Skip to main content

Acoustic Art Forms in the Age of Recordability

  • Gerald Fiebig (a1)

Many theoretical accounts of sound art tend to treat it as a subcategory of either music or visual art. I argue that this dualism prevents many works of sound art from being fully appreciated. My subsequent attempt of finding a basis for a more comprehensive aesthetic of acoustic art forms is helped along by Trevor Wishart’s concept of ‘sonic art’. I follow Wishart’s insight that the status of music was changed by the invention of sound recording and go on to argue that an even more important ontological consequence of recording was the new possibility of storing and manipulating any acoustic event. This media-historic condition, which I refer to as ‘recordability’, spawned three distinct art forms with different degrees of abstraction – electroacoustic music in the tradition of Pierre Schaeffer, gallery-oriented sound art and radiogenic Ars Acustica. Introducing Ars Acustica, or radio art, as a third term provides some perspective on the music/sound art binarism. A brief look at the history of radio art aims at substantiating my claim that all art forms based on recordable sounds can be fruitfully discussed by appreciating their shared technological basis and the multiplicity of their reference systems rather than by subsuming one into another.

Corresponding author
Hide All
Anonymous. 2000. Liner notes to Walter Ruttmann Weekend Remix. CD, Intermedium Records, Indigo CD 93172.
Black, C. 2014. International Perspectives on the Historic Intersections of Electroacoustic Music and the Radio Medium. Organised Sound 19(2): 182191.
Conrad, T. 1997. MINor premise, from liner notes to Early Minimalism. Volume One. Table of the Elements, 33 As-Arsenic.
Dack, J. 1994. Pierre Schaeffer and the Significance of Radiophonic Art. (accessed 30 August 2014).
de la Motte-Haber, H. 1996. Klangkunst – eine neue Gattung? In Akademie der Künste (ed.) Klangkunst. Munich/New York: Prestel.
Fuchs, M. 2010. Sinn und Sound. Berlin: Wissenschaftlicher Verlag Berlin.
Gilfillan, D. 2008. Networked Radio Space and Broadcast Simultaneity. An interview with Robert Adrian. In H. Grundmann, E. Zimmermann, R. Braun, D. Daniels, A. Hirsch and A. Thurmann-Jajes (eds.) Re-Inventing Radio. Aspects of Radio as Art. Frankfurt am Main: Revolver.
Gould, G. 1966. The Prospects of Recording. In C. Cox and D. Warner (eds.) Audio Culture. Readings in Modern Music. New York/London: Continuum.
Hagelüken, A. 2006. Acoustic (Media) Art: Ars Acustica and the Idea of a Unique Art Form for Radio – An Examination of the Historical Conditions in Germany. (accessed 30 August 2014).
Kane, B. 2013. Musicophobia, or Sound Art and the Demands of Art Theory. (accessed 30 August 2014).
Kim-Cohen, S. 2009. In the Blink of an Ear. Toward a Non-Cochlear Sonic Art. New York/London: Continuum.
Kittler, F. 1986. Grammophon Film Typewriter. Berlin: Brinkmann & Bose.
Landy, L. 2007. Understanding the Art of Sound Organization. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
López, F. 2014. Music Dematerialized? In M. Carvalhais and P. Tudela (eds.) Cochlear Poetics. Writings on Music and Sound Arts. Oporto: University of Porto.
Minard, R. 2002. Musique concrète and its importance to the visual arts. In B. Schulz (ed.) Resonanzen. Aspekte der Klangkunst/Resonances. Aspects of Sound Art. Heidelberg: Kehrer.
Sanio, S. 1996. Hören im musikalischen Environment. In Akademie der Künste (ed.) Klangkunst. Munich/New York: Prestel.
Schaeffer, P. 1970. Machines à Communiquer. Paris: Seuil.
Schöning, K. 1999. Riverrun. On the Human Voice, the Universe of Sounds and Noises Amidst the Silence. A Sound Journey into WDR’s Studio of Acoustic Art . In K. Schöning (ed.) Riverrun. Voicings/Soundscapes. Mainz: Wergo, WER-6307-2.
Voegelin, S. 2010. Listening to Noise and Silence. Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art. New York/London: Continuum.
Wishart, T. 1996. On Sonic Art. A New and Revised Edition. Edited by Simon Emmerson. New York/Oxon: Routledge.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Organised Sound
  • ISSN: 1355-7718
  • EISSN: 1469-8153
  • URL: /core/journals/organised-sound
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed