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Popular Music and Musical Notation

Posted: January 8th, 2024 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | Comments Off on Popular Music and Musical Notation

Call for Submissions for a Special Issue of Die Tonkunst: “Popular Music and Musical Notation
edited by Janine Droese and Knut Holtsträter

Popular music is – within and outside of the academic discourse – often associated with immediacy and spontaneous creativity. This might be one reason why the role of musical notation in the production and distribution of popular music has received very little scholarly attention yet. Where the production and planning processes of popular music as well as its distribution are studied, the focus is mainly on analogue and digital audio media.

However, it can be assumed that nearly all genres of popular music – understood here in a very broad sense, including video game music, film music, jazz, “Schlager”, Broadway and Hollywood musical etc. – make use of musical notation. It plays an integral part in the production processes (composing and arranging, rehearsing and performing as well as recording) and sometimes even in distribution. It serves as a tool for self-documentation, for creativity and self-assertion of composers as well as for coordination of groups of performers, among others. A closer look at how musical notation is embedded in the field of popular music not only blurs the boundaries between the spheres of Western art music and popular music; as has been shown by some explorative scholarly studies, we can expect to find musical notation and with it traces of cultural practices that rely on the writing of music even in areas where it might be not expected at all, as, e.g., notated free jazz and music manuscripts in the high-tech rock studio. In recent years, more and more estates of twentieth-century popular music artists have been made accessible for scholarly research by archives and libraries. This makes it easier to evaluate the role of music manuscripts for the field of popular music, and to gain more insight into the ways and contexts in which these manuscripts were produced and used.

The aim of the planned thematic issue of Die Tonkunst is to shed more light on the relation between popular music and musical notation. The editors invite contributions to any aspect of the topic. Articles might, for example, address issues such as:

  • The form and function of music manuscripts or prints in different genres and music-making contexts
  • Writing music as part of the production process in popular music
  • Musical notation in popular music and its publication and distribution networks
  • Writing music as a commercial service in popular music
  • Music manuscripts and the legal aspects of popular music production (e.g., copyright)
  • Skills in musical notation as a professional requirement in popular music
  • Music manuscripts and the role of the arranger
  • Musical notation and the identity of the artist
  • Musical autographs and questions of authorization
  • Specialised types of musical notation in relation to instruments, genres and performance contexts
  • History of musical notation in different genres
  • Practices and types of musical shorthand
  • Music manuscripts in a post-colonial world
  • Music manuscripts and biases of education, age, class, race and gender

All contributions will be in English. Language editing will be provided for contributions of non-native speakers.

Articles should include no more than 5000 words (inclusive of notes and bibliography). By 1 March 2024, please send abstracts of no more than 2000 characters (including spaces) as well as a short academic CV to Dr Janine Droese ([email protected]) and Dr Knut Holtsträter ([email protected]). Notifications of acceptance will be sent by 11 March 2024. If your submission is accepted for inclusion, please be prepared to send a completed essay by 15 October 2024. The special issue is aimed for publication in April 2025.

For more information on the journal, see: https://www.die-tonkunst.de.