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Sound Unbound


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What a marvelous collection! This provocative and wide ranging book is packed with a vast number of facts and theories: the sound of creation in the Vedas, the Muslim influence on early hip hop, mathematical permutations of bell patterns (Eno), the term "Emptyv" (Chuck D). The essays criss cross over many aspects of sound -- cosmic, chemical, political, economic. It sparks questions (Can sound be translated into light?) and presents bits of information like the name for Jamaican sound systems ("Houses of Joy"). Plus you get to meet fascinating characters like Alex Steinweiss (album cover artist), Motown's Berry Gordon and synthesizer pioneer Raymond Scott. And you get to consider how Bach's style might have been influenced by his job copying Vivaldi scores. Reading Sound Unbound also invites you to reconsider techno hype, as when Bruce Sterling describes laptops as 'colorful, buzzing cuddly things with the lifespan of hamsters.' I love this book! -- Laurie Anderson For the maverick rhythm scientist Paul D. Miller, sound is liquid; it spills over and slips under categories, firewalls, case law, and legal codes to find us and move us. In the same way, his important collection of sound thinkers and sound ideas calls us to remove the fake 'security' imposed on us by capital and state, and, more crucially, to reimagine freedom and reclaim our creativity. -- Jeff Chang, author of Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation Everything must be about one thing first, then it can be about many things. Paul Miller's collection of texts is about one thing: the use of scanning in music and more generally the world around us. He gives us a single structure to put very different experiences and theoretical constructs into an overarching context. The result is always interesting and often illuminating. These essays by thinkers and practitioners range widely and produce their own static and interferences, but they fall into one perceptible rhythm. A good staging of an opera uses what you see on stage to make you hear better. Similarly, these reflections make it easier to tune in to the sometimes confusing soundscape of our dislocated, interrelated, networked times. -- Robert Wilson It's a lovely eclectic collection that is a nice antidote to the usual way music and the history of music is often categorized into high/low, pop/classical, or black/white. I like Sterling's analogy between our beloved high tech media and inscrutable indecipherable archaic media like Incanquipus. From Raymond Scott to the hidden racism in digital circuitry to ahistory of easy listening there is enough inspiring weirdness here to fuel some musical fires for a good while. -- David Byrne Paul Miller has grabbed disparate philosophies and references from the past five hundred years and tied them into a neat and interesting narrative on music, sound, and current thought in our time. Sound Unbound is an excellent reference on art in the popular context in the twenty-first century. -- Branford Marsalis Paul Miller is one of the best cultural radars in the world today. He always picks out the most relevant people working today and reveals previously unseen connections. If you want situational awareness about the world of sound, music, performance, computers, and ideas, read this book. -- Lev Manovich, Visual Arts Department, University of California, San Diego

About the Author

Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid, is a composer, multimedia artist, and writer. He is the author of Rhythm Science and Sound Unbound, both published by the MIT Press.

Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid, is a composer, multimedia artist, and writer. He is the author of Rhythm Science and Sound Unbound, both published by the MIT Press.

Erik Davis is an American journalist, critic, podcaster, counter-public intellectual whose writings have run the gamut from rock criticism to cultural analysis to creative explorations of esoteric mysticism. He is the author of Techgnosis- Myth, Magic and Mysticism in the Age of Information, The Visionary State- A Journey through California's Spiritual Landscape, and Nomad Codes- Adventures in Modern Esoterica.

Hugo Award-winning science fiction author and futurist Bruce Sterling has been called by Time "perhaps the sharpest observer of our media-choked culture working today in any genre." Three of his novels have been New York Times Notable Books of the Year, and he has been a contributing writer for Wired since its conception. In 2005 he is "Visionary-in-Residence" at Art Center College of Design, Pasadena. Bruce Sterling's blog Beyond the Beyond has been active since 2003.

Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid, is a composer, multimedia artist, and writer. He is the author of Rhythm Science and Sound Unbound, both published by the MIT Press.

Daphne Koller is Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Stanford University.

Frances Dyson is Emeritus Professor of Cinema and Technocultural Studies at the University of California, Davis, and Visiting Professorial Fellow at the National Institute for Experimental Arts, University of New South Wales.

Douglas Kahn is Professor at the National Institute for Experimental Arts at the University of New South Wales in Sydney, Australia. He is the author of Noise Water Meat- A History of Sound in the Arts (MIT Press) and Earth Sound Earth Signal- Energies and Earth Magnitude in the Arts and coeditor of Wireless Imagination- Sound, Radio, and the Avant-Garde (MIT Press).

B. Coleman is Assistant Professor of Writing and New Media in MIT's Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies and Comparative Media Studies. She is Faculty Director of the C3 Game Culture and Mobile Media initiative.


...this is a provocative and intriguing text, of interest to anyone working in or studying contemporary experimental music.—Dave Valencia, Library Journal

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