Critique and premise and point of departure: that by a systematic reduction of the multisensoriality of sound in order to comprehend it as a unit of meaning, and the ossification of a naturally ever-shifting, relationally dependent phenomenon, we come to (reductively) apprehend music as so many “figures of sound.”

Proposes that sound is “merely a trope,” an empty signifier which we come to fill with preconceptions of what music is and how it is experienced–against the tendency to analyze sound for “meaning and morality” (7). Freed from these, a musical or sonic phenomenon can be conceived as an event, can be measured and experienced for a multitude of factors, notably for its haptic effect. What is sound’s impact on the skin?

Grosso modo, this question/premise/critique is the foundation for the proposed “vibrational theory of music” which is fundamentally a thoroughgoing materialist proposition to the study of music and sound. This theory carries “unsettling consequences”—seems that these have much to do with the way it demands that we reorient our senses, that we let go of set parameters of measuring music and sound. Is this kind of practice (unsettling given sensorial categories) inherently valuable as a destabilizer of the given primacy of the textual and the visual? Does it have valence as a political project?

Sound and music comprise the domains of not only the aural, but the haptic, the physical, the material, the spatial, the vibrational, the metaphysical. Seems important to think of affect here: to be moved, to be touched, by music, by a sound, will provoke an emotion (?)

My thoughts: Generally speaking, a materialist theory of sound enables analytical work at the limits of signification and representation. Q: how (exactly) does sound studies help dislocate the theoretical pitfalls of an epistemology overly focused on meaning and representation?

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