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Session 8B: Agency in Musical Performance

Friday 19 September
Session Convenor: Eugene Montague

10.00    All participants
Opening Discussion: “What is Agency in Music?”

This opening round table will consist of prepared ‘3-minute’ position statements on the question “what is agency in music?” followed by a short round table debate. Each participant who is presenting a paper will present a ‘snapshot’ of their current ideas on agency and the round-table discussion afterward will give an opportunity to develop these position statements. This opening session will therefore provide an introduction to the themes of the session, highlighting the points of agreement between the participants as well as those on which there is likely to be debate.

1 Developing Agency: Creativity, Awareness and Control       
Chair: Eugene Montague                        

These three papers are connected by a shared interest in the cultivation of agency by musical performers. Strategies for acquiring and expanding agency in performance are discussed, including pedagogical techniques, interpretive analyses, and routines of practice. Given these emphases, the subsession promises both conceptual and practical insights into the nature of musical agency.

10.45    Roger Graybill
Facilitative Agency in Performance

11.25    Edward Klorman
Performers as Creative Agents: Mapping the Terrain

12.05    Victoria Tzotzkova
Sounding Music, Cultivating Agency: Musings on Concepts, Discourses, and Practices in Present-Day Traditions of Classical Music Performance

12.45    lunch break

2 Defining Agency: Expression and Experience
Chair: Tami Gadir

Both papers in the first afternoon session focus on a close examination of the nature of musical agency, from quite different yet complementary perspectives. One proposes a theoretical understanding of agency as an integral element in the cognitive processes of performing music, an element that may be closely related to emotional experience. The other presentation attempts to elucidate the phenomenology of musical agency through a close discussion of relevant work in recent philosophy, followed by an experiment including the audience. Given the diverse backgrounds of these papers, the subsession should offer a variety of ways to advance our understanding of the operations of musical agency.

14.00    Marc Leman
Agency and Musical Expression

14.40    Eugene Montague
Towards a Phenomenology of Agency in Performance

15.20    coffee break

3 Delimiting Agency: Constraints and Challenges

Chair: Edward Klorman

In this third subsession, the two presentations share a concern with the limits of musical agency, from both practical and philosophical perspectives. Agency, shaped both by and in bodily movement, is therefore constrained by practical and biological elements that affect both production and perception. Such constraints are both limits and opportunities for musical agency and expression. Beside such ‘natural’ constraints, we should also consider how understanding musical meaning through the lens of agency might lead to an (unwelcome) emphasis on the individual in the sociological contexts of performance. In highlighting such issues, both papers suggest varied and fascinating connections between questions of musical agency and problems in wider contexts of humanistic and scientific inquiry.

15.45    Tami Gadir
Analysing Agency: Perspectives from the DJ Booth

16.25    Rolf Inge Godøy
Motor Constraints Shaping Musical Experience

4 Response to the Session
Chair: Victoria Tzotzkova

17.05    Lawrence Zbikowski

17.45    All participants and audience
Closing Discussion

18.30    Conclusion