ODC 2019 // Music, Humans, and Machines

Orpheus Institute

This conference explores musician’s long relationship with their instruments and instrumentalities, questioning issues of autonomy and agency in the apparent dichotomy between tools and musical expression. From the "mechane" of Greek theatres from which gods were suspended, to Mozart’s description of the Stein fortepiano’s knee-lever as “Die Maschine”, to the epoch-defining technologies of recording, sound synthesis, and algorithmic composition of more recent times, performers and composers have relied on mechanical means to create magic in their art.

The Orpheus Institute docARTES programme invites artists, composers, performers and all artistic researchers to participate in its 2019 doctoral conference, where we will engage in reflections on the tangible interdependences between music-makers and their tools. We invite participants from a wide range of disciplines – those that concern new and old instruments, as well as those in the field of musical automaton and their expressive use – in order to bring together multiple perspectives, and cover an extended range of artistic experiences: from historically informed performance to contemporary and electroacoustic music creation.

The one-day conference opens with a concert, which welcomes both artistic presentations and scholarly papers, giving special attention to practice-based research.

“Music, Humans and Machines” Orpheus Doctoral Conference, aims to offer the possibility to get a better understanding and to widen the perspectives about the complex relationship between musicians and their instruments, especially pertinent in this moment where human expressivity is entangled in inanimate “machines”. Although the disciplines may be diverse, the conference will focus on the interplay between artistic vision and its mechanical realisation, and through addressing this common thread, new and transdisciplinary ideas may arise.

Keynote Speakers

  • Fari Bradley (London College of Communication - LCC, University of the Arts - UAL, London) and Nic Collins (School of the Art Institute of Chicago)
    The Democracy of Noise – Calling for a Resistance to the Present
  • Nicholas Cook (University of Cambridge)
    Materiality, cognitive extension and the virtual in musical creation


22 May

18:00 - Keynote speakers: Fari Bradley + Nic Collins
20:30 - Public concert, Orpheus Institute Concert Hall

23 May
10:00 - 16:00 - Paper presentations
16:00 - Keynote speaker: Nicholas Cook



  • Fari Bradley The Democracy of Noise
  • Aart Strootmantwo pages
  • Viola Yip Lazy Studies
  • Johan Svensson, Karin Hellqvist Marionette
  • Bjarni Gunnarsson Translation, traces and intervention
  • Liz Allbee, Hannes Hoelzl, Alberto de CampoAether Ore

Paper presentations

  • Yuet Ka HuiClavichord: Haydn’s Thinking-Fantasy-Machine
  • Matteo Gemolo ‘Affects’ & ‘effects’ in the post-modernist repertoire for period instruments: the case of the Traverso
  • Elizabeth DobbinThe mechanics of the voice: ornamentation as a tool for affective performance Jean-Antoine Bérard’s instruction-manual for the larynx
  • Michael Boyle Touching the Score at the End of the Pen. On the Responsibility of the Tools of Composition for Musical Works
  • Heppy Longworth(Dis)embodied Voices: Ontologies of Voice in the Age of Sound Recording
  • Chiara PercivatiDifferent Tubes: The Prepared Clarinet Project
  • Kristine HealyOvercoming the instrument: Vocality in the discourse of instrumental music performance
  • Dana Papachristou Soundscapes and soundscape compositions according to Gilles Deleuze et Félix Guattari


Registration fee: € 85 (standard fee) / € 48 (students). Participation is free of charge for researchers and students affiliated with Orpheus Institute and docARTES. A lunch on Thursday is included.

Entrance to the concert on the 22nd is free of charge, but registration is recommended.

Deadline: 12 May 2019

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