The UCLA Peer Lab
The UCLA Peer Lab

An experimental research Lab dedicated to decolonizing data, methodology, and analysis through creative practice.

At the UCLA PEER Lab, we study the creative processes involved in everyday, traditional, and emerging practices. We pay attention to how oppressed groups and individuals survive, pursue knowledge, and express joy through music and sound. And, acknowledging storytelling as the root of cultural appropriation, we take an active part in which stories are told, and who gets to tell them.


Push against the colonization of the senses

We are made to believe that the ear is for music, the eye is for art, the mouth is for taste. Through multisensory practice, the Lab pushes against academia’s categorization of the senses.

Provide resources to marginalized thinkers

We provide time, dedicated physical space, campus partners, and research support to artists and thinkers who have been subject to structural inequalities.

Engage with excluded practices

We address past and present-day injustices by focusing on experiential practices which have been historically excluded from western epistemology.

Legitimize transdisciplinary experimentation

We bring artists and thinkers into unexpected connections. We protect intimate, non-goal oriented dialogue that may lead to the incubation of new thoughts, ideas, and concepts.

We invite: 
Individual submissions: 10 minutes long. Papers, workshop prompts, performances, and other alternative formats are welcome. 
Panels/Roundtables: 30 minutes long, involving three or more individuals.  To submit proposals by 02/22/22, see CfP and submission page in our link tree.  In a two-day symposium scheduled for April 29-30, 2022, we aim to spark a conversation exploring how metaphorical language shapes the ways in which we perceive and understand not only music, but also one another and the world. These metaphors can be obvious, such as when we point out a “smooth bass line,” a “hot mic,” or a “mix that’s too bright.” Others, however, are less so, such as when we “turn the music up” or point out what is “in tune” or “out of tune.” They can affect musical and social relations, for instance by dictating what (and who) counts as “in” or “out” of a community. 
We seek to promote a conversation that maps the various metaphor networks structuring musical discourse while tracing their repercussions — musicological, social, and political. Our ultimate aim is to shift the power balance in terms of who gets to name, whose experiences and practices are recognized, which relationships we have the capacity to note, and what kinds of worlds we can create. 
For questions, please contact the co-organizers Daniel Walden @dannywaldn & Nina Eidsheim @ninaeidsheim  This symposium is co-presented by the UCLA Music Library, Davise Fund and co-sponsored by the UCLA Center for Musical Humanities & the UCLA Chancellor’s Arts Initiative.
6. #200questionstocalifornia
Have a “nonsense” conversation with yourself. Record it. Lip sync it.
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If your kitchen was an amphitheater where would you sit?
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Taste a hot day in your mouth. What time is it? Where is the sun in the sky?
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What language does the bacteria in our gut speak? What sounds do they make?
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Soundbites with Alba Triana: Exploring the Dialogue Between Elements
Sound installation artist and composer Alba Triana sits down with the UCLA PEER Lab to discuss her interactive, atmospheric and intimate work, ahead of her appearance as the first guest in the upcoming Pop Up Lab series.
Beyond Sound
Beyond Sound

“If a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?” is a classic example of how we reduce a rich and multifaceted event to one medium and one sensorium: sound and ear. What if we liberate both the mind and the sensorium? How does the weight of “Purple Rain” feel in your hands? Where in the universe are you transported with the morning’s first sip of coffee? What temperature is the sun on your skin when you recall the most important voice from your childhood?

Sound’s Material Transmission
Sound’s Material Transmission

What is sound? Sound is energy transduced through a material entity. In a vacuum, sound cannot exist. Each sound takes its character through a unique instance of material transduction. Energy + material = singular sound. The note A# by itself is only half of the equation. You can only know A# through its material transduction. Imagine a beloved song. Imagine a friend singing it as you rest your head on their chest. Imagine listening to the same song as it echoes through a valley. In the shower. Inside a crowded closet. Inside a cathedral or the womb.

Naming What We Know
Naming What We Know

In the daily practice of cooking an egg, an object is transformed through the material entities of air, oil, and heat. Omelet. Souffle. Huevos rotos. Tamagoyaki. We have distinct names for these transformations, but what if we only had one? Would eggs benedict be as gooey if hardboiled was our only descriptor? Would hardboiled constrain the imagination so that lacey tendrils would never float to the surface of egg drop soup? How can the expansive lightness of souffle be contained by a hardboiled egg’s density? Much like an egg, sound takes on many forms and flavors. Yet how many words do you have to describe the note A#?


A woman always cut the corner off the beef before she fried it. She had never given it a second thought, until one evening a dinner guest was puzzled. “My mom always did it this way, let me call her and ask why.” The mom didn’t have an answer. The question travelled up the family tree to the woman’s grandmother: it turned out the old family skillet had been so small that a piece always had to be cut off the meat and fried separately. Without even knowing it, the woman’s hands held the wisdom of the family’s first skillet. Where did your hands learn their first lessons? Your gut? Your eyes? Your feet?

The PEER Lab is shaped by its community. Join us!

You can participate by joining one of our test kitchen multisensory experiments, sitting down with us for a family meal where a practitioner invites us into their process, or by applying to become an affiliate researcher. Sign up to stay connected.

Our events, built on the metaphor of the kitchen, are tactile and collaborative–much like the act of cooking. In the test kitchen, we carry out experiments that give us new ways to sense the world.

Music Beyond Metaphor

This research group maps the way music has been shaped by dominant metaphors, such as linear time, text, and proscenium space. These metaphors impact not only the vocabulary we use to describe and analyze music, but also determine musical imaginary, performance practice, and sensory access to music.

Mapping Practice-Based Research

Practice-based-research as a methodology is a relatively new endeavor. This research group traces the convergent developments across fields and continents and builds a public database of practice-based-research and its origins.

Sensing Home

Participants document their multisensory lived experiences. What are the daily actions we carry out to feel a sense of home? This project seeks not only to archive practices and epistemologies often overlooked by academia but to change the stories that are told about individuals and communities. Join this project.