Seminar Series in Analytic Philosophy 2020-21, Session 25

The Ontology of Rock Music: Recordings, Studio-Performances or Songs?
Hugo Luzio (LanCog, University of Lisbon)

21 May 2021, 16:00 (Lisbon Time – GMT+1) | Sala Mattos Romão (Departamento de Filosofia) & on Zoom

Abstract: Ontologists of music (generally) agree that classical works are pieces (or compositions) for live performance. But, just as classical works from different historical periods may be ontologically diverse, so may works from different (non-classical or non-Western) musical traditions. In this talk, I discuss the ontological nature of rock works. I start by distinguishing between the fundamental and the comparative levels of enquiry in musical ontology. I then present and discuss the three main ontological accounts of rock music. The recording-centered account (Gracyk 1996, Kania 2006) claims that rock works are recordings for playback in appropriate devices. The studio-performance account (Davies 2001) claims that rock works are for a special kind of performance that takes place in the recording studio. Finally, the song-centered account (Bruno 2013) claims that rock works are songs. I argue, first, that the recording-centered account has unreasonable consequences towards the status of recorded covers, remixes, remasters, and unrecorded (rock) songs. I then argue that the studio-performance account is in tension with the (sometimes, radical) temporal and spatial disunity of some studio recordings. I close by offering some reasons for thinking that a song-centered account can accommodate the distinctive importance of recording and performative practices in rock music.

Free Attendance, but preregistration required: