A PEEK FWF Artistic Research Project in Composition, Music Theatre, Gender Research
Project AR 537 On the fragility of sounds
hosted at the Centre for Gender Studies and Diversity of the KUG University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, Austria.

Project duration: February 2019 – Mai 2022
Principal Investigator: Dr. Pia M. Palme
Co-Investigator March 2021 to September 2021: Dr. Irene Lehmann
Co-Investigator and Assistant (pre-doc) March 2019 to February 2021: Christina Fischer-Lessiak, BA MA
Student Assistant from January to June 2020: Lena Hengl, BA

Funded by the FWF Austrian Science Fund with additional funding from the Mariann Steegmann Foundation and from the Land Steiermark

On the fragility of sounds was an artistic research project designed to explore terrains of composition and contemporary music theatre as they are interwoven with feminist practice. Our study was guided alongside the compositional process. Can music theatre be conceived with ‘Another Ear’ rather than from the perspective of the ‘Male Gaze’? We proposed that taking a feminist position impacts one’s listening perception: activating the feminist ear, contextual sonorities emerge. Listening to the background noises of human interaction brings them to the foreground of one’s awareness. Listening into precarious life brings up the fragility of sounds; sounds turn into physical entities. Rather than producing ‘feminist’ works in terms of content, this project aimed to understand how the artistic process is affected by feminist listening. The compositional process in music theatre begins within the imagination of the composing individual, continuously integrating more artists, collaborators, and performers, as well as media from any number of contextualising disciplines. The process only comes to completion upon the work’s realisation and reception. As individuals, the members of the audience recreate the composition in their own creative process of listening. With this cycle of compositional activities as a model structure, we investigated the influence of the feminist practice on the process of composing.