This article develops a theoretical analysis of music and mediation, building on the work of Theodor Adorno, Tia DeNora and Antoine Hennion. It begins by suggesting that Lydia Goehr’s account of the work concept requires such a perspective. Drawing on Alfred Gell’s anthropology of art, the article outlines an approach to mediation that incorporates understandings of music’s social, technological and temporal dimensions. It suggests that music’s mediations have taken a number of historical forms, which cohere into assemblages, and that we should be alert to shifts in the dominant forms of musical assemblage. In the latter part of the article, these tools are used to conceptualize changing forms of musical creativity that emerged over the twentieth century. A comparison is made between the work concept and jazz and improvised electronic musics. Three contemporary digital music experiments are discussed in detail, demonstrating the concepts of the provisional work and of social, distributed and relayed creativity. Throughout, key motifs are mediation, creativity, and the negotiation of difference.
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