Music and Materialisms Research Network

With Prof Isabella van Elferen and Dr Matthew Sergeant, I am one of the conveners of a research network on “music and materialisms”. We held an initial meeting of the group in December 2017.

A link to the Research Network website can be found here.

Listed below are the Music and Materialisms events we’ve held so far (in reverse chronological order).

Music and Materialisms conference 2019

23rd February 2019, Visconti Studio, Kingston University London

Full details here (including the Call for Presentations).

This transhistorical conference seeks to draw together scholars interested in using such frameworks to challenge existent ontologies of sound and sound-making. The conference organisers are particularly interested in contributions relating to music and materialism as relating to the following themes:

  • Power: Material inscriptions of power; The foregrounding or loss of questions about power/inequalities in different materialist approaches; Politics of making; feminist and queer materialisms; Forms of organisation;
  • Bodies: The body in performance and reception; The place of the senses (beyond hearing); Affect; Materiality of performative acts; Explorations of bodies/genders in performance; Embodiment and materiality limits; Interfaces; Touch and materiality;
  • Notation: Role of the score as a “script” for performance; Material indeterminacy; Participatory music-making and politics of performance; The score as a material object; New notational approaches;
  • Histories: The history of material objects; Historical dimensions of materialist theories themselves – why materialisms, and why now? Is it possible to conceive of history without a place for materiality?;
  • Culture: Organology; Museology; Curatorial practices; Analysis of physical objects and social meanings; Imagery; Mediation of material objects in practices of production; Dissemination; Consumption; Simulation; computational technology and non-parametric notions of making;
  • Ontology: Beyond representationism; Non-repeatability; Actuality of musical sound vs. nothingness; Post-sapien/post-humanism; Notions of flux; Indeterminacy,

RMA conference session: ‘Music and Materialisms: Between Affect, Attitudes, and Affordances’

14th September 2018, Bristol University

Full details here: Proposal on Music and Materialisms accepted to the Royal Musical Association’s annual conference.

Three papers and a following discussion will explore two crucial problematics within this field. The first concerns human-nonhuman entanglements: in contemporary compositional strategies that foreground nonhuman affordances (Sergeant); when mastering the musical object or relinquishing control (Wilson); and in the affective dimension that has been argued to be crucial to this relation (van Elferen). Second, the session highlights (historical) possibilities for and limitations of musical materialisms: where these might not only speak to contemporary practices and genealogies of twentieth-century precursors, but might also take account of ways in which musical “vibrant matter” affects eighteenth- as well as twenty-first century listeners, and musicians as well as instruments.

Music and Materialisms initial meeting

12th December 2017, Guildhall School of Music and Drama

Full details here: ‘Call for Expressions of Interest in Our Initial Meeting’

We plan to hold a session acting as a first step towards developing a network of researchers interested in both the opportunities and productive tensions encountered in materialist approaches to music. In this session, in contrast with the traditional mode of presentation, we will ask each participant to share a succinct, prepared statement (max. 3 minutes, i.e. 400 words) about their current research directions and work-in-progress in this area. This will be followed by an informal discussion between all participants. Without concealing differences between approaches, we hope that, in the spirit of scholarly collaboration, this will ultimately lead to future dialogue and cooperation within the field.



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