Resources

Information and resource links for a number endeavors. Use the "Quick Links" menu below to access subject areas.

Quick Links

Audio Documentaries | Audio Preservation | Auditory Culture | Equipment / Suppliers | Field Recording | Interactive | Locative | Podcasts | Radio | Radio Art | Radio Drama | Remix | Sound Archives | Sound Art | Sound Design | Sound Effects / Foley | Sound / Oral / Aural History | Spoken Word | Theory

Audio Documentaries

Audio documentaries provide additional access to cultural and historical information contained in or provided by sound(s).

Audiodocumentary.org
A curatorial effort and information portal to all kinds of free, online radio and audio documentary content. "Basically we bring you links to stuff that we think is interesting and which might otherwise fly below the radar—that great piece from NPR, that unknown Podcast, or any other audio documentary content we want to bring to people's attention."

Battery Radio
Located below the cliff in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, where Marconi used a kite to fly his antenna and said he received the first transAtlantic wireless radio signals, Battery Radio is an audio production company specializing in radio documentary features. Their work is available online or via podcast.

Listening Between the Lines
"Dedicated to investigating and helping to correct historical inequalities in America" by producing radio documentaries. "Listening Between the Lines encourages listeners to rethink their values and assumptions as well the way they live their lives."

Panos London Illuminating Voices
A magazine with an audio portal "reporting on development issues that are often neglected by mainstream media." The programs come from a "global team of local journalists [who] seek out the views of people on the edges of society and offer you fresh perspectives."

Sound Portraits Productions
"Dedicated to telling stories that bring neglected American voices to a national audience. Whether on the radio, in print, or on the Web, Sound Portraits is committed to producing innovative works of lasting educational, cultural, and artistic value." Sound Portrait's radio documentaries are broadcast on National Public Radio's All Things Considered and Weekend Edition.

Soundprint
The longest-running documentary series on public radio. The SOUNDPRINT series provides a national vehicle for long-form non-fiction works by outstanding producers, while fostering the development of emerging producers to encourage innovation and new voices on public radio.

Third Coast International Audio Festival
Collects and archives thousands of radio documentaries.

Audio Preservation

Copeland, Peter. Manual of Analogue Sound Restoration Techniques (British Library, 2008).
With the rapid development of digital technologies, analogue formats for recording and archiving sound files have all but disappeared. But, before digital, everything was analogue and there is a tremendous amount of important analogue sound files that need to be restored and preserved. This book provides a great deal of information about how to proceed with this task. The author worked as Conservation Manager for the British Library Sound Archive. Download this book (333 pages) as a .PDF file.

Auditory Culture

The Auditory Culture Reader, Michael Bull and Les Back, Eds. Oxford, UK: Berg, 2003. By investigating how auditory culture subtly and profoundly impacts our daily lives, this collection of essays attempts to address the imbalance of sight over sound, and how the visual overly influences the way we relate to and think about our lives.

Auditory Culture > thesis

Provides a template for the production of an "acoustemology" for investigating "the primacy of sound as a modality of knowing and being in the world" (borrowing from Steven Feld's essay, "A Rainforest of Acoustemology", 223-239; see below).

Auditory Culture > notes from introduction

Advocates "deep listening"or "agile listening," both of which involve "attuning our ears to listen again to the multiple layers of meaning potentially embedded in the same sound." Deep listening also involves "practices of dialogue and procedures for investigation, transposition and interpretation" (3-4). Argues that several factors are at stake in deep listening
Sound makes us re-think the meaning, nature and significance of our social experience
Sound makes us re-think our relation to community
Sound makes us re-think our relational experiences, how we relate to others, ourselves and the spaces and places we inhabit
Sound makes us re-think our relationship to power (4)
In short, sound provides a place in which embodied social and cultural traces can be carried, often without the awareness of their bearers. Therefore, it is good to choose to actively and deeply listen to the sounds of the world in which we live. By moving "into sound" we open new ways of thinking about and appreciating the social experience, memory, time, and place—the auditory culture—of sound (16).

Auditory Culture > notes from contents

R. Murray Shaffer (Tuning the World New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1977) introduced the term soundscape to denote the auditory terrain in its entirety of overlapping noises, sounds, and human melodies. The soundscape is not a flat terrain that can be mapped, but rather a fluid field changed with the introduction of each new sound (11).

In city and urban environments, the soundscape can become overwhelming, especially with "noise"—that which is considered outside the culturally accepted notion of "civilized." Personal audio devices (Walkmans, mp3 players, and now, mobile telephones) permit users to construct their own individualized sound world wherever they may be. Experience is thus aestheticized and, as she moves through it, the world becomes whatever the user wants it to be. These individuals are not urban flaneurs, but rather individuals preoccupied with the management of their own environment. Sound transforms public space into private property. Jean-Paul Thibaud suggests the term "sonic bridge" for this phenomenon ("The Sonic Composition of the City" 329-341). (9)

Sound provides a place in which embodied social and cultural traces can be carried, often without the awareness of their bearers. Therefore, it is good to choose to actively and deeply listen to the sounds of the world in which we live. By moving "into sound" we open new ways of thinking about and appreciating the social experience, memory, time, and place—the auditory culture—of sound (16).

Auditory Culture > Part 1: Thinking about Sound

Theoretical and epistemological questions . . .

"Open Ears" by Murray Schafer (25-39) suggests three questions:
Who's listening?
What are they listening to?
What are they ignoring or refusing to listen to?

Big noises, like cannons, church bells, steam engines, and jets have changed history. So have small sounds, like whispers in clandestine meetings. In every case someone is listening and understands what is happening. In other cases, persons are not listening, and so miss the revolution, or the social change (26). "Most of the sounds busy people listen to are signals of activity. This explains their immunity to the sounds of nature. One of the essential differences between the natural environment and the engineered environments in which most people live is that nature can't be shut off with a button. Things that can't be generated or shut off with buttons or switches attract little attention in the modern world. . . . The power of technology really comes down to a fascination with buttons and switches in an attempt to modulate information intake. . . . The cellular phone, which the Germans appropriately called the 'Handy,' is the latest installment in this drama" (38). "Beyond what fascinates your ear today is something else, incessantly and obdurately present, although you cannot or do not hear it yet—but whoever hears it first has a good chance of inheriting the future" (39).

"Hearing Loss" by Leigh Eric Schmidt (41-59; first published Schmidt, Leigh Eric. Hearing Things: Religion, Illusion, and the American Enlightenment. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2000. 15-28.) Argues that "a hierarchy of the senses, with sight vastly ennobled and hearing sharply diminished" (48) is "deeply ingrained in Western religious and philosophical traditions" (43). This results in "a marked dichotomy between eye and ear cultures that has commonly drawn on radicalized constructions of Western rationality and ecstatic primitivism" (48)—most notably the work of Walter Ong and Marshall McLuhan.

"Auditory Imagination" by Don Ihde (61-66; first published Ihde, Don. Listening and Voice: A Phenomenology of Sound. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1976. 133-139.) "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 of experience lies the full range from sedimented memories to wildest fantasy. . . . Within the range of the imaginative, auditory imagination may accompany other dimensional presentifications." (61) Between the imaginative and perceptual modes of experience there are "distances and perceptions" regarding copresence, a dual polyphony of perceived and imagined sound (61-62). There is, in auditory imagination, "the possibility of a synthesis of imagined and perceived sound" (62). These distances and perceptions can create the sense of there being an "echo" between, or because of the alternation between perceived and imaginative sounds (64).

Auditory Culture > Part 2: Histories of Sound

Historical studies of sound . . .
"Tuning into London c. 1600" by Bruce R. Smith (127-135) ". . . most of us live immersed in a world of sound" (127). "Sound is at once the most forceful stimulus that human beings experience, and the most evanescent" (128). Three principles of studying sound:
Sound, as an object of study, has been neglected
Knowing the world through sound is fundamentally different from knowing the world through vision
Most academic disciplines are vision-based, not only in the materials they study, but in the theoretical models they deploy to interpret those materials (129). Problem with studying sound from an historical perspective is that many sounds, unless they have been recorded in some way, are no longer available for study, or are difficult to study. One manner of recording historical sounds, and then for studying them, is through literature. Authors, as well as travelers, journalists, etc. have recorded in writing their impressions of the sounds of new or historical contexts. The speech of persons living in these contexts is, naturally, a primary concern, and we can study these writings to learn something of historical speech. Hence, most historical attention to sound has focused on the narrow range of sounds involved in speech. Less researched are the ambient sounds of a particular context which often mark or define the boundaries between that particular context and another, between class, gender, or race relations, for example.

Auditory Culture > Part 3: Anthropologies of Sound

Cross-cultural examples of sound . . .
"A Rainforest Acoustemology" by Steven Feld (223-239; an earlier version first published as part of "Sound Worlds," Sound. Particia Kruth and Henry Stobart, eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000. 173-200). Reacts against the notion that soundscapes are separate from the "pervasiveness of human invention." Says, "Soundscapes, no less than landscapes, are not just physical exteriors, spatially surrounding or apart from actors who attend to them as a way of making their place in and through the world. Soundscapes are invested with significance by those whose bodies and lives resonate with them in social time and space. Like landscapes, they are as much psychical as physical phenomena, as much cultural constructs as materials ones" (226; from Edward S. Casey, "How to Get from Space to Place in a Very Short Stretch of Time," Senses of Place, Steven Feld and Keith Basso, eds. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press, 1996. 13-52). Defines "acoustemology" as "a union of acoustics and epistemology"; a way to "investigate the primacy of sound as a modality of knowing and being in the world" (226). Argues that "sound both emanates from and penetrates bodies; this reciprocity of reflection and absorption is a creative means of orientation—one that tunes bodies to places and times through their sounding potential. Hearing and producing sound are thus embodied competencies that situate actors and their agency in particular historical worlds. These competencies contribute to their distinct and shared ways of being human; they contribute to possibilities for and realizations of authority, understanding, reflexivity, compassion, and identity" (226).

"Nostalgia and Radio Sound" by Jo Tacchi (281-295; first published as "Nostalgia, Radio Listening and Everyday Life," Media@LSE Electronic Working Paper, No. 1, December 2000.) Argues that sound may be "easily equated with depth perception, interior understanding and dynamism" and that, despite sound being devalued by vision, may provide more creative ways in which to work (288).

Auditory Culture > Part 4: Sounds in the City

Sounds of urban life and popular culture . . .
"Aural Postcards: Sound, Memory and the City" by Fran Tonkiss (303-309) "Cities provide a soundstage for the dramas of modern life" (304). [I would substitute "narratives" for "drama".] With all their sounds, however, city soundscapes can be overwhelming. "It is easier and more effective to shut your eyes than it is to cover your ears. Ears cannot discriminate in the way eyes can—as with smell, hearing puts us in a submissive sensuous relation to the city. And yet still we glance at sounds in the city, we don't glaze. Individuals' relation to sound in the everyday spaces of the city tends to be one of distraction rather than attention. . . . Acquired indifference is both the side-effect of and the best defence against" the overwhelming effects of a city's soundscape (304). The personal stereo or mobile telephone allow users to create private, personal soundscapes that are "smaller, tamer, more predictable" (305). Sound souvenirs, the relation of sound to memory, promote the audible presence "in the moment of recall, the melding of space, sound and memory there in the concept of resonance; a movement in the air like sound you can touch" (307). "The past comes to us in its most unbidden, immediate and sensuous forms not in the artifice of the travel photograph, but in the accident of sounds half-remembered. This is something like the difference between record and memory. There is a quality of those sounds not quite recalled that has the texture and the delicacy of memory itself" (307).

"The Sonic Composition of the City" by Jean-Paul Thibaud (329-341) Argues that urbanites use of personal stereos transforms their experience of the city by creating a balance between what she hears and travels through. This reconfiguring of the urban space by unsettling the relationship between sound and vision produces new ways of experiencing the city. Listening to music via headphones not only protects from "the sonic aggressions of the city" but also "enhances the events that give the place its meaning" (330).

"How Many Movements?" by Caroline Bassett (343-355) Argues that users of mobile telephony, walking about in a city, are "no longer embedded in [their] immediate locality or environment." Instead, they are connected simultaneously to other people in remote places/spaces. One then can discover new perspectives because they can both be reached and reach out via their mobile telephones (344-345). The mobile telephone offers then, different from the Walkman or other personal stereo device, "the possibility of remote intervention" (345). For the mobile telephone user, travel/discovery is no longer a broken connection, a separation between the mode of travel and the environment in which one travels. There is no dislocation between the traveler/flaneur and the world beyond. Instead of a boundary, mobile telephones provide an interface (346). Use of mobile telephony creates/facilitates a sense of space/place different from the physical space occupied by the user. "Regarded as a practice of space, and as a practice that makes space, the mobile phone draws up the cultural conditions under which it itself is made—all the species of space—unto itself: like a map, a dream, or even like a prayer might do" (354). These spaces are neither individual or private, but rather socially collective constructions that offer a sense of "being there" of "being live" (351, 354).

Equipment / Suppliers

Equipment > microphones
  • Welcome To Microphones An introduction to microphones used in broadcasting and recording; maintained by Professor S. O. Coutant, retired, Performing and Communication Arts, Pasadena City College.
  • Sound Professionals Amazing in-ear binaural microphones! See especially the MS-TFB-2 and SP-TFB-2)
  • Cold Gold Microphones High-quality microphones, hand-made in Nanaimo, British Columbia, Canada; featuring contact microphones, condenser microphones, and hydrophones.
  • Ear Trumpet Labs High-quality microphones with distinct visual styles and unlikely components. Each one hand-built in Portland, Oregon.
  • Rode i-XY microphone for iPhone Record stereo audio on your iPhone or iPad with this amazing plug in microphone.
  • Zoom iQ5 microphone for iPhone Mid-side stereo condenser microphone connects to the phone's Lightning connector.
  • Zoom iQ6 microphone for iPhone Stereo X-Y microphone plugs into the phone's lightning connector. Useful for field recordings.
  • Zoom iQ7 microphone for iPhone High-quality mid-side stereo microphone plugs into phone's Lightning connector.
Equipment > cables
Equipment > suppliers

Field Recording

Field recording describes audio recordings produced outside the controlled environment of a sound studio. There are two varieties. The first, refers to recordings of musicians in familiar or casual surroundings. The second, called "phonography," focuses on recording natural sounds, in the environment, using portable, but high quality audio recording equipment. Both the results and the practice are considered art forms.

A Beginner's Guide To Field Recording
by Lawrence English. Useful information for people just taking up field recording, as well as a rundown of recent important releases of the genre.

The Essential Field Recording Books
by Stuart Fowkes, creator and curator of Cities and Memory.

Digital Audio Field Recording Equipment Guide
This web resource, provided by the Vermont Folklife Center, features links to information about preserving materials in ethnographic and oral history collections.

Frameworkradio.net
Frameworkradio.net is dedicated to field recording of sonic sources and their use in compositions. Framework:afield programs are produced and curated by guest artists from around the world every second week. Learn more.

Last Quiet Places, The
from the Radio show/podcast On Being, hosted by Krista Tippett, this is an interview with Gordon Hempton who argues that silence is an endangered species. Quiet places are "the think tank of the soul."

Phonography.org
"Phonography" (literally, "sound writing") refers to field recordings that attempt to capture any event that can be reproduced and represented as sound. The capture/recording of the sound is privileged over its production, reflecting a bias toward discovery rather than invention. Learn more about phonography here. This website features a number of phonographies, as well as information about recording gear, and links to other resources, sounds, and recording labels.

Sound, Music, Noise & related sites
Short descriptions of and links to websites focusing on sound, music, or noise. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the links on this page no longer work. The descriptions are interesting, however.

Sounds Outside: The Art of Field Recording Provided by Ableton, this resource offers lots of resources for field recording.

Wandering Ear
Field recording-oriented sound from around the world, available for free download.

Interactive

Interactive > radio
  • The Dark House (2003) by Mike Walker focused interactivity on three different characters in the radio drama. All three were trapped in the same haunted building. After five minutes to establish the story, listeners were able to vote via phone or text message which character's story they wished to follow. Every three minutes, votes were counted, and the drama was shifted to the story of the winning character.
  • The Wheel of Fortune (2001) by Nick Fisher is considered the first interactive drama broadcast on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) network. It was comprised of three iterations of the same play offered via radio and online. Listeners / participants could move back and forth between these different forms of the same play. This same "two screen" technique is offered by some contemporary television shows.
  • 520 episodes of Ellery Queen's Minute Mysteries (1970s) began with actor Bill Owen saying, "This is Ellery Queen with the case I call the . . .." Owen then outlined the case in one minute. A radio station announcer encouraged callers to solve the mystery and win a sponsor's prize. Once they had a winner, the station played the solution part of the episode as confirmation.
  • Radio Event No. 3: Furniture Mix (50:59), broadcast 20 November 1969, was one of a series of radio programs broadcast by KPFA radio's (Berkeley, California) Music Department, 30 October 1969-7 June 1973, which gave artists from various disciplines any amount of air time to create situations that physically involved the listening audience, making them active participants rather than passive listeners. For this broadcast, dance choreographer and intermedia artist Anna Halprin led the audience in a participatory event where they were to rearrange their home furniture in time with musical selections played during the radio program and then visualize a fantasy that occurred to them during the process. Listeners / participants were encouraged to call the station and share their fantasies, which were included in the program's conclusion. Musical selections included excerpts from Goin' Out of My Head, Live for Life, Don't Fence Me In, and Renaissance vocal, Mozart Symphony No. 35. See the "Inter-Media & Visual Arts" pages at the radiom.org website for information and listening opportunities for episodes 1-5, 7-9, 13, 14, 18, 19, 20, and 23.
  • The Five Mysteries Program was an audience participation radio program broadcast from 10 August 1947 to 27 March 1950. Each of the 296 30-minute episodes presented five mysteries dramatized by actors, music, and sound effects. A panel of listeners and studio guests suggested solutions. See also The Great Radio Audience Participation Shows: Seventeen Programs from the 1940s and 1950s (Jim Cox. McFarland & Company, 2001).

Locative / Soundwalks

Information and links for locative narrative and soundwalks. Learn more.

Podcasts

Dr. John's Eazy-Peazy Resource Guide: Podcasts

Radio

Radio > concepts
  • Hendy, David. Radio in the Global Age. Polity Press, 2000.
  • Levinson, Paul. Digital McLuhan: A Guide to the Information Millennium. Routledge, 1999.
  • Lewis, P.M. and Booth J. The Invisible Medium. MacMillan, 2000.
  • Low, A. M. Wireless Possibilities. New York: Dutton, 1924.
  • Strauss, Neil and Dave Mandl, eds. Radiotext(e). New York: Semiotext(e), 1993.
  • How Radio Works Straightforward information about the technical aspects of radio. This page leads to MANY others, each one explaining a different aspect of radio and how it works. Recommended.
  • Radio World The news source for radio managers and engineers.
Radio > festivals
  • Third Coast International Audio Festival Created by Chicago Public Radio in 2000. Inspired by the popularity of international film festivals and motivated by the lack of attention given to outstanding audio work, The Third Coast International Audio Festival is a celebration of the best feature and documentary work heard worldwide on the radio and the Internet. "Our mission is to enrich the opportunities available to veteran and rookie producers who are working to perpetuate this craft in fresh and vital ways."
  • Sonic Circuits Festival of Experimental Music Washington, D.C. An annual exposition of global experimental electronic music and performance, with events throughout the year.
Radio > history
  • Barnouw, Erik. A Tower in Babel. New York: Oxford University Press, 1966.
  • Broadcasting History Links A collection by Elizabeth McLeod, noted historian of old time radio and early television, of the most useful resources for serious students of broadcasting history.
  • Charles Herrold: America's First Broadcaster Charles Herrold started a radio station in San Jose, California, in 1909. He and his students broadcast music and information to an audience of homemade crystal radio experimenters daily up to 1917. In 1921 Herrold's station was licensed as KQW. It became KCBS in 1949. Learn the Herrold story, see (and hear) a Herrold broadcast.
  • Douglas, Susan J. Listening In: Radio and the American Imagination, from Amos 'n' Andy and Ed Murrow to Wolfman Jack and Howard Stern. New York: Random House, 1999.
  • Douglas, Susan J. Inventing American Broadcasting, 1899-1922. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1987.
  • Hilmes, Michele. Radio Voices: American Broadcasting, 1922-1952. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997.
  • Hilmes, Michele and Jason Lovigilio, eds. Radio Reader: Essays in the Cultural History of Radio. (Routledge, 2002).
  • History and Old-Time Radio An extensive collection of archival and first-hand information about radio and radio programs. The website is not well-designed, but scroll to the bottom of the main page and follow the link to the "Program Guide." Then start browsing through the information. Your effort will be well rewarded.
  • Horst J. P. Bergmeir and Rainer E. Lotz, Hitler's Airwaves: The Inside Story of Nazi Radio Broadcasting and Propaganda Swing (Yale University Press, 1997). (Includes audio CD)
  • Old Time Radio Moments of the Century Compiled by Elizabeth McLeod, noted radio historian, this web page lists the top 100 old-time radio moments of the last century.
  • Squier, Susan Merrill, ed. Communities of the Air: Radio Century, Radio Culture. Durham: Duke University Press, 2003. Argues that radio, as both technological and social practices, has played a powerful role in shaping Twentieth Century Anglo-American culture. The essays in this collection explore a number of ways in which radio was constructed by, and in turn helped to shape, society and culture. Part 1: Radio Technology across the Twentieth Century focuses on the development of radio where certain aspects of its broad potential were foreclosed while others were enhanced. See Steven Wurtzler's "AT&T Invents Public Access Broadcasting in 1923: A Foreclosed Model for American Radio" and Nina Huntermann's "A Promise Diminished: The Politics of Low-Power Radio." Part 2: Radio Cultures focuses on the effect of certain uses of radio on gender, race, class, and ethnicity of its producers and consumers. Part 3: Radio Ideologies focuses on radio's power to harness, as well as resist, ideologies of gender, race, and nationality. See Susan Squire's "Wireless Possibilities, Posthuman Possiblities: Brain Radio, Community Radio, Radio Lazarus" for interesting speculation on the stereotype of the autonomous modern individual.
  • United States Early Radio History Articles and extracts about early radio and related technologies, concentrating on the United States in the period from 1897 to 1927.
  • The Xtal Set Society Once upon a time folks interested in radio built and experimented with their own crystal radio sets. The Xtal (Crystal) Set Society maintains this webpage which seeks to provide information for those interested to return to those glorious days of yesteryear.
Radio > low power / micropower
Radio > pirate / underground
  • Carpenter, Sue. 40 Watts from Nowhere: A Journey into Pirate Radio. New York: Scribner, 2004. Carpenter built and operated, for nearly three years, what may have been the largest and most popular pirate radio station in Los Angeles, California. This book provides an account of the journey, but provides very little information about the technology of the station.
  • Conway, Dave. "How to Start Your Own Pirate Radio Station." A blog entry detailing the steps Conway took to establish and operate his own pirate radio station. Straight-forward practical advice.
  • Dunifer, Stephen. Seizing the Airwaves: A Free Radio Handbook. AK Press, 2001. Dunifer was one of the first to advocate for and operate an unlicensed radio station and his book is the first to document and emphasize the many facets of the free radio movement. The first part addresses the political economy of North American radio and provides a history and analysis of pirate radio. The second part includes interviews and commentary by some of the key participants in the micropower broadcasting worldwide. The third part provides comprehensive technical information for getting a free radio station on the air.
  • HF Underground A website dedicated to documenting longwave, mediumwave, and shortwave stations, including broadcasters, utility/military stations, pirate radio and spy numbers stations.
  • Keith, Michael C. Voices in the Purple Haze: Underground Radio and the Sixties. Westport, CT: Praeger, 1997.
  • Outlaw Radio "We cover all aspects of do it yourself broadcasting." Also information on carrier current, Part 15 AM and FM radio, micro-broadcasting, and streaming. Information about transmitters, antennas, studio to transmitter links, automation, and other goodies.
  • Pirate Radio Central A clearinghouse for information regarding pirate (free or unlicensed) radio stations.
  • Pirate Radio.com Unrestricted Windows-based Internet broadcasting software. All you need is a computer and an Internet connection.
  • Pirate Radio—Its History—It's Culture A starting point, maintained by About.com, for information about pirate radio.
  • Yoder, Andrew. "The History of Unlicensed Radio." Electronics Now 1 June 1999.
Radio > web-based
  • Basic FM BASIC.FM gets its name from its components: Broadcast Arts, Sound, and Independent Culture. This web-based radio station is an ongoing, and evolutionary, project by Pixel Palace, a creative digital media program based at the Tyneside Cinema, Newcastle upon Tyne and is supported using public funding by Arts Council England. It is also supported by the Northern Rock Foundation.
  • Frameworkradio.net Frameworkradio.net is dedicated to field recording of sonic sources and their use in compositions. Framework:afield programs are produced and curated by guest artists from around the world every second week. The research and creative question behind the juried programming of framework radio asks, "Is field recording a style or genre, or rather an uncontrollable and undefinable tool as any, that may be interpreted, manipulated, and appropriated by anyone with a microphone and idea?" Works produced in response to this question are the answer, the definition, not vice versa. See also framework radio on Mixcloud
  • free103point9 Promoting transmission arts works for and about the electromagnetic spectrum, the airwaves. Follow the "transmission arts archive" for a genealogy of artist experiments with broadcast media and the airwaves.
  • Hollow Earth Radio An Internet streaming radio station, broadcasting from a basement in Seattle, Washington. Features story-telling, field recordings, radio plays, local and global music, as well as found sound.
  • Kill Ugly Radio DJ Manrich (from Vancouver, Washington) airs a monthly show on KBOO radio entitled "Radio Lost and Found," contributes to "A Different Nature"—a curatorial program of avant garde music and sonic arts, and hosts a program on Radio23 called "Room 111." He archives his comments, playlists, and other sharable content on his blog, turning it into a radio show/station of sorts.
  • PageOne Produced by Charles Adrian, actor, writer, broadcaster, for London Fields Radio as a range of podcasts and live broadcasts, all revolving around good old fashioned conversation with diverse and vibrant characters and eclectic musical selections, from the corner table at The Wilton Way Cafe, in East London. Follow London Fields Radio on MixCloud.
  • Radio23 Freeform web-based radio providing an international artistic platform for innovative and creative home broadcasters. "Our mission is educational. We teach anyone, anywhere how to make radio with a computer and a highspeed internet connection."
  • Viva radio Continuous web-based radio that can be shaped by listeners. Programs are provided by contributors who are friends of the station or are selected by submission. If you don't like the program, check the contributor archives, or select "Viva Mix" which plays a "best of" from contributor playlists.

Radio Art

Information and links for radio art, including general, artists, and festivals. Learn more.

Radio Drama

Information and links for radio art, including histories, producers, tools, festivals, and studies. Learn more.

Remix

Remix might incorporate several approaches. Here are some resources for Cut Up / Mashup / Sampling / Appropriation / Sound collage

Ostertag is an early audio sample artist whose work predates many modern samplers by several years. His website features information and his music and recordings, his writings, and provides many photographs.

Brewster, Bill and Frank Broughton. Last Night a DJ Saved My Life. New York: Grove Press, 2000.
The first comprehensive history of the disc jockey, from radio station announcer to superstar music creator. Argues that the DJ revolutionized the way in which dance music is conceived, created, and consumed from counterculture to mainstream. Traces histories of radio record play, reggae, Northern Soul, disco, hip hop, house, and techno to the current global underground.

Burroughs, William S.
Credited as the inventor of "The Cut-Up Method," even though he adopted the technique from painter and writer Brion Gysin, and the technique had been used since the 1920s by Surrealist/DaDa visual artists in their collages, images, and textual compositions. As Burroughs argued, consciousness is cut-up, a montage of fragments. For example, a walk down a city street will present bits and pieces of street signs and advertisements, reflections in windows, objects partially obscured by others, a random mix of images.

According to Burroughs, writing was artificially confined to a linear straightjacket, forcing words to follow one another in orders prescribed by rules of language and grammar. For Burroughs, the cut-up method involved physically cutting linear passages of printed prose, both by himself and other writers, and then pasting them back together again at random. The results, he claimed, were far more interesting than the original. Examples of this cut-up method are found in Burrough's novels The Soft Machine (1961) and The Ticket That Exploded (1962).

During a 20 July 1976 lecture at the Naropa Institute Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, Burroughs talked about the origins of the cut-up method. The lecture also includes a tape recorded experiment called "Paranormal Voices," a cut-up experiment with Brion Gysin, experiments with Ian Sommerville, dream speech, The Last Words of Dutch Schultz, and phrases of minimal context. Burroughs also discusses Shakespeare, computers, Homer, Gertrude Stein, James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, and Carl Jung. The lecture ends with questions and answers. The entire lecture is available in two parts at Internet Archive.
Burroughs' Lecture Part 1 (Note: there is 3:00 of silence before the start of Burrough's lecture)
Burroughs' Lecture Part 2

An edited segment of this lecture, "The Origin and Theory of the Tape Cut-Ups," was included on the album Break Through in Grey Room. Although the album was first released in 2001, all its contents were recorded between 1960 and 1976.

Another good source of early Burroughs/Gysin recordings is the album Nothing Here But the Recordings, which Genesis P. Orridge released on Industrial Records, after Burroughs gave him access to his tape archive.

Both albums are available in the four disc Best of William S. Burroughs box set. Burroughs expanded his cut-up method into other media, cutting and splicing audio tapes, films, and mixed media (audio tapes, television, film, and actual events). His exploratory work has informed many artists since.

A number of videos featuring Burroughs and his cut-up method are archived on YouTube. The Cut Ups provides a good example. Explore others from here.

Detritus.net
A website dedicated to recycled culture, making new creative works out of old ones, whether fine art or pop culture. Check out the "Projects" link for ideas about what various artists are currently creating, and the "Archives" link for some groundbreaking past works. For example, you can hear the controversial 1991 album "U2" by Negativland (see link below) in which they include recordings of the band U2 and the host of the syndicated radio show "American Top Forty," Casey Casem like you've never heard him before.

DJ Solovox
Solovox (aka Carl Tietze) is a Portland, Oregon, based DJ, teacher, and lecturer.

DJ Spooky.com
The official website for DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid (aka Paul D. Miller) — the unofficial spokesperson for remix culture. Offers multimedia performances and a whole lot more remix.

DJ Spooky interviewed for the NPR program "To the Best of our Knowledge"

Miller, Paul D. aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid, ed.Sound Unbound: Sampling Digital Music and Culture. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2008.) As a writer, visual artist, and recording artist, he says artists regard sound as a language they may freely sample to construct new compositions.

Lay one metaphor onto the other, remix, and press play. The sampling machine can handle any sound, and any expression. You just have to find the right edit points in the sound envelope—it's that structure thing come back as downloadable shareware for the informationally perplexed (6).

Form and function, fact and fiction, art and architecture—all woven into a testimony of human reconstruction in media (8).

The remix becomes "faction" (9).

We live in an era where quotation and sampling operate on such a deep level that the archaeology of what can be called "knowledge" floats in a murky realm between the real and the unreal. Look at The Matrix as an updated version of Plato's cave, a parable piece in his Republic written more than two thousand years ago, but still resonant with the idea of living in a world of illusion (11).

Think of DJ culture as a kind of archival impulse applied to a kind of hunter-gather milieu—textual poaching, becomes zero-paid, becomes no-logo, becomes brand x. It's that interface thing again, but this time around the mind-brain interface becomes an emergent system of large-scale economies of expression (13).
(Paul Miller aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid. "In through the Out Door.")

Program 12: Radio Radio: Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky
DJ Spooky demonstrates his combination of street credibility and critical sensibility and discusses "the mix" as culture and as metaphor. Archived at UbuWeb Sound. See link below.

Evolution Control Committee
A group of audio collage artists doing great work since 1966 and offering samples throughout their website.

"I Found a Sound: A Brief History of Sampling and Appropriation in Music" by Dr. Zomb and DJ ManRich
"A chronological look at sampling, from its roots in Musique Concrete and Avant Garde, through the pioneering LP by Brian Eno and David Byrne, and on to culture jamming artists such as Negativeland, John Oswald, Evolution Control Committee, as well as Turntablism in Hip Hop and finally, recent mashup masterpieces." Wow! Check it out. Also, check out the many other broadcasts archived here. Lots of great DJ work and sounds.

Illegal Art
Devoted to releasing legally unreleasable albums by a variety of artists. Features many themed compilations. Features both downloads and CDs.

Karlheinz Essl
A German composer and audio software designer. MANY of his sound works are available for download at his website.

Ken's Last Ever Radio Extravaganza
Despite the name "last ever," Ken keeps on making, and archiving amazing sound collage radio shows at this website. Listen live or download MP3 archives of past shows, all the way back of 1994! Scroll to the bottom of page and follow the tiny "links page" link for even more information and archives.

LAFMS
The Los Angeles Free Music Society (LAFMS) has explored sampling and appropriation since the 1960s. This is the official website.

Negativland
A group of artists who create "records, CDs, video, fine art, books, radio and live performance using appropriated sound, image and text. Mixing original materials and original music with things taken from corporately owned mass culture and the world around them, Negativland re-arranges these found bits and pieces to make them say and suggest things that they never intended to. In doing this kind of cultural archaeology and "culture jamming" (a term they coined way back in 1984), Negativland have been sued twice for copyright infringement."

"Over the years Negativland's 'illegal' collage and appropriation based audio and visual works have touched on many things—pranks, media hoaxes, advertising, media literacy, the evolving art of collage, the bizarre banality of suburban existence, creative anti-corporate activism in a media saturated multi-national world, file sharing, intellectual property issues, wacky surrealism, evolving notions of art and ownership and law in a digital age, and artistic and humorous observations of mass media and mass culture. . . . Negativland is like a subliminal cultural sampling service concerned with making art about everything we aren't supposed to notice."

Negativland produces and broadcasts a live weekly radio show, Over the Edge on KPFA FM in Berkeley, California, every Thursday at midnight, Pacific Time. The three hour show, features found sound mixing.

Negativland was the subject of Craig Baldwin's 1995 feature documentary "Sonic Outlaws" and created the soundtrack and sound design for Harold Boihem's 1997 documentary film "The Ad And The Ego," an excellent in-depth look into the hidden agendas of the corporate ad world and the ways that we are affected by advertising.

Negativland promotes creative commons and serves on the advisory board of a Washington, D.C.-based intellectual property lobbying group called digitalfreedom.org. Lots of information available through the website on copyright, sampling, and fair use.

People Like Us
Vicki Bennett, since 1991, under the name People Like Us, has made CDs, radio, audio-visual multimedia, and found footage animations and collages. Her work is archived here, at the official website.

Plunderphonics
Created and maintained by John Oswald, Canadian composer and sonic collage artist. Oswald coined the term "plunderphonics" to express his creation of new work using samples from existing recordings. A link is also provided to three of Oswald's Mystery Tapes (circa 1980), sound collages recorded on cassette tapes and distributed with neither sources noted nor explanations given. See also Radio Radio introspective and interview with John Oswald

Raiding the 20th Century by DJ Food
An incredible attempt to catalog the history of cut-up music and popular culture. Archived at UbuWeb Sound.

Rick Emerson Show
Emerson is involved in the production of a radio drama about zombies called A.Z. Listen to these sample episodes.

Some Assembly Required
Tape manipulations, digital reconstructions, turntable creations . . . work by a variety of audio artists "working with bits of their media environment, giving back to the cultural landscape from which they so enthusiastically appropriate." Since 1999, host Jon Nelson has put together weekly shows and interviewed everyone who is anyone, providing insights into this daring and creative style of expression. All interviews and shows are available for free download, along with notes and profiles. A tremendous resource, inspiration, and proof that Girl Talk didn't invent this form of collage.

Tape-beatles, The
A collaborative group of artists, formed in 1985, making audio art recordings and works in other media. Their goal was to create a new form of egalitarian pop music using no musical instruments, instead relying on tape recording and home stereo equipment. The Tape-beatles also espoused the use of plagiarism as a positive artistic technique and their work drew on previously "finished" works by others. The Tape-beatles sample such work, assembling fragments into new and original constructions. Archived at UbuWeb Sound.

Variations
Curated by Jon Leidecker, this series of podcasts looks at music compositions based on pre-existing source music, sampling, presenting the milestones of sampling music from the 20th Century to the convergence of music, popular art, and mass media today. Leidecker, also known as Wobbly, is a well-known sound collage artist. Visit an archive of Leidecker's (Wobbly's) work at the Detritus.net website (see above).

Sound Archives

Sound archives focus on collecting sound(s), either broadly defined or specifically focused, and making these recordings available for study or listening.

Archive of Recorded Sound
One of the largest sound archives in the nation featuring several collections, with some contents digitized.

Audiodocumentary.org
A curatorial effort and information portal to all kinds of free, online radio and audio documentary content. "Basically we bring you links to stuff that we think is interesting and which might otherwise fly below the radar—that great piece from NPR, that unknown Podcast, or any other audio documentary content we want to bring to people's attention."

Bird Sounds
This experiment in artificial intelligence not only visualizes the waveforms for North American bird songs, but also groups each with the next closest example. Developed using Google open source code.

EASAIER Project, The
A European research project addressing archiving of and accessing sound archives. Requires downloading a client.

Freesound Project, The
The Freesound Project is a collaborative database of Creative Commons licensed sounds. A good archive for lots of different sounds that can be downloaded and used in your own projects.

Funky16Corners
A blog, a webzine, and an archive focusing on soul, funk, jazz, and rare groove, all from OG vinyl. Features podcasts of the Funky16Corners Radio Show broadcast Fridays at 9:00 PM on Viva Radio.

Honey, Where You Been So Long?
An amazing blog focused on collecting, archiving, and presenting for listening pre-World War II blues music. This link takes you to the collection of versions of the blues standard, "The Saint James Infirmary Blues." Join the blog, get the password, and access a large number of blues music mixes.

Internet Archive
An Internet library that offers permanent access to historical materials and collections that exist in digital format. The Audio Archive contains over 200,000 free digital recordings ranging from alternative news programming, to Grateful Dead concerts, to Old Time Radio shows, to book and poetry readings, to original music uploaded by users. Open Source Audio is a collection of audio uploaded by users and available under a Creative Commons License.

The Library of Congress: American Memory: Sound Recordings
Twenty four music and speech collections.

New York Society for Acoustic Ecology
This project describes itself as a container in which to hold many different processes and projects focusing on the city's shifting sonic environment and temporal, physical, and cultural contexts. Among these projects are "Sound Seeker," a Google map-based interface for listening to the sounds of New York. Clicking icons on a map plays the recorded sound, and shows the address, date, time of day, author, and other information regarding the recording; and "City in a Sidewalk," where participants are invited to navigate a provided soundwalk, or create one of their own. Using an online forum, participants can exchange personal narratives, photographs, drawings, sound recordings, environmental data, historical details, maps, and other information about their walks.

PDSounds
Free public domain and royalty free sounds.

Reel 2 Real: Sound at the Pitt Rivers Museum
Archival sound project at the University of Oxford. Project details here.

Sonic Memorial Project, The
Begun shortly after the 11 September 2011 destruction of the World Trade Center in New York, the Sonic Memorial was opened as a site for people to share their stories and recordings of life events associated with the twin towers. Today, this archive and online audio installation of personal and historic sonic traces, artifacts, interviews, and oral histories is valuable to family, friends, historians, archivists, and producers.

SoundBible.com
"The Encyclopedia of Sounds." Free sound clips, sound bits, and sound effects.

Sound Jay
Free sound effects! Features background sounds, communication sounds, human sound effects, house and domestic sounds, machine and mechanical sounds, miscellaneous sounds, nature sounds, and transportation sounds.

Speech Accent Archive, The
Uniformly exhibits a large set of speech accents from a variety of language backgrounds. Native and non-native speakers of English all read the same English paragraph and are carefully recorded. Designed for linguists and other people who wish to listen to and compare the accents of different English speakers. The archive is constructed by the Department of Linguistics at George Mason University, Fairfax, Virginia, as a teaching and research tool.

UbuWeb Sound
An incredible sound archive featuring many examples of DJ culture. Get lost listening here for a few hours.

West Virginia Sound Archive
A project of West Virginia University Press

Western Soundscape Archive
A soundscape is sound or combination of sounds from an acoustic environment and may consist of either or both natural (animal vocalizations, weather, etc) and human (music, conversation, work, mechanical, etc) sounds. Soundscapes feature all on an area's sonic components together, in concert and represent the total acoustic environment. This archive recognizes the connection between places and their soundscapes and features ambient and specific recordings of animals and environments throughout the Western United States. A large collection of the holdings are available through Creative Commons licensing

Wikimedia Commons
Freely usable media files to which anyone can contribute. A special section is available for sound.

Wikipedia:Sound/list
An incomplete list of copyleft/public domain musical works available on Wikipedia or Wikimedia Commons.

Sound Art

An inquiry into the use of sound for creating works of art. Learn more.

Sound Design

Sound editing and sound design are often confused. Sound design is the process of specifying, acquiring, manipulating or generating audio elements. Sound editing involves selecting the right piece of audio and deciding how to use it as part of the final sound work.

  • Bracewell, John L. Sound Design in the Theatre. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, 1993. Says the functions of a sound designer include
    Audibility
    Music
    Setting
    Plot
    Mood
    Vocal alteration
    Vocal replacement
  • Designing Sound: Art and technique of sound design A website dedicated to the art and technique of sound design. Many sound collections offered for sale, but also free listening opportunities.
  • Gibbs, Tony. The Fundamentals of Sonic Arts and Sound Design (AVA Publishing, 2007).

Sound Effects / Foley

Sound effects
  • Absolute Sound Effects Archive This resource bills itself as "one of the largest collections of free sounds on the Internet." Indeed there are lots of sounds here, all categorized, easy to search, and free to download.
  • AudioMicro Stock Music and Sound Effects Royalty free music, sound effects, and loops. Many available free.
  • The Freesound Project The Freesound Project is a collaborative database of Creative Commons licensed sounds. A good archive for lots of different sounds that can be downloaded and used in your own projects.
  • Funny Noises for the Connoisseur. Bart Hopkin Experimental Musical Instruments, June 2003. ISBN: 0972731318
  • Mott, Robert L. Radio Sound Effects: Who Did It, and How, in the Era of Live Broadcasting. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 1993.
  • Mott, Robert L. Radio Live! TV Live!. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, 2000.
  • PDSounds Free public domain and royalty free sounds.
  • SoundBible.com "The Encyclopedia of Sounds." Free sound clips, sound bits, and sound effects.
  • Sound Jay Free sound effects! Features background sounds, communication sounds, human sound effects, house and domestic sounds, machine and mechanical sounds, miscellaneous sounds, nature sounds, and transportation sounds.
  • The Sound Effects Bible. Ric Viers Michael Wiese Productions, ISBN 978 1 932907 48 3
  • Wilhelm Scream 1977-2007
Foley
  • Art of Foley. Since the early 1930s, the work of the Foley artist has been important for both television and film soundtracks. Before that, the art of creating realistic sound effects was important for radio as well. This website tutorial focuses on the art of Foley sound effects.
  • Back of the Mic. This film, produced in 1939 by the Jam Handy Organization for the Chevrolet Motor Company, provides an insider's view of the magic behind radio sound effects. Other videos about Foley are also available on YouTube.
  • Ament, Vanessa Theme. The Foley Grail: The Art of Performing Sound for Film, Games, and Animation. Focal Press, 2009. Witness the magic of moviemaking and journey into the little known world of Foley Artists, who bring films to life with their perfectly-timed sound-effects.
  • The Secret World of Foley. Dir. Daniel Jewel.
  • Sound effects props

Sound / Oral / Aural History

Sound History

A problem with studying sound from an historical perspective is that many sounds, unless they have been recorded in some way, are no longer available for study, or are difficult to study. One manner of recording historical sounds, and then for studying them, is through literature. Authors, as well as travelers, journalists, etc. have recorded in writing their impressions of the sounds of new or historical contexts. The speech of persons living in these contexts is, naturally, a primary concern, and we can study these writings to learn something of historical speech. Hence, most historical attention to sound has focused on the narrow range of sounds involved in speech. Less researched are the ambient sounds of a particular context which often mark or define the boundaries between that particular context and another, between class, gender, or race relations, for example.

Oral and aural history are two definitive ways of studying history through sound(s). Many resources follow.

Oral History

Oral history is a method of gathering and preserving historical information, where the primary emphasis is recorded interviews with participants of past events and ways of life. Generally, the primary audio emphasis is the human voice, a person telling about an historical event or life experience in her own voice.

Aural history is a method of gathering and preserving historical information through recorded sounds. Aural histories focus primarily on sounds other than human voice in order to provide context, background, and deeper, richer information about the topic or event.

Aural and oral histories do not have to be kept separate. Sometimes they cannot. For example, The Sonic Memorial Project, begun shortly after the 11 September 2011 destruction of the World Trade Center in New York, collects and provides access to stories, ambient sounds, life events, voice mails, and archival recordings associated with the twin towers. Today, this archive and online audio installation of personal and historic sonic traces, artifacts, interviews, and oral histories is valuable to family, friends, historians, archivists, and producers.

Oral and aural histories were originally intended as data gathering practices. Recordings were transcribed and circulated as printed transcripts. The audio files were raw data. With the advent of affordable video recording technologies, gesture and para-language were included as part of the communication, thus expanding oral history beyond verbal form, and moving its presentation to a visual context.

Oral History > collections / archives

Talking History: Aural History Productions
A production, distribution, and instructional center for all forms of "aural" history based at the University at Albany, New York. Its weekly radio show is broadcast over the air and via the internet.

Radio Diaries
Works with people to document their own lives for [national] public radio; teenagers, seniors, workers, prison inmates and others whose voices are rarely heard. We help people share their stories—and their lives—in their own words, creating documentaries that are powerful, surprising, intimate and timeless.

Race with History
Seeks oral histories, music, dance, poetry and all forms of cultural expression that can help tell the untold stories of people whose roots are in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and all parts of the globe. Many such stories remain to be told, discussed, turned over in our minds for their meaning, like cave drawings or trail maps of broken twigs, like moss on the side of a tree or the drinking gourd in the sky.

Whole World Was Watching: Oral History of 1968
A joint project between South Kingstown High School and Brown University's Scholarly Technology Group, this archive provides access to transcripts, audio recordings, and interviews made in 1998 but focusing on events in 1968.

Like a Family: The Making of a Southern Cotton Mill World
Following the end of the Civil War, mill towns were developed throughout the Piedmont areas of Virginia, North and South Carolina, Northern Georgia, and Northern Alabama. By the mid-1920s, this region had surpassed New England as the nation's leading producer of yarn and cloth. The economy and life in these mill towns began to change in the 1930s. The story is preserved in the oral histories of former mill hands.

Oral History > examples

Studs Terkel: Conversations with America
Studs Terkel is noted for his books of oral history that examine working class America. This website provides access to his works through a wide selection of streaming audio.

Working Then and Now
Behind radio host and oral historian Studs Terkel's bestselling book, Working: People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do, were more than 130 interviews recorded on cassette tapes. Radio Diaries and Project& were granted access to the original interviews. This story focuses on the ordinary parts of the daily lives of Helen Moog, a taxi driver in Youngstown, Ohio and grandmother of five, and Lovin' Al Pommier, a car hiker in Chicago, Illinois.

Flint Sit-Down Strike
The focus here is on diversified, nonlinear access to digital audio content regarding the strikes in Flint, Michigan, in 1936-1937 that forced General Motors to recognize the United Auto Workers union. Users can choose multiple forms of media in order to learn about the strike in slightly different perspectives.

Oyez: Supreme Court Media
Provides Supreme Court case audio tied to transcripts and shows well the possibilities of combining audio and texts for online presentation.

Oral History > recording equipment recommendations

MATRIX Equipment Recommendations Provided by MATRIX, the Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at Michigan State University. These are their recommendations for audio recording equipment. Lots of downloads for further information as well.

Vermont Folklife Center Archive: Field Research Guides

Digital Audio Field Recording Equipment Guide Provided by the Vermont Folklife Center. Features links to information about digital recording, field recording, editing recorded audio, and resources for preserving materials in ethnographic and oral history collections.

Audio Recording Equipment Guide: Retired Equipment List

Digital Omnium: Oral History, Archives and Digital Technology A website maintained by Doug Boyd, Director of the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History at the University of Kentucky Libraries. Reviews digital audio and video equipment useful for creating oral histories. Provides tutorials and archives. Follow the link to Boyd's book Oral History and Digital Humanities.

Field Recording in the Digital Age

Digital Editing of Field Audio

Resources on the Preservation of Materials in Ethnographic and Oral History Collections

Oral History > tutorials / techniques / learning resources

Designing an Oral History Project Questions to ask before beginning an oral history project.

Oral History Tutorial A very helpful web resource provided by MATRIX, the Center for Digital Humanities and Social Sciences at Michigan State University. Provides information on multiple aspects of audio technology associated with recording and producing oral histories.

Smithsonian Folklife and Oral History Interviewing Guide

Essays: Oral History in the Digital Age Micro-essays written by experts provide information on best practices in collecting, curating, and disseminating oral histories. The Oral History in the Digital Age website is a product of Institute of Museum and Library Services (IMLS) National Leadership project in collaboration with the Michigan State University Museum; Michigan State University Digital Humanities Center, Matrix; the American Folklife Center (AFC/LOC), the Library of Congress; the Smithsonian Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage (CFCH); the American Folklore Society (AFS); the Louie B. Nunn Center for Oral History, University of Kentucky Libraries; and the Oral History Association. Lots of great resources here!

Aural History > resources

Corbin, Alain. Village Bells: Sound and Meaning in the Nineteenth-Century French Countryside, Martin Thom, trans. (New York: Columbia University Press, 1998).

Erlmann, Veit, ed. Hearing Cultures: Essays on Sound, Listening, and Modernity (Oxford, UK: 2004).

Hoffer, Peter Charles. Sensory Worlds in Early America (Baltimore, 2003).

Miller, Andre. America on Record: A History of Recorded Sound (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1995).

Rath, Richard Cullen. "Hearing American History," Journal of American History Vol. 95, No. 2 (September 2008).

Rath, Richard Cullen. How Early America Sounded (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2003).
Focuses on how people heard their worlds in early America and provides a step toward understanding what is meant by aural history.

Schama, Simon. Landscape and Memory (New York, 1995).

Smith, Bruce R. "Tuning into London c. 1600," The Auditory Culture Reader , Michael Bull and Les Beck, eds., (Oxford, UK: Berg, 2003), 127-135.
". . . most of us live immersed in a world of sound" (127). "Sound is at once the most forceful stimulus that human beings experience, and the most evanescent" (128). Three principles of studying sound

  • Sound, as an object of study, has been neglected
  • Knowing the world through sound is fundamentally different from knowing the world through vision
  • Most academic disciplines are vision-based, not only in the materials they study, but in the theoretical models they deploy to interpret those materials (129)

Smith, Mark M., Listening to Nineteenth-Century America (Chapel Hill, 2001).

Smith, Mark M., ed. Hearing History: A Reader (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 2004).

The Sonic Memorial Project
SonicMemorial.org is an open archive and an online audio installation begun shortly after the 11 September 2011 destruction of the World Trade Center in New York. The project collects stories, ambient sounds, voicemails, and archival recordings to tell the rich history of the twin towers, the neighborhood and the events of 9/11. This archive and online audio installation of personal and historic sonic traces, artifacts, interviews, and oral histories is valuable to family, friends, historians, archivists, and producers.

Sterne, Jonathan. The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003).

Talking History: Aural History Productions A production, distribution, and instructional center for all forms of "aural" history based at the University at Albany, New York. Its weekly radio show is broadcast over the air and via the internet.

White, Shane and Graham White. The Sounds of Slavery: Discovering African American History through Songs, Sermons, and Speech (Boston, 2005).

Spoken Word

Playing with Words: The Spoken Word in Artistic Practice. Cathy Lane, ed. London: CRISAP, 2008.
The power of words can "mobilise people, to wage war, to tell a convincing story to illustrate cultural and social imbalances of power. . . . Non-verbal communication is also identifed as a 'weapon' of power, as is the suppression of language by colonial powers and the subsequent dangers of the loss of both language and culture" (10). Voice-based compositions and performances involve precise demands for listening and learning, but the immense possibilities realized from "playing with words" are inspirational and informative.
(Cathy Lane. "Forward." Playing with Words: The Spoken Word in Artistic Practice. Cathy Lane, ed. London: CRISAP, 2008. 7-11.)

Voice is a technology immediately to hand, made from native materials. We need not seek some more remote technology (42). Writing, while an invaluable aid to memory, can be misleading (45).
(Ansuman Biswas. "Sound and Sense." Playing with Words: The Spoken Word in Artistic Practice. Cathy Lane, ed. London: CRISAP, 2008. 41-47.)

Speech context may be heard as music . . . "restaurant soundscapes turned into huge spoken word choral performances and the hushed tone talking before the start of a movie was akin to the tuning of an orchestra before an evening performance." One can hear musical aesthetics in the speech contexts that surround them (59).
(Michael Vincent. "The Music in Words." Playing with Words: The Spoken Word in Artistic Practice. Cathy Lane, ed. London: CRISAP, 2008. 57-61.)

"The voice also connects with so many things. When we speak we not only convey meanings but we portray things about ourselves, simple things like what gender we are or whether we are ill or healthy, but also, perhaps, what our intentions are, what our mood is. There are so many layers to the voice and once you incorporate language you can connect to traditions of poetry and drama and literature but also with the everyday use of speech" (71). . . . Qualities of personality come through voice as well (72). . . . This individual quality of voice can be captured (recorded) and abstracted with interesting results and implications (74).
(Trevor Wishart. Interviewed by Cathy Lane. Playing with Words: The Spoken Word in Artistic Practice. Cathy Lane, ed. London: CRISAP, 2008. 70-77.)

"Language is the primary repository of culture and history, and once a language is no longer spoken, the rich knowledge it carries is gone forever." Sound art may offer a "para-linguistic strategy for exposing cross-cultural experiences that language itself cannot achieve" (81).
(John Wynne. "To Play or Not to Play?" Playing with Words: The Spoken Word in Artistic Practice. Cathy Lane, ed. London: CRISAP, 2008. 78-84.)

Paul Lansky, recognized as one of the pioneers of computer music, notes that in using the computer as an instrument he is interested in "trying to project the image of the human performer behind the screen." He also notes a difference between works where the speech is recorded "everyday sound" and those that are written for the microphone. The latter, he says, is "performance" while the former is "eavesdropping" (109). Finally, "every composer is a story teller in a sense. Every time you write a piece you're telling a story in one way or another" (110). Lansky is speaking strictly of music composers, but we certainly could consider an expanded definition and role.
(Paul Lansky. Interviewed by Cathy Lane. Playing with Words: The Spoken Word in Artistic Practice. Cathy Lane, ed. London: CRISAP, 2008. 108-111.)

"Art is what happens when you take an object out of context and give it a new thought." (Marcel Duchamp, in Calvin Tomkins, Duchamp. London 1997)

Leigh Landy, in his essay "Re-composing Words") calls this form of recycling "1% tilt" (142). Landy suggests the following project: use current radio broadcasts as found sound, take something known and change it ever so slightly (1% tilt) so that it becomes something new, and then present it as a work of art (144).
(Leigh Landy. "Re-composing Words." Playing with Words: The Spoken Word in Artistic Practice. Cathy Lane, ed. London: CRISAP, 2008. 140-144.)

Words are the most powerful weapons in the world because they allow us to tell stories. It does not matter that these stories are old, or even whether they are true. What matters is that they are good stories. Good stories, about a villain, or a treasure, or a promise, or a right (perceived or real), can start wars. How do you combat that? Tell better stories.
(Laurie Anderson. Interviewed by Cathy Lane. Playing with Words: The Spoken Word in Artistic Practice. Cathy Lane, ed. London: CRISAP, 2008. 180-185.)

Theory

Art of Noise, The
by Luigi Russolo, 1913. Many consider this letter / futurist manifesto as the start of sound art, because of its insistence on the musical value of environment sounds(s). Download as a .PDF file.