An Omnivorous Ear: The Creative Practice of Field RecordingReport as inadecuate

An Omnivorous Ear: The Creative Practice of Field Recording

An Omnivorous Ear: The Creative Practice of Field Recording - Download this document for free, or read online. Document in PDF available to download.

Date: 2017-07-01

Awarding Institution: University of Cambridge

Author Affiliation: Faculty of Music

Qualification: Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Language: English

Type: Thesis

Metadata: Show full item record

Citation: Lyonblum, E. Z. S. (2017). An Omnivorous Ear: The Creative Practice of Field Recording (Doctoral thesis).

Abstract: “An Omnivorous Ear - The Creative Practice of Field Recording” offers new insights into thehistory of recording outside of the studio in North America, challenging the various workingdefinitions of field recording in music studies, anthropology, and communications. I examinerecording methodologies through the late 19th and 20th centuries as a documentary technique,a tool for composition, and an art object in the United States of America and Canada from thelate 19th century to the present day. Within this geographical region, I focus on the inventionof acoustic recording, the proliferation of the technology amongst the public, folkloricrecording supported by governmental and academic institutions, as well a experimental artisticpractices. Throughout the dissertation, I argue that ‘the field’ is a social construction mediatedby the recordist and recorder. Chapter 2 focuses on how cultures translate collective andphenomenological experiences into histories through sound media. These include orality,writing, the inscription of sound waves onto media, acoustic recording, and radio as forms ofsound media that each embodies distinct forms of social and political knowledge. Chapter 3details the development of recording machines and their effect on listening practices. Chapter4 locates practitioners of phonography within the development of portable recordingequipment on the one hand and the ‘hi-fi’ cultural movement in North America on the other.Practitioners included folklorists Alan Lomax from the Library of Congress, Moses Asch ofFolkways Records, and Harry Smith, creator of the Anthology of American Folk Music;Stefan Kudelski, creator of the NAGRA recorder; and media maker Tony Schwartz, amongthe first to create the sound documentary by editing field recordings. Chapter 5 explores therelationship between sound, music and the environment within the paradigm of thesoundscape as theorized by the World Soundscape Project (WSP). I critique the research andcompositional practices developed by WSP members, and the influence it has onecomusicology and sound art. Chapter 6 outlines sonic ethnography, a methodology that borrowsfrom the best practices of many of the individuals mentioned throughout the dissertation, andemploys new compositional techniques to condense and manipulate social, political andhistorical narratives through sonic works. The dissertation concludes by arguing that fieldrecording, can be used to critique aesthetic and cultural dilemmas of representation.

Keywords: sound studies, field recording, ethnomusicology, documentary, sound art, media studies

Sponsorship: Cambridge Overseas Trust


This record's DOI:

Rights: CC BY-NC-ND (Attribution-NonCommercialNoDerivs)

Licence URL:

Author: Lyonblum, Ely Zachary SmallAdvisorsCook, Nicholas



Related documents