Noel Lobley (Ethnomusicologist and Research Associate, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford)
Michael Bull (Professor of Sound Studies and Co-Director of the Centre for Material Digital Culture, University of Sussex) (tbc)
Unearthing music’s association with materiality reveals a fascinating array of artefacts, including instruments, scores, transcribing devices and sound recordings. Such artefacts provide vital reference points for historical research as well as inviting new creative uses, rediscoveries and (re)mediations. They also add to the ever-growing archives of past objects, whether stored in physical or digital forms. Music’s material traces serve as vital ways of mediating memory, whether in private collections or public exhibitions. Furthermore, the use of musical ‘ephemera’ such as record sleeves, programmes, flyers and posters as a primary means for putting the popular musical past on display in museums and galleries has highlighted the ways in which such objects are not so ephemeral after all.
The persistence of musical artefacts and musical materialities following the period of their initial use value poses interest questions. What is the fate of musical artefacts once they become obsolescent? What becomes of music and its objects once relegated to archives? What is the role of musical artefacts in helping us to understand the past? What is the relationship between the physical and the digital in terms of music’s objects? To what extent does a focus on music’s objects challenge the idea of music as a social process? Conversely, what role does musical materiality play in the maintenance and development of rituals long associated with music? What does the remediation of the musical past via ‘media archaeology’ have to tell us about present desires, anxieties and needs? What is the role of museums, galleries, sound archives and libraries in these processes?
Richard Elliott (University of Sussex)
Elodie Roy (Newcastle University)