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Susanne Heiter

Animalistic sounds? On the borders between nature and culture in music after 1950

With this project, the biologist and musician Susanne Heiter examines the role of animals as musicians or producers of sound in music after 1950 and analyzes the function of animal sounds in contemporary compositions. Obviously, composers explore the question if and to what extent animals can act intentionally and be part of aesthetic actions. They do so in a artistic-experimental manner and question the borders conventionally drawn between man/animal and culture/nature within a changing view of both world and mankind. Thus, within the music context, artists pose the same questions that the science currently discusses within the context of the so-called “Animal Studies”. Musicology, however, has still not begun to reflect on the artistic research done by contemporary composers.

Since experimental works as those examined in this project defy traditional methods of analysis because of their performative dimension, a concert is planned. The dynamics that arise while rehearsing and performing the pieces will contribute to the development of a multi-dimensional method of analysis which not only considers the written fixation of music as a score but also takes the performative aspect of compositions into account.

Born 1976 in Vienna/Austria. Heiter studied biology with an area of concentration in genetics at Vienna University. Research projects at the Department for Animal Breeding and Genetics of the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna and at Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin-Buch. Teacher training in music at the Berlin University of the Arts (organ). Stipendiary of the Graduate School for the Arts and Sciences since January 2009.