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Agency in Ecological Composition

25 August 2021

15:00 - 17:00 hrs (GMT+7)


Mieko Kanno

Sibelius Academy DocMus Doctoral School


Ville Raasakka


Coal, oil and wood are key agents in the processes of climate warming. In each composition of my doctoral project, I present an ecological case concerning coal, oil or wood. I focus on the sounds of these materials in their various stages: their natural state, their extraction, energy use, product use, and dispersion. With close-distance recordings of these materials, I try to bring the materials as close as possible to the listener. I aim to create an affective bond between the listener and the material.

Strategies have been proposed by scholars in cultural studies: Brandon LaBelle has proposed a listening strategy called ‘sonic agency’, Jane Bennett’s concept of ‘vibrant matter’ calls for an affective relationship towards materials, and Timothy Morton’s concept of ‘hyperobject’ reaches for a direct experience of massive ecological systems.

In my doctoral research, I am asking two core questions: Could listening become a strategy for ecological agency, and, if so, could composition using such strategies be a part of the ecological discussion? I discuss my compositional work that is centered on concepts from sound studies, in particular the soundscape as presented by Murray R. Schafer and the sonic effect by Jean-François Aygoyard & Henri Torgue. Since my practice is based on transcribing field recordings, I also briefly discuss the differences between imitation and representation, and how this has been reflected in a musicological context by Roger Scruton, Lawrence Kramer and Lydia Goehr.

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