S C O T T E R I C P E T E R S E N

Composer, electronic musician, improviser

brian kane

Brian Kane holds degrees from the University of California, Berkeley (B.A. in Philosophy, 1996; Ph.D. in Music, 2006). Prior to joining the faculty at Yale, he was a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in Music at Columbia University (2006-2008).

As a scholar, Kane has been pursuing interdisciplinary research, working in the margins between music theory, composition and philosophy. The music-theoretical work centers on questions of sound and signification, working primarily with 20th century repertoire. Some central research themes concern the relationship between music and skepticism; musical ontology; phenomenology; improvisation; subjectivity, in particular the persistence of the musical subject in recent critical theory and psychoanalytical approaches to the musical self.

Some of these themes are interwoven in Kane’s recent work on acousmatic sound. Acousmatic refers to the separation of audition from all other sensory modalities, and is often deployed in phenomenological contexts in order to disclose the “essence” of listening. In particular, Kane is currently involved in a large project that rethinks the question of acousmatic sound outside of its phenomenological context and demonstrates its centrality to current discourses on musical and cultural forms of listening. This also involves reconstructing the ideological and material history of acousmatic sound from its supposed origins in the Pythagorean school, through the rise of mechanically reproduced sound and electronic composition, to current discourses on the senses and contemporary compositional practices.

Parts of this project were published in Organised Sound (“L’objet Sonore Maintenant: Pierre Schaeffer, Sound Objects and the Phenomenological Reduction”), and presented in recent talks at the University of California, Berkeley (“The Logic of Listening”) and at the Sorbonne (“L’acousmatique mythique: Reconsidering the Pythagorean Veil”). Other articles and reviews have appeared in qui parle, Current Musicology and Contemporary Music Review.

Upcoming projects include: a paper on musique concrete and Jean-Luc Nancy (as part of a special panel on Nancy at the SMT 2008 conference); an article on rhythm and synaesthesia in 20th century aesthetic discourses; and a paper for the conference “Listening In/Feeding Back” (Feb. 2009, Columbia University)

Kane is also a composer with an oeuvre of works for orchestra, chamber ensembles, vocalists, solo instruments, electronic music, sound installations and more. He has received performances around the United States and in Europe. In addition, Kane is also a dedicated jazz guitarist with a decade and half of professional experience.

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Handmade instruments by Scott Petersen and Brian Kane at Artspace New Haven

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