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Paperback | $35.95 Trade | £24.95 | ISBN: 9780262633635 | 432 pp. | 7 x 9 in | 12 b&w illus.| March 2008

Essential Info

Sound Unbound

Sampling Digital Music and Culture
Edited by Paul D. Miller


The groundbreaking mix CD that accompanies this book features Nam Jun Paik, the Dada Movement, John Cage, Sonic Youth, and many other examples of avant-garde music. Most of the CD's content comes from the archives of Sub Rosa, a legendary record label that has been the benchmark for archival sounds since the beginnings of electronic music. (For a complete list of audio credits, see below.)

If Rhythm Science was about the flow of things, Sound Unbound is about the remix—how music, art, and literature have blurred the lines between what an artist can do and what a composer can create. In Sound Unbound, Rhythm Science author Paul Miller aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid asks artists to describe their work and compositional strategies in their own words. These are reports from the front lines on the role of sound and digital media in an information-based society. The topics are as diverse as the contributors: composer Steve Reich offers a memoir of his life with technology, from tape loops to video opera; Miller himself considers sampling and civilization; novelist Jonathan Lethem writes about appropriation and plagiarism; science fiction writer Bruce Sterling looks at dead media; Ron Eglash examines racial signifiers in electrical engineering; media activist Naeem Mohaiemen explores the influence of Islam on hip hop; rapper Chuck D contributes "Three Pieces"; musician Brian Eno explores the sound and history of bells; Hans Ulrich Obrist and Philippe Parreno interview composer-conductor Pierre Boulez; and much more. "Press 'play,'" Miller writes, "and this anthology says 'here goes.'"

Contributors: David Allenby, Pierre Boulez, Catherine Corman, Chuck D, Erik Davis, Scott De Lahunta, Manuel DeLanda, Cory Doctorow, Eveline Domnitch, Frances Dyson, Ron Eglash, Brian Eno, Dmitry Gelfand, Dick Hebdige, Lee Hirsch, Vijay Iyer, Ken Jordan, Douglas Kahn, Daphne Keller, Beryl Korot, Jaron Lanier, Joseph Lanza, Jonathan Lethem, Carlo McCormick, Paul D. Miller aka DJ Spooky that Subliminal Kid, Moby, Naeem Mohaiemen, Alondra Nelson, Keith and Mendi Obadike, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Pauline Oliveros, Philippe Parreno, Ibrahim Quraishi, Steve Reich, Simon Reynolds, Scanner aka Robin Rimbaud, Nadine Robinson, Daniel Bernard Roumain (DBR), Alex Steinweiss, Bruce Sterling, Lucy Walker, Saul Williams, Jeff E. Winner.

On the CD:

  1. RadioMentale and Matthew Herbert, "Cool Noises"
  2. Martyn Bates/Allen Ginsberg, "Once Loved/A Footnote to 'Howl' (DJ Spooky Remix)"
  3. Jean Cocteau, "Le buste (DJ Spooky Remix)"
  4. Sun Ra, "Imagination"
  5. Mikhail/Gertrude Stein, "Untitled in CoF Minor/A Valentine to Sherwood Anderson (DJ Spooky Remix)"
  6. DJ Spooky vs. Rob Swift, "Scratch Battle"
  7. Marcel Duchamp/The Master Musicians of Joujouka/RadioMentale, "The Creative Act/Interview with George Heard Hamilton/Boujeloud (Solo Drums)/I Could Never Make That Music Again"
  8. Raymond Scott, "The Paperwork Explosion"
  9. Alter Echo/Pamela Z, "Perpetual Next/Pop Titles 'You'"*
  10. Liam Gillick/ RadioMentale and Aphex Twin, "Sarah (Los Angeles Soundtrack)/I Could Never Make That Music Again"
  11. James Joyce/Erik Satie, "Eolian Episode/Gnossiene (DJ Spooky Dub Version)"
  12. Steve Reich, "Reed Phase"
  13. Shukar/RadioMentale/Raoul Hausmann, "Cika-Laka/Cool Noises/Bbb"
  14. Augustos de Campos/Bill Laswell/To Rococo Rot, "Dias Dias Dias (Spoken by Caetano Veloso)/Above the Earth/Contacte"
  15. John Cage, "Rozart Mix"
  16. Antonin Artaud, "Pour Finir avec le Jugement de Dieu (To Have Done with God's Judgment) (DJ Spooky Remix)"
  17. DJ Spooky, "One Laptop Theme"
  18. Susan Deyhim, "The Spilled Cup (DJ Spooky Remix)"
  19. Raymond Scott, "General Motors: Futurama (Interstitial)"
  20. Marcel Duchamp/George Lewis and Aki Takase, "Erratum Musical (Score for Three Voices)/Voyage for Three"
  21. Bill Laswell/René Magritte, "Ghost Dub/Le Surréalisme et les Questions"
  22. Anthony Braxton and Evan Parker/Pauline Oliveros, "The First Set— Area 4 (Solo)/A Little Noise in the System (Moog System)"
  23. Bora Yoon, "// (DJ Spooky Remix)"
  24. Pierre Schaeffer, "Cinqétudes de bruits: Étude violette"
  25. Daniel Bernard Roumain and Ryuichi Sakamoto, "The Need to Be"**
  26. Phillip Glass, "Music in Fifths"
  27. Edgard Varèse, "Poème électronique"
  28. Iannis Xenakis, "Concret PH"
  29. Ryoji Ikeda, "One Minute"
  30. Sonic Youth, "Audience (DJ Spooky Remix)"
  31. Alter Echo/Ge-te Do-pe, "Aftermath of Creations Dub (in Three Parts)/Dong Lim"
  32. Terry Riley/Alter Echo, "Dorian Reeds/Aftermath of Creations Dub (in Three Parts)"
  33. Luigi Russolo/DJ Spooky, "Corale/FTP > Bundle/Conduit 23"
  34. Fanfare Savale/Vladimir Mayakovsky, "Rumba Lu Georgel/I Know the Power of Words"
  35. Droma/Trilok Gurtu and Bill Laswell, "Pilgrim's Song (Trala Shepa)/Kala"
  36. Nam Jun Paik, "Hommage à John Cage"
  37. Morton Subotnick/DJ Spooky, "Mandolin/Acid Bassline"
  38. The Master Musicians of Joujouka/Hans Arp, "Mali Mal Hal M'Halmaz/Boujeloud (Solo Drums)/Dada-Sprüche"
  39. Sub Swara/Kurt Schwitters, "Koli Stance/Anna Blume"
  40. Walter Ruttmann/Troupe from Taschingang, "Week End/Ache Lhamo"
  41. Raymond Scott, "Bendix 1: The Tomorrow People"
  42. Martyn Bates/Trinlem, "I Can't Look for You/The Palaces of Gesar's Family (DJ Spooky Remix)"
  43. Otto Luening and Vladimir Ussachevsky, "Incantation for Tape"
  44. Carsten Nicolai, "Time ... Dot(3)"
  45. William S. Burroughs and Iggy Pop with Techno Animal, "The Western Land"


*From Pamela Z's A Delay Is Better CD released by Starkland (
**"The Need to Be" is from DBR's album etudes4violin&electronix released on Thirsty Ear Recordings.

Special thanks for Editorial Assistance to Roy Christopher.

About the Editor

Paul D. Miller, aka DJ Spooky, That Subliminal Kid, is a composer, multimedia artist, and writer. He is the author of Rhythm Science and Sound Unbound, both published by the MIT Press.


"...this is a provocative and intriguing text, of interest to anyone working in or studying contemporary experimental music.", Dave Valencia, Library Journal


"What a marvelous collection! This provocative and wide ranging book is packed with a vast number of facts and theories: the sound of creation in the Vedas, the Muslim influence on early hip hop, mathematical permutations of bell patterns (Eno), the term 'Emptyv' (Chuck D). The essays criss cross over many aspects of sound—cosmic, chemical, political, economic. It sparks questions (Can sound be translated into light?) and presents bits of information like the name for Jamaican sound systems ('Houses of Joy'). Plus you get to meet fascinating characters like Alex Steinweiss (album cover artist), Motown's Berry Gordon and synthesizer pioneer Raymond Scott. And you get to consider how Bach's style might have been influenced by his job copying Vivaldi scores. Reading Sound Unbound also invites you to reconsider techno hype, as when Bruce Sterling describes laptops as 'colorful, buzzing cuddly things with the lifespan of hamsters.' I love this book!"
Laurie Anderson

"Paul Miller has grabbed disparate philosophies and references from the past five hundred years and tied them into a neat and interesting narrative on music, sound, and current thought in our time. Sound Unbound is an excellent reference on art—in the popular context—in the twenty-first century."
Branford Marsalis

"It's a lovely eclectic collection that is a nice antidote to the usual waymusic and the history of music is often categorized into high/low,pop/classical, or black/white. I like Sterling's analogy between our belovedhigh-tech media and inscrutable indecipherable archaic media like Incanquipus. From Raymond Scott to the hidden racism in digital circuitry to ahistory of easy listening, there is enough inspiring weirdness here to fuelsome musical fires for a good while."
David Byrne

"Everything must be about one thing first, then it can be about many things.Paul Miller's collection of texts is about one thing: the use of scanning inmusic and more generally the world around us. He gives us a single structureto put very different experiences and theoretical constructs into anoverarching context. The result is always interesting and oftenilluminating. These essays by thinkers and practitioners range widely andproduce their own static and interferences, but they fall into oneperceptible rhythm. A good staging of an opera uses what you see on stage tomake you hear better. Similarly, these reflections make it easier to tune into the sometimes confusing soundscape of our dislocated, interrelated,networked times."
Robert Wilson

"For the maverick rhythm scientist Paul D. Miller, sound is liquid; itspills over and slips under categories, firewalls, case law, and legal codesto find us and move us. In the same way, his important collection of soundthinkers and sound ideas calls us to remove the fake 'security' imposed onus by capital and state, and, more crucially, to reimagine freedom andreclaim our creativity."
Jeff Chang, author of Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-HopGeneration

"Paul Miller is one of the best cultural radars in the world today. Healways picks out the most relevant people working today and revealspreviously unseen connections. If you want situational awareness about theworld of sound, music, performance, computers, and ideas, read this book."
Lev Manovich, Visual Arts Department, University of California, San Diego,