What does democracy sound like? Actors, Institutions – Practices, Discourses

International Conference, 5th-7th November 2015, Philharmonie de Paris

Partners:
L’Ecole des hautes études en sciences sociales Paris (Centre de recherches sur les arts et le langage & Centre Georg Simmel); Centre Marc Bloch Berlin; Palazzetto Bru Zane Venice; Center for Worldmusic Hildesheim; Philharmonie de Paris

With the question ‘What does democracy sound like?’, this jointly organised German-French conference intends to open up a space for discussing conceptions and potential functions of music within democratic societies. In research, relations between music and politics were especially closely intertwined thought in official representations of feudal societies and in the context of the ideological instrumentalization of music in totalitarian regimes. Considering this, it appears that the relationship between music and politics can carry dangerous, or at least problematic implications. This relationship seems to be also difficult with regard to the (unquestioned) necessity of autonomy and the principle of artistic freedom. In contrast to this stands the positive power of music, as represented by its potential for use in resistance, protest and liberation movements and its mobilization within processes of community and identity building. Instead of viewing these differing perspectives as contradictory, this conference aims to consider them as an expression of the complexity of the relationships between musical practices and diverse conceptions of collective action and social groupings.

In both historical and anthropological approaches, various forms of musical practices, discourses and social groupings (state, regional and local communities, clubs and interest groups etc.) within democratic societies come into consideration here:

How can it, for example, be explained that music often acts as a means of representing a society as being free and equal, i.e. as a medium for the shaping of society? What prerequisites and intentions underlie the understanding of music as social ‘common property’? In how far are different actors/experts (researchers, members of various interest groups or also militant associations) involved in the process of legitimating state intervention in various musical spheres (artistic production, mediation, education, construction of musical spaces)? Also to be discussed are terms such as ‘culture’, ‘music’, ‘society’, ‘the people’ etc., which struggle for definitionwithin the continualinterplay of societal legitimation and contradiction. Musical practice, when viewed in relation to the term ‘democracy’–which shouldalso be problematized with regardtoits social and political processes of mediation – demands an openness of approach. Indeed, the term ‘democracy’ is instinctively connected to unifying societal ideals and political norms, yet the practical implementation of this concept clearly varies according to time and place.

In order to bring this variation to attention, the conference will take on a longue duréeperspective and trace ideas of democratic thinking in music – with its continuities and gaps – from its first appearance (late 18th/early 19th century) up to the present day. The examples of France and Germany can be taken as a starting point but the focus should by no means be restricted to them. Rather, points of reference between different countries and cultural contexts should be drawn upon and produced.

On the basis of these initial questions, contributions to one or more of the following key areas are welcome:

Music and State: music-related cultural and educational policies; debates on societal representation and participation; institutionalization processes; etc.

History of Ideas: historical milestones in the development of concepts of ‘music and democracy’; processes of mobilization and stabilization as well as controversies surrounding related concepts (musical autonomy, representation, cultural diversity, etc.); the construction of musical hierarchies and genres; etc.

Creativity and Politics: debates on the definition and diversity of the terms ‘culture’ and ‘music’ from the viewpoint of artists (social culture, culture for everyone, etc.); conceptions of society and politics that underlie musical practices; politically motivated music; etc.

Space and Reception: construction of musical spaces and events in democratic societies (concert halls, festivals, conservatoires, radio, etc.); social and symbolic dimensions of architectonic conceptions and localizations in space; debates on social responsibility and the financing of musical spaces and events; etc.

Musical Publics: practices and contexts of listening and reception; concepts of ‘the public’ (elite, mainstream, masses, listeners, audiences, fans, etc.); means of constructing and representing the public (statistics, expert studies, market analysis, self-organization, medialization); etc.

By inviting contributions that concern themselves with various historical and geographic situations and that are orientated around different points of access to the topic (different actors, institutions, practices, discourses), the conference intends to open a forum in which the variety of perspectives on this theme can be taken into account. The aim is to consider the relationship between music and politics in all its complexities and different manifestations in democratic societies.

Contributions from a broad range of humanities and social science disciplines are welcome (History, Anthropology, Musicology, Ethnomusicology, Political Sciences, Sociology, DevelopmentalStudies/Pedagogy, Theatre Studies, etc.).
The conference languages are French, German and English.

Proposals (abstract max. 2000 characters, CV max. 500 characters) should be sent by 15th May 2015 at the latest to the following address: musikdemokratie@gmail.com.
Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by 30th June 2015 and the conference programme published online at http://www.musikdemokratie.wordpress.com.
We look forward to receiving your proposals!

Members of the scientific committee:

Philip Bohlman, Esteban Buch, Annegret Fauser, Wolfgang Fuhrmann, Antoine Hennion, Denis Laborde, Karine Le Bail, Julio Mendívil, Olivier Roueff, Patrice Veit, Raimund Vogels, Sarah Zalfen, Hansjakob Ziemer

Organizers:

Talia Bachir-Loopuyt (Université Jean-Monnet), Etienne Jardin (Palazzetto Bru-Zane), Christina Kaps (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin), Elsa Rieu (Ecole des Hautes Etudes en Sciences Sociales Paris), Lena van der Hoven (Max-Planck-Institut für Bildungsforschung)