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Earth Sound Earth SignalEnergies and Earth Magnitude in the Arts$
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Douglas Kahn

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780520257801

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2014

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520257801.001.0001

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The Aeolian and Henry David Thoreau’s Sphere Music

The Aeolian and Henry David Thoreau’s Sphere Music

(p.41) 3 The Aeolian and Henry David Thoreau’s Sphere Music
Earth Sound Earth Signal

Douglas Kahn

University of California Press

Three categories of the Aeolian are explored: naturally occurring Aeolian, instruments built for the purpose, and the Aeolian heard in telegraph lines and poles. That all three can produce the same sound suggests that there is no strict distinction between nature and technology or among classes of technology. Eduard Hanslick’s rejection of the idea that the sounds of nature could be considered music is contrasted to Henry David Thoreau’s embrace of the sounds of nature generally and the telegraphic Aeolian specifically. The relationship of the telegraphic Aeolian to the Deep Cut, the destructive excavation through which flowed the railroad and telegraph lines, is examined, as is Thoreau’s concept of sphere music.

Keywords:   Aeolian, music and nature, nature sounds, Henry David Thoreau, sphere music, telegraphic Aeolian, Eduard, Hanslick, telegraph history

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