MONDAY, 29 OCTOBER
Afternoon-4:30pm, ESG-ESIG Outing
Cancer Alley / River Road Reality Tour (separate advance registration necessary; meeting place TBA) — Darryl Malek-Wiley (Louisiana Sierra Club), Margie Richards (resident of Norco, Louisiana), and Aaron S. Allen (University of North Carolina at Greensboro) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
This tour is a drive through “Cancer Alley” along River Road, which follows the Mississippi River through a number of communities affected by industrial facilities in the area. The tour will be led by a Sierra Club New Orleans activist who has been leading such tours for decades and a local resident of an afflicted community, as well as a former Tulane University student who participated in these tours. It’s a unique opportunity to come face-to-face with some of the realities of pollution affecting the people and the natural beauty of the area.
“Environmental Listening and the Tulane Soundscape” (meeting place outside the entrance of the Rogers Memorial Chapel, Tulane University) — Tyler Kinnear (University of British Columbia) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
What does sound say about the qualities of an ecosystem? In what ways does active listening inform us of balances and imbalances in the environment? What does it mean to listen environmentally? These are some of the questions that will be raised during our one-hour soundwalk through Tulane University’s Uptown Campus.
In the form of a silent walk, soundwalking provides participants with the opportunity to listen actively to the acoustic properties of their surroundings and reflect on their experience of sound. Soundwalkers are invited to listen both outwardly (to the sounds within a physical space and the sounds that the listener makes) and inwardly (to their reactions to the sounds). Participants may also reflect on the musical, historical, social, and political aspects of the acoustic environment. Through these listening approaches, we may ask ourselves: What sounds are unique to this location? Which acoustic events occur most frequently? Which sounds are threatened?
For the Tulane soundwalk, prospective sites include the boardwalk on McAlister Drive, Audubon Park, and the historic streetcar line on St. Charles Avenue. Following the silent walk (approximately forty-five minutes), there will be a fifteen-minute discussion where participants will have the opportunity to share their thoughts on the soundwalk.
Tyler Kinnear is a Ph.D. student of Musicology at the University of British Columbia. His research focuses on conceptions of nature in contemporary music. Tyler currently serves as co-coordinator of the Vancouver Soundwalk Collective. He may be reached at email@example.com.
6-7pm, Registration / Welcome Reception with Light Dinner
Convene outside Dixon Annex (aka Dixon Performing Arts Center), Tulane University, for registration and refreshments.
Menu: Soup Shooters with Veggie and Dip Plate, Cilantro Chickpea Hummus/Hearts of Palm Pate
7-9pm, Paper Jam, Chair: Aaron S. Allen (University of North Carolina, Greensboro)
Held in the Recital Hall of Dixon Annex (aka Dixon Performing Arts Center).
“Crane Calls and Shakuhachi Sounds: Interconnections, Disjunctures and New Directions in the Tsuru no Sugomori Pieces” — Joe Browning (School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) (virtual presentation) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
Variants of the piece Tsuru no Sugomori (“Nesting Cranes”) are amongst the most popular and numerous in the repertoire of the shakuhachi (Japanese bamboo flute). These virtuosic pieces use trills, flutter-tonguing and other musical devices to imitate the sounds and movements of cranes, drawing on the correspondingly rich sound-world of the birds themselves. This paper presents several brief sketches to explore the dis/connections between music and environment that these pieces reveal.
First, I discuss how cranes move through this music as Buddhist symbols and real creatures; in sound, imagery and discourse; evoked in performance, and captured on recordings. I then contrast the divergent fates of these pieces and the cranes they imitate. Since this music emerged during the eighteenth century, habitat destruction has left Japan’s iconic Red-Crowned Cranes an endangered species. Today, their Japanese distribution is confined to a small region entirely outside the area where, historically, these pieces were played. Meanwhile, shakuhachi music has travelled far and the “crane pieces” can be heard across the world.
After tracing these disjunct ecological and cultural histories, I focus on the pieces’ unusual life outside Japan, among shakuhachi players in Europe and North America. Highlighting the flexibility with which Western players imagine the instrument’s connection with the natural world, I examine how the “crane pieces” can mediate environmentalist sentiments or raise issues of “co-performance” between human and non-human sonic worlds. Combining these themes, I argue for bringing cosmopolitan musical practices and intercultural encounters such as this within the compass of ecomusicological enquiry.
Joe Browning received his BMus from the University of York and his Masters in Ethnomusicology from the School of Oriental and African Studies, where he is currently a PhD candidate. His PhD research, supported by an Arts and Humanities Research Council grant, examines the complex intersections between music and environment in the contemporary global shakuhachi scene, ranging across activities from instrument-making to composition. Joe first encountered the shakuhachi over ten years ago and since then has studied and performed a variety of traditional and contemporary music for the instrument. He also has a keen interest in Javanese gamelan and spent a year as a Darmasiswa scholar in Solo, Indonesia.
“Music, Television Advertising, and the Green Positioning of the Global Energy Industry in the United States” — Travis Stimeling (Millikin University) (virtual presentation) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
The past decade has witnessed an explosion of green marketing efforts by companies offering products and services ranging from household cleaners to shipping services. Targeting consumers in developed countries who increasingly demand corporate responses to mounting ecological crises, several global energy companies with problematic environmental records—most notably, General Electric, BP, ExxonMobil, Chevron, and the coal industry— have developed television advertising campaigns attempting to reposition themselves as environmental stewards. These advertisements are particularly rich sites for musicological inquiry into the ways that music is used to construct pro-environmental rhetoric. Drawing upon recent marketing research into the demographic profile and attitudes of the typical “green consumer,” this paper explores the ways in which these advertising campaigns deploy music to appeal to the “green to be seen” attitudes, identified by Griskevicius, Tybur, and Van den Bergh (2010) as a key motivating factor in the purchasing decisions of many green consumers. Particularly, this paper draws upon Ronald H. Sadoff’s discussion of the rhetoric of audiovisual logos (2004) and recent research on the use of music in television by Nicolai Graakjær and Christian Jantzen (2009), Jonathan Pieslak (2009), and James Deaville (2006, 2007) to explore how these campaigns musicalize notions of “progress” and “modernization” in order to reposition these known polluters as green corporations. Finally, this paper considers how such musicalized rhetoric might highlight corporate hypocrisy, raising valuable questions about the ethical considerations implicit in such uses of music.
Travis Stimeling is an assistant professor of music at Millikin University in Decatur, Illinois, where he teaches courses in musicology and ethnomusicology. He is the author of Cosmic Cowboys and New Hicks: The Countercultural Sounds of Austin’s Progressive Country Music Scene (Oxford University Press, 2011) and served as a Senior Editor for The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, 2nd ed. His research has appeared in such journals as American Music, Popular Music, and Journal of Music History Pedagogy.
“Theorizing the Musical Landscapes of John Luther Adams” — Olga Sánchez-Kisielewska (Northwestern University) (virtual presentation) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
John Luther Adams once acknowledged musical landscape as the primary metaphor for his music (2004). Music theorists have recently addressed comparable cross-domain mappings (Brower, 2001; Larson, 2005; Spitzer, 2004; Zbikowski, 2002) drawing upon Lakoff and Johnson’s “embodied image schemata” (1980). Along these lines, Johnson and Larson (2003) defined three conceptual metaphors of musical motion arising from different ways in which our bodies experience movement: Moving Music, Music as Moving Force and Music as Landscape. This paper refines their taxonomy by considering musical time, space and agency as interacting but nevertheless differentiated parameters, while emphasizing the dependency of metaphorical understanding of music on specific aesthetic and historical contexts. When music features a temporality of “sheer continuity” (Lippmann, 1983) and the musical persona is absent, hearing music as a tridimensional soundscape can emerge as a mode of listening.
These concepts are illustrated with the analysis of Adams’ In the White Silence (1998). Employing Gibson’s (1979) ecological approach to perception, and considering recent empirical research concerning listener’s images of perceived motion in music (Eitan and Granot, 2011), I will demonstrate different ways in which the elements of the musical structure afford this spatially oriented listening strategy. My interpretation of the work maps the perception of the physical environment into sound and invites the listener to interact with the music in a manner that is sensual rather than intellectual, resonating with the composer’s philosophy of music as “deeply rooted in place and fully aware of space.”
Olga Sánchez-Kisielewska is a doctoral student in Music Theory and Cognition at Northwestern University. She holds master degrees in Music Theory (2011, NU) and Musicology (2010, University of La Rioja, Spain), and bachelor degrees in clarinet performance and economic science. Before moving to the US and embarking on her academic career, she was an active performer and music educator in Madrid. Her research interests include musical meaning, historically situated modes of listening, connections between music, literature, and the visual arts, and the phenomenology of the aesthetic experience. In the last year she has presented at several conferences in Germany, Scotland, Spain, and the United States. Olga is a student representative for Music Theory Midwest and volunteers as a docent for the Chicago Symphony Orchestra.
“Consciousness, Solidarity, and Musicking: Ecoethnographic Justice” — Andrew Mark (York University) (virtual presentation) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
Ecomusicology must consider musical, environmental, and social-justice research methods in order to achieve relevance and solidarity with the environmental movement. Whereas other environmental subdisciplines tend to focus on quantities and objects—material issues—ecomusicology can make unique contributions through focus on consciousness. Consciousness is the root cause of environmental action and justice. Research into how environmental consciousness changes by rebalancing and prioritizing processes of the aural with the visual mind-body through activities like musicking, soundscaping, and inter-species communication, is what ecomusicology can singularly contribute to the environmental movement. Without this focus, ecomusicology will be hegemonically incorporated as solely interested in literal environmental solutions (i.e. compostable iPods) because of older failures in the environmental movement to prioritize consciousness and justice.
Ecomusicology can respond to the above need through ethnography. However, activist intervention in the field moves far beyond what a single, “objective,” participant observer striving for community integration is meant to achieve through traditional ethnography. Of the charted methods to handle this dilema, appreciation of “research mandate” and positionality is essential for the ecoethnographers. In environmental studies, positionality considers not only human power and privilege, but also intersubjectivity with respect to animals, plants, minerals, and ecological processes, while a “research mandate” is generated through holistic reciprocity with researched communities. My research practice attempts to implement these ideas in concert with the Hornby Island community in British Columbia where their “ecomusicology” is mobilized to sustain and bind the community, counteracting corrosive local and global resource extraction and “development” trends.
Andrew Mark is a doctoral candidate in environmental studies and has a background in ethnomusicology and environmental sciences. His research considers the place of musicking in environmental consciousness, drawing on semiotic analysis and the utopian role of musicians in contributing to community resiliency. His dissertation focuses on the community of Hornby Island in British Columbia. Andrew is a professional performing musician in Toronto and Peterborough, Ontario, and co-produces CoHearence, the environmental studies podcast series out of York University and The Network in Canadian History and Environment. He helped co-found the SEM Ecomusicology Special Interest Group and is inspired by the explosive growth in the field. He is also likely, at the time of the conference, a proud new father, convinced just one more person could fix the population problem.
“Orchestrating Nature: Music, Manipulation, and 1950s America in Disney’s True- Life Adventure Films” — Leah G. Weinberg (University of Michigan) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
Walt Disney Company’s True-Life Adventures, a series of motion pictures produced between 1948 and 1960, were among the first commercially successful wildlife films in the United States, and developed a generic formula that has persisted for over sixty years on both the silver and small screen. Such films present what Lynn Spigel has described as a “window on the world,” mediating viewers’ relationships to nature and wild animals and shaping their attitudes toward both. While several scholars have historicized wildlife film in general and the Disney series in particular, such writers regularly overlook the films’ conspicuous and nearly continuous underscore. This music, composed by Disney studio composers Paul Smith and Oliver Wallace, integrates stylistic practices associated with silent film, wartime information film, classical Hollywood cinema, and cartoons. The resulting mélange enables the films’ rapid vacillations between slapstick comedy, violent drama, and domestic intimacy. A brief analysis of the lemming sequence from White Wilderness illustrates that this musical mélange both guides viewers deftly toward a narrative interpretation that aligns with postwar concerns and facilitates ethically dubious manipulation of both Disney’s animal subjects and their viewers.
Leah G. Weinberg is a doctoral candidate in historical musicology at the University of Michigan. Her research engages art and film music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, with a focus on minimalism, and she completed a Masters thesis on Steve Reich’s Different Trains. She has also contributed articles on Dan Zanes and the music of New England to the 2nd edition of the New Grove Dictionary of American Music.
“Sounds Heard: the Environmental Ethics & Aesthetics of Hugh Davies’s Music” — Settimio Fiorenzo Palermo (Middlesex University) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
This paper shall offer an overview of Davies’s diverse interpretations of the relationship between music and the environment: it will examine Davies’s sustainable strategies in building new musical instruments; the technologically mediated representations of nature in his electro-acoustic and small traditional ensemble works; his philosophy of sound in the location-based listening scores; the participatory element of his site-specific installations. The paper will then attempt to establish a first categorization of such approaches and will conclude by suggesting a cohesive theory of the political, social, and musical issues that Davies addressed in these works.
Settimio Fiorenzo Palermo holds a Batchelor and a Master degree in Sonic Art, both awarded by Middlesex Universtiy, London – where he is also a Visiting Lecturer in Music; he plans to complete his PhD on the work of his former teacher Hugh Davies, under the supervision of Dr. John Dack, this year. Settimio has catalogued the Hugh Davies Collection at the British Library, which consists of 282 tapes and cassettes containing recordings of and by Davies; recently he gave a talk at the BL’s Conservation Centre about this resource. He is also to co-curate two rooms displaying Davies’s invented instruments, as well as other historical documents relating to Davies’s work, this September, in an exhibition on sound practice organized by Goldsmiths College, University of London. Settimio is currently looking for funding to complete the cataloguing of the Hugh Davies Archive, held at the British Library.
“Negotiating Nature & Music Through Technology: Ecological Reflections in the Works of Maggi Payne & Laurie Spiegel” — Sabine Feisst (Arizona State University) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
Conventional wisdom has long viewed women as physiologically and psychologically more closely tied to nature than men, and, vice versa, men as more strongly connected with culture and technology. Cultural ecofeminism which developed in the 1960s has underscored this perspective and encouraged women to embrace female difference and female forms of environmental activism. However, these years have also seen the emergence of such emancipated women as Annea Lockwood, Pauline Oliveros, Maggi Payne, and Laurie Spiegel who have not only shown great ecological awareness, but who have also successfully established themselves in composition, a once entirely male-oriented cultural domain, and pioneered and used new music technologies.
Focusing on the work of Payne and Spiegel, I pursue two goals. As Payne and Spiegel are highly respected artists, but still lesser known than their female and male colleagues of the same age, I intend to introduce their work into the musicological discourse. I will show how they express ecological concerns, and moreover, probe how these two non-active feminists display and challenge ideas of ecofeminism in their technology-based ecologically conscious music. I will explore Payne’s Apparent Horizon (1996), an audio-visual piece inspired by various desert landscapes; and Spiegel’s Anon a Mouse (2003), a ten-minute animal opera drawing on sounds of mice and a dog. My study is based on published and unpublished materials including interviews I conducted with both composers. It is also indebted to environmental and ecofeminist studies by such writers as Irene Diamond, Gloria Orenstein, and Sherry Ortner.
Sabine Feisst is Associate Professor of Music History and Literature at Arizona State University. Funded by the National Endowment of the Humanities, the American Musicological Society, the Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft and the Avenir Foundation, her research focuses on music and ecology, experimental music and Arnold Schoenberg. She is the author of the monographs Ideas of Improvisation in New Music (Studio Verlag 1997) and Schoenberg’s New World: The American Years (Oxford 2011) and numerous essays, including articles on music, nature and place in MusikTexte, Beyond the Centres: Musical Avant-Gardes Since 1950 (2010), The Farthest Place: The Music of John Luther Adams (2012), and Musik – Stadt: Traditionen und Perspektiven urbaner Musikkulturen (2012). She is currently working on a monograph on music and ecology in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, editing the Oxford Handbook of Ecomusicology and, together with Denise Von Glahn, co-editing the book series Music, Nature, Place for Indiana University Press.
TUESDAY, 30 OCTOBER
8-8:30am, Registration / Breakfast
Rogers Memorial Chapel, Tulane University. Menu: Coffee and Tea Service,
Organic Mini Quiches Served Hot in Chaffing Dishes (Spinach, Tomato, Feta/Classic Loraine/Garden Herb with Julienned Veggies), Cinnamon Toast Baguette
8:30-10:30am, Panel: Beyond Metaphor, Chair: Mark Pedelty (University of Minnesota)
“Instrument Builders As Environmental Activists: A Tale of Two Tonewoods” — Marc Perlman (Brown University) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
The deterioration of the biosphere has become a threat to instrument builders, some of whom have mobilized to combat it. In this paper I tell the stories of two such mobilizations, centered on two species of tropical wood: Brazilian rosewood, which is used in guitar-making, and pau brasil, used for string instrument bows. These two examples illustrate various strategies used in the developed world to reverse environmental degradation, from neoliberal consumer-demand-driven solutions to international diplomacy. These approaches have not always coexisted easily. While the guitar-makers were trying to institutionalize a certification system for sustainably-harvested rosewood, they were overtaken by sweeping regulations promulgated by poorly-informed international lawmakers—regulations of a kind that the bow makers were able to preempt in the case of pau brasil.
The contrasting experiences of the guitar builders and archetiers invite questions about the conditions under which instrument makers can be effective activists. Ideally, consumer demand could drive sustainable forestry—but in some cases the builders are more committed to environmentalism than are their customers. Moreover, for builders to have influence over government policy, they would have to be well organized and adept at lobbying.
These conditions presuppose the effective rule of law and responsive government. For craftsmen in developing countries building instruments without elite status, where the rule of law is weak and government actions can be capricious, there will be other challenges—far more daunting ones.
Marc Perlman is Associate Professor of Music at Brown University. He specializes in the music of Indonesia, and also has research interests in the cognitive psychology of music. His writings have appeared in the journals Ethnomusicology, Asian Music, Musical Quarterly, Postmodern Culture, Music Perception, Indonesia, Social Studies of Science, as well as the New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians and the New York Times. His book, Unplayed Melodies: Javanese Gamelan and the Genesis of Music Theory (2004), won ASCAP’s Deems-Taylor Award, the Alan Merriam Prize from the Society of Ethnomusicology, the Wallace Berry Award from the Society for Music Theory, and the American Musicological Society’s Lewis Lockwood Award. In 2007-2008 he received a Mellon New Directions Fellowship to study intellectual property law. His article on the international effort to craft an intellectual property regime for traditional music appeared in Making and Unmaking Intellectual Property (University of Chicago Press, 2011).
“Small is Beautiful: Guitar Making, Sustainability and Community Building in Britain and Africa” — Kevin Dawe (University of Leeds) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
Given the dwindling supplies of traditional tone-woods worldwide, new legislation, and competition from furniture manufacturers among others, how have guitar makers responded?
This paper discusses various responses from guitar makers based in Britain and Africa. Evidence suggests that many guitar makers are exploring the use of alternative technologies and energy sources among their initiatives. The establishment and promotion of responsible and green workshops are becoming increasingly significant and affective as models of good practice both within the guitar industry and within the environmental public sphere. Luthier identities are, in many cases, linked closely to a highly developed sense of place, rooting musical instruments in a particular landscape (even if wood supplies can come from far and wide), as if their work were a seamless expression of that landscape. This is often accompanied by claims to responsible natural resource use and management with a small-is-beautiful business model where applicable, and with the promotion of an idealized relationship between local craftsmanship, aesthetics, place and community.
Kevin Dawe is Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Leeds. He trained as a musician and biologist before studying anthropology. His publications include the single-authored books, The New Guitarscape (Ashgate, 2010) and Music and Musicians in Crete (Scarecrow, 2007), the edited collection Island Musics (Berg, 2004), and the co-edited collections Guitar Cultures (Beg, 2001) and The Mediterranean in Music (Scarecrow, 2005). He is currently working on a co-authored book about musical instruments, sustainability and resource use with Aaron Allen and Jennifer Post (Illinois, 2014) as well as researching the fretless guitar scene in Turkey.
“Why Thoreau?” — Jeff Todd Titon (Brown University) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
Although Thoreau is known to environmentalists and ecocritics for his deep engagement with the natural world, it is not so well known that he was keenly attuned to natural sounds, and that his ideas about them are of continuing relevance.
In his journals, Thoreau wrote about natural sounds occupying acoustic niches. He developed a modern theory of ambient sound based on his studies of echo and of what happens to sounds as they travel over distance. His ideas of the “open ear,” the “inner ear,” the “curious ear,” and “hearing out of the side of your ear” are also of special interest, while his ideas about the body, immersion, vibration and experiential hearing anticipate contemporary theories of sound-worlds.
As a Transcendentalist, Thoreau agreed with Emerson that natural facts are metaphors of spiritual truths. Thus, literary critics [e.g., Daniel Peck, Thoreau’s Morning Work (Yale University Press, 1994) and Sherman Paul, “The Wise Silence: Sound as an Agency of Correspondence in Thoreau,” The New England Quarterly 22/4 (1949):511-527] conclude that Thoreau employs sound as a transcendental metaphor showing such correspondence between natural facts and spiritual truths. Indeed, he believed in the music of the spheres. But in the last decade of his life, Thoreau’s intense curiosity about sound moved beyond metaphor. In Walden (1854), Thoreau wrote that sounds speak in a language “without metaphor”; from then on he considered natural facts, including sound, chiefly in themselves and in relation to one another. Although literary critics see in his scientific turn a falling off in poetic powers, ecomusicologists recognize in Thoreau a deepening ecological perspective and an ancestor.
Jeff Todd Titon teaches ethnomusicology at Brown University. He participated in the environmental movement in the 1970s, and his interests in organic gardening and orcharding, and in conservation biology led him tomake the analogy between the flow of music within music cultures and the flow of energy in ecosystems (Worlds of Music, 1984). In various ethnographic essays, books, and films since then he has explored the boundaries between speech, chant and song and the way sound sacralizes space; and has published essays about music and sustainability (see his blog at http://sustainablemusic.blogspot.com) urging the adoption of principles learned from conservation ecology and the environmental movement to cultural policy concerning endangered music cultures. Most recently he has been writing about Nature’s economy and sounds in the natural world, and spoke at the University of New Hampshire’s Sustainability Unbound symposium last March on “Thoreau’s Sounding Earth.”
“Beyond Birds: (Ethno)musicologists, Environmental Scientists & the Evolution of Soundscape Ecology” — Jennifer C. Post (New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University, Wellington) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
In many ways, approaches to sounds in the natural world used by scientists in their research echo those ethnomusicologists and musicologists use today. For example, scientific studies of birds examine their songs in relation to behavior, and consider their songs as indicators of environmental health and wellbeing. Musical performance and studies related to bird song not only engage performers and scholars with the natural world nostalgically, their products reveal the significance of bird songs in the human and geophysical landscape. Beyond birds, though, scientists, musicologists, and musicians share consideration of soundscapes more broadly as well: as scientific and aesthetic indicators of place, as harbingers of ecological change, and as sites for interactions of physical, social, and cultural events.
In musicological meeting places, there is growing recognition that geophysical and biological components in sound landscapes — the ecology in acoustic ecology — play a greater role than explored in earlier research. At the same time, land change scientists and biologists are weaving a new field they call soundscape ecology to demonstrate how geophonic, biophonic, and anthropophonic realms are interconnected through soundscapes. In this paper, I discuss the chatter in forest, field, performance space, and conference room that brings the sciences and the arts more closely together in studies of music and ecology. I propose models for framing interdisciplinary relationships between the sciences and expressive forms for the emerging field of ecomusicology, referencing studies identified with sustainability, land change science, soundscape and acoustic ecologies, and music.
Jennifer C. Post currently teaches ethnomusicology at the New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington. She was curator for Asia, the Pacific, the Middle East, and North Africa at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix, Arizona from 2008 until 2011 and on the music faculty at Middlebury College in Vermont until 2007. Her current research is focused on music and musical instrument production and use in Mongolia and Central Asia.
Menu: Miniature Greek Yogurt Parfaits with Fresh Fruit and Honey Drizzle and House Made Gluten-Free Granola; Bananas and Apples
11am-1pm, Panel: 20th & 21st-century Composers, Chair: Denise Von Glahn (Florida State University)
“The Peasant’s Voice and the Tourist’s Gaze: Listening to Landscape in Luc Ferrari’s Petite symphonie intuitive pour un paysage de printemps” — Eric Drott (University of Texas at Austin) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
Luc Ferrari’s 1974 tape piece “Petite symphonie intuitive pour un paysage de printemps” was born out of a chance encounter. On a trip to the gorges of Tarn, a river valley that cuts through the limestone plateaus that form France’s Massif Central, Ferrari decided to follow a footpath up a hillside. Reaching the top, he came upon the “entirely unexpected landscape” of the Causse Méjean, whose expansive vista captivated him: “Before me a gigantic plateau widened with sweet curves and gentle valleys.… Nearly empty, the nature offered itself to the eye without any obstacle. You could see everything.”
The first fruit of Ferrari’s encounter with the Causse Méjean’s landscape was a documentary for Südwestdeutscher Rundfunk, which offered a glimpse into the everyday life of the shepherds still eking out a living on the plateau. This was followed a year later by the “Petite symphonie,” which scattered fragments of interviews conducted for the earlier documentary across a musical setting comprised mainly of looped and overdubbed flute figures (the latter a clear signifier of the bucolic). The result is a curious hybrid of electroacoustic music and documentary recording. Unlike Ferrari’s pioneering soundscape composition Presque rien no. 1, tape is not employed here to take a sonic snapshot of the Causse Méjean, but to register the attitudes and experiences of the plateau’s inhabitants. The task of evoking the plateau’s peculiar environment is left to the music that engulfs the peasants’ voices. Or, to be more exact, what evokes this environment is the specific relation Ferrari fashions between the musical ground and the intermittent snatches of speech strewn across it: the sparseness and isolation of these fragmentary conversations provide a sonic analogue to the sparseness of the terrain and the isolation of its inhabitants.
This paper examines how Ferrari’s “Petite symphonie” represents the Causse Méjean and its inhabitants, paying attention to how differences in subject-position generate discrepant interpretations of the plateau’s ecology. Crucially, by incorporating the speech of those who dwell on the Causse, Ferrari opens up within his piece a space for dissensus. Remarks made by certain interviewees reveal the degree to which Ferrari’s aestheticized vision of the plateau was a function of his transient relation to its terrain. It was, in other words, a function of the “tourist gaze” Ferrari brought to bear upon the environment, which prized the plateau’s emptiness and the virtues of what one might dub the “ecological peasant” precisely on account of their perceived distance from a putatively unnatural, alienating urban environment. By contrast, a very different vision of the Causse Méjean is sounded by its residents, one characterized not by disinterested aesthetic appreciation, but interested, practical action: the environment was not something to be enjoyed so much as endured. By showing how the music composed for the “Petite symphonie” engages with these divergent perspectives, this paper underlines the degree to which differences in class and social position translate into differences in the perception of landscape.
Eric Drott is Associate Professor of Music Theory at the University of Texas at Austin. He is author of Music and the Elusive Revolution, which discusses the intersection of music and politics in France after May 1968, was published last year by the University of California Press. His current research examines how different music genres have been put to work in exploring questions of cultural difference and pluralism in contemporary France.
“An Electronic Ecology: The Natures of David Tudor’s Electronic Music” — You Nakai (New York University) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
The composer David Tudor spoke or wrote only occasionally about his music, but when he did, he usually employed metaphors of ‘nature,’ ‘environment,’ or ‘ecology.’ As he revealed once in an interview: “I think all of my work has a strong connection to nature.” But this connection extended beyond the choice of titles such as Rainforest (1968-76) or Weatherings (1978), or the preferred use of nonhuman sound sources and the resulting soundscapes of his pieces. For Tudor often described his piece constituting in itself “an electronic ecology,” or “an electroacoustic environment.”Ó This paper argues that Tudor’s understanding of ‘nature’ as displayed in such expressions, originated from his earlier role as the performer for most of John Cage’s indeterminate works in the 1950s. While Cage-the composer stepped back to formulate his metaphysical discourse about the immersion between nature and art, Tudor singlehandedly took charge of the necessary process of making choices, reducing possibilities, and excluding one sound over another to realize Cage’s compositions. Thus, whereas ‘nature’ for Cage addressed the indeterminate character of a work (as exemplified in his well-known formulation, “the purpose of Art is to imitate Nature in her manner of operation”), the same term indicated something quite different for Tudor: the determinate character of each specific and physical process taken to realize a sonic performance. This fundamental conception was extended into his composition of electronic music. From this perspective it becomes possible to understand, for instance, the otherwise enigmatic description of Untitled (1972) stating: “electronic components are found to be natural objects.” It was the network built by multiple electronic components, each having a ‘nature,’ or ‘personality,’ of its own, that formed Tudor’s ecology. Furthermore, this idea of a work being solely composed through the mutual interactions between ‘natural objects,’ explains the curious topological metaphor of “inside” that he often resorted to, as when describing his basic concept as “the view from inside,” or naming his group “Composers Inside Electronics” (CIE). Based on an examination of unpublished documents from the Tudor archive at Getty Research Institute, a survey of his homemade instruments stored at Wesleyan University, and interviews with principle collaborators including Gordon Mumma, members of CIE and Christian Wolff, this paper will articulate the connection between Tudor’s ideas on nature and works, and attempt to derive from therein an explanation for the very reticence of the composer to discuss his music.
You Nakai studies music among other things. Currently, he is enrolled in the PhD program of musicology at New York University, working on a dissertation centering around the electronic music of David Tudor. The relocation from Tokyo to New York was funded by Fulbright scholarship. You also makes music as part of No Collective (http://nocollective.com). Their recent works include Concertos (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2011), a book which describes and prescribes a music concert in the form of a playscript, and Concertos No.4, performed with ball-shaped speakers operated by blind people in a totally dark space (premiered at the National Museum of Modern Art in Tokyo).
“Carl Ruggles, Walt Whitman, and the Gendered Place of Men and Mountains” — Jacob A. Cohen (The Graduate Center, CUNY) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
This paper offers a gendered analysis of Carl Ruggles’s piece “Lilacs,” the second movement of Men and Mountains (1924, rev. 1936 and 1941), with particular attention to Ruggles’s associations with rural landscapes. Named after Whitman’s paean to Abraham Lincoln, “Lilacs” weaves an intricate polyphony of gender and place signification based on instrumentation, the relationship of this movement to the outer two movements, and the geographically-minded reception of the work and its composer.
Like his friend Charles Ives, Ruggles often used explicitly gendered language when describing his music, yet “Lilacs” seems to simultaneously reinforce and defy the gender ideology of its creator. Additionally, Ruggles’s masculine reading of Whitman, while typical for its time, contrasts with more recent understandings of Whitman’s sexuality and poetic expressions of sex, gender, and sensuality. As Drew Massey has shown [“Imagining the Infinite in Carl Ruggles’s ‘Evocations,’” Music and Letters 92, no. 4 (2011): 582-606], Ruggles’s identified his music with the infinite or sublime, concepts that were also used to understand and heteronormatize Whitman’s sensual language.
Finally, “Lilacs” will be placed within a gendered conception of American geography. In the recent colloquy on ecomusicology that appeared in JAMS (2011), Denise Von Glahn opines that symphonic works by nineteenth-century American composers “gendered the United States via its rugged, muscular, natural phenomena and the pioneer spirit it required, male.” Ruggles associates the jagged, rural New England landscape with a heavy nostalgia for an American landscape, pre-Turner thesis, with all its gender implications. Men and Mountains is therefore a link in this discourse on women, place, and music, yet it follows nineteenth-century place-based works by almost 75 years.
Jacob A. Cohen is a Ph.D. candidate in musicology at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY). His research interests include early twentieth-century American modernist composers, rock and other popular musics, music and place, and ecomusicology. He completed his master’s thesis on place signification in the music of Aaron Copland, and authored an article on the Grateful Dead and place in an edited volume recently published by Scarecrow Press. He has written entries on rock and popular music in the New Grove Dictionary of American Music, and has published reviews in Notes. His dissertation, from which today’s paper is excerpted, examines various tropes of music and place amongst early twentieth-century American composers.
“Searching for a Sonic Ecology: John Luther Adams’s Dark Waves” — Joseph Finkel (Arizona State University) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
Fascinated with nature and ecology, John Luther Adams wrote many works inspired by his unique natural surroundings. Even though Adams has written numerous remarkable works and was called one of the most original musical thinkers of the twenty-first century, he is not widely known and little research has been dedicated to his works. In this paper I will present a case study on one of Adams’s recent compositions, Dark Waves (2007) for electronics and orchestra.
Written in response to Hurricane Katrina, Dark Waves is a twelve-minute work that suggests an enormous undulating sea. The composition begins with static pre-recorded sounds of the orchestra, which are gradually submerged by turbulent rhythms of the live orchestra, and eventually leads to a massive sonic tsunami. Adams conceived this work after reflecting on such issues as destructive wars, harmful environmental events, and the effects of climate change on the global community. My objectives are to examine Adams’s compositional philosophy and innovative use of pitch and rhythm to create a unique sonic ecology. I will explore several theories on the origins of life through water and relate them to Adams’s use of pitch and rhythmic structure. I will also show how Adams uses structural devices such as a palindromic form to suggest ideas of sustainability, the law of conservation of energy and principles of recycling. Finally I will consider whether works such as Dark Waves might lead audiences toward a deeper listening experience and greater ecological awareness.
Jospeh Finkel received the BFA in Music History with a minor in Psychology and Performance from Youngstown State University in 2010. He currently serves as a graduate assistant in the School of Music at Arizona State University, where he is pursuing a master’s degree in musicology. Joseph recently presented his Adams research at the 2012 AMS/SMT joint Rocky Mountain Chapter meeting and will also present research on John Cage’s bicentennial composition Renga With Apartment House 1776 at the Society for American Music conference in Little Rock, Arkansas. His research interests include twentieth- and twenty-first century music, experimentalism, micro-tonality and eco-criticism. His Masters thesis focuses on the music of John Cage.
1pm-2pm, Lunch (provided)
Menu: Organic Field Greens Tossed with Local Praline Pecans, Slivered Purple Onions, Granny Smith Apples, Feta Cheese and Dried Cranberries Served with a Dark Balsamic Vinaigrette; Assorted Baguette Sandwiches; Green Tea Lemonade
2-3:30pm, Panel: Contemporary Issues, Chair: Sabine Feisst (Arizona State University)
“‘The Music of Nature Makes Me Dream and Sleep’: Intersections of Nature, Gender, and Ultramodernism” — Melissa J. de Graaf (University of Miami) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
American expatriate writer Ezra Pound wrote in 1927, “If America has given or is to give anything to general aesthetics, it is presumably an aesthetic of machinery…” This aesthetic is reflected in the music of George Antheil, with the mechanical piano, wind machine, airplane propeller, and siren of Ballet Mécanique, Henry Cowell’s works for rhythmicon, and the music of Ruth Crawford and Johanna Beyer, with their mathematical explorations and dissonant counterpoint. As Carol Oja has meticulously demonstrated in Making Music Modern, American modernism, especially ultramodernism, has since its inception been identified with the Machine Age.
Less recognized is ultramodernists’ engagement with Nature. While scholars have examined Charles Ives’s reverence for the Transcendentalists and the American landscape and Carl Ruggles’s rugged Americanism in works such as Men and Mountains (1924) and Sun-Treader (1932), other ultramodernists’ relationships with nature remain unexplored. In this paper I will focus on musical works by Crawford and Beyer that reflect the composers’ affinity with their natural environment. I explore the composers’ attitudes toward and experiences in the natural world. I consider their choices in song texts and their use of ultramodernist techniques in works such as Beyer’s Three Songs (“Timber Moon,” “Stars, Songs, Faces,” “Summer Grass”), for soprano, piano, and percussion (1933) and her piano piece Bees (1930s), and Crawford’s Five Songs on texts by Carl Sandburg (“Home Thoughts,” “White Moon,” “Joy,” “Loam,” “Sunsets”) (1929). Finally, I question the ways in which gender may have intersected with ultramodernism and nature in the musical experiences of these composers.
Melissa J. de Graaf is Assistant Professor of Musicology at the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami, where she teaches courses in twentieth-century music, American music, and music and gender. Her essay on race representation in Paul Bowles’s opera Denmark Vesey was recently published in Blackness in Opera (eds. Naomi André, Karen Bryan, & Eric Saylor). De Graaf also contributed to Aaron Copland and His World and Ruth Crawford Seeger’s Worlds. Her articles have appeared in MLA Notes and American Music. Her book about music in the New Deal and the New York Composers’ Forum concerts, 1935-1940—in which she discusses issues of modernism, national identity, politics, race, and gender—will be published by Rochester University Press in 2013.
“Agency and Aural Rights: Negotiating the Soundscape, 1948 to the Present” — Alexandra Hui (Mississippi State University) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
This paper draws on work from a larger research project on the twentieth-century development of what I term “threshold listening,” a form of listening that is neither strictly active nor strictly passive. Threshold listeners may not be fully aware of the sounds their bodies are processing and yet they will respond physically and emotionally. This type of listening was actively cultivated, first by industrial psychologists, then by the corporate music industry. The increasingly sophisticated understanding and application of threshold listening was intertwined with the growth and spread of background music in both public and private spaces. Most generally I ask how this specific type of listening developed and changed over time. This paper will focus on two episodes in this history.
The first is an examination of the 1948 Supreme Court case regarding the use of background music on Washington D.C. buses. Framed in terms of rights to aural privacy in public spaces, the case turned on the testimony of psychologists (reflecting their central role in the development and implementation of background music since the beginning of the century). In contrast to noise abatement efforts that highlighted the dangerous health effects of noise, this case demonstrates that background music was understood to be distinct from noise culturally, psychologically, and legally.
The second takes up the criticisms of environmental music put forth by the World Soundscape Project asserting the rights of individuals to silence in public spaces. This case study places these critiques in the context of these working groups’ evolving conceptions of the urban landscape and efforts towards the “preservation” of “natural” soundscapes and the creation of “balanced sonic environments.” In short, the work of the World Soundscape Project (and, later, the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology) established a new framework for negotiating the aural experiences of individuals in public spaces.
In as much as ideas about background music and sound were intertwined with ideas about space, they were part and parcel of much of twentieth-century American social and cultural tensions. Indeed the rhetoric of aural rights in public spaces dovetails nicely with that of ecology, balanced environments, and preservation, suggesting that the intertwined history of threshold listening and background music followed a similar path to that of the history of nature, environmentalism, and ecology in the twentieth century: from control to manipulation to conservation. Further, I venture that this effort to raise awareness of the insidious nature of background music has had the ironic effect of making it more audible than ever.
Alexandra Hui completed her PhD in History at the University of California, Los Angeles. She is currently an Assistant Professor of History at Mississippi State University, head of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine field, and Core Faculty of the Center for the History of Agriculture, Science, and the Environment in the South (CHASES). She has published articles in Annals of Science and the Journal for the History of the Behavioral Sciences. She is co-editor and contributor to the 2013 Osiris volume on music, sound, and the laboratory. Her monograph, The Psychophysical Ear: Musical Experiments, Experimental Sounds, 1840-1910 (MIT Press, 2012) is forthcoming.
“Emergent Soundscapes: Uses of Nature and Technology in Two Electroacoustic Compositions” — Tyler Kinnear (University of British Columbia) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
The term soundscape, coined by R. Murray Schafer in the late 1960s has historically implied a preference for high-fidelity environments (where sound signals are easily recognizable, as experienced in urban contexts) over low-fidelity ones (where the sheer amount of acoustic information jeopardizes the audibility of certain acoustic events, as experienced in urban contexts). Recent scholars criticize Schafer’s bias, arguing for a non-hierarchical, yet ecologically informed, definition (Ingold 2006, Kelman 2010, Parmar 2012). Notions of soundscape have been further complicated by soundscape composition, which, with its frequent use of technology, explores acoustic environments with the intent of revealing new insights into the natural world and the human place within it. Turning to two electroacoustic works, Hildegard Westerkamp’s Talking Rain (1998) and John Luther Adams’s In the Rain (2009), this paper examines some of the ways in which soundscape composition focuses on the emergent qualities of a soundscape (i.e., when a larger acoustic entity is created through the interaction of individual sounds).
Arguably, Westerkamp and Adams deliver an ecological message when certain sounds (namely electro-mechanical) impact the perception of other, primarily natural, acoustic events—such is the case with the sound of a passing car in Talking Rain and instrumental gestures in In the Rain. By directing our attention to the sounds and rhythms of the acoustic environment, soundscape composition invites us to reflect on the acts of listening and soundmaking, as well as the implications these practices have on the larger acoustic ecosystem of which they are a part.
Tyler Kinnear is a Ph.D. student in Musicology at the University of British Columbia. His research focuses on conceptions of nature in music of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.
Menu: Assorted House Baked Cookie Platter with Pitcher of Iced Coffee, Assorted Nuts
4-6pm, Panel: Ethnographic Approaches, Chair: William Bares (University of North Carolina, Asheville)
“Mapping Outdoor Music Festival Engagement with Ecological and Environmental Issues in Australia” — Dan Bendrups (Queensland Conservatorium Resarch Centre, Griffith University) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
The nexus between outdoor music festivals, ecology and the environment has a long history, reflected in social and ideological relationships spanning numerous communities of cultural practice. Currently, these relationships are continued in the strategies employed by festivals seeking to substantiate ecological credentials, and the extent of music festival engagement with ecological concerns appears to be increasing to include a wide range of commercial musical styles and genres. As a starting point in examining this phenomenon, this paper provides an analytical model for mapping music festival engagement with ecological and environmental issues, based on participant-observation field research conducted at two recent outdoor music festivals in Australia. The first of these, the Woodford Folk Festival, is an annual folk music festival of national significance. Woodford is held in a semi-rural location that is conducive to the development of environmental consciousness. While Woodford is not tied to any particular environmental causes, the social politics of many of the festival attendees makes them receptive to environmental concerns. The second festival under consideration is WOMADelaide – the Adelaide-based WOMAD world music festival which is now in its 20th year. WOMADelaide is held in downtown Adelaide, but located in one of the city’s many public gardens. Like Woodford, the festival attracts a demographic likely to be receptive to environmental issues. These case studies provide the basis for the model proposed in this paper, which will in turn inform the development of a larger survey of outdoor music festivals and their engagement with ecology and environment.
Dan Bendrups is Senior Lecturer in ethnomusicology at the Queensland Conservatorium, Griffith University, Chair of the Australia/New Zealand Regional Committee of the ICTM, and formerly Senior Lecturer in ethnomusicology and popular music at the University of Otago, New Zealand. His core research concerns the role of music in Pacific cultures, with a particular focus on Rapanui (Easter Island), where he has conducted fieldwork since 2002. Dr Bendrups is also active as a researcher of music diasporas, especially Latin American and Baltic migrant communities, and maintains a performance profile as a trombonist in studio recording, Latin and jazz contexts. His 2011 book (edited with Graeme Downes) Dunedin Soundings: Place and Performance was the first to theorise the domain of performance as research in New Zealand music. Dr Bendrups has written on a range of topics in popular music, from cultural festivals to case studies of jazz, country, and heavy metal performance.
“Eucalyptus as Musical Resource: Some Ecological Considerations” — Robin Ryan (Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Edith Cowan University) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
Renewable musical store in Australia’s ecological web of ‘country’ is most strikingly illustrated by the Aboriginal peoples’ sourcing of iconic didjeridus (e.g. yidaki and yigi yigi) from northern Australian eucalypts. Foliage of eucalypts (e.g. yili) may also be musically endowed if it meets the necessary principles for selection of a ‘gumleaf’ instrument established by Ryan (1999). Australia’s populous southeastern crescent has housed a large number of leafists, and presently hosts a high number of threatened species of native flora. The author describes how eucalypt populations are being harvested for musical use in the fluctuating vegetation of rural and built environments. Widespread popularity of the didjeridu has led to clear-felling of some forests by non-Aboriginal ‘didj-hunters’ who supply international tourists with Ersatz (inferior products). As a foil to this exploitative practice, the resilient sound-systems of Indigenous didjeriduists and leafists perpetuate an ancient way of coping with the immediate physical environment in creative cultural response to that environment. An in situ focus on nature can evoke a sense of proportion whereby the sight and sound of blown eucalypt drone-pipes and fragile leaf matter underscores vast ecological systems subject to long-term climate change and short-term vicissitudes. No conspicuous hubris may be sweeping the eucalypts to destruction but natural and anthropogenic change constantly disturbs their ecosystem integrity. In view of a burgeoning suite of environmental threats exacerbated by global warming, this paper constitutes a valuable example of a musical practice positively impacting on, and projecting, a significant testimony of environmental knowledge and activism.
A career in music teaching led Robin Ryan to research the first Master’s thesis on urban Australian Aboriginal music at Monash University, Melbourne. Her PhD A Spiritual Sound, A Lonely Sound (1999) on the history and science of musical engagement with Australian plant life led to conference papers, journal publications and book chapters, the commissioning of entries on the gumleaf and/or didjeridu in Australian, American, German and Italian music encyclopaedias, and work as a specialist adviser/contributor to Currency Companion to Music and Dance in Australia (Currency Press, 2003). Robin spent five years as a Research Fellow in the Department of Contemporary Music Studies, Macquarie University, Sydney, before returning to her home town of Perth in 2005. As an Adjunct Lecturer and member of the Music Research Group at the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, Edith Cowan University, Robin sustains a lively interest in the relationship between conservation and music.
“Birdsong, Popular Music, &Predicting Rain in Northeastern Brazil” — Michael Silvers (University of California, Los Angeles) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
Throughout the mid-twentieth century, musicians of northeastern Brazilian popular music—called baião and forró—sang about northeastern landscapes for reasons related to migration, urbanization, national politics, and changes in the music industry. In particular, the music of Luiz Gonzaga helped construct the northeastern ecological imaginary in the national consciousness. Gonzaga’s references to birdsong reified knowledge associated with a practice known as rain prophecy, in which individuals predict the arrival of rain or periods of drought based on the careful observation of natural patterns, including the type, timing, and loudness of certain bird calls. Today, agriculturalists in rural northeastern Brazil continue the practice of rain prophecy, and some cite Gonzaga’s lyrics in explaining, recalling, and deriving meaning from the prediction of rain based on natural observations. This paper derives from nineteen months of field research in Brazil, including research in newspaper archives, sound archives, and interviews with rain prophets. I draw on ecomusicological and ecocritical theories of nostalgia (e.g., Rehding 2011) to analyze the meaning of Gonzaga’s lyrical and vocal allusions to birds and birdsong. I then discuss the acoustemological significance of birdsong in rural northeastern Brazil and explore the use of Gonzaga’s popular music to maintain and justify the practice of rain prophecy. I argue that Gonzaga’s music nostalgically mediated northeastern soundscapes and knowledge to a national audience and despite its initial commercialism as part of a mainstream music industry, is now heard in locally meaningful ways that uphold oral, traditional practices, thereby helping individuals comprehend the natural environment.
Michael Silvers has a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles, where he is currently a lecturer. Michael has conducted nineteen months of fieldwork in northeastern Brazil, supported in part by a Fulbright-mtvU fellowship. He has published on the popular music of northeastern Brazil in Vibrant: Virtual Brazilian Anthropology, a Brazilian peer-reviewed journal published by the Brazilian Association of Anthropology.
“Sounds of the Grasslands: An Ecomusicological Crisis of Romanticism, Loss, & Inheritance in Inner Mongolia, China” — Charlotte D’Evelyn (University of Hawaii) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
In the nineteenth century, waves of Chinese immigrants moved northward into the Mongolian territory known as Inner Mongolia. Mongol nomadism, which embraced a practical understanding of the land and its natural growth cycles, diminished as Chinese sedentary ways of life took root. In recent decades under the People’s Republic of China, the lush Inner Mongolian grasslands gradually turned to wasteland as agricultural practices, over-grazing, urbanization, and mining projects taxed the natural ecology. Ironically, state-sponsored “grassland songs” have promoted images of the region as a land with pristine green pastures and clear blue skies. Many Mongols express distaste toward these songs and see them as far removed from the reality of environmental degradation. As they move to urban centers and lose their traditional lifestyles, some fear that they will lose the “spirit” of their traditional music and its genuine connection to the natural world. In this paper, I explore the disconnect between Inner Mongolia’s environmental losses and idyllic representations of Mongol lands in mainstream Chinese media. I discuss the ways that Mongols have participated in and reacted to these songs and demonstrate the complex relationships that these individuals have with the Chinese state and modernity. Specifically, I reveal how select musicians have profited through their collaboration with government and commercial agendas, not to mention the conveniences of their urban lifestyles, while others have taken firm stances of discontent and have sought to preserve and transmit what is left of their environment, culture, and musical practices.
Charlotte D’Evelyn is a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa. She is an active member of the Society for Ethnomusicology and is currently serving her second term on the SEM Council. She expects to graduate in the spring of 2013 upon completion of her dissertation, “Voicing Mongol Music in the People’s Republic of China.” Her dissertation explores the politics of ethnic representation and modernization in the music of Mongols in China. Branching her research into the field of ecomusicology, Charlotte is now examining environmental degradation in Inner Mongolia and the effects of this changing environment on culture and music, particularly as perceived and acted upon by Mongols in China. Charlotte looks forward to collaborating on this project with faculty in other fields: namely, her colleague in cultural geography, Jiang Hong, who has written extensively on “sandification” in Inner Mongolia, and her spouse, Sean D’Evelyn, who works in the field of environmental economics. Such interdisciplinary collaboration will result in a broader perspective on the grassland crisis and local community responses in Inner Mongolia.
Menu: Veggie and Dip Plate, Cashew Hummus/Sweet Pea Puree
6:30-8pm, Panel: Canadian Perspectives, Chair: Ellen Waterman (Memorial University of Newfoundland)
“Sounding the Environmental Past and Present: Repurposing and Representing Soundscape in Contemporary Canadian Compositions” — Kate Galloway (Memorial University of Newfoundland) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
As anthropologist Julie Cruikshank observes, “many disciplines are reevaluating reciprocal relationships between humankind and the natural world, and some now identify nature as a category of social analysis as important as (and entangled with) class, race, and gender” (Cruikshank 2005). A number of contemporary Canadian compositions evoke the historical pasts and presents of specific Canadian places and unite the soundscapes of “urban” and “natural” environments. These works contribute to the cultural memory of specific places through sonic narrative, and the maintenance and remembrance of the acoustic heritage of specific cultural sites. These compositions use sound and place to comment upon the historical past and present of Canadian culture, and the relationships between society and Canada’s “urban” and “natural” environments. Shaped by the aesthetic and discursive practice of repurposed environmental sound–where meaning and tone is altered and layered–these compositions participate in the cultural practice of sounding, remembering, and commenting upon Canadian environments.
Grounded in ethnographic research–including interviews, performance ethnography, and listening response analysis–this presentation seeks to enhance our understanding of the shifting roles of everyday sounds and music in society. Drawing on ethnomusicology, performance studies, and interdisciplinary sound studies, I investigate how these environments are sounded and performed, how “urban” and “natural” sounds are compositionally re-contextualized through the process of “musicalization”, and suggest how place and soundscape impact, and are inscribed in modern cultural expressions, and comment upon the ever-changing environment.
Kate Galloway is a SSHRC Postdoctoral Fellow at Memorial University and its research centre for the study of Music, Media and Place (MMaP) to continue her current research project “Sounding the Environment: Representing the Environment and Environmentalism in Contemporary Canadian Music Practices”. She holds a PhD in musicology from the University of Toronto. Her research interests include experimental musics of the 20th and 21st centuries, electroacoustic music and issues of narrative and sonic materiality, participatory performance and performance ethnography in Western art music cultures, sonic geography and soundscape, inter-arts collaborations, sonic representations of the environment and environmentalism, ritual and pilgrimage performance practices, and popular music studies. She is in the final stages of completing the monograph Sounding Nature, Sounding Place: Listening to and Participating with the Sonic Geographies of R. Murray Schafer’s Patria Cycle. She has taught at the University of Guelph, Western University, and Wilfrid Laurier University.
“The Mis-imagined Native: Musically Constructing Nativeness in 1940s Canadian Radio and Film Docudramas” — Erin Scheffer (University of Toronto) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
Beginning in 1941, Canadian composer John Weinzweig was commissioned by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and the National Film Board to write incidental music for docudramas about the newly independent country. While these series focused on Canadian landscape and industry, indigenous Canadian musics were used to evoke the Canadian wilderness and aid in the creation of a distinct identity for a more fully independent Canada.
The White Empire (1945), a 13-episode CBC radio series discusses British exploration and dominion over Canada’s north. Although the content reflects the strong British influence at the CBC, Weinzweig, inserts his interpretation Inuit music into the series, evoking a “Canadian” voice in a tale of colonial conquer. The Great Flood, a 1948 NFB film, dramatizes an Iroquois legend set to Weinzweig’s scoring of “music…based on indian themes.” (Keillor, 1994) For both works, Weinzweig was inspired by recordings and transcriptions by Canadian anthropologists Diamond Jenness, Helen Roberts, and Marius Barbeau who often forced indigenous music into diatonic and pentatonic structures. Use of imagined and inaccurate native musical materials in these works leads to an essentialized view of indigenous Canadians as fixtures of the wilderness and reduction to characters on “dolls, toy canoes, and saltshakers.” (Miller, 2008) This paper will examine the how indigeneity is represented in Weinzweig’s docudrama scores, its use in creating national identity, and issues with the use of inaccurately imagined native music as a locus for nationalism.
Erin Scheffer is a PhD candidate in musicology at the University of Toronto. She also holds a Masters of Music in musicology from Florida State University and a Bachelor of Music in Flute Performance from the University of Western Ontario. Her research interests include nordicity, musical representations of the Canadian environment, John Weinzweig’s early career at the CBC, and pre-Massey report CBC docudramas. She has presented her research at the Society for American Music annual conference, the Canadian University Music Society annual conference, and the 2012 symposium for the Association for the Study of Literature and Environment.
“Sounding Empire: Coloniality and Environment in Canadian Art Music” — Jeremy Strachan (University of Toronto) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
Canada’s geopolitical space, as Harold Innis (1951) and others argue, has been produced through material processes of infrastructural development and communications technology that have attended its maturation from colony to colonial nation state. The profile of this space is dialectical, defined and maintained by the resident monopolies of knowledge and power at its centre, and the resources—industrial and cultural—extracted from its marginal extremities. The sonic complex of the real and imagined environment has been one such resource that has been scripted by composers, with conspicuous frequency, into the narrative of cultural identity in Canada.
This paper explores the critical presence of landscape and environment in Canadian art music as a byproduct of the various encounters between colonizer and colonized spaces. Specifically I consider how the residual acceleration of cultural flows from periphery back to centre has foregrounded landscape as a discursive formation (Grace 2002), and rendered the physical environment abstract. I suggest that the relationship between empire building and the elite cultural practice of art music composition is causal rather than merely antecedent: as Canada’s colonial dominion over its physical environment configured structurations of power (Berland 2009) and assumed possession of marginal territories, it granted composers license to translate the material wealth of the land into a currency of aesthetics. As more than a project of imaging Canada in sound, I contend that such practices are homologous to the violence and rupture of colonial exploit that has defined Canadian modernity.
Jeremy Strachan is a PhD Candidate in musicology at the University of Toronto. His dissertation research focuses on Udo Kasemets and the avant-garde in Toronto during the 1960s, and is supported by a SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship. Jeremy has presented his work at many scholarly meetings, contributed review essays to the Journal of American Folklore, Oral History, MLA Notes, and Intersections, and recently co-edited the current issue of the Canadian Music Centre’s quarterly publication “Notations.” He also performs occasionally as a saxophonist and guitarist around Toronto.
8-9pm, Reception & Concert
Menu: Pasta Salad with Sundried Tomato Pesto in Votives, Café au Lait Bites
“Birding,” an eco-improvisational performance by ~spin~ — James Harley (University of Guelph), computer, and Ellen Waterman (Memorial University of Newfoundland), amplified flutes [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
~spin~ is an improvisational duo that combines elements of field recording and soundscape composition with live flute performance and signal processing. One of the aims of the project is to explore the territory between recognizable sound sources and/or instruments and more abstract, processed sounds. It is our conviction that highlighting sounds from nature—birdsong, insects, wind, water, etc.—in the context of a musical performance may help to increase sensitivity to, and concern for, the environments implied or evoked by these recorded sounds. Our performance practice places a premium on deep listening, the act of striving to hear all sounds, all the time in a spirit of increasing environmental awareness. Each of our structured improvisational pieces stems from a particular theme. Birding is the improvised interaction of field samples of birdcalls with piccolo, spatialized and processed over time. It references the historical use of the flute to signify bird song in Western art music (particularly Beethoven, Messiaen and Schafer), but refuses sentimental associations. What begins as a delicate pastoral soundscape quickly evolves into a darkly chaotic sonic environment that points to the fragility of the very locations (wetlands, primary forest) where the birds were recorded.
In this presentation, we will briefly discuss the sound sources, the processing, and the improvisational strategies for the performance. We will then present a performance. While normally we perform within an immersive surround-sound space, we are adapting to a simpler, four-channel presentation for practical reasons.
James Harley is a Canadian composer and researcher presently teaching at the University of Guelph. He obtained his doctorate at McGill University in 1994, after spending six years in Europe. His music has been awarded prizes in Canada, USA, UK, France, Poland, Japan, and has been performed and broadcast around the world. A number of Harley’s works are available on disc and his scores are primarily available through the Canadian Music Centre. He composes music for acoustic forces as well as electroacoustic media, with a particular interest in multi-channel composition. As a researcher, Harley has published widely on aspects of contemporary music. His book, Xenakis: His Life in Music, was published in 2004. A McKnight Foundation grant in 2002 enabled him to pursue creative research in soundscape composition and has led to a series of compositions, performances, and publications. His essay on the relationship between nature and music in his Wild Fruits series is forthcoming in The Art of Immersive Soundscapes (Central Plains Press). With flutist Ellen Waterman, Harley is one half of ~spin~ duo, which creates pieces at the nexus of soundscape composition, live performance and real-time sound diffusion.
Ellen Waterman is both a music scholar and a flutist specializing in creative improvisation and contemporary music. She is currently Dean of the School of Music at Memorial University of Newfoundland. Waterman worked closely with soundscape studies founder R. Murray Schafer between the mid-1980s and 2000, and has published widely on his environmental music theatre project Patria. Her research at the intersections of acoustic ecology, sound studies, and performance may be found in three edited collections: Sonic Geographies Imagined and Remembered (2004), a special issue of the journal Intersections on women and sound (2006) and The Art of Immersive Soundscapes (forthcoming from Central Plains Press). As a flutist, Waterman is represented on premiere recordings of works by Brian Ferneyhough (CRICD 652) and R. Murray Schafer (CMCCD 8902, MW72). She has had the privilege of improvising with such great musicians as George Lewis, Pauline Oliveros, Miya Masaoka, Nicole Mitchell and Jesse Stewart, among others. With composer James Harley, Waterman is one half of ~spin~ duo, which creates pieces at the nexus of soundscape composition, live performance and real-time sound diffusion.
WEDNESDAY, 31 OCTOBER
Morning: SEM Pre-Conference, Crisis & Creativity (Tulane University)
* Separate advance registration necessary.
Afternoon: ESG-ESIG Outing, Honey Island Swamp Tour (separate advance registration necessary, meet in Sheraton lobby) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
Join us for a visit to the Pearl River Wildlife Refuge (transportation provided) and have a guided boat tour of a river swamp, the 250-square-mile Honey Island Swamp (some of which is a permanently-protected wildlife area). The tour will be lead by a professional company.
THURSDAY-SUNDAY, 1-4 NOVEMBER
AMS / SEM / SMT Annual Meeting (Sheraton New Orleans, downtown; separate advance registration necessary)
SUNDAY, 4 NOVEMBER
2pm-6pm, ESG-ESIG Outing: Barataria Preserve Hike (separate advance registration necessary, meet in Sheraton lobby) [+ Show Abstract & Bio][- Hide Abstract & Bio]
We will hike in the Barataria Preserve of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. The Preserve is a short drive outside of New Orleans (transportation provided) and is an oasis of live oaks and bald cypress trees, alligators, and countless bird and plant species. It’s an opportunity to encounter some of natural beauty of the area and experience Louisiana’s disappearing wetlands.