Sound and Music

Audio in Contemporary Culture

Palgrave Macmillan Studies in Sound and Music

Sight has long been the dominant of our five senses — and this trend is one that has passed seamlessly into modern culture and subsequently cultural studies. But what of audio? In an inherently visual culture consumed with aesthetic value, how do we value the sonic? Music has the power to make us feel and move us to tears, and sound is an indispensable tool in performance and audio-visual media creation.  Drawing together cutting-edge research from leading and emerging scholars across the humanities and social sciences, and in part addressing the habitual separation of audio and visual, our books seek to investigate, promote and celebrate that most vital and powerful of things — the aural.

The Palgrave Handbook of Sound Design and Music in Screen Media - FREE Chapter and Exclusive Blog

The Palgrave Handbook of Sound Design and Music in Screen Media bridges the existing gap between film sound and film music studies by bringing together scholars from both disciplines who challenge the constraints of their subject areas by thinking about integrated approaches to the soundtrack.

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Sound and Music Quiz

Are you in the know when it comes to all things aural?  Put yourself to the test...

The most expensive instrument ever sold at auction is a:  A) guitar  B) violin  C) piano

ANSWER: B) violin
Made in 1721, the "Lady Blunt" Stradivarius violin sold for £9.8 million ($15.9 million) in 2011 and is currently the most expensive musical instrument sold at auction according to the Guinness Book of World Records.  It was crafted by 17th-century luthier Antonio Stradivari, whose violins are some of the most prized instruments in the world.  The most expensive piano ever sold is currently the Heintzman Crystal Piano, a transparent piano with a body made entirely of crystal that sold for $3.22 million.  The most expensive guitar is a Fender Stratocaster signed by a host of music legends including Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney, which fetched £1.6 million ($2.7 million).

The loudest noise in recorded history is from a: A) volcanic eruption  B) jet engine  C) nuclear blast

ANSWER: A) volcanic eruption
A volcanic eruption on the Indonesian island of Krakatoa in 1883 is widely considered to be the loudest sound ever accurately measured on earth.  It was so loud that it circled the globe four times, ruptured the eardrums of people 40 miles away and was heard up to 3,000 miles away.   The force of the eruption was so great that the island was torn apart, smoke and ash were emitted miles into the atmosphere and a formidable tsunami was generated that swept away several villages and settlements.

The best selling soundtrack of all time in the US is:  A) Titanic  B) Saturday Night Fever  C) The Bodyguard

ANSWER: C) The Bodyguard
According to the Recording Industry Association of America, The Bodyguard is the biggest selling movie soundtrack of all time in the US, having sold 17 million copies.  This is thanks in large part to Whitney Houston’s cover of the Dolly Parton ballad 'I Will Always Love You.'  Following closely behind is Saturday Night Fever by the Bee Gees, which has sold 15 million copies.  Titanic is 6th on the list, after soundtracks for Purple Rain, Forest Gump and Dirty Dancing.

A 'sonic boom' is caused by: A) any noise over 100 decibels  B) the sound barrier being broken  C) several loud noises occurring simultaneously

ANSWER: B) the sound barrier being broken
A sonic boom is the noise caused when an object travels faster than the speed of sound.  When an object such as an aircraft passes through the air it creates a series of pressure waves.  As the speed increases, the waves are unable to get out of the way of each other and are compressed together into a single shock wave.  The audible effect of this sounds similar to a clap of thunder or an explosion, and is referred to as a sonic boom.  The sound of a bullwhip cracking is a mini sonic boom, caused when the tapered end travels faster than the speed of sound.

Experimental composer John Cage's piece 4'33" is four minutes and thirty-three seconds of:  A) the same note repeated  B) silence  C) improvisation

ANSWER: B) silence
4′33″ is a musical composition in which performers are instructed not to play their instrument for the entire piece.  Although often described as four minutes and thirty-three seconds of silence, it is argued that rather than silence, the piece consists of whatever sounds are heard in the absence of a musical performance – the patter of rain, a cough, muffled laughter.  It forces listeners to turn their aural attention to the sounds around them, and in doing so create their own music.

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