Entanglements and Imperatives: Music Analysis Now


We live on a planet facing a multitude of existential challenges: systemic racism, religious intolerance, gender- and sex-based violence, climate change, violent assaults on democratic principles, pandemics, to name just a few. What possible role might music scholarship play—including music analysis—in addressing these challenges, in changing the world?

My paper addresses the roles that today’s music creators play in addressing the planet’s existential challenges. Further, I suggest that there is an imperative for music scholars to study music of the present while at the same time working to uncover the entanglements of our profession that sustain these existential challenges. I briefly address four musical works that resonate directly or indirectly with the existential challenges of the present to exemplify my analytical practice. The purpose here is not to define a new paradigm but rather to model a framework for proceeding. The works are: The Body of the State (2017) by Eliza Brown; Letters to George (2022) by George (John Hollenbeck, Anna Webber, Aurora Nealand, Chiquita Magic); Nyakinyua Rise by Jlin; and Everything Rises (2022) by Ken Ueno, Jennifer Koh, and Davóne Tines.



Judith Lochhead

Judith Lochhead

Judith Lochhead is a music scholar whose work focuses on music of the present, with particular emphasis on music practices in North America and Europe. Some recent and forthcoming work includes: Sound and Affect: Sound, Music, World, eds. Lochhead, Eduardo Mendieta, and Stephen Decatur Smith (University of Chicago Press, 2021); “Music Places: Imaginative Transports of Listening,” The Oxford Handbook of Sound and Imagination, Volume I, eds. Mark Grimshaw-Aagaard, Mads Walther-Hansen, and Martin Knakkergaard; “The New Music Scene: Passionate Commitment in the Twenty-first Century Gig Economy,” Forum: Boundaries of the New, Twentieth-Century Music (2019); “Émilie du Châtelet,
Kaija Saariaho and Heroes of the 21st Century,” The Heroic in Music from Medieval Times to the Present Day, eds. Katherine Butler and Beate Kutschke (Boydell Press, 2022); “On Kaija Saariaho’s Microsonology,” Oxford Handbook on Spectral Music, eds. Amy Bauer, Liam Cagney, and William Mason (pre-print online); “Timbre Realities,” forthcoming in the Oxford Handbook on the Phenomenology of Music, eds. Jonathan De Souza, Jessica Wiskus; and “Multiplicities, Truth, Ethics: A Queering Analysis of Chaya Czernowin’s Anea Crystal,” forthcoming in Queer Music Theory, ed. Gavin Lee. Lochhead is the series editor of the Ashgate Studies in Music Analysis and Theory in Music since 1900 (Routledge); co-editor of Postmodern Music/Postmodern Thought (Routledge, 2002) and Music’s Immanent Future (Ashgate, 2016); and author of Reconceiving Structure in Contemporary Music (Routledge, 2016) Lochhead teaches at Stony Brook University.