Harvard Graduate Music Forum Conference, February 19-20, 2021:
To Begin Again: Music, Apocalypse, and Social Change
In the midst of a pandemic, environmental disasters, post-truth politics, and glaring social injustices, the global atmosphere feels apocalyptic. As we doomscroll our way through “unprecedented times,” music moves along with us, enabling individual expression, collective response, or momentary distraction in the face of impossibly challenging circumstances.
If an apocalypse is an “end of times,” apocalyptic events serve as new beginnings and catalysts for massive change. On varying scales, apocalypses have happened and will continue to happen. Intersectional analyses of phenomena such as chattel slavery, colonization, and climate change reveal the disproportionate effects of these ongoing apocalyptic processes on marginalized communities. Recent calls for abolition and reconstruction – change that dismantles old systems while creating new ones – have rung out nationwide, and echo beyond US borders. And throughout these world-ending and world-beginning events, music participates and persists.
The 2021 Harvard Graduate Music Forum Conference seeks to examine how music, musicians, sound, and musical objects address apocalyptic concepts and theories, broadly construed. We welcome proposals from graduate students in historical musicology, ethnomusicology, music theory, music composition, performance, and anyone interested in music beyond these sub-disciplines.


This year’s conference will be held online from Friday, February 19, to Saturday, February 20, 2021, hosted by Harvard University’s Department of Music in Cambridge, MA.


Past Conferences

2020 Conference

2019: Music, Sound, & Censorship

2018: Ex-centric Music Studies

2017: Black Lives Matter: Music, Race, and Justice

2016: Musical Cartographies

2015: Work and Play: Economies of Music

2014: Color and Music

2013: Music at the Margins

2012: Music * Technology * Media