Music is a performance art and exists within and through performance. This implies that music is not a thing but a series of dynamic and related occurrences. The central question in the research is how we, as musicologists, might be able to study such a constellation of occurrences of ongoing becoming.
Musicologist Carolyn Abbate points out that musicologists are unable fully to capture the dynamic realities of music-as-performance (“drastic”) in thought or language (“gnostic”), because one cannot simultaneously be part of a performance and conceptualise intellectually the process of performing and everything that accompanies it.
The dynamics of becoming
In order to find a possible solution to Abbate’s problem, Pranger reads her argumentation together with the insights of physicist and feminist theorist Karen Barad. Barad starts from the assumption that matter and meaning are inherently tied together, and that all being is inseparable from the dynamics of becoming. She argues that everything emerges from within and through occurrences called “intra-actions” —relatings through and within which all forms of being continuously are coming into existence in their specificity, including “us.”
The entwinement of intra-actions
Barad thus invites us to study music not in terms of pre-given elements and structures, but to study the entwinement of intra-actions and the specific music and knowledge produced.