WK 9 - Text/annotations:

Jean-Luc Nancy - LIstening 2002

“There is, at least potentially, more isomorphism between the visual and the conceptual, even if only by virtue of the fact that the morphe, the “form” implied in the idea of “isomorphism,” is the immediately thought or grasped on the visual plane. The sonorous, on the other hand, outweighs form. It does not dissolve it, but rather enlarges it; it gives it an amplitude, a density, and a vibration or an undulation whose outline never does anything but approach. The visual persists until its disappearance; the sonorous appears and fades away its permanence.” (Pp 2)

"Under what conditions, by contrast, can one talk about visual sound? “ (pp.3)

"What does it mean for a being to be immersed entirely in listening, formed but listening or in listening, listening with all of his being?” (pp4)

“What secret is at stake when one truly listens, that is, when one tries to capture or surprise the sonority rather than the message?" (pp5)

“The listen is tendre l’oreille - literally, to stretch the ear - an expression that evoked a singular mobility, among the sensory apparatuses, of the pinna of the ear-it is an intensification and a concern, a curiosity or an anxiety.”   (pp5)


Hearing is not listening. Listening is a practice - something we develop in order to attain meaning through the sense of hearing. Hearing requires the human brain to de-code physical sound waves in order for us to perceive sounds; it’s a cognitive and conceptual sense.  Nancy (2002) argues that listening means literally “to stretch the ear” (pp. 5), so “If “to hear” is to understand the sense […] , to listen is to be straining towards a possible meaning, and consequently one that is not immediately accessible” (Nancy, 2001, pp. 6). We need to work to listen; to focus and concentrate. Listening is always active, never passive and like any skill, we need to learn it. Composer and educator Pauline Oliveros dedicated her life’s work to the act of listening by developing and teaching the practice of Deep Listening (Oliveros 2002) throughout the world.  In the introduction to her text Deep Listening: A Composer’s Sound Practice (2002), Oliveros describes Deep Listening as a way to “heighten and expand consciousness of sound in as many dimensions of awareness and attentional dynamics as humanly possibly” (2002, pp. xxiii). Through a series of group and solitary exercises, Oliveros paves the way for a better understanding of sound through Deep Listening. 

Acoustmatic Sound - Pierre Schaeffer 

Thinking about the sound without attachment to it’s original source. How can we deal with material when we don’t know the source? If we capture the sound ourselves, then we are alway aware of where this sound come from. Attaching a visual counterpart to sounds in this way will always have some kind of bias. I am ofter hyper sensitive to the places in which I collect sounds. Often I get consumed by that place, and have a tendency to feel that any sounds collected in the environment need to pay homage to their original location. However, I do find this to be quite limiting in ways. It often hinders my creative manipulation of sounds, and presents other histories and attachments that could be perceived as more important that dealing with material in a creative way. 

I have been contemplating ways around this conundrum. And in the hope to create something more open and free, I have devised a plan to collect material without visual attachment. By asking collaborators to supply the material. 

This idea is risky in that I have no control over the material I will be supplied, or I could offer parameters of some kind to guide the material, but not dictate it. I feel it opens up a plethora of possibilities, unrestrained angles towards reaching a compositional work. This also means that I listen to sounds in a truely acousmatic ways, without any attachment. Often when I record field recording myself I don’t actually listen to the entire thing again. Often I will just take note of certain events during recording as I’m listening as I record. However, listening in-situ is a much different experience to listening through mediated means.