João Romão is a PhD candidate in musicology at the Institut für Medienwissenschaft und Musikwissenschaft Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin (HU-Berlin). His current research focuses are on the interfaces between postwar New Music, technology, and natural sciences. Using the methodological tools of actor-network theory and media archaeology, his goal is to reassemble the collaborative experimental systems of knowledge and creativity during the first decades of the WDR’s Studio für Elektronische Musik des WDR, Köln. He embeds these in larger cultures and aesthetics of experimentalism in arts and science, moving to different spaces and historical times in order to enhance understanding of the research on the perception, shape, and nature of sounds within the “modern Constitution.” He has been developing his research at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin (Visiting Praedoctoral Fellow, Jun-Aug 2016; Visiting Scholar, Jan-Mai 2017) in the Research Group “Epistemes of Modern Acoustics.” During this period, he has also been teaching guest seminars at the HU-Berlin and at the Martin-Luther Universität Halle-Wittenberg about experimentalism, music, science and technology. Since 2009, he has been involved in several research projects and research groups at the Research Center for Sociology and Aesthetics of Music (CESEM, FCSH-NOVA), on the sociology of music, music criticism, music and institutions of the twentieth-century, and music and gender. He holds a BA (2010) and MA (2013) in musicology from the Faculdade de Ciências Sociais e Humanas da Universidade Nova de Lisboa. He was also the president of the Portuguese Society of Music Research (SPIM) from 2013 to 2015.
João Romão’s dissertation project is an interdisciplinary research about the networks of the first 20 years of the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR)’s Studio of Electronic Music (1952-72), in Cologne, Germany. His main concern is to assemble its human and non-human actors (Latour), as well as the interactions between Music, Science and Technology in these collaborative experimental systems (Rheinberger) and spaces of knowledge (Schramm, Pickering). His main questions are: What does experimentalism mean in the context of Electronic Music? How did different notions of experimentation shape the diverse stages of WDR’s Studio? How is that visible in the music composed in this context? What was the relevance of engineers, producers, and technicians in the processes of composition? How did the machines in the studio shape the compositional processes? What are the meanings of studio/laboratory work in knowledge formation contexts? How can, for example, indeterminacy be understood as the result of cultures and aesthetics of experimentation? To what extent were the uses of technology and acoustics research (perception, shape, nature of sounds) essential for these actors?