Bernd Brabec de Mori & Victor A. Stoichițӑ

Postures of listening and vocal agencies
Humans around the world do many things in listening : they recognize the identity of the sound sources, they parse the acoustic data for significant structures, they feel human and non-human agencies and relate emotionally or spiritually to them. These abilities are probably universal, in the sense that they are available to all human beings. But can we do all of this simultaneously? We have been proposing a model for listening, which argues that humans may obtain one of three postures of listening. We call these indexical, structural, and enchanted listening. Each posture gives access to a different kind of auditory object with distinct ontological qualities. Listening to voices is a good test-case for this model, because it shows how the same auditory target can be apprehended as alternative auditory objects. The discussion proposed here will focus on the fact that the three postures are indeed alternatives (meaning that you can obtain only one at the time). The main reason for this is that although human brains are able to process various things at the same time, human awareness implies some kind of choice. Distinguishing between cognitive processes, attention and awareness is necessary in order to bridge between the empirical data of “hard” and “soft” sciences. When pondering the modeling of voices and of voice recognition, we would like to discuss especially the enchanted listening posture, which, as we assume, might be least recognized and most difficult to implement.
Our presentation is based on a co-authored paper we published in 2017-2018, so we suggest to read this paper along with its debate section in advance. It is available on-line at:
Original paper by Stoichițӑ & Brabec de Mori:
Comments by Jérôme Dokic, Robert S. Hatten, Tim Ingold, Michel Kreutzer & Elizabeth Tolbert:
Authors' response:

Sample biographies:
Bernd Brabec de Mori received his Ph.D. (Dr. phil., 2012) in musicology from the University of Vienna. He worked for five years in the field among Indigenous People in the Peruvian lowland rainforests. After returning to Europe in 2006, he has been teaching and researching, among other institutions, at the Phonogrammarchiv of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, at the department for social and cultural anthropology at Philipps-University Marburg, at the centre for systematic musicology of Karl-Franzens-University Graz, at the institute of musicology at the University of Vienna, at the institute of ethnomusicology at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, and as an associate researcher at Yunnan University. Contact:
Victor A. Stoichiţă is an anthropologist at the French National Center for Scientific Research (CNRS). In Fabricants d'émotion (2008) he investigated notions of "tricks", "cunning" and "slyness" used by Romanian Roma musicians in relation to musical structures. He later worked on virtuosity, intellectual property, irony in live musical settings. He published a Romani songbook for pedagogical use (Chants tsiganes de Roumanie, 2010). His current research deals with the ontology of musical experience and the distributions of agency between humans and sound structures. Contact: