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A sound studies perspective on Live Sound (or vice versa)

Mulder, J.ORCID: 0000-0002-0258-624X (2014) A sound studies perspective on Live Sound (or vice versa). In: 2nd International Conference European Sound Studies Association (ESSA) 2014, 27 - 29 June 2014, Copenhagen, Denmark.


Live Sound, the use of electronic amplification in the performance arts, is slowly finding its feet in tertiary education. Whereas theatre sound has a strong presence at several universities, sound system design is an established discipline on the intersection of acoustics and engineering. A dditionally, Live Sound can be a great site for academic inquiry, not solely into technology but into its application and consequently into matters as disparate as aesthetics and loudness. Sometimes amplification is a matter of mass communication and at other times of subtle reinforcement. High sound pressure levels can underpin questions of power and empowerment. Currently many professional technicians navigating all those aspects are self-taught with a great range of learning careers, from high school dropouts to double degree Tonmeisters. This paper argues that within Sound Studies as an academic discipline live sound offers opportunities for both research and education. Training graduates who are versed in working with sound as a meaningful communicative modality, negotiating between users, producers and listeners, between venues and acoustics, technology and ideology, performers and audiences. Research into social, health and aesthetic issues of amplified music can provide new insights into debates around city planning and environmental regulation. Historical enquiry into the use of this technology can open up studies of performance by providing a window on how, and sometimes why, the technology is used.

Item Type: Conference Item
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Arts
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