Making music matter

Fraser, Mariam. 2005. Making music matter. Theory Culture & Society, 22(1), pp. 173-189. ISSN 14603616 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

This article is based on a performance piece, Thought Conductor # 2, by the artist Bruce Gilchrist. In a live-art context, the signals generated by an individual hooked up to an EEG are converted into passages of musical notation and played by a string quartet. What is happening here, or rather what kind of happening is taking place, is the focus of this article. The article explores the relations between the author, the score, and the sound in Thought Conductor # 2 as well in John Cage’s 4’33" (1952), the landmark work that inspired the Thought Conductor pieces, and which has been described as one of the first happenings in America. These key elements offer clues to the different kinds of ‘presences’ that the performances embody, and the different notions of ‘life’ to which they refer. The sound of TC2 is the sound of an event.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


author, event, life, pattern, performance, score, sound, music

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Sociology > Centre for Study of Invention and Social Process (CSISP) [2003-2015]


1 February 2005Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

12 Mar 2009 15:42

Last Modified:

07 Jul 2017 11:26

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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