welcome

Welcome to the website for  Music: Parts and Labor, the inaugural graduate student conference of the New York Univerisity Department of Music.  Please navigate using the links at left.

Music: Parts and Labor will take place on April 27-28, 2012, at the Department of Music at NYU.  It will be an integrative, interdisciplinary graduate student conference that allows professors (faculty from both NYU and other universities in the New York area) and graduate students to collaboratively explore the issues of music, its parts and labor, by working closely in seminars, panels, and a roundtable.

If you are interested in participating in either or both of the Bagel Breakfast Seminars, please email Siv Lie at sbl326@nyu.edu for details and seminar materials.


Angry face
photo courtesy of numbphoto


c o n f e r e n c e considerations


In 360 B.C., Plato writes on the proper usage of certain melodies for specific types of music to maintain an orderly public.  In 1717, the first singing school is established in Boston, Massachusetts. In 1962, a composer puts his pencil to paper and sketches the first verse of a corrido that will mobilize farm workers in California. A stagehand lugs a speaker into place in preparation for an evening concert. On a Sunday in the West Sepik Province of Papau New Guinea, a pastor rings a bell, calling the Urapim community to church. An American anthropologist notes that prayers and Christian hymns follow. In 1913, Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring premieres in Paris and prompts a riot. In 2011, an agent files a copyright for a new song, and just days later, a teenager illegally uploads an MP3 of the song from her apartment in New York City. Headphones on, she filters the sounds outside of feet stomping, hands clapping, and voices soaring in rhythmic protest. Through historical processes and transregional mobilities, people invest energy in particular practices and spaces in what becomes coded and exchanged globally as the “musical work” or a “musical object.”


The constitution of a musical work is a topic of much historical debate in musicological, philosophical, and legal discourses. Music: Parts and Labor is an interdisciplinary conference that aims to interrogate what is at stake in challenging or maintaining certain conceptualizations of the musical work by dismantling it, examining the parts (e.g. intellectual, material) and labor (e.g. intellectual, material) constitutive of its being. We ask how thinking through the labor of the musical work itself, as a part of larger corporeal, cultural, and economic systems provides unique insight into these often intertwined networks and, in turn, music’s efficacy and functionality. Scholars working within the Western Marxist tradition have broadened the associations of labor as well as the labor theory of value from their initial associations with the working class thereby allowing them to span across age, race, gender, and class lines. We encourage dialogue on both the applicability of these concepts in global scope and local scale and also explorations of alternative models that address similar generative and organizational mechanisms and spaces. We warmly invite scholars from across all disciplines to submit abstracts that consider how investigating the parts and labor of the musical work, and the musical work as parts and labor, allows us to understand these contested objects as dynamic and vital to the contested spaces of personal lives and global economies that define and are defined by them.