The Tuning of the World

R. Murray Schafer’s classic The Tuning of the World: Toward a theory of Soundscape Design (1977): The approximate size of the city used to be imagined with relation to how far a voice could be distanced from its source. In Plato’s Republic, Schafer notes, the city is imagined in small numbers (5,040 people) to maximize the collective tasks of deliberation. But with the Nazi use of the “loudspeaker” to propagate a nation’s political mythologies everything has become cinematic and a split sound can travel much further (McLuhan talks about how the radio mobilized Algeria against their French colonizer). Signals can be split and rearranged. Film is the first art form associated with montage because it is the first to be “cut and spliced together.” (94)

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