Friday 7 June 2019. 3:30-4:30pm, Roy Barnett Hall.
Chair: David Gramit, University of Alberta
Reshaping Sound and Confessional Space in Counter-Reformation Würzburg
Alexander Fisher, University of British Columbia
The decades leading up to the outbreak of the Thirty Years War (1618–1648) in Germany were characterized by studied efforts to define and set off communities of religious difference. Fashioning distinctive senses of Protestant and Catholic space depended in no small part on aural culture, as different acoustic regimes encouraged listeners to invest places with confessional meaning. The soundscape of religious difference was constituted not only by documentable acoustic events, but also by the mute musical sources that represent imagined, potential sound. Their texts and paratexts can be understood as being in dialogue with an unfolding aural culture whose traces can be extracted from the archives. As a case study this paper takes one of the most hotly contested confessional borderlands of Germany, the territory of the Catholic diocese of Würzburg, and the little-known sacred music of court organist Heinrich Pfendner (d. 1630).
This paper considers the “circle of conversation” comprising improvised music, technological mediation, acoustic space, place, and memory in Klang-Opus á la fin de crépescule, a site specific sound work by Delf Maria Hohmann commissioned for Sound Symposium 2018 for performance at Cape Spear National Historic Site. Based on documentation of the concert and interviews with artists and organizers, the performance is analysed in relation to acoustic ecology as developed by R. Murray Schafer and the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology (e.g. Westerkamp, Järviluoma, Brandt, and Drever), problematized through theories of mediation (Ouzounian 2017) and generative listening (Voegelin 2011). When we listen, we conjure up sonic affect in the form of feelings, memories, and associations and this is surely where the performative force of sound art lies. In this paper, I turn environmental sound art on its ear and speak instead of the improvisatory and performative nature of environmental listening.