I’m moderating the opening panel on digitalisation, gender and reception at this year’s Heroines of Sound festival, come by the Radialsystem on July 7th at 5pm!
With Alexandra Cárdenas, Tanja Ehmann, Marta Forsberg, Irene Kurka, Rosanna Lovell, Elo Masing, Diana McCarty, Melissa Taylor Keynote: Ania Mauruschat
Here’s the description for the session:
Since the pandemic, the digitalization of musical reception in electronic music has become undeniable. Discussion topics for the panel include the opportunities that the digital space provides for the participation and diversification of audiences, artists, and aesthetic positions, electronic music’s barriers to accessibility, and the meaning of digitalization for the realization of social visions. Discussion participants are composers and musicians as well as curators, concert producers, and blog activists.
I’m contributing to a session titled ‘Relevancy and cultural participation through the lens of audience experience and lifestyle’ at this year’s Connected Audience online conference, looking forward to the discussion!
What happens when experimental musicians and composers explore Web3 and blockchains? What new possibilities and what old problems exist for music and musicians in this rapidly-changing field? How are musical practices changing in light of the ongoing pandemic? (How) are institutions responding? Process and Protocol is a weekend-long festival organised by the Berliner Gesellschaft für Neue Musik (BGNM) at ACUD Macht Neu April 1 – 3, 2022 which aims to explore these questions.
I enjoyed discussing the challenges and opportunities presented by digital musical experiences as part of the ... aus freier Lust … verbunden … / Einklang freier Wesen project at the ZKM in Karlsruhe. A recording of the evening’s livestream can be found here > https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lzu7isVosG8 (Panel from 1h 45 min onwards)
The core audience for contemporary music overwhelmingly belongs to an educational elite and audience members’ experiences can vary strongly according to their knowledge of the art form. Recent audience research has emphasised the need to broaden and diversify the audience base for contemporary music, calling for greater participation and more attention to be paid to creating positive, inclusive concert-going experiences.
The central aim of this workshop is to consider how we relate to audiences in the field of contemporary music and to encourage reflection on the ways in which greater audience diversity could be reached. Do existing concert and presentation formats need to be rethought in order to speak more effectively to new audiences? In how far does the music itself need to adapt? Should the audience already be taken into account when developing an artistic idea or are informative/outreach events or alternative formats enough to stimulate curiosity and impart knowledge about the art form?
Taking demographic data and research on the interests and views of audience members as a foundation, we would like to encourage discussion on these topics and develop ways of connecting with new audiences from different social backgrounds and walks of life.
In this workshop, we will seek to develop strategies that encourage participation from audiences and bring them into a dialogue. The first part of the day will present a practical, step-by-step guide to creating and implementing a strategy, drawing on statistics and concepts from research on contemporary music audiences and from the audience development literature. Gina Emerson will additionally present insights from her recent doctoral dissertation on the audience experience of contemporary music. Participants can either bring an existing project idea to work on or choose to develop a new idea at the workshop.
In the second half, Meriel Price will lead a creative group work session and offer ideas for new ways of reaching and connecting effectively with audiences. The workshop will overall take a general view of audience development, one that is centred around encouraging practices that consider the audience’s viewpoint and look to creatively and sustainably engage new audience members in the realm of contemporary music.
Following the release of her latest album Proto in May, Holly Herndon took to the Volksbühne last night with producer Mat Dryhurst and her Ensemblefor the Berlin premiere of the album’s AV live show. This strongly collaborative record looks to create ‘new forms of communion’, to add a human touch to electronic music production. It combines traditional vocal music with rich electronic processing and features the first steps of Herndon’s very own musical A.I. baby, Spawn.
That the Proto live show was conceived with similar themes in mind was very clear. Throughout, I had the feeling of being invited to participate, rather than to watch. The performers were placed right at the back of the Volksbühne’s domed stage, allowing the audience to mill around freely on the main part of the stage. It made the cavernous space intimate and direct. For those further back in the seated area, it turned the audience members into performers, staging a show within a show.
The aim of humanising (musical) technology is not uncommon among electronic musicians, but Herndon’s commitment to this goes beyond most. The group of singers that form the ensemble around Herndon are the clearest manifestation of this. Surrounding her in a loose semi-circle, they made a palpable connection to the crowd. Sweeping performances of tracks like single ‘Eternal’, the rousing ‘Frontier’ and ’Chorus’ from Herndon’s Platform album, showed off their versatility through wailing and hocketing, displaying the kind of virtuosity that goes missing in many other live electronics performances.
While the communal feel was strong throughout, a definite highlight was Herndon’s solo vocoder performance for ‘Fear, Uncertainty, Doubt’. Perhaps the most immediate track on the album, Herndon performed it doused in a cold, white spotlight – yet it still felt warm and expressive. A couple of times I felt that Proto could have more such moments of detail among its broader strokes. Tracks such as ‘Last Gasp’ and ‘SWIM’ ran the risk of becoming a wash of sound in their live versions.
Sadly, we didn’t get to hear from Spawn on this occasion, but the Volksbühne crowd were recorded singing call-and-response patterns to be used in her training. A room of people singing folk music to create a vocal model with which to train a neural network? Definitely a new form of communion.