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1- Ghostbusting: Reframing Modular Synthesis’ Ghosts of Technoscientific Past with Suzanne Ciani - Allison Sokil, University of Toronto

9:00 AM, Sunday 26 May 2019 (2 hours)
Coffee break   11:00 AM to 11:30 AM (30 minutes)
The historiography of electronic music remains primarily framed by the “ghosts of technoscientific projects past” (Rodgers 2012, 475): discourses situated around men, machines, and the military. From the earliest discussions of noise by twentieth-century Futurists to contemporary narratives outlining the rise of commercial synthesizers, the presence, or “ghosts,” of power, masculinity, and war continue to preside over the (re)telling of the history of electronic music instruments and synthesis (Pinch and Trocco 2002; Rodgers 2010, 2012; Taylor and Grajeda 2012). Ethnomusicologists often engage in bringing these ghosts and spectres of power into focus, most frequently in discussions of privilege and race in processes of music-making and sound scholarship (Jackson 2006, 282; Radano and Bohlman 2000, 1). In this paper, I will expand on this exegetical frame through an exploration of an alternate narration of the history of commercial synthesizers through the work of composer, sound designer, and Buchla innovator and performer, Suzanne Ciani. Presenting Ciani as a “ghost-buster” of sorts, a figure who materializes and illuminates the complexities of power present in the widely accessible histories of commercial synthesizers, this paper presents a reassessment of the development of modular synthesis and performance through a critical perspective addressing intersecting issues of gender, race, and affect in electronic music production’s past and present.
University of Toronto
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