From structural theories like Serialism to conspiracies regarding a supposedly perfect tuning frequency to the super-polished production expectations of contemporary club music, the general terms that determine our sense of music and contemporariness are constantly changing. In the 21st century, we witness particularly dramatic alterations, which often derive from the fact that musicianship has been re-envisioned and refashioned into something more open-ended, and thus into something that is accessible through online content environments and the online underground communities that surround them. This raises important questions regarding the discourse on what music making really is and what it is comprised of today. What can be subsumed under the concept of the ‘musical object’? What does this general term imply and allude to?
According to Adam Harper’s book Infinite Music, musical objects are neither necessarily sonic in nature nor do they represent all possible subcategories of music. They are more complex and more widely defined than genres; they can be performances, theories, music culture environments, melodies, visuals, text elements, and samples. Music makers sampling sounds from all different sources appropriate them to create something entirely new- for instance, the Amen break, the Ha. The “Ha”, originally sampled by Masters at Work in their track “The Ha Dance”, was for instance pulled from an Eddie Murphy film entitled Trading Spaces and has since become a signature sound for the vogue/ballroom scene. How does one sample become ubiquitous and in fact a defining trait of a whole genre? What causes this attachment and how are such identities formed? Today, the concept of the ‘musical object’ has become so infinite that it can be applied to anything that contributes to the music production process. In this panel, we aim to examine the fields of both musicology and sociology in order to better understand the concept of the ‘musical object’ in the 21st century, asking essentially how it sculpts our sense of music making as well as our experiences, expectations, and scenes.