An Acoulogical Treatise


Book Pages: 312 Illustrations: 25 illustrations Published: January 2016

Author: Michel Chion

Translator: James A. Steintrager

Contributor: James A. Steintrager

Cultural Studies, Media Studies > Film, Music > Sound Studies

First published in French in 1998, revised in 2010, and appearing here in English for the first time, Michel Chion's Sound addresses the philosophical, interpretive, and practical questions that inform our encounters with sound. Chion considers how cultural institutions privilege some sounds above others and how spurious distinctions between noise and sound guide the ways we hear and value certain sounds. He critiques the tenacious tendency to understand sounds in relation to their sources and advocates "acousmatic" listening—listening without visual access to a sound’s cause—to disentangle ourselves from auditory habits and prejudices. Yet sound can no more be reduced to mere perceptual phenomena than encapsulated in the sciences of acoustics and physiology. As Chion reminds us and explores in depth, a wide range of linguistic, sensory, cultural, institutional, and media- and technologically-specific factors interact with and shape sonic experiences. Interrogating these interactions, Chion stimulates us to think about how we might open our ears to new sounds, become more nuanced and informed listeners, and more fully understand the links between how we hear and what we do. 


"Chion's work is refreshing in many ways.... It is clear that Chion lives his topic deeply, and has not simply “researched” it. Alongside the extended theorisation, the book teems with thought-provoking observations, like the best of Jean Baudrillard (who could always be appreciated for his vignettes if not for his theories) or Roland Barthes. How good it is to find that someone else has asked himself why being subjected to one side of a conversation on a mobile phone is even more frustrating than overhearing a two-way conversation in person – and Chion has an answer." — David Revill, Times Higher Education

"This work . . . is an excellent addition to the literature on sound. It is a stimulating and thought-provoking book that addresses not only basic philosophical ideas but also highly practical questions that inform the reader about encounters with sound. . . . The notes that are provided at the end of the work offer further details and are extremely useful. The glossary is incredibly valuable, especially in describing the French words the author uses. The bibliography is also extensive. In summary, the book is excellent. Recommended. All readers." — M. G. Prasad, Choice

"Michel Chion’s opus is itself a delight to read. . . . His writing miraculously foregrounds sound without fixating upon its objecthood. Organizationally, he provides clarity through schematic listings of key points throughout the essays and a helpful glossary of terms that he has generated throughout his career." — Shayna Silverstein, TDR: The Drama Review

"Chion and Schaeffer are part of an active, interventionist, history: they are about how humans seize technologies and put them to undesigned uses, they are about how to dis-alienate the spectacular. Bravo!" — Tim Hodgkinson, Cultural Critique

"Sound stands out as a strong statement of some of Michel Chion's core theoretical concepts and will be a major contribution to sound studies. It provides a nice alternative phenomenology of sound, and challenges many of the pieties still in circulation." — Jonathan Sterne, author of MP3: The Meaning of a Format

"Michel Chion is one of the leading—and most prolific—writers on sound, but only a few of his many books are available in English. This impeccable translation of Sound will make Chion's outstanding work available to a broader audience."  — Veit Erlmann, author of Reason and Resonance: A History of Modern Aurality


Availability: In stock
Price: $27.95

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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Michel Chion is a composer, filmmaker, teacher, researcher, and the author of several books, including Film, A Sound Art; The Voice in Cinema; and Audio-Vision: Sound on Screen.

James A. Steintrager is Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and European Languages and Studies at the University of California, Irvine; he is the author, most recently, of The Autonomy of Pleasure: Libertines, License, and Sexual Revolution.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Introduction. Closed Grooves, Open Ears / James A. Steintrager  vii

Preface to the French Edition of 2010  xxvii

I. Hearing

1. Listening Awakes  3

2. The Ear  16

3. Sound and Time  29

II. A Divided World

4. Voice, Language, and Sounds  45

5. Noise and Music: A Legitimate Distinction?  55

III. The Wheel of Causes

6. The Sound That You Cause: Ergo-Audition  83

7. Sounds and Its Cause: Casual Listening and Figurative Listening  101

8. Sound and What It Causes: Real and Supposed Effects  121

IV. Sound Transformed

9. How Technology Has Changed Sound  131

10. The Audiovisual Couple in Film: Audio-Vision  150

V. Listening, Expressing

11. Object and Non-Object: Two Poles  169

12. Between Doing and Listening: Naming  212

Notes  243

Glossary  265

Bibliography  269

Index  275
Sales/Territorial Rights: World

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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6039-1 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6022-3
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