arrest us as artistic subversives; and if it is coming to oppress our comrades outside that space, we are not going to pick up our weapons and rush out to defend them, Black Panther-style – but it does mean that its aestheticisation cannot be removed from the socio-political reality which constitutes its existence just as much as its bare perceptual qualities. In this regard, it might not be irrelevant to cite Simon Jarvis’ elegant debunking of the ‘pure sound’ argument with regard to prosody:

“The familiar story, in which an initially non-signifying pure noise, a series of tones, pitches and timbres, is only subsequently assembled into signification, is a numbed recapitulation of a narrative which has long ceased to hold the attention of other departments.[…] [F]ar from representing the obvious starting point, ‘hearing a pure noise demands a highly artificial and complicated frame of mind’ […] What when we wake at 6 o’ clock is heard across the street is at once the noise of the venture capitalist’s BMW, rather than a kit-form data-set we then piece together as the acoustic afterimage of that vehicle.”[27]

We seem here to have moved away from the notion we developed from Beuger, in which ‘silence’, and the emergence within that framed space of environmental sound, functions as rupture, event, abjection; as discomfort, horror, void; and as sudden and sharp encounter with reality. Indeed, now that such a style of music has attracted its own army of followers, its attendant blogs and magazine articles and CD releases and theorizations (such as this), one might worry that the atmosphere could almost become easy, and that potentially dialectical edge become smoothed over. It is, then, through continued evaluation and thought on those questions raised by this music that we can ensure it remains vital and relevant, that it continues to force us to listen — to return to the quotation with which we began – not as the cessation but as the concentration of thought.■

About the Author

David Grundy co-runs the reading and publication series materials (http://material-s.blogspot.co.uk/) and blogs at (http://streamsofexpression.blogspot.co.uk/).


Matthew Revert www.matthewrevert.com


  1. Yoshihide, interviewed by Michel Henritzi for the French magazine Revue & Corrigée, 2001 (http://www.japanimprov.com/yotomo/interview01.html)
  2. Onkyô’ is less easily described as a definable ‘movement’ per se than the more formal collective of the Wandelweiser group, whose official website is http://www.timescraper.de/. Certainly, as a term, it has been vociferously rejected by its supposed practitioners as much as it has been adopted, thus assuming a somewhat similar status to the word ‘jazz’ amongst African-American musicians. As a mode of largely improvised music in which the focus shifts from performing and the production of sound to listening and the absorption of sound, an important site of development was the series of concerts held at the Off-Site performance space and gallery in Tokyo, in which particular restrictions on the volume of sound which could be produced, due to the café’s location in a residential area, forced the creation of an especially quiet and restrained aesthetic, in which environmental and audience sounds might assume as much or greater prominence than the sound of the musicians’ playing. See Lorraine Plourde, ‘Disciplined Listening in Tokyo: Onkyô and Non-Intentional Sounds.’ (Ethnomusicology Spring/Summer 52(2), 2008: 270-295).
  3. Plourde (Op. Cit.), p.292.
  4. Richard Pinnell, ‘Wandelweiser and Improvisation: The Dangers of Reverence’ (http://www.thewatchfulear.com/rmjfaddlshkk_programme.pdf)
  5. Plourde (Op. Cit.) / David Novak, ‘2.5 by 6 Metres of Space: Japanese Music Coffeehouses and Experimental Practices of Listening’ (Popular Music 27(1):15-34).
  6. Plourde (Op. Cit.), pp.291-2
  7. The piece in question, ‘many, 1-4’, is a revision for larger ensemble of ‘some, 1-4’, the score of which is available online at http://uploaddownloadperform.net/uploads/StefanThut/ some%201.4.thut.2009.pdf.
  8. See the debate between myself, Richard Pinnell and others, surrounding the concert ‘Wandelweiser and Fluxus: Concept as Score’, held at the Holywell Music Room, Oxford, in February 2011 (http://streamsofexpression.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/nut-cracker.html and http://www.thewatchfulear.com/?p=4698).
  9. Pinnell, review of ‘Concept as Score’ (http://www.thewatchfulear.com/?p=4698).
  10. Quoted in Ric Kostelanetz, Conversing with Cage (New York: Routledge, 2003), p.125
  11. Comment at http://streamsofexpression.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/nut-cracker.html.
  12. James Saunders, ‘Environmental Sounds in Bristol’ (http://www.james-saunders.com/?p=1859).
  13. R. Murray Schafer, The Music of Environment (Vienna: Universal Edition, 1973)
  14. See, for instance, Jonathan Griffin, ‘Marcus Coates’ (http://www.frieze.com/issue/article/focus_marcus_coates/)
  15. See the prose-poetic texts of field recorder and musician Patrick Farmer. “environment and self are inseparable, they are not inseparable as there is no difference no separation wherever one goes environment is of itself and oneself speaks to itself […] any part of any self is a mirror a fleeting glance, we all carry the potential of petrified wood, a branch drowning off swollen banks” (Farmer, try i bark (Oxford: Compost and Height / Organized Music from Thessaloniki, 2012), n.p.).
  16. David Toop, Ocean of Sound: Aether Talk, Ambient Sound and Imaginary Worlds (London: Serpent’s Tail, 1995) , pp.253-4
  17. A dictum originating in John Cage’s Silence (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 1961), p.70 & 72.
  18. See the compilation Baku: Symphony of Sirens: Sound Experiments in the Russian Avant-Garde (ReR Megacorp, 2009)
  19. See, for instance, F.T. Marinetti (trans. R.W. Flint), The Futurist Manifesto (1909), in Umbro Apollonio (ed.) Documents of 20th Century Art: Futurist Manifestos (New York: Viking Press, 1973), pp. 19-24.
  20. Beuger quoted in Dan Warburton, ‘The Sound of Silence: The Music and Aesthetics of the Wandelweiser Group’ (Signal to Noise, 2001, reprinted online at http://www.paristransatlantic.com/magazine/monthly2006/07jul_text.html). Following quotations are from the same article.
  21. Cornelius Cardew, ‘Towards an Ethic of Improvisation’ (originally published in Cardew, Treatise Handbook (Lodnon: Edition Peters, 1971); reprinted online at http://www.ubu.com/papers/cardew_ethics.html)
  22. http://mazenkerblog.blogspot.co.uk/2006/07/other-websites.html
  23. Kurt Newman, ‘Trumpet of Sedition’ (blogpost at http://ihearanewworld.blogspot.co.uk/2006_07_01_archive.html)
  24. Mazen Kerbaj, ‘still alive and well and living in beirut’ (blogpost at http://mazenkerblog.blogspot.co.uk/search?q=recorded+two+hours+of+bombs)
  25. Ibid
  26. Cf. Adorno on Beethoven
  27. Simon Jarvis, ‘Prosody as Cognition’ (Critical Quarterly, 40 (4), .3-15). The quotation in this passage is from Heidegger.