DFG Project "Materiality and Knowledge. The Aesthetics of the Music Archive as an Institution"

Historical sound recording archives are places of knowledge. This knowledge is simultaneously constructed through and part of the materiality of the sound objects that contain them, and it resides in the order of knowledge that they produce and represent as well as in the institutions that they both stand for and are a part of. Considering and building on recent developments in critical archival theory, this project argues that the relevance of sound archives for and their potential influence on contemporary musical practices and discourses are not only achieved through the historical narrative that they afford, but are also attained through their distinctive aesthetic.

This distinctive aesthetic is here understood as those effects that make the material's articulation, prefiguration, and manifestation of a hierarchical order of knowledge sense-able. Making orders of knowledge perceptible in this way does not happen through singular archival material. Rather, such ordering happens through archival structuring, which gives archives a specific form that can, in turn, become semantically and symbolically charged. Simultaneously, the archive labels and categorizes itself and builds itself as a structure so that a self-referential, inner-archival structure emerges. This results in an archive-specific mode of transmission that, like other aesthetic forms, has affective potential. This distinctive archival aesthetic and its far-reaching analytical potential for musicology at large are the focus of the proposed research project. Concretely, this entails the systematic analysis of various archives containing North Indian raga music. The van Lamsweerde collection, stored at the Musicological Department at the Georg August University Göttingen, is the project's core analytical material. At the end of the project, a highly academically relevant collection will be accessible for future research. On a theoretical level, this transdisciplinary, pioneering research project examines the exceptional and exceptionally powerful specifics of sound archives as locations of knowledge.