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The University of Southampton

A Distinguished Lecture with Professor Alex Rehding Event

Web Science Institute
Professor Alex Rehding
16:00 - 17:00
29 October 2018
University of Southampton, Education Building (B34), Room 3001, Highfield Campus, Southampton, SO17 1BJ

For more information regarding this event, please telephone Sam Collins on 023 80 593826 or email .

Event details

The WSI are delighted to announce that Alex Rehding, Fanny Peabody Professor of Music at Harvard University will deliver the next Distinguished Lecture on Monday 29 October 2018.

It is All Data: Music, Technology, Alien Ears

NASA’s Voyager space mission (1977) shot a Golden Record into outer space containing a compilation of world music. While at the time it was seen as a largely symbolic gesture, the recent discovery of countless exoplanets has given renewed urgency to the question of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. What will actually happen if, hundreds or thousands of years from now, extraterrestrials find the Golden Record? Can we assume that they have ears? What does listening even mean in this exoplanetary context? Interestingly, the B-side includes a series of visual images from earth, which are digitally encoded on the gramophone disc, effectively turning light and colors into sonic data. The fact that humans can “hear” these images as a curious kind of music, a low buzz, is almost an accident—they can serve to test the limits of sensory perception in this broadest of contexts. Is it vision? Is it audition? At the most basic level, it is all data. While an answer about non-human perception must necessarily remain speculative, the Golden Record highlights the slippery boundaries between sensory modalities in this broadest of contexts.

All are welcome, but please register you attendance via the bookable link above.

Speaker information

Alex Rehding,, is a Professor of Music at Harvard University., His work is located at the intersection between music theory and cultural history. His publications include Hugo Riemann and the Birth of Modern Musical Thought (2003), Music and Monumentality (2009) and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony (2017). Rehding has also co-edited Music Theory and Natural Order (2001), The Oxford Handbook of Neo-Riemannian Studies (2011), and Music in Time (2016). Recent work has also taken Rehding toward media studies and transcultural work, in such articles as “Instruments of Music Theory” and the online exhibition Sounding China. A former editor of Acta musicologica, Rehding is editor-in-chief of the Oxford Music Handbook series and series co-editor of Bloomsbury’s Cultural History of Music. Rehding’s awards include a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Dent Medal (2014).

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