September 29, 2018
Eastern Connecticut State University --Fine Arts Instructional Building
Abstracts and Bios are posted as they become available.
Directions/Parking/Food Info now available HERE.
8:45-9:15 Refreshments and Registration
9:20 The Duty of the Musicians: Resistance Tactics and Lived Practices of le Front national des musiciens (1940-1944) - Julie VanGyzen (University of Pittsburgh)
Following the invasion and subsequent occupation of France by Nazi Germany, musicians Elsa Barraine, Louis Durey, and Roger Désormière formed the resistance organization le Front national des musiciens (FNM). The main goals of the FNM was to promote the music of French composers, protect young French musicians from deportation, and to distribute an underground newspaper titled Musiciens d’Aujourd’hui. While the intent of Musiciens d’Aujourd’hui was to arm readers with a variety of resistant tactics, it primarily urges against cooperating with Germans or associating with collaborators and state organizations.
However, as previously explored by other musicology scholars, prominent members of the FNM frequently did associate with occupying forces and collaborators, either by performing for German audiences, accepting state sponsored commissions, or traveling for German musical events. While Leslie Sprout says this brings into question whether these activities were actually considered “shameful,” the presence of such a contradiction between method and practice begs for critical inquiry. Why does the FNM insistently warn against collaboration with the occupiers if its own members would not follow such direction? How does this contradiction impact the effectiveness of Musiciens d’Aujourd’hui as a resistant tactic? And if such activity actually was perceived as shameful, how would FNM members justify doing it?
Using archival material from le Musée de la Résistance nationale and le Bibliothèque nationale de France, I will explore these questions through a close reading of Musiciens d’Aujourd’hui. Employing James C. Scott’s theory of public and private transcripts, I argue that the contradiction should be understood not as a result of the activities by FNM members but as a shift between resistant practices. As a result, I aim to provide a better understanding of the tactics and activities of the FNM and moreover what it means to “resist.”
10:00 An Illusion of Musical Democratization: The Spanish National Society of Music (1915-1922) - David Ferreiro Carballo (Complutense University of Madrid/Yale University)
The foundation in 1915 of the National Society of Music promised a solution for two long-standing problems of the Spanish musical milieu. Firstly, there was a need to define the country’s musical identity, which translated in a strong concern about the development of Spanish music and its integration in the international context. Secondly, the musical canon was dissociated from new creations, which had difficulties finding their way into the musical circuit and to the audience. Yet, during the Society’s years of activity (1915-1922), a strong cultural restoration was going on, in which music was placed, at last, at the height of the other arts.
Consequently, the institution introduced a wide range of old and new repertoire made by Spanish composers, as well as pieces created by foreign musicians following the new European musical practices. In this sense, both the society’s identity as «national» and its apparent integrating nature suggest a clear attempt to democratize Spanish music, giving space to composers and performers, but also through concerts opening up the musical circuit to a wider array of audiences. However, Was this attempt of democratization a real priority for the National Society of Music?
In this paper, I explore this question by studying how the society’s defining ideology and its social impact affected its active involvement in disseminating music. Firstly, I analyze the ideological and aesthetic debates generated throughout its foundation and, secondly, one issue related to its operation: the selection of the repertoire. Finally, I examine the typology of its members and the opinions of the critics. In doing so, I show that the National Society of Music was a non-democratic institution with an elitist understanding of the art, a reality that strongly contrasts its typically idealized conception.
Currently, he is a Researcher in the Musicology Department at the Complutense University, where he is writing his dissertation on the lyrical works of Spanish composer Conrado del Campo (1878-1953) under the direction of Elena Torres Clemente (Complutense University) and Patrick McCreless (Yale University). In addition, he has a four-year scholarship from the Government of Spain to promote the University Teacher Training.
10:40 Expanding the Map: Listening Across Approaches to Geospatial Analysis - Kate Galloway, Katrice Kemble, Douglas Kiman, Marvin McNeil, and Gene Lai (Wesleyan University)
This roundtable addresses a range of geospatial analytic approaches that can be used address how music circulates, moves, and is mapped through places, pathways, materials, and bodies, and technologies. We collectively place in dialogue a curated survey of interdisciplinary perspectives from our respective research projects–ranging from the performance networks of European klezmer festivals to the circuitous and intersecting arteries of the musical circulatory system of New Orleans; from digital sound mapping to the spatiality of metal festival venues; and from untangling online networks of musical social media to the complex relationship between sound and space along the festival procession routes of the Tamil folk drumming ensemble urumi mēlam–that integrate digital methods with both ethnography and history to map the nodes, pathways, boundaries, and movements of sonic phenomena and musical life. This roundtable not only address the physical cartography and circulation of music cultures, but also, the online spaces music moves through. In the opening decades of the 21st century, new media practices and Web 2.0 modalities (e.g. Spotify, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook) have enabled new patterns and pathways of circulation and new approaches to participatory musicking. Our work considers varied geospatial analytic perspectives that explore how mapping, broadly defined, serves as a conceptual, technological, corporeal, and spatial mode of thinking about and experiencing music, sound, sensory information, and performance. The participants in this roundtable interrogate how music and sound media map–and are mapped by–their audiences and how listeners sense musical spaces and music shaped by place.
12:00-1:40 Lunch Break
1:40-2:00 Business Meeting
2:00 Pythagorean Rationality and Descartes’s “Clear and Distinct Ideas” - David Cohen (Max Planck Institute for Empirical Aesthetics)
Descartes’ early Compendium of Music begins by arguing that the senses can take “delight” only in objects which, because they exhibit simple proportional relations, are perceived “distinctly.” Our minds, he holds, are inevitably deceived by proportions of excessive complexity, such as those involving irrational quantities, which “can in no way be perfectly known … to perception.” Thus—as the eminent Descartes scholar Stephen Gaukroger has observed—right from the start we find Descartes treating as foundational a version of what will later, in his most celebrated and influential writings, constitute the epistemological foundation of the Cogito: those mental entities or events that he comes to call “clear and distinct” ideas or perceptions.
As I go on to show, much the same concern for clarity and simplicity—for immediate, effortless intellectual perspicuity—had for centuries before Descartes played an equally crucial role in precisely this domain of intellectual endeavor, the “Pythagorean,” mathematical theory of music. In discussing these points I focus on the philosophical reasons why mathematical music theory—unlike geometry—from antiquity through early modernity had always rejected the irrational in favor exclusively of rational quantities, and had moreover sometimes regarded as “irrational” certain proportions that are in fact not so. I thus identify an idiosyncratic “Pythagorean” form of “rationality,” whose lifespan extended from antiquity into at least the seventeenth century, when, transmuted by the alembic of Descartes’ thought, it came to play an unlooked-for role in the foundation of modern philosophy.
2:40 “What are we here if not for each other?” Performance and Authorship in the Music of Caroline Shaw - Rachael Lansang (Rutgers University)
The fully authoritative notated musical score is a waning phenomenon in the contemporary art music scene, as performer-centered or collaborative approaches weaken the score’s authority. The work of composer/vocalist/violinist/producer Caroline Shaw (b. 1982) is a case in point: in the score for her Pulitzer Prize-winning Partita for Eight Voices, Shaw indicates that, “no single document should ever be treated as ultimately prescriptive.” Shaw, like many of her female contemporaries, acknowledges the musical score as an abstraction, unable to fully express or represent the intentions of the composer or accurately describe the literal soundings of an initial performance.
Using Shaw’s compositional technique as a model, this paper identifies that the logocentrism of Western musical practice is one of the major obstacles delaying gender parity in the field. While women have long been accepted in musical circles as performers, their role as composers is far less established. Today, these legal and social barriers are largely decimated, but ingrained habits of thought and well-worn analytical models employed by critics and analysts persist, resulting in major disparities in programming, awards, and opportunities for female composers.
Drawing on the work of musicologists Susan McClary, Suzanne Cusick, and Nina Eidsheim, as well as new materialist philosophy and contemporary performance studies scholarship, I argue for the development of new analytical frameworks focused on the performance and the performing body rather than score. These approaches can accommodate the increasingly permeable barrier between composer and performer in contemporary art music, and can provide alternatives to traditional hermeneutic models that are often inherently biased against women composers by virtue of their fundamental logocentricity.
3:20 Forging the Heavy Metal Canon: Extreme Metal, Abject Subgenres, and the “Post-Extreme” Canon - Nathan Landes (Indiana University)
Metal fans construct their identity around an imaginary canon of subgenres and bands in a way that creates feelings of solidarity and shared values across a global community. By sharing individual understandings of the canon with others through means ranging from academic syllabi to YouTube debate shows to conversations amongst friends, metalheads constantly renegotiate the symbolic boundaries of metal identity. At the same time, certain metal fans use the canon to exclude or marginalize subgenres, bands, and fans that they deem “not quite metal enough.” Fans who wish to “insulate their cherished classics from the messy marketplace in which culture has always been negotiated,” to borrow the words of Gary Tomlinson in “Cultural Dialogics and Jazz: A White Historian Signifies,” marginalize or exclude what Eric Smialek calls “abject subgenres” in an effort to preserve a vision of metal that is sonically extreme, hypermasculine, and resistant to change. The academic discipline of metal music studies, which is composed largely of what Henry Jenkins calls aca-fans, disproportionately canonizes these “extreme metal” bands in a way that praises the music’s transgressive properties while criticizing its troubling politics.
Despite the prevalence of extreme metal in the metal canon, a significant segment of the metal community appears to be moving away from extreme metal in favor of what I call the “post-extreme” canon, a canon that rejects the aesthetics and politics of extreme metal in favor of musical experimentation and progressivism. The post-extreme canon appears in metal music studies scholarship as well in the work of Amber Clifford-Napoleone and Rosemary Lucy Hill, among others. By outlining the aesthetic and moral boundaries of post-extreme metal, I offer a model for how metal musicologists can reconstruct their canon to embrace diversity and to resist forming what Karl Popper calls a “closed society.”