Ecology and Environmentalism in Contemporary Sound Art

Ecoacoustics: Ecology and Environmentalism in Contemporary Music and Sound Art

PhD Research Degree

Jono Gilmurray

Completed 2018

Recent years have seen a growing number of composers and sound artists actively addressing contemporary environmental concerns through their creative practice, forming a significant new movement of environmental, or 'ecoacoustic', music and sound art. In providing a cultural response to some of the most significant socio-political issues of modern times, this represents an important trend within the sonic arts, one which can only continue to grow as the issues it addresses increasingly affect the lives of people across the globe; however, it currently suffers from a dearth of academic research.

Locating itself primarily within the critical discourse surrounding the growing field of ecomusicology, my research will define, describe, and critically evaluate this significant new movement of ‘ecoacoustic’ music and sound art, taking an interdisciplinary approach to address the following core questions:

  • What makes a work ‘ecoacoustic’? In what sense can such works be said to be ‘environmental’ or ‘ecological’?
  • What is the historical, cultural, political and sociological context surrounding the development of ‘ecoacoustic’ music and sound art?
  • What different approaches, techniques and methodologies are adopted; what philosophical or socio-political meanings and messages do they have; and what do they hope to achieve?
  • Are ‘ecoacoustic’ sound works an appropriate and effective response to contemporary environmental concerns?
  • Do ‘ecoacoustic’ sound works achieve their objectives? Can they successfully function both as good art and an effective form of environmental activism? What can we conclude about the role and usefulness of the sonic arts as a cultural response to contemporary environmental issues?


A digital copy of this thesis is available from the UAL Research Online repository. A hard copy is also available at the LCC Library as a reference holding, visitors can arrange access to the Library by appointment.

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