MPSG 2014

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The 4th Annual Conference of the Royal Musical Association Music and Philosophy Study Group (in collaboration with the Music and Philosophy Study Group of the American Musicological Society) was co-hosted by the Departments of Music and Philosophy at King’s College London and the Institute of Musical Research, University of London. It held at the Strand Campus of King’s College London on 27-28 June 2014.

The event was generously supported by King’s College London, the British Society of Aesthetics, the Music and Letters Trust, Trinity Laban Conservatoire, the University of Hull, and the Institute of Musical Research, University of London.

Download the conference programme, including the abstracts here.

Friday

9.00 – 10.00    Registration and Coffee (Entrance Hall,  King’s  Building)

10.00 – 10.05 Introductory words (Edmund J. Safra Lecture Theatre)

Tomas McAuley (Indiana University)

Nanette Nielsen (University of Nottingham)

10.05 – 11.35 Keynote i (Edmund J. Safra Lecture Theatre)

Chair: Bill Brewer (King’s College London)

Dmitri Tymoczko | Response from Diana Raffman

» Implicit Knowledge, Explanation, and the Embodied Logic of Rock Harmony

11.45 – 13.05 Parallel sessions i

a.Musical Works: without identity but about things or facts (Anatomy Lecture Theatre – K 6.29)

Chair: Bence Nanay (Antwerp/Cambridge)

Christopher Bartel (Appalachian State University)

» Musical Identity and Mash-Ups

Christian Frefel (University of Zurich)

» The Aboutness of Musical Works

  1. Aesthetic theories embedded in classical music (K -1.14)

Chair: Jonathan Owen Clark (Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance)

Benjamin Hansberry (Columbia University)

» Thick Musical Concepts and Theories of Sonata Form

Kevin O’Regan (City College, Norwich)

» Creating the Text of Music: Aesthetic Criticism, a Tale of an Aphorism, and Philosophy in the Musical Body

  1. The avant-garde: Between new technologies and theosophy (St. Davids Room)

Chair: Heather Wiebe (King’s College London)

 

Stephen Hinton (Stanford University)

» Kurt Weill’s “Film Opera”: Ideal and Reality

Beth Abbate (The Boston Conservatory)

» Esoteric Origins: Theosophical Images and Influences in Webern’s Op. 29

  1. Representing the authentic self (K 28)

Chair: Stephen Downes (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Joseph Ortiz (University of Texas at El Paso)

» Do Chickens Sing?

Thomas Irvine (University of Southampton)

» Listening to China with Rousseau and Herder

13.05 – 14.05 lunch(River Room, Staff Common Room, Entrance Hall)

14.15 – 16.15 PaRallel sessions ii

e.  Geometrical, grammatical, and timbral patterns (Anatomy Lecture Theatre – K 6.29)

Chair: MM McCabe (King’s College London)

Dean Rickles (University of Sydney)

» Observer-Selection and the Fundamental Problem of Musicology

Lodewijk Muns (The Netherlands)

» Music, Language, and the Deceptive Charms of Recursive Grammars

Alistair Isaac (University of Edinburgh)

» A Hybrid Theory of Timbre

  1. Music and ideals (K 28)

Chair: John Deathridge (King’s College London)

Benjamin K. Davies (Conservatori Superior del Liceu, Barcelona)

» The Politics of Intersubjective Consensus: Tracing Habermas’ Theory of Communicative Action in Beethoven’s Op.69

Ted Gordon (University of Chicago)

» Jankélévitch, Foucault, and the Ethics of the Ineffable

Amy Bauer (University of California, Irvine)

» Music, Philosophy and the Failure of Language

  1. At the bedside of the late nineteenth-century German subject (St. Davids Room)

 

Chair: Golan Gur (University of Cambridge)

Nicole Grimes (University College Dublin)

» The Last Great Cultural Harvest: Nietzsche and Brahms’s Vier ernste Gesänge

Katherine Fry (King’s College London)

» Nietzsche’s Critique of Musical Decadence: Reading The Case of Wagner

Mauro Fosco Bertola (Heidelberg University)

» Žižek’s Subject, Wagner’s Erotics: Slavoj Žižek and the Politics of Love in Wagner

  1. Thoughts and emotions (K -1.14)

Chair: Matthew Head (King’s College London)

Tom Mulherin (Georgetown University)

» What Kind of Idealist was E. T. A. Hoffmann?

Alexander Wilfing (Austrian Academy of Sciences, University of Vienna)

» Hanslick’s Aesthetics, Kant’s Critique, and Austrian Philosophy: A Long- Overdue Reassessment

Krzysztof Guczalski (Jagiellonian University Krakow)

» Against Formalism in Music: Zangwill Versus … Hanslick

16.15 – 17.00 coffee(Chapters)

17.00 – 18.30 Keynote ii (Edmund J. Safra Lecture Theatre)

Chair: Michael Fend (King’s College London)

Kathleen Higgins | Response from Jason Stanyek

» Foreign Music and Musical Hybrids

18.30 – 19.45 Wine Receotion (Chapters)

20.00             Conference Dinner (Sofra Restaurant)

Saturday

9.00 – 10.00    RegistRation and coffee (Entrance Hall, King’s Building)

10.00 – 11.30 Keynote iii (Edmund J. Safra Lecture Theatre)

Chair: Jeremy Barham (University of Surrey)

 

Philip Kitcher | Response from Alexander Rehding

» Philosophical Music? A View from Late Mahler

11.40-13.00    PaRallel discussion Panels

i.  Music in Museums (K 1.28)

Charlotte de Mille, chair (Public Programmes, The Courtauld Gallery / Hon. Research Associate, The University of Bristol)

» Pure Visual Music? Curating Music at the Courtauld Gallery

Stephen Crowe (freelance composer)

» The Francis Bacon Opera, Staging

Tempe Nell (Institute of Education)

» Multisensory gallery learning: using music to unlock visual art

  1. Music and Capitalism (Anatomy Lecture Theatre – K 29)

Zeynep Bulut, chair (King’s College London)

Anna Morcom (Royal Holloway, University of London)

» Locating music in twenty-first century capitalism: a view from exile Tibet

Michael Gallope (University of Minnesota)

» Sonic Property, Fragile Ontologies

Huw Hallam (King’s College London)

» Glorification, Free-Market Style

13.00-14.00    lunch (Chapters)

14.10-16.20    PaRallel sessions iii

each including one collaborative paper or lecture recital

  1. Cognitive and affective processes (K 28)

Margaret Moore (University of Tennesee)

» The Neuroaesthetics of Musical Beauty: A Philosophical Evaluation

Miranda Mowbray (Bristol, United Kingdom)

» Affect and Future Music Technology

Cynthia M. Grund (University of Southern Denmark) [presenting]; Aimee Cloutier, Jesse Latimer, Michael O’Boyle, William Westney, and James Yang (Texas Tech University)

» Feeling and Form – An Empirical Coupling

  1. Performance (St. Davids Room)

Nina Penner (McGill University)

» Operatic Performances as Aural-Visual Fictions

Clement Canonne (University of Burgundy, France)

» Looking for Improvisation: From Improvisation’s Conceptual Versatility to the Emergence of a Musical Practice

Steve Tromans (Middlesex University)

» Beyond Documentation: A Musician-Researcher’s Perspective

  1. To what and to whom are we listening, when we listen to music? (K -1.14)

Chair: Roger Scruton (St Andrews / Oxford)

James Matharu (University of Oxford)

» Scruton’s ‘Fusion’: A Puzzle

Eran Guter (Yezreel Valley College) and Inbal Guter (University of Haifa)

» Thoughtwriting and Musical Ornamentality

  1. Pleasure & Empathy (Anatomy Lecture Theatre – K 29)

Chair: Nick Zangwill (University of Hull)

Rita Elizabeth Risser (United Arab Emirates University)

» The Art of Qur’anic Recitation

Deniz Peters (University of Music and Performing Arts Graz)

» On the Question of Musical Empathy

Kris Goffin and Annelies Monseré (Ghent University)

» Guilty Pleasures: Resolving the Paradox of Bad Music

16.20 – 16.55 coffee (Chapters)

17.00 – 18.30 Keynote iV (Edmund J. Safra Lecture Theatre)

Carolyn Abbate | Response from Murray Smith

» Sound Object Lessons

18.30 – 18.35 closing words (Edmund J. Safra Lecture Theatre)

Hannah Templeton (King’s College London)

Jeremy Coleman (King’s College London)

Friday

I. Implicit Knowledge, Explanation, and the Embodied Logic of Rock Harmony (Edmund J. Safra Lecture Theatre)

Professor Dmitri Tymoczko (Princeton University)

Dmitri Tymoczko is a composer and music theorist who teaches at Princeton University. He is the author of one book (A Geometry of Music, Oxford University Press) and two CDs (Beat Therapy, for jazz/funk ensembles, and Crackpot Hymnal, for classical ensembles, both available from Bridge Records). His articles have appeared in the American Mathematical Monthly, the Atlantic Monthly, Berfrois, Boston Review, Civilization, Integral, Journal of Music Theory, Lingua Franca, Music Analysis, Music Theory Online, Music Theory Spectrum, Science, Seed, and Transition. Dmitri’s music has won numerous prizes and awards, including a Guggenheim fellowship, a Charles Ives Scholarship from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, two Hugh F MacColl Prizes from Harvard University, and the Eisner and DeLorenzo prizes from the University of California Berkeley.

Respondent:

Professor Diana Raffman (University of Toronto)

Diana Raffman is a professor of philosophy at the University of Toronto. She has published a number of papers about perceptual experience, language, and music, and is the author of two books—Language, Music, and Mind (MIT/Bradford, 1993) and Unruly Words: A Study of Vague Language (Oxford, 2014). She received her BA in music from Yale College. Before embarking on a PhD in philosophy, Raffman studied flute playing with Doriot Anthony Dwyer, then principal flutist of the Boston Symphony, and was a Leonard Bernstein fellow at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood.

 

  1. Foreign Music and Musical Hybrids (Edmund Safra Lecture Theatre)

Professor Kathleen Higgins (University of Texas at Austin)

Kathleen Higgins is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. Her main areas of research are philosophy of music, aesthetics, continental philosophy, and philosophy of emotion. She is author of The Music between Us: Is Music the Universal Language? (University of Chicago, 2012), The Music of our Lives (revised edition, Lexington, 2010), Nietzsche’s “Zarathustra” (2nd ed., Lexington, 2010), Comic Relief: Nietzsche’s Gay Science (Oxford University Press, 2000), and co-author (with Robert C. Solomon) of books on Nietzsche and the history of philosophy. She has edited or co-edited several other books on such topics as Nietzsche, German Idealism, aesthetics, ethics, erotic love, non-Western philosophy, and the philosophy of Robert C. Solomon. Recent work includes “Biology and Culture in Musical Emotions,” Emotion Review 4 (2012) and “Visual Music and Synaesthesia,” in The Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Music (2010). She has been a Visiting Fellow at the Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences of Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (2013), Visiting Fellow of the Australian National University Philosophy Department and Canberra School of Music (1997), and Resident Scholar at the Rockefeller Foundation’s Bellagio Study and Conference Centre (1993). She has also been a frequent visiting professor at the University of Auckland.

Respondent:

Professor Jason Stanyek (University of Oxford)

Jason Stanyek teaches at the University of Oxford where he is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology and Tutorial Fellow at St. John’s College. Before arriving to Oxford he was Assistant Professor at New York University, Visiting Associate Professor at Harvard University, and External Faculty Fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center. His research on improvisation, on music technology, and on Brazilian music and dance has appeared in a range of academic journals and edited volumes. The two-volume Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music Studies (co-edited with Sumanth Gopinath) was published in early 2014 and “Deadness: Technologies of the Intermundane”—co- written with Benjamin Piekut and published in TDR—was given the Association of Theater in Higher Education’s Outstanding Article Award in 2011 and was also named by MIT Press as one of the 50 most influential articles published across all of its journals over the past 50 years. From 2013-2018 he will serve as Reviews Editor of the journal Twentieth-Century Music.

 

Saturday

  • Philosophical Music? A View from Late Mahler (Edmund J. Safra Lecture Theatre)

Professor Philip Kitcher (Columbia University)

Philip Kitcher was born in 1947 in London. He obtained his B.A. from Cambridge University, and his Ph.D. from Princeton. He is currently John Dewey Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. He has written fifteen books on a wide variety of topics, including studies of Wagner’s Ring and Joyce’s Finnegans Wake. His most recent book, Deaths in Venice: The Cases of Gustav von Aschenbach, explores philosophical issues in Thomas Mann’s novella, Benjamin Britten’s opera, and Luchino Visconti’s film (particularly focusing on the use of music in the film). He has been President of the American Philosophical Association (Pacific Division) and Editor-in-Chief of Philosophy of Science. He has won many fellowships and awards, and, in 2006, he was the inaugural recipient of the Prometheus Prize, awarded by the American Philosophical Association for lifetime achievement in expanding the frontiers of science and philosophy. He is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and an Honorary Foreign Member of the Turkish Academy of Sciences.

Respondent:

Professor Alexander Rehding (Harvard University)

Alexander Rehding is Fanny Peabody Professor of Music and Department Chair at the Department of Music at Harvard University. He is editor-in-chief of the Oxford Handbooks Online/Oxford Research References series and served as editor of Acta musicologica. His research focuses on the history of music theory and on 19th and 20th-century music, with publications such as Hugo Riemann and the Birth of Modern Musical Thought (2003) and Music and Monumentality (2009). Rehding’s interest in the encounters of tonal theory with non-tonal music has found expression in a range of projects, including a collaborative exhibition (with online catalogue) “Sounding China in Enlightenment Europe” (2012), and a number of articles on ancient Greek music and ancient Egyptian music. Other research interests include questions in aesthetics, media, and sound studies. In 2013/14 he is the convener of a John E. Sawyer Seminar series on the topic of “Hearing Modernity”.

 

  1. Sound Object Lessons (Edmund J. Safra Lecture Theatre)

Professor Carolyn Abbate (Harvard University)

Carolyn Abbate is Professor of Music at Harvard. She received a BA from Yale University and a PhD from Princeton University. She has also taught at Princeton and the University of Pennsylvania, and (as a visiting professor) at the Freie Universität Berlin; and held research fellowships and lectureships at the Wissenschaftskolleg Berlin, the University of Hong Kong, and the Institute for Advanced Study Princeton. Outside academia, she has worked as a dramaturge and director. Many of Abbate’s writings focus on opera, from its beginnings around 1600 through the 21st century. She has published essays on musical automata from Mozart to Ravel; film scores in the 1930s; musical hermeneutics; the ethics of overlooking the ephemeral; Wagner and the soundtrack. Her latest book, co-authored with Roger Parker, is A History of Opera: The Last Four Hundred Years (Penguin, 2012). She has also worked as a translator – most recently, of writings by French philosopher Vladimir Jankélévitch. In 2014, Abbate was named a University Professor, Harvard’s highest honour for a faculty member.

Respondent:

Professor Murray Smith (University of Kent)

Murray Smith is Professor of Film Studies at the University of Kent, Canterbury, UK, co-director of the Aesthetics Research Centre at Kent, and President of the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image. He has published widely on film, art and aesthetics. His research interests include the psychology of film viewing, and especially the place of emotion in film spectatorship; the philosophy of film, and of art more generally; music and sound design in film; cognitive constraints on the appreciation of music, film and art; musique concrete as a musical practice, and as an approach to film sound design; the interplay between musical and dramatic imperatives; imaginary soundtracks; music video and audiovisual composition; and the intersection of popular and experimental music. His publications include Engaging Characters: Fiction, Emotion, and the Cinema (OUP); Trainspotting (BFI); Film Theory and Philosophy (co-edited with Richard Allen) (OUP); Contemporary Hollywood Cinema (co-edited with Steve Neale) (Routledge); and Thinking through Cinema (co-edited with Tom Wartenberg) (Blackwell). He is currently at work on Film, Art, and the Third Culture (forthcoming with OUP).

 

 

  1. Music in Museums (K 28)

Programming music in art museums and galleries has become frequent in recent years, demonstrable by a number of high profile exhibitions in which music has operated, but there has been very little analysis of the reasons or benefits of this activity for either academic or non-academic beneficiaries. Visual art and instrumental music share their non-verbal quality, and correspondingly art historians and musicologists share the challenge of analysis of one art form in the medium of another (conventionally text). Through case-study examples, this panel explores the ways in which directly juxtaposing music and art can provoke engagement with the methods and materials of an exhibition that text cannot: scholarly questions relating to form, materiality, historical context, and patronage on the one hand, and third sector questions of audience development, innovation and participation on the other. Awareness of the constant transposition of media is critical to developing public programmes that acknowledge and respond to our contemporary multi-media experience.

Charlotte de Mille, chair (Public Programmes, The Courtauld Gallery / Hon. Research Associate, The University of Bristol)

» Pure Visual Music? Curating Music at the Courtauld Gallery

Stephen Crowe (freelance composer)

» The Francis Bacon Opera, Staging

Tempe Nell (Institute of Education)

» Multisensory gallery learning: using music to unlock visual art

 

  1. Music and 21st-century Capitalism

(Anatomy Lecture Theatre – K 6.29)

Do philosophers and music scholars have an obligation to think critically and even prescriptively about music’s material and economic conditions? Should we further ask how music is actually shaped by capitalism? Or what part music might play in its reproduction or transformation? Together the interdisciplinary nexus between music and philosophy has tackled a range of familiar themes: the field of aesthetics broadly conceived, the humanist topics of ethics, morality, spirituality, and empathy, as well as more abstract and metaphysical questions of temporality, authenticity, and ontology. As a potentially transformative addendum to these existing zones of inquiry, this panel asks how one can think critically and philosophically about the relationship between music and capitalism. We are particularly interested in exploring how capitalism might be understood as a defining context of musical practice and experience, yet a context that is itself defined by processes of historical and geographical differentiation. Possible topics for discussion may include: music’s changing relationships to sponsorship and patronage, to cultural policy, commercial markets and record labels, to changing models of mechanical reproduction, informal economies, DIY culture, entrepreneurship, royalties, publishing, piracy, and intellectual property, to political questions of center and periphery, the empowered and the exploited, and to casual, affective, and sacrificial modes of labor.

Zeynep Bulut, chair (King’s College London)

Anna Morcom (Royal Holloway, University of London)

» Locating music in twenty-first century capitalism: a view from exile Tibet

Michael Gallope (University of Minnesota)

» Sonic Property, Fragile Ontologies

Huw Hallam (King’s College London)

» Glorification, Free-Market Style

 

 

Parallel SeSSionS i

 

  1. Musical Works: without identity but about things or facts (Anatomy Lecture Theatre – K 29)

Christopher Bartel (Appalachian State University)

» Musical Identity and Mash-Ups

How should we identify musical works? While there have been many theories of identity offered by philosophers of music, I take the account offered by Stephen Davies (in Musical Works and Performances, 2001) to be the most sophisticated and plausible account. Yet despite the plausibility of Davies’ account, his view takes for granted the idea that musical works have stable identities and can be clearly distinguished from other musical works. Against this, I want to suggest that the practice of “mash-ups” offers an interesting challenge to this presumption of stability. Mash-ups are cases were two (or more) pre-recorded songs are seamlessly blended together to create a new track—typically by overlaying the vocal track of one song to the instrumental track of another. A good mash-up is one where the elements used from each of the original songs are clearly recognizable and yet are incomplete—that is, the contributions of each song are clearly identifiable and neither of the original songs are used in their entirety. The claim I will consider is this: mash-ups are musical hybrids where each of the original works maintains its identity despite its being used in a new context and yet are themselves distinct, individual works. This claim will be defended on the grounds of our evaluative practices: the power of a good mash-up is its ability to reveal the aesthetic possibilities of that very song. These are not wholly new songs that merely refer to their originals; but rather they are hybrids that maintain the identities of the originals in order to draw new aesthetic effects out of each. If this is correct, then we must accept that the identity of musical works is considerably more fluid than the main theories of identity would allow.

Christian Frefel (University of Zurich)

» The Aboutness of Musical Works

The question whether musical works can have representational features has a long history and has been in the focus of philosophical interest at least since Hanslick’s Vom Musikalisch- Schönen (1854). Recently, Julian Dodd renewed some arguments against the claim that musical works can have representational properties in his Works of Music (2007). If Dodd is right, we merely associate e. g. the sound of the sea with Debussy’s La Mer: Pieces of music don’t represent anything according to Dodd, they are not about anything. He presents two reasons for this. First, he denies musical representation because musical works are supposed to

 

be unable to express thoughts (propositions). This inability is supposed to be grounded in the lack of conventions about musical representations. I will argue, against Dodd, that there are in fact conventions which secure musical representation. These conventions are of a minimalistic character and therefore they are easily overlooked, but they nevertheless exist. Second, Dodd argues that someone does not fail to understand a musical piece if she has not grasped the putative representational features of the piece and these putative representational features thus cannot be representational features of the work. This argument is based on a certain understanding of musical experience: Genuine musical experience is supposed to be merely an experience of acoustic features; i. e. the experience of representational properties is not involved in musical experience. But this understanding of musical experience does not reflect our diverse interest in music as music. The way a composer represents something with a musical work is often of significant aesthetic relevance and musical experience is therefore more than just an experience of acoustic features, or so I will argue. I conclude that our ascription of representational properties to musical works in our everyday talk about music has to be taken seriously: At least some musical works really are about things or facts.

  1. Aesthetic theories embedded in classical music (K -1.14)

Benjamin Hansberry (Columbia University)

» Thick Musical Concepts and Theories of Sonata Form

When critics disagree, and such disagreements beget arguments, we usually expect them to converge on some agreed-upon conclusion that, hopefully, reflects the way the world really is. But with aesthetic matters, including music, the involvement of personal experience—and all its messiness and variation—complicates matters. In music theory, moreover, the ostensible concern for musical “facts” introduces yet another layer of difficulty. Ethical debates bear many similar features (lack of convergence, dependence on intuitions, unclarity about methods and outcome) and solutions from meta-ethics can elucidate aesthetic debates as well. In this paper, I will argue that the idea of “thick ethical concepts” in particular can clarify music-theoretic disagreements, specifically those surrounding recent theories of sonata form.

In Ethics and the Limits of Philosophy, Bernard Williams analyzes ethical disagreement, arguing that it consists not in differences in moral theories, but in basic divergences in conceptualization of the ethical world. A central feature of his analysis is the thick ethical concept, which has both descriptive and judgmental components. I develop an analogous idea for music, thick musical concepts, which similarly shape music theories and analytical disputes.

In a prominent recent debate in North American music theory, between William Caplin’s and James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy’s theories of sonata form, both theories develop accounts of 18th-century tonal form but disagree on crucial points, including on the nature of certain expositional types (specifically the “continuous exposition”). These differences result in contradictory analyses and a number of critique-and-response exchanges, both in print and at professional conferences. I argue that differences in thick musical concepts play a central role

 

in these debates and I use these concepts to pinpoint when interlocutors talk past each other. Crucially, the differences in these theories lies not in their analytical results, but in different conceptions of analysis. The thick concepts which inform these claims are usually overlooked in the course of analytical debates.

I conclude by suggesting that a structure similar to Williams’s meta-ethics shapes most musical discourse; claims issue from a particular set of thick concepts that serve to both describe music and assert a particular judgment about it.

Kevin O’Regan (City College, Norwich)

» Creating the Text of Music: Aesthetic Criticism, a Tale of an Aphorism, and Philosophy in the Musical Body

The enlarged aesthetic status of pure instrumental music, in the eighteenth century, hinges upon an important problem. Musicologists such as Bellamy Hosler hold that many composers ‘invested’ their instrumental music with ‘progressive’ characteristics, setting the standard for a new aesthetic which existing theory had to catch up to. According to this widely accepted explanation, developments in aesthetic theory come about in order to make sense of musical artworks that test the limits of theory and to capture their spirit. The correlation between such precedential musical works and the philosophies subsequently attempting to evaluate their ontology becomes therefore an external one: philosophy’s relationship with music occurs on the outside of it. Equally, it is recognized that the aesthetic direction of discourse about music in the eighteenth century is eventually such that music is separated from everything but its own philosophy, or the literary and philosophical descriptions which articulate its immanent nature. The latter conception of philosophy brings philosophy closer to music, as close as Friedrich Schlegel’s famous aphorism, ‘Must not purely instrumental music create its own [philosophical] text?’ (Das Athenäum, 444). This paper argues that combining these two viewpoints – the idea of the precedential status of ‘progressive’ musical works in relation to the aesthetic theories that are supposed to come to terms with them and the developing contemporary idea that philosophy itself is the closest thing to music – fissures our critical understanding of the nature and function of music. The solution proposed in this paper is that the emergence of the idea of aesthetic autonomy, in the philosophy of the eighteenth century, has a specific logical corollary: that musical works inherently ‘embody’ aesthetic attitudes that were current at the time of their creation. This questions the accepted notion of precedential musical works, considering instead (using philosophical analyses grounded in practical descriptions of music) how aesthetic theory is embedded within music itself. By proposing that individual pieces of music inherently exhibit (to a greater or lesser extent) aesthetic autonomy as an idea in their conception and production, I indicate a new theoretical basis for the common experience of listening to music ‘absolutely’.

  1. The avant-garde: Between new technologies and theosophy (St. Davids Room)

Stephen Hinton (Stanford University)

» Kurt Weill’s “Film Opera”: Ideal and Reality

 

Weill’s career began during the multimedia revolution of the Weimar Republic. Like many of his generation in the incipient era of mechanical reproduction, he welcomed technological innovation, inspired by ideals that were artistic as well as political. And as music critic for Der deutsche Rundfunk, a by-line started in 1925, he had ample opportunity to contribute to the lively and productive discourse about the new media. Yet when it came to his own creative projects, reality often fell short of the perceived potential. In his last column for the radio journal, which appeared in May 1929, he sounded a note of disillusionment because of what he saw as censorship of one of his own compositions. The pattern would repeat itself on numerous occasions: his initially enthusiastic embrace of technology, motivated to a greater or lesser degree by the prospect of a supplementary or alternative source of income, yielded to frustration, as the means of mass production hindered rather than helped the realization of his musical conception. He remained hopeful to the last, however, ready to entertain new projects that would enable him to translate his ambitions as a composer for the theater to the cinema. He also produced a body of theoretical writing that reflected those ambitions with a characteristic mix of pragmatism and idealism. Apart from working with mixed success on all manner of movie projects, he continued throughout his career to harbor the ideal of creating a new genre, “film opera.” The abiding ambition was to transfer his aspirations as a composer for the musical theater to the movie theater, from stage to screen, with the aim of producing a hybrid form, something cinematic yet resting on musico-dramatic principles. The paper addresses two related but separate aims by 1) providing an exposition of the composer’s ideas about music in the new media, and 2) discussing the various film-related projects in which he was involved to a greater or lesser degree.

Beth Abbate (The Boston Conservatory)

» Esoteric Origins: Theosophical Images and Influences in Webern’s Op. 29

By December 2, 1939, Webern was able to write to Hildegard Jone that the work which had begun in July 1938 as a “symphonic cycle for solo, chorus and orchestra” had become a three- movement “’Cantata.’” Seemingly he had followed his compositional habit of creating two or more very individual pieces from a shared twelve-tone matrix, then superimposing a unifying interpretation on the whole. The text of each movement is drawn from a different poem of Jone: the text of the second movement—composed first—describes the cyclical life of the maple tree, the brief text of the first depicts the lightning strike of the creative life-force “from the cloud of the Word,” and the text of the third refers to the no longer perceptible music of Apollo and his Graces. Yet, in his letter to Jone, Webern suggested that, for him, the images from all three texts were related: “Aren’t the ‘little wings’ and ‘Lightning and thunder’ answering the questions posed in the ‘Chariten’ verses…? Aren’t they saying what is implied by the latter, by the ‘sound’, the ‘word’, the ‘seal of the spectrum’?” In fact, each of the texts demonstrates a combination of at least two of three distinct philosophic viewpoints, with the first, “lightning” text combining or “syncretizing” references to all three: Goethe’s theory of evolutionary development, Ferdinand Ebner’s theology of “the Word,” and ideas from contemporary Theosophical thought. Theosophical images and ideas appear in all three texts; they convey central theosophical doctrines of the unity of all religions and the perfecting of the human race.

 

Webern would have considered “perfection” to be a central topic of the Cantata, choosing as he did to end with the words “[Charis] comes in darkness, gift of the becoming/evolving heart, dew of perfection.” Further, while unity of musical material and structure was always a priority for Webern, the last movement of op.29 seems particularly bent on finding unity in a complex, multiple-form structure. His use of the row—already constructed for maximum unity—and vocal and instrumental textures, and his references to a long-absent tonality, all serve not only to depict the text, but to actually demonstrate its underlying philosophies.

In this paper I first point out the philosophical origins and intersections of each text, after which I consider how Webern’s choices of rows, textures, musical shapes, and forms highlight meanings of the text and promote their philosophical assumptions. Primary analytical focus is on the final “Charis” section of the last movement, where the rows, textures, and complex formal structure resolve themselves into a state of unity and “perfection.”

  1. Representing the authentic self (K 28)

Joseph Ortiz (University of Texas at El Paso)

» Do Chickens Sing?

This paper uses the figure of Chaucer’s Chanticleer in The Nun’s Priest’s Tale as an unusual starting point for a discussion of subjectivity in music. Animals of all varieties—but especially chickens and birds—are often represented as songsters in medieval and Renaissance Europe, in scientific and philosophical contexts as well as poetic ones. For example, no less a theologian than Martin Luther describes birdsong as a naturally occurring, and somewhat involuntary, music that praises its divine creator. If we entertain the idea of singing animals as more than a ludic fable (as Luther and other early modern writers do), then we are in a position to complicate the relationship between the singing, musical body and the notion of an expressive subjectivity. The spectacle of singing animals evokes a philosophy of music in which the singing body does not inhabit a subjective consciousness identified with the song’s speaker (as Mark Booth has famously argued), but instead evacuates itself of any claim to subjectivity. In this light, song appears as an instinctive, physical activity rather than an expressive one.

With his characteristic sense of irony, Chaucer probes the question of musical subjectivity in his poem by foregrounding the image of singing animals. Moreover, Chaucer raises the stakes of the matter by making Chanticleer, his best example of a musically gifted chicken, the poem’s most ardent advocate of Boethian philosophy. In this way, the staged debate over the interpretation of dreams in the tale functions as a mask for another, related debate about the condition of music, in which the question is whether music is an intentional form of utterance in need of deciphering, or simply the involuntary product of biological and humoral urges. Thus, I suggest that Chaucer’s comic tale about a singing chicken can be read as a serious meditation on the limitations of Boethian philosophy on the one hand, and on the ontology of music within a linguistic and philosophical framework on the other.

Thomas Irvine (University of Southampton)

» Listening to China with Rousseau and Herder

 

In this paper I explore an unusual problematic of historical philosophical listening: the reactions of Jean Jacques Rousseau and Johann Gottfried Herder to the sounds of China. I argue that their largely imaginary constructions of Chinese soundworlds play significant roles in eighteenth-century music aesthetics, political philosophy and anthropology that in turn shape ongoing discussions of these issues.

Rousseau did not write much about Chinese music and, more widely, Chinese sounds. But what he did write—notably in the article ‘Musique’ in the Dictionnaire de musique (1767)— was very influential. Rousseau ought to have distrusted Chinese music, which he knew had a long history and elaborate theory. Such complexity was for Rousseau a sure sign of decadence, inner rot—and creeping dictatorship. Thus it is ironic that he seized on the anti-harmonic bias of the Chinese as a sign of China’s essential authenticity and greater proximity to his ideal of communities where sound and writing are united.

Like Rousseau Herder theorised against the background of contemporary music aesthetics, taking sides with ‘melodic’ Italian music against the ‘noise’ of French lyric tragedy. And like Rousseau, Herder drew the imagined sounds of China into his ideas. But in the Ideen zur Philosophie der Geschichte der Menschheit (1784-1791) Herder turns violently against China. In his astounding formulation, Chinese culture suffers from overly sensitive hearing. The result is a Chinese inability to get past the ‘pretty ding-a-ling’ of their language, pure Schall (noise- sound), to Ton (tone-sound) and the true expression that goes with it.

I will frame my discussion with brief recourse to Jacques Derrida’s discussion of Chinese writing systems in Of Grammatology (1967), a book in which Rousseau looms large. Derrida’s turn to China underscores the effect of Rousseau and Herder’s new sonic anthropology on High Enlightenment rationalism—and present discussions of the logocentric, indeed Eurocentric ear.

 

Parallel SeSSionS ii

 

  1. Geometrical, grammatical, and timbral patterns (Anatomy Lecture Theatre – K 29)

Dean Rickles (University of Sydney)

» Observer-Selection and the Fundamental Problem of Musicology

What is a theory of music about? Minimally I take it to be about musical structure. But beyond this rough notion, it is a surprisingly difficult question to answer. Indeed, one even finds musicologist David Lewin writing that “[a]ctually, I am not really sure what a ‘theory of music’ might be.” At the root of the difficulty is a tension that I’ll call ‘the fundamental problem of musicology’: is musicology’s subject matter objective (sonic) structure or subjective (cognitive) structure? Roughly: is it ‘out there’ or ‘in the head’? In this talk I will argue that resolving the tension involves both objective and subjective elements. A kind of ‘observer selection’ effect is responsible for picking out the particular objective structures that we designate to be ‘musical works.’ (To give a very simple example, it is clear that there will be some kind of ‘observer selection’ process involved in basic musicological concepts such as tonality, since music lies

 

within such a limited pitch range, as a consequence of the frequency sensitivity of the human auditory system.)

I build my argument around the notion of a ‘tonal space’ that has proven influential in many musicological theories (and that involves the modelling and analysing of musical structure using the idea that intervals are tantamount to transformations on such a space). I focus on Dmitri Tymoczko’s development of the idea into a detailed geometrical framework based around five “principles” that refer back to subjective (and neural) elements, such as preference for consonance and efficiency in progressions. He claims these function as constraints (“quasi- laws of musical coherence”), such that when one enforces such constraints on the organization of musical structure one can understand how and why music ‘is successful.’ However, while this sounds like a miracle, I argue that it is highly unsatisfactory as any kind of explanation of musical structure since the constraints are simply the results of empirical studies that are plugged in by hand: they are not emergent features of the mathematical framework. This is an example of observer-selection in action.

Lodewijk Muns (The Netherlands)

» Music, Language, and the Deceptive Charms of Recursive Grammars

Interest in the relations between language and music has grown in the past years. An important factor in this development is the rise of cognitive science.

In 2002 Hauser, Chomsky and Fitch made the conjecture that the specifically human, and specifically linguistic element in the capacity for language might be a cognitive-computational capacity for recursion. This is patently wrong (recursive features are apparent in music, if nowhere else). Even so, this article has brought about an intense and continuing debate.

Recursion may have an important place in cognitive processes. Recursive theoretical models may also seduce the theorist to false abstractions and pseudo-explanations. This is observed in some versions of musical and linguistic formalism, which share a common rationalist-idealist background; paradigmatically, in Chomsky’s controversial Minimalism.

It is also observed in the reductive practices of Riemann’s Musikalische Logik (1873) and Schenker’s Der freie Satz (1935). More extensively I will discuss Lerdahl and Jackendoff’s attempt to transform music theory into a theory of musical perception (A Generative Theory of Tonal Music, 1983). They do so with the help of the formal method and psychological premises of Generative Grammar.

The theory rests on a shaky ontological thesis, the existence of the musical artwork as a mental object (a substitute for Chomsky’s ‘I-language’). Like Schenker theory, it is further undermined by what Leonard Meyer has called the ‘fallacy of hierarchic uniformity’, and more generally, by its radical decontextualisation of music. There is a paradox in the authors’ careful avoidance of a music-language comparison, and the strong linguistic analogy implied in their conception of a theory of music as grammar.

An alternative can be sketched which (1) denies any ontological status to the musical artwork;

(2) recognises that music and language are incommensurable, yet (3) may have substantial

 

commonalities, within a certain historical-aesthetic framework. This view finds support in functionalist linguistic theories. It calls for a conception of grammar which includes, or is supplemented by, a theory of musical discourse.

Alistair Isaac (University of Edinburgh)

» A Hybrid Theory of Timbre

Since the advent of electronic sound production techniques, timbre has played an increasingly important role in contemporary music. Although there have been scattered attempts at systematizing the musical possibilities of timbre (e.g. Schaeffer, 1966; Erikson, 1975; Thoresen, 2004), there is as yet no consensus “music theory” of timbre. I take it that philosophy, psychology, and aesthetics may all contribute constructively to this endeavour. The goal of this project is to juxtapose evidence from these areas in order to motivate a two-stage theory of timbre perception.

Theories of timbre perception fall into roughly two categories. Helmholtz-style theories take timbre to be a function of the spectral composition of the sound wave; Gibson-style theories take timbre to be a function of the physical event type that produced the sound wave. While psychophysical studies of timbre tend toward the former theory (e.g. the work of McAdams), the latter theory has become popular in contemporary philosophy of sound (e.g. O’Callaghan, 2007). An adequate theory of timbre perception will predict both our categorization of sounds into timbres and our assessment of similarities between timbres. While the Gibson theory does a convincing job at predicting timbre categories across arbitrary changes in the sound wave (a violin still sounds like a violin when heard from a long distance outdoors, down a long hallway, through a wall, etc.), it fails miserably at predicting timbre similarities. A babbling brook sounds like a room full of people despite radical differences in the physical mechanism producing the sound; a guitar played through a wah pedal sounds like a baby crying. On this task Helmholtz does much better.

These considerations motivate a two-stage theory of timbre, a hybrid between the Gibson and Helmholtz approaches. Primitive categorization, i.e. timbre identity, supervenes on physical event types, yet similarities between these categories supervene on similarities between waveforms. I support this two-stage theory by demonstrating how it sheds light on several case study attempts at notating timbre, e.g. Stockhausen’s translation of the score of Mikrophonie I from German into English, and recent attempts to use Thoresen’s sound Typomorphology to notate electronic music for performance.

  1. Music and ideals (K 28)

Benjamin K. Davies (Conservatori Superior del Liceu, Barcelona)

» The Politics of Intersubjective Consensus: Tracing Habermas’ Theory of Communicative Action in Beethoven’s Op.69

Beethoven’s lifetime coincided with the apogee of the Public Sphere, as systematically analyzed by Jürgen Habermas in Strukturwandel der Öffentlichkeit (1962), a ‘third space’ distinct from both state apparatus and economic markets which, for Habermas, represented an institutional

 

location for emancipatory reason and for the valid claims of formal democracy. From around 1830 onwards, pressure from social, cultural and political developments associated with industrialization led to the blurring of the demarcation between public and private milieus, and an increasing entwining of state and society. Faced with this historical contiguity, Habermas’ later theoretical work seeks to define the generalized conditions for such a sphere, which would issue from what he terms Universal Pragmatics. Certain validity claims are posited as implicit to any rational speech situation, and associated with typologies of speech-act and with the physical, social and subjective worlds that constitute the human ontology.

Politicized readings (as opposed to reception studies) of Beethoven’s musical texts have most frequently posited affinity with democratic or republican ideals through a supposed exemplification of the heroic individual. At least one work, however—the Sonata for ‘Cello and Piano, op. 69—exhibits processes which can be seen to prefigure Universal Pragmatics. Op.69 faces ‘the problem of establishing a balancing of function between the two instruments… for the first time.’ The first movement is marked by a constant positioning—antagonistic or conciliatory—on the part of the two instruments for possession of, and developmental prerogatives over, the musical material. This is not merely a matter of surface texture: it determines both the specific conception of sonata form and the thematic dialectic.

The main theme is fully stated only in the coda (m.259). A semi-cadence in m.6 effectively opens a parenthetical, non-discursive space within which a series of claims and counterclaims can be stated, and either validated or refuted. Thus, the movement seeks to enact an ideal speech situation where, for both participants, there is a symmetrical distribution of chances to choose and pursue shared and individual objectives. Only when this has been accomplished can the main theme be completed.

Ted Gordon (University of Chicago)

» Jankélévitch, Foucault, and the Ethics of the Ineffable

Vladimir Jankélévitch’s concepts of ineffability, charm, and drastic action have fueled a renewed interest in the ontology of music in the past several years. This shift toward embodiment, affective response, and phenomenology raises a fundamental question about the ethics of music: if music indeed is ineffable, entrancing, and drastic, then under what ethos should a composer create new works? And under what ethos should a listener attempt to understand and evaluate music?

I argue that Jankélévitch’s ethical position results from a kind of “deontological intuitionism”. A composer is bound by a spiritual duty to the nature of music itself; but rather than     a historically-determined, dialectical system of signification, music is instead rendered unspeakable, locatable only in the charme generated by the phenomenological encounter with the audition of the musical object. Praising music that mocks, speaks in riddles, wears a mask, or even negates, this ethics demands that composers cast off the rationality, historicity, and progressive teleology of certain strains of Modernism. On the other hand, it also demands that both composers and listeners adopt a certain set of practices in order to achieve a sense of embodied utopia: a state of verve. This enchanted state is situated in the event of musical

 

audition, which encompasses both deictic excerpts of musical scores and descriptions of actual hearing. Ethical musical praxis, according to Jankélévitch, results in the power of music to temporarily remove listeners from rationality and enter into a state of drastic enchantment. The cultivation of such aesthetic experiences was a primary focus of Foucault’s ethical turn: they promote radical self-sovereignty and the telling of truth in the face of increasing state oppression. Jankélévitch’s ethics can be understood in terms of Foucault’s interpretation of Cynical ethics, focusing on drastic embodiments of truth-telling.

The ethics of music are a growing field of musicological interest, and Jankélévitch’s writings offer an alternative to the rational, dialectic, Germano-centric discourse surrounding 20th- Century European music. Reading Jankélévitch through Foucault, I begin to explore the possibilities for expanded thought on the ethics of music.

Amy Bauer (University of California, Irvine)

» Music, Philosophy and the Failure of Language

Andrew Bowie’s Music, Philosophy, and Modernity (Cambridge, 2007) calls for a philosophy that rather than speaking ‘of’ music, emerges ‘from’ it, one that takes music’s expressive, symbolic and non-representational resources seriously as challenges to philosophy, especially to analytic traditions that address metaphysical questions via a strict, representational language. The paradoxical need to couch music’s philosophy in pre-existing philosophical terms proves the major obstacle to Bowie’s goal, even as it illustrates philosophy’s repression of music, in all its subjective freedom and concrete particularity. How music might help philosophy retrieve something it has lost remains largely an open question, yet one we might begin to answer were music to flip its subservient relation to representational language, and instead of being spoken by verbal language, speak for it, in purely musical terms. I thus offer three examples— drawn from the opera Le Grand Macabre by the modernist composer György Ligeti—that performatively stage the failure of language, and its subsumption by a musical discourse that ‘speaks’ in the place of a verbal text.

Le Grand Macabre introduces us to the mythical realm of Brueghelland on the eve of its destruction. Piet’s mad aria begins lucidly in first person, shifts to a paranoid third person, and finally splinters into meaningless, melismatic syllables drawn out by periodic repetitions of the musical line. Scene three, set in the court of Prince Gogo, sees black and white ministers engage in a fierce battle of invective. This coherent, if absurd, scenario disintegrates to reveal the ministers’ pointillistic dialogue as but an embellishment of an underlying rhythmic and serial construction. Later police Chief Gepopo enters mute with terror, singing an ear-splitting ‘secret’ message that escalates to alternating screams of ‘yes!’ and ‘no!’ before devolving into nonsense syllables that provide a percussive accompaniment to court’s ensuing chaos. In each scene, music interrogates and assails the libretto as not only a site of stable meaning but as a discourse intelligible as language. Mute words become voluble music, a process that reflects in microcosm the failure of representation and triumph of musical meaning described by the opera as a whole.

 

  1. At the bedside of the late nineteenth-century German subject (St. Davids Room)

Nicole Grimes (University College Dublin)

» The Last Great Cultural Harvest: Nietzsche and Brahms’s Vier ernste Gesänge

Brahms’s final published composition, the Vier ernste Gesänge, Op. 121, saw the composer return to an intense contemplation of Luther’s Bible. This opus comprises four songs; the first three set texts from the Old Testament, each addressing death and espousing varying shades of pessimism. Numbers 1 and 2 have frequently been associated with the philosophy of Schopenhauer, particularly chapter 46 of The World as Will and Representation, which puts forward the view that death or non-existence is preferable to a desolate life. The third song, “O Tod, wie Bitter bist du,” traces a trajectory from fear of death, to considering death to be a welcome relief. The fourth and last song, a setting of the first letter of St Paul to the Corinthians, is a paean to love that is widely considered to be incongruous with the rest of the set. It is the only setting of a passage from the New Testament, and its rousing and uplifting countenance is at odds with the air of pessimism that pervades numbers one to three.

The 1895 edition of Nietzsche’s writings housed at the Brahms Bibliothek in Vienna, has escaped the attention of Brahms scholars due to its absence from Kurt Hofmann’s 1974 catalogue. Brahms’s markings reveal the extent of his interest in Nietzsche’s The Antichrist. He was particularly drawn to Nietzsche’s indictment of German Protestantism through the targets of St Paul and Luther, which in turn seems to have struck at the heart of his German patriotism and cultural Lutheranism.

Brahms’s setting of the first letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians obtains great significance in this context. Furthermore, poetic texts included on a sketch for Op. 121 reveal the scale of conception he had in mind when composing these songs. For, he not only engages with the German musical canon, and the Lutheran Bible, but also with German literary history, and the German philosophical tradition from Schopenhauer to Nietzsche. When considered in this context, Brahms’s Vier ernste Gesänge amount to his last great cultural harvest, perhaps in response to—or in defiance of—Nietzsche’s pronouncements.

Kath Fry (King’s College London)

» Nietzsche’s Critique of Musical Decadence: Reading The Case of Wagner

In his late publication Der Fall Wagner (The Case of Wagner, 1888), Nietzsche presented his most extended critique of Wagner and his legacy. Having long since denounced his youthful conviction in a renewal of German culture through Wagnerian theatre – as expressed in his first book Die Geburt der Tragödie (The Birth of Tragedy, 1872) – he famously attacked the composer as the embodiment of modernity and decadence. Nietzsche’s philosophical critique of Wagner is commonly perceived as indicative of his wider rejection of metaphysics, and his opposition to Schopenhauer in particular. In this paper, however, I will explore from a more historical perspective Nietzsche’s critical evaluation of Wagner’s music, focusing on the important theme of decadence at the heart of The Case of Wagner.

 

The first part of the paper will situate Nietzsche’s pamphlet in relation to the cultural concept of decadence, as well as in comparison to other prominent responses to Wagner in nineteenth- century criticism. The second part will address Nietzsche’s arguments in The Case of Wagner, focusing particularly on his criticisms of the sensuality and affectivity of Wagner’s orchestra. Referring in particular to Parsifal, I will consider the corporeal and gendered dimension of his critique of the physical effects of Wagner’s music on the listener. I will argue, however, that Nietzsche’s Wagner critique cannot be reduced to straightforward opposition. The final part of the paper will therefore discuss further the contradictions implicit in Nietzsche’s evaluation of Wagner, particularly in light of some of his own specific claims about decadence and music in his published and unpublished writings of the 1880s. I will suggest, moreover, that the essential ambivalence of his evaluation is reflected in his distinctive rhetoric of the body, itself endemic not only to the idea of decadence as a cultural concept, but to his philosophy and style more generally.

Mauro Fosco Bertola (Heidelberg University)

» Žižek’s Subject, Wagner’s Erotics: Slavoj Žižek and the Politics of Love in Wagner

Starting with his seminal book from 1989 onwards the Slovenian Slavoj Žižek has become one of the most popular and controversial philosophers in the West: Indeed, through an integrative reading of German Idealism and Lacanian psychoanalysis, over the last two decades Žižek has been able to open up a highly unique space of reflection in which music and in particular Wagner’s music drama play an important role. Nevertheless, peculiar as it may appear, his works seem to have been largely ignored by musicological research. This lack of reception becomes even more remarkable considering the fact that one of the most interesting outputs of Žižek’s reflections lies in his rehabilitation of subjectivity, a philosophical category which, from Descartes to Adorno, had a pivotal role in Western music aesthetical as well as compositional discourse. Žižek’s innovative theory of the subject indeed offers a complex but fruitful blueprint for (re )thinking music aesthetics in general and German romanticism in particular.

In my paper I intend to focus on Žižek’s reading of Wagner. In a first step I will highlight his unique use of the Freudian Lacanian notion of death drive, a concept that lies at the core of Žižek’s theory of subjectivity. Secondly I will investigate how, on the basis of this notion, Žižek is able to establish a close connection between the topic of love in German Idealism, in particular by Schelling, and Wagner’s controversial political stance. As such, Žižek considers Wagner’s music drama to represent the dawn of a new kind of subject, which by trying to sever its links to the socio symbolic dimension of the Lacanian big Other opens up the space for a “totalitarian subject.”

  1. Thoughts and emotions (K -1.14)

Tom Mulherin (Georgetown University)

» What Kind of Idealist was E. T. A. Hoffmann?

In “Beethoven’s Instrumental Music,” E. T. A. Hoffmann famously claims that absolute music reveals another world to us, which he variously calls “the infinite” and “the realm of the

 

mighty and immeasurable.” In his recent study of the aesthetics of absolute music, Music as Thought: Listening to the Symphony in the Age of Beethoven, Mark Evan Bonds has interpreted Hoffmann’s claim through the German Idealist tradition. Bonds emphasizes the Platonic strand of this tradition, according to which the central feature of idealism is a belief in a spiritual realm that serves as an ideal for the material world. Thus, on Bonds’s reading, Hoffmann’s infinite is ideal in two senses: not only is it spiritual, rather than material, but it also serves as a norm for judging and perfecting its material counterpart.

In this paper, I argue that Bonds’s interpretation of E. T. A. Hoffmann is both incorrect and incomplete. It is incorrect because, while Hoffmann does hold that the infinite is an ideal in the normative sense, he does not embrace the dualistic ontology of Platonic idealism. Properly understood, Hoffmann’s infinite is not a spiritual realm, but is nothing other than the natural world. Bonds’s reading of Hoffmann is incomplete because a close look at Hoffmann’s musical aesthetics, as expressed in Kreisleriana, shows that absolute music’s revelation of the infinite depends upon a Kantian strand of idealism. That is, musical revelation is grounded upon the synthesis of the aural manifold through music-analytical listening. Recognizing this Kantian strand of Hoffmann’s musical aesthetics sheds light on the his naturalistic conception of the infinite, clarifying Hoffmann’s understanding of relationship between music and nature by precluding accounts in which music and nature are mediated by a shared matter in favor of those in which music and nature are mediated by their form.

Alexander Wilfing (Austrian Academy of Sciences,University of Vienna)

» Hanslick’s Aesthetics, Kant’s Critique, and Austrian Philosophy: A Long-Overdue Reassessment

Hanslick’s On the Musically-Beautiful is generally regarded as one of the “most important

… treatises on the nature and value of music ever written” (Bowman). It has been called “a template against which contemporary views of music can be situated” (Alperson), “the inaugural text in the founding of musi-cal formalism as a position in the philosophy of art” (Kivy), or „the first and most influential theory of absolute music and musical formalism“ (Grey). Given the fact that Kant’s Third Critique is similarly considered the founding document of aesthetic formalism per se, it seems quite logical to assume an intimate connection between the two works: a connection that has been scholarly canonized in recent years. In this view, Hanslick’s aesthetics are universally regarded as the practical musical application of Kant’s abstract formalism. This position has to be thoroughly challenged: There are theoretical similarities between Hanslick and Kant that have to be accounted for, but there are equally striking differences in their respective outlooks that are largely overlooked or scaled down for the sake of theo-retical coherence. In this paper I propose three different considerations to carefully reassess this largely overdone connection: Firstly, Kant’s Critique is only partially formalistic, especially when it comes to the difference between “free beauty” (nature) and “dependent beauty” (art) as well as his theory of beauty as “symbol of morality,” that has considerable impact on his brief remarks on a the-ory of music. Secondly, Hanslick didn’t take part in Kant’s “Copernican Revolution” and strongly fo-cused on a positivistic method

 

that dismissed speculative accounts altogether and is far more reminis-cent of alternative philosophic traditions (i.e. Bolzano). Thirdly, it seems quite unlikely that Hanslick—who was educated in Prague and Vienna—was intimately familiar with Kant’s general phi-losophy, for it was banned throughout the Hapsburg Empire between 1798 and 1861. The proper ex- amination of these systematic considerations shall make the scholarly discourse more cautious about a rash conflation or direct identification of Kant’s Critique of Judgement and Hanslick’s On the Musically-Beautiful.

Krzysztof Guczalski (Jagiellonian University Krakow)

» Against Formalism in Music: Zangwill versus … Hanslick

In his article ‘Against Emotion: Hanslick Was Right About Music’ (British Journal of Aesthetics, 2004), Nick Zangwill claims that ‘Music, in itself, has nothing to do with emotion’, ascribing this claim also to Eduard Hanslick. Zangwill thereby adheres to the standard view of Hanslick as a representative of extreme formalism.

In my paper I will try to show that, although formulating radical and extreme theses, Zangwill seems to be challenging views that hardly anyone holds, since he immediately declares: ‘My targets here are restricted to what I call “literalist” theories, which invoke the existence of genuine emotion.’ However, the literalist theories postulating that it is essential to music that it express or represent the genuine emotions of the artist or arouse genuine emotions in the listener are widely considered – not without good reason – to be naive and unsound. Consequently, Zangwill seems to be arguing against a straw man. It is less important, therefore, that at least some of his arguments seem also to be confused and defective, as I will try to demonstrate.

In fact, since the refutation of the literalist theories (e.g. by Langer, Bouwsma and Beardsley in the 40s and 50s), the most uncontroversial core of nearly all remaining theories (of Beardsley, Kivy, Davies, Levinson, Ridley and many others) has been this: music’s expressiveness consists in its possession of nonliteral emotional qualities, based on some similarity/analogy displayed by music to certain aspects of emotion. Unlike Zangwill, however, hardly anyone concludes from this that music has nothing to do with emotions.

Finally, one may ask whether any justification for Zangwill’s radical thesis – which he himself fails to provide – can be found in Hanslick, whom Zangwill invokes. In the conclusion of my paper, I will show that the widespread interpretation of Hanslick as an extreme formalist (shared by Budd, Kivy, Davies and many others) is wrong. Not only does Zangwill’s thesis find no support in Hanslick, but in fact the latter sees the emotional content of music as a relatively important element of it, contrary to what Zangwill believes.

 

Parallel  SeSSionS iii

 

  1. Cognitive and affective processes (K 28)

Margaret Moore (University of Tennesee)

» The Neuroaesthetics of Musical Beauty: A Philosophical Evaluation

What is musical beauty? Eduard Hanslick thought he knew. Hanslick’s view is well known, and is largely negative: the content of music is tonally moving forms. Musical beauty, then, resides solely in the beauty of these forms, as opposed to the feelings it produces or any extra-musical content it might represent. 150 years later, Hanslick has some competitors. The neuroscientists Ishuzu and Zeki have recently developed a “brain-based theory of beauty,” claiming that beauty is simply the ability for a stimulus such as a piece of music to trigger a response in the medial orbito-frontal cortex. If Ishuzu and Zeki have identified the brain region active when we view or hear things that we identify as beautiful, have they thereby discovered that we have a “faculty of beauty,” an inner sense, of the sort proposed by Francis Hutcheson in 1725? In addition, as a consequence of the discovery of our beauty faculty, should musical beauty now be thought of simply as the ability for musical sounds to activate this brain region?

This paper examines recent neuroscientific studies claiming to explain our judgments of musical beauty. I argue that while this research is interesting and potentially relevant to aestheticians, at present it suffers from two related difficulties. First, neuroscientific studies of aesthetic judgments of beauty implicitly or explicitly appeal to competing models of aesthetic judgment. These models are sometimes Hutchesonian (in that aesthetic evaluation is identified with the affective response that results from automatic perceptual processing) and sometimes Kantian (in that a properly aesthetic judgment requires cognitive as well as perceptual and affective processing). Second, these studies suffer from an ambiguity in the musical object of appreciation, failing to distinguish between a response to musical form (requiring higher cognition) and to musical sounds (producing an affective response from perceptual processing alone). These two problems are alike in that it is unclear just what the relation between affective and cognitive processes is supposed to be in a properly aesthetic judgment. Further, these tensions in the scientific treatment of musical beauty are reminiscent of Hanslick; indeed, they repeat debates in music aesthetics regarding form versus feeling as the proper object of musical appreciation.

Miranda Mowbray (Bristol, United Kingdom)

» Affect and Future Music Technology

In this paper I will discuss potential effects of some current technological trends on the way music may be experienced in the future. Specifically, I will discuss the potential for Internet of Things technologies combined with data analysis techniques to enable music systems that automatically suggest which music to play next based on physiological measurements from listeners, as well as on the listening environment and past histories of listeners’ responses.

I will connect this possibility with studies indicating the use of music for everyday mood

 

regulation (e.g. Sloboda, O’Neil & Ivaldi, 2001) and demonstrating physiological responses to music that differ according to reported affect (e.g. Lundqvist et al., 2009). The type of system that I will propose also offers potential for testing philosophical theories on the relative impacts of different factors on the listener’s embodied experience of music.

There is of course controversy between philosophers about the nature of emotional responses to music.While recognizing this I will argue, starting from Levinson’s (1990) theory of music and negative emotion, that music that evokes mixed emotions can play a particularly useful role in mood regulation. This should be considered in the design of future music systems. It contradicts the assumption (which is standard in current research on measuring high-technology users’ affect) that positive and negative valence cancel each other, so that simultaneous sad and happy feelings of similar strength can be treated as though they were a single feeling with neutral valence.

This paper will be informed by my experience as an information technology researcher.

Cynthia M. Grund (University of Southern Denmark) [presenting]; Aimee Cloutier, Jesse Latimer, Michael O’Boyle, William Westney, and James Yang (Texas Tech University)

» Feeling and Form – An Empirical Coupling

Joint center analysis, a technique commonly used for posture and motion analysis in human modeling and biomechanics, turns out to be quite revealing when used on pianists in order to determine if there is a significant difference in movement when pianists are asked to play in one of two ways: focusing on correctness or on enjoyment. These precise techniques of tracking and measuring allow for classification, identification and comparison of movement patterns with regard to shape and location, thus providing “objective correlates” against which to test our subjective impressions and judgments.

Part of the process employed in joint center analysis involves capturing the motions of performing musicians by infrared camera tracking of sensors placed on relevant parts of their bodies. When these dots subsequently are connected on the resulting video, a byproduct of this analysis of a performing musician emerges: a 3D video rendering showing an animated point light “stick figure” which may be observed by simple inspection in its own right. This animated avatar is a concrete manifestation of the abstracted formal motion of the musician. This is a truly new tool in the history of methods available to us for empirical music research, allowing for the exhibition of qualities of the performing musician that previously only could be abstracted in our imagination.

fMRI technology permits us to observe the brain activity of someone watching and listening to such an avatar. In the experiment that provides the basis for this presentation, four pianists each performed the same two short pieces while fitted with sensors in a motion capture laboratory. Unaware of each other’s experimental experience, each was first asked to perform each piece as correctly as he or she could, and, the second time around, simply to enjoy playing the piece. Eight (other) subjects were then placed in an fMRI scanner – four trained musicians and four non-musicians who were identified as appreciators of classical music. Each of these eight fMRI subjects watched and listened to performances by the avatars (the performances were

 

varied across fMRI subjects). The subjects each had to answer the same battery of questions about each performance witnessed while in the fMRI machine – questions posed so as to be answerable on a 7-point Likert scale.

This presentation will thus

  • Briefly outline the details of the experimental setup.
  • Show what motion capture analysis alone reveals about the movement characteristics of pianists when playing in varied intentional
  • Present the implications that the coupling of motion capture with fMRI analysis suggests for further research on the relationship between the quality of engagement a musician manifests in performance and the reception of the performance by audience
  • Discuss some of the new perspectives this experiment and ones like it can cast on the role of form in philosophical aesthetics of music
  1. Performance (St. Davids Room)

Nina Penner (McGill University)

» Operatic Performances as Aural-Visual Fictions

Recent opera scholarship (e.g., Esse 2010; Christopher Morris 2010; Will 2011) takes as a truism Auslander’s (1999) assertion that a distinction between theatre and cinema no longer obtains. Opera’s specificity as an artistic medium was attacked from another angle by Cone (1974) when he suggested that “every song is to a certain extent a little opera, every opera is no less an expanded song”. This paper refutes both claims. In the spirit of recent defences of the importance of medium specificity to art appreciation (particularly, Gaut 2010), I identify differential properties of operatic storytelling, as compared with storytelling in related media like opera films; songs, cantatas, and oratorios; and works of theatre that include singing.

Martin Kušej’s production of Don Giovanni (Salzburg Festival, 2006) contains several features commonly cited as evidence of Auslander’s claim, including cinematic projections. While such features demonstrate the influence of cinema on theatre, they do not demonstrate a breakdown of a distinction between these media. In response to Cone’s suggestion, I argue that operatic performances present stories by means distinct from those of songs. Operatic performances fall into a category I term aural-visual fictions (based on Gregory Currie’s [1991] category of visual fictions), whereas song performances are aural fictions. In an operatic performance, story content is determined not only by what audiences hear but by what they see. The visual appearance of both the performers and their performing environment generates fictional truths about the characters, their actions, and their environments. Non-naturalistic productions like Kušej’s—in which the set is entirely white and frequently populated by women wearing nothing but their underclothes—may appear to undermine this claim. My account of operatic storytelling not only accommodates such productions but also offers an explanation for why many spectators find them disconcerting, aside from merely their irreverent stance towards the work. Finally, I suggest that opera may be differentiated from non-musical theatre by the fact that singing is the normative mode of communication and expression, and, as a consequence, operatic fictional worlds operate according to substantively different rules than the world in

 

which we live.

Clement Canonne (University of Burgundy, France)

» Looking for Improvisation: From the Conceptual Versatility of Improvisation to the Emergence of a Musical Practice

Improvisation is everywhere, from the most prosaic actions of our life to the most extraordinary ones. It pervades both the “profane” world of everyday men and women and the “sacred” world of artists and geniuses.

Because of the large extension of the concept– one can improvise a meal, a three-voice fugato or the emergency evacuation of a building under terrorist attack – we associate very different properties with the concept of improvisation. Indeed, improvisation is sometimes described in intentional terms – as an action undertaken without preparation or detailed planning –, and sometimes described in aesthetic terms – as an action characterized by its spontaneity, its organic nature, or its fragility – and even sometimes in axiological terms – as a free or subversive action.

I argue that this conceptual versatility – which leads one to conceive improvisation as a cluster concept – has direct consequences on how Western musicians elaborate and define the practice of free improvisation, understood as aiming at an ideal of “true” or “pure” improvisation, an improvisation cleared of all composed or preestablished elements.

I would like to clarify and demonstrate, more specifically, the manner in which the concept of improvisation itself invites musicians to imagine the existence of a causal link between the conditions in which the action is undertaken (the fact that the music is produced without much advance planning) and the aesthetic properties of the resulting product, leading to the constitution of a specific set of regulative values – freedom, self-expression, equality, subversion

– constantly oscillating between ethical ones and aesthetic ones, and which oscillation is at the very heart of the practice of free improvisation.

Steve Tromans (Middlesex University)

» Beyond Documentation: A Musician-Researcher’s Perspective

“To restore to practice its practical truth, we must therefore reintroduce time into the theoretical representation of a practice which, being temporally structured, is intrinsically defined by its tempo.”

– Bourdieu (1977: 8)

This presentation is focused on our understandings of what constitutes the work proper to academic research in music. It is grounded in my recent practice-as-research doctorate, and draws on experiences gained in order to examine certain of the methods and modes utilised in artistic research in academia.

Following Abbate’s observation that “Actual live, unrecorded performances are … almost universally excluded from performance studies” (2004: 508), I argue that the ways in which we approach documenting and disseminating our experiments in artistic research still place a heavy bias on older traditions of research output. From my perspective as a performer, the

 

distortions such a translation between the modes of temporally-grounded music-making and those of (spatial) presentation effect a limiting control on potential alternative means of output in artistic research.

Drawing on examples from my own research undertaking, and on the theoretical work of Bergson (2001), Bourdieu (1977) and Massumi (2011), I present the case for music performance as both its own method of enquiry and mode of dissemination – bypassing what I consider to be an unhelpful obsession with documentation. I speculate that artist-researchers in music performance are in a privileged position to be able to take a disciplinary stance beyond the limits of the documented, and of the documentable. By way of demonstrating the arguments I make, this presentation will incorporate live music-making as both artistic experiment and mode of dissemination of the research trajectories explored.

  1. To what and to whom are we listening, when we listen to music? (K -1.14)

James Matharu (University of Oxford)

» Scruton’s ‘Fusion’: A Puzzle

Psychologists have recently described how listeners across a range of cultures experience a variety of movements ‘in sounds’; for example, ones down and up on a keyboard, darting, ‘light’ and ‘agitated’ motions on a violin, ‘sad’ and ‘heavy’ ones in choirs and animal cries (for an overview, cf. Eitan and Granot, 2006). This paper is about hearing such movement ‘in’ music and other sounds.

In philosophy there has been relatively little attempt at accounting for such experiences. A notable exception is Roger Scruton’s work (1997, 2004, 2009a, 2009b). He proposes that listeners ‘fuse’ their experiences of sounds with the experience of imaginary entities, Tones, which move intentionally in a fictional realm termed ‘Musical-Space’. On his account, such fusion is sufficient for hearing movement in sound, which is necessary to hearing music at all.

While recent papers have targeted the idea we hear movement in music at all (cf. Budd 2004), or Scruton’s view that the movement is imaginary (cf. Hamilton 2011, Zangwill 2013), none have considered how fusion actually works. Assuming Scruton’s ontology of sounds, I examine what it means and argue his account is implausible. Three proposals are considered for cashing out his idea:

  • The subject merely imagines that her responses to Tones are her responses to actual
  • We are simply sensitive to some similarities between Tones and sounds, and these recognised similarities cast the sounds we hear in a different
  • We imagine we hear things moving, and these things have some sound properties and some Tone

I argue (1) and (2) are unsuccessful, and that (3) would found music-perception on irrationality. Keeping Scruton’s sound-ontology in place, I propose an alternative account of hearing movement in noises, proposing rhythm as one factor distinguishing musical from non-musical movement in sounds. The proposal is that human minds map sounds, in accordance with their

 

pitches, to points on a Tone’s trajectory. The pattern of Tonal movement between Musical- Space points over time will map directly onto the pattern of sound successions over time in real-space, such that actual sounds mark the position of a moving Tone.

Eran Guter (Yezreel Valley College) and Inbal Guter (University of Haifa)

» Thoughtwriting and Musical Ornamentality

Kendall Walton recently advanced a new poetic model for understanding musical experience. He suggests that music and music making can frequently be understood in terms of what he calls “thoughtwriting”, that is, as sort of texts which are composed for others to use in expressing their thoughts, feelings or attitudes. Walton’s new model means to deflect not only the idea of hypothetic narrators and musical personae, whose prevalence and importance in music, he believes, have been seriously exaggerated, but also the prominence of storytelling in the explanation of readings (silent ones included) as performances. Still Walton has not offered a conception for a mechanism of appropriation for music which his idea of thoughtwriting seems to require. We argue that a suitable conception for a mechanism of appropriation for Walton’s new model is actually ready at hand by means of underscoring the pervasiveness of musical ornamentality in accordance with his original make-believe theory (Mimesis as Make-Believe, 1990). Reading Walton’s make-believe theory somewhat against the grain, and supplementing our discussion with a set of instructive examples, we argue that there is clear theoretical gain in explaining certain important aspects of composition and performance in terms of psychologically inhibited games of make-believe. Surprisingly, this sort of oblique reading of Walton’s original theory actually complements and completes his new theoretic angle concerning thoughtwriting in music.

  1. Pleasure & Empathy (Anatomy Lecture Theatre – K 6.29)

Rita Elizabeth Risser (United Arab Emirates University)

» The Art of Qur’anic Recitation

In the United Arab Emirates Qur’anic recitation and Azan (the call-to-prayer) is heard everywhere in the urban landscape. Indeed, happily so – I find Qur’anic recitation (tilawa) extremely beautiful. Although I do not understand the linguistic meaning of a vocal performance, I am often captivated by a performance. I hear tilawa simply as music, as a vocal performance without representational content. Of course, the sounds I hear are voiced by a human performer and are therefore freighted with human emotion and expression. However, while I hear expressiveness in tilawa, I do not hear a text with linguistic meaning. This paper is an attempt to work out some of the puzzles of aesthetically appreciating tilawa as if it were absolute music with no representational content. For one, it might be thought that I am misappropriating the tilawa art form. I disagree. I respect the sovereignty of the art form. I clearly understand the nature of tilawa, I simply do not have access to the entirety of these works, in particular to the meaning of the text, and therefore I imagine a new work of absolute music – for the purposes of aesthetic appreciation. Also, it must be said that tilawa is a public art. Anyone living within an Islamic community would find it difficult to block out the

 

experience of tilawa or the equally beautiful azan. Without access to the text of these works there is little choice but to experience them as something like absolute music. I shall attempt to defend an appreciation of tilawa that is aware and admiring of its piety, but simply appreciates a performance as a musical work.

Deniz Peters (University of Music and Performing Arts Graz)

» On the Question of Musical Empathy

Our listening experience is increasingly characterised as involving empathy. For instance, Jerrold Levinson’s theory of musical expressivity is built around the essential claim that one enters, as Levinson puts it, by way of our “empathetic capacity […] into the life […] of the artistic object […] with which one is confronted” (2009:417). Empathy, to Peter Goldie (The Emotions, 2000:195), is an act of centrally imagining another human’s thoughts, feelings, and emotions. But what kind of ‘life’ are we entering in the musical case, and to what extent are we entering via empathy?

In this paper I question whether our direct empathetic interest in others, particularly those performing, is at the base of entering (or shaping) the life in music. I argued in the past that the life we hear in music is grounded in our own, in the sense that it emerges from embodied knowledge; in this paper I turn towards the question to what extent it leaves ours, enabling, under certain circumstances, self-transgression. Only the latter would be musical empathy proper. My argument is twofold: firstly, we may shift between centrally imagining ourselves, and centrally imagining other agents (including real and fictive ones), or even drifting out of centrally imagining anyone at all. This permits that listening sometimes engages our ability to empathise, but such engagement may well be a consequence or an enhancement of ongoing perceptual and imaginative activity. The primary impetus of the listening experience is given by the reach the changes of sonic qualities have into the depth of our embodied interpersonal knowledge. As the sonic changes are themselves consequences of engagements with the embodied knowledge by those who make the music, the experience becomes intricately relational – without however neatly falling into two sides of a dialogue. Secondly, then, we relate to the other, but also (and more so) through the other, to ourselves, and back through ourselves into the Other in ourselves. The ‘real’ composers or performers become transparent in this; we are not listening to a message but engaging in a shared experience. The life we hear in music is a richly shared one: in it we interweave our own with the life of others.

Kris Goffin and Annelies Monseré (Ghent University)

» Guilty Pleasures: Resolving The Paradox Of Bad Music

Why does a music snob feel ashamed when she is caught listening to her favorite Justin Bieber song? A ‘guilty pleasure’ is the experience of pleasure which intrinsically has the disposition to evoke shame (not guilt!). We will propose that guilty pleasures constitute ‘the paradox of bad music’, namely:

  • The music is experienced as
  • The music is judged to be bad.
  • Negative aesthetic judgments imply displeasure .

Guilty pleasures show that one of these three premises must by false. We argue that (3) is false. Nevertheless, (3) is presupposed in Kantian-inspired aesthetics.

Kantian aestheticians start from the idea that aesthetic judgments are based in the experience of pleasure or displeasure. Still, these aestheticians seem to be able to resolve the paradox of bad music through the distinction Kant makes between the beautiful and the agreeable. Such a Kantian-inspired solution to the paradox would entail that a guilty pleasure should be seen as a pleasure in the agreeable. According to Kant, our pleasure in the beautiful, i.e. genuine aesthetic pleasure, is disinterested, while pleasure in the agreeable is interested. Interested pleasures hinge upon personal preferences and are private, while disinterested pleasures are sharable. It follows that, concerning the agreeable, one is ‘perfectly happy’ to say that the object is ‘agreeable to me’. Although guilty pleasures surely can be seen as interested pleasures and we do not expect of others to find them pleasurable, the paradox of bad music cannot be explained away using the Kantian distinction between the beautiful and the agreeable since this ‘solution’ does not explain the disposition towards shame when enjoying a bad song.

Instead of differentiating between two types of pleasure, we suggest to solve the paradox of bad music in terms of warranty conditions of emotions. A guilty pleasure is best understood as affective attitude that violates the fittingness condition of emotion. A pleasure, which is an attitude, can either ‘fit’ a specific content or not. A guilty pleasure is an attitude that does not fit its content, because the intentional object of the pleasure are negatively evaluated properties of ‘bad’ music. So, there is a lack of fit between the affective attitude of pleasure and the evaluative judgment that accompanies it. We will argue that this lack of fit is different from cognitive dissonance and perceptual misrepresentation, in the sense that a guilty pleasure is not an illusion or false belief but an inappropriate emotion. This inappropriateness results in a disposition towards the self-reflective emotion of shame. We will further clarify that a guilty pleasure is ‘inappropriate’ for diverse reasons, not only aesthetic in nature. In this way we will show that premise (3) is false and solve the paradox of bad music, while fully taking into account the nature of guilty pleasures.

 

Beth Teoli Abbate earned a BA at Yale College and an MM in violin performance at the Yale School of Music, after which she completed her PhD at Harvard with a dissertation on Myth, Symbol, and Meaning in the Early Symphonies of Gustav Mahler. She teaches at The Boston Conservatory, with courses on Mahler, Webern, and the Russian Symphonic Tradition, among others. She plays professionally with many Boston-area groups, and she has always been interested in intersections of philosophy and music history.

Christopher Bartel is an Associate Professor of Philosophy at Appalachian State University. He received a Bachelor of Music degree from Berklee College of Music and a PhD in Philosophy from King’s College London. His main areas of research are the philosophy of music, video games, and the philosophy of perception. Previous essays have appeared in the British Journal of Aesthetics, the Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism, and Ethics and Information Technology.

Amy Bauer is Associate Professor of Music Theory at the University of California, Irvine. She received her Ph.D. in music theory from Yale University, and has published articles and book chapters on the music of Ligeti, Messiaen, the television musical, and issues in the philosophy and reception of modernist music. Other research interests include jazz, contemporary opera, spectral music and cross-cultural issues in contemporary music. Her monograph Ligeti’s Laments: Nostalgia, Exoticism and the Absolute (Ashgate, 2011) provides a critical analysis of the composer’s works, considering the compositions themselves and thei larger cultural implications of their reception.

Mauro Fosco Bertola is Lecturer in Musicology at Heidelberg University. After completing his Master’s Thesis in Philosophy in Italy on Nicolas Malebranche, he studied Musicology in Heidelberg. In his PhD (Die List der Vergangenheit. Musikwissenschaft, Rundfunk und Deutschlandbezug in Italien, 1890-1945, Böhlau 2014), he considered the role of music traditions for constructing national and fascist identities in Italian and German musicology and radio broadcasting. He has published articles on the emergence of Italian musicology at the end of the 19th Century, the role of ancient music in Italian and German radio, Takemitsu’s reception of Debussy, and the link between opera, film and ideology.

Clément Canonne is an Associate Professor in the Musicology Department of the University of Burgundy (France). His researches are mainly focused on the contemporary forms of collective improvisation, using concepts and methods from a large array of disciplines. He is also strongly interested in the philosophy of music: he has translated in french a selection of papers from Jerrold Levinson and he is currently at work on a book dedicated to the philosophy of improvisation. As a pianist, he has recorded the album « Les Emeudroïdes » for the german label Neos Music.

Stephen Crowe is an award-winning English composer of operas and experimental music, based in Berlin and London. He studied Fine Art at John Moores University, Liverpool, and Composition at Goldsmiths College, University of London. His music incorporates standard scores,

 

graphic notation, electronic music, indeterminacy, controlled improvisation and “conceptual music”.His music has been performed in Berlin, Bern, Budapest, Dublin, Geneva, New York, Novi Sad, Zofingen and Zurich. Notable London performances have been at Camden Arts Centre, Courtauld Gallery, Kings Place, The National Portrait Gallery, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Riverside Studios, Tate Britain and The Vortex. His stage work The Francis Bacon Opera won the Hilton Edwards Award in May 2013 after performances at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, James Joyce Centre and The Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin.

Benjamin K Davies Philosophy and social and political sciences at Cambridge University and a PhD in composition at Southampton twenty years later, supervised by Michael Finnissy. In between, free-lance composer and musical director in commercial and experimental theatre, and a farmer in the Spanish Pyrenees. He currently heads the Departments of Composition, Theoretical Subjects and Improvisation at the Conservatori Superior del Liceu in Barcelona. He has presented on Webern’s Op.9; Janacek’s modal practise; virtual reality in Mahler’s Fourth; music and lying; Birtwistle’s pitch procedures; the ontology of jazz Standards; and the piano trio in the twentieth century, among others.

Charlotte de Mille curates the music programme for The Courtauld Gallery, where she works for the education department. With them she co-authored ‘Animating Art History’, a joint initiative with Central St Martin’s and the University of the Creative Arts, which was long-listed for a Clore Award in Museum Learning. Receiving her doctorate from The Courtauld Institute of Art in 2009, she has taught at The Courtauld Institute of Art, and the Universities of Sussex, Bristol, and St Andrews. She is editor of Music and Modernism (2011), co-editor with John Mullarkey of Bergson and the Art of Immanence (2013), and has contributed to Routledge’s Music and Visual Culture: A Research Guide, Modernist Games: Cézanne and The Cardplayers, Understanding Bergson, Understanding Modernism, Gothic and its Legacies, Creative Writing and Art History, and journals Art History and The Burlington Magazine. She is Honorary Research Associate at The University of Bristol.

Christian Frefel studied Philosophy and Economics at the University of Zurich and the Humboldt University of Berlin and received his M.A. in Philosophy in 2010. He is writting a doctoral thesis in Philosophy at the University of Zurich about the ontology of works of music and literature.

Katherine Fry is a PhD Candidate in Musicology at King’s College London, and previously studied at King’s College Cambridge. Her research interests are in music and aesthetics in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, with a particular emphasis on Wagner and early modernism. Her thesis is entitled ‘Nietzsche and Wagner: Music, Language, Decadence’; it explores Nietzsche’s musical writings within their historical and cultural context, as well as in relation to aspects of his wider philosophy. She has articles published in Paragraph: A Journal of Modern Critical Theory and, more recently, in Opera Quarterly.

Michael Gallope is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature at the University of Minnesota. His research examines music and sound

 

from a problem-based perspective that brings together the disciplines of philosophy, critical theory, aesthetics, and cultural history. His current book manuscript is entitled Deep Refrains: Music and Sound Beyond the Linguistic Turn. It offers a comparative analysis of several themes in twentieth-century musical thought: 1) the metaphysical tone 2) music’s turn towards language 3) music’s inconsistency and ineffability 3) its rhythm and vitality, and 5) its relationship to sorrow, suffering and ecstasy. He is also interested in ontologies of music that lie outside the order of notation: sonic ephemerality and fragility, eccentric and peripheral formalisms, the deliberate absence of skill or the problem of questionable expertise, distance and disinterest, the ad hoc poetics of collaboration, late-breaking problems concerning intellectual property and sound, and vernacular conceptions of sonic force. He taught previously at the University of Chicago where he was a member of the Society of Fellows, and at NYU where he completed his Ph.D. in Historical Musicology.

Kris Goffin is doing a PhD on aesthetic emotions at Ghent University. In his current research he considers aesthetics within the framework of philosophical psychology. He has published an article on the expressivity of music. His most recent research focus is the accuracy and rationality of emotion. His favorite example of an inaccurate aesthetic emotion is a guilty pleasure.

Ted Gordon is a PhD student in the Music Department at the University of Chicago, specializing in the History and Theory of Music. His research interests include avant-gardism, experimentation, and improvisation in contemporary composition and  popular/unpopular  music. Specifically, his work has examined the aesthetics and ethics of failure, in musicians ranging from Helmut Lachenmann to Donald Fagen.

Dr Nicole Grimes is a Marie Curie Fellow at the School of Music, University College Dublin (UCD). She was awarded a PhD in 2008 from Trinity College Dublin (TCD) for a dissertation on Johannes Brahms. Her research focuses at the intersection between German music analysis, music aesthetics, and music criticism. She is currently writing a book called Brahms’s Elegies: The Poetics of Loss in German Culture. She has published in numerous scholarly journals including Music Analysis, Ad Parnassum, American Brahms Society Newsletter, the Journal of the Society for Musicology in Ireland, and has a forthcoming article in Nineteenth-Century Music Review in July 2014. She is co-editor of Rethinking Hanslick: Music, Formalism, and Expression, and Mendelssohn Perspectives. She has taught music history at UCD, TCD, QUB, and the University of California, Irvine. In September 2014 she will join the faculty of the Music Department at Royal Holloway, University of London.

Cynthia M. Grund is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Institute for the Study of Culture, University of Southern Denmark (SDU) at Odense where she is Research Director for The Performances of Everyday Living and coordinator for The Aesthetics of Music and Sound, www.soundmusicresearch.org. Grund is Project Manager and Network Coordinator for NNIMIPA: Nordic Network for the Integration of Music Informatics, Performance and Aesthetics www. nnimipa.org– a NordForsk-supported research network 2010-2014. She is Editor-in-Chief of JMM: The Journal of Music and Meaning www.musicandmeaning.net of which she was a founder. Grund is an external member of the Texas Tech UTransdisciplinary Research Academy project

 

Aesthetic Investigations of the Physical Movements of Pianists http://www.soundmusicresearch. org/TRA.html.

Krzysztof Guczalski studied mathematics, musicology, and philosophy in Krakow, Minneapolis and Bonn. He teaches in the Department of Aesthetics, Institute of Philosophy, Jagiellonian University, Krakow. His main research areas are Philosophy of Music, Aesthetics, Theory of Signs and Symbols, and Theory of Pictures. He is author of Znaczenie muzyki – znaczenia w muzyce (Significance of Music – Meanings in Music), 1999 and of Perspektywa. Forma symboliczna czy naturalna? (Perspective. Symbolic or Natural Form?), 2012, editor of Filozofia muzyki. Studia (Philosophy of Music. Studies), 2003 and author of numerous articles, e.g. in British Journal of Aesthetics and International Review of Aesthetics and Sociology of Music.

Eran Guter has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Boston University. He is Senior Lecturer in Philosophy and Director of the Honors Program at the Yezreel Valley College, and Researcher at the Department of Philosophy, University of Haifa, in Israel. His work focuses mainly on Wittgenstein’s philosophy of music, on musical representation, and on the aesthetics of new media. He is the author of Aesthetics A-Z (Edinburgh UP, 2010) as well as various papers on Wittgenstein’s philosophy of music and other topics in aesthetics.

Inbal Guter has a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Boston University. She is a musicologist and a concert pianist, specializing in 20th Century music. She teaches at the University of Haifa and the Buchman-Mehta School of Music at Tel Aviv University, in Israel. Her current research focuses on the music of Stockhausen, Stravinsky and spectral music. Together with Eran Guter she created a cinematic version of Erik Satie’s Sonatine bureaucratique, which she also premiered in a concert.

Stephen Hinton is the Avalon Foundation Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Music at Stanford University, where he also serves as the Denning Family Director of the Stanford Arts Institute. Before coming to Stanford, he taught at Yale University and, before that, at the Technische Universität Berlin. He has published widely on many aspects of modern German music history. His book Weill’s Musical Theater: Stages of Reform, a study of Kurt Weill’s complete stage works, was published by the University of California Press in 2012 and received the Kurt Weill Book Prize in 2013.

Huw Hallam (King’s College London)

Benjamin Hansberry is a PhD candidate in Music Theory at Columbia University in the City of New York. His dissertation focuses on the interaction between theoretical and experiential concepts in contemporary analysis of tonal music. He has presented work at the annual meetings of the Music Theory Society of New York State, the Society for Music Theory, and various other conferences. He is the editor of a collection of book reviews on new publications in music and philosophy recently published in Current Musicology.

Alistair Isaac received his Ph.D. in philosophy from Stanford University in 2010. His current position as lecturer at the University of Edinburgh was preceded by postdoctoral fellowships at the

 

University of Michigan and the University of Pennsylvania. His research is primarily in philosophy of psychology with a focus on the foundations of psychophysics. His current work connects these questions about the science of perception to his long-standing interest in electronic music and the effects of technology on new music practice.

Thomas Irvine is Director of the Southampton Centre for Eighteenth Century Studies and Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Southampton. His scholarly interests include eighteenth- century German aesthetics in light of cross-cultural encounters, particularly with China.

James Matharu obtained his BSc in Philosophy, Logic and Scientific Method at the London School of Economics, where he was awarded the Andrea Mannu Prize. He is now reading for the BPhil in Philosophy at St Cross College, Oxford. James has presented conference papers on aesthetics (imagination, metaphor, Kant), animal minds, Cognitive Science of Religion (CSR), practical- and meta-ethics, testimonial method, philosophical theology, Wittgenstein, and social- cultural anthropology. His thesis is in philosophy of non-human, organic action: specifically, the scope for an Aristotelian analytic of agencies among ‘things’ like forests, plants, apes, bacteria, swarms, ecologies, and cross-species cultural communities.

Jakub Matyja is a PhD researcher in Music (University of Huddersfield, United Kingdom) and in Philosophy (Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw). Website: https://hud.academia.edu/ JakubRyszardMatyja

Annelies Monseré (Ghent University) is a doctoral student funded by the Research Foundation Flanders. Her dissertation is entitled “Disentangling the aims and methods of defining art. A metaphilosophical investigation into the conditions for arthood”. Additionally, she has an active interest in music, both as a listener and as a musician.

Margaret Moore (University of Tennesee)

Anna Morcom specializes in music and dance in India andTibet from diverse and interdisciplinary perspectives that seek to understand the contemporary world. Her ethnographically based research focuses on phases of modernity ranging from nation building to globalization and neoliberalism, and spans issues of politics, ideology, gender and inequality as well as media and marketisation. She is the author of three books, Unity and discord: Music and politics in contemporary Tibet (2004, Tibet Information Network); Hindi film songs and the cinema (2007, Ashgate); and Illicit worlds of Indian dance: Cultures of exclusion (2013, C. Hurst and Co; OUP New York, ). She is Senior Lecturer at Royal Holloway, London University, in the Music Department.

Miranda Mowbray is a Fellow of the British Computer Society. She studied Music and Political Philosophy at Davidson College, North Carolina before doing degrees in Mathematics at the Universities of Cambridge and London, and joining the IT industry. She works in the research labs of a multinational IT company.

Tom Mulherin is an adjunct lecturer in the philosophy department at Georgetown University. His research interests include post-Kantian German philosophy (particularly Romanticism and the Frankfurt School), the philosophy of music, and Continental social and political thought.

 

Currently, he is working on the relationship between early 19th century German thought about music and Romantic Naturphilosophie, Adorno’s philosophy of musical performance, and the political aspects of Clement Greenberg’s theory of the avant-garde.

Lodewijk Muns, currently active as an independent musicologist and musician, has studied classical piano at the Royal Conservatoire of The Hague, musicology atUtrecht University, and has obtained a PhD from Humboldt University, Berlin. Both as a musicologist and as a composer he has a special interest in the border areas of language and music. His forthcoming book “Classical Music and the Language Analogy” explores connections between music theory and aesthetics, linguistics and the philosophy of language. http://lmuns.home.xs4all.nl/index.html

Tempe Nell is an MA student in Museums & Galleries in Education at the Institute of Education. She is completing a placement at the Courtauld Gallery researching family learning and engaging with gallery music. Her dual interest in music and art was first triggered as a chorister in Winchester Cathedral and she studied History of Art BA as a choral scholar at Gonville & Caius College, Cambridge. She has recently been researching music as an interpretive tool within art galleries and works as a museum educator, private tutor and is an associate member of the National Portrait Gallery choir in residence.

Kevin O’Regan completed his PhD at the University of East Anglia and is a Sessional Lecturer in Music at City College, Norwich. His research interests are in the historical and philosophical aesthetics of music, especially autonomous music and consciousness. His work has appeared in Music and Letters, Nineteenth-century Music Review, CLA, 18th-century Online Encyclopedia and Musikproduktion Hoeflich Repertoire Explorer score series. He is currently writing a book for the RMA Research Monographs series, entitled The Aesthetic Within: Music and Philosophy as Autonomous Practice, threads from which form the focus of this MPSG conference paper.

Joseph M. Ortiz is Associate Professor of English at the University of Texas at El Paso. His research and teaching interests include early modern literature and music, Shakespeare, Milton, classical and Italian Renaissance literature, and translation. He has published a number of essays on the relationship between music and literature. His book, Broken Harmony: Shakespeare and the Politics of Music, was published by Cornell University Press in 2011. He is currently working on a number of book-length projects, including a study of form and translation in Renaissance literature and a scholarly edition of John Taverner’s Gresham College music lectures.

Nina Penner is a doctoral student in Musicology at McGill University, Montréal, where she is working on a philosophical study of operatic storytelling, focused on the concept of point of view. Her first article “Opera Singing and Fictional Truth” appeared in the special issue of The Journal of Aesthetics and Art Criticism on Song, Songs, and Singing. For 2014–2015, she will be a Graduate Fellow with the Institute for the Public Life of Arts and Ideas, an interdisciplinary humanities research centre at McGill. Her research has been supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada.

Deniz Peters is a musicologist and pianist with main interests in aesthetics and improvisation. One of his two current research projects (funded by the Austrian Science Fund FWF and based at

 

the Institute of Music Aesthetics in Graz until 2017) integrates philosophical and music analytical perspectives in reconsidering the concept of musical expression. In the other he engages in artistic research on emotional musical improvisation. Deniz has published in journals including Performance Research and Contemporary Music Review, and was main editor of the book Bodily Expression in Electronic Music (NY: Routledge, 2012).

Dean Rickles is associate professor of history and philosophy of science at the University of Sydney. His primary area of research is the foundations of quantum gravity. He has written several books in this area including, most recently, A Brief History of String Theory (Springer, 2014).

Dr. Rita Elizabeth Risser is an Assistant Professor in the Philosophy Department at United Arab Emirates University, Abu Dhabi. She completed her graduate studies at McGill University (2004). Her research centers on political and ethical issues as they arise in the arts.

Steve Tromans is a pianist and composer, working predominantly in the fields of jazz and improvising music. He has given over 6,000 performances in the last two decades, in the UK, Europe, and internationally. In 2013, he was featured on BBC Radio Three’s “Jazz on 3” programme. In the last few years, Tromans has been undertaking doctoral practice-as-research, under the supervision of the performance theorist, Susan Melrose. Further info: http://www. steve-tromans.co.uk.

Alexander Wilfing studied musicology and philosophy at the University of Vienna and got his MA-degree with a thesis about Richard Strauss’s political involvement in the cultural politics of the “Third Reich”. He is currently working on a PhD-thesis about Eduard Hanslick’s reception in the English discourse, especially his notable impact on the analytic philosophy of music. He is also involved in the research project “Contextualizing Hanslick” at the Austrian Academy of Sciences that analyses various discourses that severely influenced Hanslick’s aesthetics. First results have been published in German journals and in various volumes of essay collections on related subjects.

 

CFP for the MPSG 2014

4th Annual Conference of the Royal Musical Association Music and Philosophy Study Group in collaboration with the Music and Philosophy Study Group of the American Musicological Society

Department of Music and Department of Philosophy, King’s College London, Friday and Saturday, 27-28 June 2014

Generously supported by King’s College London, the British Society of Aesthetics, Music & Letters, and the Institute of Musical Research, University of London.

Keynote speakers include:

  • Professor Carolyn Abbate (Harvard University)
  • Professor Philip Kitcher (Columbia University)
  • Professor Dmitri Tymoczko (Princeton University)

The RMA Music and Philosophy Study Group warmly invites paper submissions for its two-day international conference, to be held in London on 27-28 June 2014. The event, the fourth of an annual series of conferences run by the Study Group, will offer an opportunity for those with an interest in music and philosophy to share and discuss work, in the hope of furthering dialogue in this area. Departing from the practice in previous years, we will not have a conference theme in 2014, in order to allow engagement with the widest possible range of interests. As such, paper submissions on all topics relating to the area of music and philosophy are welcome. Collaboration between persons from different disciplines (including music studies, philosophy, performance, composition, psychology, history, literary studies, art history, anthropology, and others) would be especially welcomed.

Topics of interest might include (but are not limited to):

  • Intersections and tensions between different approaches to music studies (historical musicology, music theory, ethnomusicology) and to philosophy (continental, analytic)
  • Sound and affect
  • Differing musics
  • Music, rhythm, and time
  • Conceptual composing
  • Performance, authenticity, and interpretation
  • Musical meaning and language
  • Music and ethics
  • Music and ontology
  • Empirical approaches to music
  • Collaboration and the poetics of musical decision making
  • Digital media and new forms of musical literacy
  • Philosophy and sound recording
  • Theories of music and mass culture in the twenty-first century
  • Philosophy, music, and the future of the culture wars
  • Music, transcendence, and spirituality
  • Wagnerism in twenty-first century culture
  • Film sound, film music, and philosophy
  • The philosophical implications of corpus studies, quantitative methods, and geometric modeling

Proposals are invited for:

  • Individual papers (20 minutes) – up to 350 words
  • Collaborative papers (up to 30 minutes) – up to 500 words
  • Themed paper sessions of three or four individual (20 minute) papers – up to 350 words per paper plus 350 words outlining the rationale for the session.
  • Lecture recitals of 30 minutes – up to 350 words

Please submit proposals by email in a word document attachment:

conference2014@musicandphilosophy.ac.uk

The deadline for proposals is Friday 7 February, 2014.

All paper submissions will be considered by the programme committee:

  • Professor Bill Brewer (King’s College London)
  • Professor Stephen Downes (Royal Holloway, University of London)
  • Dr Michael Fend (King’s College London)
  • Dr Michael Gallope (University of Minnesota)
  • Dr Tomas McAuley (Indiana University)
  • Professor Bence Nanay (University of Antwerp & University of Cambridge)
  • Dr Nanette Nielsen (University of Nottingham)
  • Professor Nick Zangwill (University of Hull)

Reasonably priced university accommodation will be available.

 

4th Annual Conference of the Royal Musical Association Music and Philosophy Study Group

On the 27th–28th June, King’s College London played host to around 150 delegates of the RMA’s Music and Philosophy Study Group, who came together for yet another stimulating weekend of research and debate. This year, no theme was set for the conference, which allowed for a snapshot of the prevailing research directions inside the area of music and philosophy.

The breadth of this area was reflected in the four keynote speeches: Dmitri Tymoczko (Princeton University) kicked off the conference by outlining a theoretical system for the analysis of rock harmony. Both his plea for the recognition of ‘implicit knowledge’—that a musical logic can be developed within an idiom without explicit verbal theorization—and the situation of his methodology between what he sees as the two extremes of contemporary musicological research—‘extreme historicism’ and ‘extreme aestheticism’—were equally compelling.

The next keynote speaker, Kathleen Higgins (University of Texas at Austin) outlined the possibilities for consuming hybrid music ethically. With brutal honesty about her own listening processes, she demonstrated the ways that the flattening, exploitative side effects of e.g. ‘world music’ can be resisted through a self-aware attempt to engage meaningfully with the ‘other’ culture, rather than wallowing in the exoticism of its ‘otherness’. The respondent, Jason Stanyek (University of Oxford) unpacked this process, revealing the ways in which even well intentioned approaches to hybridity rely on notions of prior purity, and ultimately, difference.

The third keynote speech was given by Philip Kitcher (Columbia University), who bravely interrogated one of the foundations of the conference itself, asking ‘can there be such a thing as “Philosophical Music”?’, and—to demonstrate the possibility of an affirmative answer—providing a reading of Mahler’s Lied von der Erde. Inevitably, responses were varied and the subsequent discussion was passionate, but we are all grateful to the Music and Philosophy Study Group for providing a space for honest, unfettered debate.

The final keynote, Carolyn Abbate (Harvard University) rounded off the conference with a fascinating meditation on sound, the senses, and their interaction with technology via a brief history of the microphone—something that, seemingly dull written down here, in Abbate’s hands was utterly mesmerizing. The response from Murray Smith (University of Kent) was equally enlightening.

The parallel sessions were equally rich in depth and variety. Much was offered in the way of musical ontology, from a consideration of mash-ups from Christopher Bartel (Appalachian State University) to Kevin O’Regan’s (City College, Norwich) complex unpacking of the relationships between music, narrative, aesthetics, autonomy, and immanence. A careful systematization of Roger Scruton’s theories of musical ‘motion’ by James Matharu (University of Oxford) was made even more stimulating by the fact that the session’s chair was Prof. Scruton himself, prompting lively (if perhaps overly cautious) discussion afterwards. A particular highlight, for me, came from Robert Samuels (The Open University, UK): his probing re-evaluation of the debate around programme music and narrativity in the writings and compositions of Schumann managed to combine hefty theory with fresh historical insight—I’m sure I wasn’t the only one suddenly keen to reread Schumann’s diaries, letters and reviews—all culminating in an attractive analytical application to the Piano Quintet Op. 44.

A handful of papers dealt with specific repertoire, among them Amy Bauer (University of California, Irvine) who read Ligeti’s Le Grand Macabre with reference to its critique of language and representation, and Benjamin K. Davies (Conservatori Superior del Liceu, Barcelona), who presented a Habermasian analysis of Beethoven’s ’Cello Sonata op. 69.

For better and for worse there were several differences from previous years’ conferences. It was noted by some delegates that, on the whole, there was less ‘radical’ or ‘applied’ work. The scarce engagement with female composers or philosophers—a by-product of the continued supremacy of the Enlightenment and Romantic canon, perhaps—was also noticed by many, in uncomfortable contradistinction to the large proportion of women delegates (and indeed keynote speakers, which was exactly half).

There was a clear effort on the part of the conference committee to provide a variety of themes, approaches and genres: several exceptions to the ‘canonic’ approach have already been noted, and one should also credit Anna Morcom (Royal Holloway, University of London), Michael Gallope (University of Minnesota) and Huw Hallam (King’s College London), who led a discussion panel on music and capitalism. Nevertheless, it seems that such approaches remain ‘special interest’, in danger of being ghettoized. Things are changing, but slowly: it would only be a good thing if by next year we had begun to absorb such destabilizing voices into the core of our work, rather than restricting them to a notional ‘outside’.

The much-expanded discussion time after papers (twenty minutes for parallel sessions, and a full forty minutes for keynote speeches), first introduced at the 2013 conference, has been a wonderful development. In nearly every case this year, the Q&A provided as much enlightenment as the addresses, and in several instances one had the sense of progress being made right there in the room.

Overall this was a very successful conference. I would suggest that problems of discourse and ideology critique are once again at the forefront of the academy’s thoughts: the question ‘what are we really claiming when we claim what we claim?’ lay behind many of the papers. Most of these, consciously or not, traced theoretical family trees back to foundational binaries: historicism vs. aestheticism, immanence vs. performativity, real vs. imaginary. It speaks of the theoretical bent of the weekend that few solutions to these antinomies were proposed—all the more reason to look forward to the next conference, and wonder what, with another year’s passing, it may bring.

 

Nathan Mercieca is an AHRC-funded PhD student at Royal Holloway, University of London, researching the intersection of music, writing and ethics, supervised by J.P.E. Harper-Scott.

 

 

 

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