Recursions: Music and Cybernetics in Historical Perspective
24-25 October 2019
St Cecilia’s Hall, University of Edinburgh

Cybernetic thinking, engineering and pedagogy left indelible marks on the arts and sciences of the late twentieth century. There is now widespread recognition of the role cybernetics played in inspiring many Cold War composers and improvisers. Less known is the way cybernetics shaped the epistemology of late twentieth century music theoretical, pedagogical and ethnographic research. In fact, the impact of cybernetic principles and methodologies on our understanding of music and musicality is ongoing. They permeate the management and outreach discourse of the institutions that support music and music research. They lie at the foundation of recent accounts of cognition and brain function. And they are even gaining a significant foothold in music historiography, both directly in the computational techniques reshaping corpus studies and network analysis, and indirectly through the ideas of communication and social theorists. Recursions seeks to cultivate a deeper understanding of the ways cybernetics, systems theory and information theory inform musical scholarship, practice, policy and industry, with a particular emphasis on perspectives from cultural, social and intellectual history.

Recursions features a keynote lecture by Eric A Drott of the University of Texas at Austin, and a panel on history of Music Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, convened by Peter Nelson.
Thanks to the generous support of the British Academy and the Edinburgh College of Art, we are pleased to offer registration free of charge. As space and resources are limited, non-presenting attendees must register for admission as soon as possible using the link provided on the website.

Convenors: Patrick Valiquet (patrick.valiquet -at- and Christopher Haworth (c.p.haworth -at -

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