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Noise

The Political Economy of Music

1984
Author:

Jacques Attali
Translated by Brian Massumi
Foreword by Fredric Jameson
Afterword by Susan McClary

Noise

Argues that music does not reflect society; it foreshadows new social formations.

Noise is a model of cultural historiography. In its general theoretical argument on the relations of culture to economy, but also in its specialized concentration, Noise has much that is of importance to critical theory today.

SubStance

Noise

Jacques Attali is the author of numerous books, including Millennium: Winners and Losers in the Coming World Order and Labyrinth in Culture and Society.

Brian Massumi has translated works by Gilles Deleuze, Michel de Certeau, and Jean-François Lyotard.

Fredric Jameson is professor of literature at Duke University.

Susan McClary is professor of musicology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Noise

Noise is a model of cultural historiography. In its general theoretical argument on the relations of culture to economy, but also in its specialized concentration, Noise has much that is of importance to critical theory today.

SubStance

Attali brings fresh insights to a critical analysis of music’s social role. His work stands out as an adventuresome analysis of the political economy of music. Its challenge to calcified critical thinking is undeniable. It can only revitalize discussion on the connections between political power, ideology, and the role of music in the current cybernetic phase of capitalism’s twilight years.

Border/Lines

For Attali, music is not simply a reflection of culture, but a harbinger of change, an anticipatory abstraction of the shape of things to come. The book’s title refers specifically to the reception of musics that sonically rival normative social orders. Noise is Attali’s metaphor for a broad, historical vanguardism, for the radical soundscapes of the western continuum that express structurally the course of social development.

Ethnomusicology

Noise should be read by musicians, who are largely unaware of their historic role. It will serve as an inspiration, as a philosophical foundation for politically conscious artists, and as an encouragement to develop counterinstitutions in the world of music. Others should read Noise because we are all affected by music: we are all its listeners, its consumers. We all hum its tunes, mouth its lyrics. We all suppress the composer within us, and Attali describes how this keeps us caught in repetition, keeps us jailed.

Telos

Attali’s book redefines noise, and more generally music, in political terms, thus deflecting all neomodernist charges about inherent musical value and the implicit lack thereof in popular music.

Popular Music and Society