(compMus2) Reading Assignment: Attali

Due Wed., 9/3/2008

Read pp. 3 – 9 in Audio Culture, which inludes an introduction to section 1, some quotes, and a very brief article by Jacques Attali. (and answer questions below)

Also available at Google Books online.

This article is taken from Noise: The Political Economy of Music. Attali’s basic definition of noise is social rather than musical. He broadly defines noise as anything unwanted, and something that societies and governments often try to suppress. He also sees history as falling into time periods that relate to the production and reception of music. Listening was all early man could do (to environmental sounds, animals, etc.). Sacrificing refers to the time when music was created for specific functions and performed only once. It was part of the ritual of activity. Representing happened when musical taste began to develop as part of social class. Repeating was the time period during which Attali wrote the book, where consuming was passive, and the product (music) was one that was repeated through recording, with the emphasis on the reproduction more than the music. Composing was a utopian time that Attali imagined where people took an active role in shaping the content that they received, interacting with it and creating personalized avenues for experience.

Send me an email with responses to the following questions:

  1. Can you think of examples that fit with Attali’s definition of noise as something that society doesn’t like, or wants to suppress. You can think in musical terms (about music).
  2. Give some examples that illustrate that today’s society is the Composing society that Attali predicted.


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