Towards a Materialist History of Music: Histories of Sensation

07 Feb 2018

This essay examines the history of auditory sensation, and the methodological challenges posed by the recovery of sensory communication. With a focus on physical encounters and the limits of the body, the somatic force of sound is central to the essay’s review of the artist’s physical and sensory capacity as it relates both to the art he or she produces and to his or her way of perceiving it. The essay divides into two sections: first, an examination of issues around historically lost sensations of sound; and second, the recovery of lost soundscapes. The author suggests that sense perception is not an unchanging facet of medical history, but is subject to cultural influences and local norms. The essay seeks to uncover in its various delimited contexts a historically flexible shaping of perception.