MPSG 2013


The Study Group’s third annual conference was co-hosted by the Department of Music and the Department of Philosophy

Embodiment and the Physical

King’s College London, 19-20 July 2013.
Pre-conference activities on Thursday 18 July

The final conference programme can be found here.

Georgina Born (University of Oxford)

Georgina Born is Professor of Music and Anthropology at the University of Oxford. Her work combines ethnographic and theoretical writings on music, media and cultural production. Her ethnographies have often focused on major institutions – television production at the BBC, computer music at IRCAM in Paris, interdisciplinary art-science and new media art at the University of California, Irvine. Her books are Rationalizing Culture: IRCAM, Boulez and the Institutionalization of the Musical Avant-Garde (1995), Western Music and its Others: Difference, Representation and Appropriation in Music (edited with D. Hesmondhalgh, 2000), and Uncertain Vision: Birt, Dyke and the Reinvention of the BBC (2005). Two edited books are out this year: Music, Sound and Space: Transformations of Public and Private Experience, and Interdisciplinarity: Reconfigurations of the Social and Natural Sciences (edited with A. Barry). From 2010 to 2015 she is directing the research programme ‘Music, Digitization, Mediation: Towards Interdisciplinary Music Studies’, funded by the European Research Council, which examines the transformation of music and musical practices by digitization through comparative ethnographies in seven countries in the developing and developed world.

Stephen Davies (University of Auckland)

Professor Davies is a prominent philosopher of art, writing especially on music, but he has written also on ethics, political philosophy, and emotion. Beyond philosophy, he has published in ornithological journals and on Balinese dance and cultural history. A Hood Fellow, and often an invited speaker in the US, UK, Europe, and Canada, he is a former President of the New Zealand division of the Australasian Association of Philosophy and was the first non-American elected Vice-President and President of the American Society for Aesthetics. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of New Zealand. He has published more than 140 single-authored journal articles, book chapters, and book sections and eight books (Cornell, Wiley-Blackwell and, mainly, Oxford). He has co-edited three books, including the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to Aesthetics. More than thirty of his essays have been re-published in collections, and his work has been translated into Chinese and many European languages. His most recent book, The Artful Species (Oxford, 2012) crosses into paleo-archaeology, ethology, psychology, cognitive science, and evolutionary theory in order to consider possible connections between our biologically shaped human nature and our aesthetic and art behaviours.

Peter Szendy (Université Paris Ouest)

Peter Szendy is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Paris Ouest Nanterre and musicological advisor for the concert programs at the Cité de la musique. He has also taught in the Music Department at the University of Strasbourg (1998-2005) and was Visiting Fellow at Princeton University (Council of Humanities) in 2012. In addition, he has served as chief editor of the journal and book series published by Ircam. His publications include A Coups de points. La ponctuation comme expérience (Éditions de Minuit, forthcoming 2013) ; L’Apocalypse-cinéma. 2012 et autres fins du monde (Capricci, 2012); Kant in the Land of Extraterrestrials. Cosmopolitical Philosofictions (translated by Will Bishop, Fordham University Press, forthcoming 2013); Hits: Philosophy in the Jukebox (translated by Will Bishop, Fordham University Press, 2012); Sur écoute. Esthétique de l’espionnage (Éditions de Minuit, 2007); Prophecies of Leviathan: Reading Past Melville (translated by Gil Anidjar, Fordham University Press, 2009); Membres fantômes. Des corps musiciens (Éditions de Minuit, 2002); Listen: A History of Our Ears (foreword by Jean-Luc Nancy, translated by Charlotte Mandell, Fordham University Press, 2007).

Keynote Respondents
Peter Dews (University of Essex), responding to Georgina Born

Peter Dews is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Essex, where he specialises in nineteenth and twentieth century French and German thought.  He has held visiting positions at the New School for Social Research, at Columbia University, and at the Institute for Human Sciences in Vienna, amongst other places.  He is the author of Logics of Disintegration (Verso 1987; reissued 2007), The Limits of Disenchantment (Verso 1995) and The Idea of Evil (Blackwell 2008). In addition, he has edited Autonomy and Solidarity: Interviews with Jürgen Habermas (Verso 1986), Habermas: A Critical Reader (Blackwell 1999), and co-edited Deconstructive Subjectivities (SUNY 1996). His current research concerns the philosophy of technology and mass destruction, and the late philosophy of the German Idealist Friedrich Schelling, and its subsequent impact on nineteenth and twentieth century European thought.  He is also an amateur jazz pianist.

Mark Katz (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill), responding to Stephen Davies

Mark Katz is Professor of Music and Chair of the Department of Music at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is the author of Capturing Sound: How Technology has Changed Music, The Violin: A Research and Information Guide, and Groove Music: The Art and Culture of the Hip-Hop DJ. He is co-editor (with Tim Taylor and Tony Grajeda) of Music, Sound, and Technology in America and editor of the Journal of the Society for American Music. He is currently working on his next book, Music and Technology: A Very Short Introduction.

Eric Clarke (University of Oxford), responding to Peter Szendy

Eric Clarke is Heather Professor of Music at the University of Oxford, and a Professorial Fellow of Wadham College. He has published on issues in the psychology of music, musical meaning, and the analysis of pop music, including Empirical Musicology (OUP 2004, co-edited with Nicholas Cook), Ways of Listening (OUP 2005), The Cambridge Companion to Recorded Music (CUP 2009, co-edited with Nicholas Cook, Daniel Leech-Wilkinson and John Rink), Music and Mind in Everyday Life (OUP 2010, co-authored with Nicola Dibben and Stephanie Pitts), and Music and Consciousness (OUP 2011, co-edited with David Clarke).  He was an Associate Director of the AHRC Research Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music (CHARM) and is an Associate Director of the AHRC Research Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice (CMPCP; 2009-14). He is on a number of editorial boards and is a Fellow of the British Academy.

Plenary Panellists
Nicholas Baragwanath (University of Nottingham)

Nicholas Baragwanath is Associate Professor in Music and Director of Postgraduate studies at the Department of Music, University of Nottingham. He was formerly Dean of Research and Enterprise at the Royal Northern College of Music. He is the author of The Italian Traditions and Puccini: Compositional Theory and Practice in Nineteenth-Century Opera (Indiana, 2011) and is currently leading an AHRC-funded project entitled Haydn, Solfeggio, and the Art of Melody: A New Approach to the Classical Style.


Jeremy Begbie (Duke University)

Professor Begbie is the inaugural holder of the Thomas A. Langford Research Professorship in Theology at Duke University, North Carolina. The founding Director of Duke Initiatives in Theology and the Arts, his research focuses on the interface between music and theology. His academic training was originally in philosophy and music. A professionally-trained and active musician, he is an affiliated lecturer in the Faculty of Music at the University of Cambridge and Senior Member at Wolfson College, Cambridge. His performance-lectures have been delivered internationally from Israel to Australia and Hong Kong. He has edited and authored numerous publications, including Theology, Music and Time (CUP, 2000).  His forthcoming book, Music, Modernity, and God, seeks to address, through music, some of the major metaphysical and theological issues at stake in modernity; it will be published in January 2014 by Oxford University Press.

Lawrence Kramer (Fordham University)

Lawrence Kramer is Distinguished Professor of English and Music at Fordham University, the editor of 19th-Century Music, and a composer whose works have been performed internationally.  His work has been translated into seven languages and has been the subject of sessions of scholarly societies and symposiums in the United States, Europe, and China. His numerous books include, most recently, Expression and Truth: On the Music of Knowledge (California, 2012), Interpreting Music (California, 2010), and Why Classical Music Still Matters (California, 2007).  Musical Meaning and Human Values (Fordham 2009), co-edited with Keith Chapin, is a collection based on an international conference held in Kramer’s honor in 2007.  Recent premieres include “Song Acts” (Vienna 2009), “That Lonesome Whistle” (songs, New York 2010), “The Wild Swans” (piano, New York 2011), “Crossing the Water” (cantata, Santa Fe 2011), “A Short History (of the Twentieth Century)” (voice and percussion, Krakow, 2012), “Pulsation” (Piano Quartet, Ghent 2013), and “The Wind Shifts” (voices and chamber ensemble, New York 2013).

Jenefer Robinson (University of Cincinnati)

Jenefer Robinson is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Cincinnati (USA). She is the author of Deeper than Reason: Emotion and its Role in Literature, Music and Art, Oxford University Press (2005) and editor of Music and Meaning, Cornell University Press (1997). Recent work includes “Emotions in Music,” (with Robert Hatten), Music Theory Spectrum, 34 (2012) 71- 106, “Expression Theories” in the Routledge Companion to Philosophy and Music (2011) 201-211, and “Emotional Responses to Music: What are they? How do they work? And are they relevant to aesthetic appreciation?” in The Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of Emotion (2010) 651-680.


3rd Annual Conference of the Royal Musical Association Music and Philosophy Study Group. Department of Music and Department of Philosophy, King’s College London
Friday and Saturday, 19-20 July 2013

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

The RMA Music and Philosophy Study Group warmly invites paper submissions for this two-day international conference, to be held in London on 19-20 July 2013, with some pre-conference activities on 18 July. The event, the third 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. Paper submissions on all topics related to the area of music and philosophy are welcome, but in particular those relating to this year’s optional theme of ‘Embodiment and the Physical’. Collaboration between persons from different disciplines – including between musicologists and philosophers and/or between composers/performers and more theoretically-minded scholars – would be especially welcomed.

Conference theme 2013: ‘Embodiment and the Physical’

Philosophers and musicologists have provided various ways of thinking through music in relation to its concrete particularity as sound, and its bodily nature in performance and hearing. In particular, they have paid attention to the phenomenology of listening; to the physical nature of sound and its relation to our perceptual experience; and to the bodily aspects of musical performance and their inscription in the gestures of musical scores. What exactly is the relation between sound and music? How is the body involved in the experience of sound, and of music? When answering such questions, what can philosophers learn from musicologists, and vice versa? Music is often conceived very abstractly, and music as ‘embodied thought’ both poses challenges and opens up new possibilities. This year’s (optional) theme seeks to encourage further philosophical and musicological debate about music within the area of ‘embodiment and the physical’.

In addition to papers relating to the conference theme, topics of interest might include (but are not limited to):

–         Music transcendence and spirituality
–         Profundity
–         What can philosophy learn from musicology?
–         What can musicology learn from philosophy?
–         Differing musics
–         Music, rhythm, and time
–         Aesthetics and practice
–         Composing and thinking
–         Performance, authenticity, and interpretation
–         Perception and expression
–         Music and memory
–         Music and everyday life
–         Music and ethics
–         Music and ontology
–         Music and emotion


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 – 350 words per paper plus 350 words outlining the rationale for the session.
–         Lecture recitals (30 minutes) – 350 words

Please submit proposals by email in a word document attachment:

The deadline for proposals is Friday 8 February.

All paper submissions will be considered by the programme committee:

Professor Julian Dodd
Professor Julian Johnson
Tomas McAuley
Dr Nanette Nielsen
Professor Nick Zangwill


In advance of the conference on 19-20 July, there was a day of pre-conference activities on 18 July. These included a set of ‘Introducing…’ lectures, discussion panels, the Study Group’s Annual General Meeting, and events hosted by outside organisations. The aim of the day was to enable and encourage the furtherance of dialogue and understanding within and across disciplines through a variety of formats.


These three lectures introduced the three primary disciplinary areas of the conference.

Introducing… Music and Continental Philosophy (Lydia Goehr, Columbia University)

Lydia Goehr is Professor of Philosophy at Columbia University. Her many publications include The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works: An Essay in the Philosophy of Music (1992; second edition with a new essay, 2007); The Quest for Voice: Music, Politics, and the Limits of Philosophy (1998); Elective Affinities: Musical Essays on the History of Aesthetic Theory (2008), and (co-edited with Daniel Herwitz) The Don Giovanni Moment. Essays on the legacy of an Opera (2006).

Introducing… Musicology and Philosophy (Björn Heile, University of Glasgow)

Björn Heile is Senior Lecturer in Music at the University of Glasgow. Among numerous other publications mostly on new music, experimental music theatre and contemporary jazz, he is the author of The Music of Mauricio Kagel (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006), the editor of The Modernist Legacy: Essays on New Music (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2009) and co-editor (with Martin Iddon) of Mauricio Kagel bei den Darmstädter Ferienkursen für Neue Musik: Eine Dokumentation (Hofheim: Wolke, 2009). Most recently, he has led a research project on ‘The Use of Audiovisual Resources in Jazz Historiography and Scholarship: Performance, Embodiment and Mediatised Representations’ funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council; a volume of articles arising from the project is in preparation.

Introducing… Music and Analytic Philosophy (Derek Matravers, Open University & University of Cambridge)

After taking Philosophy for his first degree at University College London, Derek Matravers went on to complete his doctorate at Cambridge. He was a Post-Doctoral Lecturer at Cambridge, before moving to the Open University in 1994 where he is now Professor. He continues his links with Cambridge, where he is Associate Lecturer and also a Bye-Fellow of Emmanuel College. He has published extensively on aesthetics, and to a lesser extent on ethics, political philosophy, and the philosophy of mind. His latest book, Fiction and Narrative, is due out with Oxford University Press next year.

Outside Organisations

London Aesthetics Forum

Session title: Music and Film

Chaired and introduced by Emily Caddick Bourne (University of Cambridge and Institute of Philosophy, University of London). Participants included Ben Winters (Open University) and Carlo Cenciarelli (Royal Holloway London, University of London)

The importance of music to many film soundtracks raises various philosophical questions. How does music impact on what is represented in a film? How might film images impact on what is expressed by the music they accompany? What unifies our engagement with a film’s images and its music? Can both be understood in terms of meaning? What is the role of imagination in engagement with soundtrack? This session will highlight and consider some relationships between music and the moving image, in order to help prompt philosophical reflection on the role of music in understanding and engaging with film.

Further information about the Forum is available at their homepage.

Nordic Network for the Integration of Music Informatics, Performance and Aesthetics

NNIMIPA investigates new perspectives upon the aesthetics and the philosophy of
music suggested and facilitated by rapidly developing technologies for studying and
producing music. The researchers and performers in the network approach music from a vantage point where information technology, communication and practice-based research are the focal points. Today’s presentations provide a sampling of the work currently being done within the network.

The event featured presentations from Barry Eaglestone, Alex Ruthmann, David Hebert, Mika Sihvonen, Kristoffer Jensen (with Søren Frimodt-Møller), Cynthia Grund (with William Westney), Jenny Carter (with Samad Ahmadi) and a lecture-recital from Morten Heide.

Further information about the Nordic Network is available at their homepage.

Performance Philosophy

Session title: Music Performance as Philosophy

Chaired and introduced by Laura Cull (University of Surrey and core convener of Performance Philosophy)


Anthony Gritten (Royal Academy of Music)

Steve Tromans (jazz pianist and PhD candidate at Middlesex University)

Tom Armstrong (University of Surrey)

Co-ordinated by Performance Philosophy, this session featured a performance by Tromans and position papers from participants addressing the question of to what extent events of musical performance constitute their own form of philosophical enquiry. Does the performance of music resist conventional forms of philosophizing and if so, why? And if music does perform its own, alternative form of philosophy – what form does this philosophizing take and what can it do for our understandings, approaches to and experiences of music?

Royal Musical Association Music and Visual Arts Study Group

Session title: Music, Rhythm and the Visual Arts

The RMA Music and Visual Arts Study Group Panel explores the creative and critical discourse on rhythm and the visual arts from the early twentieth century onwards. In what ways has rhythm been embodied and re-interpreted by artists and theorists as gesture, time and space, across cultures and disciplines?

Speakers to include:

Diane Silverthorne, Birkbeck, University of London – Rhythm’s Plastic Powers and the Music of Time: from Hellerau to Tate Modern

Jochen Eisentraut, Composer, Bangor University – Rhythm and Temporality in Visual Art: Presence, Absence and Return

Pamela Kember, University of the Arts, London – Space of Flows, Timeless Time: Suki Chan’s Moving Images

Charlotte de Mille, The Courtauld Institute of Art and University of Sussex – Respondent

Further information about the Study Group is available at their homepage.

Discussion Panel

Music, Language, and Interaction

Convenor-Chair: Ruth Kempson (King’s College London)

Panelists to include:

Stergios Chatzikyriakidis (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Martin Orwin (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London)

Geraint Wiggins (Queen Mary, University of London)

Reading Sessions

These small-group reading sessions allowed for discussion — with their authors — of three books of note to have appeared in the past year. An extract of each book was circulated to attendees of each session in advance; the sessions then featured a short response to the text from another speaker, a chance for the author to respond to the response, and time for general group discussion.

Rethinking Hanslick: Music, Formalism, and Expression

Ed. Nicole Grimes, Siobhán Donovan, and Wolfgang Marx (University of Rochester Press, 2013)

Convenor-Chair: Nicole Grimes

The session focussed on Anthony Pryer‘s article from the book: ‘Hanslick, Legal Processes, and Scientific Methodologies: How Not to Construct an Ontology of Music.’

Respondent: Nick Zangwill

More information on the volume can be found here.

Music and Ethics

Nanette Nielsen and Marcel Cobussen (Ashgate, 2012)

Respondent: Salome Voegelin

More information on the book can be found here.


Sovereign Feminine: Music and Gender in Eighteenth-Century Germany

Matthew Head (University of California Press, 2013)

Respondent: Elizabeth Eger

More information on the book can be found here.

Annual General Meeting

The Study Group’s Annual General Meeting took place at 2.30pm on Thursday 18 July.

Björn Heile


The below report, by Ellen Davies, was originally written for the Newsletter of the Royal Musical Association.

Third Annual Conference of the RMA Music and Philosophy Study Group

King’s College London, 19–20 July 2013, with pre-conference activities on 18 July

From the 18 – 20 July 2013, King’s College London welcomed 220 delegates for three days of widely diverse papers and engaging debates on what we mean by music and what we mean by philosophy. This year, for the first time the usual two-day conference was extended to include a further day of pre-conference activities on 18 July, with 72 speakers involved across the three days. After feedback from previous years, the conference organisers made use of some of the larger lecture theatres at King’s, and this was appreciated.

The optional theme of ‘Embodiment and the Physical’ tied together the variety of papers given at the conference, with ontological issues an underlying theme of many of the talks. The opening plenary discussion panel on Friday morning, ‘Is Music a Bodily Art?’, began with Jenefer Robinson’s talk, and was centred on the dualism of music as structure and music as performance. She argued that we might hear music’s bodily functions foregrounded; however, her talk could have delved into the tension between the inherent dualism of structure and performance. Nicholas Baragwanath addressed some of these issues, whilst Jeremy Begbie’s presentation argued that music was the most spiritual of the arts, and presented an embodied understanding of the transcendental nature of music.

The first keynote by Peter Szendy on Friday afternoon asked what happens when one plays a piano in a department store. His rich and imaginative paper focused on the Marx Brothers film, The Big Store, with questions about the theatre of bodily commerce, underpinned by the philosophy of Jacques Derrida and Karl Marx (‘the other Marx’, as he said). Eric Clarke’s response brought out debates regarding the terms ‘infinite semiosis’ and ‘general fetishism’, as well as highlighting musical episodes from Marx Brothers films that might be thought-provoking to consider.

Georgina Born’s provocative and informative second keynote on Saturday morning directly addressed many of the ontological issues which were raised in the discussions following the first keynote paper. Born discussed relational ontologies provoked by the consideration of the living presence in digital music. She called for a renewed attention to the social, in response to the rise of the actor-network theory and affect theory.

On Friday afternoon following Szendy’s keynote paper, a session entitled ‘Musical Understanding: A Dialogue’ with Nick Zangwill and Lawrence Kramer, chaired by Julian Johnson, was held to close the day before the evening’s wine reception. The two papers opened a discussion on the nature of musical value. Zangwill’s controversial paper was a throwback to Hanslick (‘who was right’, he said). His argument was based on a tautology that in order to know what musical understanding is we must first know what music is. His talk provoked some unsettlement, perhaps best articulated by Lydia Goehr who advised against his discourse of ‘purity’ as an exclusionary term. Lawrence Kramer on the other hand, gave a very different paper in which he argued that an understanding of music and understanding by music are almost identical.

One of the highlights from the day of pre-conference activities was Goehr’s paper on Continental Philosophy, as part of a session of ‘Introducing…’ papers. Goehr’s stimulating and fluid talk discussed the nature of Continental Philosophy whilst defending the thesis of her seminal book, The Imaginary Museum of Musical Works. The Thursday morning session opened with a introduction by Derek Matravers to ‘Analytic Philsophy and Music’. Matravers reiterated many of the stereotypes surrounding analytic philosophy, in order to provoke lively debate and some opposition among musicologists.

A personal highlight from the conference was the session on Schubert which took place as one of the three parallel events on Friday afternoon before the first keynote. Benedict Taylor and David L. Mosley gave two very different approaches to Schubert’s music. Taylor’s stimulating paper argued for a reading of Schubert’s music in terms of memory and temporality, whilst Mosley engaged with debates surrounding landscape. One of the sessions that coincided with the Schubert session due to parallel scheduling included a much praised paper by Rachel Beckles-Wilson on sound and complexities of listening. Following Born’s keynote on Saturday morning, a session on ‘Gesture and touch’ was part of three parallel events focusing on ontological debates. I look forward to hearing more of the on-going research from both papers given, first by Kristoffer Jensen and Søren R. Frimodt-Møller on capturing the gestures of musicians in performance, and secondly by Jana Weissenfeld on her research of conductor’s gestures, (staged or otherwise) from video recordings.

The final keynote paper by Stephen Davies on Saturday afternoon in many ways presented the culmination of ideas from three days of diverse talks. His paper focused on the theme of music and embodiment, and drew on a variety of ideas and examples. Davies argued that to understand what is ‘going on’ in music, it is necessary to ‘see’ what has happened, whether physically or in the mind’s eye. Mark Katz responded by noting that seeing and understanding how music is ‘done’ only enhances the appreciation of music. The discussion brought to an end three days of stimulating discussions within the sometimes precariously overlapping fields of music and philosophy, posing and attempting to answer difficult questions surrounding ontological debates. Many felt that the conference was the best yet, and next year’s 2014 conference will most definitely be very eagerly anticipated.

Ellen Davies begins a DPhil in music at Lady Margaret Hall, University of Oxford in October 2013, researching musical temporality and philosophies of time in 1913 Paris.


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