Sound Design for the Contemporary Novel: Applying the Poetics of John Cage to Digital Prose Fiction
University of Roehampton, London
Year of enrolment: 2014 -
Supervisor: Professor Peter Jaeger
The purpose of my research will be to explore the relationship between sound and the written word. I will address this topic through a practice-based creative writing project, supported by a critical thesis. I am interested in the idea of sound as subtext in the novel, and my practice will aim to develop a form of fiction that can encourage the reader to actively listen as they read. The creative work will take the form of a digital text – accessible through a simple software application or as an Enhanced Ebook – and will feature an aural element, built up in layers of long sound loops which will overlap, repeat, and combine, depending on what page is being read.
My approach will offer a departure from existing forms of novels with ‘soundtracks’ as I intend to reject the notion of a straightforward musical accompaniment to the text. Instead, my practice will be informed by John Cage’s poetics, specifically his use of spatial notation and silence, as well as other ‘performative’ aspects of his writings. I will also take inspiration from Cage’s collaborations with Merce Cunningham, and in particular, from Cage’s use of field recording in Roaratorio, when sounds recorded from the locations mentioned in Finnegans Wake were used to frame his interpretation of Joyce’s work.