Review of Eidsheim, Nina Sun. 2015. Sensing Sound: Singing and Lis-tening as Vibrational Practice.

Vágnerová, Lucie

One challenge of writing about music has often been summed up with the question “where is the music?”The asker gets at the impossibility of isolat-ing the musical text to be studied. Viewed in a more nuanced way, the question complicates the way musical sound functions in time: the way materials vibrate, the way sound emerges, the way it travels, and the way it is it is heard—processes that cannot happen irrespective of sounding bodies, resonant spaces, media of transmission and transduction, listeners’ physiologies, and their cultural biases and training. Considering how com-monplace the question is in music studies, “where is the music?” seldom rises above a qualifying aside, something we say on the way to opening a score or judging a particular performance. Our disciplines would indeed have to look different if we understood the complex answers as a meth-odological imperative. Nina Sun Eidsheim’s Sensing Sound: Singing and Listening as Vibrational Practice models what it might look like if music scholars were to stop overwriting physical evidence of sounding with cul-tural idea(l)s of what sound should be. Eidsheim’s book is sensitive to bod-ies, attentive to physics, and mindful of encultured practices of listening and sounding. It is a much-needed meeting point for musicology, sound studies, philosophy of sound, performance studies, vocal pedagogy, and those interested in theorizing difference in music.


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August 18, 2022