About Sonic Phantoms


Composition with Auditory Phantasmatic Presence

Barbara Ellison and Thomas Bey William Bailey, edited by Francisco López

(Bloomsbury Press – Academic Sound Studies series 2020)

In this book, Barbara Ellison and Thomas B. W. Bailey lay out and explore the mystifying and evanescent musical territory of ‘sonic phantoms’: auditory illusions within the musical material that convey a ‘phantasmatic’ presence. Structured around a large body of compositional work developed by Ellison over the past decade, sonic phantoms are revealed and illustrated as they arise through a diverse array of musical sources, materials, techniques, and compositional tools: voices (real and synthetic), field recordings, instrument manipulation, object amplification, improvisation, and recording studio techniques. Somehow inherent in all music–and perhaps in all sound–sonic phantoms lurk and stalk with the promise of mystery and elevation. We just need to conjure them.

Barbara Ellison is an award-winning composer and artist whose work explores ghostly presence and substance in a plethora of sonic and visual realms. Her creations have been presented internationally in live performances, installations and audio releases, including her latest 3-hour album, CyberOpera.



Thomas Bey William Bailey is an active recording artist and author of several books on sonic art and its sociological impact, including: Microbionic: Radical Electronic Music and Sound Art in the 21st Century (2009), Unofficial Release: Self-Released and Handmade Audio in Post-Industrial Society (2012), and To Hear The World With New Eyes: A Cultural History of the Synesthetic and Cross-Sensory Arts (2016).


Francisco López is internationally recognized as one of the main figures in the realms of sound art and experimental music. Over four decades of intense exploration and creative work with environmental recordings all over the world ­–manifested in sound expeditions, live performances, installations, workshops, and releases in hundreds of labels– López has crafted a unique iconoclastic sonic universe based on a profound listening to the world.