Humanities Forum - Brian Bridges, “Experimental Music as ‘Environ–mental’: what music's fringes can tell us about how we view (and create) our world”

Wednesday, February 26, 2014 ( 1:00 pm to 2:00 pm )

Location: Morton 324, Stevens Institute of Technology

[email protected]

Experimental musics are extreme cases of sonic organization, defying easy categorization as ‘music.’ They situate themselves as disruptive agents at music’s fringes, either by tugging gently at loose threads of cultural norms, or by more iconoclastic interventions. Musical experimentalism, such as that found in the 1960s/1970s New York ‘Downtown’ loft scene, encompasses a diversity of carefully structured (or carefully unstructured) media and performances that play with social/cultural, technological and, perhaps most fundamentally, cognitive-perceptual limits. This use of extreme materials often creates novel musical environments as much as performances. The conjunction and cross-pollination of this scene with more traditional institutionally-based research at New Jersey’s Bell Labs suggests that the experimentalism of composers such as La Monte Young and John Cage was part of a larger cultural dynamic.


Brian Bridges is an experimental composer and music and technology researcher from Dublin, Ireland, and is currently based at the University of Ulster, Northern Ireland, where he has been Lecturer in Creative Arts/Creative Technology since 2008. A particular focus for his research is the interaction between theories of auditory perception/cognition and composition and performance systems. His creative work spans the fields of spatial sound-based installations, audiovisual pieces and electroacoustic and instrumental music. His compositions have been programmed in Europe, the Americas, and Asia with support from Culture Ireland. Brian is also a founder of the Dublin-based Spatial Music Collective, which presents electroacoustic and mixed-media works by Irish and international composers.

Bridges completed his M.Phil. in Music and Media Technologies at Trinity College Dublin and his Ph.D. on the theory and practice of microtonal music at National University of Ireland, Maynooth.