Audio collage

An audio collage of sounds produces a literary as well as a sonic amalgamation. Such multiple sounds can be any environmental, instrumental and human vocalization. The narrative will unfold through the recorded and collaged sounds. John Barber (in “Internet radio and electronic literature”) situates sound at the “heart of literary experience.” He grounds his argument in Marshall McLuhan’s well-known theory of ‘medium is the message’ and he traces how speech, the oldest messaging medium, is replaced through print and other media. The content of each new medium is always either a remediation or extension of the older medium (McLuhan’s Understanding Media, 23-24). In such a case, Barber argues that digital media offer many opportunities to combine, remix and remediate all content, including sound which is de facto the primacy of human narrative. Barber thus asks us to rethink “sound as a basis for engagement with emerging forms of electronic literature” (Barber, “Internet radio and electronic literature”). In this case, audio collage can be considered as one such genre in sonic electronic literature. In the ELC4, Christopher Funkhouser’s digital born literary work, “Improvised is How the Voice is Used” is a multi-channel sound collage which is categorised under the genre of audio collage ( Funkhouser “Improvised is How the Voice is Used” ). This creative work is based on Funkhouser’s interview with poet Cecil Taylor recorded in 1994. Funkhouser fuses this interview with other recordings of Taylor’s unique spoken word performance. He also devised and organized Taylor’s poetics that are “succinctly projected in the present” (Funkhouser “Improvised is How the Voice is Used”). Since the work has a combination of multiple appropriated digital voices, this new genre is also associated with other genres, “combinatorial” and “mash-up”.


Barber, John. “Sound and Electronic Literature: Locating the Text in the Act of Listening”. In Joe Tabbi, Gabriel Gaudette, & Dene Grigar (Eds) Cherchez le texte: The Proceedings for the ELO 2013 Conference, Nouspace Publications, 2020. ”

Funkhouser, Christopher. ““improvised is how the voice is used…” In Kathi Inman Berens, John T. Murray, Lyle Skains, Rui Torres and Mia Zamora, Electronic Literature Volume 4, Electronic Literature Organization, 2022.

McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man. McGraw Hill, 1964.

Term author:
Shanmugapriya T