Subproject Music

Creative Processes and Dispositifs of Digitized Musical Practice

Contact: Sebastian Kunas

Only a few decades ago, the production of beats/tracks/songs/musical pieces with a professional appearance required at least a turntable, a sampler, vinyl records and a stereo system, but often specialized rooms, various musical instruments, professional sound technology and the respective know-how. Today, sometimes headphones and a standard laptop with cracked or free music software may be all you need - not even half a backpack.

As compact as such a setup may seem, its technical and cultural dynamics are highly complex. In various settings of creative practice, musicians interact extensively and naturally with digital hardware and software of profound musical and cultural performativity. The functions, interfaces, orders, labels, presets, templates and sound libraries of these digital "MusickingThings" (Ismaiel-Wendt) are permeated by knowledge and sedimentations of globalized, post-colonial music/culture. With their automations, algorithms, networking, adaptivities, responsivities and the increasing use of deep learning, they are much more than recording tools, accompaniment machines or musical vicarious agents.

The research project is based on the idea that musicians and MusickingThings as such only emerge reciprocally and reflexively through the act of making music. Their creative interaction is therefore a scene of aesthetic, musical and cultural negotiations, delegations and translations. Using methods of qualitative social research such as artifact analysis, participant observation and interviewing, the research project traces processes and dispositifs of creativity. It draws on from music sociologies of mediation (Hennion, Born), actor–network theory (Latour, Akrich), cultural/sociological studies of MusickingThings (Ismaiel-Wendt) and the critical discourse of gender and postcolonial studies, it thus investigates the fundamental conditions of digitized musical practice from the perspective of empirical cultural studies.