CfP: Music, Materiality And Subjectivities (STS Conference Graz)

STS Conference Graz 2015 – „Critical Issues In Science, Technology And Society Studies“
Session: “Music, Materiality And Subjectivities”
May 11-12, 2015 – Meerscheinschlössl, Graz, Austria
Deadline: January 15, 2015

Musical practices are generally built around the interplay between several technological artefacts and social actors. Dependent on specific areas in the musical world, the production might encompass acoustic or electrified instruments, amplifiers, and sound engineering equipment in general. Consumption might encompass records or digital equivalents, iPods and headphones, or complex sound systems. So far, Science and Technology Studies have neglected the aesthetic uses of technology and the role of technology in certain musical styles, e.g. of the record player and the digital sampler for Hip Hop and Techno genres. Of course, music, in reference to musical instruments, has always been technological. In fact, the piano was one of the first more complex machines allowed in the bourgeois living room (cf. Weber 2006 [1921]). The possibility to record music created not only a shift in the distribution of music and the music business but a whole new field of careers, devices and buildings.

These material conditions of musicking relate to subjectivities in specific ways. For instance, the electric guitar and the domain of sound engineering in general can be described as linked to particular constructions of masculinity. Tia DeNora (2006) explains how changes in musical style in the late 19th century led to the piano becoming less of an instrument for female players and more of a virtuoso instrument associated with male genius. Similarly many instruments appear as ethnically connoted.

The relation between subjectivities and musical materiality should be discussed along the following questions:

How are musical materialities embedded in processes of co-construction or into actor- networks? How are subjectivities and materialities linked in concrete musical practices? Which role does the aesthetic character of musical material play and how does it differ from e.g. epistemic practices? Which possibilities to cross dominant orders are there in employing “queer” ways to use sound technologies? Which specificities come into play regarding different material conditions of producing and consuming music, e.g. regarding the analogue/digital differentiation? What does it mean to make music with regards to recording, mixing, sampling and professions such as DJs, sound engineers, equipment producers? What is the role of knowledge and social discourse and how do they relate to materiality in musical practices?

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