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Murmur is an effort to learn from sound. Here I examine the study of sound from early explanations of sound based on the metaphor of a wave on the surface of a body of water, to research into its existence as a physical phenomenon during the Enlightenment, the invention of phonography and the resultant commodification of sound, the auditory turn and beyond. Establishing a history of sound based on the many voices that comprise the murmur of sound itself, I critique the myths, each dominated by particular ideas, images and technologies, that have shaped the individual characteristics attributed to sound today. I analyse the influence of tropes such as the image of a stone thrown into water as a model for the passage of sound through a medium, the notion that any sound is reducible to individual frequencies and the suggestion that sound recordings can offer fidelity to an original source. I listen to the cacophony. I offer an account of sound that approaches it as a multiplicity that is individuated in a variety of ways. I hear sound as murmur.
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