The materiality of space

Peter Nelson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Space is a concept central to music. Particular spaces can be seen as the enablers and analogues of social configurations for music making. Thus, for example, concert halls, clubs or cathedrals determine significant aspects of the social and auditory presence of heard music, in terms of concepts such as proximity, separation, resonance, silence, community, etc. Recording technologies have forced us to reconsider musical space as a much more complex phenomenon, including the possible presence of imaginary spaces. Bearing in mind Henri Lefebvre’s assertion that space must be ‘produced’, and starting from Pierre Schaeffer’s notion of spatial development, this article considers the ‘materiality’ of space and the implications of such materiality for thinking about music and sound. Taking the recent reconstruction of the Denman exponential horn at the British Science Museum as an emblem, in relation to the recent resurgence of interest in historic sound recording practices, space is considered in relation to current discussions of material culture.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)323-330
Number of pages8
JournalOrganised Sound
Issue number3
Early online date16 Nov 2015
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 16 Nov 2015


  • space
  • materiality
  • Schaeffer
  • Kolkowski
  • Denman horn
  • proprioception


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