International Workshop - Performing “New” Music: Ethnographies of Musical Creativities
Performing "New" Music: Ethnographies of Musical Creativities
June 6th to 8th, 2019 | NOVA - FCSH | Tower B | Room T1
Creativity is an essential part of any musical performance, however, its dynamics, structures, and experiences differ vastly across cultures and contexts. In some cases, while musicians on the stage strive to dazzle with their innovative feats, audience members partake in the creative process by practicing their listening skills or providing direct cues that serve to inspire the performers. And yet in many cultures, the line between performers and audience members is blurred and musical creativity is an endeavor that is performed communally. How effective are current ideas in the field of ethnomusicology for deepening our understanding and accurately writing about the phenomena of creativity, considering the issues of representation and translation at the core of our attempt to convey musical reality via notation, discursive accounts, or recordings? Which current theories in the humanities can be useful to avoid the Othering effect, inherent in the categories of Western epistemology, such as the figure of the individual genius composer, or dichotomies such as the mind vs. the body? Creativity has become a popular topic in music scholarship and this workshop aims to generate critical discussion about feasible approaches to studying and writing about musical creativity; approaches that will help us overcome the epistemological limitations and deep-rooted biases of the scholarly enterprise. Those milieux in which musical creativity is the primary criteria of success involve precise factors conducive to innovative musical structures as well as to ideas and beliefs that these structures are "new". The brief instant of tonal variation in Italian singing; the "authenticity" of the voice of a singer songwriter of the "indie" scene; early-music making as distancing from the "canon" and as "musical encounters" in Greece; the political influence of a Portuguese pop music producer working in his studio in Paris; "explosions of thinking" and "explosions of imagination" among tar players of Azerbaijani mugham; the complex assemblage that makes a "wonderful ambiance" of a jazz "Hot Club" in Lisbon or techno club in Hamburg – these are all examples of the conditions that characterize instances of musical creativity as sonic manifestations and as ideas. We encourage the participants to discuss the structures, perceptions, and experiences of musical creativity in various contexts. For example, it can be proper to deconstruct some of them as illusions and devices of power,
as critical theory would have it. However, it is more thought-challenging to show the importance of these processes and the relation that these processes entertain with the "instaurated" value of the musical activity itself, as Antoine Hennion will emphasize in his keynote speech. The "institutional conditions of felicity" (Goffman) of those phenomena will be part of our discussion. Those situations are sustained by complex and singular practices which have to be considered as such – as Isabelle Stengers puts it, as in "ecologies of practices", with the strong ethical demand that "no practice can be defined as 'like any other', just as no living species is like any other".
Maxime Le Calvé