“Musicology and Universal Design: Claiming the Consonant, the Dissonant,
and the Resonant”

AMS Boston, November 2019

Deadline: May 10

The concept of “Universal Design” (UD) figures prominently in public
discourse on disability as designers, architects, urban planners, and
engineers aspire to create more inclusive spaces and objects that
accommodate the needs of all bodies. UD avoids stigmatizing and segregating
bodies by striving for equity and flexibility of use, obviating the need
for retrofits. Like the built-environment, Western music encodes what Blake
Howe describes as “corporeal finitude” in everything from scores, to
instrument design, to pedagogy in ways that “enable some bodies, while
disabling others.” The musical benefits of UD are thus evident through
initiatives like the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument, and in public
resources like *The Avid Listener*, *Trax on the Trail*, and the
podcast, *Switched
on Pop*. Yet, some scholars lament that UD’s emphasis on disability
overshadows the ways accessibility is also race- and class-bound, and
constructed along gendered lines, just as new multi-modal platforms risk
excluding through their increased complexity.

The AMS Music and Disability Study Group invites proposals for
presentations that probe the merits and limits of UD in theory and praxis—
i.e. “claiming the consonant, dissonant, and resonant.” Possible topics
might include but are not limited to: instrument and venue design;
institutional, pedagogical, and legal frameworks for UD; musical literacy
and language (i.e. Braille notation, the Black vernacular, trans rights and
gender neutral pronouns, etc.); and the future of publishing. Alternative,
creative presentation formats are very welcome!

Abstracts of no more than 350 words should be submitted to at- by *May 10*. Please send your proposal
as a .pdf with identifying information removed. In the body of the email,
please include your name, contact information, and requests for A/V and
musical equipment.


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