Philosophical Seminar: Danielle Sofer 'Hearing Presence in Recent Music'

Tuesday, November 8, 2016 - 12:00 to 13:00
Hall D, Arts Building

This talk explores one lineage of the history of musical representation in philosophy. Sofer begins with the classic example of instrumental music as an indication of constraints that uphold music as an ‘institution’ of art, complete with its own assumptions and borders. She then examines the common imposition of another boundary, one between music’s intrinsic and extra-musical significance. Using the example of electroacoustic music, she argues that no such separation can be fully determined, since listeners can never fully separate the real from the virtual, the experiential from the musical. Sofer concludes that the distinction between medium and reception comes with dire consequences, at the expense of certain factors of identity that are necessary toward understanding music within its socio-cultural context.
In examining various constraints philosophers have imposed on musical creation, reception, and ontology, Sofer hopes to convey the risks as well as the merits of imposing such restrictions so as to open philosophy’s rich discourse around representation to speculation about how identity is conveyed through sound. The ‘hearing presence’ of the title therefore invokes the twofold presence of one who hears, as well as any presence the hearer perceives in music.

A musicologist and music theorist, Danielle Sofer explores meeting points between philosophy, psychology, and scientific method in order to better understand the many ways of listening to music. She graduated summa cum laude from the State University of New York at New Paltz, and holds Master’s degrees from Binghamton University (M. M. Piano Performance) and Stony Brook University (M. A. Music History and Theory). Danielle successfully defended her dissertation “Making Sex Sound: Erotic Currents in Electronic Music,” and was awarded a PhD with distinction from the University for Music and Performing Arts in Graz (KUG), Austria in June 2016.