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Sounds in Translation

Sounds in Translation: Intersections of music, technology and society

Copyright Date: 2009
Published by: ANU Press
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  • Book Info
    Sounds in Translation
    Book Description:

    Sounds in Translation: Intersections of music, technology and society joins a growing number of publications taking up R. Murray Schafer's challenge to examine and to re-focus attention on the sound dimensions of our human environment. This book takes up his challenge to contemporary audiologists, musicologists and sound artists working within areas of music, cultural studies, media studies and social science to explore the idea of the 'soundscape' and to investigate the acoustic environment that we inhabit. It seeks to raise questions regarding the translative process of sound: 1) what happens to sound during the process of transfer and transformation; and 2) what transpires in the process of sound production/expression/performance. Sounds in Translation was conceived to take advantage of new technology and a development in book publishing, the electronic book. Much of what is written in the book is best illustrated by the sound itself, and in that sense, permits sound to 'speak for itself'.

    eISBN: 978-1-921536-55-7
    Subjects: Music, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    A. Chan and A. Noble
  4. Contributors
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. Introduction
    (pp. 1-8)
    Amy Chan

    Sounds in Translation: Intersections of music, technology and society joins a growing number of publications taking up R. Murray Schafer’s challenge to examine and to refocus attention on the sound dimensions of our human environment. His book The Soundscape: Our sonic environment and the tuning of the world (1977/1994) explores the idea of the ‘sound-scape’, the acoustic environment that we inhabit. Schafer invited researchers in the area of sound and music to investigate the origins, causes and impacts of new (and changing) sounds in rural and urban environments and to ask ‘what is the relationship between man [sic] and the...

  6. 1. ‘soundAFFECTs’: translation, writing, new media, affect
    (pp. 9-24)
    Hazel Smith

    This chapter will focus on the translation or trans-coding of a work from its print form as ‘AFFECTions: friendship, community, bodies’ (Brewster and Smith 2003) into its multimedia form as ‘soundAFFECTs’ (Dean et al. 2004).² In particular, it will explore how this transition changes the affective experience the piece transmits. The print (words only) work ‘AFFECTions’ is an experimental and multi-genre collaboration by Anne Brewster and myself, which engages with the subject of affect, feeling and emotion (Brewster and Smith 2003). The multimedia work ‘soundAFFECTs’ employs the text of ‘AFFECTions’ as its base, but converts it into a piece that...

  7. 2. Edible Audience: what about this gastronomic performance translated as sound art?
    (pp. 25-40)
    Alistair Riddell

    If new media performance continues to evolve through the convergence of diverse technologies, where does this leave the audience with respect to the creative experience? Is it important for the artist to understand to what extent and how the audience understands the use of technology in their work and how that technology facilitates conveyance of the concept? Should the artist care? This chapter discusses the relationship between artist and audience through an examination of a complex sound-art project and seeks to initiate thoughts from which artists might contemplate the form of future projects and their subsequent performances.

    The intention of...

  8. 3. Translating the musical image: case studies of expert musicians
    (pp. 41-60)
    Freya Bailes

    There is more to music than the production and perception of real sounds; musical experience also involves musical thought through imagining and mentally re-presenting sounds. This can occur unintentionally, as in the phenomenon often called ‘tune on the brain’. Alternatively, imaging music can be an involuntary corollary of musical activity, such as anticipating the next track on an album while listening to music or working towards an ideal musical sound in performance based on internally ‘hearing’ how it should sound. Finally, a mental image of music can be deliberate, as in the ‘silent’ analysis of a musical score or the...

  9. 4. Translating the tradition: the many lives of Green Bushes
    (pp. 61-78)
    Jennifer Gall

    Transcribed below are the words of Green Bushes, as sung by Sally Sloane in Australia, to which I refer throughout this essay.¹

    The Green Bushes

    (Sung by Sally Sloane and recorded by John Meredith in 1956)

    As I went a-walking one morning in spring,

    To hear the birds whistle and the nightingale sing,

    I spied a fair damsel, so sweetly sang she,s

    ‘Down by the green bushes where ’e thinks to meet me.’

    ‘Oh what are you loitering for, my pretty maid?’

    ‘I’m a-loitering for my true love, kind sir,’ she said.

    ‘Shall I be your true love, and will...

  10. 5. Ancient and modern footprints: music and the mysteries of Lake Mungo
    (pp. 79-90)
    Adam Shoemaker

    A moment. September 2005. As a group of us walked through a meandering sand path in outback Australia, bordered with saltbush, we crested a rise. Below was an unremarkable basin: greyish brown, sparse and treeless. The colour of the cloudy sky mirrored the hue of what lay beneath our feet. Around us were the enveloping murmur of wind and the crunch of boots on sand. There was nothing to suggest that it was in any way special; it could just as easily have been any one of the hundreds of such vistas in the Willandra Lakes area, located in the...

  11. 6. Translating the shigu from the streets to the stage
    (pp. 91-110)
    Amy Chan

    The large barrel-like drum the shigu is part of a percussion ensemble that accompanies the Chinese lion dance during New Year celebrations and other folk festivals. The din created by the shigu, together with the gong and cymbals, heralds the arrival of the lion-dance troupe and also serves to symbolically drive away evil spirits. This chapter seeks to chart the abstraction of this drum from its traditional context and function to its subsequent appearance on stage. It attempts to throw light on the changes in sound when ‘translated’ from one domain to another and raises the question of how this...

  12. 7. Domesticating the foreign: singing salvation through translation in the Australian Catholic Chinese community
    (pp. 111-144)
    Nicholas Ng

    St Joseph’s Chapel, Asiana Centre (Ashfield)

    4 December 2004, 7.18pm

    On the whole, this community is very well organised in what I see as a lively, post-Vatican II atmosphere…Hymns are sung in Cantonese and inculturation seems to have taken place at a moderate level: the Mandarin script is clearly visible in signs and religious slogans around the place…During the opening of the new Annex last year, there was a roast suckling pig that seemed to be an additional sacrifice to the usual one at Mass.

    An ancestral plaque with a joss stick urn stands to one side of...

  13. 8. Singing the syllables: translating spelling into music in Tibetan spelling chant
    (pp. 145-168)
    Phil Rose

    Every literate culture has ways of saying how the written words of its main language are made up of units of writing. In English, this is called spelling. This chapter looks at spelling in Tibetan, where it is called སྦྱོར་ཀློག་ ‘sbyor klog ’ (pronounced a little like ‘jaw lock’). It adopts the special perspective, however, in keeping with the theme for this volume of ‘sound in translation’, of how the spelling is really chanted by a lama. This is called Tibetan spelling chant (henceforth TSC). Although ‘sound’ appears self-explanatory—the lama is, after all, creating sound when he chants— the...

  14. 9. Voice-scapes: transl(oc)ating the performed voice in ethnomusicology
    (pp. 169-184)
    Henry Johnson

    At the heart of ethnomusicology is the ethnographic study of people making music. As an approach to documenting, describing, analysing and understanding the symbolic sound systems in which the world’s peoples live, ethnomusicological field research includes an inherent epistemological dilemma for the researcher: the question of interpretation and how best to present and represent in scholarly discourse the music, sound and people under study. Like all studies that deal with people, sound aesthetics in all cultures will necessarily lead the researcher to encounter questions relating to interpretation and translation of data collected in the field. Whether with ethnomusicology at home...