Lecture 1: What is Speculative Music Composition?

Composition Forum. Prof. Ming Tsao, Gøteborg In collaboration with the Arne Nordheim Centre for Artistic Research.

  • Onsdag 1. mars 2017
  • 15.30
  • Auditoriet
  • Gratis


The “speculative turn” in music composition today is indeed not to excise music’s resemblance to language, and by extension music’s capacity for expression, but to decenter music’s humanized expression from its privileged position for the possibility of a music independent of language, thought and intentions, where music’s materiality can exceed human agency. The music of composer Ming Tsao engages with this form of musical expression that makes the connections between romanticism and formal rigor, extreme expressionistic abstraction and documentary “authenticity.” In working with expressionism as a way to let the material express itself but without psychologizing is to renew the idea of the lyric in contemporary music that subsequently becomes fractured, damaged, multi-perspective, complex and problematized in order to negotiate the complexities of the surrounding world. Lyrical subjectivity is ultimately placed in a sound world outside of consciousness rather than a sound world fully endowed with consciousness thus placing the listener in a space where we are required to rethink our personhood within a larger domain of life, a “new-other" singing which is the lyric of the Anthropocene.

I will discuss these ideas in relationship to my string quartet Pathology of Syntax and my recent opera Mirandas Atemwende.