All posts tagged: sound studies

A Brief Story of the Amplified Nation

In this post, I will sketch the roles of sound reproduction technology within Indonesian cultural history in its process of “becoming” a nation.1 However, this is not an attempt to give all-embracing historical details. It is meant to be a short story of audible Indonesian cultural life. Loudspeakers and microphones are the central figures in this story. In Western tradition, sound has long been an object of anxiety. In order to envision an ideal state, controlling sounds is probably the main object of Plato’s anxiety.2 In Greek mythology, luring sounds of the sirens, inspiring voices of the muses, and unwanted reflected calls of Echo are the subjects of cultural imagination. In a biblical story, the powerful and earth-wrecking voice of God speaks to Moses. Meanwhile, in Islamic eschatology, the blowing trumpets of the Archangel Israfeel are believed to end the world. In Indonesian tradition, cursing words coming from a mother’s mouth have some powerful effects on her children. According to an oral legend from Sumatera Island, a boy, named Malin Kundang, turns into a stone …