The expression “speak out” in Chinese is fā shēng, which literally means “to produce sound”. It often has a vital social component, but at the same time emphasizes an immediate choice and agency. While Michel Chion interprets sound as a cognitive act, “to produce sound” is more of a concrete social practice, one that creates a spark. te’s second issue takes inspiration from recent events and debates reverberating all around us, and the 10 pieces in this issue investigate the transformative points of contact where sound, language and action intersect. Together, the contributors discuss this abstract and ubiquitous medium, creating an album of diverse and dialogical tracks. The appeal of sound lies in its improvisation, but it remains mysterious due to the various roles that it has played historically and in modern society, as well as its absence of physical form. How can we use words to describe sound? How does sound operate in different contexts? What does it mean to speak out? How does sound become a form of individual expression and what are its possibilities and limits? There are no correct answers to these questions, and finding an answer may no longer be relevant at this point. But this issue may offer some ways to navigate our current dilemmas. In Xenia Benivolski’s contribution to the issue, she considers British radio broadcasts during the Second World War. When the nightingale songbirds and cellist Beatrice Harrison’s ensemble played, this music composed between nature and humanity was so magical that the BBC used it to soothe the minds of listeners in the midst of war. And what’s more, nightingales have two distinct traits: they migrate with the seasons and they sing out in the dark.
Published in 2023