CFP: Popular Music and Philosophy

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CFP for contributions to a themed session at the #MPSG21

Convener: José Gálvez, University of Bonn, Department of Musicology/Sound Studies

Conceptual reflection on music has an eminent tradition in western philosophy that can be traced back to Pythagoras. Yet, what emerged as popular music at the end of the nineteenth century has long been ignored, whether in debates regarding musical hermeneutics and phenomenology in the continental tradition or in debates over musical ontology and understanding in analytical philosophy. At best, popular music was a subject of (Adornian) socio-philosophical critique, attacking the standardization, pseudo-individualization and alienation it represented. In recent years, though, an interesting shift has been taking place: popular music is becoming more and more a subject of philosophical theory in its own right. The increasing debates on musical improvisation in jazz and electronic dance music, several critical re-readings of Adorno’s philosophy of music, theories on the disruptive biopolitical implications of popular music in neoliberalism, and approaches to the sonic affective affordances of popular music in the context of new materialism are some important vectors of an emerging awareness of popular music in philosophy.

Taking into account core themes in popular music studies such as technology, industrialization, embodiment and performance, this session aims to present approaches to a crystallizing philosophy of popular music. While these themes have been researched from historical, sociological and media-theoretical perspectives, they have more rarely received attention from a conceptual and systematic, i.e. philosophical standpoint (Theodore Gracyk is a remarkable exception). In addition, this session explores the extent to which philosophical concepts and theories of subjectivity, technology, experience, modernity, affect etc. can be nuanced and even reconfigured in dealing with specific sonic, technical, corporeal and industrialized elements integral to popular music. Thus, a philosophy of popular music could also be a philosophy through popular music.

Please send abstracts of no more than 300 words to José Gálvez, galvez@uni-bonn.de, by October 30, 2020

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