Neu: Sound Works – A Cultural Theory of Sound Design. by Holger Schulze

About Sound Works

What is sound design? What is its function in the early 21st century and into the future?

Sound Works examines these questions in four parts: Part 1, “Why This Sound?”, presents an overview of the modern history of sound design. Part 2 is highly visual and provides a glance onto a sound designer’s workbench and the current state of “Sonic Labor.” Part 3 uses cultural analysis to explore our contemporary “Living with Sounds.” The final and fourth part then proposes a series of anthropological and political interpretations of how “Sound Works” today.

This book is not a manual on sound design; it instead argues for a cultural theory of sound design for sound designers and sound artists, for clients who commission a sound design and for researchers in the fields of sound studies, design research, and cultural studies

Table of contents

Part 1. Why That Sound?: Annoyance and Excitement by Design
1. Working
2. Consuming
3. Suffering
4. Joy
Part 2. Sonic Labor: Statements, Situations, and Cases
With illustrations by Julia Krause
5. Location and Apparatus
6. Skills and Habits
7. Conflicts and Heuristics
8. Portfolio and Presentations
Part 3. Living With Sound: The Semiotics and Mediology of Sonic Signs
Written in collaboration with Carla J. Maier
9. Signifying Sounds
10. Situated Signalling
11. Transmitting Sounds
12. Transcultural Aurality
Part 4. Sound Works: A Cultural Theory of Sound Design
13. The Silencing Dispositive
14. The Economy of Sound
15. The Panacoustic Society
16. The Sonic Capital



“By wondering how to do things with sounds, this book opens a thorough and complex design theory of functional sounds. But rather than remaining confined to a strict design theory, this groundbreaking work summons some of the most recent and promising contributions of the social sciences, whether it be mediology or anthropology, semiotics or economics, critical or political theory, cultural or postcolonial studies. Without a doubt, this book is going to become an indispensable reference for those interested in everyday sounds.” –  Jean-Paul Thibaud, Research Director at CNRS, France, and author of En quête d’ambiances : éprouver la ville en passant (2015)

Sound Works is a novel and welcome contribution to the theoretical discussion on sound design, as the author manages to combine an unusually wide variety of perspectives and consistently connects and situates these diverse perspectives in relation to the conditions of everyday living in present hegemonic practices of consumer society. What especially stands out thus is the consistent focus on everyday living situations for both those who produce and those who encounter these sounds in all walks of life.” –  Ola Stockfelt, Professor of Musicology, University of Gothenburg, Sweden