Sonic Possible Worlds   The Political Possibility of Sound Listening to Noise and Silence Collo
Sound Art - Music


The Political Possibility of Sound

Bloomsbury | Nov 2018

The essay is the perfect format for a crisis. Its porous and contingent nature forgives a lack of formality, while its neglect of perfection and virtuosity releases the potential for the incomplete and the unrealizable. These seven essays on The Political Possibility of Soundpresent a perfectly incomplete form for a discussion on the possibility of the political that includes creativity and invention, and articulates a politics that imagines transformation and the desire to embrace a connected and collaborative world.

The themes of these essays emerge from and deepen discussions started in Voegelin's previous books, Listening to Noise and Silence and Sonic Possible Worlds. Continuing the methodological juxtaposition of phenomenology and logic and writing from close sonic encounters each represents a fragment of listening to a variety of sound works, to music, the acoustic environment and to poetry, to hear their possibilities and develop words for what appears impossible.

As fragments of writing they respond to ideas on geography and migration, bring into play formless subjectivities and trans-objective identities, and practice collectivity and a sonic cosmopolitanism through the hearing of shared volumes. They involve the unheard and the in-between to contribute to current discussions on new materialism, and perform vertical readings to reach the depth of sound.



“Her essays touch on political realities: enforced migration; razor wire in the Golan Heights; Obama's authorisation of drone attacks. Yet the imagined worlds of Sun Ra and Ursula Le Guin's science fiction also have a recurrent role. That such seemingly divergent elements should coincide within the political possibility of sound makes this book a stimulating, important and challenging experience.”

The Wire




Sonic Possible Worlds


Bloomsbury | Aug 2014

Inspired by its use in literary theory, film criticism and the discourse of game design, Salomé Voegelin adapts and develops “possible world theory” in relation to sound. David K Lewis' Possible World is juxtaposed with Maurice Merleau-Ponty's life-world, to produce a meeting of the semantic and the phenomenological at the place of listening. 

The central tenet of Sonic Possible Worlds is that at present traditional musical compositions and contemporary sonic outputs are approached and investigated through separate and distinct critical languages and histories. As a consequence, no continuous and comparative study of the field is possible. 

In Sonic Possible Worlds, Voegelin proposes a new analytical framework that can access and investigate works across genres and times, enabling a comparative engagement where composers such as Henry Purcell and Nadia Boulanger encounter sound art works by Shilpa Gupta and Christina Kubisch and where the soundscape compositions of Chris Watson and Francisco López resound in the visual worlds of Louise Bourgeois.


Salome Voegelin - Sonic Possible Worlds.

“Voegelin's Sonic Possible Worlds is a rather provocative and challenging endeavor to take this necessary discussion to a high scholarly level without losing the connection with the art works themselves ... It should be compulsory reading for anyone interested in listening and the counterpart or supplement to new materialism, sonic materialism. Additionally, it is one of the few books which deals with both sound art and music, thus contributing not only to the discourse on sound studies but also offering new perspectives for musicologists.” 

  Journal of Sonic Studies




Listening to Noise and Silence

Bloomsbury | May 2010

Listening to Noise and Silence engages with the emerging practice of sound art and the concurrent development of a discourse and theory of sound. In this original and challenging work, Salomé Voegelin immerses the reader in concepts of listening to sound artwork and the everyday acoustic environment, establishing an aesthetics and philosophy of sound and promoting the notion of a sonic sensibility. 

A multitude of sound works are discussed, by lesser known contemporary artists and composers (for example Curgenven, Gasson and Federer), historical figures in the field (Artaud, Feldman and Cage), and that of contemporary canonic artists such as Janet Cardiff, Bill Fontana, Bernard Parmegiani, and Merzbow.

Informed by the ideas of Adorno, Merleau-Ponty and others, the book aims to come to a critique of sound art from its soundings rather than in relation to abstracted themes and pre-existing categories. Listening to Noise and Silence broadens the discussion surrounding sound art and opens up the field for others to follow.

Salome Voegelin - Listening to noise and

“The examples under discussion range from by-now canonical recent works by a clutch of lesser known artists...Voegelin's critical style is so singular that she avoids cliche in the treatment of all these artists, prising them out of a conversation about music and into a challenging treatise on the art of listening.” 

The Wire

“Listening to Noise and Silence will be of interest to a great many people following breakthrough trends within art and philosophy.” 


Art Monthly




Colloquium: Sound Art – Music

Zero Books | Sept 2016

Thomas Gardner & Salomé Voegelin

In 2012, Thomas Gardner and Salomé Voegelin hosted a colloquium entitled Music - Sound Art: Historical Continuum and Mimetic Fissures at the London College of Communication, UAL. This meeting dealt with the current debate concerning the relationship between sound art and music and focused on the precept that sound art and music evolve in a shared context and that the joint navigation of this common terrain would allow for new creative approaches to be taken and new critical insights to be established on how we produce, listen to and engage in works with sound.

This book proposes the opening of the colloquium to a wider readership through the publication of a decisive range of the material that defined the event. It includes the transcripts of the original colloquium discussions, the provocations that initiated its debates as well as responses to its themes written after the event. It declares the relationship between sound art and music “colloquial”: spoken and accessible, rather than locked behind disciplinary boundaries, and aims to raise some pressing and relevant questions without providing answers, opening up the continuum between concert hall and gallery space, between record collection, radio, sound on-site, online and the everyday.

With contributions from: Allen S. Weiss, Nye Parry, David Toop, Volkmar Klien, Aura Satz, Leigh Landy, Cathy Lane, Simon Emmerson, Claudia Molitor and Kathy Hinde. With a postscript by Kate Lacey.

Salome Voegelin Thomas Gardener - Sound

“The act of listening is a complex web of interconnected behaviour and mental manoeuvring between music, pure sound and historical context. This book is an important tool to negotiate the gap between the history of music and the wider panorama of sonic art.”

Anne Hilde Neset | nyMusikk

“Of course we need this book! Why? Because we take too much for granted about the relationship between sound art and music. Because we need incisive, creative thinkers, like the ones gathered in these pages, to help us separate the conjoined twins of sonic practice, such that they might – via their independence – contrive a more salubrious kinship.”

Seth Kim-Cohen | School of the Art Institute of Chicago


© 2019 Salomé Voegelin