A NIME of the Times: Developing an Outward-Looking Political Agenda For This Community



John Sullivan

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Fabio Morreale, Astrid Bin, Andrew McPherson, Paul Stapleton, Marcelo M. Wanderley

Publication or Conference Title:

Proceedings of the 2020 International Conference on New Interfaces for Musical Expression (NIME 2020)


So far, NIME research has been mostly inward-looking, dedicated to divulging and studying our own work and having limited engagement with trends outside our community. Though musical instruments as cultural artefacts are inherently political, we have so far not sufficiently engaged with confronting these themes in our own research. In this paper we argue that we should consider how our work is also political, and begin to develop a clear political agenda that includes social, ethical, and cultural considerations through which to consider not only our own musical instruments, but also those not created by us. Failing to do so would result in an unintentional but tacit acceptance and support of such ideologies. We explore one item to be included in this political agenda: the recent trend in music technology of “democratising music”, which carries implicit political ideologies grounded in techno-solutionism. We conclude with a number of recommendations for stimulating community-wide discussion on these themes in the hope that this leads to the development of an outward-facing perspective that fully engages with political topics.

Publication Details:

Conference Paper
Birmingham, UK

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