The Entanglements which make Instruments Musical: Rediscovering Sociality

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A thing becomes a musical instrument by virtue of its use in a social context, a use of which its initial intended design (if it had one) forms only a part: sometimes a very small part. Drawing on the notion of the ‘performance ecosystem’ this paper suggests that instrument designers/makers working with digital technologies might fruitfully attend further to the social contexts/constructs that characterise every level of musicking. It looks at the emergent, situated co-development of player, instrument and environment, suggesting that humans habitually use instruments to sense out, test and probe the possibilities of self-other relations in dynamic, mutually-engaging, and often playful and improvised behaviours.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)133-146
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of New Music Research
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2021


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