Tag Archives: Performance

Unperformable music

ligeti etude 14a

Some artworks—works of music, theatre, dance, and the like—are works for performance. Some works for performance are unperformable.

Some such works are unperformable by beings like us; others are unperformable given our laws of nature; still others are unperformable given considerations of basic logic.

Musical works that fit into each of these categories really are genuine works, musical works, and works for performance, and the very possibility of such works is ontologically significant. In particular, the possibility of these works raises serious problems for type-theoretic accounts of the ontology of music as well as certain mereological or constitution-based accounts.

This according to “Unperformable works and the ontology of music” by Wesley D. Cray (British Journal of Aesthetics LVI/1 [January 2016] pp. 67–81.

Many thanks to Improbable Research for bringing this to our attention! Above and below, György Ligeti’s Étude No. 14A: Coloana fara sfârşit (Column without end), one of the works discussed in the article.

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Performance practice

Balkan studies

E.J. Brill inaugurated its series Balkan studies in 2011 with Staging socialist femininity: Gender politics and folklore performance in Serbia by Ana Hofman. The book examines the negotiation of gendered performances in Serbian rural areas as a result of the socialist gender policy and the creation of a new femininity in the public sphere from the 1970s through the mid-1990s, with particular attention to musical performances.

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Filed under Europe, New series

Choreographic practices

Founded by Intellect in 2010, Choreographic practices (ISSN 2040-5669; EISSN 2040-5677) seeks to engender dynamic relationships between theory and practice, choreographer and scholar, so that these distinctions may be shifted and traversed. The journal is edited by Vida L. Midgelow and Jane M. Bacon.

Encompassing a wide range of methodologies and critical perspectives so that interdisciplinary processes in performance can be understood as they intersect with other territories in the arts and beyond—e.g., cultural studies, psychology, phenomenology, geography, philosophy, and economics—Choreographic practices  aims to illuminate an emerging and vibrant research area by opening up the nature and scope of dance practice as research and drawing together diverse bodies of knowledge and ways of knowing.

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Filed under Dance, New periodicals

Karaoke and class

Karaoke challenges the hegemony of the status quo by breaking down the received rules of cultural production and challenging binary notions of high vs. low art, live vs. recorded performance, and amateur vs. professional performers.

In so doing, karaoke engenders liveness anxiety—a territorial behavior among social critics, scholars, and performers that comprises a fear of performances that do not fit the template dictated by the wielders of cultural power. Karaoke is a viable site for mounting a lower-class defense against the onslaught of cultural elites; and its multibillion-dollar industry continues to grow every year.

This according to “Liveness anxiety: Karaoke and the performance of class” by Kevin Brown (Popular entertainment studies I/2 [2010], pp. 61–77). Thanks to the Improbable Research blog for bringing this article to our attention!

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Filed under Performance practice, Popular music, Reception

Postmodernism and performance

According to “Changing the musical object: Approaches to performance analysis” by Nicholas Cook, broad cultural developments associated with poststructuralism and postmodernism have placed an emphasis on reception—on performance rather than on inherent meaning—but the reflection of these developments in musicology has been skewed by that discipline’s retention of the concept of music as written text.

Cook argues that just as writings about music influence performances, so performance style has an impact on musicology, creating the prospect of a historiography predicated not on compositional innovation but on music as it is experienced in everyday life.

Daniel Leech-Wilkinson further explores the process wherein developments in performance precede changes in verbal interpretation in “Musicology and performance”; his examples are drawn from Schubert’s lieder and Boulez’s Le marteau sans maître. Both essays are included in our recently-published Music’s intellectual history.

Below, a performance of the final section of the Boulez work by the Montreal-based group Codes d’Accès.

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Musicologists, Performance practice, Reception, Romantic era