Analysing the Musically Sensuous

Call for Papers

Society for Music Analysis Autumn Study Day
University of Liverpool, School of Music
22 November 2008

For most listeners to music, sensuous affect is of primary, perhaps even singular, importance. Our responses to music in everyday situations, ranging from background ambience to pounding film scores to sources of studious contemplation, are mediated through music’s sculpting of sensual, physical, emotional and affective experiences.

Yet when it comes to analyzing the musically sensuous, music theory and analysis have proved stubbornly resistant to (and perhaps even fearful of) engaging with the musically sensuous, often retreating instead into ostensibly more cerebral studies of the musically syntactical. This one-day conference seeks to contribute to the process of redressing that imbalance, not least by acknowledging that separations of the sensuous and syntactical in music are, at best, artificial necessities for study and, at worst, utterly misleading.

We invite papers dealing with any music repertoire seeking to analyse, explain, interpret or theorize instances and experiences of music’s sensuous and affective content; the role such content plays in the creation of musical meaning; and the cultural work such content enables music to achieve. Reflections are also welcome on the institutional contexts that have hindered recent music theory’s engagement with such work, on the social, historical and cultural contexts within which ideas of the sensuous in music are contested and defined, as well as challenges to the view that music has any such content at all.

Possible further topics for discussion include: haptics, proprioception, cognition, music psychology, semiotics, Affektenlehre, expectation, intensity, mood, Muzak, evolved vs. culturally conditioned responses, autonomic, galvanic and reflex mechanisms, gesture and embodiment, metaphor, music and torture, music in advertising and film, and the erotic.

Proposals for papers of 20 minutes duration, in the form of an abstract of 200 words, should be sent to Mirjam Jooss. General queries may be sent to the same address.

Deadline for receipt of proposals: extended until 5 September. All those submitting proposals will be notified by 15 September.

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