Towards an Aesthetic of Resistance

Redgate, Roger. 2015. 'Towards an Aesthetic of Resistance'. In: For Cryin' Outloud: Music and Politics. University of Utrecht, Netherlands 6-8 September 2015. [Conference or Workshop Item]

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Abstract or Description

I recently convened a conference on compositional aesthetics and the political aimed at inviting composers, performers, and improvisers to discuss how their work might be socially or politically informed. I was both surprised and disappointed by how many speakers used the political as a rather tenuous label to hang on their work, or commented on how music was powerless to change anything.

This would seem to be a symptom of the kind of corporate values which seek to articulate the ‘commodification’ of music, not only undermining its true sense of value, but further concealing a far more profound and insidious form of oppression and manipulation that often goes unrecognized, and strangely, on a much deeper level, often making complicit many of those who claim to oppose it. This complicity is in itself a kind of political involvement, however naïve or shortsighted, and in one sense makes music’s essential ‘deep rooted-ness’ in society more of a superficial market based interaction, on so many levels.

The notion, therefore, that composers and musicians are losing contact with society is perhaps the inverse, that society is so conditioned as to become alienated giving rise to a gradual evaporation of music’s innate meaning and value. How are we as composers and musicians to respond to this?

My title intentionally evokes the work of Peter Weiss who suggests that meaning lies in the refusal to renounce resistance, no matter how intense the oppression, and that it is in art that new models of political action and social understanding are to be found.
This paper, therefore, explores this dialogue and asks what, in artistic terms, the nature of such a resistance might be, why is it necessary at this time, and how might it help lead to a deeper understanding of social meaning and values?

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Music > Contemporary Music Research Unit


September 2015Accepted

Event Location:

University of Utrecht, Netherlands

Date range:

6-8 September 2015

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

21 Oct 2019 13:59

Last Modified:

21 Oct 2019 13:59


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