Foreword / Yoni Niv

I must have been ten or eleven years old. I was sitting on the floor at my parents’ house on one of those lazy Saturdays, exploring the gramophone, which until that day served merely as an ‘aesthetic’ object – that is, it did not serve any purpose. During that time my parent’s record collection was rather minimal and included only several items. There were, alongside albums by army bands (a holiday gift to Air Force officers), “The Woman By My Side” by David Broza, an album by The Mamas and the Papas, two albums by Arik Einstein, a collection of ballades by The Beatles, and a set of classical tunes played by The Estonian Philharmonic Symphony. I took The Beatles album off the shelf and removed it from its cover, placed the record on the gramophone, lifted up the arm and put the needle at a random spot.

  • “Listen”, a voice called from the gramophone
  • “Do you want to know a secret?”
  • “Do you Promise not to tell?”
  • “I Do”, I mumbled
  • ״Closer…״ said the voice from the machine
  • ״ Let me whisper in your ear…״


I leaned towards the gramophone but I couldn’t hear the secret because the needle, a devil’s work, got caught up in a loop, tangled around the word “ear”, emptying it out of meaning and context, while charging it with what Maurice MerleauPonty would probably call a “body”. There, trapped in a time loop, this body without organs held on to me, and with violence that was not deprived of pleasure, furrowed my soul. And now I’m once again consumed with doubt: did this childhood memory actually occur, or was the voice I heard merely a whisper to my own ear, the needle’s movement directed towards the world, free from the chains of representation.

The current issue of Maarav explores the poetics of sonic memory. The collection includes articles by Guy Dubious, Tom Soloveitzik and Maayan Tzdaka, a piece by the American composer Annea Lockwood, as well as a Hebrew translation of the essay “Primal Sound” by Rainer Maria Rilke.

The short essay “Primal Sound,” first published in 1919, serves as the point of departure for this discussion. “Primal Sound”, argues Guy Dubious in his article “First Encounter: Rilke and the Poetic Mechanics of Sound Recording” challenges the notion of the sound recording as a mere form of representation, as well as the indexical value of recording as an event of a secondary nature. Instead of the representative model, claims Dubious, Rilke’s “Primal Sound” presents a poetic model of recording, as the encounter between presence and absence[1].

An encounter of this sort occurs in “Impressions from the Islands” by Tom Soloveitzik. Soloveitzik, an artist who often incorporates field recordings in his pieces, goes out (again) to the “field”, armed with a recording device. In his writing, he travels between different times and spaces, actual and fictional, collecting and processing impressions of sound, though he ‘returns home empty handed’. Maayan Tzdaka expands the notion of ‘memory machines’ beyond the technological fault line and the sound/subject relationship. In her article, “From Caves to Churches,” Tzdaka examines sound memory mechanisms embedded in nature: from the resonance phenomenon as a short-term memory sound mechanism, through the “eternal resonance” theory, to the possibility of genetic sound memory. The textual work by American composer Annea Lockwood “Water and Memory” (2016) seals the issue. The piece was commissioned by the Scratch Orchestra of the Israeli Digital Art Center and performed in a world premiere, directed by Lakewood at the Center.

Translated by: Dina Yakerson






[1] The following article has not been translated to English on this issue.