Noise: The Political Economy of Music (Theory and History of Literature, Vol. 16) [ Jacques Attali, Brian Massumi, Susan McClary] on *FREE*. The Audible Past by Jonathan Sterne Noise by Jacques Attali The Soundscape by R. Murray Schafer Noise Uprising by Michael Denning Your Playlist Can. Listening – Sacrificing – Representing – Repeating – Composing – The politics of silence and sound, by Susan McClary.

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The Political Economy of Music made something of a stir when it was published roughly a quarter-century ago it came out in France inand in English translation in I read it for the first time in many years, in order to see how well it holds up in the 21st century.

Still, Attali offers some valuable, or at least thought-provoking, insights. Music is the organization of sound; by channelling certain sounds in certain orders, it draws a distinction between sounds that are legitimate, and those that are not: Now, the imposition of order is always a kind of violence, albeit one that claims to put an end to violence. The State has a legal monopoly of violence, and this is what allows it to provide peace and security to its citizens.

Music excludes the violence of noise unwanted sound by violently imposing order upon sound. Attali specifies this further by assimilating music to sacrifice, as the primordial religious origin of all social order. I find this a powerful and deeply suggestive insight, even though Attali understands the logic of sacrifice in the terms set forth by Nise Girard, rather than in the much richer and more ambiguous formulations of Georges Bataille.


To my mind, everything Girard says can be traced back to Bataille, but Girard only offers us a reductive, normalized, idealized, and overly pious version of Bataille.

Music is separated from everyday life; it becomes a noiss social function, with specialized producers and performers. The musician becomes a servant of the Court in 17th and 18th century Europe; by the 19th century, with the rise to power of the bourgeoisie after the French Revolution, the musician must become an entrepreneur.

The musical emphasis on harmony in this period is strictly correlated, according to Attali, with an economic system based upon exchangeand the equilibrium that is supposed to result from processes of orderly economic exchange. Music and money both work, in the 19th century, according to a logic of representation.

Attali’s Noise – The Pinocchio Theory

Money is the representation of physical goods, in the same way that the parliament, in representative democracy, is the representation of the populace. The links Attali draws here are qttali quite clever, and much of it might even be true. Finally, though, however important a role representation continues to play in the ideology of late-capitalist society, the twentieth century has effectively moved beyond it.

For Attali, the crucial development is the invention of the phonograph, the radio, and other means of mechanical and now, electronic reproduction and dissemination: The only way out is through.


Noise: The Political Economy of Music – Jacques Attali – Google Books

Which is why I liked this final chapter, even though in certain respects it feels quite dated. As the consumption of music and of images becomes ever more privatized and solipsistic, Attali says, it mutates into a practice of freedom:. Pleasure tied to the self-directed gaze: Narcissus after Echo… the consumer, completing the mutation that began with the tape recorder and photography, will thus become a producer and will derive at least as much of his satisfaction from the manufacturing process itself as from the object he produces.

He will institute the spectacle of himself as the supreme usage. Despite all his irritating generalizations and dubiously overstated claims, Attali may really have been on to something here.

The problem, of course, is how to follow it up. As the consumption of music and of images becomes ever more privatized and solipsistic, Attali says, it mutates into a practice of freedom: Praxis, poiesis och musik som utgift.