Instrumental trouble: a queer organology of Hugh Davies’s found instruments

Palermo, Settimio Fiorenzo ORCID logoORCID: (2020) Instrumental trouble: a queer organology of Hugh Davies’s found instruments. InterAlia - A journal of queer studies (15) . pp. 17-33. ISSN 1689-6637 [Article] (doi:10.51897/interalia/OKAD1849)

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Organology, the study of musical instruments, has traditionally concentrated on the documentation of instruments: their history, roles in culture, and classification. However, as post-modern, feminist, and post-colonial perspectives have questioned some of the assumptions inherent in historiographical, ethnographic, and positivist endeavours because of their part in reproducing hegemonic ideologies, re-thinking organology and thus developing a richer account of musical instruments has become an urgent task. With this regard a queer perspective in organology, in particular informed by Judith Butler’s theories of “gender trouble,” is crucial in agitating normative beliefs, values, and attitudes that underpin notions of instrumental identity, interaction, and meaning. A queer organology becomes especially significant in the critical engagement with musical instruments like those invented by the British composer, performer, and inventor Hugh Davies (1943-2005), and in particular his entirely found, amplified, new musical instruments. This is because the challenges to traditional instrumental ontologies, the “instrumental trouble” that these instruments pose, reveal the boundaries of conventional organological approaches and methodologies, which are unsuitable in capturing their full significance. Deploying Butler’s concepts of recognition, performativity, and subversion in their study can thus represent an effective strategy in the development of a coherent critique of Davies’s instruments, but also in offering an opportunity to further the understanding of the fundamental importance that musical instruments play in the articulations of music, as part of what may be called an “instrumental turn.”

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This is an online, peer-reviewed Open Access journal. They publish articles on a rolling basis first and then include them in an issue
Keywords (uncontrolled): organology, queer theory, Hugh Davies, Judith Butler, philosophy of the musical instrument, electronic music
Research Areas: A. > School of Media and Performing Arts > Performing Arts > Music group
Item ID: 27349
Notes on copyright: InterAlia is an Open Access journal, which means that all content is freely available without charge to the user or his/her institution. Users are allowed to read, download, copy, distribute, print, search, or link to the full texts of the articles in this journal without asking prior permission from the publisher or the author, provided the original author and source are credited.
Except where otherwise stated, all content on InterAlia's website is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (images and other media may be under different licences). Copyright for the content of the texts published in InterAlia stays with the Authors, whereas copyright for the edited versions stays with InterAlia.
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Depositing User: Fiorenzo Palermo
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2019 13:52
Last Modified: 27 May 2021 11:39

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