Chapter 9

Sound Art—New Only in Name: A Selected History of German Sound Works from the Last Century

I) Warming up the Ear

1) Listen to Schwitters' Ursonate (1922–1932) with friends. (YouTube has recordings by various performers.) Observe the reactions of your friends. Do the reactions change over the course of this forty-minute piece?

2) Learn more about composers John Cage and Karlheinz Stockhausen and present their biographies and excerpts of their compositions to your classmates.

3) Visit the Web site of sound artist Christina Kubisch: (This site is available in English and in German.) Write a short press release about her.

4) List some traditional musical instruments. What other objects can function as instruments?

II) Working with the Text

1) Why does Licht separate "sound art" and "music"? Why do the authors of this chapter find his definitions to be problematic?

2) Describe the Fluxus movement.

3) How does Kubisch introduce the concept of space into her sound pieces?

4) According to the authors, what is the future of sound art? Why do they think so?

III) Further Food for Thought

1) Cage called the ever-present array of noises around us the beginning of music. Do you agree? (To learn more about Cage read for example Richard Kostelanetz, ed. Conversing with Cage. New York: Limelight, 1984.)

2) Describe how Kubisch has been influenced by Stockhausen and Cage. What connections do you see among their works?

3) Where do you see the difference between "sound art" and "music"? What positions do noise bands assume?

4) If sound art became more popular in the years to come, to what would you attribute this?

Website Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy
Please send comments or suggestions about this Website to