Michel Chion is a composer, filmmaker, teacher, researcher, and the author of several books, including
James A. Steintrager is Professor of English, Comparative Literature, and European Languages and Studies at the University of California, Irvine; he is the author, most recently, of
This chapter examines several evocative sonic landscapes in poetry, drama, and prose fiction. It uses these literary acoustic tableaux to introduce several key themes developed in the book: how the sonic register differs in significant ways from the visual, the relationship of sound to time, the ways in which sound occupies space, and the shaping of sounds for and by the listener through language and subjectivity, which complicates any attempt to grasp sounds as objective givens. It also returns to R. Murray Schafer’s seminal notions of “soundscapes,” “keynotes,” and “soundmarks,” to consider the limitations and continuing relevance of these terms for sound studies.