‘Noise: The Political Economy of Music’ by Jacques Attali

Published by University of Minnesota Press in 1985. Download link updated on 19th January 2022.

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“Noise is a model of cultural historiography. . . . In its general theoretical argument on the relations of culture to economy, but also in its specialized concentration, Noise has much that is of importance to critical theory today.”

For Attali, music is not simply a reflection of culture, but a harbinger of change, an anticipatory abstraction of the shape of things to come. The book’s title refers specifically to the reception of musics that sonically rival normative social orders. Noise is Attali’s metaphor for a broad, historical vanguardism, for the radical soundscapes of the western continuum that express structurally the course of social development.


Jacques Attali is the author of numerous books, including Millennium: Winners and Losers in the Coming World Order and Labyrinth in Culture and Society.

Brian Massumi has translated works by Gilles Deleuze, Michel de Certeau, and Jean-François Lyotard.

Fredric Jameson is professor of literature at Duke University.

Susan McClary is professor of musicology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

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