Foggy notion

Sound and weather, and the intermingled senses

  • Jennifer Lucy Allan


This article explores our intermingled experiences of fog as imperatives to consider the fluid connections and crossovers between sound and weather. It takes from cultural and literary references and a first-person writing practice, drawing on anthropology and geography to address a lack of literature in sound studies and acoustic ecology, also considering different sensory experiences of the world through John M. Hull’s writing on rain, snow and sound. Fog has an immediate effect on our senses and experiences of the external world, and its distortions affect sound. However, neither the Sound Studies Reader nor The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies contains indexed entries for fog or weather. Other sound studies texts discussing weather concern themselves with that which produces sound directly. But as anthropologists, geographers and field recordists have shown, weather is a deeply intermingled sensory experience. Fog presses its presence upon us in a visual, aural and tactile sense. We can see the water vapour, feel it on clothes and skin. In fog, sonic information takes priority over visual, and damp mist makes alien a familiar place or a known landscape. ‘Night is empty or hollow; fog is full’, writes Serres (2008), and in this fullness the senses are profoundly altered. This article explores the effect of fog on our sonic experiences of the world, asking how fog affects what we hear, its effects on our perception of the environment, and how these findings point to further possible interrogations of the interrelations of sound, the senses and weather.


Adnan, E. (2012). Sea and Fog. Callicoon, NY: Nightboat Books.

Augoyard, J. F., & Torgue, H. (2014). Sonic Experience: A Guide to Everyday Sounds. Montreal, Kingston, London and Ithaca: McGill-Queen’s Press.

Bailey, D. with Tanaka, M. (1996). Music And Dance. [Vinyl]. Takoma.

Bailey, P. (1996). Breaking the Sound Barrier: A Historian Listens to Noise. Body & Society, 2(2), 49-66.

Barnett, C. (2015). Rain: A Natural and Cultural History. New York: Crown.

Barry, R. G., & Chorley, R. J. (2010). Atmosphere, Weather, and Climate. UK: Taylor & Francis.

BBC. (2018, January 5). Blind man’s fog. BBC News. Retrieved from:

Blesser, B., & Salter, L.-R. (2009). Spaces Speak, Are You Listening?: Experiencing Aural Architecture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Blesser, B., & Salter, L.-R. (2009a). The Other Half of the Soundscape: Aural Architecture, 15. Presented at the World Federation Acoustic Ecology Conference, Mexico City, 23 March 2009. Retrieved from: WFAE Mexico.pdf

Böhme, G. (2016). The Aesthetics of Atmospheres. Taylor & Francis.

Boon, S., Butler, L., & Jefferies, D. (2018). Autoethnography and Feminist Theory at the Water’s Edge: Unsettled Islands. London: Springer.

Casey, E. S. (2005). Earth-mapping: Artists Reshaping Landscape. University of Minnesota Press.

Classen, C. (2012). The Deepest Sense: A Cultural History of Touch. Champaign, IL: University of Illinois Press.

Classen, C., Toner, J. P., Newhauser, R., Roodenburg, H., Vila, A. C., & Howes, D. (Eds.). (2014). A cultural history of the senses. London: Bloomsbury Academic.

Clausewitz, C. V. (2018). On War. BookRix.

Cockayne, E. (2007). Hubbub: Filth, Noise & Stench in England 1600-1770. Yale University Press.

Connor, S. (2008). Wherever: The Ecstasies of Michel Serres. Retrieved from:

Connor, S. (2010). The matter of air: science and art of the ethereal. London: Reaktion.

Conrad, J. (1973). Heart of Darkness. London: Penguin.

Corbin, A. (1986). The Foul and the Fragrant: Odor and the French Social Imagination. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Corton, C. (2015). London Fog. London: Harvard University Press.

Cowley, J. (2008). Introduction. Granta 102: The New Nature Writing. London: Granta

Cox, T. (2014). The Sound Book: The Science of the Sonic Wonders of the World. London: W. W. Norton & Company.

Damisch, H. (2002). A Theory of Cloud: Toward a History of Painting. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Dickens, C. (1997). Bleak House. Retrieved from

Douglas, M. (2003). Purity and Danger: An Analysis of Concepts of Pollution and Taboo. London; New York: Routledge.

Dyson, F. (2014). The Tone of Our Times: Sound, Sense, Economy, and Ecology. MIT Press.

Eisenberg, A. (2015). Space. In Keywords in Sound. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Farina, A. (2014). Soundscape Ecology: Principles, Patterns, Methods and Applications. Berlin: Springer Science & Business Media.

Feld, S. (2012). Sound and Sentiment. Duke University Press.

Fry, J. L., Graf, H.-F., Grotjahn, R., Raphael, M., Saunders, C., & Whitaker, R. (2010). The encyclopedia of weather and climate change: a complete visual guide. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Fulkerson, M. (2014). Explaining Multisensory Experience. In: Brown, R. (Ed.), Consciousness Inside and Out: Phenomenology, Neuroscience, and the Nature of Experience (pp. 365-373). Dordrecht: Springer Netherlands. Retrieved from:

Gordon, H. (2008). Jonathan Raban Interview. Granta Magazine, (Summer 2008). Retrieved from

Granada Centre. (2016, April 29). Paul Stoller on the Future of Ethnographic Writing. Retrieved 21 March 2019, from Granada Centre for Visual Anthropology website:

Harris, A. (2015). Weatherland: writers & artists under English skies. UK: Thames & Hudson.

Hendy, D. (2013). Noise: A Human History of Sound and Listening. London: Profile Books.

Hoare, P. (2015, November 2). Fog is transcendent. It muffles our world, and inspires our artists. Retrieved from:''

Howes, D., & Classen, C. (2013). Ways of sensing: understanding the senses in society. New York: Routledge.

Huler, S. (2007). Defining the Wind: The Beaufort Scale and How a 19th-Century Admiral Turned Science into Poetry. New York: Crown.

Hull, J. M. (2017). Notes on Blindness. London: Wellcome Collection.

Ihde, D. (2012). Listening and Voice: Phenomenologies of Sound, Second Edition. SUNY Press.

Ingold, T. (2000). The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill. Psychology Press.

Ingold, T. (2011). Being Alive: Essays on Movement, Knowledge and Description. [ebook]. London and New York: Routledge.

Ingold, T. (2005). The eye of the storm: visual perception and the weather. Visual Studies, 20(2), 97-104. Retrieved from:

Ingold, T. (2007). Against Soundscape. In: Carlyle, A. (Ed.), Autumn Leaves. Paris: Double Entendre.

Jütte, R. (2005). A History of the Senses: From Antiquity to Cyberspace. Cambridge: Polity.

Kahn, D. (2013). Earth Sound Earth Signal: Energies and Earth Magnitude in the Arts. University of California Press.

Kingshill, S., & Westwood, J. (2012). The Fabled Coast: Legends & traditions from around the shores of Britain & Ireland. London: Random House.

Krause, B. (2016). Wild Soundscapes: Discovering the Voice of the Natural World, Revised Edition. Yale University Press.

Lewis, J. E. (2012). Air’s Appearance: Literary Atmosphere in British Fiction, 1660-1794. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press.

Martin, C. (2011). Fog-Bound: Aerial Space and the Elemental Entanglements of Body-with-World. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 29(3), 454-468. Retrieved from:

Menche, D. (2012). Raw Recording Series. Retrieved from:

Met Office. (N.d.). 8 facts about fog. Retrieved from:

Misrach, R., & Solnit, R. (2000). The sky book. Santa Fe, NM: Arena Editions.

Moore, P. (2015). The Weather Experiment: The Pioneers Who Sought to See the Future. London: Random House.

Novak, D., & Sakakeeny, M. (2015). Keywords in Sound. Duke University Press.

Persona (1966). Directed by Ingmar Bergman. [Film]. Criterion.

Pinch, T., & Bijsterveld, K. (2012). The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Polli, A. (2004). Modelling storms in sound: the Atmospherics/Weather Works project. Organised Sound, 9(2), 175-180. Retrieved from:

Peters, P. D. (2011). Acoustics and noise (3rd ed.). Harlow: Prentice Hall.

Red Desert. (1964). Directed by Michelangelo Antonioni. [Film]. New York: Criterion.

Redniss, L. (2016). Thunder and Lightning: Weather Past, Present and Future. London: Random House.

Riek, Lasse-Mark. (2013). Helgoland [CD]. Germany: Gruenrekorder.

Samartzis, P. (2016). Casey Station - Antarctica. Retrieved from

Sartre, J.-P. (1964). Nausea. New Directions.

Schafer, R. M. (1994). Soundscape: Our Sonic Environment and the Tuning of the World. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books.

Schmidt, L. E. (2000). Hearing Things: Religion, Illusion, and the American Enlightenment. Harvard University Press.

Serres, M. (2008). The five senses: a philosophy of mingled bodies. London and New York: Continuum.

Smith, B. R. (1999). The Acoustic World of Early Modern England: Attending to the O-Factor. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Smith, M. M. (2007). Sensory History. Oxford: Berg.

Steedman, C. (2001). Dust. Manchester, UK: Manchester University Press.

Sterne, J. (Ed.). (2012). The Sound Studies Reader. London: Routledge.

Stevenson, R. L. (1992). The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Retrieved from

Stoker, B. (1995). Dracula. Retrieved from

Strauss, S., & Orlove, B. S. (2003). Weather, climate, culture. Oxford, UK: Berg.

The Fog. (1980). Directed by John Carpenter. [Film]. Los Angeles: Avco Embassy.

Thibaud, J.-P. (2015). The backstage of urban ambiances: When atmospheres pervade everyday experience. Emotion, Space and Society, 15, 39-46. Retrieved from:

Tung, A. (2015, June 21). 10 fantastic fog words. The Week. Retrieved from:

Truax, B. (2001). Acoustic Communication. Greenwood Publishing Group.

Watson, C. (2003) Weather Report. [Audio CD]. Touch.

Whitaker, R., Fry, J. L., Graf, H.-F., Grotjahn, R., Raphael, M., & Saunders, C. (2010). The encyclopedia of weather and climate change: a complete visual guide. Oakland, CA: University of California Press.

Yanagisawa, E. (2018). Path of the Wind. Germany: Gruenrekorder.
How to Cite
Allan, J. (2019). Foggy notion. SoundEffects - An Interdisciplinary Journal of Sound and Sound Experience, 8(1), 51-67. Retrieved from