Mitty Ma and Carlos Pérez Tabares present at CCM conference

April 14, 2022

Over the weekend of March 4–5, 2022, SMR music theorists Mitty Ma and Carlos Pérez Tabares presented at the graduate-student conference hosted by the Music Theory and Musicology Society of the University of Cincinnati. Carlos presented a paper entitled “‘I am the Song I Sing’: Identity, Resistance, and Embodiment in the Music of Bola de Nieve,” and Mitty presented “Gender Performance and Transgression in J-pop.” They graciously offered to provide insight on the conference and answered the questions below.

What was the most interesting question you were asked?

Carlos Pérez Tabares: I was very pleased with the response I got from the audience and the questions they asked. I got a very interesting question regarding how Bola de Nieve, the artist whose music I presented on, might have faced censorship in Cuba during the early years of the Revolution. I would love to explore this further, although I know this might be difficult.
Mitty Ma: I am glad that the audience was asking thoughtful questions—for instance, about a cross-cultural comparison of “aging women’s” voices in popular music.

What was the most interesting/surprising thing you learned?

CPT: Someone in my panel presented about video-game music, which is something I don’t get to hear much about in music theory conferences. I was happy to learn some of the terms used in ludomusicology, which I knew nothing about!
MM: I learned a lot from other people’s presentation style and techniques. This is the first in-person conference I went to after the pandemic. It’s nice to have an in-person audience, but it differs a lot from a virtual conference (in a good way!).

Did you notice any trends in terms of paper topics that surprised you?

CPT: I haven’t attended many conferences with both musicologists and music theorists, so I was very surprised to see the variety of topics and approaches you could find even within a single session. For example, I attended a session where they talked about everything from phenomenology to soloist-chorus relationships, with a wide variety of approaches to a repertory that included everything from opera to the music in BoJack Horseman.

Did you see any innovative presentation techniques at the conference?

CPT: It was very interesting to attend a true hybrid conference for the first time. The tech team at CCM did a fantastic job making it possible for presenters to participate both remotely and in-person. I think that many professional conferences may take this form in the future, and it was exciting to see it work so well.
MM: I was fascinated by the smooth hybrid format that the organizers put together. It’s nice to get to socialize with CCM’s community of musicologists and theorists.

Any tips for those who might submit abstracts in the future?

CPT: I think it always takes lots of luck getting papers accepted. Different program committees may be looking for different things, so you never really know whether you’ll make it to certain conferences or not. Getting feedback from colleagues and faculty has always been extremely helpful, and all of my “successful” abstracts have always gotten at least one extra pair of eyes on them before I submit them.
MM: Submitting to graduate conferences can be a very rewarding process. It’s a not-so-stressful way to try out all of your new ideas and areas of research interest.