© 2019

The Social Life of Sound

  • Provides a new and innovative angle on the controversies and conflicts generated with the emergence of cultures and practices of music-making associated with new music-making technologies

  • Theoretically and conceptually innovative, being the first work that applies an object biography and life history approach to reused musical sounds

  • Enlists a broad range of illustrative examples of interest to musical scholars and music enthusiasts. This includes record collecting; beat making and sampling; curating music at both an institutional level (Smithsonian Folkways), independent label level, and in personal collections; and, reissuing records

  • Offers broad appeal to a diverse audience – both academic and those interested in music cultures more broadly


Table of contents

  1. Front Matter
    Pages i-xi
  2. Sophia Maalsen
    Pages 1-17
  3. Sophia Maalsen
    Pages 19-58
  4. Sophia Maalsen
    Pages 93-141
  5. Sophia Maalsen
    Pages 143-171
  6. Back Matter
    Pages 247-267

About this book


The Social Life of Sounds argues for the agency of sounds and music and the acceleration of their social lives in the Digital Age. Drawing upon research with composers, producers, record collectors, DJs and record labels, the book problematises the notion of artistic authorship as it is framed in Western systems of property. Acknowledging that ‘things’ – sounds, samples, and recorded music – and people are co-constituted and that personhood is distributed through things and their reuse, Maalsen makes a case for understanding sound as multibiographical and challenges the possessive individual that is the basis of artistic copyright.


music and landscape music geographies feminist philosophy humans/nonhumans sound studies sensory studies cultural heritage music making practices museology popular music studies Goyte more-than-human cultural geography Smithsonian Folkways Sing Sing records Music as cultural heritage music sampling Sound as material culture

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.School of Architecture, Design and PlanningUniversity of SydneyCamperdownAustralia

About the authors

Sophia Maalsen is a lecturer in urbanism at the School of Architecture, Design and Planning at the University of Sydney. She specializes in the digital reconfiguration of the everyday across the fields of music, urbanism, material culture, housing and gender.

Bibliographic information