Call for Contributions: RMA Research Chronicle Special Issue

Special Issue: Music and Covid-19


The Royal Musical Association Research Chronicle is seeking contributions for a special issue on ‘Music and Covid-19’, guest edited by Dr Larry Zazzo (Newcastle University) and Dr Adam Behr (Newcastle University).  As, educators, scholars, performers and audiences, we are all starting to emerge from the pandemic transformed and still facing substantial challenges.  COVID-19 continues to have an effect on the creative economy and its regulatory environment, as well as the practical contexts of making, distributing, teaching and researching musics of all kinds. For many, these challenges have been — and still are— existential, as musicking performers and venues of every genre still struggle to return to a pre-COVID-19 ‘normal’.

Nevertheless, we also recognise that this pandemic has added momentum to already-prevalent and still-nascent creative and educational trends, incentivising newer, perhaps mediated avenues for creative expression, reflection and teaching, and opening a space to critique the desire to return to any pre-pandemic ‘normal’.  Interruptions to concert schedules and tours, and the reconfiguration of creative and industrial practice from festivals to recordings to impromptu performance, have been matched by the need for rapid innovation and a “digital turn” in music education and the rapid adoption of different working modalities. Audiences, like musicians, have responded in varying ways to lockdowns and new modes of consumption as the collectivity of musical experience – from orchestras to raves– moved online or continued in altered, socially-distanced forms.

The RMA Research Chronicle has decided to take this opportunity to build on the in-time research responses that have already emerged throughout the pandemic to date by inviting submissions to a special issue that offers space for chronicling the wealth of contexts, objects and experiences surrounding the study and making of music since the onset of the pandemic.  We encourage traditional articles, but also freer-form submissions such as diaries, reflections or predictions, as well as non-textual outputs of creative practice research in the form of archived performances, compositions and field recordings.  Our scope is deliberately wide, and encompasses research across topics that may include, but are not limited to:

  • performer and composer wellbeing, before, during, and after COVID
  • impacts on musical research activity
  • acceleration of digital and technological ‘upskilling’ as a result of lockdown conditions
  • adaptations (temporary and permanent) to preparing, teaching and rehearing music, both within HE and within music-making ensembles
  • ­changes in music venue programming (temporary or permanent)
  • narratives/surveys of changes in musical ecosystems and communities on both micro (city/town) and macro (regional/national) levels
  • effects on the cultural policy/political economy contexts of music making and consumption
  • audience experiences of live and pre-recorded performances via digital platforms

Creative musical outputs, like textual responses, may engage with any number of COVID-related research questions, and may include, but are not limited to:

  • synchronous and asynchronous approaches to collective music-making
  • creative engagements with sonic latency
  • the digital mediation of sound and acoustic
  • lockdown silences and altered acoustic environments
  • a re-imagining of the performer-audience relationship in a virtual, distanced, or otherwise mediated space
  • a refiguration of the home studio as a place of creative genesis and rehearsal to one of performance and dissemination
  • themes of isolation, dislocation, separation, shock, silence, trauma, illness, anxiety, agoraphobia, claustrophobia, PTSD, contamination
  • novel uses of hybridised media or styles developed as a result of pandemic conditions
  • collective performances and compositions—especially by trans-cultural virtual networks formed during lockdown period
  • transformations/adaptations/re-imaginings during lockdown(s) of music composed under pre-COVID conditions
  • transformation of the nature and character of compositional and performance activity by the unexpected turn from the ‘professional/commissioned/public’ to the ‘amateur/non-commercial/private’
  • geographical and temporal dislocations as barriers – or invitations – to music-making

All published entries, including creative practice outputs, will receive a unique DOI and be accorded equal standing as research outputs within the issue index. Non-textual submissions may be published either as an inline element within CUP Core’s HTML full-text presentation, embedding the non-textual and/or creative objects, or as a media PDF providing a written commentary with links to externally-hosted media files. 

Interested authors should submit either an abstract (350 words maximum) or a link to a 5-minute video or audio file accompanied by a brief commentary (350 words maximum) to musicandcovid19@gmail.com by 4 April 2022. Notification of acceptance is 30 May 2022, and with first contributions (maximum 8,000 written words or 60 minutes of creative practice) submitted by 1 November 2022, with a view to a Summer 2023 publication.

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