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Themesicon: navigation pathOverview of Media Articon: navigation pathAudio
Audio Art
Golo Föllmer


In the last quarter of the nineteenth century, a comprehensive mechanization of music began which contained three radically new principles: the transmission, storage and synthesis of sound. These basic media technologies enabled new forms of designing and generating sound, changing the way in which music is heard. After being limited to a confined space and an apprehensible audience until well into the nineteenth century, at the turn of the century the scope of music expanded greatly. The gramophone and radio enabled it to become omnipresent, because from now on it was not confined either to a particular space or a particular time. Finally, the technical media even broke away from their hitherto reproductive function by producing their own sounds.

In the subsequent phase, which began in the mid-twentieth century, the basic technologies of electronic media were integrated into the creative techniques, now making it possible to process a variety of other subject matter. Intermedia connections, space as a musical determinant, media-specific forms of narration, detemporalization, virtualization and dehierarchization will be discussed by way of example.


In this second phase, ‹musical art› no longer meant just music. Artistic ways of dealing with sounds developed that burst the traditional understanding of music and called for the coining of a new term. While the term ‹sound art› has established itself for the general, non-media-specific expression of this phenomenon,[1] in the present context ‹audio art› stands for sound art for whose production technical media are either essential or necessary.

The main part of the present contribution introduces the development and the spectrum of audio art. This is followed by a comparison of the techniques and motifs of its use of media with those of the historic precursors of electric music media, mechanical musical instruments, allowing the clear identification of the radical change that separates audio art from the traditional understanding of music.


Radio made music and other acoustic cultural assets freely available. Its appearance occurred at a time in which a significant number of German composers were searching for a new berth for their music. Using terms

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