Hungry Listening

Resonant Theory for Indigenous Sound Studies

2020
Author:

Dylan Robinson

Hungry Listening

Reimagining how we understand and write about the Indigenous listening experience

Hungry Listening is the first book to consider listening from both Indigenous and settler colonial perspectives, presenting case studies on Indigenous participation in classical music, musicals, and popular music. A critical response to what has been called the “whiteness of sound studies,” Dylan Robinson evaluates how decolonial practices of listening emerge from increasing awareness of our listening positionality.

In this brilliant and wide-ranging work, Dylan Robinson refuses to write about anything. Instead he demonstrates what it means at the practical, ethical, and political levels to write relationally with other living beings, including music, sound, belongings, languages, lands, ancestors, and readers. In method and content, Hungry Listening is a challenge to settler colonial sensory and political orders as well as a powerful affirmation of Indigenous thought, practice, and art.

Beth Piatote, author of The Beadworkers and Domestic Subjects

Hungry Listening is the first book to consider listening from both Indigenous and settler colonial perspectives. A critical response to what has been called the “whiteness of sound studies,” Dylan Robinson evaluates how decolonial practices of listening emerge from increasing awareness of our listening positionality. This, he argues, involves identifying habits of settler colonial perception and contending with settler colonialism’s “tin ear” that renders silent the epistemic foundations of Indigenous song as history, law, and medicine.

With case studies on Indigenous participation in classical music, musicals, and popular music, Hungry Listening examines structures of inclusion that reinforce Western musical values. Alongside this inquiry on the unmarked terms of inclusion in performing arts organizations and compositional practice, Hungry Listening offers examples of “doing sovereignty” in Indigenous performance art, museum exhibition, and gatherings that support an Indigenous listening resurgence.

Throughout the book, Robinson shows how decolonial and resurgent forms of listening might be affirmed by writing otherwise about musical experience. Through event scores, dialogic improvisation, and forms of poetic response and refusal, he demands a reorientation toward the act of reading as a way of listening. Indigenous relationships to the life of song are here sustained in writing that finds resonance in the intersubjective experience between listener, sound, and space.

Hungry Listening

Dylan Robinson is a xwélméxw (Stó:lō) writer, Canada Research Chair in Indigenous Arts, and associate professor at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. He is coeditor of Arts of Engagement: Taking Aesthetic Action in and beyond the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada and cocurator of Soundings, an internationally touring exhibition of Indigenous art scores.

Hungry Listening

In this brilliant and wide-ranging work, Dylan Robinson refuses to write about anything. Instead he demonstrates what it means at the practical, ethical, and political levels to write relationally with other living beings, including music, sound, belongings, languages, lands, ancestors, and readers. In method and content, Hungry Listening is a challenge to settler colonial sensory and political orders as well as a powerful affirmation of Indigenous thought, practice, and art.

Beth Piatote, author of The Beadworkers and Domestic Subjects

Hungry Listening is a necessary and creative confrontation of the consequences of settler colonialism for Indigenous music and sound territories. Offering a robust critique of inclusionary performance as settler mis-audation, Dylan Robinson forwards a transformative politics of listening, a practice of guest listening that refuses capture and certainty. At once playful and intensely serious, Hungry Listening experiments with affective event scores and forms of direct address to allow readers to imagine approaches to visiting with Indigenous sound and performance.

Eve Tuck, University of Toronto

Dylan Robinson employs a xwélméxw (Stó:lō) reading, listening, and thinking practice to enact a decolonial critique of the ‘sonic encounters’ between Indigenous vocal traditions and Western classical and popular music. Hungry Listening, by one of the field’s most generous, perceptive, visionary, and generative scholars, will be a game changer in the areas of Indigenous, sound, and performance studies.

Michelle Raheja, author of Reservation Reelism: Redfacing, Visual Sovereignty, and Representations of Native Americans in Film

Hungry Listening

Contents

Introduction

Writing Indigenous Space

1. Hungry Listening

Event Score for Guest Listening I

2. Writing about Musical Intersubjectivity

xwélalà:m, Raven Chacon’s Report

3. Contemporary Encounters Between Indigenous and Early Music

Event Score for those who hold our songs

4. Ethnographic Redress, Compositional Responsibility

Event Score for Responsibility: “qimmit katajjaq / sqwélqwel tl’ sqwmá:y”

5. Feeling Reconciliation

Event Score to Act

Acknowledgments

Conclusion

Notes

Bibliography

Index