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Keynote 5: How can and should we write alternative histories of electronic musics? New thoughts on time, history, and electronic musics

Born, Georgina (2016) Keynote 5: How can and should we write alternative histories of electronic musics? New thoughts on time, history, and electronic musics. University of Leeds. [Dataset]

This item is part of the Alternative Histories of Electronic Music collection.

Dataset description

What is it to write electronic music history? That is the challenge posed, at base, by this conference. Judging by the titles and abstracts, it has been interpreted differently by those offering papers. Some have understood ‘alternative histories’ in the orthodox terms of bringing to attention and valorizing what have been marginalized or unrecognized composers/inventors, schools or practices; others in the more sociological terms of excavating neglected national traditions (eg Finland, Russia), or key institutions, ideologies, or influential paradigms (eg cybernetics); yet others––informed by materialist or posthumanist stances––of rescuing forgotten machines, technologies, media or practices. Some have focused enticingly on ‘failed’ histories, on the systematic absenting from the standard histories of the innovations stemming from popular music and popular media (radio, film), the obscuring of women’s contributions, or the positive potential contributions of perspectives from, say, Science and Technology Studies. Much of this is welcome. Together it etches out a more adequate kind of historiography: beyond the aesthetic blinkers, the Anglo-Americanism, the gender blindness, the elitism, and the liberal-humanist reductionism of previous histories. At the same time, noticeable is a certain shying away from the need to address what kinds of history––what conceptualization of historical process and historical explanation––might reinvigorate the future historiography of electronic music. In this paper I attempt to set out new thinking on these issues: how might we conceptualize anew time and temporalities in relation to the analysis of electronic music-historical processes? How can we learn from the new materialisms and complexity theorists and write less teleological and less subject-centred histories, while attempting not so much to describe developments in these now-fashionable ways but to deliver better historical explanation? I develop these ideas with reference to principles informing several case studies in the ‘history of the present’ of electronic and digital musics: from the invention of new Kenyan hip hop genres, to the active assembling and contestation of electronic music histories associated with microsound, to the hyper-reflexive play with time evident in a spate of recent ‘nostalgia’ genres. The aim is to seed new approaches to the analysis of histories—whether of electronic music, or of music per se.

Subjects: W000 - Creative arts & design > W300 - Music
W000 - Creative arts & design > W300 - Music > W310 - Musicianship/performance studies > W316 - Electronic/electro-acoustic music performance
Divisions: Faculty of Arts, Humanities and Cultures > School of Music
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Date deposited: 27 Jul 2017 19:52



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