A Review of Sounding Composition

Shannon Kelly

For writing instructors, a key takeaway from Steph Ceraso's multimodal listening pedagogy is a more expansive practice for multimodal accessibility. Composing via multimodal listening does not tack on accessibility to retrofit a sound composition, such as making sure a student includes an alphabetic script to accompany audio files. Rather, multimodal composing via Ceraso's (2018) framework requires students to think expansively about their audience's embodied listening in terms of how sound itself interacts with various materials, technologies and environments, while also communicating "visible, audible, and tactile iterations of sound" (p. 78). Inclusive digital work means access via multiple senses and modes, and Ceraso offered writing teachers and students creative and rigorous models for composing this kind of work. An additional aspect of Ceraso's discussion on sonic accessibility has to do with interrogating what constitute our listening habits. For Ceraso, a key limitation of teaching sound-as-text has to do with the way this kind of teaching and learning assumes that listening is just something that students do—or not—as opposed to asking students to reflect on their listening practices as something learned and revisable. Inviting students to evaluate their listening practices while also creating meaning with audio compositions allows for listeners to become more thoughtful producers and consumers of sound (p.150).

For soundwriters, Ceraso offered new methods for composing that focus on diverse embodied audiences (pp. 51–54), making sound maps (pp. 91–93), and designing sonic objects (pp. 127–129). To situate these discussions, Ceraso argued that composers must be agile listeners, especially in the writing classroom, because multimodal pedagogy requires engaging sound in a variety of settings and physical locations (pp. 146). Ultimately, her approach demonstrated that sonic experiences are "radically relational" (p. 146), and Ceraso offered students and practitioners more expansive methods for being attuned multimodal listeners of multisensory compositions.

References

Butler, Janine. (2018). Embodied captions in multimodal pedagogies. Composition Forum, 39. http://compositionforum.com/issue/39/captions.php

Ceraso, Steph. (2018). Sounding composition: Multimodal pedagogies for embodied listening. University of Pittsburgh Press.

Danforth, Courtney, Stedman, Kyle, & Farris, Michael. (Eds.). (2018). Soundwriting pedagogies. Computers and Composition Digital Press/Utah State University Press. http://ccdigitalpress.org/soundwriting

Del Hierro, Victor. (2018). DJs, playlists, and community: Imagining communication design through hip hop. Communication Design Quarterly. https://sigdoc.acm.org/cdq/djs-playlists-and-community-imagining-communication-design-through-hip-hop/

Hawk, Byron. (2018). Resounding the rhetorical: Composition as a quasi-object. University of Pittsburgh Press.

Sano-Franchini, Jennifer. (2018). Sounding Asian/America: Asian/American sonic rhetorics, multimodal orientalism, and digital composition. Enculturation, 27. http://enculturation.net/sounding-Asian-America

Image Credits

CoWomen. Woman using MacBook Air. Retrieved September 1, 2019, from https://unsplash.com/photos/8M6KCnMvLus

Jabbacake. (2017). Speakers devil sound music [Photograph]. Pixabay. Retrieved September 1, 2019, from https://pixabay.com/en/speakers-devil-sound-music-2176734/

Farber, Jonathan. Gray condenser microphone. Retrieved September 1, 2019, from https://unsplash.com/photos/8xpTdO1R3dw

Lavin, Fernando. Black audio equalizer. Retrieved September 1, 2019, from https://unsplash.com/photos/YDdZ6nbGS24

McKinven, James. Red Focusrite audio interface and two black dynamic microphones. Retrieved September 1, 2019, from https://unsplash.com/photos/-xsLUeciJ6I

NeONBRAND. Black digital recording device. Retrieved September 1, 2019, from https://unsplash.com/photos/ffnfvkNqUck