University of California:
March 11-13, 2016 – University of California, Berkeley
Deadline: July 30, 2015
This conference explores the disciplinary challenges and aesthetic questions presented by „easy music“: simple, generic, kitschy, or avowedly trivial music, usually for amateur performers or listeners. Examples might include music for children, community or church choirs, pedagogical compositions or practices, and music that endeavors to be low-brow or populist in spirit.
Musicologists have typically studied easy music as symptomatic of ostensibly more fundamental social logics: as the musical dimension of institutional networks or political ideologies, or as part of the modern marketplace. Rarely is easy music treated as an object of knowledge or aesthetic appreciation with distinctive claims on our attention. This conference therefore asks how we might take easy music seriously, and how we might develop critical tools to engage with it as music.
Rather than reduce easy music to the status of a receptacle for or by-product of existing social relations or historical trends, then, our aim is to gain a deeper understanding of the aesthetic strategies of easy music, asking why it has been so successful at producing and supporting new social relations.
Possible topics include:
- Arrangements and transcriptions
- Intentionally easy repertoires
- Music for domestic settings
- Music that does not conceal, and even celebrates, its complicity with market forces
- Simple or generic musical strategies in repertoires not traditionally considered „easy“
- The concept of the generic and the idea of kitsch
- The „great divide“ as expressed in musical production and consumption
- Music and mechanical reproduction
We invite contributions from disciplines beyond the musicologies, including literary studies, history and sociology, performance and media studies, and gender studies.
Please submit an abstract of no more than 300 words to Nell Cloutier, ecloutier -at- berkeley.edu . Submissions are due July 30, 2015. Participants will be notified in early September 2015.