Accepted paper:

'Primitive' sound, 'Ritual' performance and the origins of 'Music'


Fares Moussa (University of Edinburgh)
Paul Keene (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores theoretical questions concerning the origins of self-conscious sound-making and music performance and its relationship with contemporary concepts of music production and performance.

Paper long abstract:

Through exploring the unique human-perceived nature of sound - in contrast to vision for example - this paper seeks to question the limits of the production and consumption of music as a uniquely recreational act and how that might affect the way we approach the probable functions of sound-making in the past. It posits that some understandings of ancient sound-making and sound-amplifying tools can be contextualized in a horizon of functional ritualised actions. Out of this, creative opportunities arise for contemporary music agendas which emphasise difference, discontinuity, spontaneity and everyday action as oppose to repetition, continuity, fusion, harmony and composition. Attempts to evoke the past through historically constructed aesthetic ideals are supplanted by associations with human embodied action and instinctive or physically reflexive re-action.

panel S37
Artefact to auditorium: aural agendas in the archaeology of prehistoric sound (partly supported by the AHRC ‘Beyond Text’ program)