A Comprehensive Overview of Sound Art

In an episode of the BBC programme The Listening Service, music journalist and host Tom Service distorts his own voice with effects, sarcastically questioning whether Mozart and Bj√∂rk can be considered as sound artists. “All these labels! Can’t we just listen to some sounds, sound art, music… whatever you call it?” By the end of the episode, he comes to the conclusion that there is no set division. “Well, it’s up to you, and that’s the point. It’s a way of hearing all sounds as full of artistic and musical potential, it’s a way of paying attention, or not paying attention.”

As with all things interdisciplinary, where does one discipline end and the other begin? Where does music end and art begin? While many theorists and academics have attempted to set stylistic distinctions between sound art and music, these characteristics are loose and often contested and sound art continues to upkeep a wobbly public understanding. Fair enough.

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