Making Music, Building Roads: A Reflection on Sound, Materiality, and 
Social Transformation

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter explores how the analyses of audible infrastructures presented in this volume connect to the established and growing body of literature on civic infrastructures from scholars in the humanities and social sciences. There are clearly convergent interests between those who work on roads, water, and energy systems, on the one hand, and those who study the production, circulation, and reproduction of sound, on the other. To analyze the materialities of music making, as with civic infrastructures, is to investigate the relational capacities of the materials from which things are made, the diverse types of labor through which these materials become integral to their emergent forms, and the uneven distribution of access to the wider structures that underpin the circulation and reproduction of such forms. In particular, the chapter focuses on how the relationship between the hardware of engineered systems and the software of sociality creates new possibilities for thinking about the politics of infrastructure. The chapter explores these resonances between audible and civic infrastructures by considering the M1 Symphony, a work commissioned by the British Broadcasting Corporation to mark the sixtieth anniversary of the opening of Britain’s first long-distance motorway. The example provokes reflection on the relationship between media and infrastructure, between composition and improvisation, and between ontological experiment and artful design.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAudible Infrastructures
EditorsKyle Devine, Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier
Place of PublicationOxford
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages11
ISBN (Electronic)9780190932671
ISBN (Print)9780190932633
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jan 2021


  • anthropology
  • civic infrastructure
  • materiality
  • roads
  • composition
  • uncertainty


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