Naming, Understanding, and Playing with Metaphors in Music

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UCLA PEER Lab Metaphor Symposium

UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music’s PEER Lab (USA) and Durham University Music Department (UK) announce a free virtual interdisciplinary symposium focused on understanding and undoing metaphors about music from an interdisciplinary perspective. Register for this symposium.

If music and sound are complex phenomena that exceed our efforts to grasp them fully, what resources do we have to make sense of them? 

Join the Practice-based Experimental Epistemology Research Lab for a two-day symposium, organized by The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music’s PEER Lab & Durham University Music Department on April 29-30, 2022. This event aims to spark conversation on how metaphorical language shapes our understanding of not only music and sound but one another and the world.

Keynote speakers include:

• Jessica Bissett Perea, Dena’ina (Native American Studies, UC Davis) 
• Philip Ewell (Music Theory, Hunter College, CUNY)
• J. Martin Daughtry (Ethnomusicology, NYU) 
• Katherine Hambridge (Music, Durham U)
• Nicholas Harkness (Anthropology, Harvard U)
• Dorinne Kondo (American Studies and Ethnicity and Anthropology, USC)
• Shana L. Redmond (English & Comp. Lit., Columbia U.)
• Dylan Robinson, xwélméxw/Stó:lō/Skwah (Cultural Studies Graduate Program, Queen’s U)
• Holly Watkins (Musicology, Eastman School of Music)

View the complete symposium program:

“We’re proud to host this interdisciplinary symposium which will provide a welcoming educational space for this vital discourse about our current musical lexicon,” said Inaugural Dean Eileen Strempel. “Examining the words and concepts that we use to describe musical experiences is one way to begin to allow for contradictory experiences to stand side-by-side, and to hear other valuable perspectives. No one should have to ‘fit into a box’ for their musical experiences to be valid.”

From musicologists, theorists, Indigenous scholars, linguists, to performers and playwrights, presenters will meditate on metaphors about music and examine how they work. In doing so, they suggest how we might train ourselves to identify these metaphors when they occur, understand their ramifications and effects in the world, and imagine new ways of articulating musical experiences and relationships.

This symposium’s 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.

The PEER Lab is an experimental research Lab at UCLA’s Herb Alpert School of Music, dedicated to decolonizing data, methodology, and analysis through creative practice.

The PEER Lab is led by UCLA musicologist and vocalist Nina Eidsheim, whose research centers on the concept of music as an event rather than as an object.

For further inquiries, contact us at

Media Contact:
Brian Runt
(310) 206-4911