Sound Affects: A User’s Guide

New book in the Thinking Media series at Bloomsbury. Edited by Sharon Jane Mee and Luke Robinson, “Sound Affects: A User’s Guide” explores both in the ways sound affects and also how affects actually sound. E-Book already available. Paperback available 25 Jul 2024.

“Sound Affects: A User’s Guide is a collection of sonically-charged concepts ranging from those felt, ‘heard’ and repeated (silence, the oriental riff, shuffle), to the vocal (whispers, sing, the disembodied voice), to sounds at the threshold (tin/ny, thump, buzz) to sounds beyond the limits of audibility (inaudible tremors, distortion, sub-bass). Sound Affects invites the reader to reflect on the ways that sounds produce affects and the ways that affects can operate as sound.

Each of the entries develops a particular perspective on sound and affect through a close analysis of audiovisual and/or sonic objects. The objects chosen not only illustrate the concept in question but also demonstrate how the object encourages us to rethink the relationships between sounds and affects. Influenced by the sound theory of Eugenie Brinkema (2011), the concepts of Sound Affects plot the shift in volume from silence that opens up a space to be heard to the audibly near, from the audibly near to sounds beyond the limits of audibility. Sound Affects is an intellectual adventure for those who theorize and listen. The book can also be enjoyed as a narrative of sounds, its absences and its shifting intensities.”

Quick review from Steven Shaviro:

“We live in a saturated sonic envirornment. Noise is everywhere; and even at the extreme of absence, “silence is a rhythm too” (as the Slits once sang). Yet we rarely pay attention to the soundscape that accompanies us at all times. “Sound Affects” rectifies this omission, with seventeen essays about sound and how it touches and moves us. Topics range from rapping by Kanye West, to the noises made by urban traffic, to electronic distortions broadcast through gigantic speakers, to the barely audible squishes of worms crawling through the soil. All in all, this book brings us back to a heightened awareness of those aspects of existence that we tend, all too easily, to tune out.”