‘Translating Cultures’ A collaborative research project between Manuella Blackburn and Milapfest

Dr Manuella Blackburn, lecturer at Liverpool Hope University, has been awarded an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Early Career Research Fellowship starting in October 2012 in collaboration with project partners Milapfest entitled: Intercultural creativity in electroacoustic music: Integrating Indian music cultural sound emblems into new works.

Below, Manuella tells us a little bit more about the work she’s doing: 

(Taken from Manuella’s research blog)

For those who would like to know more about my collaborative research project with Milapfest, I have included some of my AHRC application details below:

My project will address the current ‘Translating Cultures’ highlight notice by establishing a framework for understanding processes of musical exchange across cultural boundaries. In this case, the culture in translation is Indian music culture, but in practice the framework I am developing will be applicable to a wider range of multicultural situations. My research will focus on how Indian cultural sound emblems signify and communicate within the context of electroacoustic music composition. I define cultural sound emblems as units of audio information extracted from a cultural tradition different to my own, and distinct from what are to me, as a composer of electroacoustic music of British/Colombian extraction, more culturally familiar and abundant sound sources.

Within the practice of electroacoustic music composition (using technology to explore, create and perform sounds not limited to traditional instrumental sources), and especially acousmatic music (music for loudspeakers where sound materials are invisible to the listener) recorded sound often provides the starting point for creative work. The choice of source material is seemingly as “wide as the environment itself” (Emmerson, 1986), but what are the ethical considerations here? Should we as composers assume unrestricted access and proprietary rights over this substantial resource?

Further to this starting point of inquiry, the following research questions require consideration

  •  Is the ‘open’ sound world of electroacoustic music really as wide open as we think (ie. are certain sounds ‘off-limits’ with respect to issues of cultural or social sensitivity?)
  • What does it mean to borrow cultural sound emblems ‘respectfully’?
  • How do electroacoustic compositional processes foster or obstruct the communication of culture through sonic means?
  • How does the inclusion of cultural sound emblems impact upon multi-cultural audiences and how are these sounds interpreted?
  • Do relationships with cultural sound change over time (ie. when do sounds stop being unfamiliar and exotic)?

Read more about Manuella’s research at http://manuellablackburn.blogspot.co.uk/

The collaboration is made possible through Milapfest’s partnership with Liverpool Hope University and through funding by the Arts and Humanities Research Council.


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