Listening and Voice
Phenomenologies of Sound, Second Edition
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: State University of New York Press
Listening and Voice
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Preface to the SUNY Press Edition of Listening and Voice: Phenomenologies of Sound
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The first edition of Listening and Voice (1976), the manuscript for which was completed (1972–73) roughly a decade after my dissertation (1964), was my first systematic attempt to do an original phenomenology. I was already convinced that what I later termed, “generic continentalism,” that is, the brand of scholarship that focuses on some major European philosopher and his or her texts, did not promise the same excitement of a more ‘experimental,’...
Introduction (to the Original)
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I have attempted to put this investigation in as straightforward and simple a fashion as possible. For this reason, although I have undertaken extensive studies in related fields such as the physiology of hearing, acoustics, and musical theory, references to these are implicit. Except in the introductory remarks the same implicitness remains the case with the giants of the phenomenological tradition...
Part I. Introduction
1. In Praise of Sound
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The beginning of man is in the midst of word. And the center of word is in breath and sound, in listening and speaking. In the ancient mythologies the word for soul was often related to the word for breath. In the biblical myth of the creation, God breathes life into Adam, and that breath is both life and word...
2. Under the Signs of Husserl and Heidegger
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The examination of sound begins with a phenomenology. It is this style of thinking which concentrates an intense examination on experience in its multifaceted, complex, and essential forms. Nothing is easier than a “phenomenology,” because each person has her experience and may reflect on it. Nothing is more “familiar” than our own experience, and nothing is closer to ourselves. Potentially anyone can do a “phenomenology.”...
3. First Phenomenology
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First phenomenology begins under the sign of Husserl. It is a beginning that strives to move us from where we are in terms of common assumptions and implicit beliefs to a different plane of understanding in the phenomenological attitude. To do this, a philosophy in the style of Husserl employs a double level of meanings. The first level of a Husserlian styled philosophy may be termed “literal”...
Part II. Description
4. The Auditory Dimension
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What is it to listen phenomenologically? It is more than an intense and concentrated attention to sound and listening, it is also to be aware in the process of the pervasiveness of certain “beliefs” that intrude into my attempt to listen “to the things themselves.” Thus the first listenings inevitably are not yet fully existentialized but occur in the midst of preliminary approximations...
5. The Shapes of Sound
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The approximation that opened a difference between sight and sound ended in a questioning of the import of that difference. If a movement is possible that gives visibility to the unseen, and a countermovement that gives voice to the mute is possible, a closer listening to the auditory dimension itself is called for. The time has come when listening must begin to be reflective. I begin to take note of my listening, and I first notice a certain incessant field of sound...
6. The Auditory Field
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We listen first to things. They capture our attention in their voices and are the “naive” or first existential sources of the sounding which we hear. Yet without forgetting this first presence of the existentiality of the thing, the concern of phenomenology must also be expanded beyond any exclusive concern with things alone. To simply take the thing alone without raising the wider question of how things present themselves in terms...
7. Timeful Sound
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The tradition concerning the experience of sound is one that situates hearing as the temporal sense and the “world” of sound as one of flux and flow. The postponement of a consideration of this temporal movement of sound in order not to bypass the spatial significations of the auditory dimension must now give way to the examination of what appears first in the reflections on sound. Sound dances timefully within experience...
8. Auditory Horizons
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With the phenomenon of the horizon as limit simultaneously are reached the limits of phenomenology as a philosophy of experiential presence, of phenomenology under the sign of Husserl as a first phenomenology, and of the initiation of a movement to second phenomenology under the sign of Heidegger. It is also the moment when the most extreme temptation occurs to lapse into a type of “metaphysics” that would be an attempt to get beyond presentational experience by means of an “explanatory” strategy...
Part III. The Imaginative Mode
9. The Polyphony of Experience
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The first movement of a phenomenology of sound and listening has taken its first step in what may be regarded as a preliminary survey of the auditory terrain. It began with first approximations and the center of focal listening. It moved from that listening to the voices of things “outward” and from there to the listening for the silence of the relative and open horizon...
10. Auditory Imagination
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Not all auditory imagination assumes the form of inner speech. There are also the varied possibilities that surround thinking in a language, and which, without investigation, could hopelessly confuse the issue. In the most general terms, auditory imagination as a whole displays the same generic possibilities as the full imaginative mode of experience.Within the active imaginative mode...
11. Inner Speech
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The familiar but elusive character of inner speech as an imaginative modal counterpart to spoken voice calls for its own establishing variations. Some preliminary qualifications, however, are also appropriate. First, it is clearly not the case that all thinking is “linguistic.” There are many important and clearly nonlinguistic aspects to the full range of thought. There is, for example, a kind of visual thinking that is possible particularly in the arts...
Part IV. Voice
12. The Center of Language
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Listening to the voices of the World, listening to the “inner” sounds of the imaginative mode, spans a wide range of auditory phenomena. Yet all sounds are in a broad sense “voices,” the voices of things, of others, of the gods, and of myself. In this broad sense one may speak of the voices of significant sound as the “voices of language.” At least this broad sense may be suggestive in contrast...
13. Music and Word
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In all music, sound draws attention to itself. This is particularly the case in wordless music, music that is not sung. Here the “meaning” does not lurk elsewhere, but it is in the sounding of the music. There is even a sense in which the listening that music calls for is a different listening than that called for by word.Wordless music, in its sonorous incarnation, when compared to language is “opaque,”...
14. Silence and Word
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The horizon as silence situates and surrounds the center. This is the meaning of horizon as first outlined in the approximations of the auditory dimension. In this respect the horizon at its extremity first shows itself (indirectly and at the extreme fringe) as limit which trails off into the nothingness of absence. As extreme limit the horizon constantly withdraws and hides itself...
15. Dramaturgical Voice
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Voice sounds, but its possibilities are not always amplified clearly. In dramaturgical voice, however, the sounding of voice is amplified. Dramaturgical voice stands between the enchantment of music, which can wordlessly draw us into the sound so deeply that the sound overwhelms us, and the conversation of ordinary speech, which gives way to a trivial transparency...
16. The Face, Voice, and Silence
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In the very midst of the conversation that is humankind there are beginnings. But not all beginnings belong to the center of language-as-word. There are beginnings that occur before and after speech. If I meet an other who is a stranger who may not speak my tongue, then the meeting is one that takes place within “language” only in the broader sense of language as significance. Here, decentered from the focal, clear meaning of word...
Part V. Phenomenologies
17. A Phenomenology of Voice
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In the beginning was voice and the voice was speech and speech was Language. That is the case with the realm we call human, not that we are entirely different from the animals of the kingdom who are as perceptually immersed in the world as we.We can recognize the cat as she focuses her attention on the morning squirrel, selecting this particular creature out of the vast complexity of the background...
18. Auditory Imagination
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In this essay I propose to investigate phenomenologically a dimension of human experience that may be called auditory imagination. My central aim will be to point out certain phenomena that I claim properly belong to auditory experience and which, if so concretely located, are suggestive of solutions to some philosophical problems concerning man’s experience of the world...
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The researches that lie at the origin of the essay were conceived of in a seminar on the phenomenology of perception in which auditory experience was to be of particular importance. The aspect of auditory phenomena we choose to describe here relates to a phenomenology of listening to music. The problems that arose in approaching music revealed interesting questions...
Part VI. Acoustic Technologies
20. Bach to Rock Amplification
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Followers of the McLuhan style of thought concerning the influence of media often point out that the invention of high-fidelity recording is to music what the printing press was to writing. Just as books from a printing press became both easily reproducible and inexpensive and thus created the conditions for a wider literate culture, so inexpensive and widely available...
21. Jazz Embodied: Instrumentation
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Early modernity is said to have originated in the seventeenth century and one of its much later named practices became “science.” We would not have a problem thinking this early science to be occurring when Galileo turned his newly fashioned instrument, the telescope, on the heavens. And, thus when he discovered—and quickly publicized—the observation that the “star,” Jupiter...
22. Embodying Hearing Devices: Digitalization
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In order to continue to lecture, travel, and teach in my seventies, I now must wear a pair of hearing aids, acoustic technologies. Mine are small, in-channel, and state-of-the-art digital devices. These have three programs: one for everyday use; one tweaked to the “cocktail party” or restaurant setting in which near, ambient noise threatens to overwhelm hearing...
23. Embodiment,Technologies, and Musics
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The history of humans producing and experiencing music is probably at least as ancient as Homo sapiens sapiens and Neanderthals or older, and just as diverse as every culture known to anyone. In this chapter I want to take both a long and broad look at music production and experience, but also focus particularly on “musical technologies” or instrumentation...
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Page Count: 296
Illustrations: 11 figures
Publication Year: 2007