KISMIF Conference

KEYLECTURE | ‘Identities/Alterities. Performing Music, Performing Ourselves’, by Antoine Hennion

Abstract
Musical works are not data inside a given space, that musicologists and sociologists could analyse, each in their own way: they produce their own time and space instead of taking place into them. Ever ‘in process of making’, radically depending on situations, they always have to be performed again. Never ensured, the advent of music needs practices, devices, scenes. Symmetrically, subjects are not given any more than works. Both emerge in an open, never-ending process. Identities/alterities develop and change through such on-going experiences that give form and consistency to our collective emotions. This grants music its power: musical performances are not about performing music, but about performing a fragile, risky moment for sharing—even if nobody is sure of what is shared.

This is why, to catch our relationship to music, I speak of attachments, instead of tastes or practices. The word underlines that bonds that hold us and which we hold on to are beyond any active-passive dualism. They only make us provided we nurture them. Reciprocally, we have no mastery on them. They carry us over, they take us elsewhere—this is precisely what we ask of music we love. The word attachment also emphasizes that taste is a corporeal and affective experience, not only a marker of belonging or a means of distinction. Finally, it stresses the distributed and collective character of attachments: they draw entwined stories which traverse each of us, that no unique viewpoint could catch up, be it people’s one or the researcher’s.

Music of the diversity is a great case to address the question of attachments in terms of identities/alterities: this too polite word of ‘diversity’ has at least the merit of making a bridge between two related situations. On a side, longstanding immigrants having long accommodated their music to their condition; on the other, the so-called ‘world music’ that new migrations increasingly circulate—a paradoxical way of labelling all music that are not ‘ours’. Both cases mix indissociably places and practices that are thoroughly local, actual and present, and fragile ties to faraway origins and pasts that have always to be ‘done again’, in more or less realistic or creative ways. One cannot better see at work the fact that identities are always uncertain, plural proposals: we know what we hold on to only when we accept to introduce ourselves, which also means to confront otherness—not so much the one outside, but first and foremost the one inside each of us.

Keywords: Identities/alterities, musical performances.

 

Biographical note of Antoine Hennion >>>

 

 

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