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The Dynamics of Pluralism in Contemporary Digital Art Music
Tue, Apr 18, 2023
4:30 pm - 6:00 pm
- This event has passed.
The Musicology Colloquium presents a talk by Georgina Born
Georgina Born, Professor of Anthropology and Music of University College London, will discuss The Dynamics of Pluralism in Contemporary Digital Art Music.
Academic electroacoustic music, and specifically acousmatic music, the modernist lineage that came to prominence from the 1970s in universities in the UK, Canada and Europe, has been both hegemonic and waning for around twenty years. In this presentation, based on a chapter from the book Music and Digital Media: A Planetary Anthropology, Georgina explores this state of affairs through an ethnography of innovative British university trainings in computer music, digital art music, sound art and related scenes –– trainings she gathers under the term ‘music technology degrees’. The aim is to probe the burgeoning pluralism of digital art music in the UK as this presses on contemporary music writ large.
Georgina’s fieldwork focused on three leading British academic centres: the Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) at Queen’s University, Belfast, the Music, Technology and Innovation Research Centre (MTIRC) at De Montfort University, Leicester, and the Music and Music Technology groups at the University of Huddersfield. It also involved contacts with music departments at the universities of York, Edinburgh and East Anglia, and the sound art research centre CRiSAP at London’s University of the Arts. She observed teaching and events, attended gigs and conferences, and made relationships with teaching faculty, PhD and Masters students. Through the music technology degrees the chapter narrates a heterogeneous field in motion, buffeted by larger historical processes.
A core premise of Georgina’s analysis is that educational change of the kind she portrays is both a barometer and a catalyst of wider musical, cultural, social and political changes. The net effect is the blossoming of an extraordinary but patterned diversity of idioms in contemporary digital art music, analysed in the last part of the chapter. This diversity poses the question of how we should conceptualise pluralism in music today.
To gain more insight into the presentation, you might like to read Chapter 8 of Georgina’s (open access, downloadable) book in advance of her presentation: Music and Digital Media: A Planetary Anthropology
Georgina Born is Professor of Anthropology and Music at University College London and a member of UCL’s Institute of Advanced Studies. She helps to lead the UCL-wide ‘Music Futures’ programme and at the same time is directing a five-year research programme called ‘Music and Artificial Intelligence: Building Critical Interdisciplinary Studies’ (2021-26, funded by the European Research Council). A professional musician active in experimental music earlier in her life, Georgina has held full professorships at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge and is a Fellow of the British Academy. Her books include Rationalizing Culture (1995), Western Music and Its Others (2000), Interdisciplinarity (2013), Improvisation and Social Aesthetics (2017), Music and Digital Media: A Planetary Anthropology (2022), and she is co-editing, with David Brackett, Music and Genre: New Directions.