Young Scholars in New Music | Valentina Bertolani /// Experimental music practices and archiving strategies

di Giulia Sarno

[Young Scholars in New Music è una rubrica dedicata a giovani studiosi e studiose e alle loro ricerche in corso o appena concluse. Per segnalare le proprie ricerche mandare un mail con oggetto “Young Scholars” a con una brevissima biografia e un abstract del lavoro che si intende presentare]

[Young Scholars in New Music is a column dedicated to young scholars and their current or recent researches. To submit your research, please send an email (subject line: “Young Scholars”) to with a short biography and an abstract of the work you wish to present]


Valentina Bertolani studied in Italy (University of Pavia) and Canada (University of Calgary), where she was the recipient of various awards and scholarships, such as the Izaak Killam Walton pre-doctoral Scholarship. She is currently a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Fellow. In between her master and PhD, she worked in curatorial roles and in the independent record industry, appreciating the immense knowledge, limitless curiosity and enthusiastic explorations of collectors and listeners of experimental music. Her research focuses on experimental and electronic music, collective improvisation in the 1960s and 1970s, and the physical objects and immaterial practices that stem from these experiences.

Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, foto di Roberto Masotti (public domain)

Her PhD dissertation[1] is grounded in both music history and music analysis and explores the communities created around collective improvisation in the Bay Area, Rome, and Montreal through four case studies: New Music Ensemble, Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza, Musica Elettronica Viva and MuD / Sonde. This research challenges the understanding of collective experimental improvisation as a genre, framing the phenomenon through the contemporary paradigm of “artistic practice as research”. This reading favours a broader understanding of experimentalism as a cross-generic phenomenon.

She served as one of the co-editors of the book Live Electronic Music: Composition, Performance, Study (Routledge 2018). Her work has been published in miscellaneous volumes and in Music Theory Online and presented at numerous international conferences. She received the Deep Listening® certificate from the Deep Listening Institute created by Pauline Oliveros. She taught undergraduate courses and seminars at the University of Calgary (Canada), University of Birmingham and University of Nottingham (UK).

Recently, she was awarded a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Individual Fellowship, which will be spent between Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada, and the University of Birmingham in the UK. Her project, titled “ARPOEXMUS – Archiving post-1960s experimental music: Exploring the ontology of music beyond the score-performance dichotomy”, explores what role musicology can play in ensuring the storage, preservation, management and curation of post-1960s experimental music. This project addresses the theoretical, ontological, methodological and ethical issues that arise from archiving the heterogeneous instruments, objects, electronic devices, software, and custom-built materials that have been at the heart of sonic arts for the past 60 years. Drawing on a set of comparative case studies (such as Mario Bertoncini, Daphne Oram, Gayle Young, Pauline Oliveros, George Lewis, among others), ARPOEXMUS engages with three different paradigms: 1) objects as scores, instruments and sculptures and their preservation in musical archives; 2) custom-made electronic instruments and collaborations with science and technology museums; 3) obsolescence and digital heritage. These will be tackled using insights from contemporary musicology and archival studies that challenge the assumptions of permanence and stability upon which the ‘work concept’ is based

In 2018, Valentina created together with Luisa Santacesaria Curating Diversity, a platform that aims at understanding and improving the position of women and other marginalized communities within the Italian music industry. Through this experience Valentina and Luisa have had the chance to experience the broad variety of activities that the practice of public musicology affords. Curating Diversity has not only created academic articles, datasets and reports; it has also ventured in the creation of Instagram stories, participated in non-specialist Facebook live events, in lectures in fine arts academies, and in a radio show. 

Further reading:

Valentina Bertolani, “Analysis of Gayle Young’s Ice Creek (2018).” In Between the Tracks: Musicians on Selected Electronic Music. Eds. Kerry Hagan and Miller Puckette, MIT Press (2020).

Valentina Bertolani and Luisa Santacesaria, “Curating Diversity in Italy: Gender and Ethnic Distribution in Contemporary and Experimental Music Programming” OnCurating 47 (2020). Eds. Brandon Farnsworth, Rosanna Lovell. 

Valentina Bertolani, “Improvisatory exercises as a key to analyze group dynamics in collective improvisation: the case of the Gruppo di Improvvisazione Nuova Consonanza” Music Theory Online 25.1 (2019)

Friedemann Sallis, Valentina Bertolani, Ian Burle and Laura Zattra eds., Live Electronic Music: Composition, Performance, Study. London, Routledge (2018).

[1] You can download her PhD dissertation “Improvising New Consonance: Following the Subterranean Connections between North American and Italian Avant-Garde Collectives, 1963–1975” on collective improvisation here: 

Young Scholars in New Music | Valentina Bertolani /// Experimental music practices and archiving strategies ultima modifica: 2021-05-11T08:51:00+02:00 da Giulia Sarno

Lascia una risposta