Nee Chucherdwatanasak presents at AMS Midwest

Last weekend, the fall meeting of AMS Midwest Chapter took place at Wayne State University in Detroit. SMR member Nee Chucherdwatanasak participated on panel on a Saturday afternoon to present her paper, “Live from Orchestra Hall: The Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Concert Livestreaming” (see below for abstract), which examined the DSO’s webcast series and its impact on the digital strategies of other American orchestras. 

Wayne State’s signature building, Old Main, where the conference took place
credit: Wayne State University

Abstract: “Live from Orchestra Hall: The Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Concert Livestreaming”

To ensure their vitality in the twenty-first century, several American orchestras have adopted digital technology to attract audiences, particularly by livestreaming concerts. While many orchestras livestream their concerts only occasionally, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra (DSO) offers free, regular HD webcasts—Live from Orchestra Hall—virtually every week throughout the concert season. How does the DSO’s webcast series operate? In what ways does it contribute to the organization? And given how critical this digital strategy has been to the DSO’s turnaround after its near-disastrous strike in 2010–11, why have other orchestras not adopted this livestream approach?

This paper examines the DSO webcast series, the first—and so far, the only—free, regular classical concert livestreaming service in the United States. My research combines an archival approach, based on local newspaper coverage and DSO material, with an ethnographic study including interviews with the administrative executives, staff, and musicians about the impetus, strategy, and impact of the orchestra’s webcast series. Helping the DSO to prevail in the new century, the Live from Orchestra Hall series has brought about innovative changes without compromising the organization’s artistic goals. Although the webcast strategy brings no direct financial profit to the orchestra, its long-term, indirect benefits to the DSO’s image and revenues could be influential.

Dorian Mueller presents at Western University Graduate Symposium

This past August, I presented a paper entitled “Traversing Musical Narrative Space in a Chopin Nocturne” at the 20th annual Western University Graduate Symposium on Music (WUGSOM) in London, Ontario (abstract below). The conference featured papers on diverse topics presented by graduate students in musicology, ethnomusicology, music education, music theory, and music performance from universities across Canada and the US. I was also joined by another U of M student, Taylor Flowers, who presented a paper entitled “Rose-Windows to the Beyond: Parallels Between Messiaen’s Couleurs de la Cité celeste and John’s Apocalypse.” The conference concluded with a both captivating and informative keynote address given by Dr. Michael Klein (Temple University) entitled, “Five Things (Plus or Minus 2) that Lacan Teaches Us About Musical Meaning.”

From attending multidisciplinary talks, to engaging in interesting discussions and making new acquaintances in the field, I really enjoyed taking part in such a productive and collaborative event!

Abstract: “Traversing Musical Narrative Space in a Chopin Nocturne”

Within studies of music and narrative, the concept of agency and its role in musical discourse has been theorized from various standpoints (see Guck 1998, 2006; Maus 1998; Monahan 2013; Hatten 2018). However, the narrative spaces in which agency occurs—what one may describe as “musical worlds” as rendered and experienced by the listener—have yet to be explicitly accounted for in as much depth. As “narrative comprehension closely correlates with an understanding of the spatial organization of the storyworld” (Alber 2016, 187), further fleshing out a concept of narrative space in music would provide valuable insight into ways in which we engage with musical narrativity. In this paper, I explore the concept of musical narrative space, drawing parallels to how one conceptualizes narrative space in literature: namely via the constructs of spatial frame, setting, story space, narrative (or story) world, narrative universe, and lived space (Alber 2016; Herman 2002; Ryan 2005, 2009). Focusing mainly on the two constructs of spatial frame and lived space,I propose ways in which these spaces may be (re)defined in music. I then offer an approach to analysis that accounts for the listener’s positioning in relation to musical narrative space throughout the course of listening, as demonstrated through examples from Chopin’s Op. 48 no. 2 Nocturne in F-sharp minor; in particular, I utilize the construct of spatial frames to trace the transformative path through narrative space of the opening “sighing”gesture of the piece, while I conceptualize the Nocturne’s lived space in terms of the latent musical worlds activated and experienced by the listener in the course of tracing this path.

Through my invitation to explore musical narrative space, I hope to not only further perspectives on music and narrative, but to offer a new lens—one that more directly engages with the experiential spaces of the listener—through which to frame approaches in music-analytical discourse more generally.

Elizabeth McLain speaks at Big Ten Academic Alliance Library Conference

On May 22, Elizabeth McLain shared her experiences as a student, teacher, and scholar at the Big Ten Academic Alliance Library Conference to advocate for equitable access for disabled library users. Together with Luke Kudryashov (PhD student in English and Women’s Studies, Master’s student at the School of Information), Sile O’Modhrain (Associate Professor in SMTD and the School of Information), Bradley Ebenhoeh (alum, LSA), and panel organizer Stephanie Rosen (Associate Librarian and Accessibility Specialist), she dispensed accessibility hacks, exposed barriers to access, and promoted concrete steps universities could take to begin building the inclusive library of the future today. For a series of live tweets during the conference, see here.

James McNally presents research in Brazil

James McNally recently participated in two events in Brazil. In early April, he presented his research in São Paulo at the Sonologia International Conference on Sound Studies, hosted by the University of São Paulo. The conference lasted four days, with participants from countries across Europe, Australia, and the Americas. James’s presentation, “Sampling the City: Field Recording as Resistant Creative Practice” (abstract below), examined the ethical issues and creative possibilities of urban field recording, focusing on the work of Brazilian sound artist Renata Roman.

Shortly after, James delivered a lecture in Rio de Janeiro at the cultural event series Fosso. The series, held in the beautiful neighborhood of Santa Teresa, brings together activists, researchers, visual artists, and experimental musicians from different practices for an evening of performances, exhibitions, and discussions. In his talk, “Cartografias de criatividade colaborativa” (Cartographies of Collaborative Creativity), James used ethnography and social network analysis to discuss the collaborative dimensions of São Paulo’s large and diverse experimental music scene. The event also counted several participants in that very scene as the evening’s musicians, including PMNT + Pompeii Burning (Fabiano Pimenta & Filipe Pompeu), Canção de Matar (Rayra Costa & Talita Araújo), Cadu Tenório, and Jean-Pierre Caron and Gustavo Torres. A wonderful evening was had by all!

Sonologia International Conference on Sound Studies

Lecture at Fosso

Abstract: “Sampling the City: Field Recording as Resistant Creative Practice”

This paper investigates the ways in which individuals employ field recording as a means of interrogating and confronting urban experience, space, and sound. In order to address this phenomenon, I examine the work of the São Paulo-based sound artist Renata Roman. Roman uses field recording as a primary creative technique and is the founder of the collaborative online project São Paulo SoundMap, which solicits field recordings of the city’s different neighborhoods from individuals across the city. Incorporating data from participant-observation and interviews with Roman, the paper argues for understanding techniques such as field recording and sound mapping as critical means for individuals to respond to marginal urban experiences and reconfigure urban space and sound. As a case study, I examine Roman’s 2015 electronic music work “Sampa,” which incorporates collaborative field recordings made with recent immigrants to São Paulo from Bolivia and Haiti. My investigation approaches field recording as a form of everyday resistance (De Certeau 1984:97–98) with the potential to challenge the hegemony of the visual, highlight peripheral urban experiences, and provoke listeners to re-evaluate the way they conceptualize urban space and sound. I conclude with a discussion of the ramifications of this phenomenon in the personal sphere, focusing on how field recording enables individuals to mediate urban experience on their own terms and take control of an element of cities that many view as oppressive.

Richard Smith presents at colloquium: ‘New Perspectives of Cultural Contact and Exchange’

Recently, Ethnomusicology PhD Candidate Richard Smith presented at an interdisciplinary faculty and graduate colloquium at the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign to discuss “New Perspectives of Cultural Contact and Exchange.” Richard’s paper “Listening for Rasa and ‘Ishq: Cross-Cultural Ontologies of Musical Theory (abstract below) looks at ways listener-focused analysis can help unearth affective bridges across religious musical epistemologies. In addition to the colloquium, Richard enjoyed his free rental car upgrade which left him driving in a high-tech BMW (sadly unpictured) where he subsequently was afraid to press buttons as each time he did, the entire dashboard and lighting system changed.

–Richard Smith

Qawwali music from North India and Pakistan is a Sufi Muslim genre known for its hybridization of Arabo-Persian and North Indian (Hindustani) musics; yet, despite admitted musical hybridity, many scholars divorce qawwali from discussions of North Indian music and culture, viewing it predominantly as a foreign [read: Muslim] genre that has, over time, adopted traditional Hindustani elements rather than one that was birthed by them. The central affective quality of qawwali known as ʿishq (Arabic: love) is believed to be fundamentally different from rasa (Sanskrit: juice), the embodied, often considered affective, knowledge of Hindustani raga. This approach not only categorizes them into contrasting religious paradigms, but does so in a way that privileges the performer. Despite the merits found in emphasizing a performer’s agency, which situates the compositional practices of raga and qawwali in their own respective musico-cultural terms, I argue that this one-sided analysis foregoes historical models of listening and hearing in South Asia which maintain that auditory reception and the connoisseur, or rasika, are central to North Indian music.

In the spirit of Christopher Small’s work on musicking, I examine the works of Regula Qureshi (1986), Judith Becker (2004), and Katherine Schofield (2015), in relation to Anahid Kassabian’s (2013) affective theory of distributed subjectivity to reevaluate qawwali music and its concept of ʿishq in relationship to rasa as elements representative, not as previously believed of different religious epistemologies, but of a shared cultural practice of listening whose descriptive vocabularies have lost meaning over time. I argue that rather than mere concerns of affect, rasa and ʿishq are highly related forms of ontological discourse. My goal is to recast qawwali music as not simply Sufi, or by extension, Mughal [read: foreign], but as pointedly North Indian, lessening the distance believed to exist between two major conflicting religio-cultural musical communities.

Ryan McCulloch presents at the Midwest Graduate Music Consortium

On March 9, Ryan McCulloch presented a paper at the 2019 Annual Meeting of the Midwest Graduate Music Consortium. The theme of the Consortium’s meeting this year was “The Sonic Turn,” and Ryan’s talk was entitled,  “The Things We Carried: A Case Study of Popular Music Performance in Kandahar, Afghanistan 2011″ (see abstract below).

Congratulations, Ryan!

Abstract: “The Things We Carried” explores the intersections of music and politics by analyzing how globalization determines sounds by analyzing video footage of the 82D ABN DIV rock band’s 2011 deployment to Kandahar, Afghanistan. The analysis focuses on the economic factors that drew personnel to the ensemble, their preparation inside and outside the military, and their equipment to characterize the hybridity of their sound. Augmenting other studies that incorporate sites of violence, war, and trauma (Daughtry 2015) this study correlates the globalized economic factors, the personnel, and equipment alongside the group’s aggressively-hybrid sound. It was a sound that intruded on the mundane such as eating in a NATO-run chow hall or the sacred such as performing inside and alongside churches and mosques.