Mr Malte Kobel

Research project: The musicking voice: performance, affect and listening

Abstract

The aim of this thesis is to develop a theory of the musicking voice. The voice has been studied extensively in musicology, philosophy, literary, media and sound studies. Most often, however, voice is equated with the speaking voice. Arguably, the voice engaged in musical activity differs from the speaking voice; but a specific musical mode of voicing has oftentimes been neglected in theories of voice.

            The main questions is: What is the musicking voice? I answer this question theoretically and from an interdisciplinary perspective: bridging musicology, sound studies, media studies, performance studies and philosophy. My particular methods stem from theories of deconstruction, affect and performance. I analyse several case studies of singing voices in order to theorise the specific performative and affective constitution of the musicking voice – ranging from diverse pop musics (Howlin' Wolf, Ella Fitzgerald, Kate Bush) and experimental musics (Joan La Barbara, Annette Peacock, Scott Walker, Leon Thomas) to Renaissance choral music (Josquin des Prez). The analyses are guided by a close listening to the musicking voice.

            These detailed discussions show the voice as a musicking force that is both material and immaterial, impersonal and affective. I argue that the musicking voice complicates the voice's naturalised indeces of body, sound, subjectivity and expression. I will discuss these problems in five chapters, focussing on the voice's relationship to (1) body, (2) sound, (3) technology, (4) subjectivity and (5) listening. I argue that the musicking voice not only problematises philosophies of voice but that it manifests as a musical entity in its own right. The theory of the musicking voice brings a specific musicological perspective and musico-epistemological problem to the current fields of voice studies, sound studies and philosophies of voice and music.

Biography

I am doctoral student at the Music Department at Kingston University, with a project on the singing voice which is supervised by Isabella van Elferen and Scott Wilson.

My work cuts across areas of musicology, sound and media culture. I have studied musicology at the University of Vienna, Cardiff University and Humboldt University of Berlin and have written mostly on new (BA on the music of Beat Furrer) and electronic music and music's entanglement with media culture (MA on techno-strategic modes of listening). Apart from academic work I am co-running the record label Hyperdelia and am co-responsible for the collective/network/platform BLATT 3000 from Berlin.

Areas of research interest

  • Musicology
  • Sound Studies
  • Media Theory
  • Performance Studies
  • Voice
  • Affect Theory
  • Pop Music Studies
  • Phonography

Qualifications

  • BA Musicology, University Vienna
  • MA Musicology, Humboldt University Berlin

Funding or awards received

  • AHRC TECHNE funded doctoral student
  • Kingston University Studentship

Publications

Kobel, M. (2021) 'Kuenstlische Stimme/n in der Musik von Kate Bush', in Erbe, M., Riffi A. & Zielinski, W. (ed.) Medial konstruierte Stimmen (= Schriftenreihe zur digitalen Gesellschaft NRW, Band 7). Muenchen: kopaed Verlag [in print].

Kobel, M. (2020) '"Just a man singing": on Scott Walker and the Voice of Another', Journal for Cultural Research.

Kobel, M. (2020) 'Dispositive des Hörens: Formationen von Emotionen und Klang in der Hi-Fi-Kultur der späten 1950er Jahre am Beispiel des Genres „Exotica"', in Herzfeld-Schild, M. L. (ed.) Musik und Emotionen. Kulturhistorische Perspektiven (= Studien zu Musik und Gender Bd. 1). Stuttgart: Metzler.

Kobel, M. (2019) 'The drum machine's ear: XLN Audio's drum sequencer XO and algorithmic listening', Sound Studies, 5(2), pp. 201-204.

Kobel, M. (2016) 'Beat Furrer und das Visuelle. Perspektiven komponieren oder Bild-Werden der Musik', in Tadday, U. (ed.) Musik-Konzepte Band 172/173, Beat Furrer. München: edition text+kritik.

Conference papers

Kobel, M. (2019) '"Just a man singing": on Scott Walker and the musicking (of) voice, at: The Work and Legacy of Scott Walker with Peter Walsh, 23 November, Kingston University London, Kingston.

Kobel, M. (2019) 'Singing caesuras: phonography's generating of otherwise times', at: Sonologia. International Conference on Sound Studies, 9-12 April, São Paulo, Brazil. 

Kobel, M. (2018) 'Voice as becoming (-monstrous)', at: Graduate Students in Music Conference: Voice, Listening, Aurality, 23-24 March, CUNY, New York City, USA.

Kobel, M. (2018) 'Monstrosities of voice', at: International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA), 14-17 March, Orlando, USA.

Kobel, M. (2017) 'How to engineer a Krautrock listener', at: Research Networking Day, CTM Festival 2017: Fear Anger Love, Berlin, Germany.

Kobel, M. (2016) '>Simple Headphone Mind< – Listening environments around the skull', at: International Exploratory Workshop: Sounding Out the Anthropocene. Critical Media Lab Basel, FHNW Basel, Switzerland.