'Primacy of the Ear'—But Whose Ear?

Posted by Logan Myers on


Sixty years on from Pierre Schaeffers call for primacy of the ear(primauté de loreille), this article asks an ostensibly simple question: whose ear/aural perception is being referred to when we talk of and compose under this guiding principle? Is there a tacit preselected audiometric norm or even a pair of golden ears, at its core? The article will problematise the uncompromising modernist notion espoused by Babbitt of a suitably equipped receptor(Babbitt 1958), and posit examples of well-known composers whose hearing markedly diverged from the otologically normal, an acoustics standard from which A-weighted decibels is predicated (ISO 226:2003). In conclusion the concept of auraldiverse hearing is proposed and creative strategies that eschew or problematise auraltypical archetypes in sonic arts practice and theory wherever they may lie are encouraged.