Do Vibrations Make Decisions?
I have tremendous admiration for Nina Sun Eidsheim’s thinking because it is as unconventional as it is rigorous and ethically committed. Her two monographs, Sensing Sound and The Race of Sound, present their ideas with intensity and grace. They overflow with remarkable case studies that remain with the reader long after the pages have been read; they bring together the worlds of popular music and classical music—and of the avant-garde, the popular, and the elite—around the focal point of the voice; they model the fusion of music criticism with critical practice; and they are framed by an original, challenging philosophical vision. The two texts, taken together, form one of those often-talked-about yet not-often-encountered wholes that is greater than the sum of its parts.
That whole is a nothing less than a systematic philosophy of music, sound, and being that I refer to here as a vibrational monism. Every time I have taught Eidsheim’s work in seminar, I find myself drawn to thinking about this whole, even as I find others around the table often attending to more closely to individual case studies. I am uncertain whether my own predilection for philosophy is what guides my attention toward the whole, but undoubtedly it is the matrix from which spring the series of questions that I pose.
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