Sound and Decolonized Knowledge: the Radio Composer as Ethnographer
In the international field of radio art, composers increasingly use documentary sound to address social, political and cultural realities of subaltern groups. They combine recordings, that result from ethnographic and archival research, with electroacoustic music into hybrid pieces, engaging with academic discourses of post- and decolonial studies. This art form constitutes a rich field to study sound and knowledge formation and yet, it remains unexplored. Filling this gap, my project will study the use of radiophonic sound in creating and presenting knowledge about subaltern realities and histories, and the sound practices and aesthetics this gives rise to. Innovatively joining approaches from sound and cultural studies with a musicological attentiveness to the historical layers and dramaturgy of sound and music, I will make an in-depth study of the influential German Klangkunst radio program on Deutschlandfunk Kultur between 2009 and 2020 and 5 works it produced. Through archival study, I first trace the transfers of academic knowledge about listening and decolonization in the discourse of this institutional context of radio art. Then, I analyze how artists apply such knowledge in using sound as an epistemic form in their research process and in the dramaturgy and compositional form of their pieces. In so doing, I contribute to the growing musicological study of radio art and I illuminate how music and sound art engage in the topical issue of decolonizing knowledge.