Acts of Musical Writing – Towards a Theory of Musical Notation

March 26–28, 2020, Department of Music, University of Innsbruck, Austria

Debates on a universal theory of writing have been addressed in various different fields of the humanities and cultural sciences and have fundamental effects on the comprehension of musical notation. Without any doubt musical notations represent differentiated systems of signs. However, musical writing is not a mere representation and substitution, nor a simple referential of a communication system. The materiality of the written, explorative and cognitive aspects, phenomena of inscribed performativity and the aisthetic and visual presence of musical notations, are indispensable fundamentals of musical writing.

The objective of this conference is an extended comprehension of music notation, which involves a productive dynamic between fixation and transfer, between outcome and initiator of acts. In this approach, musical writing functions as a coordinator between an actual and a symbolic space, in which acts of musical writing can occur. Although writing manifests itself on a two-dimensional plane, it opens a multidimensionalspace through the movement of the hand and eye, the writing tool, and mental processes. We invite scholars from any discipline to discuss music notation from a musicological, writing and image theoretical, performance practice, philosophical, media aesthetical or philological point of view. Relevant topics include but are not limited to:

  • musical notation as an intermedial field

  • the reciprocal correlation of writing, composition and interpretation

  • the corporeality of writing, its tools, spaces and gestures

  • oral, literal and cognitive processes of writing

  • the relations between different modes of analogue and digital writing

  • the operative state of musical notation between pre-written score and post-written transcript

The conference languages are German and English.

Presentation format: individual 30-minute paper followed by 15-minute discussion

Abstracts of 250–300 words should be sent as an attachment (word, pdf) to Bernhard.Achhorner -at- by June 16, 2019, and must include the following information: title, author, affiliation, email address, and technical requirements.

Decisions on the acceptance of abstracts are expected to be communicated by September 2019.

Organisation: Federico Celestini (Innsbruck), Bernhard Achhorner (Innsbruck), Sarah Lutz (Innsbruck)

The conference is part of the research project Writing Music. Towards a Theory of Musical Notation at the mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna, the University of Innsbruck, the University of Gießen and the Paul Sacher Stiftung, Basel.