Listening for a Change: Environment, Music, Action

British Forum for Ethnomusicology One-Day Conference in association with the Institute of Music Research, Senate House, University of London School of Advanced Studies Saturday, November 5, 2011

‘We spend a great deal of time in ethnomusicology exploring music-making in social and cultural contexts. We have increasingly referenced musical landscapes – of sound – and virtual places for sharing and learning music. We have all but ignored how the products of the land and their relationship to larger ecological issues may be directly connected to musical changes we face today.’ (Jennifer Post, 2009)

For the past two decades, musicologists and ethnomusicologists have been exploring the relationship between music/soundscapes and nature/landscapes, using a range of denotations such as acoustic ecology, green creativity, environmental ethnomusicology and eco-musicology. Drawing on theoretical perspectives from soundscape studies, cultural geography and eco-criticism, amongst other fields, analyses of the music-nature intersection have been generally concerned with interpreting the social complexities of placedness, belonging, identity and migration.

This one-day conference will focus on musical engagements with environmental change more specifically, aiming to explore, critically and creatively, musical forms and processes that shape, or are shaped by, changing landscapes and environmental conditions. In reflecting on the impacts of environmental change on sounds and performance practices, and conversely, on the reimagining of land- or soundscapes through performance, we will seek also to engage with more wide-ranging debates about environmental uncertainties and praxis.

The conference welcomes research on musical engagements with landscapes and environments that are imagined, created, performed, threatened and cultivated; urban or rural, on land or water, spectacular or overlooked; lived in, remembered and advocated for.

Papers are invited to address the following themes:
. The impacts of environmental degradation and the changing or declining availability of natural resources on musical instrument manufacture, and on related performance practices, cultural activities, and aesthetics;
. The role of music/performance – live, recorded, visualised (e.g. music videos) and virtual – in commenting on, rescuing or re-imagining landscapes;
. The significance of music as oral testimony of environmental knowledge, change management and activism.

Download programme.

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