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Musicology & Ethnomusicology Division Colloquia

Musicology and Ethnomusicology Colloquia

During the academic year, the Divisions of Musicology & Ethnomusicology and Theory/Composition sponsor the Music Scholars Lecture Series, which brings distinguished scholars to the campus to speak to graduate students. Students and faculty present their research at regular Friday-afternoon colloquia. Faculty and students also belong to and participate in the Capital Chapter of the American Musicological Society and the Mid-Atlantic Chapter of the Society for Ethnomusicology. Students may submit research papers to the AMS Capital Chapter for the yearly Irving Lowens Award for Student Research.

**All colloquia take place in the Leah M. Smith Lecture Hall in the Clarice Smith Center at 3:30PM.**

Fall 2013 Colloquia

October 11

"Extending Cage's Legacy"
Professor Rob Haskins, University of New Hamphire
*This lecture is preceded by a performance of Cage's "Cheap Imitation" (1969) for piano at 3:15pm. The lecture begins at 4pm.
In his trenchant survey of American music scholarship through the early 1980s, Joseph Kerman observed that “Cage is an extremely slippery figure to wrestle with, because if you are profoundly serious about art, . . . there are not too many ways of dealing with someone who is profoundly unserious about it.” Cage loved to disorient his interlocutors—to destabilize any single-minded view of him they might propose—but was so good at it that most people failed to recognize the serious intent behind such efforts. Since the late 1980s, many scholars have wrestled with his ideas with varying results. In this paper, I offer a provisional assessment of Cage's achievement, including both unjustified and justified criticism of that achievement by other scholars; along the way I hope to point toward productive ways in which we can engage with and creatively extend Cage’s important legacy, using theater as my principal example.
Rob Haskins is Associate Professor of Music at the University of New Hampshire, where he teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in music history. He holds a DMA in Harpsichord and Ph.D. in Musicology from the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester. His research concerns American music in the second half of the 20th century, especially the music of John Cage. In 2012, he presented papers on Cage (with performances) in Germany, Canada, and the US. His most recent book is John Cage (Reaktion Books, 2012). He is working on two book-length projects: a volume of essays for Cage’s centenary (Northwestern University Press, edited with Seth Brodsky and David Nicholls) and a cultural history of the piano (Reaktion Books). Haskins is also active as a performer of text works, a pianist, and a harpsichordist. Recordings include Cage’s Two2 (Mode Records, with Laurel Karlik Sheehan) and Reich’s Tehillim (Cantaloupe, with Ossia and Alarm Will Sound). His recording of Marc Chan’s My Wounded Head 3, an evening-length solo piano composition premiered by and dedicated to him, will be released by Mode in 2014. Haskins was musical director for Alarm Will Sound’s 2012 new production of John Cage’s Song Books at the Holland Festival Abrons and River to River Festivals (New York).

October 18

“Desert Desires: Landscape as Liminal Space in Bollywood Set and Song"
Lecture By: Shalini Ayyagari, Assistant Professor, Department of Performing Arts, American University

In recent years, there have been a number of Bollywood films shot and set in Rajasthan, India. This talk will analyze three films––Paheli (2005), Dor (2006), and Eklavya (2007)––in relation to their constructions of an idea of Rajasthan, as portrayed through their musical numbers. Such song sequences often take place on exterior sets, shot in the hot noonday sun, with the use of sweeping camera shots of the Thar Desert. The costumes tend to be of the traditional Rajasthani fare for both men and women, and the songs often feature folk tunes, lyrics, and instrumentation. Why in recent years has Rajasthan as a locality, more than other locations in South Asia, been chosen not just as a non-contextual scenic backdrop, but as an integral part of the plot development? How are place, time, and atmosphere evoked through the use of instrumentation, choreography, sung dialect, and costume design? This talk with thus explore the ways in which the imagined Rajasthan is at once part of India, and also set apart from the rest of India as foreign in both location and time in filmi song sequences.

Shalini Ayyagari is a specialist in the regional musical practices of North India. Her current book project, Small Voices Sing Big Songs: Music and Institutional Culture in Rajasthan, India, examines examines intersections of development initiatives and music-making. She is also working on a project which examines the Thar Desert region as a site for borderlands music-making on the India-Pakistan border, and is specifically looking into the role of Sindhi Sufi music in the creation of place in this region.


October 25
"Secreto a voces: Excess, Performance, and Jotería in Juan Gabriel’s Vocality”
Lecture by Associate Professor Alejandro Madrid (Cornell University)
School of Music and Latin American Studies Center

Juan Gabriel is arguably the most successful Mexican singer, songwriter, and producer of the last three decades of the twentieth century. One could begin measuring his success through the numerous Billboard, Grammy, Latin Grammy, and MTV awards, and more than 1500 Golden, Platinum, and Multi-Platinum Records. The excesses one witnesses in Juan Gabriel’s commercial success are analogous to the stylistic excesses one observes in his vocality and the performance of his musical persona. This paper focuses on these excesses and examines them in relation to mainstream ideas about masculinity in Mexico and Latin America. Relating Juan Gabriel’s symbolic excess in performance to the Marxist idea of surplus, this paper takes the singer’s vocality as a case study to theorize the notion of jotería as a libidinal economy of excesses that puts in evidence the contradictions, silences, and absences of the Mexican and Latin American heteronormative fantasies.

Spring 2013 Colloquia

March 1

"In Search of Dvořák and Musical Meaning: From Scholarship to Sound"
Michael Beckerman, Carroll and Milton Petrie Professor of Music, New York University, and Joseph Horowitz, Artistic Director, PostClassical Ensemble

April 5

"Locating the Motown Sound"
Andy Flory, Assistant Professor of Music, Carleton College

The success of Motown Records during the 1960s and 1970s garnered a level of attention in mainstream society that was previously unthinkable for a company that specialized in black cultural forms. One of the curious aspects of Motown’s legacy is ways in which historians, critics, and musicians alike commonly cite a generic Motown style, or “Motown Sound.” This talk will discuss Motown’s famous “sound” from a number of vantage points. On one hand, the origins of a Motown Sound were created through marketing and self-categorization. But music also plays a large role in the idea of Motown as genre. In many ways, the consistency by which the Motown system operated had a direct effect on the musical output of the company, and allowed several important stylistic strains to emerge in the period between 1964 and 1971. Through the lens of self-dialogue, drawing on the legacy of the answer song tradition, I will exemplify musical constancy in two Motown producer and artist collaborations: The Supremes and Holland, Dozier, and Holland; and the Temptations and Norman Whitfield. In the end, after questioning the idea of the Motown Sound as representative of actual Motown catalog, I will show the parameters through which the agents involved in the creative process, the physical spaces of the Motown “campus” on West Grand Boulevard in Detroit, and the vertical (and not-so-vertical) integration of writing, arranging, performing, and recording contributed to a musical uniformity in select areas of Motown’s output during the company’s most productive period.

Andrew Flory is assistant professor of music at Carleton College in Northfield, MN. He teaches courses in American music, focusing on rock, rhythm and blues, and jazz. Andrew has written extensively about American rhythm and blues, and is an expert on the music of Motown. His book, I Hear a Symphony: Listening to the Music of Motown, is forthcoming from The University of Michigan Press. Working directly with Universal Records, Andrew has served as consultant for several recent Motown reissues, including the recent 40th Anniversary Edition of Marvin Gaye’s Trouble Man. Andrew is also co-author of the history of rock textbook What’s that Sound (W.W. Norton).

April 12

"Musical Beauty"
Jerrold Levinson, Distinguished University Professor, Department of Philosophy, University of Maryland, College Par

This short paper has three objectives. The first is to highlight a distinction, grounded in common critical practice, between good music in general and specifically beautiful music, where the latter is naturally thought of as a subclass of the former. The second is to characterize the specificity of beautiful music in this restricted sense, partly through paradigm examples, and partly through traits associated with or underlying what we regard as beautiful music. The third is to address the special value of beautiful music as opposed to that of good music generally. In other words, why do we need specifically beautiful music, provided we have an ample supply of more generally good, that is, worthwhile or valuable, music?

Student Paper: "Tradition (Gelenek) or Modernity (Cağdaşlık)?Ambiguity in Transforming Turkish Alevi Ritual"
Melanie T. Pinkert, PhD candidate in Ethnomusicology

Tradition and modernity have been used as analytic categories in the academy, in history, anthropology and ethnomusicology, and increasingly, by many of the peoples we study. The Alevi, who practice a heterodox form of Islam, and arguably constitute the largest minority in Turkey, have applied these terms to their own socio-cultural-religious revival that took shape in the early 1990s. However, genelek (tradition) and cağdaslık (modernity) do not carry the binary opposition often assumed by Western scholarship, but may be conceived as fluid and intersecting ideas, existing simultaneously in the same context. Using social anthropologist Aykan Erdemir’s framework for understanding these words as – emic terms used by Turkish Alevi, I focus on hızır cems, winter worship rituals for abundance, observed during my first three months of research in Istanbul, Ankara and Çorum. First, I discuss precedents for the application of these terms in both Turkish and non-Turkish scholarship, and in more recent Alevi thought. Then I present excerpts from the cems for analysis and possibilities of interpretation. Finally, I raise questions about the implications for future research on transforming ritual in the Alevi community. The terms we expect to associate with continuity and change, such as tradition and modernity, must be understood in context-specific ways.

April 19

"Some Further Thoughts Concerning the Origins of the 'Strozzi Chansonnier'"
Richard Wexler, University of Maryland School of Music

In this paper, I will attempt to bring forth new evidence suggesting that the manuscript Florence, Biblioteca del Conservatorio Luigi Cherubini, MS Basevi 2442, known as the "Strozzi Chansonnier," is of Roman origin. The observations made by Howard Mayer Brown in a series of three articles on this chansonnier do support his conclusion that the three surviving partbooks from an original set of four were bound in Florence; but it does not necessarily follow that the books themselves were copied there, as he also concluded. There is good reason to think that the partbooks were planned and compiled in Rome for use by the pope's private chapel, possibly with the support of a powerful Florentine financier, and later given as a gift to the financier's brother. In contradicting some of Howard Brown's research findings, I take comfort in knowing that he would not have been offended by a junior colleague's sometimes disagreeing with him regarding speculative matters.

"Singing Praises to Mary in a Foreign Land: A Salve Regina attributed to Victoria in Puebla, Mexico, and Marian Devotions in Colonia New Spain" 
Grayson Wagstaff, Dean, Benjamin T. Rome School of Music, Catholic University of America

The archives of the Cathedral of Puebla, east of Mexico City, include a number of concordances of works by Tomás Luis de Victoria. In fact, there are numerous copies of well known works issued in prints. However, one of the choirbooks of the cathedral includes an otherwise unknown setting of the Marian antiphon Salve Regina. Though this attribution was dismissed as dubious by the late Robert Stevenson, several scholars have included this setting in discussions of Victoria’s works. I propose that the work could have been composed later in Victoria’s life, if it is indeed by him, despite some of the pre-Tridentine textual variants in the setting. Whether or not it is the work of Victoria, this Salve is intriguing in that it does not follow either of the two typical approaches in terms of which portions of the text were set in polyphony. This Salve instead has a modified approach perhaps used to incorporate the more expressive treatment in Morales’ five-voice Salve while also leaving some portions to be sung in chant. The contents of the manuscript including the setting, Puebla Cathedral 1, imply that the Spanish tradition of an independent Salve service– as opposed to singing the Salve at Compline– continued in this Mexican city well after the Tridentine reforms. Such dedication to Spanish tradition was an important aspect of local identity in Puebla, the citizens of which considered themselves the guardians of Spanish traditions in New Spain. The most prominent local Marian icon was the Lady of los Remedios, a statue believed to have been brought to or discovered in Mexico by the Conquistadors. Therefore, this Salve “de Victoria” may have been sung in devotions to this Marian icon, events in which this dedication to Spanish tradition was represented with polyphonic music.

April 26

“Effeminate carriage”: Gendered Performance in Thomas Campion’s Lute Songs
Scott Trudell, Assistant Professor of English, English Department, University of Maryland

The twenty-nine “books of ayres” or songbooks for lute and voice printed in London between 1597 and 1622 share a preoccupation with female performance. Thomas Campion’s ayres, in particular, come to fixate upon the power of women’s singing voices. Campion’s songs will wax nostalgic for a beneficent female monarch, for example, or idealize female aristocrats in intimate domestic spaces – responding to the isolation that male composers felt from royal spheres of patronage. Yet Campion’s books of ayres, which were specifically designed for a domestic performance milieu that included women, also enabled female performers to participate directly in the ayre movement. Women were increasingly likely to be trained as musicians by the time the songbooks were printed, the vocal range and lute tablature of the ayres is appropriate for amateur female singers and lutenists, and the “table book” format of the songbooks invites performance in an intimate household context. Dozens of ayres, particularly in Campion’s later songbooks, include female personae that respond to or critique literary conventions privileging male perspectives. The result is a notable opportunity for women to shape poetic and musical culture.