Reclaiming and Preserving Traditional Music: Aesthetics, ethics and technology

D'Agostino M. E.

ORGANISED SOUND, vol.25, no.1, pp.106-115, 2020 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 25 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2020
  • Doi Number: 10.1017/s1355771819000505
  • Journal Name: ORGANISED SOUND
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Scopus, Music Index, Music Periodicals Database, RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, DIALNET
  • Page Numbers: pp.106-115
  • Istanbul Technical University Affiliated: Yes


Music history is full of examples of composers drawing upon traditional repertoires for their works. Starting from the late nineteenth century in particular, many of them have looked at this specific sound material for several reasons: overcoming the limitations of tonal system, discovering different compositional strategies, finding new inspiration and aesthetics, evoking exoticism. Electronic music is no exception. Since the emergence of sound recording, sonic artists and electronic music composers have experimented with new technologies trying to integrate traditional elements in their works with different results and various purposes. In the present time, the preservation of these traditional elements could represent one of the most crucial goals. In a world characterised by a widespread globalisation, traditional music might be at risk of being neglected or even forgotten, as for local identities and cultures in general. As electronic music composers and sonic artists we should ask ourselves if it is possible to create a link between tradition and innovation, connecting these two apparently opposite realities. Can we safeguard at-risk traditions and at the same time re-present them through contemporary artistic practices and technologies? Is there a way to develop a form of expression that could reach a wide and diverse range of listeners, taking into account recent trends and studies in electronic music while preserving the main distinctive features of the traditional repertoires? The article attempts to answer the above-mentioned questions with the support of a case study: the personal research conducted into the use of traditional music from the southern Italian region of Campania in the scope of electronic music composition.