Call for Submissions – Writing Around Sound #3

Writing Around Sound is now calling for proposals for its November 2016 edition.

As the name suggests, the journal is not solely concerned with writing about sound or sound practice, but also writing around it. Audio culture, sound art and their concerns and contexts are employed as both a focus and a point of departure of the journal’s content, which not only includes the textual, but embraces the visual and audible (via an online audio component).

Written, visual or sound submissions are now invited for the next issue, the theme of which is “What is the contemporary sound object?”. Contributors may choose to embrace this as a provocation or propose works on other topics. If you are interested in contributing, please contact with a brief (500-word maximum) outline of your proposal before 7th August. Successful applicants will be informed in late August with a final 1st October copy deadline.

We have lodged a funding application with CNZ, which if successful, will mean we will be able to offer contributors an honorarium for their work.

Writing Around Sound 3 Provocation: What is the contemporary sound object?

The ‘sound object’, as proposed by Pierre Schaeffer, was conceived as the basic ontological quanta of sound: from a acoustic sonic event, to its recording, or even a fragment of the ‘whole’ recorded sound. Through his acousmatic explorations of the sonic potentials of his own contemporary electroacoustic technologies, he came to see sound as something that was material; malleable, modular, and subject to radical recontextualisation. In an expanded sense a sound object (or sound event) could be anything from an environmental sound, to an album, a performance, a sample, or even a ring tone.

In the last few decades, broad social, technological, political, and economic changes have seen cultural production at large radically reconfigured, and as a result, the domains of music production and distribution have simultaneously undergone a radical shift. From file sharing and the rise of streaming platforms (such as Soundcloud, Spotify and YouTube) to the resultant decline of record sales, the centrality of the record’ – as medium, commodity and concept – has been fundamentally challenged. Concurrently, traditional notions of musical performance and production have also shifted, with the increased ubiquity of the computer in music production and performance. The types of sonic transformations that once took laborious manipulation of magnetic tape within studios filled with elaborate equipment can now be easily performed with freely available audio applications, while more radical transformations are possible using digital signal processing techniques.

These changes are reflective of the broader digitisation of all areas of cultural life, as computational processes have become increasingly woven into the fabric of the everyday. Furthermore, alongside the changes wrought by globalisation, the emergence of the networkand the cloud have forced us to radically rethink our traditional conceptions of space and place. Our day to day sound environment is now as populated as much by viral YouTube videos and skype ringtones as it is by the natural sounds of our immediate locale, as explored by genres such as vaporwave.

For this issue of Writing Around Sound we invite you to conceptualise and speculate on the contemporary status of the sound object/event – however those terms might be construed – subject to such social and technological shifts. Possible lines of exploration may include contemporary modes of performance; questions surrounding recording media aesthetics; modes of instrumentation; genres markets and anti-markets; questions of intellectual property; and social media networks. Critical engagement with specific artists’ work is also encouraged, or reflection from the perspective of your own artistic practice.

While contributors to this issue are invited to embrace this topic, contributions that explore other themes are also welcome.