European Voices III

Instrumentation and Instrumentalization of Sound
Local Multipart Music Cultures and Politics in Europe

The instrumentation of sound is an inseparable part of music making processes in traditional cultures. It has to do not simply with the combination possibilities of components within a musical ensemble, but a lot more with the formation and perception of a common sound familiar to a certain community. This process is crucial particularly for multipart music or - as they are often called - polyphonic traditions. It is not a coincidence that their carriers' impression of "belonging together" is remarkably strong.

In spite of the intensive research carried out, multipart music traditions have hardly been investigated from the viewpoint of the sound instrumentation. The common sound of an ensemble produced through the simultaneous performance of several instruments and/or human voices differs from the sound each member of the ensemble produces separately. Therefore its formation and perception should be investigated independently. Both processes and their continual transformations are closely connected with physical, psychoacoustical and cultural phenomena.

Research into performers' sound instrumentation strategies accompanied by computer-supported analysis of sound characteristics would be one of the approaches to obtain answers on the topic. Especially enlightening in this context are shared musical traditions of communities of different languages and ethnic belonging, which is often the case in cross border areas in Europe.

Research on sound instrumentation and its perception leads inevitably to questions of power relations in the processes of music making and music performance. Through this approach primarily the politics within and outside the community would be focused upon. In this context the understanding of communication as a category of the claim of validity of rules and as a strong factor in processes of legitimating and power is of essential significance.

Conducting research on these questions would allow furthermore obtaining a better perspective on "universals" and "locals" of instrumentation and instrumentalization of sound.