I am a musicologist at Northeastern University, where my research centers on histories of music and technology, and questions of music’s role in conceptions of “human” and “machine.” My new book, Sounding Human: Music and Machines, 1740/2020, will be published by University of Chicago Press in Fall 2023. It examines human-machine configurations in music, focusing on mid eighteenth-century formulations of “the human” in connection with musical androids, hybrids, and analogies to musical instruments, and more recent developments such as the rise of cyborg and posthumanist theories in the popular music press and musicians’ experiments with machine learning. By focusing on the role of music in instigating and negotiating categorical uncertainty around human and machine, this book will illuminate ongoing processes of constructing human/nonhuman boundaries, the social and cultural consequences of those boundaries, and the importance of music to experiencing, defining, and transforming them. Work on this book was supported by a 2019-20 membership at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, NJ.
With Elizabeth H. Margulis and Psyche Loui, I co-edited The Science-Music Borderlands: Reckoning with the Past and Imagining the Future (MIT Press, 2023). The volume brings together neuroscientists, cognitive scientists, musicians, historical musicologists, and ethnomusicologists with an aim of fostering the kind of dialogue through which researchers across these fields can mutually benefit from one another’s perspectives and recent developments, thereby opening the way to new research questions and methods for music studies.
My first book, Haydn’s Sunrise, Beethoven’s Shadow: Audiovisual Culture and the Emergence of Musical Romanticism (University of Chicago Press, 2016), shows how music and optical technologies came together in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to inform new listening practices and aesthetic discourses. The book won the Kenshur Prize for outstanding monograph in eighteenth-century studies.
I am also co-curator of the Museum of Imaginary Musical Instruments, and cellist and flute-player for studio-based music project The Wiggly Tendrils.
email firstname.lastname@example.org, Twitter @ladyloughridge