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Orpheus Doctoral Conference 2021

Emergence/y. A sound difference

October 6–7, 2021

“Last year in August, when the weather was at its hottest, when everyone fled to the south, I chose a different sea. I went to the northern part of Greenland with a small ship carrying a few solitary passengers. [...] That sea was so special, it was neither cold nor dark, but a continuous transformation of indescribable colours filtered through the cloud, among the icebergs. […] Another unforgettable thing: the sounds, the most violent explosions one hears when icebergs break off and separate from glaciers.”

—Luigi Nono

Photo by Dylan Shaw on Unsplash

In a famous 1988 interview with Enzo Restagno, Luigi Nono recalled his trip to the Greenland Sea, pointing to the richness of its constantly mutating colours and its contrasting sonic world of silences and powerful acoustic forces. Such extraordinary acoustic events arise from a fraught texture of sound absences and sound presences – a texture in which the unexpected transits prove to be relevant and fragile at the same theme. Can these imponderable shifts in sonic behaviour be read as figures of emergence and as figures of emergency?

Similar to the case of the icebergs, what emerges is often not the totality of a thing but rather a figure of it – a figure that at the same time reveals and disguises something.

How is then emergence related to (full, or phantasmatic) visibility, stability and salvation? Is then emergence not a sheer an-archic event, something that can simply disappear under the brink showing just its own trajectory? Is emergence as exposed, naked precarity only the anticipation of a future loss, or is it the ecstatic fulfilment of a desire?

  • Emergence is a space and a motion magnitude (etymologically, ex-mergo literally means I plunge upwards, I un-sink) that becomes a time category – the category of an urgent, always too compressed time span where things can be destroyed or mended: emergency.
  • Emergence/y then as an urge, as appeal, as a call to assembly, to action and to resistance, as a physical action, a push, an impetus, as an interruption and as a fight - as an intervention that has to be carried out in a brief, already almost desperately elapsed time.
  • Emergence/y: what stands against annihilation, resistance to a force, opposition to (cyclic/recurrent/incumbent) submersion and to merging with something politically, environmentally and technologically violent.
  • Emergence/y as the richness of production, of research, of a manner of playing, composing, acting – even – or perhaps in an exemplary way– as the matter and as the experience of sound and as an occasion for artistic research.

For this conference, we welcome presentation proposals of theoretical and/or artistic nature on the theme of sound as a form of emergence/y.

Please consider a 20-minute contribution + a 20-minute discussion in the context of an online conference. See the Call for proposals:

Some examples of questions we would like to discuss together are:

  • Is sound a particularly rich form of emergence/y – and if, what is the relation a series of musical practices have with this experience?
  • Can the emergent recovery of historical improvisation practices such as Renaissance counterpoint and diminutions be the missing link between ancient compositional or performative skills and modern performers’ now-lost ability to provide audiences with new sounds in every performance?
  • Can be amplification considered a strategy of provoking sound emergency/e for the existence of acoustic and electronic sounds, i.e., in particular (but not only) as for the case of organ and piano acoustics, amplified acoustic instruments, sound reinforcement, and site-specific sound installations?
  • Is music perhaps a too culturally violent category in respect of sound? Is music – after Derrida – the white mythology of sound and the white mythology of emergence/y, i.e., a linguistic dressing of what is sonically wild?
  • Is music the tolerable sound emergence?
  • And in the case of Agostino Di Scipio, is emergence/y not only the condition for the existence of sound but even its constituent un-metaphorical phenomenology?


Thanks to Kirby for supporting this project with a free license.