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Excerpted from Sound Art: Beyond Music, Between Categories (Book & CD) by Alan Licht, Jim O'Rourke. Copyright © 2007. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.
Everyone has a diferen t poin t at whic h they ari ve at the ques tion "is ar t sound , and is sound ar t?" First separating sound from music can lead someone down a path of falling under the spell of the sound of an empty coffee can, and quite possibly be suitably satisfied. Others may feel the need to return that coffee can back to the counter and set it into some kind of constellate that organizes sounds into space. If that can is suitably attractive, it may come to mind that the sound is married to that can, and what that can means in a larger social sense. It's quite possible the absence of the coffee, or more precisely the sound of the coffee, would lead to some reverie over whether sounds have lives of their own, and if they miss each other when they leave. This most usually leads to trying to find the sound which is not a sound, which in its lack of soundness implies all sounds and we're right where we started. So, in short, sound art may well be what you call it, and where you are coming from. If you're an artist, in the (relatively) traditional sense, and you find that neon tube is better heard and not seen, it could be sound art. If you're a musician and the sound of the piano lid closing on someone's fingers, who just can't seem to correctly play the rhythms derived from the gravitational pull of the sun, you may well have some sound art. Of course, that's up to you. This book examines a wide range of possibilities of redefining not only the context in which sound is presented and framed, but in how we choose to look at it. And when you look at sound, you may ask yourself, is it sound or is it art, and we're right back where we started. -- Jim O'Rourke

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