|Moor Mother, CTM x Volksbühne am Rosa-Luxemburg-Platz © Stefanie Kulisch / CTM Festival 2022.
In the context of Covid, “contact” corresponds to a contagion that is airborne and alludes to anxieties about sharing space and breathing the same air. Music also travels through air, and the ethnomusicologist Steven Feld claims that sound is a haptic sensation as changes in air pressure vibrate our eardrums. Indeed, music has long been mediatized and distributed in such a way that we are often “touched” by recorded or broadcast sounds, but there are other aspects of music performance that forge sonic cultures and aesthetics. The burgeoning philosophy of somaesthetics proposes that our bodies are an indispensable “tool of tools” and so by enhancing our bodily perceptions we may improve our quality of life. In my early attempts to write about dance, I was advised that rather than trying to “read” the performers’ movements I should attend to how they registered in my body; how did they make me feel? So while I consider how music affects me as an audience member, I am also keen to emphasize how audiences are receptors and, indeed, hosts for sounds. In particular, I was struck by the range of singing practices represented at this year’s festival.