Music and Sound at Work @ LCCT 2015

Music And Sound At Work

Stream Organiser: Toby Bennett

Saturday 27th June, London Conference in Critical Thought, University College, London

londoncritical.org / #lcct2015 / #musicatwork

This conference stream gathers together multiple disciplinary approaches to thinking about how music and sound operate in the intensification and extensification of various features of political-economic organisation. The qualifier ‘at work’ has two senses here: music as a structuring, immersive background to the environment in which work takes place (‘working to music’); as well as a more agentic sense of music itself working, organising and extracting value (‘music put to work’). An overarching impetus of the stream is to explore ways in which these two senses collapse into one another, particularly in the contemporary conjuncture – for instance: in retail spaces; in online, digital and mobile technologies; in sonic branding; and in the temporal spaces of the ‘experience economy’. Put simply, it explores how music’s close association with affect, emotion, memory, gesture, fantasy, etc. can become a resource for capital to enter new spaces and enrol new subjects.

Panels are assembled for their conceptual, rather than methodological, resonances. Broadly speaking, in the first panel (The Audible Economy), presenters are coupled for approaching the topic at the level of the social and the economic. The second panel (Form, Function, Aesthetic) offers investigations into interactions between sound, body, and psyche in ways that potentially nuance this relationship. Further details and extracts from abstracts below.

View my framing remarks here.

Access the full conference programme and abstracts here.

For a full Saturday of critical approaches to media and music, also explore Interruptions panel III (9.15, Room 5) and The Return of Actor-Network Theory panel II (15.30, Room 2).

See you there!


13.30-15.00 (Room 1) Music and Sound at Work I: The Audible Economy

Dr Kilpiö Kaarina (University of the Arts, Helsinki) – The idea of a “consuming mindframe” as understood by advertising and background music makers

“I am interested in the images of the listening consumer in a society on its way to affluence. How have the makers of commercial soundscapes expressed their principles and what have they considered essential in setting the listeners’ mind frame to the “consuming mode”…?”

Dr Paul Rekret (Richmond University) – Children’s Story: Rap Music and the Decline of an Ideal

“As a bourgeois ideal of innocence and as protracted time of social segregation, childhood seems to be in the process of disintegrating due to the collapse of the social wage, the de-standardisation of the wage contract, and related structural factors. If the ideal of childhood is indeed in a state of crisis today, perhaps nowhere is this more apparent in musical terms than in hiphop…”

16.45-18.15 (Room 1) Music and Sound at Work II: Form, Function and Aesthetic

Dr Robert Bentall (Leeds College of Music) – Genre Hybridisation in Electroacoustic Music Composition

“Electroacoustic music has established a set of traits that seem to be paradigmatic as the basis for how to compose. These traits have effectively become contracts, obliging the composer to undertake a set of musical decisions to validate the work as an electroacoustic composition…”

Prof John Mowitt (University of Leeds) – The Sound of Arche-Cinema

“In the important distinction drawn by Freud between fantasy and dream, special emphasis is placed on the link between fantasy and hearing. Does the dream have ears? Drawing on Steven Waller’s work on acoustic archaeology and “listening” to Werner Herzog’s The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, I pressure Bernard Stiegler’s account of the photologically oneiric character of arche-cinema…”


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