Challenging Musical Ontologies: An RMA Study Day

Call for Papers
Challenging Musical Ontologies: An RMA Study Day
Friday 23 November 2012
University of Nottingham Department of Music

This Royal Musical Association (RMA) Study Day seeks to engage with conflicting yet complementary dialogues regarding the possibility (or even non-possibility) of an ontology of music. In recent years there has been lively debate between diverse positions rooted in musicology and both continental and analytical philosophy; the purpose of this Study Day is to highlight these differences, whilst emphasising shared ground and suggesting ways forward. To this end, the Study Day – which is supported by the RMA Music and Philosophy Study Group – will provide a platform for postgraduate students to present their research and to discuss challenges posed to, and possibilities inherent in, commonly held assumptions regarding musical ontology from an array of interdisciplinary viewpoints.

Topics for consideration

  • The question of musical meaning between musicological and analytical-philosophical traditions and contrasts therein
  • New ontological proposals in the ontology of musical works
  •  ‘Early’ music as the root of modern ontologies
  • Composers as the traditional arbiters of what constitutes a musical work
  • The metaontology of music
  • Videogames and indeterminacy (and the challenges they pose)
  • Historical and ethnographic perspectives
  • Phenomenologies of music
  • Popular music
  • Insights from outside of the humanities: scientific, sociological etc.

We welcome proposals of up to 250 words for 20 minute papers on any of these topics (interpreted broadly), or on any other topic relating to the theme of the study day (you should also allow for at least 10 minutes of questions). We also welcome proposals for entire themed sessions if applicants can provide three suitable papers and enough points for discussion. They should be sent to conference organiser Alex Kolassa at and include the following: name, institution, email address and any particular audio/visual requirements.

The deadline for proposals and works is the 30 August 2012.

Call for Works

We will provide performance and recording facilities for a composition workshop and a lunch time concert. Works that confront questions of (their own) ontology would be welcome, though this brief should be understood as broadly as possible. We invite submissions for bass clarinet and piano to be performed by Sarah Watts and Antony Clare (; submissions for different instrumentation are welcome if you provide your own musicians. Compositions should be between 5 and 7 minutes. We may be able to provide some equipment for electronic works – microphones, Max/MSP etc. but this would need to be discussed in advance. The lunchtime concert (which will be open to the public) will feature performances of delegate’s works submitted for the workshop and premiers from other leading composers.

Committee Members: Alexander Kolassa, James Cook, Jonathan Herrick, David Ingram, Dr Nanette Nielsen and Professor Stefano Predelli.


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