CFP (conf): Music, Writing, Difference

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Music, Writing, Difference – An Interdisciplinary Conference on Adorno’s Theory of Musical Reproduction

3 – 5 April 2019, Vienna

Theodor W. Adorno’s posthumously published book Towards a Theory of Musical Reproduction contains numerous thoughts about a theory of musical notation which can be made adaptable to contemporary discourses (e.g. of writing). Taking a fresh look at the fragmentary text, Adorno’s reflections need to be reviewed, concretised and modified with regard to the following questions: What are the qualities of musical writing, where do its potentials and limitations lie? What are the characteristics of the medium of sound? And what happens when sound – being ephemeral by nature – is spatialised? What kind of processes, on the other hand, are essential to the act of music-making?

In the field of music studies, it has often been stressed that musical notation is more than a symbol system which refers to a sound event and ensures its repeatability. In recent years, for instance, the materiality of written phenomena has increasingly come into focus, along with their socio-cultural embeddedness.

Building on new impulses from interdisciplinary research on writing, we invite scholars to reflect on Adorno’s thoughts on musical reproduction and to expand on them in a productive way: Which ideas prove to be fruitful for current issues in the study of writing? Which premises offer a suitable starting point for further musico-philosophical considerations on musical notation and performance? And how can Adorno’s concepts be seen in light of more recent notational practices and aesthetic debates as well as in light of the paradigm shifts within the humanities (e.g. the linguistic, iconic or material turn)?

We encourage papers from a range of disciplines and perspectives including musicology, the theory of writing and image, performance practice, philosophy, media aesthetics, philology, and cultural studies. The following aspects may serve as a point of departure:

  • the relationship between musical notation and reproduction (or sound)
  • the interplay between the categories of the ‘idiomatic’, the ‘mensural’ and the ‘neumic’
  • musical interpretation between decoding and mimetic practice
  • writing and the dialectic of mastery of nature and freedom, of reification and enablement
  • the intrinsic sensual, iconic and gestural qualities of writing
  • the historicity of notation and interpretation
  • affinities and differences between Adorno and other positions in the theory of writing and/ or language (Saussure, Derrida, Krämer, etc.)

The conference languages are German and English.

Presentation format: individual 30-minute paper (followed by 15-minute discussion)

Abstracts of 250–300 words should be sent as an attachment (word, pdf) to Julia.Zupancic@musik.uni-giessen.de by 31 October 2018, and must include the following information: title, author, affiliation, email address, and technical requirements.

Decisions on the acceptance of abstracts are expected to be communicated by 30 November 2018.

Organisation: Matteo Nanni (Gießen), Nikolaus Urbanek (Wien), Julia Zupancic (Gießen)

Wissenschaftszentrum Arnold Schönberg und die Wiener Schule at the Institut für Musikwissenschaft und Interpretationsforschung, Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst, Vienna, and Institut für Musikwissenschaft und Musikpädagogik, Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen, in cooperation with Arnold Schönberg Center, Vienna

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