Workshop on Musicological Approaches Toward Theories of Atmospheres, 14.02.2014

The workshop on the concept of "atmosphere" on the 14th of February at our Department in Göttingen was attended by nine participants. Among them were Gregor Herzfeld (FU Berlin), who was invited as a discussant, Birgit Abels and Friedlind Riedel. Based on publications written by these three discussants we engaged in debates about musical atmospheres in relation to our respective case studies.

In the course of a lively discussion, we asked for the ontological status of atmospheres. Are atmospheres located between or beyond subject and object or are they entirely subjective? Can they be grasped via a description of the constellation of things as Gernot Böhme proposes or are they, rather, situations, an "ontology determination of the atmospheric" as proposed by Hermann Schmitz? Can we engage with the atmosphere of a musical situation from the past by analyzing sheet music? Eventually, how are "music" and "atmosphere" conceptually related? Does music contribute to an atmosphere or does it have its own secluded atmosphere? Should musicological writing about atmospheres represent the particular atmosphere it engages with and if yes, what kind of language would we need?

Far from answering these questions this workshop was rather fruitful in bringing about new matters each of us may engage with in his/her future work. All in all we realized that there is a lot of potential in the notion of "atmosphere", and cultural musicology may offer a pivotal contribution to the concept.