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First session of the Music Discussion Group hosting Oliver Seibt | 21 November 2023, 10:00 hrs. | Bushuis F1.01B

Event details of Music as technology of transition
21 November 2023
Bushuis F1.01B

We are pleased to invite you to the first meeting of our new Music Discussion Club on Tuesday, 21st of November.

It is designed to provide a platform for members at all levels – from musicology staff and researchers to Master’s students – to present their research for feedback or to simply engage in the conversation. We aim to create a serious yet informal setting where open discussions can flourish without too many formalities. Please feel free to extend this invitation to those who may be interested to join.

There will be various types of music discussions, ranging from presentations of research ideas to discussion of musical pieces, and more. We are open to suggestions for future discussion formats and topics.

We are pleased to have Oliver Seibt lead our first session.

For those interested, Music Cognition Reading Group will follow at 11.00 at the same location (

While considering what kind of research project I would like to engage with in the coming years, I recently realized that all the topics that I have dealt with in musicology since I came to Amsterdam in 2016 have one thing in common. In all cases music creates or is used to create a transition between areas that are conceptualized as opposites: between individuality and collectivity, between the real and the imaginary, between life and death, between different periods of life, different cultures, different temporalities, between the analogue and the digital. The question arises whether the ability to create transitions isn’t one of the affordances that could help to explain why people in all societies at all times did and do things that we refer to as musicking.

Of course, I don’t want to presume to be able to answer a question of such anthropological scope single-handedly. Following the inductive logic of cultural anthropological research, however, I want to introduce you to three concrete case studies in which I will systematically examine which kinds of transition music creates or for which kinds of transition people intentionally use music, and how exactly these transitions take place. In doing so, I hope to come one step closer to an answer to the question of why musicking, of all possible behaviors, is a suitable technology for transitioning between opposing areas.

To get in the mood for my presentation, I would like to ask you to either read the introduction to Christopher H. Partridge’s book The Lyre of Orpheus: Popular Music, the Sacred, and the Profane (OUP 2013) or Mark Fisher’s 2012 article “What Is Hauntology?” (see pdfs attached).