Low End Theory probes the much-mythologized field of bass and low-frequency sound. It begins in music but quickly moves far beyond, following vibratory phenomena across time, disciplines and disparate cultural spheres (including hauntings, laboratories, organ workshops, burial mounds, sound art, studios, dancefloors, infrasonic anomalies, and a global mystery called The Hum). Low End Theory asks what it is about bass that has fascinated us for so long and made it such a busy site of bio-technological experimentation, driving developments in science, technology, the arts, and religious culture.
The guiding question is not so much what we make of bass, but what it makes of us: how does it undulate and unsettle; how does it incite; how does it draw bodily thought into new equations with itself and its surroundings? Low End Theory is the first book to survey this sonorous terrain and devise a conceptual language proper to it. With its focus on sound's structuring agency and the multi-sensory aspects of sonic experience, it stands to make a transformative contribution to the study of music and sound, while pushing scholarship on affect, materiality, and the senses into fertile new territory. Through energetic and creative prose, Low End Theory works to put thought in touch with the vibratory encounter as no scholarly book has done before.
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Paul C. Jasen is a Lecturer in Music and Communication Studies at Carleton University, Canada.
Acknowledgments Introduction: Elements of a Myth-Science 1. The Sonic Body: An Ethico-Acoustic Toolkit Sonorous Relations Tales and Strategies Myth-Science in the Vibratory Milieu 2. Spectral Catalysis: Disquieting Encounters Spectres of the Manmade Unknown Infrasound Unhomed Boo! (toward an operative reality) The Hum `And it was only by analogy that it could be called a sound at all...' Blinkered Science We still do not know what a sonic body can do... 3. Numinous Strategies Learning to Play the Sonic Body The Nervous Piano Numinous Instruments Religious Audiogenesis Numinous Sound Design Playing the Resonances Tellurian Organs The Organ-Church Assemblage The Arcanum: An Ambulant Myth-Science The Nervous Organ Baroque Affect Engineering The Gothic Assemblage: Applied Synaesthetics 4. Tone Scientists I: Vibratory Arts Cymatic Arts Documentary Practices A Speculative Turn Perceptual Abstraction Transversal Strategies Incipient Dance Sonic Architectures Dance With the Speaker `A people of oscillators' 5. Tone Scientists II: Bass Cults The Lab The Science Bass Science Dubplates and Mastering Engineering the Vibratorium Affects and Affectations Entering the Rhythmachine Three Physio-Logics Jungle (1994) Dubstep (2005) Footwork (2009) Conclusion: Where next? Endnotes Bibliography Index