This article addresses Listening with Elephant Ears, a contemporary music composition and performance created by the author together with the Elefantöra (Elephant Ear) ensemble. Elefantöra is a norm-critical music ensemble that includes both disabled and non-disabled musicians. When musicians are defined as disabled, normative assumptions regarding the correct use of musical instruments and expert definitions of good sound generate rehabilitative approaches to music that perpetuate exclusions of ableism. This article examines the intersections that exist between exclusions of ableism and exclusions based on musical virtuosity. It focuses on the ways in which Elefantöra contests both exclusions of ableism and virtuosity in their creative reappropriations of sound technology. Composed in the fall of 2020 as a collaborative artistic research engagement, Listening with Elephant Ears was first performed at the Lund Contemporary Music Festival in Sweden, October 2021. The article draws on ethnographic and sound material generated from my artistic research engagement with Elefantöra. Created during the COVID-19 pandemic, Listening with Elephant Ears actively reappropriates the Zoom video conference software as a music technology. The piece embraces Zoom’s limitations and emphasizes the aesthetic value of the audio distortions and digital interference that Zoom introduces into musical performance. Critiquing regimes of regulation that situate disabled musicians differently to non-disabled musicians, Listening with Elephant Ears applies care as a theoretical perspective from which to reflect critically on rehabilitative approaches to music and the associated exclusions of ableism and musical virtuosity.

Low-level lighting casts long shadows across the ornate interior of Lund University’s 18th-century Chapel Hall. On stage, shrouded in semi-darkness, are four musicians from the Elefantöra (Elephant Ear) ensemble performing a new composition titled Listening with Elephant Ears as part of the Lund Contemporary Music Festival in Sweden. The audience for this concert sits in between four large loudspeakers set on the floor at each corner of the room. The loudspeakers amplify a quadraphonic surround-sound mix of grand piano, electric guitar, and voice performed live by Elefantöra. The sound of the instruments played live by the ensemble is mixed with pre-recorded tape content that plays multitracked voices, piano, and guitar recorded by the ensemble during a series of online workshops conducted in preparation for this performance. The pre-recorded material that accompanies the live performance was recorded over Zoom and carries audio distortions and digital interference that would be familiar to those who have used Zoom during two years of pandemic-enforced remote working. The low resolution of the pre-recorded tape content contrasts with the clarity of the live instruments performed from the stage. The live piano, guitar, and voice are routed through a Make Noise modular synthesizer, the instrument played on stage by the fourth member of the ensemble. The synthesizer is used to pan the live performances of voice, guitar, and piano through the quadraphonic sound field. The pre-recorded sounds heard by the audience as part of the quadraphonic surround-sound mix also include field recordings created by the musicians during the online Zoom workshops. Those field recordings include the repeated click of an entrance door opened by remote control, a creaking scratch tone generated by a garage door in need of some oil, and the ping and rumble of an electric scooter as it accelerates away from a residential parking garage. The short, percussive clicks and pings of the field recordings contrast with the longer sustained tones from voice, piano, and guitar.

Figure 1.

Listening with Elephant Ears (06:58). Additional vocal performance by Zofia Åsenlöf. Recorded live at Lund Contemporary Music Festival, October 2021. (Audio file.)

Figure 1.

Listening with Elephant Ears (06:58). Additional vocal performance by Zofia Åsenlöf. Recorded live at Lund Contemporary Music Festival, October 2021. (Audio file.)

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Listening with Elephant Ears was commissioned by ShareMusic and Performing Arts (ShareMusic) and composed by myself and the Elefantöra ensemble during a series of online Zoom workshops in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.1 It is part of an artistic research project that investigates the work of Elefantöra and their inclusive composition and performance methodologies, a project that concluded with a performance at Lund Contemporary Music Festival in October 2021.

Elefantöra emphasizes the inclusion of musicians with a diversity of musical knowledges and musical abilities. The initial call made by ShareMusic to form the ensemble in 2017 specifically invited those without formal musical training to apply. The musicians in Elefantöra are not classically trained, and some do not read musical notation. Elefantöra also includes musicians who are both disabled and non-disabled. Elefantöra and ShareMusic have been highly successful in advancing an inclusive and innovative approach to contemporary music, with Elefantöra gaining a high profile within Sweden’s contemporary music scene. Elefantöra and ShareMusic have together developed a repertoire of innovative methodologies to facilitate exchange and collaboration between musicians with diverse musical knowledges and abilities, with the ensemble collaborating often with established composers and classically trained virtuoso musicians.2 The methodologies developed by Elefantöra and ShareMusic particularly emphasize the creative reappropriation of digital sound technologies, using music technology to facilitate translation between composers and musicians from different musical backgrounds.

Like many artists working during the pandemic, Elefantöra and I chose the Zoom video conference software to facilitate our workshops.3 Zoom was accessible to all participants, but despite its accessibility Zoom presented many limitations as a collaborative music production technology. The perceptual coding applied by Zoom generates a diminished sound quality that would be considered highly undesirable by expert recording engineers.4 Zoom also applies noise suppression processing that prioritizes the intelligibility of the human voice, defining unwanted non-semantic sound as noise and discarding it.5 Zoom’s perceptual coding and noise suppression algorithms make it difficult for musicians to listen to each other on Zoom and perform music together. Taking Zoom as a “matter of care,” Listening with Elephant Ears celebrated Zoom’s “poor sound quality” and the “uncomfortable” musical performances it afforded, reappropriating its audio distortions and digital interference as a valued and prominent musical element within the composition.6

Listening with Elephant Ears is an abstract and non-representational piece of music; it does not include spoken or sung words, and the field recordings it uses are intentionally ambiguous and open to interpretation. Elefantöra’s music is not activist in a conventional sense, as it does not directly protest ableism or advocate for disability rights. Although the members of Elefantöra prefer not to be defined as musicians in terms of disability, the music and the methodologies through which they compose and perform contemporary music do challenge at an aesthetic register both ableism and exclusions of musical virtuosity.7 This article considers the transformative potential in Listening with Elephant Ears and how Elefantöra’s creative reappropriations of sound technology are important in critiquing exclusions based on both ableism and musical virtuosity.

The composition of Listening with Elephant Ears applied listening as a critical perspective from which to interrogate the work of Elefantöra. Sound studies scholar Salomé Voegelin argues that listening carries transformative potential because listening engages what she terms a “sonic sensibility,” an engagement with the world through sound that is qualitatively different from perceptual engagement that privileges a dominant visual paradigm.8 Sound and listening, Voegelin states, offer “another point of view, an alternative perspective on how things are, producing new ideas on how they could be and how we could live in a sonic possible world.”9 Taking listening as a critical perspective from which to consider the work of Elefantöra is conceptually consistent with the methodologies that Elefantöra and ShareMusic have applied since the very conception of the ensemble. Karen Power, the composer who was commissioned to create Machine Chatter (2018) for the ensemble’s first performance, described that her aim with the composition was to “ensure that active listening was at the core of every step of the process.”10 In a resource book that Power developed together with Zofia Åsenlöf and ShareMusic, they describe how applying field recording and deep listening as part of the composition process for Machine Chatter helped to generate a shared vocabulary and inclusive environment for musicians with different formal music education.11 Åsenlöf states, “A prerequisite for creating a safe space and an egalitarian working process is that listening is present as a conscious act in every step.”12

I argue that listening is generative as a critical perspective in the work of Elefantöra, because sound and listening and the knowledge this produces are relational. Sound and listening are always generated in the co-relation of hearing subject, sound, and sound technology. Voegelin states:

In sound the world is not made of “this” or “that,” but is a dimensionality in which things inter-are and where the practice of contingent connecting rather than the shape of separate objects, things, and subjects grants access to knowledge.13

A recognition that listening is relational is important when considering the transformative potential of Elefantöra’s work and the use of Zoom as a music technology. Sound technologies do not determine how one listens or performs music, but sound technologies do afford certain possibilities and limitations. The possibilities and limitations afforded by sound technology are regulated by conventions of “best practice” that police the correct and virtuoso use of musical instruments and sound recording technology.14 Voegelin addresses the power dynamics of this regulation directly, making a distinction between the “instrumental” use of sound technology that is preferred and institutionally regulated, and an “operational” use of sound technology that contests or subverts expert hierarchies and its exclusions.15 What Voegelin would define as the operational use of sound technology is evident, for example, in Elefantöra’s reappropriation of the iPad and Samplr application.16 Introduced to the ensemble by Power for their first performance, the iPad and Samplr have become central to the ensemble’s composition and performance methodologies. The operational use of this consumer technology exists in its unapologetic application in formal concert settings, where it is used as both a recording and playback device that facilitates collaboration between virtuoso and non-virtuoso musicians.

A recognition that the meanings and affect of listening are generated in the in-between of sound technology, sound, and hearing subject reveals sound technologies to be an important site at which to access, analyze, and intervene in the constitution and performance of normative listening subjects.17 Sound studies scholar Jonathan Sterne argues that sound and sound technologies were “always tied to particular ways of hearing and institutional contexts that defined hearing, as well as what was heard,” leading him to speculate that perhaps every sound technology in human history contains within it some model or script for a normative auditor or anticipated listening public.18 The co-constitutive relationship between sound technology and listening subjects, the ways through which the physical capabilities of listeners both inform sound technology, and the way sound technology in turn regulates the bodies of listeners, make sound technology and sound a generative site at which to intervene in the social and technological construction of disability.

In this research an emphasis on a co-constitutive relationship between disability and technology is important in offering a critical perspective that is distinct from either a social or medical model of disability.19 The social model of disability recognizes that impairment only becomes disability in specific social and physical contexts. Applying a social model of disability, it is not the physical inability to hold an instrument that disables a musician but the instrument that is designed incorrectly to be held that is itself disabling. The social model is then distinct from a medical model of disability within which disability is an impairment to be corrected at the site of the body itself. Acknowledging the interrelationships between disability and sound technology, Mara Mills and Jonathan Sterne propose dismedia as an alternative to social and medical models of disability. Importantly, dismedia acknowledges “disability as a constituting dimension of media, and media as a constituting dimension of disability.”20 Dismedia recognizes that disability shaped the emergence of modern sound media, and that sound media also regulates disability. In defining the co-constitutive nature of dismedia, Mills and Sterne cite the contributions made by those with hearing impairment to the development of telecommunications and audio signal processing; they also acknowledge that telecommunication and audio signal processing in turn regulate normative listening subjectivities.21

Although recognizing exclusions of ableism, Elefantöra prefer not to be defined as musicians in terms of disability. In an interview that took place before the live performance of Listening with Elephant Ears, the musician who plays piano in this piece explained that they would like the audience to “focus on the music and not the disability I have, that’s an important thing. Some people just see the wheelchair and not the person I am. [It’s important for me to] just focus on the music and the musician I am and not the wheelchair [laughs].”22

A refusal to be defined as musicians in terms of disability is part of a broader strategy deployed by ShareMusic and Elefantöra that avoids representations that might perpetuate binary distinctions between non-disabled and disabled. As with other Elefantöra performances, Listening with Elephant Ears is abstract, with its emphasis on sound and the aesthetic experience sound generates. This is a non-narrative performance strategy that intentionally avoids those “damage-centered” narratives of disability that define people primarily in terms of oppression or exclusion.23 Equally embracing an abstract and non-narrative form, Listening with Elephant Ears also avoids explicit “inspiration” narratives of disability, those stories that emphasize the heroic conquering of ableist exclusion.24 Inspiration narratives of disability exist in direct opposition to damage-centered narratives, meaning that the binary non-disabled/disabled remains but is inverted.

Although Elefantöra members prefer not to be defined as musicians in terms of disability, ShareMusic does engage directly with exclusions of ableism, placing inclusive artistic practice as core to its mission.25 Acknowledging that Listening with Elephant Ears includes contributions from both disabled and non-disabled musicians is a recognition of ShareMusic’s mission and that the distinctiveness of the work produced by Elefantöra exists in relation to the broader contexts of disability and exclusion within which it is situated.26 Avoiding both damage and inspiration narratives of disability, I was guided by ShareMusic and the ensemble itself in regard to how the musicians wished to relate disability to their musical practice. Disability is a matter of concern in this work because in identifying as disabled, or when identified as disabled by others, musicians are positioned differently within regimes of musical “best practice.”27 Regimes of best practice in music define the correct use of music technologies and the criteria by which a musician can be recognized as a virtuoso. Arguing that hierarchies of musical best practice are ableist, Warren Churchill and Cara Bernard state that “the political-power implications of teachers identifying [music] students as disabled reinforces a rehabilitative approach, which furthers the ideology of ability.”28

In rehabilitative approaches to best practice, acknowledged experts privilege the teaching of “remediating musical skills for the students with disabilities and less on how students [themselves] experience music.”29 Rehabilitation to promote musical best practice limits the opportunities for a disabled musician to bring non-normative abilities to a sound technology and appropriate it in ways that are specific and useful for them. The complex and interrelated regimes of regulation within which a disabled person is situated can mean that even if a musician’s disability does not preclude them from demonstrating virtuoso best practice, inequalities of access to music education, music performance, and music making may also situate disabled people differently in relation to those mechanisms through which a musician can be acknowledged as a virtuoso. Avoiding reference to disability in this research would be consistent with Elefantöra’s preference not to be defined as musicians in terms of disability, but failing to address disability would risk obscuring the significance of the broader context of disability within which the work of Elefantöra is situated.

Care provides a generative perspective in this work, because theories of care acknowledge the hierarchies that divide non-disabled and disabled, and virtuoso and non-virtuoso, but importantly addressing this research as a matter of care does not directly resist these binary distinctions in ways that risk simply reinscribing them.30 Care is adjacent to the actor network theory (ANT) of Bruno Latour, as ANT care recognizes the agency of non-human actants, and that experience and meaning is generated in relation between non-human and human.31 Taking Listening with Elephant Ears as a matter of care in this research generates a relational ontology that is consistent with a co-constitutive dismedia and an understanding that listening is relational. As an act of care, my creative work with Elefantöra does not directly protest exclusions of ableism or expert hierarchies of virtuosity but instead seeks to relate to them differently. As Puig de la Bellacasa observes, “the significance of standpoints committed to care is not limited to their critique of power, but also to creating a relationship through that critique.”32

Care is not an intervention to resist and divide but instead a positioning in-between that aspires to relate differently, to re-affect people and objects. Engaging Listening with Elephant Ears as a matter of care recognizes the value of an inclusive musical practice within which musicians reappropriate Zoom to make it useable as a music technology in ways that are appropriate to their own abilities. The reappropriation of sound technology in ways that afford collaboration with virtuoso musicians and the appearance of reappropriated sound technology within the exclusive performance spaces of contemporary music demonstrate also an act of care toward sound technology that avoids reinscribing binary distinctions between virtuoso and non-virtuoso musician.

Listening with Elephant Ears was created during three online workshops using the Zoom video conference software. Applying care and listening as critical perspectives, the online workshops encouraged collaborative and iterative processes and applied a repertoire of composition techniques that included Pauline Oliveros’s Deep Listening and Hildegard Westerkamp’s Acoustic Ecology.33 In addition to taking listening as their point of departure, these are also composition methodologies that embrace the inclusion of diverse musical abilities and knowledge. Applying composition techniques that emphasize listening as a site of creation and critical engagement also afforded an artistic research methodology capable of generating rich ethnographic data that included recordings of discussions and interviews with the ensemble. Recordings of the ensemble’s music and its performance captured during the online workshops also generated important ethnographic data that is analyzed for this article. The online workshops within which Elefantöra and I worked together to create and perform music enabled us to engage critically with the materialities and affordances of Zoom, generating critical reflection on the relationships between ourselves as hearing subjects, the sound we generated, and the sound technologies we were using.

Workshop 1: Choose a Place

Before the first online workshop the Elefantöra musicians were asked to prepare the score for Choose a Place.

Choose a Place (2020)34

  1. Choose a place that is important to you.

  2. Listen to where you are.

  3. Record a sound from that place.

  4. The sound should be the length of a breath [exhale].

During the workshop the musicians were invited to play the sound they had recorded for this score and to reflect on the sound’s resonance for them and their work with Elefantöra. During this exercise consensus emerged among the musicians that Elefantöra was important because it offered a “safe space” to explore musical composition and performance.35 There was also agreement among the musicians that an ethos of inclusivity was central to the possibilities that Elefantöra offered as a “safe space.” Musician Voice One36 stated:

For me Elefantöra is a safe place to play with music and not be judged, to be able to create without knowing how it’s going to sound, without controlling yourself […] playing with other people in a relaxed way is really important for me.37

Musician Guitar then added:

[Elefantöra is] important to me because I really like that it’s an inkluderande [inclusive] ensemble […] I really feel comfortable working with you guys, I’ve tried to work with music in a lot of different projects before, but [in this project] I can be myself, and it’s very safe.38

It was significant that during the Choose a Place exercise all members of the ensemble emphasized inclusivity in terms of the diverse musical knowledges and musical abilities that Elefantöra accommodates and the safe space that this musical inclusivity generates. Musician Voice Two particularly emphasized the inclusion of non-traditional musical knowledge:

I think the most important experience was starting to work with Elefantöra […] and not actually knowing anything about music traditionally speaking, so when we were about to start I thought how is this going to work out, I don’t know anything about music, but when we started working it turned out quite beautifully.39

The questions addressed to the musicians during the workshops were intentionally open, allowing the musicians to address disability if they chose but without prescribing disability as a subject for discussion. Despite the open nature of the prompts, none of the ensemble’s musicians chose to define Elefantöra’s inclusivity in terms of disability, emphasizing instead the creative potential in collaborations between people with different musical knowledges and musical abilities.

In an interview after the first workshop I asked the musician who played guitar for Listening with Elephant Ears to elaborate more on how Elefantöra uses sound technology, and how this is significant for the inclusivity enacted by the ensemble. The guitarist responded:

It’s like an interesting way to use technology [in Elefantöra], not just to use technology because it’s like cool. [But to] also use it to fulfill a function, like to make it useable.40

This reference to reappropriating technology to make it “useable” captures well Elefantöra’s pragmatic approach to sound technology and the way the group uses sound technology to facilitate collaborations between musicians from different backgrounds. The ways in which Elefantöra makes sound technology useable and the transformative potential in this is defined by Voegelin as an operational use of sound technology. Operational reappropriations of a technology challenge the regulation that polices the correct use of an instrument. In a survey of the musicians conducted after the final performance of Listening with Elephant Ears I asked them again to reflect on how they use sound technology in the ensemble. Musician Piano answered:

I think that the unusual thing about the way [Elefantöra is] working with music technology is the meeting between all musicians and traditional instruments. We are an ensemble based on that music technology, which in turn means that you can create an incredible amount together.41

My experience of composing together with Elefantöra and observing their collaborations with traditional orchestras and chamber music ensembles in other projects demonstrates clearly the importance of those processes through which Elefantöra operationalizes music technology and makes it usable.42 The operationalization of music technology, and the group’s disregard for its proper use, enables the ensemble to collaborate with a vast diversity of different musicians. The operationalization of sound technology was then central to the methodology applied by the ensemble and me when claiming Zoom as a useful music technology with which to create Listening with Elephant Ears.

Workshop 2, Part 1: Found Sound Journey

For the second online workshop with Elefantöra the musicians were invited to prepare and perform a Found Sound Journey.

Found Sound Journey (2020)43

  1. Make a journey that you often do.

  2. Record three sounds from that journey.

  3. Describe the journey in as few words as possible.

The Found Sound Journey references the acoustic ecology and soundscape methodologies of Hildegard Westerkamp, who engages soundwalking and soundscape composition as an act of ecological activism.44 Like the soundwalk methodology defined by Westerkamp, a Found Sound Journey aims to encourage composers and performers to reflect critically on their sound environment and their relationship with it.45 Performing their Found Sound Journey, the musicians reflected on the meanings of the sounds they recorded. For the performance of Listening with Elephant Ears we used only the sounds from one Found Sound Journey, those sounds recorded by the musician who contributed piano to the final piece.

The isolation and restrictions of access that the musicians had experienced during the pandemic was a recurring theme in the Found Sound Journeys recorded by all the musicians. Reflecting on the sounds they recorded, Musician Piano explains:

I think that it’s about the pandemic, that you can’t travel so much now. I think that if it hadn’t been the pandemic these recordings would have been different, it might have been a much longer journey. But I think that this is the freedom I have now, this is what I can do. Drive out with my scooter […] so I thought that’s what I will do [record] from when I go out until I drive away. It’s this [journey] that means a lot because that’s how I get out at the moment.46

Included as part of the pre-recorded tape content that accompanied the live performance of Listening with Elephant Ears, the scrapes, clicks, bangs, and pings generated from this Found Sound Journey introduced important percussive elements into the composition, while the longer creak of the garage door contributed an evocative “scratch tone” similar to something one might hear from a firmly bowed string.

Figure 2.

Found Sound Journey (0:30). (Audio file.)

Figure 2.

Found Sound Journey (0:30). (Audio file.)

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Workshop 2, Part 2: Making Zoom Usable as a Music Technology

It was during the latter part of the second online workshop that Elefantöra and I started to explore the possibilities and limitations of Zoom as a music technology. Following a tightening of COVID restrictions in Sweden, the second workshop was conducted fully online, with myself and all of the musicians participating alone from our own homes.47 The iPads that the ensemble usually used as their main instruments did not interface easily with Zoom, so instead I asked each musician to choose an instrument that could be easily recorded on Zoom’s microphone input. One musician chose the piano, another the electric guitar, and two others chose to use their voices.

During this second workshop the musicians were prompted to perform a series of improvisation exercises with voice, guitar, and piano that explored Zoom’s listening experience and the feasibility of reappropriating Zoom’s digital distortions as a musical element within Listening with Elephant Ears. This desire to creatively reappropriate Zoom as a usable music technology is also evident in the work of other experimental musicians working during the pandemic, including the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra (GIO). Like my work with Elefantöra, the GIO recognizes Zoom as an active contributor within their improvisations and describe how the “unexpected quirks of Zoom, like a bad WiFi connection, felt just like the surprises that happen during an in-person improvisation.”48

Although generating interesting results musically, Zoom also created challenges for the musicians. The noise suppression that is applied by Zoom prioritizes the human voice, drastically attenuating other sounds that Zoom categorizes as unnecessary noise. Musician Voice One described how this audio processing left her feeling isolated from the other musicians, reflecting that it “made me really nervous, [that] I couldn’t hear the other musicians as well as I think they could hear me.”49 The musician playing guitar also reflected that they felt a hesitancy in their playing because Zoom’s noise suppression algorithms “cut off” some notes prematurely, making it difficult to hear the other musicians.50

Workshop 3: Rehearsing and Recording Pre-Recorded Tape Content

The third workshop was also conducted fully online, with each participant alone in their own homes using only Zoom to communicate. During this workshop Zoom was used to rehearse and record the Listening with Elephant Ears written text score. The recordings that were made on Zoom during this third workshop were later edited and compiled, and used as part of the pre-recorded tape content that accompanied the live performance of the text score in Lund.

Listening with Elephant Ears (2021)51

Guitar and Piano

  1. Play the notes A#, F, D#, and G in any order, but do not play the same note consecutively.

  2. Play a single note and let it sustain until you can no longer hear it.

  3. Play your next note as soon as you can after the end of a note from another player/singer.


  1. Sing any note you can hear. Sustain the note to as near the end of your breath length as possible. Do not sing the same note consecutively.

  2. Sing your next note as soon as you can after the end of a note from another player/singer.

The instruction “Sing any note you can hear” in this text score references The Great Learning Paragraph 7 (1971) by Cornelius Cardew.52 As with Cardew’s text score, Listening with Elephant Ears creates a possibility for musicians with a diversity of musical knowledge and abilities to perform together. The text scores for The Great Learning Paragraph 7 and Listening with Elephant Ears both request that a vocalist sing a pitch they can hear, meaning they do not have to reproduce a specific or correct pitch. The choice of notes and how they are sung in a performance of The Great Learning Paragraph 7 is influenced in part by the acoustics of the performance space and its resonant frequencies.53 In the same way, the audio processing applied by Zoom and the quality of the listening experience that Zoom affords also influence the interpretation of the Listening with Elephant Ears text score by the musicians performing it. During this third workshop Musician Voice One reflected:

My voice really blocks out guitar for me, as soon as I hear his note and I start singing it’s gone, and then I sometimes stop, and then it starts again so I pick it up again […] the piano is easier to hear [than the guitar] but it sometimes wasn’t easy to know which [note] to pick up [from where to take my pitch], and sometimes I landed somewhere in the middle [between two pitches; laughs].54

The Listening with Elephant Ears text score also instructs musicians to “sing your next note as soon as you can after the end of a note from another player/singer.” While recording performances of the Listening with Elephant Ears text score during workshop 3, Zoom’s noise suppression algorithms often “cut off” a note before the note’s natural sustain had decayed, meaning that Zoom and its audio processing became itself an active agent directing the performance of the musicians, directly influencing the musicians’ choices about when to sing or play their next note. During workshop 3 Musician Voice One reflected: “Sometimes I think that I heard it [a note] ending way before it ended.”55 After listening back to their performance recorded on Zoom, Musician Voice One also described how “it felt like the Zoom recording was recorded from my perspective; I could hear the shakiness in my voice.”56

Musician Voice One connected here the distinctive sound of their voice recorded on Zoom with their experience of the distinctive listening subject position afforded by Zoom during the workshops. The specific listening subject position that Zoom afforded during the workshop was also addressed by Musician Piano, who reflected that the interference and distortions introduced by Zoom demanded from them a more attentive and concentrated listening: “It was funny that you felt like you listened more to the others. […] It needed lots of concentration, it felt like it needed more focus to listen [over Zoom], if you know what I mean.”57

Figure 3.

Listening with Elephant Ears (01:23). Extract from isolated Zoom recording from workshop 3. (Audio file.)

Figure 3.

Listening with Elephant Ears (01:23). Extract from isolated Zoom recording from workshop 3. (Audio file.)

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These reflections from the musicians indicate that the noise that was removed by Zoom’s noise suppression algorithms and the dissonance that was introduced by Zoom’s perceptual coding were significant in shaping the listening subject positions that Zoom afforded.

After the third online workshop, I chose a single and complete performance of the score by the ensemble and combined it with the audio from the Found Sound Journey to create the pre-recorded tape content for the live performance of Listening with Elephant Ears. In the pre-recorded material, one hears particularly the distinctive timbres generated by Zoom’s perceptual coding and noise suppression algorithms. At 34 seconds on the pre-recorded tape (Fig. 4) one hears the sustain of a piano note cut short as Zoom attenuates the piano to make space for another sound. On the layered voices at 01:00 minute and then again at 02:28 one hears the distortion that accrues as the voices are processed by Zoom. At 02:38 one also hears the digital audio distortions that Zoom contributes to the guitar. As the voices and instrumentation becomes sparser toward the end of the pre-recorded tape content, at 06:04 one hears audio dropouts and glitching as Zoom’s audio encoding struggles to capture the voice and piano. The significant glitching also heard at 6:10 and 06:37 brings the composition to a close.

Figure 4.

Pre-recorded tape content, mixed by Gusten Aldenklint (06:52). (Audio file.)

Figure 4.

Pre-recorded tape content, mixed by Gusten Aldenklint (06:52). (Audio file.)

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For the live performance of Listening with Elephant Ears, the musicians performed the same text score that they rehearsed and recorded over Zoom during the third online workshop. All the musicians performed the score together in the same room for an audience. The pre-recorded tape content that combined the Zoom recording of the score and the Found Sound Journey provided an accompaniment to the musicians’ live performance, with both pre-recorded tape material and live instruments mixed for an audience in quadraphonic surround sound. For the live performance, the musicians performing the text score monitored the pre-recorded tape content on earpieces so that they could synchronize their live performance with the pre-recorded content. The text score for Listening with Elephant Ears demands that performers play the “next note as soon as you can after the end of a note from another player/singer.” The earpieces used by the musicians enabled them to hear clearly both the pre-recorded tape content and the performances of the other live musicians. This technical solution ensured the integration of tape content and live performance, enabling live musicians to take the cues that the score demands from either the pre-recorded tape or the other live performers. A live recording made during the rehearsal in Gothenburg captures well the interpretation and performance of Listening with Elephant Ears by Elefantöra and guest vocalist Zofia Åsenlöf.58

During the rehearsal I had the opportunity to sit in for one of the musicians and experience the composition as a performer. Before the rehearsal I had been concerned that it would be difficult for the musicians to listen and respond to both the pre-recorded tape content and the other live musicians as directed by the score. As I played together with the rest of the ensemble, I realized that it was quite possible, even enjoyable, to switch one’s listening attention between the recording that I heard in my earpiece and the notes I heard from the other live instruments played around me. The pre-recorded tape content that I heard in my earpiece providing a reassuring anchor to which I could always return if I became disorientated. Listening on an in-ear monitor, one was particularly aware of the gradual diminuendo that occurs during the final part of the pre-recorded tape content. Following a drop in intensity of the pre-recorded material, I perceived a calmness and then inertia in my own performance and the performance of other musicians around me. Although there was no conductor keeping the performance to its correct duration during these rehearsals, the performers consistently concluded their performance in synchrony with the pre-recorded tape content, indicating that they, like me, were engaging with and responding to the recording that they heard in their earpieces.

Figure 5.

Listening with Elephant Ears (06:58). Additional vocal performance by Zofia Åsenlöf; recording by Linus Andersson. (Audio file.)

Figure 5.

Listening with Elephant Ears (06:58). Additional vocal performance by Zofia Åsenlöf; recording by Linus Andersson. (Audio file.)

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The quadraphonic surround-sound mix for the live performance of Listening with Elephant Ears aimed to enhance the immersive quality of the audience’s listening experience and emphasize the potential of the performance to convene a listening public.59 For this live performance the percussive clicks, pings, bangs, and scrapes recorded as a Found Sound Journey and included on the pre-recorded tape are mixed to the far left and right of the sound field, framing the pre-recorded piano, voice, and guitar that the audience hears mixed with the piano, voice, and guitar played live from the stage by the ensemble. In the live performance of Listening with Elephant Ears the sung voices that are a prominent element within the pre-recorded tape content are individually positioned within the quadraphonic sound field by the front of house sound engineer so that the layered voices appear to come from different points around the audience.60 A long diffusion reverberation effect is also applied to the pre-recorded tape content and then mixed to the rear speakers behind the seated audience so that listeners experience the illusion of most sounds coming from the front but then continuing behind the audience.61 The ensemble also enhanced the immersive listening experience in their performance by using a Make Noise modular synthesizer to apply 360-degree panning effects across the quadraphonic mix.62

After the performance of Listening with Elephant Ears I invited members of the ensemble to reflect once again on what they had hoped to achieve with the performance and what they would like to achieve together with Elefantöra in the future. Musician Piano stated:

I would like Elefantöra to create good music that others can enjoy, make everybody feel something when they listen to us, feel community. Maybe they can remember something or do something that they never did [before], after listening to us.63

This reflection captures well the emphasis that Elefantöra places on artistic quality and their desire to engage an audience. The comment also suggests a desire to create communal listening experiences that can effect change. Hannah Arendt’s definition of political action that manifests in public appearance provides a useful theoretical framework within which to consider the transformative potential of the plural and intersubjective listening public that is enacted in the performance of Listening with Elephant Ears. Theories of the public sphere provide a useful complement to Arendt’s theories of political action when considering the communal listening experience enacted by the piece.64 Kate Lacey applies public sphere theory specifically to practices of listening, recognizing the distinctive political agency of a “listening public.”65 Acknowledging the performative nature of both appearance and a public sphere, Judith Butler addresses the intersection between Arendt’s politics of appearance and the action of listening publics.66 Butler makes it clear that action not only appears in the public sphere, but that action also constitutes a public sphere. Butler’s interpretation of Arendt’s notion of political action importantly moves beyond the semantics of speech and written text to embrace the materiality and affect of action and appearance, with Butler arguing that

Arendt’s references to “the right to appear” do not refer only to the right to speak or write or use language. They make implicit reference to a body that has the freedom to appear in public settings, a body that can freely appear in a court of law or a public square or in a public agency or educational institution.67

The emphasis that Butler places on the body as it constitutes a public and as it appears within a public sphere suggests that the ability of a body to appear and act can both alter technology and be regulated by technology. For Arendt these mechanisms through which modern society regulates citizens is integral to its enforcing of normative behavior: “Society expects from each of its members a certain kind of behavior, imposing innumerable and various rules, all of which tend to ‘normalize’ its members, to make them behave.”68

Butler’s emphasis on performance and the body makes her reading of Arendt specifically relevant in application to exclusions of ableism. A recognition that bodies both constitute and are constituted in the appearance and action of a listening public resonates in important ways with the concept of dismedia and its recognition that the relationship between sound technology and disability are co-constitutive.69

Engaging what Voegelin terms a sonic sensibility is important here for recognizing the materiality of sound and the significance of its affect in the constitution of listening publics and the appearance of listening subjects.70 Reflecting on her own experience of relentless Zoom calls during the COVID-19 pandemic, Voegelin describes how she hopes to experience in sound and listening a reciprocity, the potential to “perform the generosity and intimacy of touch,” a quality that she finds mostly absent within online communication that privileges the visual.71 Voegelin observes, however, that Zoom’s perceptual coding and noise supersession algorithms, and the normative listening subjectivities they afford, diminish the possibilities for the physical reciprocity of engagement she desires. Zoom and other online platforms, Voegelin states, “reject sound’s diffuse materiality, and opt for semantic clarity instead.”72 While Zoom’s software developers emphasize the efficiency and productivity of Zoom’s semantic clarity, Voegelin laments that during Zoom meetings “all I hear is the misery of a voice without a body, unable to touch or be touched.”73 The perceptual coding and noise suppression algorithms that Zoom applies to achieve efficiency and semantic clarity both cleanse voice of its grain and introduce dissonance. Listening cleansed by Zoom of non-semantic data was experienced by Musician Voice One as an uncomfortable and isolated listening subject position, while Musician Piano described a concentrated listening subject position that they adopted as a strategy to listen through Zoom’s dissonance. In emphasizing the quality of voice and dissonance that Zoom generates, Listening with Elephant Ears makes apparent at an aesthetic register the listening subject positions afforded by Zoom.

In the performance of Listening with Elephant Ears, the potential to constitute a listening public capable of contesting exclusions of ableism remains difficult to quantify. Elefantöra members prefer not to be defined as musicians in terms of disability, meaning that the representation of and reference to disability within Listening with Elephant Ears remains intentionally ambiguous. One site, however, at which Listening with Elephant Ears does explicitly contest ableism is in its rejection of best practice and rehabilitative approaches to music.74 Practices of listening and sound recording, like musical performance, are subject to the policing of best practice and the rehabilitative approaches best practice demands.75 Sterne describes how the standardization of perceptual coding algorithms, like those applied by Zoom, aspire to model a normative listening subject, using listening tests devised and carried out by expert listeners to ensure that sound-processing algorithms digitally code practices of normative listening.76 Acknowledging the co-constitutive nature of dismedia, the algorithmic coding of normative listening subjects is then a site at which ableist exclusions find expression in sound and at which ableist exclusion can continue to be perpetuated through ideologies of listening best practice.

Listening with Elephant Ears challenges the ableism of best practice and its rehabilitative approaches because its creation and performance do not demand that musicians learn the correct way to play a musical instrument or learn the correct way to listen. The challenging of best practice in Listening with Elephant Ears being audible in its careful appreciation of Zoom’s digital distortions and interference, and in the care through which the tentative and shaky performances afforded by Zoom, are also appreciated—these being aesthetic musical elements that would usually be denigrated according to best practice in performance and sound recording. A politics of aesthetics advanced by Jacques Rancière provides another useful theoretical perspective from which to consider the political significance of Listening with Elephant Ears.77 The sounds and performances in the piece that contest a normative best practice are understood in this work to manifest what Rancière terms dissensus.78 Dissensus for Rancière is the essence of politics and exists in opposition to what he defines as the police, an order of governance that regulates how one can perceive the world and be perceived by others; what is sensed or “sensible.”79 Dissensus for Rancière is also a politics of appearance that exists in the partition or redistribution of the sensible, a disclosure that can make apparent what the regulation of the police order seeks to obscure. Applying an evocative sonic metaphor, Rancière describes dissensus as an act of disclosure that “makes understood as discourse what was once only heard as noise.”80 Understanding noise, non-semantic sound, as the part excluded by a police order resonates strongly with Voegelin’s critique of Zoom’s drive for semantic clarity.81 In defining a mode of listening that makes noise meaningful as a political action, both Rancière and Voegelin offer theoretical perspectives from which to consider the significance of the noise generated in Listening with Elephant Ears and the potential in its appearance or disclosure to challenge best practice and rehabilitative approaches to music and listening.

Creating Listening with Elephant Ears with the Elefantöra ensemble was a joyful and generative way to challenge exclusions at the intersection of musical virtuosity and ableism. This work embraced relational research and performance methodologies that refuse strict binary divisions between virtuoso/non-virtuoso, and non-disabled/disabled. Listening provided a generative methodology in this research because listening is itself relational, existing in the in-between of hearing subject, sound, and sound technology. Privileging listening as a methodology in this research afforded an engagement with theories of dismedia that interrogated the co-constitutive relationship between disability and sound technology. Creating and performing new work by reappropriating Zoom and operationalizing it as a music technology challenged conventions of best practice in music and listening that perpetuate rehabilitative ideologies and their attendant ableist exclusions. The public performance of Listening with Elephant Ears makes apparent, in Arendtian terms, an intersubjective plurality within its listening public that is capable of challenging normative conventions of expert listening and musical virtuosity. Manifesting the aesthetic experience of Zoom’s perceptual coding and noise suppression algorithms, Listening with Elephant Ears enacts dissensus in Rancierian terms, disclosing the normative listening subjectivities policed by Zoom. Zoom, Elefantöra, and Listening with Elephant Ears are addressed in this research as a matter of care. Care is generative in this research because it does not approach exclusions of ableism and exclusions of musical virtuosity as binary struggles for domination, making care an approach that avoids perpetuating these binaries. As an act of care, Listening with Elephant Ears embraces the relationality and the sonic sensibilities of sound and listening by exploring the possibilities in sound to re-affect objects and people, generating alternatives and the opportunity to explore new sonic possible worlds.


Hugo Boothby et al., Listening with Elephant Ears, performance at Lund Contemporary Music Festival, Sweden, October 12, 2021. Share Music and Performing Arts, (accessed December 8, 2022).


Elefantöra has collaborated with a wide variety of professional musicians and orchestras, including the Musica Vitae Chamber Orchestra (2020) and the Change Music Festival Orchestra with solo violinist Malin Broman, performing Jesper Nordin’s Retrospective III (2021). Elefantöra has also collaborated with the Gageego contemporary chamber music ensemble (2019, 2021, and 2022) and the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra Strings (2022). The group also performs new work commissioned especially for the ensemble, including Karen Power’s Machine Chatter (2018), Rosanna Gunnarsson’s ALTER: (2021), and Hans Ek’s Beats, Sounds and Strings (2022).


Hannah Edgar, “The Six-Hour Experimental Opera Happening on Zoom,” Chicago Magazine, April 6, 2020, (accessed August 8, 2022); Vanessa Ague, “Experimental Musicians Turn to Multimedia Art During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” The Road to Sound (website), June 25, 2021, (accessed August 8, 2021).


Perceptual coding is designed to drastically reduce the amount of data required to encode sound. Working on the assumption that it is impossible for a hearing subject to perceive all sound data reaching their ears, Zoom’s perceptual coding algorithm removes sound that a normative hearing subject is unlikely to hear or want to hear. Perceptual coding applied by Zoom aims to increase efficiency but retain intelligibility; the audio processing that this requires introduces unpredictable dissonance into the encoded audio.


Salomé Voegelin, “The Grain of Online Voices,” Norient (website), 2021, (accessed June 18, 2021); Chris Timson, “How to Make Zoom Work for Music. Recording Audio on Zoom: Set-up & Operation Tips,” Sound on Sound (website), 2020,


Maria Puig de la Bellacasa, “Matters of Care in Technoscience: Assembling Neglected Things,” Social Studies of Science 41, no. 1 (2011).


Aesthetics is defined in this article as perception by the senses, aisthesis, rather than the subjective judgment of beauty. Mustafa Dikeç, Space, Politics and Aesthetics, Taking on the Political (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2015), 1.


Salomé Voegelin, Sonic Possible Worlds: Hearing the Continuum of Sound (New York: Bloomsbury Publishing USA, 2014), 2–3.


Voegelin, Sonic Possible Worlds, 2–3.


Zofia Åsenlöf, The Inclusive Co-creative Ensemble: A Close Up Study of ShareMusic’s Methodological Development Work with Inclusive Ensembles, Focused on the Methods of Composer Karen Power (Gränna, Sweden: ShareMusic and Performing Arts, 2022), 69, (accessed December 8, 2022).


Pauline Oliveros, Deep Listening: A Composer’s Sound Practice (Lincoln, NE: iUniverse, 2005).


Åsenlöf, The Inclusive Co-creative Ensemble,” 37. Emphasis is my own.


Salomé Voegelin, “Technologies of Sound Art: Techno-Cultural Occurrences,” in The Routledge Companion to Sound Studies, ed. Michael Bull (Milton, UK: Taylor & Francis Group, 2019), 271.


Regulation refers here specifically to the “regulation of cultural life in modern societies” defined by Paul du Gay in his analysis of the Sony Walkman and its listening practices. Applying a framework established by the anthropologist Mary Douglas, du Gay argues that the unconventional use of a sound technology positions it as “matter out of place,” a threat to cultural purity that demands regulation to maintain cultural boundaries. Paul du Gay et al., Doing Cultural Studies: The Story of the Sony Walkman (London: Sage, Open University, 1997), xxxii, 111. Warren N. Churchill and Cara Faith Bernard, “Disability and the Ideology of Ability: How Might Music Educators Respond?” Philosophy of Music Education Review 28, no. 1 (2020): 34.


Voegelin, “Technologies of Sound Art,” 203.


Samplr is a music production application based on hardware digital samplers. It enables a user to record existing sound and then manipulate the digital renderings of that sound in playback. Samplr is a low-cost technology designed as a “sketch pad” to develop ideas rather than an instrument for performance.


The designation normative as it is applied in this article describes a disposition that assumes optimal social structures or relationships and an assumption of the benefits of universalizing these values. Normative as it is applied here does not describe values that are statistically most common.


Jonathan Sterne, MP3: The Meaning of a Format (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2012), 2, 26, 69–70.


Elizabeth Ellcessor, Mack Hagood, and Bill Kirkpatrick, “Introduction: Toward a Disability Media Studies,” in Disability Media Studies, ed. Elizabeth Ellcessor and Bill Kirkpatrick (New York: NYU Press, 2017); Mara Mills and Jonathan Sterne, “Dismediation—Three Proposals, Six Tactics,” in Disability Media Studies.


Mills and Sterne, “Dismediation” 366.


Mills and Sterne, “Dismediation,” 371; Mara Mills, “Deafening: Noise and the Engineering of Communication in the Telephone System,” Grey Room 43 (2011); Sterne, MP3: The Meaning of a Format.


Interview with Musician Voice One and Musician Piano, January 19, 2021.


Eve Tuck, “Suspending Damage: A Letter to Communities,” Harvard Educational Review 79, no. 3 (2009).


Stella Young, “I’m Not Your Inspiration, Thank You Very Much,” (TED Talk), 2014,


In its internal and external communication, ShareMusic is consistent in using the term funktionsnedsättning (disability). This term recognizes that assuming normative abilities can generate Funktionshinder (ability obstacles) that restrict a disabled person. Funktionsnedsättning is the legally recognized term for disability in Sweden. “Riktlinjer språkbruk ShareMusic & Performing Arts Engelska och svenska”(ShareMusic and Performing Arts, 2020), “Socialstyrelsens termbank - funktionshinder,” (accessed September 6, 2022); “Socialstyrelsens termbank -funktionsnedsättning,” (ShareMusic and Performing Arts, 2020), (accessed September 7, 2022).


Two of the musicians who contributed to the composition of Listening with Elephant Ears identify as disabled.


Churchill and Bernard, “Disability and the Ideology of Ability,” 34.


Churchill and Bernard, “Disability and the Ideology of Ability,” 34.


Churchill and Bernard, “Disability and the Ideology of Ability,” 35.


Puig de la Bellacasa, “Matters of Care in Technoscience.”


Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory, Clarendon Lectures in Management Studies (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007).


Puig de la Bellacasa, “Matters of Care in Technoscience,” 97.


Pauline Oliveros, Sonic Meditations (Baltimore, MD: Smith Publications, 1974); Hildegard Westerkamp, “Linking Soundscape Composition and Acoustic Ecology,” Organised Sound 7, no. 1 (2002).


Hugo Boothby, Choose a Place, 2020.


Workshop 1, October 28, 2020.


To anonymize the participants in this project the musicians are named according to the instrument that they perform in the Listening with Elephant Ears composition. These include Musician Voice One, Musician Voice Two, Musician Guitar, and Musician Piano.


Workshop 1, October 28, 2020.


Workshop 1, October 28, 2020.


Workshop 1, October 28, 2020.


Interview with Musician Guitar, December 11, 2020.


Survey answered by Musician Piano, March 29, 2022.


The collaborations I observed include projects with the Musica Vitae Chamber Orchestra (2020), the Gageego contemporary chamber music ensemble (2021), and the performance of Hans Ek’s Beats, Sounds and Strings, together with the Helsingborg Symphony Orchestra Strings and Gageego (2022).


Hugo Boothby, Found Sound Journey, 2020).


Westerkamp, “Linking Soundscape Composition and Acoustic Ecology.”


The designation Found Sound Journey is applied here specifically to avoid the ableist assumptions of soundwalking as a compositional practice.


Workshop 2, November 25, 2020. Musician Piano translation from original Swedish, “jag tror att det handla om pandemin att man kan inte göra så mycket resa nu. Jag tror hade inte varit pandemin hade de här inspelningar sett annorlunda ut, detta kan har varit en stor resa. Men jag tänker att det är den friheten som jag har nu, som jag kan göra. Kör ut med min minicrosser […] så tänkte jag att gör jag det, från det att jag gå ut till att jag kör iväg liksom, det är det som betyder väldigt mycket för det så jag kommer ut idag.”


The first online workshop was conducted with the ensemble musicians together at Element Studios in Gothenburg while I and a ShareMusic producer, unable to travel to Gothenburg due to COVID restrictions, were in Malmö leading the workshop via Zoom.


Ague, “Experimental Musicians Turn to Multimedia Art During the COVID-19 Pandemic.”


Interview with Musician Voice One and Musician Piano, January 19, 2021.


Workshop 2, Musician Guitar, November 25, 2020.


Gusten Aldenklint, Hugo Boothby, Liv Dahlstrand, Hannes Glavå, Ewe Larsson, and Joel Mansour, Listening with Elephant Ears, 2021.


Cornelius Cardew, The Great Learning, Paragraph 7, 1971.


Brian Eno, “Generating and Organizing Variety in the Arts,” in Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music, ed. Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner (London: Bloomsbury, 2019 [1976]).


Workshop 3, Musician Voice One, December 7, 2020.


Workshop 3, Musician Voice One, December 7, 2020.


Interview with Musician Voice One and Musician Piano, January 19, 2021.


Workshop 3, Musician Piano, December 7, 2020.


Two of the Elefantöra musicians who had contributed to the online workshops and Zoom recordings were not available for the live performance of Listening with Elephant Ears, so ShareMusic and I invited the voice artist Zofia Åsenlöf to join the rehearsal in Gothenburg and contribute to the performance in Lund.


Kate Lacey, Listening Publics: The Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age (Cambridge: Polity, 2013).


Linus Andersson,, personal correspondence, November 17, 2021.


Andersson, November 17, 2021.


Andersson, November 17, 2021.


Survey answered by Musician Piano, March 29, 2022.


Susan Bickford, The Dissonance of Democracy: Listening, Conflict, and Citizenship (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1996); Hannah Arendt, The Human Condition, 2nd ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998 [1958]); Nancy Fraser, “Transnationalizing the Public Sphere: On the Legitimacy and Efficacy of Public Opinion in a Post-Westphalian World,” Theory, Culture & Society 24, no. 4 (2007); Jürgen Habermas, The Public Sphere: An Encyclopedia Article (Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2020); Kate Lacey, Listening Publics: The Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age (Cambridge: Polity, 2013).


Kate Lacey, “Listening in the Digital Age,” in Radio’s New Wave: Global Sound in the Digital Era, ed. Jason Loviglio and Michele Hilmes (Oxon, UK: Routledge, 2013), 13.


Martin Seeliger and Paula-Irene Villa Braslavsky, “Reflections on the Contemporary Public Sphere: An Interview with Judith Butler,” Theory, Culture & Society 39, no 4 (2022).


Seeliger and Villa Braslavsky, “Reflections on the Contemporary Public Sphere,” 5.


Arendt, The Human Condition, 40.


Mills and Sterne, “Dismediation—Three Proposals, Six Tactics,” 366.


Voegelin, Sonic Possible Worlds, 178. In defining what she terms ubiquitous listening, Anahid Kassabian describes how sound acting on the body “produces affective responses, bodily events that ultimately lead in part to what we call emotion.” Anahid Kassabian, “Ubiquitous Listening,” in Audio Culture: Readings in Modern Music, ed. Christoph Cox and Daniel Warner (London: Bloomsbury, 2019 [2013]), 136.


Voegelin, “The Grain of Online Voices.”


Voegelin, “The Grain of Online Voices.”


Voegelin, “The Grain of Online Voices.”


Churchill and Bernard, “Disability and the Ideology of Ability,” 34.


Adam Tinkle, “Sound Pedagogy: Teaching Listening since Cage,” Organised Sound 20, no. 2 (2015); Marc Perlman, “Golden Ears and Meter Readers: The Contest for Epistemic Authority in Audiophilia,” Social Studies of Science 34, no. 5 (2004).


Sterne, MP3: The Meaning of a Format, 25–26.


Jacques Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics: The Distribution of the Sensible, trans. Gabriel Rockhill (London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2004).


Jacques Rancière, Davide Panagia, and Rachel Bowlby, “Ten Theses on Politics,” Theory & Event 5, no. 3 (2001),


Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics.


Jacques Rancière, Disagreement: Politics and Philosophy (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1999).


Voegelin, “The Grain of Online Voices.”