Ihde, Don - Listening & Voice - Phenomenologies of Sound (2nd Ed, 2007)

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Listening and Voice

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Listening and VoicePhenomenologies of Sound SECOND EDITION

Don Ihde

State University of New York Press

Published by State University of New York Press, Albany 2007 State University of New York All rights reserved Printed in the United States of America No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission. No part of this book may be stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means including electronic, electrostatic, magnetic tape, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without the prior permission in writing of the publisher. For information, contact State University of New York Press, Albany, NY www.sunypress.edu Production by Michael Haggett and Marilyn Semerad Marketing by Michael Campochiaro

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Ihde, Don, 1934 Listening and voice : phenomenologies of sound / Don Ihde. 2nd ed. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN 978-0-7914-7255-2 (hardcover : alk. paper) ISBN 978-0-7914-7256-9 (pbk. : alk. paper) 1. Phenomenology. 2. Listening (Philosophy) 3. Voice (Philosophy) I. Title. B829.5.I34 2007 128'.3dc22 2006100232 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

For Judith Lochhead, my longtime colleague and collaborator and the Stony Brook Music Department

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List of Illustrations Preface to the SUNY Press Edition Introduction (to the Original)

ix xi xix

PART I INTRODUCTIONChapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 In Praise of Sound Under the Signs of Husserl and Heidegger First Phenomenology 3 17 25

PART II DESCRIPTIONChapter 4 Chapter 5 Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 The Auditory Dimension The Shapes of Sound The Auditory Field Timeful Sound Auditory Horizons 49 57 73 85 103

PART III THE IMAGINATIVE MODEChapter 9 The Polyphony of Experience 115 131 137 vii

Chapter 10 Auditory Imagination Chapter 11 Inner Speech



PART IV VOICEChapter 12 The Center of Language Chapter 13 Music and Word Chapter 14 Silence and Word Chapter 15 Dramaturgical Voice Chapter 16 The Face, Voice, and Silence 147 155 161 167 177

PART V PHENOMENOLOGIESChapter 17 A Phenomenology of Voice Chapter 18 Auditory Imagination Chapter 19 Listening 185 203 217

PART VI ACOUSTIC TECHNOLOGIESChapter 20 Bach to Rock: Amplification Chapter 21 Jazz Embodied: Instrumentation Chapter 22 Embodying Hearing Devices: Digitalization Chapter 23 Embodiment, Technologies, and Musics Notes Index 227 235 243 251 265 273


3.1 4.1 4.2 4.3 7.1 7.2 7.3 7.4 8.1 9.1 17.1

Core-Horizon Structure Horizon of Invisibility Horizon of Silence Auditory-Visual Overlap Husserls Time Diagram Temporal Focus Temporal Span Focal Direction Focus Field Horizon Structure Perception-Imagination Overlap Multistable Image

39 52 52 53 92 93 95 99 106 127 188


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Preface to the SUNY Press Edition of Listening and Voice: Phenomenologies of Sound

The first edition of Listening and Voice (1976), the manuscript for which was completed (197273) roughly a decade after my dissertation (1964), was my first systematic attempt to do an original phenomenology. I was already convinced that what I later termed, generic continentalism, that is, the brand of scholarship that focuses on some major European philosopher and his or her texts, did not promise the same excitement of a more experimental, actual phenomenological investigation. Scholarship of that generic sort does have valuemy own first book, Hermeneutic Phenomenology: The Philosophy of Paul Ricoeur (1971) was an example of exactly that genre. Doing phenomenology, however, implies a research program. That was what Listening and Voice undertook; it produced the results of a multiyear research program focused on auditory experience. The origin of this program was unintentionally accidental in one sense: disappointed that my own proposal for a paper at an early SPEP conference was rejected, I was asked instead to be part of a panel on perceiving persons, with Frank Tilman and David Carr. Tilman, as lead presenter, circulated a paper that was classically Cartesian in that his leading example of person perception was to be found in a question about whether or not we could be (visually) fooled by a cleverly contrived robot? Convinced on my part that much person perception occurs in listening and language, I decided to focus on auditory perception for the panel. It was not long before the questions that this line of inquiry suggested, took on their own life and became a full-blown phenomenological research program in auditory experience overall. I soon found myself engaging in and studying acoustic, psychological, linguistic and speech, musicological, and a xi



whole range of interdisciplinary contributions to auditionincluding some early engineering problems referred to in the first edition via Georg von Bekesy and the problem of sensory inhibition. So, even before the first edition of Listening and Voice, I had begun to publish some preliminary results. The panel on perceiving persons took place in 1966 and my contribution, On Perceiving Persons, with two other pieces, Listening (coauthored with Tom Slaughter) and God and Sound, appeared as early as 1970 in the International Philosophical Quarterly, followed by, Some Auditory Phenomena, in Philosophy Today, 1973. Five sound studies published from 1970 to 1973 were then collected for my second book, Sense and Significance (Duquesne University Press, 1973). From this early research, while it was impossible to include all these entries in the new edition, I have included two preListening and Voice examples, Auditory Imagination and Listening, from Sense and Significance. The initial reception to Listening and Voice did include some targeted usual suspects, philosophers and humanities readers, and a very large number of reviews and some review articles soon appeared. But communications reviewers soon also picked up on its publication as well, followed somewhat more slowly by musicologists. In short, the audience was highly interdisciplinary. I have been amused to see that citations came from persons writing about submarine communications and from others commenting on the unique acoustics in Islamic mosques! In this new edition, in which the subtitle changes from A Phenomenology of Sound to Phenomenologies of Sound, the other newly added chapters reflect an itinerary that continued beyond the initial history. A Phenomenology of Voice, was originally a keynote address to a conference on musical improvisation at the University of California, San Diego, and was included in my Consequences of Phenomenology (SUNY Press, 1986). By the mid-1970s I had also became interested in a new domain philosophy of technology. Technics and Praxis: A Philosophy of Technology (1979), is often cited as the first English language work on that theme. With a shift of interest to technologies, I did not however abandon my interest in auditory experience, contrarily, with the inclusion of technologies in human experience, the role of instrumentation began to take on increased significance. The earliest of my musical phenomenologies of instrumentation, From Bach to Rock, was included in Technics and Praxis and I have reprinted that piece here as well. And while my interest in the role of instruments in the philosophy of technology often tended toward particular attention to scientific instruments, their role in the production of knowledge often could be seen in both comparison and contrast to the role of instruments in producing music. For example, it became obvious that the domi-



nant trajectory in science instrumentation was one that produces visual results. And in a secondary, but important sense, most science instrumentation also followed a progressive developmentconstantly making and inventing new instruments was the norm. Music, the dominant auditory art, utilized instruments that produced sounds. But in contrast to the practices of science, one could favor traditional, or even older instruments as equal to or even over any new ones. Indeed, From Bach to Rock deals with, in part, the resistance to new instrumentation. Then, moving from rock to jazz, I have taken some account of the role of the then newly invented saxophone in Jazz Embodied: Instrumentation, and then on to other forms of even more contemporary instrumentation, including electronic and synthesized music in Embodiment, Technologies and Musics, and also, moving to the experience of auditory prosthetic technologies in Embodying Hearing Devices. So, the added phenomenologies of sound follow a long trajectory of interest in the acoustic and the auditory that still persists. The field, too, has changed. I want to mention here, first some samples that relate closely and with more direct relations to Listening and Voice, and then move to more distant studies in recent acoustic and auditory phenomena. Just last year SUNY Press published Postphenomenology: A Critical Companion to Ihde, edited by Evan Selinger. In part II, three of the authors refer back to and branch out from Listening and Voice. (Two of them, Lenore Langsdorf and Judith Lochhead, were former students on whose dissertation committees I served.) In Langsdorf s case, the emphasis of her chapter relates to the role of an auditory ontology for communication theory, in her contribution the concreteness of voice balances the tendency to abstraction by some leading theorists; and in Lochheads case she has moved to the role of visualizing the musical object and its relation to new modes of scoring and its importance in musicology. Both have pioneered in phenomenological approaches to their respective fields. Trevor Pinch relates his chapter to his own development of sound studies, which actually grew out of the earlier patterns of analysis in science studies. As one of the inventors of social constructionism, Pinch takes the history, sociology and phenomenology of musical technologies to the early development of analog synthesizers. His Analog Days: The Invention and Impact of the Moog Synthesizer, with Frank Trocco (Harvard, 2004), is a definitive example of this style of analysis to synthesizer development. I, myself, have learned much from each of these colleagues, in Lochheads case since we are colleagues at Stony Brook, with various experiences coteaching graduate seminars; and in collaborations with Pinch both at Stony Brook and internationally in 4/S (Society for the Social Study of Science); and in publications and editorially with Langsdorf.



A different direction, again following sound and its embodiments in both language and musical dance, has been taken by two leading ethnoanthropologists: Steven Feld (with Keith H. Basso) in Senses of Place (SAR Press, 1996), traces out the role of auditory-metaphor saturated languages among the New Guinean highlanders who inhabit rain forests where audition necessarily plays an important perceptual role in such an environment. In the case of Steven M Friedson, Dancing Prophets: Musical Experience in Tumbaka Healing (University of Chicago Press,1996) again the role of music and dance is located within a different social role than typical of industrialized societies. In both cases the contrast with dominant visualist emphases in Euro-American cultures provide provocative variations. Moving now from studies more or less interactive with Listening and Voice, one may also take note of the importance of new acoustic and audio technologies. Since 1998, I have been the director of a research program called the Technoscience Research Group within the philosophy department at Stony Brook University. Several of the Visiting Scholars who have spent year long residences with the group have also produced published studies focused on sound. Lars Nyre from Bergen University, Norway, published a 2003 study, Fidelity Matters: Sound Media and Realism in the Twentieth Century. Following first the development of radio and recorded media, Nyre follows the changing technology-media histories and phenomenologies through the last century to the present. In a similar vein, Michele Hilmes and Jason Loviglio have done a cultural studies Radio Reader (Routledge, 2002) and Michael Bull another on personal stereos, Sounding out the City (Berg, 2000). Daniel Fallman, another Visiting Scholar with the technoscience group, Umea University, Sweden, focused on mobile technologies, including mobile telephones, in his In Romance with the Materials of Mobile Interaction: A Phenomenological Approach to the Design of Mobile Information Technologies (Umea, 2003), did an analysis of mobile technologies, including audio technologies as well. Then, chronologically paralleling the development of the technoscience research group, I myself have been engaged in a research program on imaging technologies with a special focus on science instrumentation. While culturally, contemporary science is visual imaging dominant, new approaches from cultural studies and science studies have opened the way to taking audio technologies into account in new and unique ways. A few groups have specifically noted the parallel development of instrumentation in science and art. For example, a multivolume series by Helmar Schram, Ludger Schwarte, and Jan Lazardzig, Instrumente in Kunst und Wissenschaft (de Gruyter, 2006, also forthcoming in English) has been published out of the Free University in Berlin. And, in the United States the husband-wife



team of Peter Galison, history and philosophy of science, and Caroline A. Jones, art history, have teamed up with art and science authors in Picturing Science Producing Art (Routledge, 1998). Add the collaboration of artist Peter Weibel and science studies anthropologist-sociologist-philosopher Bruno Latour with Iconoclash: Beyond the Image Wars in Science, Religion and Art (MIT Press, 2002) and the field of science/art and their respective instrumentations is seen to expand in most suggestive ways. I will conclude this preface by turning to some singularly contemporary phenomena that have come to human awareness specifically through new audio technologies. Perhaps the simplest capacity of audio-technology, comparable to optical magnification with lenses of which the history extends back to the beginnings of early modernity, is amplification. Telescopes and microscopes, largely beginning with seventeenth-century use, began to reveal new micros- and macroworlds; amplification technologies, apart from hearing horns and interesting architectural whispering walls are much more recent. Simple amplification brings into perceptual experience, sounds which without amplification we could not hear, but nevertheless sounds within the frequency ranges we already have within the li...


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