Conference paper Open Access
This paper examines Christina Kubisch’s Five Electrical Walks (hereafter FEW) as an instance of the musical and literary genre of the pastoral—and, more particularly, of the tradition of rus in urbe, which finds the country in the city. In auditing the pastoral, listeners sometimes naively take sonic representations as more or less straightforward mirrors of Nature, either as concept or material. Conversely, we may seek to demystify the genre, revealing the artifice and technological mediation inherent in its production of transparency and purity. I want to suggest that the ‘naïve’ approach and the ‘critical’ approach are not mutually exclusive—indeed, that the work of any pastoral is to coordinate these attitudes towards its material. This is particularly the case with FEW, where the electromagnetic signals that the piece reveals both discover the profound artificiality of the modern city and divulge ‘another Nature’ at the city’s core.