Sound Art


This art form has blurry boundaries, merging with music at one end of the spectrum, in the form of musique concrete, electroacoustic composition and so on, and with visual arts, in the form of art film, video and installation. It is most often encountered as installations. Nowadays, many visual artists have taken to creating sound art.

Alan Licht (2009) discusses the various definitions of sound art that have been employed, while noting that museum exhibitions have left the genre’s parameters seemingly open-ended. This is partly due to the problems faced in finding a ‘frame’ for sound in an exhibition setting. He also explores the roots of the form’s aesthetics, including the disjunction between sound and image afforded by the invention of recording, musique concrete, and spatialised composition through the centuries.

The relationships of sound art to art movements of the 1960s, such as Earthworks, ambient music, sound by visual artists, architecture, sound sculpture, surveillance, sound design and sound ecology, are important for contextualising its significance both to different disciplines within the arts and also sound’s place in contemporary society.

Examples of sound artists can be found in A History of Sound Art, arranged and composed by J Milo Taylor and mixed by Joel Cahen, the text version of which is available here:


Licht, A. (2009) ‘Sound art: Origins, development and ambiguities’, Organised Sound, 14(1), pp. 3–10. doi: 10.1017/S1355771809000028.