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E-Journal für Kunst- und Bildgeschichte

cfp: The Future Sound of Pop Music


Bern, 30 November - 3 December 2017


Bern,  University of the Arts (HKB): Research

deadline: 1 May 2017
30 November - 3 December 2017, Bern, University of the Arts,
Ostermundigenstr. 103

The Future Sound of Pop Music

Lectures, discussions and side programme

New technologies, new interfaces and controllers have significantly altered
the sound world of pop music in recent years. In current pop songs,
electronic sounds and effects are dominant. The sound aesthetic of pop music
has also undergone a major shift from the 1960s to the present day.
Initially, pop music invested in a few distinctive distinguishing features
such as distortion, but today it features complex electronic constructions
based on samples, virtual instruments and effects.

The significance of individual sounds - their origins, their development and
their future - has until now rarely been an object of research in popular
music. This symposium will discuss how the sound aesthetic of popular music
has changed over the past decades. It will debate how sounds have been
created, how they are employed, and how they are constantly being renewed
and replaced by new sounds. Last but not least, the symposium will discuss
the future of sounds in pop music by addressing the following questions:


*        How are sounds modified, manipulated and transformed today, and how
will this be done in the future?
*        What role do new interfaces and controllers play in the development
of new sounds?
*        What do current sound generators offer?
*        What new sound generators might we expect in the future?
*        How will pop music sound, 10 or 20 years from now?


The following keynote speakers have been invited:

*        Prof. Dr John Chowning (San Francisco)
*        Prof. Dr Lippold Haken (Illinois)
*        Prof. Dr Edmund Eagan (Ottawa)
*        Dr Wayne Marshall (Boston)
*        Bruno Spoerri (Zurich)
*        Annie Goh (London)


This symposium is part of the HKB research project Cult sounds of Immanuel
Brockhaus and Thomas Burkhalter (Norient), which is supported by the Swiss
National Science Foundation. For more information, see: www.cult-sounds.com


We are herewith issuing a call for abstracts in the following subject


1.    Technological aspects

 The development of new synthesis procedures, editors, controllers and
management software for auditory events seems to have reached a point at
which the possible fields of application in music have been optimised and
are both highly developed and user-friendly. Music technologies are
future-oriented, but also process and transform past accomplishments. We
wish to determine what virtual settings can offer, both within DAW systems
and outside them. More and more developers and users are turning to physical
systems (especially modular systems) that offer a great degree of openness
and haptic characteristics. We aim to discuss this field of development.


2.    Socio-cultural aspects

 Innovations in music technology and the renewal and expansion of sounds have
often taken place in experimental settings or through unconventional
approaches adopted by those involved. We can often observe that new sounds
develop in subcultures and are later adopted by the mainstream. What is the
approach of those who develop, use and consume these sounds? What networks
exist and emerge around the idea of a new sound? Do small teams of
developers determine what happens? In what environments do sonic innovations
occur? And what are the impact and significance of specific sounds in
different social and cultural contexts?


3.    Sound aesthetic aspects

 Innovative sounds that are used excessively in the mainstream for aesthetic
or commercial reasons can divide the production and listening communities.
Current preferences such as auto-tune, filtering, sidechain compression,
stutter effects and bandstop effects are omnipresent but are not necessarily
new, nor even genuine pop sounds.

How are new sounds perceived and evaluated? How do individual sounds
change the overall aesthetic of pop songs?



We are inviting speakers for panel discussions (for a total of 60 minutes,
with 3-4 papers in each panel), individual papers (20 minutes) and poster
sessions. We are also open to suggestions for other formats (impulse papers,
workshops, film screenings, performances or discussion sessions). We also
intend to offer research newcomers a platform to present their current

Proposals for individual contributions (in German or English) will comprise:
title, abstract (max. 300 words) and a brief biography (max. 90 words).
Proposals for panel discussions should include an outline text and an
abstract (max. 300 words in total). We are happy to receive proposals for
session chairs. Sessions with individual contributions will as a rule be
chaired by the organisers.



Dr Immanuel Brockhaus and Dr Thomas Burkhalter, HKB (lead)

Assistants: Sabine Jud and Daniel Allenbach



Conference website