Exploring Sonic Worlds

The significance of ‘instrumentality’





instrumentality, new music, percussion, performance, post-instrumental practice, Martin Heidegger, Alluvial Gold


This paper develops the idea of ‘instrumentality’ to explore how the use of diverse tools or instruments involved in new music have the potential to (re)frame our engagement with the world. It will be argued that the choice of instrumental tools and how they are used in performance can not only enrich creative processes and outcomes for the artist but can also alter the audience’s relationship to the world by encouraging a conceptual engagement with one or more of its aspects. We are specifically interested in exploring this potential when interdisciplinary or intermedial approaches are taken to develop and realise new musical works. Drawing on Martin Heidegger’s concepts of ‘revealing’ and ‘unconcealment’, and using contemporary work entitled Alluvial Gold as a case study, this paper interrogates the way in which new instrumental practices offer a renewed engagement with the world.

Author Biographies

Sam McAuliffe, Monash University

Dr Sam McAuliffe is Dean of Studies and Careers at Mannix College, and an adjunct research fellow at Monash University. He is the author of Improvisation in Music and Philosophical Hermeneutics (Bloomsbury) and editor of Gadamer, Music, and Philosophical Hermeneutics. McAuliffe has published numerous scholarly articles on philosophical hermeneutics, improvisation, music, aesthetics, ethics, and place/topology.

Louise Devenish, Monash University

Dr Louise Devenish is an award-winning percussionist whose creative practice blends performance, artistic research and collaboration with composers, visual artists, designers and improvisors. Louise is currently undertaking an Australian Research Council DECRA Fellowship at Monash University, where she is director of artistic research project The Sound Collectors Lab, and Percussion Coordinator.


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How to Cite

McAuliffe, Sam, and Louise Devenish. 2023. “Exploring Sonic Worlds: The Significance of ‘instrumentality’ ”. Performance Philosophy 8 (1):23-43. https://doi.org/10.21476/PP.2023.81393.