Musical Singularity and the Case of Digital Music Archives

Andreas Helles Pedersen

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOtherpeer-review


In the last decade the Internet as we know it has developed rapidly. With it music has been spread, consumed and absorbed in manners that ultimately questions both its status as well as its possibilities. In a digital age, does it make sense to think of music as progressing after certain inherent logics? Is music not enmeshed in our digital doings to such a degree that the entire foundation for how we perceive and understand music should be reevaluated and rethought? And if so, how are we to comprehend the notion of music history and music historical discourse? By posing a new concept, musical singularity, I aim to nurture a vocabulary for wording the uncertain properties between us and the digital means from which we approach music today. If we take musical assemblages (Born 2005) as a point of departure and leave the thought of musical works we can create a way of understanding the meeting between human (body), music and digital technology as a sort of world-making where humans and nonhumans merge chaotically and opaquely. In this paper I wish to conceptualize our contemporary digital music engagement as taking part of interfacial life (Bratton 2014), and when speaking of musical singularity I strive to be able to grasp all the intertwining layers of communication that are taking place within this engagement. By exemplifying with characteristics of the digital music archive of the Danish Broadcast Corporation (DR) I will (to echo Foucault) showcase how digital infrastructures work as communicators of music history making us aware of continuities and discontinuities of music historical formations. The system of DR is an enclosed system, but it is still spanning beyond its own boundaries working as a part of planetary computation (Bratton 2015) and it is mediating music in a way that is traversing time resembling the qualities of a hyperobject (Morton 2013). By letting the discipline of music historiography meet a media archaeological mindset I will claim that one oozes in and out of history when actively engaged with digital platforms of music; while listening, press on a hyperlink and follow the endless chain of inter-relational metadata and you are involved with history – not metaphorically, but literally. When thinking with, and from within, the digitally induced totality wherein music lies, historiography should be remodeled together with the contemporary contemporary (Lund 2019). Thus the act of music historiography will be a sensual act of becoming that codirects a planetary structure of the senses.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2019 Dec 15
EventMusic in the Disruptive Era: The Digital, The Internet and Beyond - Centro Studi Opera Omnia Luigi Boccherini, Complesso Monumentale di San Micheletto, Lucca, Italy
Duration: 2019 Dec 142019 Dec 16


ConferenceMusic in the Disruptive Era

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Musicology

Free keywords

  • Music History
  • metadata
  • Listening


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