Social Music

curated by Brandon LaBelle

Curatorial Statement

The parameters which distinguish music are often set apart from a larger context of social space. This is in part due to the nature of cultural production - that it remains slightly ahead of, or behind, broader issues: critical distance, romantic isolation, or simple disinterestedness. (The recording studio functions as the perfect model of Music's struggle to fend off the interference inherent to social space--to produce culture without blemishes.)

"Social Music" aims to invert this model by adopting a direct relationship to the larger context, expanding the frame to invite the random interplay of public interaction. What distinguishes "Social Music" is that this relationship acts as a determining situation for the production of a music work; and further, "Social Music" attempts to make audible the tensions between the parameters of music (convention) and that which is "outside" (experimentation), between public space and private identity, and between the complexities of society and the technologies of artistic media.

Situating musical production, and radio broadcast, within this zone of experimentation necessitates a leaving behind of the traditional view of "artist as individual," and instead demands an alternative understanding whereby "context" and "art-object," and by extension, "audience," converse in such a way as to produce artistic effects. These effects are tied to the random interplay of phenomena, and further, in their moment of occurrence, to the formation of what we could call a "public."

Radio as a context poses a specific and compelling context for "Social Music", because radio is necessarily dispersed as a social context and medium, and thus is contaminated by existing spaces, sounds and events occurring within unpredictable, and partly unknowable, situations. In a sense, radio is a model for the concerns of "Social Music", or rather, it situates itself already as a kind of "Social Music Production". It would seem that the works of "Social Music" for radio will demand from a listener (and artist) an understanding of the very nature of radio itself - that as a listener one is immersed in a complex situation whereby musical action and site-specificity converse in a radiophonic space determined both by the point of transmission and the site of reception.

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