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Pieces of Sound

German Experimental Radio

2009
Author:

Daniel Gilfillan

Pieces of Sound

A cultural history of German radio broadcasting from the 1920s to today

Since the rise of film and television, radio has continued to evolve and any understanding of the development of radio depends on closely examining the artistic ventures that preceded commercial acceptance. Daniel Gilfillan offers a cultural history that explores these aspects of the medium by focusing on German radio broadcasting, providing a context that sees beyond programming to consider regulations, cultural politics, and social standardization.

Pieces of Sound brings the history of experimental radio in German-speaking countries to an Anglophone audience. Covering over 80 years of history, Daniel Gilfillan argues for the importance of avant-garde theory and practice as an alternative to mainstream, broadcast-industry definitions of radio. Gilfillan offers us an important resource for thinking about the intersecting histories of radio and sound art, and an opportunity to reflect upon their possible futures.

Jonathan Sterne, author of The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction

Since the rise of film and television, radio has continued to evolve, with satellite radio and podcasts as its latest incarnations. Any understanding of the development of radio, like its visual counterparts, depends on closely examining the artistic ventures that preceded commercial acceptance.

In Pieces of Sound, Daniel Gilfillan offers a cultural history that explores these major aspects of the medium by focusing on German radio broadcasting, providing a context that sees beyond programming to consider regulations, cultural politics, and social standardization. Gilfillan showcases the work of radio pioneers and artists over the past century, including Brecht’s work with the form, and how radio was employed before and after World War II. He traces how German radio broadcasters experimented with networked media not only to expand the artistic and communicative possibilities of radio, but also to inform perceptions about the advantages and direction of newer telecommunications media like Internet broadcasting and pirate radio, which artists are using today to engage with a medium that is increasingly under corporate control.

Gilfillan astutely observes how claims made for the Internet today echo those made for radio in its infancy and puts forth a broad and incisive historical analysis of German cultural broadcasting.

Pieces of Sound

Daniel Gilfillan is associate professor of German studies and information literacy at Arizona State University.

Pieces of Sound

Pieces of Sound brings the history of experimental radio in German-speaking countries to an Anglophone audience. Covering over 80 years of history, Daniel Gilfillan argues for the importance of avant-garde theory and practice as an alternative to mainstream, broadcast-industry definitions of radio. Gilfillan offers us an important resource for thinking about the intersecting histories of radio and sound art, and an opportunity to reflect upon their possible futures.

Jonathan Sterne, author of The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction

Gilfillan presents a strong case for the importance of alternative and artistic radio, as well as the importance of paying attention to alternative radio practices that might be considered peripheral. This is important not only in order to find new models for a constantly developing and changing medium, but also, as Gilfillan himself explains in his concluding remarks, in order to understand the historical development of mainstream radio.

Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television

Gilfillan’s book makes several important and original contributions to the field of radio and media studies.

Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television

Pieces of Sound is an important step in recuperating and preserving the history of alternative media practices, and a significant resource for the study of the variegated landscape of the radio avant-garde.

German Quarterly

Pieces of Sound: German Experimental Radio constitutes an admirable contribution to the development of our critical vocabulary by advancing a convincing argument about what constitutes experimental art.

Journal of Austrian Studies

This text challenges our perceptions of radio as a medium in decline. Pieces of Sound is an exciting read for scholars of German history and media theory alike.

Modernist Cultures

Pieces of Sound