MUSICAL FREESPACE: Towards a Radical Politics

of Musical Spaces and Musical Citizenship

S.a.L.E. Docks, Dorsoduro 265, 30123 Venezia




[Map and access details]



[with links to Abstracts]




Wednesday 12 September 2018 :: 10.00am



Impact of austerity in the music scenes of Cergy-Pontoise and musical citizenship: ‘It is your responsibility to make music life happen!’

Solène Heinzl [Royal Holloway University of London] [Abstract]


Collaborative songwriting and cultivating liminal spaces

Lucy Cathcart Frödén [University of Glasgow] [Abstract]


Toward academia as musical freespace

Catherine Grant  [Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia] [Via video] [Abstract]


COFFEE BREAK - 11.30–12.00

Luigi Nono’s transformation, creation, and discovery of musical space

Hyun Höchsmann [Visiting Professor, East China Normal University, Shanghai] [PDF of full paper] [Abstract]


Theory and practice of the Music Room :: Towards a manifesto for musical freespace

Ed Emery [SOAS, University of London] [Abstract]


LUNCHTIME – 1.00 to 2.00pm

People Music: Experimental liberal aurality in the classroom, 1965-1980

Patrick Valiquet [University of Edinburgh] [Abstract]


Performative dissensus in the Greek public sphere

Dafni Tragaki [University of Thessaly, Greece] [Abstract]


TEA BREAK –  3.00 – 3.30pm

Music breaks the boundaries of the Sikh temple: the Nagar Kirtan procession

Thea Tiramani [Università degli Studi di Pavia] [Abstract]


Uneventful spaces

acte vide (Danae Stefanou & Yannis Kotsonis) [Abstract]



Wednesday 12 September 2018 :: 8.00pm



Music Conference dinner in a local pizza restaurant. “Ae Oche”, at Zattere. Details to follow.



Thursday 13 September 2018 :: 10.00am


Walking sonic commons in Venice: A case study in auditory access

Meri Kytö [University of Tampere, Finland] [Abstract]


Dispatches from Sicily: music, movement and the mobile phone.

Rachel Beckles Willson [Royal Holloway, University of London] [Abstract]


Sio toumolaa meeta (Patience is hard): Giving voice to migrants

Fulvia Caruso [Università degli Studi di Pavia] [Abstract]


COFFEE BREAK - 11.30– 12.00

Free Space Music Room

Sean Prieske [Humboldt-University of Berlin] [Abstract]


The dialogic dynamics of musical space: Understanding musical subjectivities and musical speech in travelscapes with the Banda Internationale

Carolin Mueller [Ohio State University] [Abstract]


LUNCHTIME – 1.00 to 2.00pm

“Belonging”: LimerickSoundscapes and the “Freespace” agenda

Tony Langlois  [Mary Immaculate College] [Abstract]


“Stregoni”: Building temporary spaces in Europe for migrants and refugees’ intercultural integration with the practice of improvised music

Nico Mangifesta [University of Rome “Tor Vergata”] [Abstract]


Grassroots music venues in Slovenia – Condemned to oblivion or spaces of trans-generational resistance?

Rajko Muršič [University of Ljubljana] [Abstract]


TEA BREAK –  3.30 –4.00pm

On the concept of 'freespace' in music

Martin Stokes [King’s College, London] [Abstract]


Neighborliness, reciprocity, and the alternative infrastructures of DIY performance in authoritarian Egypt

Darci Sprengel [Beloit College / University of Oxford] [Abstract]


Friday 14 September 2018


We visit the Venice Architecture Biennale. Timings to be announced


We shall deliver a “Manifesto for Musical Freespace” to the Biennale, travelling by gondola, with musicians.


Musical event. On Friday evening we travel to the Lido island, to do an impromptu beach party with our musicians. Timings to be announced.


Saturday 15 September 2018


Evening concert. For those who wish to join us, we travel to the nearby fishing port of Chioggia, where our musicians will do early morning music at the Fish Market, followed by an evening concert.





The conference is open to members of the public and all interested parties.


** We request a 10-euro contribution per person, from all persons attending the conference, including speakers, in order to cover the hire costs of the building.


The official language of the conference will be English.


To receive the conference mailings, and for all enquiries, write to


       [email protected]







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1. Dispatches from Sicily: music, movement and the mobile phone

Rachel Beckles Willson [Royal Holloway, University of London


ABSTRACT: Arguments about immigration developed in Europe since 2015 have frequently engaged with the mobile phone. But while this small object’s capacity to facilitate people’s movement through space is now clear, much less discussed is its role in musical processes, particularly in the same communities of people on the move. My interest is in thinking about the phone in both fields: movement and musical practice.


In the paper I will discuss several months of work in eastern Sicily, where I have co-run musical activities for male minors recently arrived, unaccompanied, from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and parts of Africa. Our workshops had the aim of joining, on some level, pockets of support promoting free movement (see for example No Borders and the Italian Per cambiare l’ordine delle cose). Unexpectedly, the phone was a central medium for our collaborations. We and/or the boys used it, for instance, to provide tracks in workshops, for sending songs and videos that were often recorded directly as Whatsapp messages, for sharing remixes, and developing Italian song texts. The phone was a crucial part of our activities and, I suggest, through music, intimated a respatialisation of the world that was as politically-charged as it was entertaining.

 CV: Rachel Beckles Willson is Professor of Music at Royal Holloway, University of London. Her research has centered on 19th to 21st-century Hungary, Palestine and, most recently, has explored international networks generated by the oud. She has published three monographs as well as specialist articles in the sub-disciplines of analysis, historical musicology and ethnomusicology.  She is also an active musician – pianist, oud player, saxophonist and composer. Since 2015 Rachel has expanded her research in music and migration, and is currently working in Eastern Sicily with recently-arrived under-age African asylum-seekers, engaging participatory methods by running music workshops on song-writing, recording and performance.

E-mail: [email protected]



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2. Sio toumolaa meeta (Patience is hard*): Giving voice to migrants

Fulvia Caruso [Università degli Studi di Pavia]


In Italy we face a paradox: while the media sound off about invasions of migrants from Libya, in our daily lives we barely encounter them. Except in big cities such as Rome, Milan or Bologna, or particular economic centres such as Prato, migrants are invisible in our cities. Especially economic migrants: they have been here for years but you don’t see them and you don’t hear, them except for special occasions.

This is the situation in Cremona, despite the fact that 12% of its population is from overseas. Even if they are always struggling to find their own spaces to celebrate their transcultural belonging, their voice is sometime silenced; and sometimes they themselves prefer to be silent or unheard.


Asylum seekers have had no time to learn this “etiquette”. They want to be heard, they try to be heard, but mostly they are not. They are traumatised; they have not chosen to be in the Extraordinary Acceptance Centres; they do not want to stay in Italy. Most of all, in the words of our Senegalese friends, they are tired of having to be patient.


In our work in Cremona we are trying to help all migrants to find their sonic space, a kind of musical citizenship.


*Mandingo phrase


E-mail: [email protected]



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3. Theory and practice of the Music Room :: Towards a manifesto for musical freespace


Ed Emery [SOAS, University of London]


ABSTRACT: Consideration of practical and theoretical framings of the Music Room. Reading those framings in a context of insurgent musical citizenship. Creating structural points towards a ‘Manifesto for Musical Freespace’.


CV: Ed Emery is a research associate at the School of Oriental and African Studies [SOAS], founder member of the Free University [Universitas adversitatis], and organiser of various musical ensembles..


E-mail: [email protected]



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4. Collaborative Songwriting and Cultivating Liminal Spaces


Lucy Cathcart Frödén [University of Glasgow]


ABSTRACT: In his work on Liminality and Communitas (1969), ethnographer Victor Turner explores times of liminality in human relations, as characterised by transition, humility, absence of status, and equality. Some echoes of Turner’s ‘anti-structure’ (1969) can be found in the anarchist concept of the ‘Temporary Autonomous Zone’ (Bey, 1990), a community beyond the reach of formal structures of control or commodification. These concepts may have some light to shed on the discussion of the politics of musical spaces.


Drawing on experience of collaborative music-making in carceral spaces and with migrant communities in Glasgow, this session will share some initial findings from a practice-based, interdisciplinary PhD project. Theories around liminality and community have some resonance in relation to this project, where communities come together for a short, intensive period to engage in collaborative songwriting and to probe key concerns around communication of identity, acceptance and belonging in re/integration processes. The songwriting process here is informed by theories of translation and intercultural communication, seeking to shed light not only on linguistic and cultural barriers but also, crucially, on what might be ‘found in translation’.


The session will weave together threads from dialogue theory, popular musicology, narrative therapy, criminology, applied linguistic and communication studies, and migration studies, drawing on voices including Sappho, Bakhtin, McLuhan and Cavarero.


CV: Following a 15-year patchwork career as a community development worker, musician and translator, Lucy Cathcart Frödén is now undertaking a PhD at the University of Glasgow that draws all these strands together. She is exploring how collaborative (popular) music-making processes might be able to play a role in social integration, particularly among migrant communities and people with experience of the criminal justice system, and how translation theory might be able to shed light on this process.


E-mail: [email protected]



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5. Toward academia as musical freespace

Catherine Grant  [Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia]


ABSTRACT: Physical spaces for music – municipal parks, universities, churches, pubs, and the like – are necessary but insufficient for the flourishing of ‘musical freespaces’. In addition to such spaces, the attitudes, values, and behaviours of individuals and institutions are fundamentally and profoundly implicated in rendering musical spaces open or closed to certain groups of people, in ways that support or inhibit a flourishing of musical cultures, musical diversity, and musical futures. In this presentation, I reflect on certain attitudes, values, and behaviours that are enabled, encouraged and sometimes demanded by the academic system, which may inhibit both academic and non-academic musical freespaces.


Though academic institutions in many countries have recently progressed in developing greater critical reflexivity about their social responsibilities, some processes and systems of academia serve to entrench and perpetuate global power imbalances and inequities. One result is the marginalisation or exclusion of certain groups of people from academic discourse, including people from developing countries, asylum-seekers, and refugees. This presentation considers how, and by whom, the space of academia might be ‘opened up, maintained, defended, and rendered sustainable’, and includes practical suggestions for personal commitments, small-scale interventions, and acts of individual witnessing that could move academia further toward a musical freespace.


CV: Catherine Grant is author of Music Endangerment (OUP, 2014), co-editor of Sustainable Futures for Music Cultures (OUP, 2016), and current Chair of the Australia-New Zealand Regional Committee of the International Council for Traditional Music. Former recipient of an Endeavour Australia Cheung Kong Research Fellowship on the relationship of poverty to the viability of traditional music in Cambodia, she was awarded the 2015 Australian Future Justice medal for her research, advocacy and activism on cultural sustainability. Catherine’s research on music endangerment, musical citizenship, and social justice education has featured in print media and on radio in Australia, the USA, and Cambodia.


E-mail: [email protected]



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6. Impact of austerity in the music scenes of Cergy-Pontoise and musical citizenship: ‘It is your responsibility to make music life happen!’

Solène Heinzl [Royal Holloway University of London]


ABSTRACT: This paper takes an urban ethnomusicological view on Cergy-Pontoise, a new town in the North-West suburb of Paris. Cergy-Pontoise has a lively and well supported music scene. This allows residents to socialise at music events of various genres and musicians to develop within a supportive environment.


Music as part of the city life is crucial for new towns and urban development areas as it allows residents to appropriate their new urban space (De Saint-Pierre 2002) and create a collective memory (Raibaud 2006; Finnegan 2007). In the context of austerity characterised by cuts in state funding, a lot of music initiatives that depend on volunteering and public funding are stopped or threaten to be so.


How do the remaining music initiatives survive? Is the development of sense of place and identity via music (Cohen 1995; Reyes 2012) in the urban environment threatened ? How are shared economy and other strategies used by musicians to cope with the lack of support? How are spaces being appropriated and disputed between musicians, politics and residents due to the lack of funding?


This paper will tackle these questions from on-going fieldwork in Cergy-Pontoise including interviews with musicians, volunteers, local authorities and participant-observations at music events.

CV: Solène Heinzl is an ethnomusicology PhD student at Royal Holloway. Her thesis is on the impact of cultural policy on the development of new towns. Her approach is urban ethnomusicology and her case study is the French new town of Cergy-Pontoise from the 1960s until present day. This paper draws on her on-going fieldwork in Cergy-Pontoise.


E-mail: [email protected]



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7. Luigi Nono’s Transformation, Creation, and Discovery of Musical Space

Hyun Höchsmann [Visiting Professor, East China Normal University, Shanghai]

[PDF of full paper]


ABSTRACT: It is the inaudible, the unheard that does not filled the space but discovers the space, uncovers the space as if we too have become part of sound and we were sounding ourselves (Luigi Nono).


Emphasising the necessity for contemporary music to ‘intervene in the sonic reality of our time’, Nono strove to expand the conception of musical space in three directions: the transformation of non-musical space with the performance of his music in factories and prisons, the creation of a new musical space for the opera, Prometeo, and the discovery of the inner musical space of sound and silence, ‘the inaudible, the unheard’, in which we ‘become part of sound’ and we are ‘sounding ourselves’. Nono aimed at ‘the composition of music that wants to restore infinite possibilities in listening today, by use of non-geometrical space’. With the conception of opera as ‘azione scenica’ (stage activity) and a ‘theatre of consciousness’, Nono’s ‘musical space’ for the performance of Prometeo was realised within a colossal wooden structure (by Renzo Piano) combining the stage, the set, and the orchestra pit into a single element. With the conviction that it is the composer’s and the listener’s responsibility to recognise how every sound is politically charged by its historical associations, Nono affirmed the simultaneity of musical invention and moral commitment and political action for justice and freedom.


CV: Hyun Höchsmann studied philosophy, art history, and literature at Ludwig Maximilian University, the Sorbonne, and at the University of London. Her publications include, ‘Essence and Context – Process of becoming and dialectical temporality in Adorno and Nono’, ‘Bridging the Gulf between Nature and Freedom in Kant and Zhuangzi’, and ‘Walter Benjamin on Hölderlin’s “Poetic Cosmos”’. Her research interests include Philosophy of Music, Eastern Philosophy, Critical Theory, and Comparative Philosophy. Höchsmann is affiliated with East China Normal University in Shanghai as a visiting professor. She has taught at the Julliard School of Music and at the American University in Cairo.


E-mail: [email protected]



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8. Walking sonic commons in Venice: A case study in auditory access

Meri Kytö [University of Tampere, Finland]


ABSTRACT: In her classic text Soundwalking (1974), Hildegard Westercamp notes that if you can’t hear your footsteps while walking the soundscape is out of balance and the environment might not be scaled on human proportions. Venice struggles with the influx of tourists, diminishing number of local inhabitants and commodification of its public space the same time its narrow streets, stone pavements, wooden bridges and street musicians offer a labyrinth for the listening pedestrian. This paper proposes auditory access as a mode of agency and a possibility of sonic commons in the urban environment, using documents made in June 2017. Walking Sonic Commons in Venice was a workshop of listening walks, discussions and documentation of sonic environments ( organized by the Finnish Society for Acoustic Ecology collaborating with the Research Pavillion.

CV: Meri Kytö is a post-doctoral researcher in music studies at the University of Tampere, Finland. Her dissertation (2013) investigated articulations of private and common acoustic spaces in urban environments. Currently she’s writing about sensory agency of technology and digitalization of the sonic environment. Her previous work has been on cultural intimacy in sound design of Yeşilçam films, sonic resistance during the Gezi Park protests, and acoustic communities of Beşiktaş football fans, ecocritism in soundscape composition, and apartment home acoustemology. She is the chair of the Finnish Society for Acoustic Ecology and has edited five books on soundscape research.


E-mail: [email protected]



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9. “Belonging”: LimerickSoundscapes and the "Freespace" agenda

Tony Langlois  [Mary Immaculate College]


ABSTRACT: Sound is a political phenomenon. The right to occupy space with sound, its prohibition in regulated locations and definitions of such concepts as 'noise' reflect prevailing power relations. The demarcation of public from private space is itself a function of economic imperatives and the ideological momentum supporting them. Consequently, wealthier neighborhoods tend to benefit from more peaceful, 'naturalistic' soundscapes than poorer ones, whose residents are also likely to work in environments that are noisier and louder – sometimes dangerously so.

This paper discusses an experiment taking place in Limerick, Ireland where a wide range of urban communities have been encouraged to record and share the sounds of their environment. Those sounds that they love, hate and have meaning for them. The sounds are edited by the groups themselves, and  then are added to an online map of the city. This exercise creates an awareness of the sonic environment in which a person lives and offers an opportunity to hear others in different parts of the city.

Although there are numerous soundscape projects around the world, and many are concerned with environment as well as aesthetics, there are very few that are so focused upon 'bottom up' collection and exchange.  The project invites recordists to share their personal as well as more public sonic experiences; sounds that are influenced by their age, ethnic background, social class, gender, ability etc. It fosters inter-community communication and critical listening to a much more complex city than would otherwise be accessible.

The intention is for the Limerick Soundscape project to last for 100 years - long enough to develop into an open archive of recordings; to map social, cultural and environmental changes, and to offer local communities access to the sonic heritage of previous generations.


CV: Tony Langlois lectures in media and Communication at Mary Immaculate College, Univerity of Limerick. He is co-founder of the LimerickSoundscapes research cluster which has generated a number of publications and an international symposium .


E-mail: [email protected]



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10. “Stregoni”: Building temporary spaces in Europe for migrants and refugees’ intercultural integration with the practice of improvised music

Nico Mangifesta [University of Rome “Tor Vergata”]


ABSTRACT: Since 2006, the Italian musicians Gianluca Taraborelli and Marco Bernacchia, under the name “Stregoni”, have been organizing workshops and concerts involving more than 2,300 economic migrants, asylum seekers and refugees (from Africa, Syria, Afghanistan and the Indian subcontinent) who are hosted in European reception centres and camps.


During their workshops, the two musicians begin to develop original compositions by sampling the music that refugee and asylum seekers usually listen to on their smartphones, creating soundscapes with them on which they will improvise together during their shows. These meetings are an attempt to understand, through musical encounters, what is happening within and outside the borders of the European Union, and to try to reshape the political crisis and mass-media alarm into opportunities for communal spaces and experiences for intercultural integration.


This non-institutional series of artistic acts raises two interesting points for reflection: first, the distance between locals’ expectations of musical exoticism and migrants’ real musical influences, which are mainly related to hip-hop and “macromusics”; and second, the complicated mutual integration process involved in performances by groups whose diverse composition defies the bureaucratic social model of non-EU citizens as a homogenous entity.


CV: Nico Mangifesta has a cum laude Master's Degree in Musicology and Musical Heritage from the University of Rome "Tor Vergata". His thesis in Ethnomusicology is about Balinese gamelan. Between 2013 and 2015 he conducted field research on the island of Bali in Indonesia and was enrolled at ISI (Istitut Seni Indonesia) – Denpasar through the Darmasiswa Scholarship program during academic year 2013/14.


E-mail: [email protected]



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11. The dialogic dynamics of musical space: Understanding musical subjectivities and musical speech in travelscapes with the Banda Internationale

Carolin Mueller [Ph.D. Candidate, The Ohio State University]


ABSTRACT: In opposition to rising anti-immigrant sentiment and racism in Dresden, Germany, local activists initiated collaborations with refugees. Among them, the local musician collective Banda Comunale, who invited refugee musicians to become part of their musical community, leading to the band’s transformation into the Banda Internationale. Playing over sixty concerts annually, the newly-formed group spends much time on the road, making the space of tour buses into discursive freespaces where the relationship between bodies, music and physical space is negotiated.


This presentation reports on my experiences as a researcher traveling down the road with Banda members May-August 2017. I argue that paying attention to their travelscapes, which are rendered by the place and register of voices, the proximity of speakers, and the power of volume to fill up and empty aural spaces in the bus, gives insight into how musical subjectivities and musical speech develops. The dialogic dynamics of the musical space of the tour bus reveals how different voices in the band interact, how they speak, and why that matters. My analysis sheds light on how their collective consuming and performing music together in the mobile spaces of tour buses functions as a way to understand, develop and ascertain individual roles in the band.


CV: Carolin Müller is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at The Ohio State University. She is interested in arts-based pro-immigration activism, community projects, music, and literature to understand how arts-based strategies define specific political spaces in which claims to religion, ethnicity, democracy, and cultural diversity are negotiated. Her current research analyses the organization, communication and interaction between receivers and new-comers in Dresden, Germany, specifically the projects and developments surrounding the Dresden-based brass band project “Banda Comunale/Banda Internationale.”


E-mail: [email protected]



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12. Grassroots Music Venues in Slovenia – Condemned to oblivion or spaces of trans-generational resistance?

Rajko Muršič [University of Ljubljana]


ABSTRACT: In his presentation, the author will present his long-term studies of grassroots music venues and youth clubs in Slovenia, starting with ethnographic and historical study of the nationally important music venue in the village of Trate Mladinski klub Trate (Youth Club Trate; 1979-1994). He will then present overview of the grassroots venues and initiatives across Slovenia in the 2010s, compiled in the collaborative monograph To the Firm Ground (2012) by the Foundation Pohorski bataljon.


It comprises activities of various clubs, associations, informal initiatives and squats, as well as formally established cultural centres that provide space for various cultural events, but their priority is music. Activities in such venues, especially in squats, are under constant pressure by the authorities and capital. This will be the main topic of the presentation: what is the future of “free territories” under the pressure of neoliberal state and capital? The author will present various answers to this question: historical overviews and selected examples from the present. His view is that these places are essentially commons of the present.


CV: Prof. Rajko Muršič has published eight monographs (all in Slovene), among them monographs on punk rock group CZD, rock club in Trate and underground music and youth centres in Slovenia. He has co-edited ten edited volumes (six in English).


His professional interests and teaching include anthropology of popular music; theories of culture; epistemology, urban anthropology, methodology of anthropological research, etc. He has done fieldwork in Slovenia, Poland, Macedonia and Japan.


Selected publications:

Muršič, Rajko, 2017, Music Glossary for the Youth. Maribor: Aristej.

Muršič, Rajko, 2012, On the solid ground: analysis of grassroots venues and youth non-governmental field in Slovenia. Tolmin: Ustanova nevladnih mladinskega polja Pohorski bataljon.


E-mail: [email protected]



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13. Free Space Music Room

Sean Prieske [PhD candidate, Humboldt-University of Berlin]


ABSTRACT: Being a musicologist and an activist in the field of music and forced migration, I founded the project Freiraum Musikraum (Free Space Music Room) in the spring of 2017. The main goal was to establish a room for rehearsal, performance and creativity in a refugee accommodation in Berlin run by the German Red Cross.


While searching for self-placement and identity after having arrived in Germany, refugees still face bureaucracy and ever-changing laws. In Freiraum Musikraum, we tried to experience stability through music in the people’s lives that are so much determined by uncertainty. Being a city with some of the fastest rising rents in Europe, Berlin provides less and less affordable space for free culture. This is especially true for refugee musicians, who very often neither live in their own flat nor have their own instruments.


Since many accommodations are being closed, music initiatives already face new challenges. The presentation focuses on strategies of musical agency in refugee housings and discusses future perspectives for refugee music projects and cultural free spaces.


CV: Sean Prieske studied music, media and German linguistics in Berlin and Newcastle. He received his Master in musicology at Humboldt University of Berlin in 2016. His research interests include cultural exchange processes in music, the social in music, and musical experience. In 2017, he started a PhD project on music and self-placement in the Berlin refugee relief at Humboldt University.


E-mail: [email protected]



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14. Neighborliness, reciprocity, and the alternative infrastructures of DIY performance in authoritarian Egypt

Darci Sprengel [Beloit College (current affiliation) / University of Oxford (starting fall 2018)]


ABSTRACT: Egyptian DIY (do-it-yourself) music is made primarily by urban Egyptian youth who mix Arab music aesthetics with globally-circulating genres such as rock, hip hop, electronic, and jazz. DIY music in Alexandria, Egypt’s second largest city, has largely existed outside the demands of capital. Unlike Cairo, which enjoys a few independent performance spaces, Alexandria lacks a commercial artistic infrastructure. Additionally, since a return to military rule in 2013, the Egyptian state has severely limited artistic performance outside its purview. This paper examines the community relationships that sustain a DIY music scene despite these precarious conditions. It suggests that through affective bonds of neighborliness, Alexandrian DIY musicians enact an alternative infrastructure of music performance sustained not by capital but by relations of

kinship, reciprocity, and informality. It is through affective bonds that Alexandrian DIY music persists despite the increasing commercialization of Cairo-based Egyptian DIY music and expanding authoritarian repression following the 2011 revolution. Maintaining a music scene through community, however, is likewise to enact certain exclusions.


Drawing from approximately 30 months of ethnographic research conducted in Alexandria, Egypt between 2010 and 2017, this paper demonstrates how a music scene can thrive outside the demands of both neoliberal capital and authoritarian repression while teasing out the politics it likewise invokes.




2018 (Fall) Junior Research Fellow in Music, St John’s College, Oxford

2018-present Visiting Assistant Professor, Dept of Music, Beloit College, Wisconsin

2017 Adjunct Faculty, Dept of the Arts, The American University in Cairo,



2017 Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles, Ethnomusicology with a

Concentration in Gender Studies

Dissertation: “‘Postponed Endings’: Youth Music and Affective Politics in

Post-Uprisings Egypt.” Co-chairs: A.J. Racy and Timothy D. Taylor.



Under review “‘More Powerful than Politics’: Affective Magic in the Youth Music of Egypt’s Failed 2011 Revolution.” Popular Music 37 (1).


E-mail: [email protected]



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15. Uneventful spaces

acte vide (Danae Stefanou & Yannis Kotsonis)

ABSTRACT: Over the past decade, an impressive number of DIY music venues opened up in Athens, Greece. These quickly became spaces where first-time and seasoned improvisers of different ages and backgrounds would gather, play and listen to each other on an almost daily basis. By 2013-14, the majority of these venues had closed down, struck by multiple, and unusually harsh legal and economic measures. At the same time, sponsored creativity hubs and large-scale cultural foundations were established, with powerful stakes in the promotion and support of improvised music-making as a one-off, event-based activity of considerable symbolic (but little actual) capital. Looking at the latent micro-histories and unaddressed repercussions of this globally resonant paradigm shift, we discuss cases of fragile resistance, irreducible to events or products, which revisit music as a shared or communal space.

CV: acte vide ("empty act") is the electroacoustic duo of Yannis Kotsonis and Danae Stefanou. Active since 2006 as an improvisatory unit, they explore noise and silence, often in dialogue with other musicians, visual artists and directors. Past commissions include collaborations with Vicki Bennett (In Mute 2014) & Tarek Atoui (Locus Athens 2015), and live improvised soundtracks for Sergei Eisenstein's Battleship Potemkin (Goethe Institut Athen 2016) and early French animation films (Festival du Film Francophone 2013). The duo has given over 50 live performances in Greece, the UK and Ireland, and participated in several international festivals (Borderline, Moving Silence, ΜΙR, Thessaloniki International Film Festival, etc). They also organise and convene music improvisation workshops for children and adults in Athens and Thessaloniki, as well as residencies on sound art and site-specific sonic experimentation in the island of Syros, Greece. Their first CD, Noeud, was released on Moremars in 2011, while the majority of their earlier releases are available for free download on

E-mail: [email protected]



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16.  On the concept of 'freespace' in music

Martin Stokes [King’s College, London]


ABSTRACT: The challenge of the concept of freespace in music is, on the one hand, one of rescue from libertarian narratives of one kind or another, and on the other managerial narratives of cultural heritage, intangible cultural assets and so forth. In both, I will argue, a habit of thinking of music spatially might actually compound some of these challenges. Emerging thinking about citizenship and an ethic of care in relation to musical practice seem to articulate a route forward. Recurrent refugee crises in Western Europe and mounting anxiety about urban space makes this thinking pressing. But it too needs critical reflection if it is to be sustainable, and sharable in practice. My contribution, based on my ongoing work on musical citizenship, will attempt to sketch some of these critical dimensions. 


CV: Martin Stokes is King Edward Professor of Music at King's College London. He has also taught at the Queen's University of Belfast, and the universities of Chicago and Oxford. Recent publications include Islam and Popular Culture (co-edited with Karin van Nieuwkerk and Mark LeVine) and Theory and Practice in the Music of the Islamic World (co-edited with Rachel Harris). Last year he gave the IMR Distinguished Lecture series in London, entitled 'The Musical Citizen'. 


E-mail: [email protected]



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17. Music breaks the boundaries of the Sikh temple: the Nagar Kirtan procession

Thea Tiramani [Università degli Studi di Pavia]


ABSTRACT: Music is fundamental in the Sikh’s religious rite, which is celebrated in each gurdwara (temple) all over the world. In a migratory context, temples are often built in isolated places, thus the music produced in the temples remains itself isolated.


But there are some occasions where music breaks the boundaries of the temple and crowds the urban context. These occasions are particularly appealing in the migrating context, where Sikh show all their “being Sikh” to the hosting community, aiming at making themselves known, also in a musical way.


In this paper, I write about a religious procession, called nagar kirtan, for the Vaisakhi celebration, which occurs every year on 14 April. The procession is followed by lot of people and characterized by a “scattering of sounds”, which strongly modifies cities soundscape. The musical heart is a cart where the Holy Book is transported, accompanied by musicians. But religious music is not the only kind of music you can listen to: Punjabi pop music, for example, is spread at high volume in the opening and at the end of the procession, to involve in the event all those present , in an interesting musical exchange.


CV: I’m a PhD Candidate in Musicology at the Dipartimento di Musicologia e Beni Culturali, University of Pavia. My research project is about Sikh music in a migratory context. I have been working on Sikh music since some years, starting from the master thesis, which I discussed in 2015 at the University of Pavia. Now I’m also involved in a research about music and migration in Cremona surroundings.


E-mail: [email protected]



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18. Performative dissensus in the Greek public sphere

Dafni Tragaki [University of Thessaly, Greece]


ABSTRACT: The paper discusses the cultural production of massive protest concerts in contemporary Greece organized in public spaces which are contested, (re)produced and rematerialized in the regime of musical performance. Concerts organized in support of various social movements, such as the anti-fascist and anti-racist movement, temporarily radicalize the public space questioning and suspending its normalities through the mobilization of musical counterpublics of dissensus in Jacques Ranciére’s terms. It explores the sort of musical scenes and musicians commonly involved in (or excluded from) popular activist concerts, while focusing on the ways sensibilities of resistance and certain forms of civility and are affectively materialized in song and in the context of what is often described as, the crisis of democracy. Musical performance is thus explored as a transformative medium that produces public spheres as sites for the performative re-distribution of social knowledge and as agonistic regimes for reclaiming urban space. Thinking of the ways music tentatively occupies and radicalizes ordinary spaces challenges the re-visiting of the concept of “political song” away from bounded and commonplaced notions of what constitutes the political in music.


CV: Dafni Tragaki is assistant professor in Music Anthropology at the department of History, Archaeology and Social Anthropology, Univ. of Thessaly (Volos, Greece). She is the author of Rebetiko Worlds: Ethnomusicology and Ethnography in the City (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007) and the editor of Empire of Song. Europe and Nation in the Eurovision Song Contest (Scarecrow Press, 2013) and Made in Greece. Studies in Popular Music (Routledge, 2018).


E-mail: [email protected]



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19. People Music: Experimental liberal aurality in the classroom, 1965-1980

Patrick Valiquet [University of Edinburgh]


ABSTRACT: There is an expansive literature tracing the emergence of musical experimentalism as a genre, but relatively little attention is paid to its entanglement with policy-making and research. Experimental musicians played a key role, however, in existing formulations of ‘musical rights’ such as those set forward by the International Music Council of UNESCO, as well as in efforts to democratise and decolonise music curricula during post-WWII university expansions. Education, in fact, became one of the main targets of experimentalist intervention. By reaching children and youth before their ‘cultural prejudices’ had formed, experimentalists hoped to raise a generation of ‘open’ and ‘active’ listeners, primed for participation in a global, mass-mediated musical marketplace.


Drawing upon archival research in England, France and Quebec, I argue that the experimentalist listening exercises and performance practices endemic to the 1970s classroom, while certainly radical in their time, articulated a technoscientific liberalism which has since become dominant. Although patriarchal convention has helped write these educators out of history, and their ‘relativist’ experiments were quickly withdrawn from curricula, their ideas about musical rights and values have left significant traces in musical knowledge, practice and media. Analysing the contradictions of past liberalisms can help activists respond to new challenges.


CV: Patrick Valiquet is a writer and researcher interested in the historical framing of musical experimentation as an object of science, education, and cultural policy. Patrick completed his doctoral studies at the University of Oxford in 2014, and also holds a Master's degree from the Institute of Sonology at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague, and a Bachelor's degree in Performance from McGill University. Prior to commencing a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Edinburgh in 2017, he held fellowships from the Institute of Musical Research, University of London, and the Fonds de Recherche du Québec – Société et Culture.


E-mail: [email protected]




[Here follows the original Call for Papers]


MUSICAL FREESPACE: Towards a radical politics of musical spaces and musical citizenship




The 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale has the concept of “Freespace” as its principal theme.


We invite musicologists, architects, urbanists and migration activists to join us in Venice for a “fringe” conference running alongside the Biennale. Our intention is to add to the “Freespace” agenda important questions of musical citizenship, and a radical politics of musical spaces, in relation to music, song and dance. We feel that the matter is pressing at a time when, all across the world, music, song and dance are increasingly constrained by the interests of power and commerce.


The organisers of this conference have been engaged in ongoing work in the conjoined fields of musical citizenship and activism – in particular as regards music in the lives of refugees and migrants. We see this as a particular and pressing issue. Music, song and dance are important areas of empowerment of refugees and migrants, and a fundamental bedrock of personhood. We would argue for music, song and dance to be recognised officially as a basic human right. And therefore that there should be provision of planned and serviced spaces for music, song and dance for migrants and refugees in all situations in which they find themselves, however temporary.


As regards the broader picture: in villages, towns and cities, as the years pass, more and more spaces are lost for non-commercial music, song and dance. Municipal spaces face budget cuts, university spaces are monetised, churches close, and taverns give way to coffee culture. By way of shorthand, you can’t sing in a Starbucks. All music practitioners recognise this as a crisis, and the time has come to reverse the tide, with new and imaginative initiatives.


All of this raises many questions. How, and by whom, are such spaces to be opened up, maintained, defended, rendered sustainable? How and by whom are they to be heard? Integrated within, or interruptive of, neighbourhoods, local soundscapes, educational systems? Archived, networked, circulated beyond? Through what agencies, technologies, mediations? And how to deal with issues of rights, royalties and remunerations arising in the context of performance?


We welcome papers that address these issues, from both a practical and a theoretical point of view. We also welcome reflection on existing activism. Interventions in this area are often non-institutional acts of individual witnessing and personal commitment. Such acts – as well as the more visible, institutionalised, and better-documented work of NGOs – have histories from which we can learn and on which we can build.


A longer-term aim of our conference will be to consider the production of a manifesto for musical freespace, prompted in part by the crisis of urban music making, and in part by the migration and refugee crises of our time.


Evening music at the conference will be provided by members of the SOAS Ceilidh Band.


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Conference participants – S.a.L.E. Docks – 13 September 2018






We gratefully acknowledge the hospitality and assistance that has been offered by the colleagues from the S.a.L.E. Docks occupied social centre


** Location of the venue: Near Punta della Dogana, in Dorsoduro.

How to get there:

Actv line 1 (stop: Salute)

Actv lines 2, 5.1, 5,2, 6.1, 6.2, (stop: Zattere)

Actv lines 5.1, 5,2 (stop: Spirito Santo).




Please note that there are no toilets at our venue – we shall use the neighbouring bars.



Conference organisers:


    Fulvia Caruso [University of Pavia];

    Ed Emery [SOAS, London];

    Martin Stokes [King’s College, London]




All enquiries to: [email protected]


Last updated: 9.ix.2018