[ 23. September 2015 ]

CALL – CONFERENCE CALL: Alternative Histories of Electronic Music (AHEM)

Subject: CONFERENCE CALL: Alternative Histories of Electronic Music


From: John Dack, James Mooney of Leeds University

Dear all,

The call for papers is now open for an international conference on

‚Alternative Histories of Electronic Music‘ (AHEM), to be held at The

Science Museum Research Centre (London) in April 2016.

Invited speakers will include: Sarah Angliss, Georgina Born, Simon

Emmerson, Leigh Landy, Trevor Pinch.

Full details of the call, including submission guidelines and some

suggested thematic areas, are given below, and can also be found online

at http://ahem2016.wordpress.com/call-for-papers.

The deadline for abstract submissions is 31 October 2015.

I would be grateful if you would pass this on to any potentially

interested parties or relevant mailing lists / social media that you can

think of.

Best wishes,



The story of the genesis and development of electronic/electroacoustic

music is often told in the same familiar way. Experiments in musique

concrète in Paris and elektronische Musik in Cologne played a central

role in European developments, while activities in New York such as

those of the Columbia-Princeton Electronic Music Center, John Cage and

his Music for Tape-Recorders group, and Louis and Bebe Barron are

frequently proffered as the most prominent American contributions. These

activities were significant, of course; but they were not the only

progenitors of modern-day electronic music. There are many, many other

ways in which the story of electronic music’s history and development

could be told.

For example… What does electronic music look like if we focus on the

contributions of individuals whose work is less widely known; less

widely recognised? What happens if we step away from the Western

European and North American institutions that are normally figured as

central to the genesis and development of electronic music? Or, what

happens if we question, or explore the mechanisms of, their authority?

What happens if we change our object(s) of study; if we look at

artefacts and objects rather than composers and works, for instance? Are

there tools, techniques, instruments that played an important role in

shaping electronic music that remain under-recognised or misunderstood?

What about when we listen to the marginalised voices; what versions of

electronic music’s history do they tell? Or, what happens if we change

our methods of study, so as to highlight aspects that hitherto went

unnoticed, such as underlying social, political, or economic dimensions?

How does current music draw on the origins of the form?

This conference is being staged as part of an AHRC-funded project

exploring the work of the English musician and musicologist Hugh Davies

(1943-2005). In the late 1960s, Davies produced a comprehensive

inventory of electronic music compositions, entitled International

Electronic Music Catalog (1968), in which he documented the output of

560 studios in 39 countries. This challenged the hegemony of the Paris,

Cologne, and New York schools, whose activities dominated the literature

of the 1950s and 60s. As such, Davies provided what was perhaps the

first alternative version of electronic music’s history. While this

conference is not directly ‘about’ Hugh Davies, then, it does explore

some of the broader issues raised by his work.

There are many ways in which an ‘alternative’ history could be framed.

The purpose of this conference is to explore all possibilities; to focus

upon different ways of telling the story of electronic music; to explore

its alternative histories.

Call for Papers

We seek proposals for papers/presentations that fall under the rubric of

‘alternative histories of electronic music’, as sketched out above. We

welcome submissions that focus on any one or combination of the

following (note that these are suggestive rather than prescriptive):

·Pathways from electronic music’s past to electronic music’s present

that are ‘a little bit different’ from what one might expect.

·Individuals, institutions, inventions, or perspectives that have been

neglected or under-represented up to now.

·Alternative methodological and/or theoretical perspectives; studies

that encourage us to look at the history of electronic music in a

different way.

·Ethnographic, anthropological, and/or interdisciplinary approaches;

implementation of methods native to science and technology studies

(STS); other methodological approaches that are apt to reveal

‘alternative histories’.

·Alternative narratives; studies that compel us to attend to, or listen

to, different things as we navigate electronic music’s history.

·Marginalised voices; stories of electronic music’s history and

development that have been sidelined, for whatever reasons.

·Non-Western European, Non-North American developments, and/or

activities that happened outside those typically considered in

electronic music histories.

·Unconventional or DIY approaches; work that has flouted the norms and

expectations of its epoch.

·Developments that have shaped or changed the direction of electronic

music, but which remain as yet under- or un-recognised.

·Notions of genre/style/idiom as a lens for alternative histories.

·Studies that might be thought of as continuing the work that Hugh

Davies started with his International Electronic Music Catalog, for

example by focusing on the electronic music of under-represented nations.

·Tools, techniques, instruments (etc.) that played an important role in

shaping electronic music, but which remain under-recognised or


·Interrogating the (perhaps invisible) driving forces behind

institutions of cultural production, so as to reveal why certain models

of electronic music dominate, or appear to dominate.

·Historic perspectives on relationships between electronic music and

other musical/cultural practices.

·We are interested in how electronic music came to be the way it

currently is; and in the developments and perceptions that have shaped

this. Proposals are therefore likely to incorporate a strong historical

element, either focusing directly upon historic developments, and/or

framing the current state of affairs in the light of historic

perspectives. (Proposals from individuals to discuss their own creative

work are discouraged unless they provide strong insights in the above


Submissions are welcomed from all disciplines, but particularly from

electroacoustic music studies, science and technology studies,

history/philosophy of science/technology, and sound studies.

Submission Guidelines

Please submit an abstract of approximately 500 words, plus brief

biographies of approximately 100 words for each author, using the

template provided, by email to ahem(at)leeds(dot)ac(dot)uk .

The template can be downloaded here in MS

Word and RTF (Rich Text Format).


Call for papers: 7 July 2015

Deadline for abstracts: 31 October 2015

Notification of results: 1 December 2015

Conference: 15-16 April 2016

Publication Plans

There are plans for a thematic issue of /Organised Sound/

(http://journals.cambridge.org/action/displayJournal?jid=OSO). A

separate call for submission will be released in due course. Conference

delegates interested in publication are encouraged to conceive of their

conference papers/presentations such that they could be developed into

full-length journal articles (c. 6-7000 words); a deadline for

submission of articles for peer review is provisionally anticipated

around 5 months after the conference (September 2016).

Contacts and Other Information

For any enquiries please contact ahem(at)leeds(dot)ac(dot)uk

This conference is being staged as part of an Arts and Humanities

Research Council funded project led by Dr James Mooney, School of Music,

University of Leeds, in partnership with Dr Tim Boon, Head of Research

and Public History, The Science Museum.

Dr James Mooney

Lecturer in Music Technology

Principal Investigator, Hugh Davies Project

School of Music, University of Leeds



CONFERENCE: ‘Alternative Histories of Electronic Music’

Deadline for abstracts: 31 October 2015

Conference: 15-16 April 2016, Science Museum, London