SESSION 10: Thinking Crisis

Saturday, 28 November 2020

11:15 – 13:45 SESSION 10:

Thinking Crisis

chair: Leon Stefanija

11:15 – 11:45 Dalibor Davidović:

Eva Sedak, a Musicologist in Times of Crises

11:45 – 12:15 Sanela Nikolić:

Considering a Global Perspective: The Case of Musicological Brainfood

12:15 – 12:45 Jan Giffhorn:

The Perks of Being Post-Factual: Fiction and Research in Musicology

Dalibor Davidović

Department of Musicology, Academy of Music, University of Zagreb


Eva Sedak, a Musicologist in Times of Crises

In response to the “narratives of crisis” that permeate contemporary musi­cological research and to concerns about the future of the discipline, I propose to look into its past in order to outline the respective former narratives. My intention is to consider what in such cases is called the “crisis” into which musicology has fallen and how musicologists have tried to deal with it. An example where I will consider these issues is the work of Eva Sedak (1938-2017), a musicologist who considered herself living in “times of crisis”. In this paper, I would like to show that the notion of “crisis” in her writings appears in three characteristic contexts, which to some extent overlap. In the writings from the 1970s, Eva Sedak appeared as a kind of witness to the “crisis” in which fell, in her opinion, contempo­rary composition on the one hand and music criticism, on the other. In the second context, which began in the mid-1970s, “crisis” was the term to describe the state of musical life in Croatia in past and present times, which, precisely because of its position in the “border area”, posed a chal­lenge to musicological considerations. Finally, in the third context, out­lined gradually but particularly strikingly in the late 1990s, the “crisis” emerged as an integral part of a historiographical conception capable of adequately responding to the “crisis” state of music in the “border area”. In this context, the notion of “crisis” gradually gives way to the notion of “deconstruction”.

Key words: crisis, musicology in Croatia, Eva Sedak, nationalism, deconstruction

Dalibor Davidović (1972) completed his musicology studies in Zagreb and Hamburg. His recent research has been focused on the notion of anarchy in the work of John Cage, on the music ontology of the Jewish philosopher Ivan Focht and on the work of the German artist Hans Jürgen Syberberg. He teaches at the Music Academy in Zagreb. From 2016 to 2018 visiting re­searcher at Berlin University of the Arts.

Sanela Nikolić

Faculty of Music, University of Arts, Belgrade; International Association of Aesthetics Delegate-at-Large


Considering a Global Perspective:

The Case of Musicological Brainfood

Since 2017, the International Musicological Society has published Musico­logical Brainfood online: Tasty Bite-Size Provocations to Refuel Your Think­ing. Each issue contains one or two short contributions moving away from the form of ‘classical’ musicological journal. Yet, the authors of these texts are the leading musicologists of our time. At first glance, these texts look like some short musicological manifestos. Hence, the editors suggest not to understand them as “representative, official, exhaustive or definitive” but as “cooked up to advance, refresh, or reinvigorate different aspects of our field”. From reading this “tasty brain food” it becomes obvious that considering how a global perspective challenges musicology, “tasty brain food” is a predominant ‘ingredient’ of it. So, the thesis provoked here by these texts is: musicology develops its potential as a socially engaged prac­tice challenged by a global perspective. It becomes responsible for the sustainability of music cultures and thus actively involved in a global sustainable development project.

But, is there some new ‘global’ research object of musicology? or are we still talking about the cases of local musi­co­logical works that fit into the global tendency to preserve the culture? Or, maybe, the appropriate would be to talk about ‘global’ on the level of musicological aims and goals. What kind of tools in the interdisciplinary musi­cological toolbox should be picking up as the most useful for prac­ticing global musicology? And how does the global musicology that takes responsibility for the sustainability of music in the form of a collaborative project work collide with the traditional musicological forms of writing history and theory of (Western) music? Provoked and ‘refuelled’ by Musi­co­logical Brainfood, the answers on these will be used to outline global musicology disciplinary features.

Key words: global musicology, music theory and history, music heritage, sustainability of music culture.

Sanela Nikolić (1983), Assistant Professor of Applied Aesthetics at the Faculty of Music, University of Arts, Belgrade, graduated from the Department of Musicology at the Faculty of Music, Belgrade (2006), and obtained doctoral degree from the Interdisciplinary Studies at the University of Arts, Belgrade, PhD programme for Theory of Arts and Media (2011). Lecturer at Interdis­cipli­nary PhD studies, University of Arts, Belgrade (2013–2015, 2020). One of the editors of the AM Journal of Art and Media Studies. In addition to numer­ous scholarly texts, she is the author of two books in the Serbian language. She is the International Association for Aesthetics Delegate-at-Large (2019–2022) and also a member of the Serbian Musicological Society. Fields of interest: avant-garde art schools and practices; applied aesthetics as a critical history of the humanities; interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity in the humanities; digital humanities.

Jan Giffhorn

Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna


The Perks of Being Post-Factual:

Fiction and Research in Musicology

The Perks of Being Post-Factual discusses elements of fiction as produc­tive methodical means in musicology. The talk will outline didactic and pro­fes­sional relevance in face of recent developments and will provide exam­ples which shall demonstrate both the opportunities and the dan­gers of the concept.

Over the recent past, new approaches surfaced in musicology, some of them deemed to be unbecoming to the discipline at first. But Artistic Re­search for example has been able to massively expand both methods and subjects, eventually aiming at the promising »joint venture« of the artistic practice, the science of art, and their reflection in academia and the public sphere.

In order to discuss additional methodical tools, I draw on Patricia Leavy’s Fic­tion as Research Practice (2013) as well asthe recently pub­lished Ein­ladung zur öffentlichen Soziologie – Eine post­disziplinäre Passion [Invita­tion to Public Sociology – A Post-discipli­nary Passion] (2020) by German so­ci­olo­gist Stefan Selke. Based on Leavy and Selke, I willshow the possi­ble benefits of using elements such as storytelling in musicological con­texts. Ap­proach­es em­bed­ding fictive aspects can be particularly helpful when work­ing with mu­sic students who are skilled artists but at the same time un­skilled writers and researchers: It may unblock the connec­tion between the artist’s prac­tice and demands of science by liberating thought.

The subject is highly relevant for strengthening the status of musicology at universities and academies, and fosters both artistic and scientific findings and research.

Key words: artistic research, fiction-based research, storytelling, creative writing

Jan Giffhorn (1978, Bonn, Germany) studied Music Theory and Piano from 2000 until 2005 at the Folkwang University Essen. In 2008 he began as a PhD-Candidate in Musicology at the then Institute for Analysis, Theory and History of Music with Prof. Dr Dieter Torkewitz at the University of Music and Per­form­ing Arts Vienna (MDW). The thesis dealt with the symphonic work of Leonard Bernstein (“Zur Sinfonik Leonard Bernsteins – Betrachtungen zu Rezep­tion, Ästhetik und Komposi­tion”). He received his PhD in 2014 (with distinction). Since 2017 he has been a Research Fellow at the Music and Arts University of the City of Vienna (MUK) at the Institute for Science and Re­search, where he is concerned with bachelor’s and master’s theses, as well as formats such as Portfolio, teaching students how to write.

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