Thursday, September 22nd
9.30: Registration and welcome
All sessions will be held in Building Grove B, room GG75
Session 1: 10.00 – 11.30
Paper 1: Miroslav Spasov
Cognition, Technology and Sound Identity: Ten Sefirot for Piano and Live Electronics
For a number of years my main creative interest has been closely related to and influenced by the study of cognitive science — the parallelism of structures between musical processes and out inner states of awareness. In Ten Sefirot I have made an attempt to map some ideas stemming from the ancient tradition of Kabbalah (‘reception’ or ‘tradition’ from the school of thought in Jewish mysticism). Its teachings define the inner meaning of the Hebrew Bible through one of the fundamental kabbalistic texts, the Medieval Zohar, which was first published in the 13th century. Underlying the structural purpose of each of the Sephirot is a hidden motivational force which is understood best by comparison with a corresponding psychological state in human spiritual and cultural experience. As the ten Sephirot are a step-by-step process illuminating the ‘Divine plan’ as it unfolds itself in ‘Creation’, the ‘Infinite Light’ is ‘dispersed’ among this collection of miniatures representing metaphorically an acoustic reflection of that process. I have been driven by the Sephirot’s ‘light refraction’ and used it as a metaphor to develop a musical form consisting of a collection of short movements, each of which is based on a single melodic phrase. The technology involves a camera that captures the pianist’s hands’ movements. The information obtained is converted into a data stream, which in control the sound processing parameters in realtime.
Paper 2: David Cotter & Mark Estibeiro
Virtual Collaboration: Navigating Agency, Identity, and Latency in 21st-Century Musical Performance
Writing in 2014, Margaret Barrett observed that “Collaborations may occur on a number of levels and degrees of separation, including those of place, time and expertise”. In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic provoked national lockdowns around the world, and this in turn motivated a proliferation of remote musical collaborations. Virtual choirs, orchestras, and ensembles of all shapes and sizes increased exponentially, using an array of digital technologies to connect performers across vast physical and temporal distances. However, despite an increasing number of products designed to address this issue, latency (lag) continued to frustrate online collaborative efforts, and prevented some altogether. Many musicians resorted to pre-recording individual parts, before subsequently stitching musical material together, but this was far from “live” musical performance. However, performers are beginning to explore the musical possibilities that arise from embracing lag, rather than embarking on futile endeavours to eliminate it. This paper uses our composition Latent (2021) (for two guitarists and live electronics) to show how non-time-critical scores paired with semi-autonomous patches allow interactions between musicians and electronics in “real” time, without concern for the constraints and restrictions of latency. Furthermore, in our creative practice the sound of instruments is used as both a means of controlling electronic parts and as source material for electronic processing, resulting in stimulating causal and mimetic relationships. Such environments encourage performers to focus on the often-subtle connections between their actions, the resulting acoustic and electronic sounds, and the ways in which these feed into and inform new performative gestures. This presentation illuminates processes of co-performer communication (especially the navigation of omnidirectional feedback loops), the ever-increasing agency of autonomous and semi-autonomous electronics, and the ways through which performers mediate both their own artistic identities and the identities of “virtual performers” in the 21st century.
Paper 3: Madison Miller
Nature Soundscapes: Finding Relaxation Through Sound and Art
According to a 2021 study by Mental Health.org, 78% of UK residents felt overwhelmed or unable to cope over the last year. Though this could pertain to Covid-19 or world crises such as war, other factors that cause stress include poor sleep, being overwhelmed at work, family problems, and more. Stress is one of the leading health concerns in the UK, as it is linked with poor physical health and an increase in anxiety and depression. Research shows that it is impossible to prevent stress from happening. We all experience it to some degree. However, we can develop ways to cope with stress or reduce the amount of time we feel overwhelmed. 93% of Americans spend most of their time indoors. Research suggests that getting outside for even 30 minutes a week is associated with reduced depression and blood pressure. Yet, during times when it is impossible to leave the house, such as the lockdowns we experienced during the Covid-19 pandemic, what should we do? Creating virtual environments can help reduce stress. Though this does not substitute the real experience, research discovered that adding nature photography to hospitals reduced high heart rates and encouraged relaxation. It is in this context that I will discuss nature soundscapes as a form of relaxation. I am currently undertaking a creative practice such that when I feel anxious, I go on meditation walks. During these walks, I take nature field recordings and nature photography. I edit the field recordings, often adding beats and loops. I then post the final version of audio and visual in video format on YouTube. I propose, through auto-ethnography, to showcase how the process of making soundscapes has helped reduce my stress.
Tea/coffee break 11.30-11.45
Session 2: 11.45 – 12.45
Paper 4: Sascia Pellegrini
Displaced Identities: The Discipline of the Body Through Sound Conditioning
This presentation examines how sound operates as a device to construct the habitus for and condition the body’s behaviour, its gestures and boundaries, within everyday habits of urban and suburban social life. In the name of safety, bodies, more often than not, are requested to move in predetermined pathways, railroaded into gestural and behavioural patterns determined by norms considered socially acceptable, advisable, and adequate. Traffic lights, subway gates, train doors, electronic devices, lift and office doors, shopping malls, universities and public buildings, cars, engines and construction work sites, public toilets: only a provisional list of social sites equipped with sounds, alarms, and most likely announcements to suggest, enforce and ratify normative gestures. Aural, visual, and tactile stimuli which are put in place in any social milieu: a redundancy of signs to condition the body. This presentation thus investigates the enforcement of the unambiguous, the making of factuality and factography (the mapping of reality) through sound: how historically, perception, navigation, and fruition of space has been engineered and manipulated by social, cultural, and economical interests through sound produced, sound recorded, and more generally through sound identities collectively established or imposed. I inspect how the auditory reconstruction of reality has repercussions on the perceptual field: a multilayered mapping of the real through devices (analog and digital alike) which generate soundographies, olfactographies, tasteographies, and tactileographies of everyday life. I argue that these chartograpies, sound-maps, matrices, and chronologies (of which eponyms are calendars and recurrences) are designed with the purport to maintain social order: a status quo, a conditioning of behaviours and habits in a given habitus of the senses, and sound distinctly.
Paper 5: Ren Gui & Ryo Ikeshiro
Destination: Sound, Memories, and LGBTQ Identities in a Beijing Nightclub
As the first nightclub in China to attract gay customers, Destination in the Chaoyang district of Beijing has a history of over ten years. The unique environment, music, activities, discourse, performance, etc. in this space constitute its unique cultural landscape. This representative bar also alludes to the changes in Chinese LGBTQ culture in different time periods, and today’s Destination not only has a stable gay clientele but also attracts customers of various identities. However, due to the pandemic and other reasons, the nightclub has been closed for a long time. According to Hoskins (2001), current media-saturated environment combines media technology with personal and collective memories (Bijsterveld & van Dijck, 2009). Starting from this premise, this presentation attempts to trigger the memories of gay customers’ multisensory perceptions in this nightclub and explore what is special about the sounds and music experienced in this space, how they help gay communities construct their different identities and their expectations of sound and music. The research presented uses mixed methods. The authors analyze sound and video clips collected as observers during 2019–2020 at Destination, and discuss data collected from former customers through in-depth interviews with them. Finally, the authors will use focus group interviews with volunteer participants to discuss identity construction through music and sounds at the Destination nightclub.
Tea/coffee break 12.45-13.00
Session 3: 13.00 – 14.00
Paper 6: Solomon Shiu
Voices of Indonesian Migrant Workers in Hong Kong
Amounting to nearly 5% of the population and 9% of the overall workforce, migrant domestic workers (or, MDWs) are an integral part of Hong Kong’s economy. Despite this, they experience discrimination and social inequality and with the fight for MDW rights continuing to be overshadowed by Hong Kong’s other sociopolitical woes, these communities are rendered invisible and voiceless. Hailing from the Philippines and Indonesia, MDWs are almost exclusively women, and are transient workers who live in with their host families. MDWs only receive Sundays off, when many choose to gather in the city’s public spaces to socialise, relax, and make music. In this presentation, I focus on the music and sounds of Indonesian MDWs, who congregate in Hong Kong’s Victoria Park every Sunday. Gathering in the park’s northern, western and southern edges, each “section” is represented by different genres of Indonesian music making as well as vastly dissimilar ways of placemaking, sonic identity performance, and sonic expression of belonging. These practices are also mediated by ethnolinguistic, cultural, and regionalistic differences within the city’s Indonesian diaspora, as well as the authoritativeness of the patrolling Hong Kong law enforcement. The “voices” of the Indonesian MDW community, expressed in displacement within the Hong Kong framework, calls to question what “home” and “authenticity” mean to both the local and the diasporic communities. Drawing from fieldwork conducted between February and December 2021, I seek to illustrate how the Indonesian MDW diaspora, despite facing myriad difficulties and obstacles from the Hong Kong government and local citizenry alike, adapts to the Hong Kong soundscape, and utilises it to sound identities, and exert sounds of protest and nationalism. I argue that Victoria Park hosts nostalgic re-imaginings of the Indonesian nation state, and several uniquely “Hong Kong” versions of performing music and sounds from across the Indonesian archipelago.
Paper 7: Georgios Varoutsos
Peace Wall Belfast: Spatial Audio Representation of Divided Spaces and Soundwalks
In West Belfast lays the Peace Wall Belfast, a manifestation of multifaced messages on political, religious, and communal ideals represented by physical properties of cement, metal, fences, gates, and artwork. There have been discussions on initiatives to take down the walls; however, this remains a fragile state. When thinking about the connectivity of the surrounding spaces and communities, the placing of the Peace Wall(s) blocks any opportunity of cross-communication and produces disorienting effects. However, through alternative artistic approaches focusing on sound, there can be innovative capabilities of sharing these stories and spaces with spatial audio techniques. To use spatial audio to change the perception of these spaces brings forth alternative periods of reflections from stimulating another sensory tool other than sight. Forming two unique listening experiences that focus on the virtual abilities to combine auditory spaces into an immersive installation environment and binaural soundwalks to design site-specific augmentation of the sonic properties of the Peace Wall’s surrounding spaces. These projects aim at using spatial audio and artistic practice to plan new approaches for conflict transformation in Northern Ireland.
Session 4: 15.00 – 16.30
Paper 8: Edwin Hillier
Pierluigi Billone’s Mani.Mono: Uncovering Timbral Identities
Implying the existence of multiple sound sources through its timbral palette – produced via an array of idiosyncratic and physically intricate playing techniques, often channelled through the body – Pierluigi Billone’s Mani.Mono (2007) is, astonishingly, written for just one spring drum, one metal plate and solo percussionist. Taking Billone’s composition as its principal subject matter, this presentation adopts analytical methodology from the acousmatic domain in a bid to reveal new listening strategies and approaches to understanding this instrumental work. Drawn from the writing of Denis Smalley, the concept of “gestural surrogacy” underpins the first part of the investigation. Complex “source-cause” interplay – as the spring drum becomes an extension of the performer’s body, and the performer’s body provides new resonance for the drum – and varying levels of “physical remoteness” are explored as means of interpreting the musical discourse. Meanwhile, at a more local level of form, where timbral identities are “woven” into the “spectromorphological fabric” (Smalley), a Schaefferian approach is adopted. The mass, allure, dynamic and grain of specific sound objects are evaluated as essential sonic criteria. Lastly, the typomorphological approach is extended. Common ground between Schaeffer’s “caractère”, “valeur”, and paradigmatic analysis is sought, and a topographical understanding of timbre space is explored, through reference to Trevor Wishart’s “Principle of Adjacency”, and by employing the computer software, AudioStellar. Through these means, the author offers several perspectives for the listener, alongside strategies for the analysis and interpretation not only of Mani.Mono, but also tactile and physically rooted acoustic work of this kind more generally.
Paper 9: Ed McKeon
Compose Yourself: Pauline Oliveros and the Reconfiguration of Subjectivity
In this presentation I discuss how Pauline Oliveros advanced the Cagean revolution, the turn to the listener and the composition of sounding encounters, to offer a novel account of the self. Cage was expressly concerned with the experience of time. Oliveros demonstrated that temporal continuity—constitutive of selfhood—could be approached through an investigation of listening, with practices that she famously came to call “Deep Listening”. Through a reading of Energy Changes, her transformational collaboration with “Kinetic Awareness” pioneer Elaine Summers, I bring this development into dialogue with the somatic practices Oliveros incorporated into her Sonic Meditations and in particular with the exercise known as the “Extreme Slow Walk”. This defamiliarizing practice shows that the ordinary conception of time as a “path” from past to future, commonly understood as a linear trajectory—a walk through time taken “step by step”—might better be grasped as two simultaneous operations. It directs attention towards the action of movement itself, of balance and of the play of forces this engages, both with and against gravity. This two-legged movement is homologous to the key practice of Deep Listening, of listening with both “focal” and “global” attention simultaneously, conventionally (mis)understood respectively as “active” and “passive”. The sense of personal continuity can then be grasped as an epiphenomenon of temporal experience, an affect of listening and our rates of attention—slow and fast, controlled and relaxed—that can be balanced or “tuned”, as Oliveros put it. This underscores her description of the Sonic Meditations as practices of healing, as “a stream or river whose waters offer refreshment and cleansing to those who find it”, and from which “music is a welcome by-product”.
Paper 10: Diego Carvalho
“Open the Bruise Up”: Identity and Memory in Steve Reich’s Music
When Steve Reich appropriated the speech of a teenage boy—linked to the Harlem Six who had been harshly beaten by the police—to compose the phase tape piece Come Out (1966), he not only established a new compositional technique, but also granted those events a permanence in time. The analysis of Reich’s early pieces generally focuses on compositional processes, the visual arts, and African music. It is time, however, for the narrative content, which is directly linked to the civil rights movement and racial identity, to be examined. In this paper I argue that Come Out alludes to the 1960’s events in two levels: the subjugated boy and the cultural memory of African-American struggles. Using Margaret Somers’ narrative identity studies, I suggest that Reich’s elimination of the text’s semantics reveals the musical subject, the suppression of the African-American man’s identity. Come Out deconstructs the identity of one of the Harlem Six, Daniel Hamm, but carries a deeper message that reconstructs a distant past every time the work is performed. In essence, Reich makes the struggles of the past a living presence through his music.
Tea/coffee break 16.30-16.45
Session 5: 16.45 – 17.45
Paper 11: Jackie Walduck
Miso Kitchen: Multisensory Performance and Shifting Identities.
Miso Kitchen is a multisensory performance piece which builds upon Spence’s (2015) research in cross-modal perception. The artist establishes a transdisciplinary dialogue between Suminagashi water marbling and improvised music. Miso soup is served as part of the performance and the audience are invited to “marble” with the soy sauce and oil on the surface of their soup. While listening to the improvised music and watching the Suminagashi marbling process, the audience consume their soup. Specific ink colours and musical pitches are deployed in the audio-visual work, exploiting cross-modal correspondences between sound, colour and taste, to modulate the soup flavours. This presentation will explore how the piece, developed and performed online using video conferencing software during Covid-19 lockdowns, necessitated a pivot from my practice in ensemble free jazz improvisation to support improvising as a solo musician in collaboration with a visual artist, using audio technology as a sounding “improvisation partner”. This enables an articulation of shifted sounding identities: composer, transdisciplinary improviser, naïve technologist. Miso Kitchen creates an embodied presence in remote performance so that audiences’ sight and hearing would be augmented by taste, smell, and touch. It invokes a liminoid space, aiming to perforate the boundary between embodied and on-screen experiences, so that new sensory identities, re-formed around cross-sensory perception, may be explored. The performance ends with an invitation for audience members to describe their subjective experience of the piece via the video-conferencing software, reflecting upon the extent to which sound and colour have affected taste. Whether or not they report cross-modal experiences, this process enables a verbalization of the audience’s shared or divergent experiences, implying belonging or difference.
Paper 12: Jamie Elless
Queering the Score: Alternative Notation, Graphic Design, and Composition as Fine Art
Alternative notation in all its guises provides a format for communicating musical instruction that is fundamentally inclusive and interdisciplinary. The genesis of a standardised notation system, with its roots in medieval European ecclesiasticism, has provided a useful and efficient instructional uniformity for the composition, performance and study of most Western art music. However, these notational conventions often prove problematic and actively exclude trans+ people. This is especially clear in choral music, for example, where “male voices” – meaning “low voices” – is an established, societally incorrect standard, which in turn reinforces a linguistic and symbolic incongruence. Through exploration of recent and historical examples of alternative notation (Sofia Gubaidulina, Christian Wolff, Meredith Monk, Mark Yeats, James Tenney), contextualised alongside conventional notation, graphic design principles and instructional fine art (Guido d’Arezzo, Harry Beck, Sol LeWitt, do it/do it 20 13), I intend to open discussions that centre around the creation of new systems and methods of notation that, I argue, inherently support queer performers in creating art that accommodates their artistic voices. This can be achieved initially by the removal of problematic gendered language from the score, then further developed through the incorporation of contextual graphic and visual notations, all the while attempting to retain the clarity of instruction offered by conventional notation. The unique and potentially radical performances that could be generated through new, fine art-inspired notation systems would provide queer performers and their audiences with renewed visibility and autonomy, extending beyond the scope of performance art and into wider queer liberation politics.
Friday, September 23rd
Session 6: 10.00 – 11.30
Paper 13: Mine Doğantan-Dack
What’s in a Performing Identity? A Pianist’s Perspective
An important topic that has gained traction in music performance research recently is “artistic individuality” or “individual artistic voice” in performance (e.g. Gingras 2014: Doğantan-Dack 2017), which has been a highly valued aspect of advanced music making in the western classical genre since the 19th century, as well as a pedagogical goal in performance teaching (Hunter and Broad 2017). Empirical research indicates that expert music performers display individual artistic fingerprints or signatures that can be identified through acoustical data analysis (e.g. Fabian and Ornoy 2009; Behan 2021). There is no research, however, on performance individuality or signature from a phenomenological perspective, and scrutinising the experiential basis of this phenomenon. Such a phenomenological inquiry reveals epistemological issues that have not been tackled so far in research on performance identity. While the notions of individuality and identity imply ontological boundaries that confine, and thereby define what is being individualised and identified, phenomenological accounts by performing musicians frequently refer to experiences related to the dissolution of such boundaries: for example, the highly satisfying experience of flow in performance (Csikszentmihalyi 1990) involves the blurring of subject-environment distinction; musicians also experience “becoming” the music (Rink 2017), and “becoming one with” their instrument (Doğantan-Dack 2022), as well as “merged subjectivity” in group music making, which imply shifting subjective identity boundaries. In this presentation, I explore the epistemological basis of performance identity in the classical genre as a pianist, by contemplating in detail different the kinds of experiences that contribute to a dynamically emergent artistic signature through the dissolution of singular identity boundaries, and merging of individual features afforded by the music, the instrument and the performer. I discuss, in this connection, the concepts of self-synchrony, self-awareness and agency in performance making.
Paper 14: Daniel O’Meara
Constructing Coltrane, Misremembering “Giant Steps”
Among jazz listeners and musicians, the ability to recognize familiar improvisers’ styles is a central aspect of the listening experience. In arenas like the long-running “Blindfold Test” column in Down Beat magazine, listeners encounter unfamiliar records and attempt to identify who is playing based on their memories of different jazz players’ styles. Even beyond the confines of the blindfold test, jazz listeners’ lingua franca is a vocabulary built from style and identity: the guitarist has “got a little Grant Green in there” or the pianist is “playing it kind of Monkish.” However, while this ability to internalize jazz players’ stylistic languages often relies on personal memories (hearing a particular recording, say, or seeing a player live), it also is constructed collectively through dialogues among a community of listeners and musicians. This wider, intertextual listening context impacts how listeners understand identity—both for the listener and performer. For an iconic solo like John Coltrane’s improvisation on “Giant Steps” (1960), listeners grapple with not only their own experiences of the recording, but a host of myths, commentaries, and analyses that shape how they make sense of Coltrane’s style. Examining listener recollections of “Giant Steps,” I explore the concept of misremembering, in which listeners’ memories seem not to resemble Coltrane’s actual playing as much as they do a culturally constructed image of his style. With “Giant Steps” as a case study, I look at how shared meanings—such as perceived stylistic influences or allusions—emerge out of a culture of jazz listening. Centrally, this culture is shaped by jazz pedagogy, which impacts not only the ways in which musicians improvise, but also how listeners construct memories of the music they hear.
Paper 15: Jimmy Eadie
Identity and the Interdisciplinary Practice of Theatre Sound Design
In general, identity may be described as an ideological framework that has become increasingly essential in recent decades. We must remember that identity is a consequence¾it is the product of the mental and philosophical process of individualistic identification. Only in current individualistic cultures, as it progressively atomises the social field, can identity become an ideological and creative device. This article will examine this concept of identity in theatrical interdisciplinary work, with a particular emphasis on a form known as “installation-theatre” (Wilkinson, 2014) as experienced through the perspective of a composer/sound designer. The presentation will begin with concepts of intermediality and progress through interdisciplinarity, collaboration, and the importance of individuality and identity, as well as how the sound designer incorporates his or her compositional technique into the wider work. The presentation will highlight this designer’s unique approach to theatrical soundscape design, which integrates both music composition skills and audio engineering technical knowledge. The field of enquiry in relation to identity, interdisciplinarity and the creative process has been addressed in many notable publications (Schrage, 1990; Wenger, 1998; Kwon, 2004; Adler and Chen, 2011; Sawyer, 2017). Collaboration could be best described as the interaction of artists working in tandem toward a common goal. As Claire McCoy observes, a “collaborative project has a level of richness that individual efforts rarely achieve” (2016, p.38). By consciously exploiting individual artistic identities and diversity as a creative resource, the collaborative process can fundamentally challenge and engage in discursive modes of creation. I consider collaboration and interdisciplinarity to be one and the same, and I will use the terms interchangeably throughout the presentation. It is exactly this coming together of individual and strong identities that create original and unique theatrical artworks. Theatre is an inherently collaborative art form, and there is always an interdisciplinary team required in the creation of any work. This creative team will usually consist of scenographers, designers, directors, and performers. This presentation attempts to open the discussion on the practical and theoretical area of the identity of the Sound Designer within theatre.
Tea/coffee break 11.30-11.45
Session 7: 11.45 – 13.15
Paper 16: Alfonso Benetti Junior
Choreography of shadows: Undine’s Torment
Undine is a mythical figure, a water nymph associated with the female gender – just as water was regarded in ancient Greece. Due to her proximity to humans, Undine assumes an identical human body figure; however, she does not have a soul. Such torment only ends when the nymph marries a human, which also has consequences: the guarantee of an immortal soul makes their lives shorter. Choreography of Shadows: Undine’s Torment is the result of an interdisciplinary Artistic Research project involving visual arts and music, conducted within the scope of the funded Xperimus project (Experimentation in Music in Portuguese Culture: History, Contexts and Practices in the 20th and 21st Centuries). Related to the myth of Undine, the main objective of the work was to develop an artistic output that, as a result of the interaction between the visual and the sound, would represent the Waters of the Ria de Aveiro (Portugal) by the “feminine” that inhabits it. Secondarily, this objective refers to 1) valuing a territory in preservation – political and ecological activism; and a 2) gender activism: the valorization of the feminine (in Portuguese, “Ria” is the feminine word for the masculine “Rio” – River). The research was based on methodological procedures such as archeology, performance-ethnography, musical collage, musical borrowing, improvisation, extended techniques, and experimental methods. The work was developed within the scope of a creative laboratory, preserving an immersive dialogue between the artist-researcher and the visual artist. In musical terms, the result consisted of a creation based on resources from the instrument of the piano, performed/recorded and later explored and mixed through audio programming. In terms of instrumental performance, the work includes exploratory effects such as arpeggios performed manually on the instrument’s strings, wooden blows on the bass strings, and the friction of glass on the strings – an effect that alludes to Undine’s singing. The exploration and sound editing were based on the plot alluding to the myth, focusing on the shadow effect – representative of Undine’s movement through the waters of the Ria de Aveiro. The final artistic result interpolates music with visual arts – mainly through the exploration of audiovisual resources and the arrangement of archaeological artefacts. This presentation includes a reflection on the procedural aspects and aims of this artistic research project, and the exhibition of the final artistic output.
Paper 17: Jonathan Croose
Ear Trumpet: Performative Investigations in “Sonic Geology”
Gobbledegook Theatre’s Ear Trumpet is a site-responsive outdoor theatre performance in which a team of “sonic investigators” have discovered pockets of music and sound, trapped in the Earth beneath our feet. The show allows audiences to listen, using “ear trumpets” a collection of recycled trumpets, trombones and gramophone horns that have been re-purposed as listening devices. In this presentation, the author describes the aurality of Ear Trumpet through a qualitative, practice-led methodology of first-person performance-as-research, interviews with the artists and analysis of audience response. The presentation considers Jean-François Augoyard and Henri Torgue’s notion of “sharawadji” (2005) within Ear Trumpet: a “sonic effect” of surprise, delight and imaginative transportation that is generated by unexpected encounters with music and sound. Sharawadji arises, the author argues, from the way the performance encourages “the consciousness of early listening” (ibid., 13) and through a combination of the sonic effects of anamnesis, de-contextualisation, de-localisation, attraction, phototonie and quotation. The presentation also considers how the use of music and sound in Ear Trumpet positions the relationship between the “physical environment, the socio-cultural milieu, and the individual listener” (ibid., xiii), and reveals how participants’ suspension of disbelief in the pseudo-science of “sonic geology” allows them to engage with the music and posit the possibility of multiple “historic dimensions of sound”, in a way that reframes their everyday soundscape and “magically and suddenly transports [them] elsewhere” (ibid., xv). Finally, the presentation raises questions about the effect of sharawadji in terms of the tension between theatrical illusion, “belief” and critical distance among audiences, and considers a possible politics of aurality in performance contexts.
Paper 18: Gabriela Mayer & Regina Crowley
Notes to a Star: An Interdisciplinary Performance Project for New Audiences
This presentation focuses on the creative collaborative processes that resulted in a sound installation entitled Notes to a Star at the Blackrock Castle Observatory in Cork, staged as an event open to live audiences. This performance research project was funded by the MTU Research Office. As a creative response to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the trends related to experiencing everyday life as well as cultural events largely online, we wanted to create a “listening oasis” for small live audiences in an outdoor setting. The starting point was a conversation between fragments of dramatic text by Shakespeare and piano music by Beethoven, and our own artistic voices. We felt this would offer the possibility to experience space and sound in a different way. The terrace of the Blackrock Castle Observatory, set on the river Lee, offered a spectacular stage where live audiences could access this outdoor cultural event. This modality offered the possibility of weaving material in new ways, with the help of a sound designer, and adding an element of piano improvisation and the voices of two actors. This presentation combines a discussion of the research process, the project and the audience response with excerpts from the sound installation. The project will inform further research into reaching new audiences through innovative interdisciplinary collaboration. As part of the project, the Blackrock Castle Observatory encoded and beamed this show to a distant exoplanet and its parent star, Bran and Tuiren. It will take 12 years for these sounds to arrive at their destination. The contemplation of this journey offers new perspectives to both artists and audiences.
Session 8: Keynote Presentation – 14.15-15.15
Sounding Out: negotiating artistic Identities in complex times
This paper attempts to highlight one of the key themes of the conference showing how musical experiences and practices help construct social, cultural, national, political, and artistic identities. Issues of identity and identity politics are topical issues across the Western world. Who we are, and how we express gender, sexuality, nationhood, political views, etc., are fundamental aspects of modern life. Music is key marker of our identity and musical engagement in its many forms is woven into the fabric of daily living. Focusing on number of creative projects, this paper presents a new framework for conceptualising musical identities – Musical Identities in Action (MIIA) (MacDonald and Saarakallio, in press). This framework foregrounds musical identities as dynamic (constantly evolving, dialogical, and actively performed), embodied (shaped by how music is physically expressed and experienced) and situated (emergent from interaction with social contexts, technologies, and culture). Musical identities are presented as fluid and constructed through embodied and situated action. A number of recent examples from Interdisciplinary research are utilized to show how the MIIA framework can be applied to specific contexts, and how musical identities interact with other aspects of life. Examples of the embodied nature of musical identities are discussed, including early childhood interactions, professional performance, and everyday informal engagement. Technology is highlighted as one topical and situated context, using a recent online improvisation project as examples. In this project the boundaries between the traditionally distinct ways of engaging with music (composer, performer, listener, producer, improviser, music scholar and researcher) are blurred. This project also shows how new roles, practices and modes of interaction with music can emerge. Specific example will show musicians utilised visual features of the online engagement to develop new artistic identities. Implications of the MIIA framework for education and health are also presented, proposing that a key goal of music education is the development of positive musical identities. Recent advances in humanities research such as post-qualitative inquiry (PQI) and metamodern philosophical theory are proposed as useful multidisciplinary approaches for developing new knowledge related to musical identities.
Session 9: 15.30 – 16.30
Paper 19: Payam Pilvar
The emergence, alteration, and decline of electronic music scenes in Western societies has been the subject of many scholarly works (Anderson 2009; Neil 2002; Ferreira 2008). However, in the context of the Global South and more specifically the Middle East, studies of contemporary music concentrate primarily on the political, sociological, and cultural aspects of popular music in general (Baily 1981; Nooshin 2005) rather than focusing on specific genres. During the past decade, a great number of Iranian musicians and music lovers have discovered an interest in electronic music. Although some progressive Iranian musicians had started using electronic technologies to compose music in the 1970s, there wasn’t any significant artistic movement with a focus on electronic music for years. Gradually, since the 2010s, a greater number of popular musicians and bands took permission to have live performances and officially publish their work due to the more tolerant cultural politics of the Islamic government (Azadehfar 2011). A few years earlier, high-speed internet became available to the public in Iran, opening a door to the latest and the most advanced technologies of sonic arts and electronic music production for musicians. A new generation of young musicians used these opportunities to shape an active scene of electronic music in the country.This research employs qualitative approaches (autoethnography and participant observation) to examine how the social, political, and cultural characteristics of a country such as Iran can affect the aesthetics of musicians and develop a unique kind of artistic expression when compared to similar models in Western countries. By focusing on two of the most popular electronic music festivals in Iran as case studies, this presentation attempts to show the role of new technologies as a medium for acculturation in the digital age.
Paper 20: Sean Williams
German Instrument, German Devices, German Performer: German Sound?
This paper examines Harald Bojé’s performance practice and especially his instruments during his stint performing with the Stockhausen Ensemble from 1965-1975. Bojé’s main instrument was the Hohner Electronium although his system comprised several different devices, all of which were of German manufacture, until he purchased a number of Japanese devices in 1970. In this period import duties on foreign goods and the exchange rates were prohibitive enough to make it difficult for German musicians to purchase foreign instruments. By necessity, there was therefore a reliance on German made devices, many of which easily matched if not surpassed the quality of American and British instruments. By examining the main instruments as well as the ancillary equipment used by Bojé I test the possibility of claiming for Bojé a German sound. Links with the krautrock scene are traced through the common use of the Godorf recording studio as well as some personal connections. In 1970, Bojé spent several weeks in Osaka and purchased several Japanese devices there, which he used to augment his setup. I examine what changed in his sound, and again, whether this could be characterised as a Japanese sound. This is all very tentative and speculative, and my general conclusion is that although it is clearly possible to construct a narrative that links the origin of all of the instruments to a specific geographical region (i.e. Germany, and then Japan), to go further and imply a sense of place and identity to the practice is risky and possibly nothing more than a narrative conceit.
Session 10: 16.45 – 17.45
Paper 21: Xiaolian Zhang
Reading Room: Sounding Identity Through a Virtual Installation Experience
This paper will mainly examine the artistic, cultural, institutional, national, disciplinary, political embodied and sensory identities and agencies that are constructed through engagement with music and sonic art practices, and how technologies mediate the construction of sounding identities.David Toop (2005, p.42), stated that “sounds are woven with memory. For this reason, they may need to be undone as memories become an anchor, dragging in the mud of personal history and accumulated nostalgia”. Completed recently, this virtual sound art installation project Reading Room, examines my memory as a young Chinese student in high school where students were required to read out literature aloud to memorise the text for the purpose of passing examination while teachers would be circulating around the classroom, consisting of more than sixty students reading at the same time, to check if anyone was not reading or “being lazy”. Because it very often happened in the very early morning (6am), some students would fall asleep or be daydreaming; therefore, the hyper-reality of the noisy classroom is contrasted with the blurred and morphing vocals suggesting the daydream, which is similar to the way Barry Truax described his work as “connecting the inner and outer worlds of perception” (Truax, 2018). In doing so, this sound art project reinterprets the stereotype and of Chinese students as “always studying”. It further questions the significance of “学” (study) in Confucian philosophy, and the use of technology brings up questions about how knowledge and information are consumed in this post-digital age.
Paper 22: Asit Roy
Musical Equality in the Worship Songs of Different Religions
Christians, Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists make up the majority among many religious communities around the world, and melody is used as a major part of workship in each of these religions. In Hinduism (Sanatan religion) musical sound or “Nada” is comparable to the deity. While argue that music is forbidden in Islam, it is worth remembering that the recitation of the holly Quran, the recitation of Surah and tune of Azan are highly decorative musical utterances. Christians belive that music brings them closer to God. Melodies used during worship in various religions since ancient times is mainly based on three or four notes. There are some common melodies observed in the hymns of Hinduism, Buddhism and Islamism. In the vedic hymns of Hinduism, Trpitak recitation in Buddhism and Talbiyah (Hajj starting hymns- Labbaik Allahuma Labbaik) recitation in Islam are primary examples in this regard. This type of melody has a special importance in the field of interrelationships between religious worship. Although their religious rules are different, individuals reach the almighty through similar melodic structures.
End of MuSA22: Concluding remarks.