The Introduction to Sonic Overload explains the motivations for the book and sets in play its general themes. Taking stock of the contemporary overabundance of information, the introduction asks how we reached this point. It focuses on the late USSR for an answer by first looking at paradoxical accounts about information overload in the Soviet Union of the 1970s and early 1980s. Valentin Silvestrov and Alfred Schnittke serve as guides for considering further how information overload affected and was affected by music in the USSR. Schnittke’s and Silvestrov’s evocations of the past range across a spectrum from overmuch to not enough. Each composer engaged with overabundance, using music as a means to articulate a sense of self amid the often overwhelming sensations of too much. The introduction presents the main premises of the book by defining polystylism and style before tying style to fundamental senses of identity, purpose, and meaning both within and against society. The remainder of the introduction discusses the overall argument of the book, from embracing to rejecting polystylism, as well as the contents of each chapter and its role in the ongoing narrative.
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