2011 - Organised Sound. International Symposium

December 15-17, 2011

»Organised Sound«
Sound and Perception in 20th- and 21st-Century Music

Deutsche Version

International SYMPOSIUM at the Universität of Music and Dramatic Arts Graz (KUG), December 15–17, 2011

Symposium host
Institut 1: Komposition, Musiktheorie, Musikgeschichte und Dirigieren

Symposium chair
Christian Utz, Dieter Kleinrath

in collaboration with
Markus Neuwirth, University of Leuven

PROGRAMME and ABSTRACTS [pdf, 362 KB, update: Dec 13, 2011]

Thomas Christensen, University of Chicago [currently: Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin]
Clemens Gadenstätter, Kunstuniversität Graz
Dora A. Hanninen, University of Maryland
Georg Friedrich Haas, Kunstuniversität Graz / Universität für Musik Basel
Andy J. Hamilton, University of Durham
Lukas Haselböck, Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Wien
Ludwig Holtmeier, Hochschule für Musik Freiburg
Adriana Hölszky, Universität Mozarteum Salzburg
Tobias Janz, Universität Hamburg
Dieter Kleinrath, Kunstuniversität Graz
Markus Neuwirth, University of Leuven
Richard Parncutt, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz
Daniela Prem, Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz
Christoph Reuter, Universität Wien
Elena Ungeheuer, Kunstuniversität Graz
Nikolaus Urbanek, Universität Wien
Christian Utz, Kunstuniversität Graz
Emmanouil Vlitakis, Universität der Künste / Hochschule für Musik „Hanns Eisler“ Berlin

In 20th-century music, »sound« has become a core issue of compositional aesthetics. The emancipation from the system of tonality in the second and third decades of the 20th century was intimately connected to an emancipation of sound as an autonomous category. This process, in turn, was accompanied by an increasing appreciation of timbre and a corresponding change in compositional technique at least since Richard Wagner’s refined art of orchestration. But precursors to this emancipation of sound might be recognised much earlier, for example in the theory and practice of figured bass that ascribed musical chords an independent quality as (single) sounds. More generally, however, the increasing rationalisation of pitch relations in music theory since the 18th century seems to have functioned primarily as a countertendency to the emancipation of sound.

The appreciation of sound in the music around 1900 converged with a specific trend in music theory and related disciplines from the mid-19th century onwards that placed auditory perception at the centre of scholarly interest. The perception of tonal music at least since Helmholtz and Riemann thus formed a common concern of music theory and music psychology, while the advent of post-tonality in the early 20th century in both disciplines led to a decline of interest in contemporary music practices. Until today, coherent theories of post-tonal music perception have remained scarce (notwithstanding important isolated approaches since the 1960s and especially since the late 1980s) and thus appear as a substantial challenge to current music theory and psychology.

The symposium not least aims to take up this challenge. It will explore the ramifications of sound and perception in the histories of composition and music theory, it will try to enrich our understanding of how sound and timbre made their way to principal categories of musical theory and practice in the decades around 1900, and how they evolved in the further historical process until the present. These historical perspectives will be complemented by two sections that will explore the organisation and perception of sound events in post-tonal music from compositional/poietic, systematic and empirical methodologies.

The symposium is closely connected to the research project
A Context-Sensitive Theory of Post-tonal Sound Organization (CT∙PSO) conducted at the University of Music and Dramatic Arts Graz (KUG), supported by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF). The contributions to the symposium are going to be published in a bilingual book as volume 6 of the KUG-book series musik.theorien der gegenwart [contemporary music theories].

I. Sound and Timbre as Categories of Music Theory and Aesthetics from the 17th Century to the Present
II. The Emancipation of Sound in Music around 1900 in the Context of Music-theoretical and Music-psychological Discourse
III. Sound and Perception of Post-tonal Music: Compositional Practice, Systematic Models and Empirical Research
IV. Sound and Perception in Music Theory and Music Psychology

Kindly supported by Land Steiermark, Abteilung 3 Wissenschaft und Forschung and by the City of Graz, Bürgermeisteramt.

Music Theory / Music Analysis University of Music Graz, Austria