Musicology Without Music?

  • 5.15pm

  • Alison House, Lecture Room A
    12 Nicolson Street
    EH8 9DF

Led by Kyle Devine (University of Oslo)

Music analysis is supposed to be deep. The goal is to discover how patterns of sound work in relation to one another (formally), to expose how these patterns are articulated to senses of self and community (socially), to unearth how these patterns arise as coefficients of particular times and places (historically). The assumption is that paying close attention to patterns of sound—digging deeply into their textual and contextual associations—is an effective way of understanding how music works, what it means, why it matters.

This presentation, by contrast, is not about such patterns of sound—whether those sounds exist as notes printed on a page or as sound waves and other data stored in a playback medium, nor whether those patterns have been conceived in the mind of a composer, realized in the interpretation of a performer, or received in the ears of a listener. Instead of meaningfully patterned sounds and textual analysis, this presentation is about the surfaces and textures of recording formats: the sizzle of shellac, the crackle of vinyl, the slosh of MP3. These distinctive textures are the result of the technical capacities and limitations of a given recording format’s media channels and infrastructures. In attending to such features, the argument here is that we can learn as much from seemingly meaningless textures as from evidently meaningful texts.

Free to attend. Open to all.

Part of the Music Research Seminar Series 2017/18.

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