[ 12. Dezember 2011 ]

CALL – TACET, Experimental Music Review #2

Von: Xavier Hug
Datum: 12. Dezember 2011 14:03:05 MEZ
Betreff: NEWS: Call for papers


Issue edited by Matthieu Saladin – IDEAT (Université Paris 1/ CNRS),
Le Quai École supérieure d’art de Mulhouse

According to one of the definitions of experimental music formulated
by John Cage, the role of experimentation is to ask questions rather
than to provide canned answers. This issue of TACET seeks to turn this
saying back on experimentation itself, by examining its principles,
manifestations and challenges, both historical (provided they question
our contemporaneity) and current.

From a historical point of view, the expression “experimental music”
has typically been used to describe the practices of musicians and
composers, mainly Anglo-Saxons, reunited around the music and ideas of
John Cage, or at least directly or indirectly claiming as such.
Indeterminacy, process and the interest in “new” sounds are its major
lines of research. However, this expression equally refers to previous
musical and/or artistic trends (futurism with Russolo and the
emergence of sound poetry, the first electronic music works in Russia,
etc.) which have contributed to the bringing back of rules that
governed sound creation to the drawing board. At the same time as Cage
carried out his first experiments with chance, Pierre Schaeffer was
also able to use the name “experimental music” in a very different
sense. From the 1970s, the field covered by this expression widened
under the momentum of improvised music, experiments carried out in the
nebulous world of rock, minimalism and electronic music. Today, its
application appears to have become so varied that its meaning is no
longer clear, as ultimately, due to the lack of appropriate terms, it
encompasses any musical practice with “suspect” noises.

The fact remains that this expression “defines” a field of
particularly heterogeneous sound practices, or even one with
antagonistic issues and modalities, at times. Whilst experimentation
has been able to attempt to call into question a progressive thinking
of modernity, equally, it has been able to contribute to it in its
demands for novelty. Likewise, while a certain experimental tradition
calls for the withdrawal of the individual into their project, other
forms seek to experiment with limits, both amongst musicians and
listeners, or to question relationships with the collective. But the
ambitions of experimentation are also to seek to disrupt the
boundaries between art and life – or between the arts (polyartistic
dimension) -, to invest in the possibilities offered by new
technologies as well as questioning their domination and exploiting
their shortcomings. To this elusive diversity, however, responds the
contextual and local aspect of experimentation as such, which is in a
position to question the claim of general or continuous
experimentation, or even the ontology of musical trends defined in and
of themselves as experimental. Where is experimentation to be found,
therefore, within the diversity of experimental music? When is there
experimentation? What are the processes used? What may be the
differences and the tensions between the multiple uses of the term,
which also vary according to the cultures and the socio-historical
contexts? What are the forms of sound experimentation today? What
movements can be observed, from one generation to the next, in the
musical problems, but also the social and political problems that
experimentation poses?

Taking the heterogeneity of experimental music as a starting point for
reflection means rethinking the scope of the practices that it may
involve. Indeed, whilst experimentation is often identified, at least
in modernity, as coming under avant-garde music, it cannot be reduced
to this and it can just as easily be found in practices which are not
immediately “labelled” as “experimental music”, first and foremost in
popular music. What forms of experimentation are at work in this
music? What devices do they employ? What influence does popular music
have on so-called experimental music and vice versa?

Another research perspective could examine the discourse that
justifies these practices. Numerous musicians dedicated to
experimentation, particularly in the 1960s, were able to gain
inspiration, in a more or less critical manner, from philosophical and/
or spiritual schools of thought, such as the philosophy of experience,
the theories of information or even the Eastern philosophies. What use
can musicians make of these theories in their own practice? In what
way can these discourses inform us of the challenges and the
postulates of the experiments undertaken? Which are the discourses
that circulate in contemporary practices? Such discourses often go
beyond the scope of experimentation alone and reveal concerns relating
to wider cultural phenomenon: what, then, could these paramusical
discourses that feed experimentation be a symptom of?

Finally, while we often emphasise the creative processes behind the
playing of experimental music, the way experimentation is received
appears to be little questioned. Numerous performances in the past
have resulted in scandals or have been greeted with a certain reserve,
whilst others have given rise to collective experiences that have
reached beyond the moment of the concert alone. What are the
conditions (social, institutional, cultural) under which
experimentation is received? What does experimentation mean to the
listeners? Who does it affect? What could be the experience of
experimentation of different audiences?

Other lines of reflection may involve:

The concepts that define experimentation, but also the aporias and the
myths that surround these practices.

The relationship with technologies, from DIY and détournement to
interest, sometimes similar to scientism, for new technologies; the
differences and similarities between scientific experimentation and
sound experimentation.

The political analogy of experimentation; the social and critical
ambitions of certain experimental music practices, their potential or
actual recuperation; the modalities and challenges of a collective

The problem of categories and distinctions in experimental music. The
questioning they bring about and the new maps and genealogies that
they plot.

The impact and the development of experimental music beyond the West,
and in turn, the influences of other musical traditions on Western
experimental music.

The relationships with subjectivation and identity which are at play
in experimentation.

The issue of gender in traditions and musical trends which are still
largely male.

The ways in which subcultures, communities, scenes or networks can
come together, unified around an experimental ambition (noise and
extreme volume in noise, impromptu meetings in free improvisation etc.)

This issue of TACET seeks to address these questions from an
interdisciplinary perspective (aesthetics, philosophy, musicology,
cultural history, cultural studies, gender studies, sociology,
political science, literature, psychoanalysis etc.) and it aims to
bring together an ensemble of studies in which experimentation will be
examined in the diversity of its forms and the heterogeneity of its
problems. We await general analyses, special cases and cross-
disciplinary studies.

The questions proposed in this call for papers are not exhaustive.
They represent a few suggested general avenues of research for
potential contributors. They do, nevertheless, seek to serve as a
reminder that the TACET review expects in-depth studies with a well-
argued subject. The Editorial Board will, in addition, pay particular
attention to the editorial quality of contributions, considering that
literary and poetic dimensions all have their place in the
articulation and transmission of a thought. Authors are equally
reminded that the journal is aimed at a broadened readership.

Authors should first inform the Editorial Board of TACET of their
proposal for an article by email, stating the title of their
contribution and attaching an abstract of their proposal. The articles
themselves should be sent by email before the 15th of April 2012 to
the following addresses: redaction@tacet.eu and matthieu.saladin@gmail.com

Attached to the article should be an abstract, a few key-words and a
brief biography of the author. We ask authors to follow the
instructions (article format, bibliographic standards) available at
the following address; compliance with them will aid and thus speed up
the editorial process.

Mulhouse Music Festival

BP. 1335

+33 (0)3 89 45 36 67