Imagining Democracy in Music: Lessons from the Past

Research output: Contribution to specialist publicationArticle


If democracy may be understood as a set of rules and principles governing associational life, then music lends itself to ‘embodying democracy’ in a variety of ways: for instance, through the relationship of constituent elements within a compositional structure; through the relationships between individual musicians forged by a musical work or genre; through the working relationships of particular performers as they plan, rehearse and perform; through the relationships that music constructs between performers and other parties, such as the composer, audience, employer and patron; and so on. These potentialities have attracted the attention of many musicians, who have seen in music the possibility of modelling new or ideal kinds of democratic social arrangement. In this article I briefly assess a number of these attempts, drawn from diverse musical genres. I will suggest how the models of democracy thus developed inevitably entail constraints, alongside their promises of emancipation and mutual benefit.
Original languageEnglish
Specialist publicationDarmstädter Beiträge zur Neuen Musik
PublisherSchott Music GmbH & Co
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 16 Jul 2019

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Imagining Democracy in Music: Lessons from the Past'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this