I (*Amsterdam, 1984) work on the intersection of musicology, sound studies and media studies. In my research, I am interested in the conceptual relations between music, sound and media from the nineteenth century to the present day.

Currently, I am a Postdoctoral Research fellow at the Faculty of Music and Non-Stipendiary Research Fellow in Music at Corpus Christi College, University of Cambridge. As part of the project Sound and Materialism in the 19th Century, my research deals with the nineteenth-century development of scientific representations of sound (sine waves, sound spectra and waveforms) that laid the discursive foundation for the emergence of sound media in the nineteenth and twentieth century.

In 2017, I defended my PhD thesis Noise ResonanceTechnological Sound Reproduction and the Logic of Filtering at the Amsterdam School for Cultural Analysis. Contrary to common understandings of noise as a sign of failure, violence and transgression, I argue that it is a crucial part of the sound of technologically reproduced music and thereby offers ways to rethink the relation between music and listeners in the age of technological media.


Noise Resonance. Technological Sound Recording and the Logic of Filtering. (Dissertation, University of Amsterdam, 2017)

Journal Articles and Book Chapters

“‘Antennas Have Long Since Invaded Our Brains.’ Listening to the ‘Other Music’ in Friedrich Kittler.” In: Maas, Sander van (ed.). Thresholds of ListeningSound, Technics, Space. New York: Fordham University Press, (2015): 89-104

The Exceptional Purity of Sound. Noise Reduction Technology and the Inevitable Noise of Sound Recording.” Journal of Sonic Studies, Volume 7 (June 2014)

As Distant and Close as Can Be. Lo-fi recording: site-specificity and (in)authenticity.” Soundscapes, Journal on Media Culture, Volume 15 (October 2012)

“‘Over the Ruined Factory There’s a Funny Noise.’ Throbbing Gristle and the Mediatized Roots of Noise in/as Music. Popular Music and Society, Vol. 34, No. 1, February 2011, pp. 23–34

Conference papers

Ohm’s Unmusical Ear. On the Sine Wave as a Mode of Sonic Representation – Paper presented at: The Audible Spectrum: Sound Studies, hearing culture and sound arts, Cité de la musique/Philharmonie de Paris, 7-9 June 7-9 2018, Paris

Resisting Pure Sound. Debunking the Myth of Perfect Fidelity, or Why Humans Will Never Be in Charge – Paper presented at Regenerative Feedback, ISSUE Project Room, 25-27 May 2018, New York, US

‘Nature Has Completely Denied Me a Musical Ear.’ Are Musical Notes Sine Waves, and Why (Not)? – Paper presented at Material Cultures of Music Notation20-22 April 2018, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands

The Primary Logic of Filtering. Ideal and Physical Filters and the Technical Production of Sound – Lecture at Cultural Techniques of Radiophonics Workshop19-20 October 2017, Universität Basel, Basel, Switserland

Tones That Have Lasted for Eternities. The Ideal Sine Wave between Symbol and Signal (revised version) – Paper presented at The Royal Musical Association’s 53rd Annual Conference7-9 September 2017, University of Liverpool, Liverpool, UK

I Hear a New World. Friedrich Kittler’s Concept of Music in the Age of Technical Media – Paper presented at Excavating Media. Devices, Processes, Apparatuses30 June/1 July 2017, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

Tones That Have Lasted for Eternities. The Ideal Sine Wave between Symbol and Signal – Paper presented at After Idealism: Sound as Matter and Medium in the 19th Century17-18 March 2017, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK

The Sound of the ‘Other Music.’ Music In The Age Of Technological Filters – Paper presented at the Princeton-Weimar Summer School for Media StudiesPrinceton University, 19-26 June 2016, USA

The Ever-Present Noise of Sound. On the Inevitability and Necessity of Noise in Recorded Sound and Music.” – Lecture at the Musicology Colloquium, 21 May 2015, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

“In the Fourier domain, we are Immortal.” Noise, time and the limits of sound reproduction – Paper presented at the Sound Signatures Summer School: Part II: Epistemologies and the Order of Sound, 18-22 August 2014, NYU Center/MPIWG Berlin, Germany

“A Soft Landing into a Bed of Noise.” Dithering: Hiding Noise with Noise in Digital Sound – Paper presented at Bone Flute to Auto-Tune: A Conference on Music & Technology in History, Theory and Practice, 24-26 April 2014, University of California, Berkeley, USA

“How Much Noise is Necessary?” Dithering and the Necessity of Noise in Digital Sound – Paper presented at the ASCA Workshop 2014: Brains, Maps and Rhythms: Knowledge and Experience in (Bio)political Orders, 16-18 April 2014, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

Dithering. a Different Perspective on Noise in Sound Recording – Paper presented at the Sound Signatures Winter School: Part I: Spaces, Objects and Embodied Practices, 13-17 January 2014University of Amsterdam, Netherlands

The Exceptional Purity of Sound. Noise Reduction and the (Dys)functionality of Noise in Recorded Music – Paper presented at Functional Sounds: the 1st International Conference of the European Sound Studies Association, 4-6 October 2013, Humboldt Universität, Berlin, Germany

Noise, Sound, Media. Revaluing Noise in the Media-age – Paper presented at the Supersonix Conference, 21-23 June 2012, Society for Literature, Science and the Arts Europe, London, UK

As Distant and Close as Can Be. Lo-fi recording: site-specificity and (in)authenticity – Paper presented at The Fifth Annual Art of Record Production Conference, 13-15 November 2009, University of Glamorgan, Cardiff, UK


“Wolfgang Ernst. Sonic Time Machines: Explicit Sound, Sirenic Voices, and Implicit Sonicity
Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2016″ (book review), Journal of Sonic Studies, 2017.

More Things In Theory Than Heaven And Earth Are Dreaming Of. A conversation with Geoffrey Winthrop-Young by Melle Kromhout and Peter McMurray – Interview with media scholar and translator Geoffrey Winthrop-Young, December 2014

Sound Studies: A Discipline? Sound Signatures Winter School, Amsterdam, January 2014
– Review of the Sound Signatures Winter School, Amsterdam, January 2014 for the “Sounding Out!” sound studies blog.

All Things Must Pass. Some thoughts on algorithms, noise and temporality – Presentation at ‘Algorithm and the Humanities,’ University of Amsterdam, 11 June 2014

On Friedrich Kittler’s “Signal-Rausch-Abstand” – Presentation at ‘Discourse Network: 2000 – Reading (Around) Friedrich Kittler,’ University of Amsterdam, 11 December 2012


I’m currently working as a Postdoctoral Fellow in the project Sound and Materialism in the 19th Century.

Melle Jan Kromhout

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active 2 years ago