21. November 2014: Workshop with Hermann Schmitz (Kiel): Atmosphere | Music. Resonances of New Phenomenology and Musicology

Workshop with Prof. em. Hermann Schmitz:
Atmosphere | Music. Resonances of
New Phenomenology and Musicology

Friedlind Riedel

At the end of November , Hermann Schmitz introduced and discussed some of his key concepts, such as encorporation, resonance, movement suggestions, half-things, and surfaceless space, and related them to music. He writes that music's capacity to suggest movement in regard to rhythm, pitch/melody, or harmony presages specific intrusive movements that advance into the felt body in the form of dance or march music. But it is not just music that is (more than) emblematic to theories of atmosphere; phenomena of sound more broadly are constitutive examples in Schmitz' line of argument. These sonic instances, such as clapping, drumming, mass ecstasies of communal shouting or rhythmical calls are constitutive of what he calls "corporeal communication" (leibliche Kommunikation).

In this New Phenomenological take, music (and sound) is not to be reduced to a possible musical text (sheet music) nor to its mere acoustic momentum; rather, music is conceptually located as pertaining to the realm of the felt body (Leib). Music immediately suggests itself to the notion of atmosphere: in Schmitz' ontology, both music and atmosphere are identified as half-things and their respective spaces are surfaceless spaces. This apparent nexus calls for a reciprocal approach to both atmosphere and music that may foster the genesis of a nuanced and tangible concept of atmosphere just as it may open up new approaches to situations of music making.

The workshop brought together researchers from various disciplinary backgrounds (musicology. anthropology, geography, philosophy) who, in short papers, presented critical readings of Schmitz's work, who in turn was given the opportunity to respond. Discussion then opened to the floor. Respondents included: Tonino Griffero, Birgit Abels, Friedlind Riedel, and Robert Seyfert.