Sonic obstacles and conceptual nostalgia: preliminary considerations on musical conceptualism and contemporary art


  • Iain Campbell University of Dundee



New Music, conceptualism, contemporary art, Johannes Kreidler, postconceptual art


This paper is concerned with the aesthetic and discursive gap between music and contemporary art, and the recent attempts to remedy this in the field of New Music through a notion of “New Conceptualism.” It examines why, despite musical sources being central to the emergence of conceptual artistic strategies in the 1950s and “60s, the worlds of an increasingly transmedial “generic art” and music have remained largely distinct. While it takes New Music’s New Conceptualism as its focus, it argues that the perspective on New Music it takes has wider implications in music and art. It begins by defining what exactly “New Music” refers to, and outlines some of the conditions for the recent rise of conceptualism in New Music. It then takes the work of the composer Johannes Kreidler as a key example of some artistic tendencies and theoretical presuppositions in New Conceptualism. Following this it draws on work in the field of sound studies in order to critically examine the theoretical attempt to connect New Music with contemporary art that is found in the notion of “Music in the Expanded Field.” To conclude it offers some reflections on how a more robust conversation between contemporary art and New Music can begin to be conceived.

Author Biography

Iain Campbell, University of Dundee

Iain Campbell is a Postdoctoral Research Assistant in Contemporary Art Theory at Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design, Unviersity of Dundee.