Extreme Sounds Studies: Global Socio-Cultural Explorations

Music and sound do not take place in a social vacuum. They manifest themselves, and are a reflection of, particular social contexts. They are grounded in geographies, people’s lived experiences, and specific events. Therefore, when we conceptualize music and sound as “extreme,” we do so in recognition of this contextual anchoring, and as an acknowledgment that contexts are both produced, and reflected, through them. Metal music studies have used the terminology of “extreme music” to describe sounds, aesthetics, and practices that are usually interpreted as distant from, and challenging of, the societies in which music is created and consumed. How can this invitation to understand extremity be applied to other types of music and sounds? For example, music and sound were have been used to create extreme conditions for listeners, including harm and pain in the context of war and conflict. They have been utilized as a sign of protest and liberation, to reflect the extreme conditions people live through. The heavy and overbearing sound generated by people hitting pots and pans through the night to protest police brutality in Chile, stands out as a prime example. The same can be said of protest music which has even served as the musical backdrop for political revolutions. In these examples people and communities use music and sound to reflect how the conditions they live through have become extreme; politically, economically, and socially.

This book series aims to explore how the idea of “the extreme” might serve to understand the roles of sounds in our lives. It aims to address the following questions: What makes some kinds of music and sounds extreme? Is there an aesthetic of extreme in music and sound to be unpacked that can be encountered elsewhere, for example in the analysis of noise or other forms of experimental music, even in the extremity of the mundane? How do diverse people and communities think about the extreme when referencing music and sound? In other words, it is not always clear what the term extreme refers to, and yet it is all around us. This book series aims to fill this gap.


Editor(s): Niall Scott, Nelson Varas-Díaz, and Bryan Bardine
Staff editorial contact: Courtney Morales (cmorales@rowman.com)