Sonic Art and Music

Since its emergence as a distinct contemporary art form in the 1980s (though precedents can be traced to Russolo, Duchamp and the Fluxus “happenings”) Sonic Art has evolved to become an academic discipline with a growing body of theoretical and critical discourses that articulate its individual characteristics and perspectives. Although the first book to use the term “Sonic Art” developed from Trevor Wishart’s practice as an electroacoustic composer (On Sonic Art 1985/1996), a recent tendency can be identified to distance Sonic Art from Music both as an academic discipline and as a practice (Voeglin 2010; Gibbs 2007; Licht 2007; LaBelle 2006; Kim-Cohen, 2006). Frequently, Sonic Art is promoted as providing a perspective on sound, hearing and listening that is categorically different from the perspective presented by Music. There is often a social-political agenda to separate Sonic Art practices from historical and contemporary musical practices and an on-going debate whether it should be regarded as in essence a visual arts practice within Fine Art.

Our main aim in organizing this conference is to explore and build on the historical, theoretical and practical connections and similarities between Music and Sonic Art: we want to bring a different perspective to the relationship between the two areas, one that thrives on regarding them as displaying continuities and links, along a broad spectrum of hearing and listening practices and art-making that use sound. We note that research in Music and in Sonic Art are both interdisciplinary by nature, and that the theoretical and aesthetic concerns of contemporary practitioners in the two domains might be more similar than is currently assumed.

In accordance with our main theme in MuSA 2022, ‘Sounding identities’, we wish to explore how artistic, cultural, social, institutional, national, disciplinary, and sensory (aural, visual, tactile, embodied) identities and agencies are constructed through engagement with music and sonic art practices; how technologies mediate the construction of such identities; the material cultures that facilitate identity formation; and the emergence of new identities through the cross-fertilization between musical and sonic art practices.