After Idealism: Sound as Matter and Medium in the 19th Century

Conference website: http://www.crassh.cam.ac.uk/events/26935

Registration for the conference is now open. Fees are £40 (full fee) and £15 (student/unwaged). Fees include lunches and teas/coffees. Registration will close on Wednesday 1 March. 

 

Convenor

David Trippett (University of Cambridge)

 

Summary

The legacy of idealism has been a guiding doctrine for the study of 19th-century music, from an emphasis on neo-Platonic musical works, acousmatic voices and intangible structures, to listening experiences disembodied, creatively imaginative, and ineffable. But idealism has arguably obscured the emergent perspective of natural science during the period, and with it, those of philosophical and scientific materialism that engaged composers, listeners, and their art.

This conference aims to enlarge substantially our understanding of the dialogue between 19th-century music and natural science, examining in particular how a scientific-materialist conception of sound was formed alongside a dominant culture of romantic idealism. It takes as its subject sound as matter and medium, focusing on the domains of natural science, emergent technologies, sentient communication and acoustics. It investigates the view that sound, for a time the cherished mantle of idealist metaphysics, was also regarded by writers, composers, scientists and engineers as tangible, material and subject to physical laws; that scientific thinking was not anathema but—at key moments—intrinsic to music aesthetics and criticism; that philosophies of mind and theories of the creative process also drew on mechanical rules of causality and associative ‘laws’; and that the technological innovations brought about by scientific research were accompanied by new concepts and new ways of listening that impacted the sound world of composers, critics, and performers.

This event brings together approaches from the philosophy of science, musicology, phenomenology, sound studies, and media theory / communication studies.

A series of addresses come from leading figures across these disciplines. By placing the respective disciplinary perspectives in dialogue the conference aims to foster discussion on such topics as:

  • Historical soundscapes
  • Histories of sensation / materialities of communication
  • Acoustics & theories of sounding matter
  • Phenomenologies of listening
  • Embodied / materialist theories of the creative process
  • Philosophical & scientific materialism

Within this array of approaches to the subject of sound as matter and medium, the conference will promote a dialogue between materialist philosophies of mind and historical understanding of acoustics, between sound as cognitive phenomenon and vibrational event, between constructed identities of the composer as natural genius and a sentient body engaging with the tangible, noisy, physical environment.


[original CFP follows]

17 March 2017 – 18 March 2017

Alison Richard Building, 7 West Road, Cambridge, CB3 9DT

Convener

David Trippett (University of Cambridge)

 

Summary

The legacy of idealism has been a guiding doctrine for the study of 19th-century music, from an emphasis on neo-Platonic musical works, acousmatic voices and intangible structures, to listening experiences disembodied, creatively imaginative, and ineffable. But idealism has arguably obscured the emergent perspective of natural science during the period, and with it, those of philosophical and scientific materialism that engaged composers, listeners, and their art.

This conference aims to enlarge substantially our understanding of the dialogue between 19th-century music and natural science, examining in particular how a scientific-materialist conception of sound was formed alongside a dominant culture of romantic idealism. It takes as its subject sound as matter and medium, focusing on the domains of natural science, emergent technologies, sentient communication and acoustics. It investigates the view that sound, for a time the cherished mantle of idealist metaphysics, was also regarded by writers, composers, scientists and engineers as tangible, material and subject to physical laws; that scientific thinking was not anathema but—at key moments—intrinsic to music aesthetics and criticism; that philosophies of mind and theories of the creative process also drew on mechanical rules of causality and associative ‘laws’; and that the technological innovations brought about by scientific research were accompanied by new concepts and new ways of listening that impacted the sound world of composers, critics, and performers.

This event brings together approaches from the philosophy of science, musicology, phenomenology, sound studies, and media theory / communication studies.

A series of addresses come from leading figures across these disciplines. By placing the respective disciplinary perspectives in dialogue the conference aims to foster discussion on such topics as:

  • Historical soundscapes
  • Histories of sensation / materialities of communication
  • Acoustics & theories of sounding matter
  • Phenomenologies of listening
  • Embodied / materialist theories of the creative process
  • Philosophical & scientific materialism

Within this array of approaches to the subject of sound as matter and medium, the conference will promote a dialogue between materialist philosophies of mind and historical understanding of acoustics, between sound as cognitive phenomenon and vibrational event, between constructed identities of the composer as natural genius and a sentient body engaging with the tangible, noisy, physical environment.

 

Sponsors

Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences (CRASSH) and the European Research Council (ERC).

 

Administrative assistance: conferences@crassh.cam.ac.uk

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