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Time Matters

Soundings of Ecological Time in Contemporary Music and Sound Art


In The Natural Contract Michel Serres asks how humanity can ever address the ‘anguishing question’ of climate change as long as we don’t know how to conceive of the relations between time and weather; temps et temps. This essay aims to find ways in which, through music and sound art, we may be able to attune to temporalities that are less anthropocentric and more ecologically minded. In this investigative essay I will take a closer listen to four works that touch upon this theme of more-than-human time: Jennifer Walshe’s Time Time Time (2019), Jem Finer’s Longplayer (1999), Felix Hess’ Air Pressure Fluctuations (2001) and John Luther Adams’s The Place Where You Go to Listen (2004-2006). I aim to enquire how these works offer representations and sonifications of ecological notions of time through sound. Drawing on Elaine Gan’s essay The Time Travelers, as well as the vast time-scales of Timothy Morton’s hyperobject and Michel Serres’s ideas on nonlinear, percolating time, I will further frame the notion of ecological time. To explore the correlated question of how the sonic experience manages to render these more-than-human temporalities tangible, I will turn to sound studies by both the American philosopher Christoph Cox and the Swiss sonic theorist Salomé Voegelin.1

Keywords: Contemporary Music, Sound Art, Ecology, Time, Hyperobject

A few kilometres off the coast of Southampton lies the Isle of Wight, famous for the flower power festival that hosted stellar line-ups in the late 1960s, including Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix, and The Doors. Today the British island mainly appears to attract dino devotees and fossil fanatics. The beaches are excellent places to search for ancient bone remains and petrified paw prints. The slightly lazier among us can visit the Blackgang Chine theme park where Archie the Argentinosaurus is one of the absolute highlights.

Among the thousands of Isle visitors who submerged themselves in the curious hodgepodge of serious palaeontology and tourist kitsch in 2018 was the Irish composer, vocalist, and video artist Jennifer Walshe (1974). At Whitecliff Bay, she stood face to face with the high chalk cliffs where Mesozoic deposits (145 to 66 million years old) are crammed below Paleogene sediments (up to 23 million years old). It took Walshe an afternoon to be able to imagine anything at all when thinking about these enormous timespans. Meanwhile, the sun moved along the sky, the tide rose and fell, and she saw distant ferries sail to and fro like clockwork.

Time. ‘If no one asks me, I know,’ Augustine famously wrote in his Confessions.2 But if we have to put time into words, the difficulties start. Suddenly, what we tend to take for granted as the self-explanatory foundation of our existence turns out to be a highly intangible concept. A phenomenon that slows down and speeds up depending on our mood, that extends or contracts under the influence of velocity and gravity. Moreover, time occurs in varying orders of magnitude. From the cosmic time of the universe to the microtime of the millions of firing brain cells in our heads. The Italian physicist Carlo Rovelli put it aptly in his book, The Order of Time (2018), ‘There is not one single time; there is a vast multitude of them.’3

On the subject of this temporal multiplicity, Walshe created Time Time Time (2018), a music theatre piece in the broadest sense of the word, in which composed music, improvisational sections and voice art are fused with contemplative texts by the British eco-philosopher Timothy Morton, an extensive video part and a sophisticated lighting design.

Musically, Time Time Time veers continuously between different notions of time, as Walshe deliberately chose to work with musicians who each followed their own different temporal concepts. At the Dutch premiere during the Sonic Acts festival of 2019, static sound fields by instrument builder Lee Patterson and drone musician Áine O’Dwyer slowly drifted like tectonic plates under a sea of rapidly pulsating sample-collages by M.C. Schmidt, of electroduo Matmos. The Norwegian wind duo Streifenjunko provided slowly transforming sound improvisations, above which so called black midi files fired thousands of notes per second from a laptop. ‘Time Time Time is a sounding equivalent of the accumulated time layers on Whitecliff Bay’, Walshe told me when I interviewed her in February 2019 for Dutch weekly De Groene Amsterdammer.4

Walshe’s comparison of her music to geological strata is more than just a metaphor. Rather, the notion of layers of sedimented rock and soil that testify to unthinkably vast time scales touches at the conceptual core of a work that emphatically seeks to draw attention to more-than-human temporalities. This becomes all the more apparent if its multidisciplinary components are taken into consideration. The video part shows time lapses of growing plants, wonky stop-motion clips of dinosaurs and trilobite sea life, sped-up footage of a solar eclipse, and an insanely detailed chronological simulation of the earth’s 3.85-billion-year-old tectonic history (render time: roughly two months). For each performance, Walshe tuned the settings of the live electronics according to the current position of the planets in the solar system – harmony of the spheres 3.0. On the way into the concert hall, you were given a fossilized ammonite. Just think of what you are holding, was the unspoken directive: something that was alive eons ago.

During my Groene interview with Walshe, she pointed out that these references to nonhuman time were a method to draw attention to ecological matters: ‘I try to make the audience aware of the larger scheme of things. These astronomical and geological time scales put the clocks on our smartphones in a healthy perspective. If anything, they force us to see that our human time frame is but one of many, and that humanity isn’t to last forever. We are finite, and from an ecological point of view we currently seem to do everything we can to reach that end as quickly as possible. One of the questions Time Time Time poses is: “When are we going to try to relate to the world in a more dignified and loving manner?” I guess you could call that ecological awareness.’5

* * *

Walshe’s eco-mindedness doesn’t stand alone in contemporary music and sound art. As the environmental crises that endanger our planet manifest themselves ever more pressingly, a growing number of composers and sound artists sonically explore time matters that could lend themselves to raising awareness of complex, more-than-human notions of time.

During the last two years alone, several performances around the topic of ecological time premiered at Dutch music festivals. Apart from Walshe’s Time Time Time, Sonic Acts 2019 hosted the Norwegian art collective Verdensteatret, who presented their installation-performance HANNAH, a work that is ‘inspired by the gradual unfolding of geological time,’6 in which visual and sonic materials acted as ‘a kind of sedimentation process, drawing attention to gentle transformations and the way physical objects can affect their surroundings over extremely long time spans.’7 At November Music 2019, the British-German composer Claudia Molitor (a fellow contributor in this APRIA issue) gave the Dutch premiere of Decay (2018-19), a continuously evolving multi-authored work that contests the idea of linear progressive time in favour of cyclical temporalities, in which death and decay are valued as inevitable processes in the ecological cycle of life on Earth. In June 2020, Longplayer (1999), an installation by the English sound artist Jem Finer, was one of the highlights at the Holland Festival. In the Amsterdam Lloyd Hotel, one could witness a twenty-minute snapshot of the thousand-year-long composition, in which the listener is invited to tune in to superhuman timescales.

In this essay I will take a closer listen to four works that touch upon this theme of more-than-human time. Apart from Walshe’s Time Time Time, I will zoom in on Finer’s Longplayer (1999), Felix Hess’ Air Pressure Fluctuations (2001)and John Luther Adams’s The Place Where You Go to Listen (2004-2006), and enquire how these works offer representations and sonifications of ecological notions of time through sound. To explore the correlated question of how the sonic experience manages to render these more-than-human temporalities tangible, I will turn to sound studies by both the American philosopher Christoph Cox and the Swiss sound artist and sonic theorist Salomé Voegelin. First, however, I will further frame the notion of ecological time. How does it relate to our everyday experience of time, and according to what concepts can we conceive of it?

* * *

In his book Hyperobjects, Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World,Timothy Morton, the philosopher who collaborated with Walshe on Time Time Time, introduces a useful concept to come to grips with the question of ecological time. ‘Hyperobjects,’ he writes, ‘are things that are massively distributed in time and space relative to humans.’8 Think of nuclear waste that remains active for tens of thousands of years, microplastics that will poison our food for thousands of years to come, or the slow but steady pace of the hyperobject we call global heating.

Jennifer Walshe, Time Time Time, Sonic Arts Festival, 2018. Photo by Pieter Kers

A keyword in Morton’s definition is ‘relative’. It suggests that because of their gigantic temporal proportions, hyperobjects imply a simultaneity of multiple time scales, in which our human time frame is one of many. Hyperobjects therefore force us to realize that we are part of a complex temporal mesh, in which the shortest moment is inextricably linked to the longest possible era. From an ecological perspective, the small and the gigantic, history, present and future, our own time and other times are always already entangled, Morton points out.

A closely related line of thinking runs through the work of the New York based artist theorist Elaine Gan, who in her short essay “The Time Travelers: Ambiguous Returns,” defines ecological time as a similar multiplicity of closely interrelated temporalities. In her text, Gan focuses on the Mekong Delta of South-West Vietnam, a region that for thousands of years has been home to a complex multi-species ecology, closely attuned to the annual Monsoon-driven cycle of wet and dry seasons. In more recent times however, the biotope has suffered ‘wave after wave of human disturbance,’9 Gan writes. She situates the crucial turning point in the 1960s, when commercial rice cultivation widely switched from traditional deep water rice to quick-growing, high-yield varieties. The pesticides, chemical fertilizers and artificial irrigation systems involved had a disastrous effect on the local ecology, causing the near-extinction of aquatic species such as the giant catfish and a rampant increase of water hyacinths and fresh water snails.

Although Gan’s essay reads first of all like a poignant report of collapsing biodiversity, on a deeper level it is – as its title clearly suggests – also a text about time. What her writing reveals is a severe temporal incompatibility. On the one hand it displays a time construct that is all too familiar to western minds: time as a singular linear flow, aimed at progress, ever greater yields and higher profits. On the other, a completely different temporal conception comes to the fore. Here, time is not a line, but branches out in an intricate web, in which the interconnected, multiple rhythms of the seasons, the elements and living species maintain a rich and dynamic biodiversity.

As shown above, in Walshe’s Time Time Time, it is precisely this ecological multiplicity of interrelated times that is echoed in its multi-layered musical make-up. By sounding out a vast temporal continuum, ranging from geological deep time (represented by static drones, the animation of the earth’s crust) to the electronic nanotemporal scale (the dense bleeping of the black midi files), Walshe emphasizes that our human time frame is but one of many in a complex temporal polyphony. As such, Time Time Time aims to subvert any of the anthropocentric, linear notions of time that, as Gan so captivatingly describes, have dire ecological consequences.

* * *

Up to this point I have been exploring how, according to Morton and Gan, ecological time can be thought of as an interrelated mesh of multiple temporalities. However, Morton’s definition of the hyperobject (’things that are massively distributed in time and space relative to humans’) reveals an additional important feature of ecological time. The word ‘massively’ is key here, as it is indicative of how the superhuman temporospatial proportions of hyperobjects exceed direct sensorial perception. A fundamental feature of hyperobjects is what Morton calls their ‘temporal undulation.’10 In other words, they unfold in such vast dimensions of time that from our human perspective, they seem to occur infinitely slowly, in minutely accumulating processes of change. As a result, hyperobjects may be experienced fragmentarily, but can never be perceived directly in their full scope. Take one of the most urgent hyperobjects of the moment, climate change. One year you are sneezing with hay fever in January. In another you are watering your garden as early as March. In August, you sleep terribly badly because of the worst heat wave since the beginning of meteorological measurements. What you are directly experiencing is isolated episodes. And although the monster that lurks behind these loose snapshots may be imagined, plotted or graphed, it cannot be faced head-on.

To grasp the process of climate change in all its dimensions would require the ability to attune our senses to superhuman timescales. Exactly this seems to be the purpose of Longplayer, a work by the British Jem Finer (1955), originally a computer-savvy, one-time banjo player for punk-folk band The Pogues, now a composer and sound artist. Finer chose an apt title for his composition, which will take no less than a thousand years to complete. On December 31, 1999, a computer in the lighthouse of London’s Trinity Buoy Wharf set the piece in motion. If all goes well, it won’t come to an end until 2999. In the meantime, Longplayer can be listened to around the world: on location, as well as via an online livestream11 and an app.

Jem Finer, Longplayer, Live performance in San Francisco 2010. Photo by Stephen Hill
Jem Finer, Longplayer installation. Photo by James Whitaker

One could think of Longplayer as a gigantic loop, biting its own tail once every millennium. The algorithm that gets the job done is as simple as it is ingenious. From a twenty-minute piece of source music, Finer distilled six modules (each with their own tempo and duration) which he set to orbit around each other like planets in a solar system. Only after a thousand years do they regain their mutual starting position.

Longplayer could be heard live at the Holland Festival in June 2020. Anyone who visited the wooden tower of the Lloyd Hotel near Amsterdam Central Station was inundated by the ritualistic chiming of 234 sampled singing bowls. Deeply resonating drones, bell-like ringing: music of a meditative slowness that gently coaxed the listener into a mental ritardando. While outside the rhythm of the city thundered tirelessly (trains ran back and forth, cars played stop-motion games at a traffic light) the minutes in the Lloyd tower seemed to be ticking away ever more slowly, as they were consciously perceived as part of a vertiginously vast temporal process. Heard in this way, Longplayer is a sonic exercise in ecological thinking. Finer invites his listeners to temporally attune to the hyperobjects we urgently need to face.

* * *

But how do works like Time Time Time and Longplayer manage to render these hyperobjective, more-than-human temporalities tangible? In other words: what is it in the sonic experience that allows the listener to perceive a glimpse of these timescales that otherwise would remain beyond human experience?

The London-based sound artist, writer and sonic researcher Salomé Voegelin offers the beginning of an answer in her book Listening to Noise and Silence. According to Voegelin our senses are ‘always already ideologically and aesthetically determined, bringing their own influence to perception, the perceptual object and the perceptual subject.’12 Vision by its very nature instantly assumes a distance from the object. ‘Seeing always happens in a meta-position, away from the seen, however close. This distance enables a detachment and objectivity that presents itself as truth.’13 After all, seeing is believing, as the proverb goes.

Our listening sense does not offer such a meta-position, Voegelin continues: ‘There is no place where I am not simultaneous with the heard. However far its source, the sound sits in my ear. I cannot hear it if I am not immersed in its auditory object.’14 To listen means to focus our attention on our sonic environment. But at the same time, this sonic environment focuses itself back on us. Sound waves find their way through the ear canal, via the ear drum, into the inner ear. They seek out the resonance frequencies of our skull, our sinuses and let our intestines vibrate sympathetically. Listening, in other words, is an emphatically embodied way of engaging with the world. It allows us to physically ‘share time and space with the object or event under consideration.’15 Voegelin’s notion of sonically sharing the time of an object or event is interesting, as it implies that sound, as a temporal flux of frequencies and intensities, can foster a sensibility to timescales that otherwise would remain beyond our human time frame. In other words, sound, as a phenomenon that is inherently felt in time, allows us to sensorially attune to the multiplicity and vastness of scale that characterizes ecological, hyperobjective time. Even if the represented hyperobjects as such remain outside of direct human perception, we do get a sublime sense of their dizzying proportions through the act of listening.

In Sonic Flux – Sound, Art and Metaphysics, the American philosopher, critic and sound art curator Christoph Cox explores the matter further by differentiating between two acoustic temporalities. On the one hand Cox marks out a narrative temporal framework of ‘beginnings, middles and endings,’16 which he connects to traditional musical composition and performance. It is, in other words, the temporal concept that underlies the ideal, autonomous musical work of European modernity, which attempts to master time’s elusive flow by making it a measured, closed entity or time-object that usually follows a climax-driven narrative. As Cox points out, this musical temporality is a thoroughly anthropocentric conception of time: one that accords with the metaphysical and scientific traditions of the West that conceive of time as linear, progressive and aimed at continual growth.

Against this musical conception of time, Cox posits a sonic temporality that he hears at work in contemporary sound art, a practice that in turn is firmly rooted in the American experimental tradition (Cage cum suis). Here time is no longer conceptualized as a linear catenation of sections and instants but as a durational flux: ‘As an infinite, open process in which presence and completeness are forever deferred, a boundless flow that engulfs the auditor or spectator in a field that cannot be totalized.’17

Cox’s idea of time as an open process is based on Bergson’s famous notion of duration. In his 1889 doctoral thesis Time and Free Will,18 the French philosopher contrasted two different experiences of time: le temps and la durée. The first is exemplified by the figure of the clock on which, as Cox beautifully puts it, ‘discrete, discontinuous and divisible instants are laid out side by side in spatial succession.’19 The other is the continuous and endless flow of intensities in which past, present and future are permeable and interpenetrating.

When, in listening to Walshe’s Time Time Time,we experience time as a multiple flow; when, in visiting Finer’s Longplayer, we experience a dizzying glimpse of deep time, it is precisely because of their unfolding as durational processes. Both works have a multitemporal make-up, an entanglement of varying speeds and rhythmic cycles that resist any division into distinct instants, any narrational interpretation, or any notion of linear musical form. Considered closely, these works are not about form altogether. If anything, they are about process, multiplicity and scale. The very large scale, that is.

* * *

The idea of scale also features in the work Air Pressure Fluctuations by Felix Hess. In September 2000, the Dutch physicist and artist taped two ultra-sensitive microphones to the window of his New York apartment to record the city soundscape for five days straight. His original aim was to sonically reveal the life cycle of his neighbourhood by temporally compressing the recording, so that the urban rhythms of rush hours, airplane traffic, playing school children and the silence of night could acoustically come to the fore.

In the liner notes to the eponymous album (2001), Hess describes how he sped up the recorded material 360 times, causing one second of CD sound to correspond to six minutes of original time, four minutes to a natural day and night. Hess: ‘One hears high-pitched whistles, beeps and insect like buzzes, which come from the deep rumblings of factories, trains and trucks, or even nearby washing machines. The opening and closing of doors give rise to countless tiny clicks, which may add up to form a sound like soft rain on autumn leaves.’20

Meanwhile, Hess’s approach revealed something else as well. Under the ant-like activity of scratchy micro-noises, there was a deep hum. A sound that originally lay well below the human hearing threshold, but that was lifted into the audible range by the acceleration of the recording. The puzzling murmur turned out to be caused by a high pressure system in the Atlantic Ocean. The great downward pressure from the front pushed up a wall of air at its edges, barely perceptible vibrations that Hess’s microphones had registered with great precision.

Air Pressure Fluctuations does something pretty remarkable. The piece allows the listener to sensorially perceive a natural phenomenon that would otherwise only have been visible in meteorological tables. In other words, it channels a hyperobject into our human experience, and in doing so makes us receptive to the more-than-human time scales of the weather.

So far, I have distinguished two properties of ecological time – multiplicity and largeness of scale – and investigated how these eco-temporal features resonate in contemporary works by Walshe, Finer and Hess. The latter’s sonification of meteorological time elicits a further question: to what extent could the weather as such, as the fickle, dynamic system that is, provide a useful model for the understanding of ecological time?

In his book The Natural Contract, French philosopher Michel Serres suggests exactly this, as he points to the fact that in his mother tongue there is a common word for both time and the weather: le temps. With good reason, he argues, because in the past, the two were inextricably linked. The farmer, the hunter and the sailor: all three spent their days according to the weather and the seasons. As modern city dwellers we have forgotten how time and weather are related, Serres continues: ‘We have unlearned how to think in accordance with its rhythms and its scope.’21 This has serious consequences for how we relate to the Earth. In an age in which we are increasingly confronted with climate change, we are faced with ‘an anguishing question.’22 The main part of that question is time: more precisely, the close intertwinings of temps and temps.

For Serres, the close similarity between time and the weather is more than an etymological play of words. As he told Bruno Latour in Conversation on Science, Culture and Time, he thought of the movement of time as the swirling air masses in a turbulent weather front. For Serres, time is complex, chaotic, full of unpredictable deviations and variations in duration and speed. It does not flow in a linear or laminar way, rather, it ‘percolates.’23 ‘This means precisely that it passes and doesn’t pass,’ Serres explains. ‘In Latin the verb colare, the origin of the French verb couler, “to flow,” means “to filter.” In a filter one flux passes through, while another does not.’24

* * *

Serres’ notion of percolating time bears close resemblance to the temporal workings in The Place Where You Go to Listen (2004-2006), an installation by the American composer John Luther Adams that is permanently located in the Museum of the North (Fairbanks, Alaska). On the second floor it occupies a small white room, where on the long wall, five back-lit glass panels slowly change colour during the day, just like the electronically generated clouds of sound that soar out of fourteen speakers located in the walls and the ceiling.

As Adams describes in his book The Place Where You Go to Listen: In Search of an Ecology of Music, the title of The Place refers to Naalagiagvik, a location on the Arctic coast where, according to legend, an Inupiat woman listened to what the wind, the waves and the rain had to tell her.25 You could say that Adams’ installation also listens to the wind and the rain. Among other things. The installation continuously records the meteorological, atmospheric and geological processes in the Northern landscape. The weather, the seasons, the rhythm of day and night, the magnetic fields of the Aurora Borealis, soil activity; in The Place it is all transformed into live sound and light.

‘What you notice first is a dense, organlike sonority, which Adams has named the Day Choir,’26 wrote New Yorker critic Alex Ross when he visited The Place in 2008. He continued: ‘Its notes follow the contour of the natural harmonic series and have the brightness of music in a major key […] After the sun goes down, a moodier set of chords, the Night Choir, moves to the forefront. The moon is audible as a narrow sliver of noise. Pulsating patterns in the bass, which Adams calls Earth Drums, are activated by small earthquakes and other seismic events around Alaska.’27

Adams himself described The Place as ‘an ecosystem of sound and light,’28 as a work of art that is directly connected to the natural world and resonates sympathetically with its material forces. As such, The Place ‘does not imitate nature in its manner of operation,’29 as the German media philosopher Bernd Herzogenrath rightfully observes in his essay “The ‘Weather of Music.’” Rather it ‘taps directly into nature’s processes.’30 In a vital way, The Place translates the weather itself into sound. It unfolds according to the dynamic fluctuations of a meteorological system, as the data of temperature, humidity and air pressure form multiple strands of sound that can be heard simultaneously. Each of them has its own time: some may change swiftly, filter through – as Serres would say – in a matter of seconds, others in hours or even days.

* * *

In Conversations on Science, Culture and Time Michel Serres quotes a line by the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire to illustrate his conception of percolating time: ‘Sous le Pont Mirabeau coule la Seine’ [Beneath the Mirabeau Bridge flows the Seine].31 At first sight, the image of a river – the traditional symbol for the linear flow of time – seems to subvert the dynamic temporality Serres is after. But Apollinaire hadn’t studied the Seine closely enough, Serres argues: ‘[He] hadn’t noticed the countercurrents or the turbulences. Yes, time flows like the Seine, if one observes it well. All the water that passes beneath the Mirabeau Bridge will not necessarily flow out into the English Channel; many little trickles turn back toward Charenton.’32 Serres’ river metaphor turns out to be well chosen after all, precisely because it brings about this sudden change in temporal perspective. In this respect his method is not unlike Gan’s, who in her aforementioned essay “The Time Travelers” also uses river scenery to contrast the human construct of linear, unidirectional, progressive time with a temporal thinking that does more justice to the ecological reality of things.

In this essay, I enquired how we can think about this notion of ecological time. By exploring concepts by Morton, Gan and Serres, I determined three properties by which I framed ecological time as multiple, multi-scalar and dynamic or turbulent. I further investigated how these eco-temporal conceptions resonate in contemporary music and sound art, be it as sonic representations (Walshe’s Time Time Time and Finer’s Longplayer) or as more direct sonifications of natural processes (Hess’ Air Pressure Fluctuations and John Luther Adams’ The Place Where You Go to Listen). As the environmental crises that endanger our planet manifest themselves ever more pressingly, these sonic resonances of ecological time have never been more important. Since the acoustic experience is, as Voegelin points out, an emphatically embodied way of engaging with the world, these works offer us the opportunity not only to think, but also to attune ourselves sensorially to non-anthropocentric temporalities that otherwise would have remained beyond our human frame of reference.

As Gan arrestingly points out in “The Time Travelers”,it is about time that we broaden our temporal perspective. Our western notion of linear, ever-progressive time has turned out to be a dangerous, dead-end illusion that provisionally may lead to greater yields and greater profits, but simultaneously comes at an ecological price that, in the end, leaves us empty-handed. To turn the tide, to imagine more sustainable futures, we urgently need to attune to other, more ecological temporalities. May our ears point the way.

Joep Christenhusz

Joep Christenhusz (1983) studied musicology at Utrecht University as well as music theory and composition at the Conservatory of Antwerp. He lectured in music history and analysis at ArtEZ University of the Arts for several years and is still a member of their Theory in the Arts Professorship. As a music journalist, Joep writes about music for the national newspaper NRC Handelsblad and for De Groene Amsterdammer. For November Music, he wrote several long-read composer portraits, as well as the extensive essay Earth Sounds: Ecological Resonances in Contemporary Music and Sound Art, which was published in November 2020 in collaboration with the Theory in the Arts Professorship. In 2020, Joep contributed a chapter on conceptual music to the book Een kleine muziekgeschiedenis van hier en nu (edited by Mark Delaere). In 2016, ArtEZ Press published his essay collection Componisten van Babel on the work of ten Dutch and Belgian composers of his own generation. An article about the history of the Holland Festival was included in the book Van Mengelberg tot meezing-Mattheus (edited by Emile Wennekes, 2011).



  • Adams, John Luther,  The Place Where You Go to Listen: In Search of an Ecology of Music, Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2009. Kobo.
  • Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, translated by Albert C. Outler, Hendrickson Christian Classics, 2011.
  • Bergson, Henri, Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness, London: George Allen & Unwin, 1910.
  • Christenhusz, Joep, “Tijd tijd tijd”, De Groene Amsterdammer, 20 February 2019.
  • Cox, Christoph, Sonic Flux: Sound, Art and Metaphysics, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018.
  • Finer, Jem, Longplayer, 1999-2999, live stream, accessed September 6, 2020,
  • Gan, Elaine, “The Time Travelers: Ambiguous Returns”, Engagement (blog), Anthropology and Environment Society, 7 February 2019.
  • Herzogenrath, Bernd, “The ‘Weather of Music’: Sounding Nature in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries”, in Deleuze/Guattari & Ecology, edited by Bernd Herzogenrath, pp. 216-232. Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.
  • Morton, Timothy, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World, Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2013.
  • Ross, Alex, Listen to This, New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010.
  • Rovelli, Carlo, The Order of Time, Allen Lane, 2018.
  • Verdensteatret, HANNAH, 2017, accessed November 24th 2020,
  • Voegelin, Salomé, Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art, London/New York: Continuum, 2010.
  • Hess, Felix, Air Pressure Fluctuations, Edition RZ 10014, 2001, compact disc.
  • Serres, Michel, The Natural Contract, translated by E. MacArthur and W. Paulson, Ann Arbor, MI: Michigan University Press, 1995.
  • Serres, Michel and Latour, Bruno, Conversations on Science, Culture and Time, translated by Roxanne Lapidus, Ann Arbor, MI: Michigan University Press, 1995.

↑ 1

The introductory part of the following essay was previously published in Dutch in “Tijd tijd tijd”, De Groene Amsterdammer, 20 February 2019, pp. 50-52.

↑ 2

Augustine of Hippo, Confessions, trans. Albert C. Outler (Hendrickson Christian Classics, 2011), p. 244.

↑ 3

Carlo Rovelli, The Order of Time (Allen Lane, 2018), p. 15.

↑ 4

Joep Christenhusz, “Tijd tijd tijd”, De Groene Amsterdammer, 20 February 2019, p. 51.

↑ 5

Ibid., p. 51-2.

↑ 6

Verdensteatret, HANNAH, 2017, accessed November 24th 2020,

↑ 7


↑ 8

Timothy Morton, Hyperobjects: Philosophy and Ecology after the End of the World (Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2013), p. 1.

↑ 9

Elaine Gan, Engagement (blog), Anthropology and Environment Society, 7 February 2019,

↑ 10

Morton, Hyperobjects, pp. 55-68.

↑ 11

Jem Finer, Longplayer, 1999-2999, live stream, accessed September 6, 2020,

↑ 12

Salomé Voegelin, Listening to Noise and Silence: Towards a Philosophy of Sound Art (London/New York: Continuum, 2010), p. 3.

↑ 13

Ibid., p. xi.

↑ 14

Ibid., p. xii.

↑ 15

Ibid., p. 3.

↑ 16

Christoph Cox, Sonic Flux: Sound, Art and Metaphysics (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018), p. 139.

↑ 17

Ibid., p. 152.

↑ 18

Henri Bergson, Time and Free Will: An Essay on the Immediate Data of Consciousness (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1910).

↑ 19

Cox, Sonic Flux, p. 141.

↑ 20

Felix Hess, Air Pressure Fluctuations, Edition RZ 10014, 2001, compact disc.

↑ 21

Michel Serres, The Natural Contract, trans. Elizabeth MacArthur and William Paulson (Ann Arbor, MI: Michigan University Press, 1995), p. 29.

↑ 22

Ibid., p. 30.

↑ 23

Michel Serres and Bruno Latour, Conversations on Science, Culture and Time, trans. Roxanne Lapidus (Ann Arbor, MI: Michigan University Press, 1995), p. 58.

↑ 24

Ibid., p. 58.

↑ 25

John Luther Adams, The Place Where You Go to Listen: In Search of an Ecology of Music (Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2009), Part 6, “An Ecosystem of Sound and Light,” Kobo.

↑ 26

Alex Ross, Listen to This (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010), p. 176.

↑ 27

Ibid., p. 176.

↑ 28

Adams, The Place Where You Go to Listen, Part 6.

↑ 29

Bernd Herzogenrath, “The ‘Weather of Music’: Sounding Nature in the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries”, in Deleuze/Guattari & Ecology, ed. Bernd Herzogenrath (Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009), p. 223.

↑ 30

Ibid., p. 223.

↑ 31

Serres and Latour, Conversations on Science, p. 58.

↑ 32

Ibid., p. 58.