Aspects of Form and its Significance in Contemporary Music

Laws, Catherine (2005) Aspects of Form and its Significance in Contemporary Music. Performance Research, 10 (2). pp. 135-146. ISSN 1352-8165

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Abstract / Summary

The initial version of this paper was written for the APU Cambridge conference ‘Form and Forming in Music’, April 2000. Laws revisited the work in response to an invitation to contribute to the ‘On Form/Yet to Come’ issue of the Routledge journal, Performance Research. The interdisciplinary approach of this journal and its focus on contemporary performance practices make it an appropriate context for disseminating her work. Subsequently, she was asked to guest edit PR’s ‘On Beckett’ issue (vol. 12.1, March 2007), exploring Beckett’s influence on a range of current arts practices (including music and sonic art). ‘Aspects of Form…’ draws on recent theory and critique from other arts and cultural contexts in order to consider the significance of formal processes, as opposed to surface features of sounding ‘style’, in particular contemporary musical practices. In doing so, it questions the simplistic and uncritical equating of postmodernism with pastiche, tonality, and by implication conservatism, prevalent in much contemporary musicology.

The paper is representative of a strand of research that spins off from the interdisciplinary theoretical basis of Laws’s other projects, which in part consider how different art forms have theorised Modernism and Postmodernism, especially in relation to questions of form and meaning, authority and subjectivity, conception and performance. Here, this background is applied back to the work of certain contemporary composers. At the heart of this lies a consideration of the ways in which labels can either enhance or limit understanding of artists’ approaches to their materials. This strand of Laws’s research has run alongside other work. However, once her forthcoming Beckett book is completed she will shift the main emphasis of her research into this field, collaborating with two young British composers on writings on (and in relation to) their working practices.

Item Type: Article
Identification Number: 10.1080/13528165.2005.10871426
ISBN: 1352-8165
ISSN: 1352-8165
Depositing User: Ex Falmouth Staff
Date Deposited: 27 Aug 2014 09:26
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2017 16:03


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