120 Years of Sound Art

2022-03-08 by Holger Schulze | Comments Off on 120 Years of Sound Art

What is sound art in the 21st century? Who are today’s performers, and what do they do to find and create sounds that make us listen, think, discuss, doubt, or imagine?

What sounds have been made and presented recently to attract an audience of listeners, artists, fans, researchers and aficionados?

On Wednesday, 23rd of March 2022 we wish to celebrate in Copenhagen’s Statens Værksteder for Kunst two recent publications:

Lars Lundehave Hansen’s “20 Years of Sound Art” (2021) and Sanne Krogh Groth and Holger Schulze’s “The Bloomsbury Handbook of Sound Art” (2020).

The box set and the handbook presented examine a range of performances, installations and practices, including sound, listening and sensing. Together with you, we want to explore the different aspects of both of these works.

We invite you to an exciting afternoon that delves into various aspects of sound art through talks with authors and researchers who contributed to both publications, as well as an artist talk and sound performance from Lars Lundehave Hansen.

Where: ‘Formeriet’, Statens Værksteder for Kunst, Strandgade 27 b, 1401 København

When: Wednesday March 23rd, 2022, kl. 17.00-19.00

Let us listen to the handbook together,
let’s read the record album in company!

Sound Studies Lab Lectures 2022

2022-02-28 by Ania Mauruschat | Comments Off on Sound Studies Lab Lectures 2022

“What do we want? Climate justice. When do we want it? Now!” Battle cries of climate change activists like that can be understood as evidence for the proposition that especially in recent years climate crisis and species extinction have become a sounding crisis. Responsible for this novel energizing sound of the crisis are – despite the long history of the green movement – in particular the climate activist movements Fridays for Future (FFF) with its female spokesperson Greta Thunberg and a majority of female activists, and Extinction Rebellion (XR). They started their protests in European metropolises in and around 2018; over the course of 2019, European climate activism transformed from a local and regional into a global, hybrid off- and online movement with allies and offshoots on every continent.

One of its most important allies’ are artists researching via the means of sound political and energetic alternatives to contemporary practices, institutions, rationalities, and sensibilities of western, capitalistic societies, which are of European origin. The lecture series is intended to spur the discussion about the potential of sound to uncover new analytical and methodological approaches and tools, which are needed to cope with the current climate crisis as the biggest threat to humanity.

The lecture and workshop series comprises two events in March 2022, which will be focusing on artistic, feminist, and new materialist approaches to the relationship of climate change and sonic agency.

March 10, 2022, 17:00 to 18:30, University of Copenhagen, Southern Campus, room 15a.0.13

Guest speaker: Dr. Åsa Helena Stjerna, Sound Artist and Artistic Researcher, Stockholm (S)

Sonic Visions of the Arctic:
Tracing Sound’s Inherent Agency

March 24, 2022, 17:00 to 18:30, University of Copenhagen, Southern Campus, room 15a.0.13

Prof. Dr. Salomé Voegelin, Sound Artist and Professor of Sound, London College of Communication, London University of the Arts (UK)

Listening to Wicked Problems:
Sound Studies as Transversal Studies

You can find more details on both lectures right here — on the project website of Sounding Crisis: Sonic Agency as Cognate Energies for Climate Action in Denmark/Greenland & Australia


2022-02-18 by Holger Schulze | Comments Off on HOW TO DO THINGS WITH SOUND?

Sonic fictions are everywhere: in conversations about vernacular culture, in music videos, sound art compositions, and on record sleeves; in everyday encounters with sonic experiences and in every single piece of writing about sound. Where one can find sounds one will also detect bits of fiction.

A still from Ayesha Hameed’s video “In the Shadows of our Ghosts” (2018) combined with a sequence from the video “Encounters of the Third Type” (1989) by the soviet collective The New Composers.

In 1998 music critic, DJ and video essayist Kodwo Eshun proposed this concept in his book “More Brilliant Than The Sun: Adventures in Sonic Fiction”. Since that year I wanted to explore all the ramifications and repercussions of Eshun’s work. In 2020 Bloomsbury Academic published my little introduction, “Sonic Fiction“, to the wide variety of activist, political, epistemological, decolonial, social, and aesthetic interpretations and applications of sonic fiction in the last two decades.

For our evening on “HOW TO DO THINGS WITH SOUND?” at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin on March 3rd, we invited three artists, curators, and scholars who will take you on a journey into some of the more unexpected sonic fictions of this or the last century:

Artist and scholar Ayesha Hameed discusses with me the activism and heuristics inherent to sonic fictions, with a special focus on her artistic practice and his thought figures. Curator and scholar Giada Dalla Bontà brings to the table the sonic fictions within underground sound art of the late Soviet Union. Marcela Lucatelli, composer and performer, presents to us sonic fictions as part of a new performance and composition. And scholar and artist Pedro Oliviera will safely guide us through this variety of thoughts and creations.

In this podcast, produced by the Haus der Kulturen der Welt, Giada Dalla Bontà and trace selected developmental lines of sonic fiction: in the final years of the Soviet Union, how did the subculture win over conceptual and real freedoms? Did a trail lead from occupied houses in Moscow and St. Petersburg to the Afrofuturism of Sun Ra and Missy Elliott? We follow the mythical language around the term coined by Kodwo Eshun and explore the potential of sounds and their narratives as a liberating force.

Join us, on Thursday, March 3rd, 2022, 8pm at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt Berlin for an evening on sonic fiction in the arts and in activism!

Tickets can be purchased right here.

Sounding the Dissolution

2021-10-12 by Holger Schulze | Comments Off on Sounding the Dissolution

On September 1st, Giada Dalla Bontà started to work at the University of Copenhagen as a PhD researcher within the Sound Studies Lab. In her project she investigates the role of experimental sonic practices in the non-official art circles of late Soviet Russia. Her guiding question is: What did the end of USSR sound like? This blogpost is her first on this website:

Sounding the Dissolution aims to fill a critical lacuna on an unexplored area of research, while also seeking to collect and preserve the heretofore unarchived material and testimonies. Being the first study dedicated to late Soviet underground sound art, the project aims to enrich and de-centralize a still Eurocentric field, while introducing Sound Studies and Sound Anthropology to the contemporary post-Soviet discourse. Beginning in the late 1970s-’91 in Russia, the project historically situates the impact of the decline of USSR ideology in order to identify the political significance of sound practices together with their concurrent cultural, artistic and sensorial ones.

A particular focus is given not only to the ability of sound to connect otherwise short-ranged underground circles and catalyze cross-pollination between artistic disciplines, but also to contribute to the erosion of political ideology in spite of its apolitical intention to solely ‘be and experience together’. This apparent political ambiguity is analyzed through the lens of cultural and political theory while interrogating the sensorial aspect of sonic experiences and the sonic fictions they generated through four case studies – ranging from conceptualist performative poetry to industrial rituals, electroacoustic experiments and the early raving culture.

This analysis also considers the role of corporeality and sonic fiction in sociopolitical dynamics, contemplating how ephemeral and idiosyncratic sonic experiences generate effects and affects in more tangible realms, even in contexts where unplugging from ideological dispositifs seems unimaginable. These dynamics of de- and re-territorializations from within the system allow to draw parallels and to expand the concepts of hypernormalization and Capitalist Realism in both synchronic and diachronic terms.

With the aim to establish the foundation for a future archive on late Soviet sound art, Sounding the Dissolution includes also primary sources such as audio interviews and fieldwork in order to deploy the concept of sonic fiction as both a tool and object of inquiry: besides considering the effects of affectivity and atmosphere, sonic fictions are examined as spaces of invention and desire-production; ultimately, processes able to de- and re-territorialize the empty yet inescapable rituals of hypernormalized dispositifs.

Sounds of The Week

2021-03-15 by Salomé Voegelin | 3 Comments

For some weeks now, Salomé Voegelin and Holger Schulze invite all Clubhouse members to join their weekly reflections, meditations, and musings around the Sounds of The Week. The conversation is open for everyone to drop in, each wednesday, starting 6pm CET, just lasting for thirty, maximum forty minutes. A virtual chat at the corner; on the way to the commute; between two commitments, on all things sounding and non-sounding.


We talked about the sound of the snow or at icy creeks, the sound of parrots in Mannheim or in Sjælland, about sound qualities at videoconferences, the missing accidental encounters, when everything is so purposful, the serendipity in random conversations; we heard about the personal, quite idiosyncratic time structures that some of us had the chance to develop during the pandemic shutdown; and about some fears directed at the future moment when our societies dare to allow more and more meetings in person, with a lot of other people again. For us, this small, weekly conversation allows for some sonic serendipity, when strangers drop in and surprisingly concerns or memories get to be articulated.

The so-called »drop-in audio chat platform« Clubhouse is still comparably new in Europe. It is in business, though, in the U.S. since April 2020 and achieved recently 8 million downloads. New ventures into platform and surveillance capitalism coming from the Silicon Valley need in general to be approached with caution; and the data grab executed by this app as well as its exclusive construction (invite only, iOS only, no transcript service, no messaging) is truly not doesn’t really inspire much confidence.

However, as the sound studies aficionados that we are, we wish to explore new sonic territories and non-territories: what we can do, perform or listen to on this platform? What can an audio platform really do for sound studies and sonic theory? Is it just another shutdown fad, like the massive global rise of podcast listening to a mainstream activity in spring 2020, when so many people were looking for more entertainment at home? Or is Clubhouse just paving the way for other recently created audio chat platforms: Dive, Twitter Spaces, Yalla, Jira, Asana – and even the well established Discord might reach more audiences outside the gaming community?

Recently, a Sound Studies Club was created on Clubhouse (see picture above). All members interested in or working on sound studies are invited to join and start their talks focused around sonic theories, sound practices, sonic experiences, and historiographies of the modes of listening (Chion), auditory dispositives (Großmann/Schulze), soundscape composition (Truax/Schafer), or audile techniques (Sterne)

So: join us, if you will! And if you still need an invite: drop us a mail. We might know who you are anyway – and right now, we have a good handful of invites to give away… you know, where you find us, by mail, on Twitter or Facebook.

Sounding Crisis

2021-03-09 by Holger Schulze | Comments Off on Sounding Crisis

On Febuary 8, 2021 the European Commission announced the results of the MSCA Individual Fellowship 2020. €328 million in grants have been awarded this time to 1,630 excellent researchers from all over the world. It is my great pleasure and honour to announce that sound and radio scholar and journalist Ania Mauruschat (CH/DE) has been awarded one of these prestigious grants for her impressive project „Sounding Crisis: Sonic Agency as Cognate Energies for Climate Action in Denmark/Greenland & Australia“. She will join us as a Marie Curie research fellow at the Sound Studies Lab, University of Copenhagen, from Septeber 1, 2021 for two years .

In her project Ania Mauruschat researches the concept of sonic agency within the climate change discourse as an alternative to dominant concepts of energies. In contrast to the concept of energy used in the area of fuel and power generation, energies in this case are understood as multi-faceted and interrelated phenomena that emit sound and can be listened to in productive ways. Sonic agency, therefore, is defined as acoustic as well as electronically amplified and transmitted sounds as levers to the senses and creators of potential change.

This anthropological notion of sound encompasses both the sound practices of Indigenous peoples addressing environmental issues as well as urban climate activism and its sound practices across all the sites in which it may be present: be it classical media reports, audiovisual representations in social media, music performances and street protests, artistic expressions and newly developed techniques and practices. The aim of her project is to unveil the continuities and variations of different forms of sonic agency therein.

For cultural studies in general and sound studies in particular this project is innovative in its understanding of sound as an analytical point of access to the complex concept of energies. It understands sound as a form of energy in three ways: (1) sound waves as mechanical energy, (2) sound practices of urban climate activists as articulations of the so-called energy unconscious and (3) as urban examples of the Indigenous’ notion of energy intimacy.

Sounding Crisis will assume a synchronic and a diachronic perspective: it looks at historic protest movements and the role of sonic agency within those. Thus, it aims to provide new insights for further developing the terminology, methods and theories in sound studies and for re-thinking the Western concept of energy. It combines, moreover, in a highly innovative way the approaches of an Anthropology of Sound with those from Sound & Energy Studies. This combination might allow to refine the concept of sonic agency and to contribute to the emerging field of Energy Humanities.

The offical launch of the project is planned for mid-September 2021. An invitation and regular up-dates will be published timely.

My Listening Protocol IV

2021-02-02 by Melissa Van Drie | Comments Off on My Listening Protocol IV

A sonically rhythmic carrot, cauliflower, cumin soup to brighten a winter day

As part of the listening protocol series, I propose a sonic sensing experience in the form of a performative recipe. Very simply, it brings sonic touch into a moment of cooking. Recipes do also »organise and articulate listening in a way that is useful and adaptable to various disciplines, enabling and legitimising sonic processes and materialities as part of research and knowledge production.«

How does noticing the soundings and hearings involved in food making relate the vibrant and intimate textural layers? Consciously activating one’s own presence to be in the space is important. What sensory pathways and changing orders happen when we rhythmical score a recipe? This exercise corresponds to my research project Sounds Delicious (which received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 753565).


(This recipe is from Melissa Clark’s “Lemony carrot and cauliflower soup” published in the NY Times)


  • 2 tablespoons cumin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, more for serving
  • 1 onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 5 carrots
  • 1 small cauliflower head
  • 3 tablespoons white miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon Sea salt
  • chili powder or fresh chilis, for serving
  • fresh coriander leaves


  1. Enter your kitchen and pause. Feel your feet on the ground. If you feel like it, do a couple movements that feel good to you. Wake up your fingers, chest and shoulders.
  2. Bring your attention to the space through its sounds : what hums ? what drips ? what rustles from the outside? Match one of the sounds with your own vocal hums or song.
  3. Start rummaging performatively. Find vegetables for a simple carrot and cauliflower soup (ingredients below). Greet your veg with a sonic touch: shaking it, feeling its textures, weight, smelling and listening to its ripeness.
  4. Toast the cumin seeds over medium heat on the stove. During this moment, begin cutting the onions and garlic. Notice the rhythms and textures of your cuts of each ingredient. Every once in a while stop to hear and smell the state of the roasting. Try to hear the heat before looking at the pan. Remove the seeds from the heat when they are finished (2-3 minutes).
  5. In a large pot, heat oil and the cook the onions (7-10) minutes. Cut the carrots into medium sized pieces and the cauliflower into florets. Take listening pauses from the cutting to hear the onions sizzling gently. Bring your attention to your cutting movements and the feel.
  6. Grind the cumin seeds… with a mortar and pestle if you have one and find a concentrated rhythm of stone. Notice your hand-arm gestures and your feet on the floor.
  7. Add garlic to the onions and cook until the odour arises. Add the carrot pieces, crushed coriander, salt. Pour in 6 cups water to the pot, and listen to the sound of water. Stir in the miso until it dissolves. Listen to the sound of the liquid. Can you hear the simmer? When it comes to a simmer, leave it uncovered and cook 5 minutes.
  8. Stir in cauliflower and cook, covered, over medium-low heat until the vegetables are very tender, about 10 minutes. During this time, grate lemon rind and squeeze lemon juice. Do this in counterpoint to the resonances of the covered pot.
  9. Take the pot of the heat. Find a food processor and smooth all ingredients to a purée. How do the vibrations of the processor move through your body? Where do you feel it? In your jaw? In your hands? What does it to the appetite? Does it upset the tone of the kitchen? Is it too high-pitched? Does it change the smell?
  10. Stir in the lemon juice and rind. Pour or ladle the soup in broad, comfortable strokes into a bowl. Dress to taste with olive oil, salt, chile, fresh coriander leaves. Enjoy through a combination of noisy slurps and soft spoonfuls. How are you connected to the meal after this moment of sounding? How is your appetite? Do you want to dance now?

What is the Sound of the Energy Revolution?

2021-01-21 by Holger Schulze | Comments Off on What is the Sound of the Energy Revolution?

Recently, the German magazine zweitausend50 (meaning: twothousand50) − issued by the German Association of Energy and Water Industries, representing about 1,900 companies − got in contact with us. They wished to know more about the sonic aspects of the so-called energy revolution. For the Sound Studies Lab we got the permission to translate our conversation into English.

Mr Schulze, you research the effect of sounds on people. What kind of sound does the energy transition make?

The shift from fossil fuels to a sustainable circular economy aims to put an end to the resource extraction of the last two centuries. It is a change of direction that not only transforms national economic cycles, but also strives to save us from climate collapse. Sound-wise, this means: we move from sounds of raw material extraction to sounds of a more respectful form of economy. Because sounds are created through concrete actions. In the energy transition, I hear above all a slow fading of the militant noise of industrialisation:

Fires are dying, heavy machinery is being discarded, winding towers in Europe and the southern hemisphere are being shut down. Labour society is being rebuilt. Less steel and cast iron beats against each other here, we hear more the gentle whir of electric circuits; occasional melodic signals that span the entire frequency bandwidth. Mild loops, perhaps a fragile overtone singing, growing quieter, ever quieter. Cities are also becoming quieter, more whirring. We should not give away this potential by rushing to sonify our more silent cities. The diminishing of noise is also an expression of the reduced force and energy needed in the economy. We also hear the rise of social progress in the circular economy. More equality, recognition and respect.

What kind of impact does this have on people?

It is a relief, definitely. Maybe not everyone feels it that way yet. The extraction of raw materials and energy in the last centuries marked a sort of panicking industrialisation. Their endless series of more or less life-saving inventions and consumer products made the mass societies of Europe so prosperous in the first place. Mortality fell, life expectancy rose. Local welfare societies became conceivable. Today, we can sense how this incredible frenzy of growth is ending.

We can open our eyes to other needs and values of economic activity. Furnaces of fire seem increasingly alien to us. We no longer want to burn, but to maintain a steady state. It is a different way of life. This way of life ensures that social classes in our country and cultures on other continents do not suffer. That is its impact on human beings. We are also becoming quieter and more cautious in this respect. We recognise the benefits and harms of mass production and strive to find alternatives. It is a struggle. But we recognise the benefits for all. The energy transition is clearly also an act of planetary solidarity. This becomes audible in the smaller, sober sounds. Their softness becomes dominant.

Is there a specifically European sound of the energy transition − and if so, what is it?

The energy turnaround is necessary for survival and will initially cost a lot of money. It requires a radical change of direction − the cushion for this was acquired by European societies in the course of industrialisation; not without lasting damage, as we know. We cannot get out of this dialectic: our prosperity is unique − but bitterly bought. That is our specific European (sound) history. Social progress comes not for free. The sound of the energy transition therefore also includes the sound of this progress: a sound of contradictions, of historicity, perhaps even of reparations. Social equality, conceived in planetary terms, is the goal. So, what does such dialectical progress of a society sound like?

Probably it also sounds contradictory: not only whirring loops or mild overtone singing can be heard; but also sounds of social struggle for the new circular economy. The fears and protests of not wanting to give up the familiar economy and not wanting to lose their professions; the protests and fears due to the destruction that threatens us if we do not change course. This ambivalence and historicity, its explicit mention − also in this place, in this magazine − that is for me the outstanding heritage of a European cultural history in sound.

Two New PhD Positions

2021-01-18 by Holger Schulze | Comments Off on Two New PhD Positions

The Department of Arts & Cultural Studies at the University of Copenhagen announces two new, full PhD positions. Deadline is February 25th, 2021; the application must not exceed 12,000 characters (including spaces). You can find all the details for the application right here.

If you are selected, you will be a full member of staff at one of our four sections (i.e. musicology, art history, literature studies, performance studies); for three full years you can then work on your PhD in Copenhagen, close to or even at the Sound Studies Lab − starting September 1st, 2021.

On January 26th, 3pm, we offer an information meeting on zoom for all interested applicants:

How to Apply for a PhD?

A Conversation with Bjarki Valtýsson, Lise Henriette Hindsberg & Holger Schulze, IKK January 26, 2020

In this conversation (on zoom) we are happy to inform all interested applicants about the format, the goals, requirements, and the process regarding an application for our PhD programme.

We will cover e.g. the following areas:

– Working As a PhD Student

– Research at IKK

– Application & Recruiting Process

– How to Design a strong PhD project?

And: we are happy to answer all the non-disciplinary questions regarding the application and the application process.

Date: Tuesday, January 26, 2020

Time: kl.15:00

Zoomlink: https://ucph-ku.zoom.us/j/65676723425

You can find all the details for the application right here.

Five Exercises in Smelling

2020-11-23 by Holger Schulze | Comments Off on Five Exercises in Smelling

Can you smell that? The pandemic of the year 2020 and our collective hygienic measures against it are gradually not only transforming what one might hear, but they also alter what exactly one can smell and how one would evaluate these smells.

All of a sudden, alcoholic clouds are sweeping through all buildings open to the public. Disinfectant scents that otherwise I only knew from clinics or tattoo studios are now escorting my everyday work or leisure time. And as soon as you do smell another person’s body odor or perfume too clearly, you will immediately realize: we have fallen below the minimum distance. Danger threatens!

These days the exhibition BERLIN_LOKAL_ZEIT | PHÄNOMENOLOGIE DER PANDEMIE at the CLB BERLIN, provides a wide array of explorations of the pandemic conditions at present times, including works and performances by Sam Auinger, Ingrid Beirer, Peter Cusack, Maren Hartmann, Susanne Jaschko, katrinem, Udo Noll, Dietmar Offenhuber, Ursula Rogg, Sven Sappelt, Paul Scraton, Georg Spehr, Hannes Strobl, Linh Hoang Thuy and many others. (note: all works are presented in a form that conforms the current contact restrictions and hygienic measures; many of the works can therefore be accessed online)

For this exhibition I prepared a series of Five Exercises in Smelling (or: Fünf Riechübungen). These small, but intense smelling exercises shall provide a five-step guide to exploring this new fragrance era.

You can download them right here – and you might then perform almost all of them right now, at the place and situation where you are right now:

Holger Schulze: Five Exercises in Smelling (CLB 2020)

Holger Schulze: Fünf Riechübungen (CLB 2020)