Viewing posts from the Uncategorized category

The Craft of an Affective Space

March 19, 2019

As part of the course in Anthropology of Music, Giulia Accornero (Harvard University) will hold a lecture on the effects of certain audio-visual stimuli as perceived and shaped both by the web community and by the academic discourse. The lecture will take place at the Department of Cultural Heritage and Environment, University of Milan (via Noto 8, aula K32), at 16:30.


Search for “ASMR” on Google Videos right now and you will get an astonishing forty million results; check again a minute from now, and you may get even more. ASMR, or Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, labels the effect that a certain category of audio-visual stimuli produces on their listeners: a “pleasurable, tingly sensation that begins in the head and scalp and moves throughout the limbs of the body, causing them to relax” (Young, 2015.)
An international, internet-based community meets and grows mainly around You Tube videos whose audio-visual content is designed to trigger the ASMR. But Wikipedia pages, websites, blogs, Facebook groups, podcasts, and iPhone applications also proliferate, sustaining a community that is not only ‘consuming’ but also inquiring, giving feedback, learning, and promoting. They provide us with what I would call a ‘vernacular theory’ of its peculiar sounds.
At the same time, the ASMR community has triggered an academic response, particularly in neuropsychology. The focus of this field on the mind-body effects that audio-visual stimuli can elicit ultimately narrows down a complex phenomenon to an automatic bodily response.
In this paper I focus primarily on the community and the academic response, concentrating on their agency in shaping this phenomenon. I ask: is ASMR a truly new feeling? How can the discourse and vocabulary around a certain sensation determines it? How has the online content given rise to a particular ASMR aesthetic that is now characteristic of a certain sonic quality? How do the visual and auditory components work together to determine how we hear?
I argue that we cannot fully account for the affective space crafted around the ASMR, as both a bodily sensation and sonic quality—and how the two might interact, unless we reconsider how the community “vernacular theories” work with academic discourse to inform the ways in which we hear and feel sound.


Born in 1987, Giulia Accornero graduated in Economics (BA, Università “L. Bocconi”, Milano, 2010),  Musicology (BA, Conservatorio “G. Verdi”, Milano, 2013), and Discipline Storiche Critiche e Analitiche della Musica (MA, Conservatorio “G. Verdi”, Milano 2016). She is a doctoral candidate in Music Theory at Harvard University. Her dissertation situates the developments in measured music witnessed in Italy and France in the late Middle Ages within the broader history of mathematics. Her secondary research area focuses on the technology and aesthetics of sound amplification in ASMR and Contemporary Music. Her articles are published by Pisa University Press (forthcoming), Edizioni ETS and Edizioni del Teatro alla Scala. In 2014 she founded Sound of Wander, a contemporary music season in Milan. In 2018 she founded the GEM Lab, a workshop in which Harvard GSAS students meet regularly to sing and study early musical notations.

Field Recording and Soundscape Composition

February 25 – May 6, 2019

The experimental music and audiovisual art season INNER_SPACE, organised by San Fedele Musica and Plunge, will host a series of six lesson coordinated by Maurizio Corbella and Nicola Scaldaferri. This cycle inaugurates a partnership between the Fondazione Culturale “San Fedele” and the Department of Cultural Heritage and Environment of the University of Milan. All meetings will focus on the relationship among artistic practices,  soundscape, and field recording. The aim is to provide food for thought about how music, technologies and sonic spaces relate to each other.

All lessons will take place at the San Fedele Auditorium, the only Italian concert hall equipped with an acusmonium, and will be followed by a concert. Meetings start at 7pm, while concerts start at 9pm.



February 25 – R. Murray Schafer’s Soundscape (Nicola Scaldaferri, University of Milan)

Concert: Ars Monodica and Robert Lippok

March 4 – The Film’s Sonic Space (Maurizio Corbella, University of Milan)

(No concert follows.)

March 18 – The Wordl Soundscape Project (Giovanni Cestino, University of Milan)

Concert: Janek Schaefer and Rafael Anton Irisarri

April 8 – Ambient Music (Giacomo Albert, University of Turin, CIRMA)

Concert: Otolab and Recipient Collective

April 15 – On Sound in Tarkovskij’s Cinema (Maurizio Corbella, University of Milan)

(No concert follows.)

May 6 – The RAI Studio of Phonology and Milan’s Soundscapes (Nicola Scaldaferri, University of Milan)

Concert: Christina Vantzou and Optical Machines






Music and Memory: the “Uncle from America”

October 5, 2018

A lecture-recital will be held by Nicola Scaldaferri at the Hofstra Cultural Center (Hofstra University, Long Island, NY) as part of the Italian-American Experience Lecture Series.

The lecture discusses the musical and cultural activity of Italian migrants in New York and on Long Island before and after World War II, and examines the case study of Joe Chiaffitella (1900-1980).

Nicola Scaldaferri will also perform traditional music on the zampogna (bagpipe), accompanied by Massimo Cusato (tamburello).

The event will take place at the Helene Fortunoff Theater at 7 p.m.


Uncle from America_lecture