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Composing While Black

Afrodiasporic New Music Today

Seminar Harald Kisiedu & George E. Lewis

Four-day seminar

Tutors: Harald Kisiedu, George E. Lewis

When: 10, 12, 14 and 16 August, 10.00–12.00

Who: Open to all Summer Course participants. đź‘€ For those who would like to participate, please send a short email to to get access to the texts and scores.

The past few years have witnessed several significant interventions challenging the erasure of Afrodiasporic classical and experimental composers and their contributions to contemporary music. Institutions, such as the Darmstadt Summer Course’s 2018 initiative ›Defragmentation – Curating Contemporary Music‹, have begun to foster interventions addressing this erasure from musico-historical narratives and concert programming. Critically interrogating the contemporary music world as a professional field that has systematically erased the presence and achievements of Afrodiasporic composers and challenging of the notion of contemporary music as a presumptive white cultural sphere, this workshop examines a Black artistic tradition oftentimes assumed not to exist and its representation and identity in late 20th century and early 21st century expressive culture.

This course elucidates the experiences, aesthetics, and practices of Afrodiasporic new music at a moment in which the fixation on canonicity, the decolonization of contemporary music, and the possibility of real and sustained changes to its identity matrix are widely debated in the public sphere around the world. In doing so, this workshop will focus on Black composers such as Alvin Singleton, Elaine Mitchener, Ornette Coleman, and Ben Patterson, whose center of life has been in Europe for a significant period or for whom Europe has been an important site in terms of their works’ production and reception.

The workshop is designed as a seminar that takes place over four days, each of which is interspersed with break days and features guests Alvin Singleton, Tyshawn Sorey, and Elaine Mitchener. The basis for the input of the participants would be short assigned readings. While the approach of the workshop is more survey-based, there will be room to work together on specific pieces.