Ecomusicologies 2013: Abstracts (by author)

Burrell, Robert W B: Becoming, Interspecies-consciousness-transfer, live performance with electro-acoustics and music composition
This paper is a descriptive study of the creation of a new ecomusicological work that used interspecies-consciousness-transfer, practice-based and led methodology, electro-acoustics and philosophical argument to explore the theories of becoming as representative of the concept of ‘bringing forth’ new truth. The presentation of the paper will be accompanied by the live performance of the work Taman Malim.
The composition which was the focus of the study harnessed electro-acoustics, live performance and Malaysian avian motifs. Electro-acoustics to create an accompanying soundscape of birdcalls, and to manipulate particular calls in interplay with the live performer. Live performance with two extra dimensions: the first being extended flute technique and the second being the live application of a digital signal processor to create a ‘more-than-flute’ timbre. The inter-species-consciousness-transfer was from Malaysian avian songs, which were transcribed into common notation for the melodic, harmonic and rhythmic elements of the composition as a provocative operator.
This paper argues that the ‘coming into being’ notion of Whitehead’s process-relational philosophy authenticates the creative act as valid research in uncovering ‘cultural’ truth. That Heidegger’s insights into the ‘bringing forth’ of art supports this premise as does Nietzsche’s tenants that what matters in existence lies in the dynamic and energetic qualities of becoming. That process-relational philosophy’s panexperientialism and notions of the inter-relatedness of all things requires a commitment to the sustainability of the ecology of the planet.

DelCiampo, Matt: A Place to Call Home: Broad Resonances from Local Places within Contemporary Popular Music
Music reflects people, time, and place. But with increased interconnectivity that comes with globalization, some scholars have argued that we risk a “cultural grey-out,” or perhaps, a sense of placelessness. Acknowledging this concern, my paper examines how two contemporary musicians engage with localized ideas about place within a globalized society. Through personal and published interviews, and musical and video analysis, I explore how Nick Zammuto and Dan Deacon represent very personal places in their music, specifically the places they call home.
Nick Zammuto, as one half of the now defunct folktronica duo known as The Books, uses home movies, videotapes, old records, and answering machine tapes as the base for his music. His extensive sound library was created through years of acquiring such discarded media at thrift shops while on tour. This recycling and repurposing mentality is mirrored in Zammuto’s self-sufficient, live-off-the-land lifestyle, revealing consistency in both his music and personal life. Dan Deacon found inspiration for his 2012 album America while traveling the country by tour bus and watching the landscapes change rapidly. Having never felt at home while touring internationally in years previous, America and the music videos for the album reveal both a nationalistic pride and a local indebtedness to his home city of Baltimore.
While Zammuto’s and Deacon’s biographies and fan bases overlap at many points, they compose very different music, and ideas about place within their music are distinct. Taken together, personal notions on what it means to be at home can be heard and seen in the pair’s music videos, revealing an acute sense of interconnectedness between their homes and listeners’ homes. Collectively, Zammuto’s and Deacon’s musical approaches and filmic techniques connect listeners to their own homes, whereby listeners find personal connections through a communal understanding of what it means to be at home.

Gifford, Toby, Vanessa Tomlinson and Nora Farrell: Sounding the Con
Sounding the Con is a pilot study in understanding our built environment through creative interactive investigation. Building on recent models of creative intervention in architecture and urban design, the combination of interactive creativity coupled with research into sonic principles provides new pathways towards awareness of place, building of spaces, and re-imagination of existing sites.
Sound in urban planning and architecture, if considered at all, is generally discussed as noise pollution, framing sound as a problem to be designed around. Yet the unique character of any given urban soundscape contributes to inhabitants’ sense of identity and belonging. In parallel with the shift from ecocentricism to anthropocentrism sparked by the Reformation, the industrialisation of glass making processes transformed urban experience into what Shafer calls “The Glazed Soundscape”. Separating the visual world beyond the window from our auditory experience “one cannot help feeling that the mind-body split of the Western world will only be healed when some of the glass in which we have sheathed our lives is shattered, allowing us again to inhabit a world in which all the senses interact instead of being ranked in opposition”. This shift towards the austere Puritanical vision of ‘environment as purgatory’ has de-emphasised the materiality and spatial character of our environment itself. Through the exploration of the creative possibilities latent in our built environment we aim to make inroads to “allowing us again to inhabit a world in which all the senses interact”.
Sound is a central aspect of our perception of space. Sounding the Con aims to enhance awareness of the implications and potentialities of architecture for sound. This re-engagement with the material character of environment is apposite to “Sustaining Music, Engaging Communities”; in particular to living traditions of indigenous music, which frequently understand place and belonging in terms of sound and music.

Gillespie, Kirsty: Musical Landscapes of Lihir: Exploring the Relationship of Performance and Place in a Museum Exhibit
The exhibition, ‘Musical Landscapes of Lihir’, curated in collaboration with the Lihir Cultural Heritage Association, presented artefacts of performance culture from the Lihir Islands in New Ireland Province, Papua New Guinea. The exhibition ran from March 1 through to August 9, 2013 at the University of Queensland Anthropology Museum. It brought together contemporary Lihir items related to performance (many of which were made especially for the exhibition), an international loan of Lihir artefacts from the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, USA, and multimedia items including film and sound recordings that set the audio and visual scene. The aims of the exhibition were multiple: to showcase Lihir culture to the outside world, to illustrate the range of performance practices in Lihir, and to interrogate the relationship of these practices to the Lihir landscape. This paper presents some of the curatorial decisions and challenges surrounding the display of Lihir performance culture in the museum context and the realisation of these overall aims, all the while locating the exhibition project and the items therein in the context of the large-scale gold mining that is occurring within the islands and the effect of this on Lihir society, performance and the landscape.

Golden, Michael: The Music In and Of Ecology
It’s an interesting question to consider whether music has had a crucial role in the evolution of our species, but whether beneficial adaptation or “auditory cheesecake” (per Stephen Pinker), music adequately defined is a universal phenomenon among humans. If, rather than focus on the evolutionists’ narrow criteria, we consider this phenomenon in the context of developing work in ecology, systems science, and neurobiology, we begin to see that the musical activities of humans (musicking is a useful inclusive term, contributed by Christopher Small) can be understood as continuing the development of essential processes common to all living things in their interactions with their environments.
The theory of cognition developed by Maturana and Varela takes “knowing the world” to be a fundamental process of all living organisms, and states that organisms modify their own internal structures in response to interaction with the environment, and that the environment (including other organisms) triggers but does not determine the nature of these structural changes. There might be a tinge of solipsism in these ideas, but the theory further develops the idea of “structural coupling,” which occurs when organisms have an extended pattern of interaction.
With these and related concepts in mind, we examine music as a mode of interaction among organisms in an ecosystem. Hearing, among our senses, is perhaps best suited to the task of connecting our internal and external worlds. We find that traditions from around the globe throughout history and have emphasized the role of musicking in harmonizing human lives with both our social and physical environments. Drawing on recent work in neuroscience, we discuss some of the structural developments that seem to emerge through musicking, the impact on specific human abilities, the impact in our social/cultural environment, and in general, music’s relationship to the interconnectedness of life that characterizes ecology.

Hadl, Gabriele: Eco Media Literacy: Sound Recording and Video Production in Media Education for Sustainability
Media literacy education has long aimed to empower young people to engage critically and creatively with media content and technologies. However, little attention has been given to (1) the environmental impact of media consumption and production and (2) the potential of media education to raise environmental awareness, for example understanding and analyzing how media construct environmental problems, or using media production to enhance people’s awareness of their living environment and the natural world, or using digital storytelling techniques to create historically rooted narratives about climate change. Environmental education, on the other hand, has viewed media as merely instrumental- e.g. for transmitting information about environmental problems or creating emotional involvement in them. This paper presents preliminary findings from a research project on media and environmental education, aimed at creating a textbook from high school to university and continuing education settings.

Hammond, Jane: A Cuckoo in Tamworth: Eco-composition in Regional Australia
Music does not express ideas, thoughts, or make statements in the same way language seemingly does. Nevertheless composers can and do engage with, and comment on, contemporary social and political issues through their original compositions. In his Pastoral Symphony (2001) the Australian composer Brett Dean expressed his deep anxiety about environmental and species destruction. Recordings of Australian birds are incorporated into the composition but by the end of the work all of the birdsong has disappeared and the sound world is full of noisy and harsh human-made sounds.
Dean’s apocalyptic vision is one way of engaging with the issue of environmental destruction. Music and the activities of music-making also have the ability to initiate and inspire feelings of engagement and participation, a sense of belonging and a sense of place that can be exploited in a positive way by creative artists concerned with developing an awareness of environmental issues within their own communities.
In this paper I discuss my recent composition, A Cuckoo in Tamworth, in relation to place, ecology and community and the activist role that artists can take in their creative work. Far from presenting sublime or apocalyptic visions, this light-hearted work for brass quintet features the call of the Common Cuckoo, Cuculus canorus, and that of the Koel, or Cooeebird, as musical motifs in combination with references to other musical works. Many Australians are familiar with the call of the Common Cuckoo and its presence in the Western classical tradition from the medieval rota Sumer is icumen in to Mahler’s First Symphony but are less aware that there are cuckoos who also lay their eggs in other birds’ nests and who perform their persistent and musically distinctive call in many parts of Australia.

Johnson, Keith: ‘Our climate quickens our sensibility…’: Montesquieu’s Contribution to a Theory of Listening in Eighteenth-Century England
Among the more curious passages of Montesquieu’s monumental political treatise, The Spirit of the Laws, from 1748, is book fourteen: ‘laws in relation to the nature of the climate’. Here Montesquieu outlines a model of environmental determinism in which the climates of respective nations govern the ‘passions’ and ‘character’ of their people. In particular, Montesquieu takes note of the differing reactions that music provokes among the English and the Italians. ‘One is so cold and phlegmatic’, he wrote, ‘and the other so lively and enraptured’.
This paper argues that Montesquieu’s climatological theory of character—often a target for ridicule by his contemporary political theorists—played a pivotal role in musical criticism during the third quarter of the eighteenth century. Debates surrounding the nature of music’s effect on the body reveal that English critics used Montesquieu’s categories to conceptualize relationships between music, audience, and environment. When the surgeon Samuel Sharp returned from Italy in 1766 and reported disapprovingly of the state of women’s musical education, the Italian critic Giuseppe Marc’Antonio Baretti was moved to write a stinging riposte the following year. What is remarkable is that Baretti drew upon Montesquieu’s theory to defend the lack of training. ‘Our climate quickens our sensibility in such a manner, that music affects us infinitely more than it does other nations’, he proclaimed—suggesting that musical education would excite Italian ‘passions’ beyond propriety. While Baretti’s comments about unruly opera audiences have informed scholarship on eighteenth-century listening practices, his articulation of a climatological theory remains unexplored. Baretti’s extensive and colourful comments on the links between listener’s responses and climate demonstrate that Montesquieu’s theory enjoyed positive standing among even southern Europeans living in England. Repositioning Montesquieu within eighteenth-century debates about musical practice therefore reveals that climate theory was a defining tool for musical criticism in eighteenth-century Europe.

Pedelty, Mark: Environmentalist Music Video and the Thoreauvian Singularity
Environmentalists have added musical video to their strategic toolkits. Take an example from the woods of Galiano Island, British Columbia. Adrian Chalifour, who goes by Towers and Trees, filmed himself singing an updated version of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” and posted the introspective recording on Youtube (2012). Musical activists like Towers and Trees perform in the Thoreauvian tradition. Thoreau and fellow transcendentalists, enraptured by the environmental sublime, were moved to communicate their solitary experiences to mass audiences. Towers and Trees’ Youtube video is reminiscent of Thoreau’s diary (2010) in that we are looking over the soloist’s shoulder as he reflects upon, and within, nature. In such media we are “together alone,” a positive converse to Sherry Turkle’s dystopic vision, Alone Together (2011). Examples like Towers and Trees’ hold out hope that digital networking can connect individuals to each other and the local places they collectively cherish. However, the musical activists’ practice is not without its contradictions. As Malcolm Gladwell suggests, social media can serve as a cathartic substitute for more fundamental forms of environmental organizing (2010).
Based on ethnographic interviews and participant observation, this paper examines the environmental music video phenomenon. Additional Cascadian cases will be brought in for context, such as Dana Lyons environmental musicianship in Western Washington State. It is argued that, among other things, these solo musicians use performance in much the same way that Thoreau performed musical writing: in the hopes that cultural inertia might be called into question and, at the same moment, new opportunities for sustaining place made possible. Such elusive moments, performances, and mediations might be referred to as “social singularities.” Whether or not such singularities exist, as an ideal type they fuel utopian activist performance and serve an important role within environmentalist movements.

Post, Jennifer C: Traditional Ecological Knowledge, Mobile Pastoralism and Musical Expression in Mongolia
Mobile pastoral herders in Mongolia demonstrate ecological awareness in their land management strategies that play key roles in their efforts to make the grasslands and mountain steppes available for future generations to use. While their nomadic lives are particularly challenged today by national and international efforts to privatize land, and by weather events that impact the health and welfare of their livestock, historically pastoralists have often been forced to adapt to changing biological, geophysical, and social environments. With in-depth practical knowledge of Mongolia’s ecosystems and demonstrated resilience in the face of change, herders are often identified as caretakers of the lands they frequent. Strategies exhibited by mobile pastoralists to support land management include the use of cultural forms that provide their communities critical ecological information. In this paper I argue that traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) and cultural production that herders share to address caretaking ancestral lands plays a critical role in the dissemination of knowledge and is especially significant during this period of extreme change in their environment. Using examples from representative ethnic groups in Mongolia, including the dominant Khalkh as well as Kazakh, Tuvan, and Urianghai peoples, I will demonstrate that herders in this region utilize specific styles and forms of music to reinforce their mobile and pastoral lives. Ecological knowledge is transmitted both directly and implicitly in the lyrics of their songs, in mimetic instrumental tunes about local landscapes, in musical instrument production, and in other expressed knowledge about their geophysical and biological environment that they share.

Rickwood, Julie: Harmony to the Earth: A critical examination of the repertoire of Ecopella
Ecopella is a network of five community choirs that sing about the “beauty of our world and the struggle to protect it from exploitation and destruction”. Ecopella believes that its high standard of a cappella singing and their songs encourage “positive change in people’s thoughts and actions”. The repertoire is environmentally themed and original material emerges from members of the choir. Stylistically their influences include folk, classical, popular songs, and occasionally jazz. Ecopella suspects that audiences might imagine an environmental choir to be “a gloomy ensemble”. The choir insists, however, that its sense of fun fills each performance with positive and satirical messages, and “even when the mood becomes serious the beauty and solemnity of the music uplifts the listener”.
Ecopella has released two CDs: An Organism Called Earth in 2002 and Songs In The Key Of Green in 2008. The repertoire includes titles such as ‘Air’, ‘Asbestos’, ‘The Corporate Director’s Guide To Handling Environmental Criticism’, ‘Eroded Hills’, ‘Fragile’, ‘Living in One World’, ‘Message from Mother Earth’, ‘Ode to Soil’, ‘Pollution’, and ‘Who Cares about the Human Race’. This paper undertakes a critical examination of the repertoire and song lyrics of Ecopella in order to explore the themes that emerge and the manner in which it endeavours to bring a sense of harmony to environmental activism.

Rosenblum, Ely: Music in The Medium: An Ecomusicological Analysis of Field Recordings
In this paper I propose that ecological frameworks of listening can be employed as a relational practice within musicology; a training of the ear and aesthetic valuation of recorded works in contexts outside their time and place. Ecomusicology is a duality of perspectives on musical meaning, especially pertinent to a discussion of field recordings and soundscape composition. Musicologist Alexander Rehding discusses two approaches to ecological studies within musical meaning: an apocalyptic mode – music that references a human-impelled destruction of the environment – and the nostalgic imagination derived from musical works and performances. While interest in an ecologically minded musicology is developing, so too is an ideal committed to interdisciplinary relationality. Nicholas Cook encourages studies of performance that employ empirical analyses of musical works by other means. A relational musicology’s potential solution to the inherent ephemerality of performance practice is through empirical scholarship surrounding recordings: a practice by which the means of documenting musical events is made possible. The ability to document acoustic environments and musical information simultaneously has caused a reformation in compositional practice, exploring the connections between Tony Schwartz and R Murray Schafer’s respective approaches to music and the environment. What might compel composers to record the ‘natural’ sounds, how field recordings and soundscape analyses connect music, the social and the environment, and what inherent musicality lies within the recorded form is explicated through a relational, ecomusicological analysis of soundscapes. The Kantian notion of ‘nature’s rule to art’, which Rehding suggests in an ecomusicological framework is our primary means of comprehending our surrounding environment through expressive practice, is itself a form of relationality. I will discuss the manner in which field recordings demonstrate the duality of ecomusicology by reaching out to our sonic environment, meaning to organise it for the elucidation of musical and communicative understanding.

Singh, Raj Shobha: Katajjaq: Between Vocal Games, Place and Identity
Throat singing is a specific type of vocalization that produces two or more notes, textures, or timbres simultaneously. Performed by Indigenous populations throughout the world, throat singing is an integral component of cultural heritage among the Inuit of Canada. Katajjaq (pl. katajjait), a Nunavik Inuit term, refers to women’s vocal games and the accompanying throat singing involved in its communal performance.
This paper will approach Inuit throat singing with an ecomusicological perspective in an attempt to discover how virtual and sonic environments help to produce katajjait. I hope to address how musical creativity and the ability to partake in vocal games is dependent on the auditory environments that exist around the Inuit. In addition, I hope to discuss how environment helps to situate performers within their local and cultural identities.
The research methods I will employ include books, journal articles as well as audio and video recordings. Furthermore, an interview with award winning Inuit throat singer, Tanya Tagaq will help to provide insight to performance practices that remain unacknowledged. Along with research and Taqag’s interview, I hope to address the following lacunae: How do sonic environments help foster the creation of katajjait? How does katajjat reflect the connections between the Inuit and their surrounding world? How does place (or local environment) affect music making and Inuit identity? How does throat singing express Inuit culture and simultaneously address any changes in traditions and beliefs? How does katajjaq shape environment and how does environment shape katajjaq? How does katajjaq express local environment and environmental processes to a larger geographical world?

Smith, Alex: From the Planet to the Marimba: The Self-sustainability and Artistic Voice of Matt Kazmierski and Planet Marimba
Like most commodities in our globalized market economy, the production of the Western marimba often requires the use of outsourced labor and the consumption of natural resources – many of which are appropriated internationally and becoming increasingly rare. While the marimba market demands the incorporation of such rare resources like Rosewood and African Padouk, consumers still have an opportunity to select manufacturers of their instruments that are dedicated to sustainable processes of production. This paper presents one of such sustainable marimba craftsmen.
Matt Kazmierski is the owner of the Michigan-based marimba craft company, Planet Marimba. Kazmierski’s mission is to be a self-sufficient marimba craftsman. Through his development of all-wooden resonators, posts, and frames, Kazmierski transcends self-imposed and pre-existing structural forces that dictate his production processes with an innovative artistic voice. Kazmierski’s conscious commitment to self-sustainability allows him to avoid conditions that would ordinarily lead to outsourcing or other market-induced sacrifices. The goal of this paper is to make visible alternatives such as Kazmierski’s Planet Marimba, helping to alleviate unsustainable globalized consumptive trends and fostering a reconnection between the makers and players of musical instruments, natural resources, and environment.

van Hout, Philip: Uncaging Sonic Rhizomes: Finding a Methodology for Sound Ecology Research
The presentation explores aspects of John Cage’s work as a gateway that bridges the territories of sound, noise and music where sonic compositions employ real life and can arguably lead into the deciphering of the meaning of sound as distinct from noise. Methodologically the keynote frequencies of a sound environment act as a plateau for rhizome points that map out a sonic connection between the environment, communities, habitats, convergences and interactions. All of which incorporating lines; of being machines, environment machines, infrastructure and artillery nodal machines each integrating and connecting to larger state‐wide—national—international machines. In a similar fashion to Cage’s use of silence as a platform for a performance, keynote frequencies are extracted and used from a recorded location such as city, park, grassland or even the desert. These extractions are used sonically as ‘agar on a Petri dish’ to allow for other sample recordings to be inserted onto them as you would with a swab of bacteria onto the agar. By using this method it allows for research to analyse and interpret an encompassment of sound rather than the individualism of symbols and sound marks and for environmental elements such as historical development, the wearing of time, of climactic conditions that harbour as well as extinguish life, to be monitored and compared as connecting elements rather than isolated decibel events. By gaining a greater understanding of these underlying keynote frequencies, of ‘silence’, and using them as the base for examining sound events, a shift of sonic empowerment occurs where ideas adopt and adapt to the environment rather than being removed.

Weston, Donna: The Deep Ecology of Music Festivals
The intersection of ecomusicology and popular music studies provides the disciplinary context for the topic of this paper: outdoor music festivals as catalysts for engagement with environmental issues in Australia. The festivals discussed formed part of a pilot study, in which it was observed that they all manifested a sense of community, common purpose, ritual and celebration. Although the style of music and audience for each event was distinctly different, a common theme of advocacy for environmental awareness and action was observed.
It is proposed in this paper that just as ecomusicology emerged out of the initial recognition of a need for environmental studies, so too is the ethos of ‘humanity before individualism’ evident in these music festivals representative of a late 20th century shift in consciousness toward a recognition of the complex relationship between humans and the earth, best exemplified through the philosophy of Deep Ecology. The relationship between environmental themes and the outdoor music festival will be explored in the context of this shift. It is hoped that this intersection of ecomusicology and popular music studies will flow into the wider community and help environmental advocacy organisations better connect with their audiences as well as raise awareness of the potential for music to connect people with their environment and therefore affect real eco-cultural change.