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Good Vibrations: "Sirens," Soundscapes, and Physiology

From: James Joyce Quarterly
Volume 46, Number 3-4, Spring-Summer 2009
pp. 481-496 | 10.1353/jjq.2008.0050



This article establishes Joyce's ongoing interest in psychoacoustics and illustrates how much he drew, in the writing of the "Sirens" episode, on nineteenth-century sound experiments that were developed by the German physician Hermann von Helmholtz. It argues that Joyce consciously referenced nineteenth-century sound theories to explore the link between the emotional and sensory experience of music and the physical and physiological components of sound perception.