New Music and the Crises of Materiality (forthcoming)

I’m happy to say I’ve just signed a contract (with Routledge) for a new book on contemporary music and materialism, entitled New Music and the Crises of Materiality: Sounding Bodies and Objects in Late Modernity. The writing of this is well underway, and it is scheduled for delivery in mid-2020.

The blurb (work in progress) is as follows:

This book explores what changing ideas about the materials of musical composition and sound art tell us about transforming notions of materiality in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Drawing on musicology, cultural theory, and philosophy, it focuses on musical bodies, objects, and the environments of their interaction. Musical bodies exhibit tendencies of an era that embeds bodies within technologies and technologies within bodies, in which our bodies are not fully our own. Musical objects include not only instruments but sound, now envisaged as an impactful and plastic physical medium. And a rise in new philosophies and ecological compositional approaches posit bodies and objects as sounding actively in relation to one another.

Engaging with thinkers such as Theodor W. Adorno, Sara Ahmed, Rosi Braidotti, Jane Bennett, N. Katherine Hayles, Fredric Jameson, and Timothy Morton, it is suggested that recent music captures the felt sense of changing material conditions since at the least the 1970s, ranging from the rise of neo-liberalism and information technologies, to new conceptualisations of the natural world. It is argued that, fundamentally, new music’s emphasis on materiality, the bodily, and the physical, is symptomatic of a historical moment in which the notion of materiality is itself in flux. At the same time as registering material changes in society, music and sound art enable us to practice materiality differently: to play with it in new forms. Music is here both symptom and relief to materiality in crisis.

And here’s the chapter outline:


Part 1: Musical bodies

The (dis)possession of the body

Composing posthuman bodies

Part 2: Musical objects

Orientations and the piano-object

Music, painting, sculpture

Part 3: Musical materials

Musical material and (new) materialist theory

Changing natures and “ecologies” of composition

%d bloggers like this: