Partisan Notes is an international online journal devoted to the critical investigation of contemporary music. Besides the publication of essays, the project organizes the Partisan Critique workshops in music criticism. These workshops take place during festivals that are dedicated to contemporary and experimental music. Partisan Notes is edited and organized by Monika Voithofer, Jim Igor Kallenberg and Christoph Haffter, with the help of Tim Rutherford-Johnson and Andreas Mourão dos Santos.


There is no art without criticism. The reason for this is simple: we don’t know yet what contemporary art is, what it will have been. The very existence of contemporary music as art depends on its critical discourse.

We seek a notion of contemporaneity that makes a difference within the present. There is no prefabricated definition of contemporary music. On the contrary, contemporaneity is the suspension of all its external criteria. Thus, not all of today’s music is contemporary. Contemporary music is not the music ‘of our time’, but music against our time.


As a critical review of contemporary music, Partisan Notes opposes an affirmative culture that suppresses artistic antagonism and presents contemporary music as a non-conflictual field. Instead, contemporary music needs independent reflection and critique, not self-presentations by its artists, publicity from its institutions or marketing by its producers.


Partisan Notes is partisan - in taking the side of contemporary music as a self-criticism of our historical presence. It scrutinizes music’s conditions of possibility and sounds the socio-historical depths beneath the sonic surfaces.


Partisan Notes is plural – in seeking to create a discursive space in which writers are encouraged to take up a position, whatever that is. Its only requirement is a serious engagement with the materiality of the musical work. It is specific in claiming that contemporaneity does not mean making themes out of the topics of contemporary life. Partisan Notes seek to answer the question of music’s possible contemporaneity by engaging with the concrete, particular fabric of musical works: their sonic and affective, notational and performative, conceptual and sensible singularity.


Partisan Notes aims to be independent of and distinct from the academy and new music’s existing institutions. Where musicology seeks to observe and music culture seeks to enjoy the world as it is, partisan criticism seeks to change it.


Partisan Notes does not dodge these questions. Neither does it offer easy solutions. It stand for the idea that criticism is a commitment to the cause of music. The more unyielding, the better.

This text is the result of a discussion between the associates of Partisan Notes: Leon Ackermann, Patrick Becker,  Elaine Fitz Gibbon, Fazekas Gergely, Christoph Haffter, Jim Igor Kallenberg, Monika Ptasinska, Tim Rutherford-Johnson, Andreas Mourão dos Santos, Ewa Schreiber, Danielle Sofer, Monika Voithofer, Juana Zimmermann, Monika Zyla