Music scenes are often defined by their inaccessibility. Consider the whisper networks sometimes required to find the venue’s address, the late hours that push against people’s circadian rhythms, and aesthetics that challenge mainstream concepts of sound and performance.
But what happens when that inaccessibility abuts another kind of inaccessibility—that which impedes people with physical or mental disabilities, chronic pain/illness, mental illness, or neurodiversity?
As my own body accustoms itself to living with a constellation of degenerative joint and auto-immune diseases, I have repeatedly encountered the structural impediments inherent in my own access to the scenes in which I have existed as a performer, DJ, promoter, and attendee. I was thus excited (and a bit surprised) to find solidarity in a Google form, a survey titled Accessibility in PGH Music.
The survey was created this past January by 7D, a Pittsburgh-based artist creating performance-focused experimental music. 7D’s performances often combine discordant soundscapes with vocals processed through long reverbs and delays, building a delicate sonic world on the precipice between lush and harrowing. Through this, they create space to explore the fluidity of ability, their personal experiences with psychosis and the healthcare system, and how these things relate to deconstructing what is expected from music.
The survey has since completed, and 7D is currently analyzing results in advance of a community meeting. I was able to reach out via e-mail and have a conversation about inspiration for the project, initial thoughts, and recommendations that venues and promoters can consider while the community organizes.