ISBN is

978-1-85242-812-9 / 9781852428129

Haunted Weather: Music, Silence, and Memory

by

Publisher:Serpent's Tail

Edition:Softcover

Language:English

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About the book:

In the first chapter of this fascinating exploration of present and future sound worlds, author David Toop describes what composer John Cage discovered when he entered a totally soundproof anechoic chamber. "Drawn to silence, he expected to discover that," writes Toop. "Instead, he heard two persistent noises. The engineer in charge of the anechoic chamber at Harvard University explained: the high sound was the working of Cage's nervous system, the low sound was blood pulsing through his circulation. In other words, he was hearing his own lifeforce." For Toop, the implication is clear: we humans are musical creatures who create and enjoy an immensely varied soundscape. In Haunted Weather, Toop examines how ideas about the creation, manipulation, and meaning of sound are undergoing a radical overhaul. He argues that "the recent explosion of digital technology in sound work has established a kind of year zero." Besides including observations from his own work as a critic and a musician, Toop travels the globe to interview proponents of improvisational and experimental music (e.g., British free-jazz guitarist Derek Bailey, Finnish electronica duo Pan Sonic), as well as figures in the field of sound art, like Canada's Janet Cardiff. In the process, Toop poses some intriguing questions: in what sense is a musician onstage with only a laptop computer "performing"? When one song is sampled to create another, what is the relationship between old and new? Can the sound of a forest at night be considered music? What is the difference between silence and quiet?

Haunted Weather returns to the some of the same themes that Toop examined in Ocean of Sound and Exotica. As in those books, he draws unusual connections between disparate areas of music and culture. He also accomplishes the always tricky task of describing things meant to be heard. At one point, he likens the shriek of starlings in his garden to "nature's equivalent of latter-day free jazz when the point was to blow at the outer limits of volume and duration until all the energy in a room had been vacuumed into silence." Anyone eager to hear many of the artists whose work he describes so poetically in Haunted Weather can investigate a double CD by the same name. Other readers may develop a new appreciation for the sound worlds they already experience. --Jason Anderson

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