Undisciplining music: Artistic research and historiographic activism

  • Luca Chiantore Universidade de Aveiro


Disciplining Music, by Katherine Bergeron and Philip Bohlman, was an iconic book along the road towards rethinking the relations between what were then three apparently separate fields: historical musicology, ethnomusicology, and musical practice itself. Since that distant 1992, the upsurge in theoretical perspectives and research experiences in these and other fields has intensified so much that this very interaction has spawned new opportunities for reflection and action. This article focuses on the potential of the interaction between artistic reflection and alternative historiographic perspectives, one that will be applied to the canonic repertoire of Western classical music to show how the existence of a precise tradition can turn performance into a laboratory for experimentation for both musicians and scholars. Taking as a reference point the relation between activism and performance in the writings of Richard Schechner and Dwight Conquergood, and the idea of "declassification" as shaped by Antonio García Gutiérrez, I propose the concept of historiographic activism as a specific framework for possible applications in Artistic Research to tap music's potential to bring about individual and collective changes.