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Electric Music, Music and Electricity

Musiques électriques, électricité et musique

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Published on Tuesday, February 21, 2017


Ce colloque se propose d’examiner tout d’abord l’archipel des musiques électriques, depuis le projet de « clavessin électrique » du prêtre jésuite Delaborde (1759), dès les débuts de la science électrique, donc, jusqu’au développement des pratiques électroniques, puis numériques (de Schaeffer au dub, puis au sampling, jusqu’aux applications informatiques les plus récentes). Il s’agira également de mesurer l’incidence de l’électricité sur les musiques du XXe et du XXIe siècles, ainsi que sur les sujets connexes comme par exemple la pédagogie musicale, sur la lutherie (au sens large) et son emploi, sur l’enregistrement de la musique.


Symposium organized by MUSIDANSE (E.A. 1572) / JAMM, May 9th & 10th 2017, Université Paris 8


“I Sing the Body Electric”: this statement by the American poet Walt Whitman at the end of the nineteenth century (reprised a century later by the writer Ray Bradbury, and then by the jazz-funk group Weather Report), evoking the communion of bodies, seems to point toward a connection between artistic expression and electricity.

This symposium proposes to study this connection, by examining first the archipelago of electric music, starting with the “electric harpsichord” (“clavessin électrique”) project of the Jesuit priest Jean-Baptiste Delaborde (1759), so at the beginnings of electrical science, and going from there to the development of electronic technology, digital technology (from Schaeffer to dub, then to sampling, and to the latest uses of computer music).

Other themes include taking stock of the impact of electricity on music in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, as well as related topics such as musical pedagogy (as early as 1960, Ligeti writes a text on this subject), instrument-making (in the broadest sense) and its applications, and the recording of music (the excellent recent study by Greg Milner on this subject seems a remarkable bibliographic advance).

Finally, we will discuss the turning point that the emergence of electricity may have created in musical thought as well (from aesthetics to ontology), from the futurism of Pratella, who declared the “triumph of Electricity” in 1911 (and therefore prior to Russolo), to the afro- futurism of the late twentieth century, moving on to the questions raised by Adorno (“The Form of the Phonograph Record,” 1934), by Bartók (“Mechanical Music,” 1937), which were preceded by the prophetic and aesthetic meditations of Busoni, beginning in 1907, on the Dynamophone of Dr. Thaddeus Cahill:
“Music is a sonorous ether that surpasses ether; in its universality and plenitude, it permeates mankind as well as the universe, since it can concentrate and disperse without losing its intensity.”

Main topics

We are looking for papers that reflect (but are not limited to) the following topics:

  •  Studies (all music genres) focusing on historical, aesthetic and musical analysis issues
  •  Aesthetic issues and their relationship to technology
  •  Links / differences between electricity and electronics, analogue and digital
  •  Music and energy
  •  Electricity and musical emotion / expression
  •  Electrical and / or electronic devices in their direct relationship with musical playing and creation


A summary of 5000 signs (including spaces) and a CV, to be sent to musique-et-electricite@univ-paris8.fr before March 6th 2017

Organizing Committee

(MUSIDANSE, Univ. Paris 8 / équipe JAMM – Jazz et Altérités de la Modernité Musicale):

  • Guillaume GILLES
  • Guillaume LOIZILLON
  • Philippe MICHEL
  • Frédéric SAFFAR

Scientific Committee

  • Vincenzo CAPORALETTI (Univ. Macerata)
  • Laurent CUGNY (IREMUS, Univ. Paris 4)
  • Anne DANIELSEN (Univ. Of Oslo)
  • Agostino DI SCIPIO (composer)
  • Agnès GAYRAUD (artist)
  • Philippe GONIN (Centre Georges Chevrier, Univ. de Bourgogne)
  • Martin LALIBERTE (LISA, Univ. Marne-La-Vallée)
  • Camille MOREDDU (Univ. Paris 10)
  • Benoît NAVARRET (IREMUS, Univ. Paris IV)
  • Christophe PIRENNE (Univ. Liège)
  • Catherine RUDENT (IREMUS, Univ. Paris 4)
  • Anne SEDES (MUSIDANSE, Univ. Paris 8)
  • Makis SOLOMOS (MUSIDANSE, Univ. Paris 8)


  • Université Paris 8 - 2, rue de la Liberté
    Saint Denis, France (93526)


  • Monday, March 06, 2017


  • musique électrique, enregistrement, histoire de la musique, analyse musicale, musique, musicologie


  • Philippe Michel
    courriel : musique-et-electricite [at] univ-paris8 [dot] fr

Information source

  • Philippe Michel
    courriel : musique-et-electricite [at] univ-paris8 [dot] fr


CC0-1.0 This announcement is licensed under the terms of Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal.

To cite this announcement

« Electric Music, Music and Electricity », Call for papers, Calenda, Published on Tuesday, February 21, 2017, https://doi.org/10.58079/wzf

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