In recent years, the emergence of cultures and practices of music-making associated with new music-making technologies has generated controversy and conflict, being both variously embraced and vilified. Just as some are determined to explore the possibilities that these technologies afford for the re-use and re-circulation of music, others have been determined to regulate such practices through aggressive assertions of ownership over sounds. Central to these controversies is a deeper question concerning the nature of musical sounds and their relationship to the people who produce and work with them.
In order to explore this issue, this thesis develops a new conceptual framework for thinking about the biographies of musical sounds. Drawing on concepts from material culture studies and feminist philosophy, the thesis critiques traditional conceptions of musical sounds as the property of a possessive individual, and offers an approach that seeks to better appreciate the complex relationships between sounds and human agents. This framework is applied and further developed across a series of case studies, which take an ethnographic approach to following the eventful biographies of selected pieces of music. These ethnographies trace the ways in which legal, ethical, economic and cultural concerns about the ownership of music are navigated in the practices of people who sample, collect and re-issue music. In tracing how these practitioners work with musical sounds, the research also uncovers the ways in which musical sounds work on those practitioners. In the process, these musical sounds develop a life of their own. Through these ethnographies, the thesis traces the life histories of musical sounds and demonstrates the ways in which those life histories are ‘multibiographical’, drawing together a range of actors and distributing their personhood and agency across space and time.
The thesis concludes with a discussion of how an appreciation of multibiographical sound could inform new approaches to the production and regulation of musical sounds in the digital age that are based on connection rather than control. This recognises that music making changes as new technologies influence its production and accommodates the distribution of both sound and human agency through the reuse of sound recordings that digital technologies encourage.||en_AU|
|dc.publisher||University of Sydney.||en_AU|
|dc.publisher||Faculty of Science.||-|
|dc.title||The Life History of Sound||en_AU|
|dc.type.pubtype||Doctor of Philosophy Ph.D.||en_AU|
|Appears in Collections:||Sydney Digital Theses (Open Access)|