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Thursday 6 March – Owen Kohl – “Sounding Like an Uncertain Future: Hip Hop Economics in a Post-Industrial Context of Scarcity”

Dear All

Please join us this coming Thursday, 6 March, for our penultimate EthNoise presentation of the Winter Quarter.

We are delighted to host Owen Kohl, PhD Candidate, Department of Anthropology, University of Chicago
GOH 205, 4.30 – 6.00pm
“Sounding Like an Uncertain Future: Hip Hop Economics in a Post-Industrial Context of Scarcity”
The Yugoslav music industry, which continues to be locally portrayed as once the envy of other Eastern European states, underwent a dramatic transformation during the 1990s. The biographies of ex-YU artists, consumers, and distributors straddle a period of seemingly never-ending ‘transitions,’ not only from self-managed state socialism to neoliberal democracy, but also within a regional music industry whose business models have radically changed in the wake of new forms of legal, quasi-legal, and primarily illegal digital distribution. Music scholars have explored in detail the war-time politicization of musical differences along national lines (e.g., Baker 2010, Čolović 2008, Gordy 1999), but the ongoing transformation of the socialist-era industry has yet to be as systematically thematized. Artists often narrate the transformation of the record business in ex-YU in terms that run parallel to the trajectories of other regional industries that have been subject to bankruptcy, offshoring, and forms of ‘rational’ restructuring. Despite the recent proliferation of music festivals, independent labels, and clubs that distribute and support ‘alternative’ genres, pursuing hip hop in any sort of professional capacity demands that most artists must have other sources of income. Ex-YU remains a region in which Apple’s iTunes, Spotify, Amazon, eBay, and other legal online distributors of music remain largely absent. Regional music rights organizations now try to curb rampant illegal download in order to recoup profits. However, a vociferous debate rages among artists as to whose future the support of intellectual property law, the crass mass mediated promotion of pop genres, and a more integrated EUropean future best serves. Now that gigabytes of music are downloaded with swift mouse-clicks as opposed to painstakingly collected, older DJs lament the increased competition for scant gigs and the deterioration of listening practices. In Chapter 2, I analyze artists’ articulations of present-day professional limitation and argue that the past, sometimes including an era of ‘good life’ socialism, often emerges as a nostalgia-inflected historical epoch during which music could be more than just a hobby for a broader demographic of performers.
Owen Kohl: As a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Anthropology, Kohl attends to the shifting significations of ‘urban’ music, national identity, and economically re-structured local culture industries on EUrope’s southeastern periphery. His dissertation research is focused specifically on a newly transnational network of hip hop musicians in Zagreb, Croatia, Belgrade, Serbia, and Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. This follows on his earlier investigation of global manifestations of hip hop social practices in France, Senegal, Croatia, Russia, and Mongolia.


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Thursday 6 February – Elizabeth Branch Dyson – “What Book Editors Want”

Dear All

Combat mid-term blues with a great workshop session and refreshments.

We would like to welcome our guest speaker, Elizabeth Branch Dyson, Editor at the University of Chicago Press (acquires books in education, ethnomusicology and other music, and philosophy).

Her workshop paper is entitled “What Book Editors Want”

This highly informative talk will

* provide an overview of book publishing today

*discuss the procedure of revising a dissertation into a book

*outline the submission procedure

*explain how peer reviews work

*and the publication process


We hope to see many of you there.

Same time/place as usual: 4.30-6.00pm, GOH 205



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Thursday 23 January – Prof. Elsie Dunin

Please join us Thursday January 23, 4.30pm (LOGAN CENTER, Rm. 501) – please note the change from the usual location. This is a collaborative workshop with Center for East Europe and Russian/Eurasian Studies.

We warmly welcome Professor Elsie Dunin who will present the following paper:

 “Forty-Five Years (1967-2012) of a Romani Spring Event in Skopje, Macedonia” 


As a dance ethnologist, my studies focus on continuities and changes of social events with a dancing component. Since 1967 I continue to observe and record a community-wide event of the Romani population in Skopje, Macedonia in relation to their evolving social changes. Most of the dancing took place in public spaces within a framework of a five-day calendar holiday, known with multiple names – Gjurgjovden (St. George’s Day) a Slavic Macedonian term, Erdelezi (coming of spring) a Turkish-based term, and šutalo pani (spring waters) a Romani term. The diminishing public dancing during this event parallels a period that introduces major socio-cultural changes to Romani families such as a change of personal living space (1960s), encouraged education (1970s), and migrant work opportunities (1970s–1980s). After Macedonia’s secession from SRF Yugoslavia in 1991 and into the 2010s there are numerous proselytizing religious groups and humanitarian non-governmental organizations, an emergence of conflicting Romani political parties, and the site of a new United States Embassy for Macedonia where a major part of this community-wide holiday was celebrated. Using the holiday event with its own continuities and changes since 1967, the presentation provides a selected overview of socio-cultural markers in a parallel time period.

Accompanied by PowerPoint the presentation shows selected images and dancing examples from 1967 into 2012.

Elsie Dunin is Professor Emerita (Dance Ethnology), University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and dance research advisor with the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research (IEF) in Croatia. Dunin is also active with the International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) Study Group on Ethnochoreology and with the Cross-Cultural Dance Resources (CCDR) in Arizona. Her research focuses on the relationship of socio-cultural changes with the continuities and changes in social dance events. Studies have taken place in Macedonia among both Macedonian and Romani populations; with the Croatian diaspora in California, Chile and Australia compared with source emigrant areas in Croatia. Professor Dunin is author, editor, and compiler of numerous publications.

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Thursday 16 January – Jamie Cartright and Lauren Eldridge

Please join us on Thursday January 16, 4.30pm, (Goodspeed 205) for our first workshop of the Winter Quarter.

We would like to welcome Jamie Cartright and Lauren Eldridge who will present a paper entitled

“Sight and Sound: The Transcription of Haitian Folkloric Rhythms” 

Jamie Cartright, mezzo-soprano, has returned to Haiti after a season with Palm Beach Opera’s chorus where she was also a soloist with the Anglican Chorale-Trinity Cathedral in Miami and the Master Chorale of South Florida. Jamie was featured on the cover of Ticket magazine for her concert at the Institut Français honoring women in classical music. Her most recent projects include the Matinée de Compositeurs Haïtiens with a host of esteemed musicians throughout the diaspora, and a recital accompanied by Micheline Dalencour and Lauren Eldridge reviewed by Le Nouvelliste. Jamie served as a clinician for L’Ecole de Musique Saint-Trinite in Port-au-Prince and L’Ecole de Musique Dessaix-Baptiste in Jacmel, Haiti. Born in New York, Jamie Cartright grew up in Haiti and returned to the U.S. to receive her Bachelor of Music at Stetson University in Florida. While in Haiti, she presented two solo recitals and sang regularly with L’Orchestre Philharmonique de Sainte-Trinite, notably during the memorial concert in 2010 for the victims of Haiti’s earthquake.
Lauren Eldridge is an ethnomusicologist who focuses on musics of the African diaspora. She is currently conducting research regarding Haitian classical music and its accompanying pedagogies. She obtained her B.A. from Spelman College in 2010 (International Studies and Music) and is a doctoral student at the University of Chicago.


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Happy New Year! Winter Quarter Schedule 2014

Dear All

Happy New Year! Hope your Winter quarter is productive and enjoyable so far despite the weather. This quarter, we have plenty of exciting EthNoise presentations coming up. Details are being finalised as we speak so more information to follow soon! Our first workshop will be on Thursday 16 January, 4.30pm-6.00pm, GOH 205.

Thursday 16 JanuaryJamie Cartright and Lauren Eldridge - “Sight and Sound: The Transcription of Haitian Folkloric Rhythms”

Thursday 23 JanuaryProfessor Elsie Dunin - “Forty-Five Years (1967-2012) of a Romani Spring Event in Skopje, Macedonia”

(Prof Dunin is Professor Emerita (Dance Ethnology), University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), and dance research advisor with the Institute of Ethnology and Folklore Research (IEF) in Croatia). This is a collaborative workshop with the University of Chicago’s Center for East Europe and Russian/Eurasian Studies. 

Thursday 6 FebruaryElizabeth Branch Dyson (Associate Editor at the University of Chicago Press in Ethnomusicology)

Thursday 20 FebruaryEthNoise, Music History/Theory Workshop and Composers’ Workshop present a joint Symposium: “Far Calls. Coming, Far: Ritual, Material, Sound.” (1.30-6.30pm, Performance Penthouse, Reva and David Logan Center for the Arts) – more details to follow

Thursday 6 MarchOwen Kohl (PhD student, Anthropology, University of Chicago)

Thursday 13 March – Will Faber (PhD student, Ethnomusicology, University of Chicago)

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Thursday 5 December – University of Chicago Fieldwork Showcase

Dear All

Please join us this coming Thursday for an opportunity to hear current graduate students’ tales from the field. Short presentations will be given by Kate Pukinskis, Ameera Nimjee, Meredith Aska McBride, and Will Faber. Come and here about the current state of these fieldwork projects and have the chance to offer feedback.

4.30-6.00pm – GOH 205

Hope to see you there!


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Thursday 21 November – Jessica Roda, Ph.D (postdoctoral researcher – Canadian Research Chair of Urban Heritage – UQAM)

Dear All,

Please join us and our guest speaker for this fascinating paper


GOH 205

Refreshments provided!


“Patrimonialization as a mean for identity building: the experience of Judeo-Spanish musical practice”


In any process of constructing a nation, understood as the nation-state or as imagined communities (Anderson 2006), the patrimonialization of objects and\or practices is indispensable. patrimonialization helps the community to support the construction of its national identity by establishing clearly recognizable elements, such as symbols, history, music, language, etc. Thus, it is a process of making an inventory of the society, selecting, materializing, and finally institutionalizing these objects and practices to transform them into patrimony, which then become the carrier of national identity.

At the beginning of the 20th century, during the Ottoman Empire crisis, the Jews of the region, mainly Judeo-Spanish, began to construct an identity in order to singularize themselves from the future national majority, a process for which patrimonialization was a central tool. Proverbs, beliefs, history, and musical practices were patrimonialized and identified as representative of the Judeo-Spanish identity. In the case of musical practices, the music became a dominating identity flag that survives until today, visible on several international stages. How was such a process effectuated?  How and why did the music acquire such a prestigious position?

In this communication, I will highlight the means developed by the Judeo-Spanish to constitute their musical heritage that will identify the Judeo-Spanish identity. In other words, I am proposing a track response to the problem of the definition of this music and the way it was established. From this historic glance, I will emphasize the current contextual significance of the process, which is marked by the considerable rise of “world music” on an international scale.


Jessica Roda received her Ph.D in Ethnomusicology from the Université de Montréal and in Musicology from the Université Paris-Sorbonne (2012). As anthropologist and ethnomusicologist specialized in Jewish culture, her dissertation concerns the construction of Judeo-Spanish musical heritage in France. She currently part-time instructor at the department of urban and tourism studies (UQAM), and is a postdoctoral researcher with the Canada Research Chair on Urban Heritage (UQAM) where she works on the representation of Jewishness in Montreal’s public space. Roda is also the French review editor of the Canadian peer-reviewed journal MUSICultures. She is an active member of several societies, publishes regularly in academic journals and collected works, and participates in conferences in academic, cultural, and popular circles.

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TUESDAY 12 November – SEM Conference Dry Run

Dear All, please join us for the Society for Ethnomusicology conference dry run. At this session, UChicago graduate students who are presenting at the approaching conference in Indianapolis will have the opportunity to workshop their papers before the big day. In addition, UChicago visiting student (2011-12) Siel Agugliaro will share his AMS paper with us.

NB. This session will be held on the TUESDAY (rather than the usual Thursday slot), beginning at 5.00pm in JRL 264. We hope to see lots of you there to support our presenters.

Presenters include Nadia Chana, Alisha Jones, Danny Gough, and Siel Agugliaro.


Nadia Chana:  “You Need Equal Measures of Extreme Joy and ‘Don’t Fuck With Me’”: An Embodied Approach to the Ethnography of Singing

Tomie Hahn, Priya Srinivasan, Elisabeth Le Guin, and other ethnographers who have an active music or dance practice stress the importance of embodied knowledge to understanding music and dance, often looking to their own bodies as field sites. To Toronto-based voice teacher, Fides Krucker, this act of looking into the body to see what is inscribed there is foundational for singing. Responding to these scholars and to my work with Fides, I mine my bodily archive for my embodied knowledge of singing. I trace how Fides’ teaching, specifically via a concept of vocal technique that is closely knit with emotion, gives rise to a worldview. For Fides there is no clear boundary between one’s audible voice and one’s metaphoric voice. She points out, for example, links between a decreased ability to say no and an inability to muster adequate subglottal pressure, or a habit of feigned cheeriness and decreased ability to allow the voice darker resonances. She has been known to say, pointing to her sternum, “Behind here you need equal parts of extreme joy and ‘don’t fuck with me.’” In asking questions about how these specific voice practices become worldviews, some broader questions about ethnography become pertinent: What does it mean to write about Fides’ work when Fides herself is writing a book? How does a worldview arising from an ethnographer’s embodied practice shape her approach to ethnography in general? More specifically, what happens when it is the interlocutor who has helped the ethnographer find her metaphoric voice?

Alisha Jones: “I Shall Get Home Someday”: Black Countertenors, Bio-Musicality, and Gendered Gospel Performance

Countertenors are typically men who perform music that matches the vocal range and timbre of female contraltos and mezzo-sopranos in the Western art music tradition. These men are typically trained to deploy a full-bodied vocal delivery such that listeners are unable to determine whether the sound is emanating from a male or female body. Black male operatic countertenors who perform in Christian churches and other gospel settings must contend with a distinct set of cultural tensions to demonstrate their performative competency. Music ministers also face challenges in choosing repertoire for countertenors, particularly when those ministers lack experience working with men with that vocal designation. Shared anxieties concerning uses of the body in performance reveal the ways in which black male gesture is a contested component within gospel contexts.

 Drawing on a case study of a black male countertenor and ethnography of his performance, this paper explores perceptions of a sexually indistinguishable vocal sound. I highlight the sociotheological complications that arise as sonically ambiguous performances of gender compete with longstanding heteronormative constructs. In what ways do countertenors negotiate their performances of sexuality and gender in gospel performance? How do bio-musical perceptions shape notions of communal identity and belonging? I suggest that bio-musicality offers a fresh way of thinking through these questions and about the broader role of gendered sound in black performance.

Siel Agugliaro:  The illuminated factory. La Scala and its concerts in Milanese factories (1974-1979)

The social and political struggles that afflicted Italy for an entire decade after 1968 led to criticism against those institutions that, more than others, showed the persistence of precise social boundaries. Despite the fact that the Teatro alla Scala was a publicly funded opera house, its high ticket prices still created a barrier that made the theatre one of the favorite meeting-places of the Milanese bourgeoisie. For this reason, charges of elitism were often directed to La Scala and its cultural policies. In reaction to this situation, superintendents Antonio Ghiringhelli (1948-1972) and Paolo Grassi (1972-1977) endeavored to strengthen La Scala’s roots on the local territory, at the same time encouraging a larger involvement of the lower class and thus implicitly denying the idea of La Scala as an exclusive institution. Grassi, in particular, made a considerable effort to establish cooperation with the labor unions and to promote a wide range of performances specifically directed to the working class.

Among these events, a special place was devoted to the concerts that La Scala organized inside several factories around Milan. Important performers, like Claudio Abbado — who served as music and artistic director at La Scala between 1972 and 1979 —, took part in the concerts, which nowadays are often referred to by Italian scholars as an important experience of music democratization. Combining ethnographic and historical approaches, my paper aims to investigate a lesser-examined page of La Scala’s recent history and its cultural implications. Interviews with both the performers and the audience of the concerts, together with newspaper accounts and archival sources, will contribute to define the political context in which the concerts took place, and to prove the effectiveness of the cultural policy fostered by La Scala in those years.

Daniel Gough: The SESC-SP and Theories and Practices of Leisure in São Paulo’s Aural Public Sphere

This paper examines how the SESC-SP (Servico Social do Comércio de São Paulo) network of cultural centers creates aural spaces of leisure in the contemporary city of São Paulo, Brazil. Specifically, I argue that the SESC participates in the production of “listening heuristics,” or instruments of cultural policymaking that organize disparate musical practices while promoting specific modes of engagement with sound. Following a brief overview of the multi-layered bureaucracy that mediates listening practices in the city’s aural public sphere, I will present a discussion of the ways that the administration of the SESC-SP has used foreign and Brazilian conceptions of leisure and cultural action as a theoretical basis for musical interventions such as public concerts, exhibitions, and recordings. Founded in 1946 via a federal law, the SESC branch in the state of São Paulo has devoted an increasing amount of resources toward the promotion of various “artistic languages,” including music, since the 1980s. Drawing upon ethnographic work conducted in São Paulo throughout 2012 and 2013, I will show how the curated, directed listening practices facilitated by the SESC-SP become implicated in debates over cultural rights and the social production of the city, as well as demonstrate the alternately divergent and complementary logics of social inclusion and economic accumulation characteristic of social life in this urban agglomeration.

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Thursday October 24 – Professor Kaley Mason, Professor Travis A. Jackson, and Meredith Aska McBride

 “IRB and the Ethics of Fieldwork”

Please join us today at 4.30pm, GOH 205, for a panel discussion on the ethics of fieldwork and dealing with human subjects in the field.

Hope to see you there for this very important discussion! Refreshments will be provided.






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Autumn Quarter – Upcoming EthNoise events for your diaries

Dear All

Our schedule for this quarter is coming together nicely. Here are a few key dates to put in your diaries. More information to follow soon.

Thursday 24 October – “IRB and the Ethics of Fieldwork” – a panel discussion led by Professor Kaley Mason, Professor Travis A. Jackson, and 4th year ethnomusicology student, Meredith Aska McBride.

Tuesday 12 November – Society for Ethnomusicology conference dry-run. This session gives students presenting at the upcoming conference in Indianapolis an opportunity to workshop their papers before the big day. NB. This session will be on the Tuesday, NOT the Thursday due to scheduling issue.

Thursday 21 November – Jessica Roda Ph.D (postdoctoral researcher – Canadian Research Chair of Urban Heritage – UQAM)

“Patrimonialization as a mean for identity building: the experience of Judeo-Spanish musical practice”

Thursday 5 December – “University of Chicago Fieldwork Showcase” – come along and here updates on recent fieldwork projects/experiences of UChicago music graduate students.


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