Mieko Kanno, keynote presentation "Quiet is beautiful: the aesthetics of softness today"

Research Pavilion in Venice
Lauantai, kesäkuu 17, 2017 - 15:30
Sala del Camino, Theatre Space

This presentation explores soft sound and soft playing in the practice of music-making today, with reference to 20th and 21st century music in particular. Softness offers a particular poetics and politics of listening. What kinds of softness do we have, and how is it articulated and communicated? Who is ‘producing’ it? Is our sensibility for softness changing?

There are at least two strands of historical development that have led to the present practice of softness in music. The first is creative in an imaginative sense: in the 1970s and '80s a number of composers (such as Feldman, Nono and Sciarrino) proposed new aesthetics of soft sound, against the prevalent opulent style of sound projection developed in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The second strand is also creative but in a more practical sense: the last couple of decades saw musical communities develop the use of electronic amplification and digital sound processing (DSP). The impact of this development is less visible but more pervasive in our experience. Two examples will be presented in performance in order to articulate these kinds of softness. The aesthetics of softness puts the listener at the heart of perception. This presentation will conclude with thoughts on communication in music.

In connection with the Uniarts Helsinki Research Pavilion in Venice, the Sibelius Academy is organising a Nordic research symposium "Encounters, Discussions, Experimentations: Art, Research and Artistic Research in Music” together with its partners, the Arne Nordheim Centre for Artistic Research at the Norwegian Music Academy and the Academy of Music and Drama at the University of Gothenburg. The two-day event focuses on music and the multifaceted interrelationships between music and research, as well as artistic research in music. One of the aims of the event is to generate Nordic collaboration to foster the planning and organising of research symposia/conferences and research projects as well as publications.

The Research Pavilion is created and hosted by Uniarts Helsinki, and realized together with the Norwegian Artistic Research Programme and the Swedish Art Universities’ collaboration Konstex in co-operation with the Academy of Fine Arts Vienna and Zurich University of the Arts.

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