Saturday, February 4, 2012

Winter Chapter Meeting, February 4, 2012 (MIT)

AMS-NE Chapter Meeting
Saturday, February 4, 2012
Massachusetts Institute of Technology


MORNING SESSION A (Killian Hall):  

Part 1: Analysis and Interpretation of Classical Music

Alex Ludwig, "Is Haydn Too Funny for Hepokoski and Darcy? Examining Haydn's Presence in H & D's Sonata Theory"

In their massive book Elements of Sonata Theory, James Hepokoski and Warren Darcy on multiple occasions allude to –– or explicitly detail –– Joseph Haydn’s well-known proclivity towards the use of humor and wit. In doing so, they portray his compositional practice as falling outside of normal conventions, as in this discussion of recapitulatory material: “Thus Haydn provided his audience with a witty work cleverly suspended in the force fields of at least three formal categories (277).” At times, the reader can almost visualize Hepokoski and Darcy throwing their hands up in desperation at Haydn’s “startlingly original musical language (16).” By constantly (dis)qualifying Haydn’s music as witty or humorous, at the expense of other musical descriptions, Hepokoski and Darcy succeed only in marginalizing both Haydn and his music.
One explicit example of this marginalization is the way in which Hepokoski and Darcy divide all sonata-form expositions into one of two types: (1) two-part or (2) continuous. Unfortunately, this binary opposition not only privileges the first group at the expense of the second, but also mandates that works exhibiting traits of both expositional types, such as the three-part exposition, are categorized in a false manner. Hepokoski and Darcy’s discussion of this expositional oddity, which concerns what they call the bait-and-switch tactic, frequently returns to Haydn’s strategy of humor and wit. In this paper, I will demonstrate how Hepokoski and Darcy’s marginalization of Haydn and his music occurs in both the small- and large-scale. Whether they discount an expositional type favored by Haydn or continually cite his “Haydnesque temperament (233),” Hepokoski and Darcy show a systematic bias against Haydn and his music.

Mark Ferraguto, "Of Russian Themes and Rescue Fantasies: New Light on Beethoven's Third 'Razumovsky' String Quartets" 

“Has it yet been determined whether the theme of the Romanze in the third Razumovsky Quartet, A Minor, Op. 59, is really Russian or was invented by Beethoven?” So wondered Carl Czerny, inaugurating an unsolved mystery. As is well known, Beethoven included Russian folksongs from the Lvov-Pratsch Collection (1790) in his first two op. 59 quartets, marking their appearances “thème russe.” However, no such marking exists in op. 59, no. 3. While the opening theme of the Andante, with its augmented seconds and plucked dominant pedal tones, has sounded exotic to some listeners, its melody has little in common with the folksongs in Lvov-Pratsch. Scholars and critics alike have taken the Andante to represent Beethoven’s abstract impression of Russian music, rather than authentic Russian folksong.
In view of Beethoven’s learned treatments of the Russian themes in op. 59, nos. 1 and 2, it becomes possible to shed new light on Czerny’s question. I argue that Beethoven turned not to Lvov-Pratsch but to a German source for the Russian theme in op. 59, no. 3. In July 1804, the Leipzig journal Allgemeine Musikalische Zeitung printed an article on Russian music featuring an arrangement of the Russian folksong “Ty wospoi, wospoi, mlad Shaworontschek” (Singe, sing’ein Lied). Through a process of abstraction, concatenation, and metrical displacement, I will suggest, Beethoven conceals the Russian folksong from the journal within a melody of his own design.
Beethoven may have been especially drawn to “Singe, sing’ein Lied” because of its text. The seventeen-stanza poem, printed in German, concerns an imprisoned rogue who is rescued by his beloved. The heroine’s rescue of the male prisoner recalls the central theme of Leonore/Fidelio, a work that was underway when the AmZ article appeared. Beethoven’s own rescue fantasies, in turn, offer an intriguing way of reconsidering the Andante.

Part 2: Music for a Lunar Fantasy

Martin Marks, "Music for a Trip to the Moon: An Obscure English Score for a Famous French Fantasy"

Although the career and music of the English composer and pianist Ezra Read (1862-1922) has been mostly forgotten, at least one work he composed merits our attention: an eight-page print of piano music titled A Trip to the Moon: Comic Descriptive Fantasia (bearing the imprint of “London Music Publishing Stores”). A copy is housed in the British Library, where I happened to come across it (quite by chance about six years ago) within a bound volume of miscellaneous piano pieces from 1903. (Though the music has no publication date, the score bears a library stamp dated April 2, 1903.) On the front cover is printed a “Synopsis” containing a list of the score’s 24 different segment headings. These precisely describe the scene content of the imaginative and hugely successful film Voyage dans la lune, made by Georges Méliès that year. (It was released in England and the U.S.A. as A Trip to the Moon, though a precise translation would be “Journey into the Moon”; the latter better describes the plot, which blends bits of tales by Verne and Wells into a satirical mélange.)
Read’s score is a pioneering example of early British cinema music. In my paper I will first address the uncertainties of the score’s origins and raison d’être. Then I will focus on the degree to which the music fits the film (temporally, affectively, narratively), and the problems it poses for a performer today. To demonstrate my own solutions to some of these problems, I would like to have the presentation conclude with a live performance of the complete score, played to the projected film.

MORNING SESSION B  (Room 4-160) :

Part 1: Late Medieval and Early Renaissance Topics 

Spiro Antonopoulos, "The Kratemata of Manuel Crysaphes and the Composition as Artistic Work in Late Medieval Music"
Manuscripts of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries witness to a remarkable expansion of musical practices in the Eastern Mediterranean, expressed first in the work of the 13th-14th century maestros Xenos Korones and John Koukouzeles, and brought to fruition by the fifteenth century court musician, Manuel Chrysaphes. The components of this musical enrichment are primarily observed in the highly-personalized idiom of kalophonic (lit: ‘beautiful-sounding’) chant, a genre characterized by increased vocal embellishment and a loosening of traditional principles of modal homogeneity. Kalophonic works of these Late Palaiologan masters employed text-troping and the addition of nonsense syllables – terirem, tororo, and nenano, as a method of artistic expression, whether to rearticulate a musical idea, meditate on a particular phrase, or simply to extend liturgical action for practical reasons.  The organic outgrowth of the so-called teretismata and nenanismata was the kratema (pl. kratemata), a through-composed, independent work, which by the seventeenth century began to command its own dedicated musical codex, the Kratematarion. Though largely neglected by early twentieth century scholars of Byzantine chant, the kratemata have garnered much scholarly attention in recent years by musicologists such as Luigi Abruzzo and Gregory Anastasiou, to name a few.
In this paper, I wish to examine the Kratema from the perspective of one singularly important musical personality, the aforementioned scribe, cantor, and theoretician, Manuel Chrysaphes.  I argue that Chrysaphes’ theoretical Treatise, On the Theory of the Art of Chanting, articulates a strong conception of the composition as an artistic work, and moreover, that Chrysaphes presents the consummate musician as one which functions in large part as a composer – concepts relatively foreign even to early theoretical treatises of Western ecclesiastical music. These compositions were almost always ascribed to an individual creator, they were often given creative and exotic names (e.g., “Persian”, “Trumpet”, “Difficult”), and they employ a variety of compositional devices not seen in other genres. Reconciling the manuscript evidence related to this body of compositions with the theoretical treatise of Chrysaphes, we gain critical insight into not only the musical works themselves, but also the philosophy of a prominent Byzantine ecclesiastical musician. Although orality and some degree of extemporized performance persisted as fundamental components within the tradition of Byzantine psalmody, Chrysaphes’ treatise seems to shift the emphasis, as he declares the pre-eminence of the composer as authoritative creator and the composition as autonomous work.

Ronald Broude, "The Two Worlds of Johannes Tinctoris, Or Res facta Revisited"

Johannes Tinctoris, author of twelve extant theoretical works, is usually seen as a man of scriptura, the written word. But cantare supra librum, a practice he describes in Liber de arte contrapuncti, has much in common with oral traditions. With cantare supra librum, a singer reading a written-out cantus prius factus devises ex tempore—a line that obeys the rules of counterpoint. As with oral repertoires, performer and creator are the same person; creation takes place at performance speed; and creation is governed by “constraints”—i.e., generally accepted rules.
Tinctoris’s distinction between cantare supra librum and res facta (which Tinctoris defines as cantus compositus) is central to his thinking. Most musicologists assume the difference between the two to be that res facta is written out while cantare supra librum is not. Dissenting from this view is Margaret Bent, who argues that the distinction is between performances that do or do not meet the condition that each voice obey the rules of counterpoint with respect to all the others.
This paper will extend Bent’s argument, maintaining that orality is key to Tinctoris’ thinking and that for Tinctoris the important distinction is between performing from a text and devising a contrapuntal line during performance. A careful parsing of relevant passages will show that by identifying res facta with a text we are imposing a modern view of the “work” on music for which the “work concept” did not exist. Significantly, Tinctoris uses “compositus” not in the modern sense of writing out a composition but in the Humanist rhetorician’s sense of being well organized. Tinctoris belongs to both the textual and the oral worlds, and he writes at a moment when an influential oral practice was being assimilated into the written tradition. 

Part 2: Early Italian Opera 

Reba Wissner, "La putta che canta: An Examination of the Eponymous Role in Francesco Cavalli's Elena"

What we know--or think that we know--about Helen of Troy is turned on its head in Francesco Cavalli’s 1659 Venetian opera, Elena. The opera’s libretto by both Giovanni Faustini and Nicolò Minato uses the trope of the adulteress Helen, but in a highly comedic manner, exploiting the various ways in which her “wandering ways” could be portrayed. Similarly “impure females” emerge when women appeared on the Venetian stages, as they were almost always suspected of being courtesans. Indeed, some times those suspicions held true. One such instance occurred during the original run of Elena. The title role of the opera was played by a famous Venetian courtesan of the day, Lucietta Gamba da Vidman, who was often referred to in Venice as “La putta che canta,” or “the whore that sings.” Curiously, not only is Elena the only opera in which Gamba was known to sing, but she is also the only courtesan known to sing the title role of a Venetian opera.
While some readings of the opera support the casting of Gamba as portraying Helen as a lascivious female, this paper explores the likelihood that the casting was meant to reverse this depiction. As a result, the opera makes Elena’s sexual prowess purely satirical, especially since it was performed during Carnival where stories were purposely reversed and altered, thus amplifying the comedy of the work. By examining what it meant to be a courtesan and the social implications of this occupation, I hope to show an alternate reading of the role of Helen in the opera.

Zoey Cochran, "A lieto fine for Neapolitans? Multilingualism and Characterization in Pergolesi's Lo frate 'nnamorato"

This paper provides a new political interpretation of Lo Frate ‘nnamorato (1732) by Pergolesi and Federico through an investigation of the opera’s multilingualism. Previous research on early eighteenth-century Neapolitan commedeja pe ‘mmuseca and its gradual inclusion of the Tuscan dialect has generally been based on the mistaken premise that Neapolitan is the language of the people and Tuscan, that of the aristocracy. This has led to the theorization of a dichotomy between Tuscan serious characters and Neapolitan comic ones (Capone, 2007; Jori, 2001; Strohm, 1979; Zanetti, 1978). However, Neapolitan was spoken by all Neapolitans, whereas Tuscan was the language of foreigners and the Austrian ruling power (Borelli, 1983; De Mauro, 2002). Dialect was therefore not merely the mark of comic characters, but it also created a regional characterization with underlying political and nationalistic implications. In Lo Frate ‘nnamorato, the serious characters are equally divided between Tuscan-speaking Romans and Neapolitan-speaking Neapolitans. An analysis of these characters’ music, and specifically that of the Neapolitan Ascanio and the Roman Nena, will enable us to uncover some of these political implications. Nena sings stereotypically serious texts, in a virtuoso seria style, while Ascanio expresses his serious feelings with simple and expressive music. For example, Nena’s aria “Va solcando un mar d’amore” uses a typical nautical metaphor and is accompanied by an obbligato flute. In comparison, Pergolesi ignored the da capo form suggested by the librettist in Ascanio’s “Addo vao, addo stongo?” beginning instead with a recitativo accompagnato. Furthermore, in their trio, Nena and her sister’s long virtuoso phrases contrast with Ascanio’s brief answers. Compared to the young man’s expressiveness, Nena’s opera seria style sounds artificial, almost ridiculous. The opera’s outcome, in which the only couple to marry is the Neapolitan one, reinforces the subtle Neapolitan superiority implied by this musical characterization.

AFTERNOON SESSION A (Killian Hall): Music in North American Cultural Negotiations

Thomas Kernan, "'Farewell Father, Friend and Guardian': The Initial Musical Memorialization of Abraham Lincoln" 

Before masons had laid the first stones of the Abraham Lincoln monuments and commemorative structures that would eventually dot American cities, composers and performers set out in many and varied venues to musically memorialize the late president. From the April 1865 assassination through the closing months of that year, music comprised an essential element in the extended national mourning. The collections of the Library of Congress, New York Public Library, and Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library include a diverse body of these musical memorials. They were created by trained composers, such as John Knowles Paine and Richard Storrs Willis, as well as the average citizens of Rockton, Illinois; Portsmouth, New Hampshire; and elsewhere. These works were intended for public performance, as was the case with the Nicholas Lebrun’s march for Lincoln’s internment at Oak Ridge Cemetery, but also for commemorations at home, as seen in the piano music of W. J. Robjohn and Mrs. Effie A. Parkhurst. Publishers even reissued beloved opera excerpts under new titles, most notably Gaetano Donizetti’s “Marche funèbre” from Dom Sébastien, which became Funeral March to the Memory of Abraham Lincoln.
These musical works provide insight into the intersection of American musical culture and national events, and the way we use the former to memorialize the latter. I employ a portion of the ninety-eight Lincoln compositions published in 1865 and the extravagant funeral performances as case studies of this activity. Building on Alexander Rehding and James Schmidt’s recent scholarship on the topics of musical monumentality and memorialization, I argue that these compositions and performances provided temporary means of commemoration, while also introducing narratives and themes that composers of subsequent generations explored.

Cassandra Hartford, "Anthropology and Appropriation in Gershwin and Heyward's Porgy and Bess"

From its premiere in 1935, Porgy and Bess's "authenticity" has been at issue. Critic Virgil Thomson dismissed the opera as "fake folklore," while cast member and composer J. Rosamond Johnson defended it as "at least 80%...Negroid." In these debates, the composer's two-month Folly Island stay is crucial. For some, it represents an attempt at a meaningful engagement with the culture of the Gullah, the community portrayed in the opera. For others, it represents an uncomfortable mixture of appropriation and fabrication, a view of "black" culture that is shaped by Gershwin's and Heyward's own primitivist misconceptions. In this talk, my primary interest is not the authenticity of the work or its idioms, but rather how discourses of "authenticity" surfaced, how they were manifested in the composer's and librettist's accounts of their "anthropological" experience, and how such ideas related to a broader discourse about race, representation, and the American folk. First, I situate the work in a transnational discourse connecting "authenticity" and first-hand experience that helped to promote international modernist works. Second, I demonstrate that the opera built on a growing American interest in "folklore" and anthropology, as both of those fields of study gained unprecedented popular attention. Finally, I show that Gershwin's description of the work as a "folk opera" realizes a conception of folk-influenced art developed by his cousin, the folklorist Benjamin Botkin. I thus show that the concern with authenticity in Porgy and Bess is inseparable from the opera's multiple contexts.

 Lucille Mok: When Jazz goes North: Oscar Peterson and Possibilities of Northern Jazz

Often studied in the context of African American urban communities, jazz is rarely considered in the context of northern landscape. Jazz scholarship has, moreover, focused on the collaborative nature of jazz performance, a feature that is fundamentally at odds with the most prominent theme of northern art - solitude. Yet a community of jazz musicians has emerged from the northern countries of Finland, Norway, and Canada, composing and performing music implicitly and explicitly inspired by the north. Some of these musicians explore their northern identities while playing to mainstream jazz audiences. Among the first was the Canadian jazz musician Oscar Peterson who, in spite of his success in the United States, might also be considered a northern jazz musician. 

Born in Montréal, Peterson was a proud Canadian throughout his life and expressed a connection with ideas of north through performance and composition. In this paper I analyse a selection of Peterson’s works - his solo recordings on the Musik Produktion Schwarzwald [MPS] label and his compositions Canadiana Suite (1965) and “Anthem To a New Land” (2000), a tribute to the then-new Canadian territory Nunavut - to initiate dialogue between jazz scholarship and northern studies. I draw upon material from the Oscar Peterson collection at Library and Archives Canada to examine his work through the lens of such scholars as Sherrill Grace, Jody Berland, and Margaret Atwood on the concept of north in visual art and literature. In my discussion, I draw on the themes that emerge from their studies of artistic concepts of north - solitude, landscape, and space -  and, offer examples and analysis from Peterson’s oeuvre. To consider Peterson as a northern artist responds to Grace’s call for a broader understanding of art’s transformational role in the changing concepts of north, exposes the contradictions of northern jazz and its possibilities. 


Hannah Lewis, "'A World of Dreams':  The Musical Fantasy of René Clair's Early Sound System"

With the development of synchronized sound film technology in the late 1920s, cinema was irrevocably altered. Yet, while the transition from silent to sound film was swift, it was not initially systematic; film directors responded to transforming technologies in widely divergent ways, reflecting the controversy surrounding new technology, mediation, and the medium’s unique capabilities as distinguished from live theatrical forms. Within this heated aesthetic debate, music became a powerful interventional force for many directors. In this paper, I discuss French director René Clair’s work in relation to the debate on sound film. Clair was outspoken in his initial opposition toward the new technology, and his ambivalence about the coming of sound is reflected in three films from 1930 and 1931Sous les toits de Paris, Le Million, and À nous la liberté—all of which incorporate music in unusual and provocative ways. I focus on his second film of the three, Le Million, as a way of examining Clair’s unique solutions to new problems during this period of technological transition. Through an analysis of previously unexamined archival and primary source materials, I discuss the context of the film’s development, and the working relationship between Clair and the composers of the soundtrack: Armand Bernard, Georges Van Parys, and Philippe Parès. Additionally, I closely analyze Clair’s writings from the period, alongside scenes from Le Million, to demonstrate the methods that Clair used to put his philosophies into practice, paying particular attention to the film’s complex relationship to live musical-theatrical forms. Through a historical and theoretical discussion of Le Million, I demonstrate how Clair’s films from this period, rather than being historical anomalies, challenge some of our long-held assumptions about the role of music in cinema, providing an alternative model for our understanding of the sound-image relationship in film.

Victor Coelho, "Through the Lens, Darkly: Peter Whitehead and the Rolling Stones"

For fifty years, the Rolling Stones have symbolized the elemental and subversive side of rock, but it is the manner in which the group has been interpreted by filmmakers—more than their recordings—that has drawn the familiar sketch of the Stones as licentious Romantics, scarred cultural critics, and poetic, but road-weary, troubadours. Many filmmakers have reified these images, including Godard, Lindsey-Hogg, Woodhead, the Maysles, Frank, Ashby, Puicouyoul, and, Scorsese. And while their work spans the history of the group, the official image remains the earliest one, succeeding representations being variations on a master narrative: an exilic, protean quality derived from the migratory aspects of the blues; a revolutionary stance that is neither political nor constituent; a sharp intuition about the uncharted sexual and gender boundaries of the day; and a deep–seated subversion powered by their identification with the raw music of American blues and country.
As the first filmmaker of the Stones from 1965 to 1973, Peter Whitehead is responsible for embedding these themes deeply and durably, creating the foundational image of the band. Whitehead used the group to provide a commentary of a destabilized modern culture in Britain emerging in the 1960s, which he extended through other cinema verité projects involving Allan Ginsberg, Jimi Hendrix, and Syd Barrett. Using unpublished correspondence between Whitehead, Mick Jagger, and the Stones’ manager Andrew Loog Oldham, I will examine the history of the first film of the Stones, Whitehead’s Charlie is My Darling, chronicling the group’s tour to Ireland in 1965. The documents provide an insider’s tale of music mediated by the new commercialism of pop culture, of Whitehead’s idealized notion of pop music confronting the reality of its economics, and above all, Whitehead’s interest in the power of cinema verité as the means to capture a rapidly emerging rock aesthetic.

William Cheng, "Queering Disability/Disabling Queerness: The Carnivalesque Politics of R.Kelly's Global Closet"

A pimp with a stutter, a blind prostitute, a little-person stripper, and two pairs of same-sex lovers constitute only a few of numerous African-American characters portrayed as social deviants in R. Kelly’s Trapped in the Closet (2007). This through-sung comic hip-hopera – produced as a series of twenty-two music videos (with more episodes potentially forthcoming) – is set in modern-day Chicago and features a cast of individuals who become entangled in a scandalous tale of sex, crime, violence, and the specter of HIV/AIDs. R. Kelly stated in the DVD’s commentary his desire to represent through this magnum opus a “global closet […] the idea that struggle or drama has no color, that it doesn’t point the finger at anyone, but yes, points the finger at everyone.” Trapped in the Closet overtly fetishizes sameness, collapsing discourses of marginality and justifying its far-reaching political incorrectness via an illusion of fair-play qua indiscriminate discrimination.
In this article, I examine the identity politics of this hip-hopera’s Bakhtinian carnivalesque melting pot through the combined lens of queer and disability theories. I focus primarily on how the opera casts homosexuality – notably the oft-sensationalized “Down-Low” practices of same-sex black couples – as not only a manifestation of social pathology but also an alleged cause of contagious disease, intra-racial violence, and moral degradation in African-American urban communities. I further demonstrate that the hip-hopera’s stigmaphobic ideologies are strategically concealed by the sheer outrageousness of the satirical narrative, disorienting music-video techniques (e.g. rapid cuts and partial frames), and the a(n)estheticizing effects of the minimalist two-chord harmonic progression. I conclude by reflexively interrogating the critical advantages as well as pitfalls situated at the deceptively facile intersection between various scholars’ recent attempts to bridge the respective ideologies, methodologies, and activist agendas of queer and disability studies.