Jonathan de Souza: Orchestral Bodies

Event date: 
Wednesday 27 May

Jonathan de SouzaOrchestral Bodies
In a modern symphony orchestra, more than a hundred players coordinate their actions and the sounds they produce. This ensemble is often understood metaphorically, as a model for society, as a kind of machine or body, or in terms of neural dynamics in the brain. But how do members of an orchestra play together? How do they communicate and respond to each other? Some ideas from phenomenology (and recent cognitive science) can illuminate these processes of embodied interaction. The orchestra’s size further suggests that such processes are thoroughly mediated. What technologies, techniques, or musical features facilitate players’ interactions? Ultimately, this investigation considers music as a medium for social interaction—a kind of ‘social media’. Orchestral performance, then, might be examined via social network analysis, and it might reveal links among aesthetic, technical, and social or political domains.

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