Saturday, October 3, 2009

Fall Chapter Meeting October 3, 2009 (UConn)

AMS-NE Fall Chapter Meeting
Saturday, October 3, 2009
University of Connecticut

Presenters and Abstracts

Hilary Poriss, "Prima Donnas and the Performance of Altruism"

If biographers of nineteenth- and twentieth-century prima donnas are to be believed, the ranks of famous divas were once filled with an abundance of philanthropists willing to donate huge sums to worthy causes. A comparison of their accounts, however, sheds doubt on this image, for the same story continually reappears: encountering a wretched pauper (typically an orphan or an old man), the diva instinctually recognizes their intense inner beauty, and in an emotional frenzy, hands them whatever is needed (money, clothes, and funds for housing and education). That variations of this narrative appeared regularly throughout biographies of Malibran, Lind, Pasta, and Grisi, as well as many others, indicates that there is far more to this story than meets the eye.

In this study, I deconstruct this narrative as it pertains to famous divas throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, analyzing these stories as they appear in biographies of numerous prima donnas. In particular, this essay seeks to understand the striking similarities among these narratives of philanthropy, and to identify the cultural work that they have accomplished. Specifically, these stories served to cast a positive light on prima donnas, public figures widely disparaged for the power they exerted and for their apparent greed, moving from city to city and managing to collect immense fees for their services as they went without contributing to society around them. Narratives of generosity help mitigate images of avariciousness, humanizing the prima donna, and situating her among the ranks of many other middle- and upper-class women who devoted their spare time toward helping those in need.

Andrew Shenton, "Negotiating Rapture: Tekno, Teknival, and T.A.Z.: The Temporary Autonomous Zone"

The teknival (a portmanteau of tekno and festival) is a liminal space that perfectly fits the descriptor Temporary Autonomous Zone (Hakim Bey, 1985). A large subculture is involved in this type of TAZ as both a group and personal experience. Often aided by the utilization of illicit narcotics, the zone becomes a ‘safe space’ for divesting one of self and of negotiating personal rapture. Providing a unique double disengagement with normality, the TAZ operates outside the boundaries of criminal justice, and, through music and drugs, the person operates outside normal representation of self.  

I posit that music is not incidental but rather a key feature of the teknival TAZ. Music helps the individual reconstruct self out of the ontological anarchy (another term from Bey) provided by the teknival. Sketching the history of terminology and technique, and using specific examples from an outdoor teknival in Australia, I demonstrates that the teknival is antithetical to the humanist tradition and explore those ways in which, freed from convention and regulation, it requires a different kind of experiential engagement with sound and with listening. Sensory alteration through narcotics and the disengagement from self and from circumstance necessitates an even broader basis for musicological research that is sociological, psychological, neurological, and metaphysical. 

Engaging in group identity in a TAZ permits suppression of conventional personal identity. Music remains the principal tether to the mundane and the significant stimulus to exploration of an ecstatic state and the transformation of self. Using comparative examples of free tekno from across the globe, I demonstrate that rather than being variations on a repetitive and relentless kick-drum beat at a certain pulse, this music embraces enormous sonic range filled with color, subtlety and variation (much of which can be appreciated without chemical sensory alteration). I explore issues of national identity using Goa trance (India), and CzechTek and highlight the specific associations with this music and dance forms such as the Melbourne Shuffle and Glowsticking. Ultimately this paper presents a reevaluation and reengagement with a popular music that has been dismissed as facile and undistinguished, but which actually invites innovation and inspiration from its creators and a different mode of perceiving sound from its listeners.

Seth Brodsky, "Memorial Utopianism in Late Twentieth-Century European Composition" 

In the Europe of autumn 1989, "New Music" does not occupy center stage. But it is staging something nonetheless, and in the month or so before the Wall comes down and the official re-zoning of Western utopias begins, it is possible to find some of the continent’s most established and performed composers covertly waxing utopian as they introduce their new works. September 23rd: György Ligeti describes the first of his second book of piano Ètudes, "Galamb borong", as an "imaginary gamelan-style music, native to a foreign island that one won’t find on any map." September 28th, Geneva: Helmut Lachenmann imagines his II. Streichquartett as an attempt to extract, from behind the "façade" of "dead tone-structures," the "object of experience, now restored to life"—"a plea, if you permit, for the fantasy of the emperor’s new clothes." October 22nd, the Donaueschingen Musiktage: Wolfgang Rihm asserts in a note about his work for two sopranos and orchestra, Frau/Stimme, that "freedom in art is immediately eliminated as soon as it is ‘realized’ outside of its utopian location. There isn’t one, but it’s the only motivation for art that I can understand..." October 30th, London: Luciano Berio directs the Philharmonia in the first performance of Continuo, "an adagio, ‘distant and descriptive’...a hardly habitable, a non-permanent, contradictory building; one that is virtually open to a continuous addition of new wings, rooms and windows..."

A non-existent island, an improbable resurrection, an unrealizable location, a hardly habitable building: four scrupulously ambivalent images of utopian thinking, staging themselves in certain ìno-placesî of European life just as its split political center is imploding. Utopian fantasies are hardly alien to postwar European musical modernism, whose self-mythology recollects dreams of a "music degree zero" and a "Vollkommenheit of orderings" as often as the names of Boulez and Stockhausen. The visions conjured above by Ligeti, Lachenmann, Rihm, and Berio imply a different story. They insinuate a double move of proposition and retraction, in which the concept of utopia itself stands trial. They position their authors less as followers of the heroic Darmstadt days than as its melancholic revisionists. 

This paper argues that these premieres, otherwise so aloof from the radical political shifts of their moment, are nonetheless exemplary of a much wider cultural directive in late 20th-century European "New Music," one which regulates critical and institutional recognition, pride of place in archives and textbooks, and inclusion in the canon of contemporary artists allowed to speak for a Europe whose political and economic pragmatism buffers itself with a culture of ambivalent "memorial utopianism." According to this logic, to be considered at the turn of the millennium as both a great composer and a European (in Milan Kundera’s sense: "one who is nostalgic for Europe") is to have successfully constructed oneself as an artist for whom composing is an insoluble problem: simultaneously a fabulist and masochist of the European dream of the best world.

Stefano Graziano, "The Lute and the Dance: The Intabulatura de lauto Libro Quarto of Joan Ambrosio Dalza “Milanese”

From the beginning of the early fifteenth century, Italian signori increasingly developed their programs of artistic patronage as a way of advertising the court, its political power, and its cultural magnificentia. Some of the most opulent “court advertising” took place during the grandiose feste and banquets that were themselves important points of convergence for displays of culinary, theatrical, and musical spectacle. By the end of the century, too, dancing had become integrated into the cultural formation of Italian nobility, becoming as well a matter of competition between Italian courts.

While Italian lutenists were often hired—both by the court and by municipal authorities—to accompany and to perform ensemble dances, such music was not written down until the early sixteenth century. The first printed anthology of dance music appears in 1508 with Petrucci’s publication of the Intabulatura de Lauto by the Milanese lutenist Joan Ambrosio Dalza, the fourth and final installment of Petrucci’s landmark series of lute publications. The sometimes enigmatic titles of Dalza’s dances betray both Italian and Spanish origins and deserve careful scrutiny as both a snapshot of dance traditions in Italy at the end of the fifteenth century, and of the particular tenori on which such dances were based.

This paper evaluates the degree of influence exerted on Dalza’s dances by dance treatises such as Antonio Cornazano’s Libro dell’arte del Danzare. In addition, and t seeks to reposition Dalza’s anthology by proposing a new, culturally situated, place for the book. In addition, using linguistics and a research into dialect forms, I will propose the likely origins of such enigmatic works as the Pavane alla Ferrarese, the Calate alla spagnola and the Calidibi Castigliano.

Michael Baumgartner, "Funereal Music, War, Sarajevo and Silent Cinema:
Theo Angelopoulos Ulysses’ Gaze (1995)"

Not much scholarly attention has been given to Eleni Karaindrou’s scores in Theo Angelopoulos’ films, other than a short essay by Jakob Johannes Koch and two analyses on Eternity and a Day (1998) by Harald Haslmayr and Miguel Mera. Such a lack of scholarly studies is surprising given the importance of Karaindrou’s and Angelopoulos’ successful and lasting collaboration. This paper proposes a close reading of Karaindrou’s music in Ulysses’ Gaze (1995). The impulse that the music offers for the narrative in this three-hour journey through the Balkans, undertaken by the Greek-American filmmaker “A”, can only be recognized after having seen the penultimate scene of the film. The metaphorical Ulysses figure “A” has found its Ithaca, three undeveloped film reels by the Manaki brothers—the Balkanian pioneers of cinema—, in the war-stricken city of Sarajevo. A thick fog layer enables the inhabitants to resume their life routine. In view of that, a youth orchestra gives an outdoor concert in the middle of the besieged, wintery city, playing the film’s principal theme. The fog provides not only a shelter to produce art, but gives the besiegers an opportunity to brutally kill the curator of the local cinémathèque and his daughter. After having witnessed the atrocious act, “A” passes by the youth orchestra once again. This second appearance of the orchestra gives a clue that it actually performs funereal music, a requiem. The spectator realizes precisely at this point that all music based on the principal theme suggests a requiem. Accordingly, the earlier scene with the sculptured head of Lenin on a barge floating down the Danube is accompanied by the principal theme, and can therefore be interpreted as a funeral procession. In the aural realm, Karaindrou’s music mirrors “A”’s journey, an odyssey assiduously escorted by traces of death.

Paula Bishop, "Salty Dog Blues: A Ragtime-Blues-Hillbilly-Swing Band-Bluegrass Standard and the Concept of Originality in the 1920s and 30s"

“Salty Dog Blues,” like many blues songs circulating in the rural South during the 1920s, has an uncertain trail of authorship. Papa Charlie Jackson, an African-American vaudeville, ragtime, and blues singer from New Orleans, appears to have been the first to record it in 1924. While it may have been known as a popular or folk song, Jackson is credited with authorship in the copyright filing. Other jazz and blues performers, such as Freddie Keppard and Clara Smith, covered it in later years, stamping it with their own signature while adhering closely to Jackson’s original. In 1927, two white performers from east Tennessee, the Allen Brothers, reworked the song and achieved a modest hit in the “old-time music” series (later to be known as hillbilly, then country music). They followed it with “New Salty Dog Blues,” which was a minor adaptation of the original, as well as a second recording of “Salty Dog Blues.” Austin Allen is credited with the words and melody for both. Ten years later, two other brothers, Zeke and Wiley Morris from western North Carolina, significantly reworked it again, shortening its title to “Salty Dog,” and the song achieved success as one of the most-played bluegrass tunes in that repertory. Since then it has performed by swing bands, folk musicians, and even Jerry Garcia in his pre-Grateful Dead days. All three root versions—Jackson, Allen, and Morris—bear a musical and textual relationship to each other. The demands of the recording industry for copyrightable works led to a liberal interpretation of “original,” yet the practice of individualizing an existing work and claiming authorship was widespread and accepted among “folk” musicians. Studies of this practice are often bounded by a specific genre, such as country music or blues; this paper traces the cross-genre history of “Salty Dog” in order to provide insight into how music circulated in the United States during the early decades of the twentieth century and what constituted originality in the vernacular practice of that period.