Rethinking Participatory Processes Through Music

14-15 January 2022

Online via Zoom

(Meeting ID: 660 5241 7860 Passcode: 130459)

In recent times, the UK’s Brexit vote, the 2016 US presidential election, and other elections worldwide have made democratic processes the subject of unprecedented public debate. This has led to widespread questioning of the mechanisms for people’s participation in the democratic system and in political decision-making. One of the most ground-breaking inquiries into what public participation ought to look like within democracy has recently been carried out by political scientist Hélène Landemore (Yale University). In her book Open Democracy (2020), Landemore favours the ideal of ‘representing and being represented in turn’ over direct-democracy approaches. Drawing on recent experiments with citizens’ assemblies, Landemore offers a different concept of nonelectoral democratic representation.

Inspired by Landemore’s work, this third and last study day on the theme of music and democracy aims to explore the potential of music to contribute to this rethinking of participatory processes. As Robert Adlington and Esteban Buch (2020) argue, ‘music is an arena for many kinds of decision-making, and thus for the negotiation of power. It is such parallels that have attracted the attention of many musicians, who have seen in their practice the possibility of modelling new or ideal kinds of democratic social arrangement’. Thus, we will address questions such as: What might democratic participation look like in music? What can music-making tell us about participatory processes in general? What is achieved, politically, by rethinking the way in which music is made? How might we pursue in musical life Landemore’s aspiration to ‘reinvent popular rule for the twenty-first century’?


Friday, 14 January (13:45-18:30, UK Time Zone)

13:45 Introductory words (Robert Adlington and Igor Contreras Zubillaga)

14:00-15:00 Keynote Lecture: Hélène Landemore (Yale University): “What Is Music to Democratic Ears and Hearts? On Emotions and the Arts in an Open Democracy”

15:00-15:15 Break

15:15-16:45 Kinds of Consensus

  • Drake Andersen (Vassar College): “Open-Source Music: A Model for Deliberative and Participatory Decision-Making”
  • Moss Freed (City, University of London): “Re-evaluating Micromotives: Changing a Performance Practice through Non-verbal ‘Consensus’ in Union Division”
  • Andrew Snyder (Universidade Nova de Lisboa): “Consensus Process in the Decision Making of an Alternative Brass Band”

16:45-17:00 Break

17:00-18:30 Democratic Roles

  • Victoria Aschheim (Dartmouth College): “Tyshawn Sorey’s Autoschediasms and the Democratic Experience of Timbre”
  • Alex W. Rodríguez (Independent Researcher): “Abolishing the Terms of Unison: Ornette Coleman’s Aesthetic Marronage”
  • Marcel Zaes Sagesser (Southern University of Science and Technology, Shenzhen): “The ‘Perfect’ Ensemble Member: Time-Keeping as Negotiation of Individuality”

Saturday, 15 January (13:00-19:00, UK Time Zone)

13:00-14:00 Keynote Lecture: Raymond MacDonald (University of Edinburgh): “Serious Fun with Improvising: Challenging Hegemonies, Hierarchies and Meritocracies”

14:00-14:15 Break

14:15-15:15 Processes of Decision-making

  • Geoff Bright (Manchester Metropolitan University), Anton Hunter (BIMM Manchester), and Gillian Whiteley (Loughborough University): “‘Just Doing Stuff Together’: Free Improvisation, Transversal Micro-politics and Democracy”
  • James Saunders (Bath Spa University): “Participatory Decision-Making as Compositional Process”

15:15-15:30 Break

15:30-16:30 Keynote Lecture: Anna Bull (University of York): “’The Music Lab’: Embedding Youth Voice within Instrumental Classical Music Education”

16:30-16:45 Break

16:45-18:45 Participatory Publics

  • Eric Lemmon (Stony Brook University): “Dissensus, Refusal and Participatory Music: Negation and Rupture in Crowd in C
  • Charlie Sdraulig (The University of Melbourne) and Louis d’Heudieres (Independent Researcher): “Attending to Attending: Performing Audience Personae in Contemporary Music”
  • Daniel Rozenberg (European University Institute) and Paul-Georg Ender (Leeds University): “Crip Camp & Protest Songs: How Music and Audio Design Can Make Participatory Spaces More Inclusive?”
  • Shreya Ramnath (Central European University, Vienna): “From the Sabha to the Smartphone: COVID19, Social Media, and Changing Power Relations in Carnatic Music”

18:45-19:00 Concluding thoughts

To download the programme with abstracts, click HERE