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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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Thursday October 10 – Professor Travis A. Jackson

Please join us Thursday October 10, 4.30pm,  (Goodspeed 205) for our first EthNoise workshop of the academic year.

We would like to welcome Travis A. Jackson, Associate Professor of Music and the Humanities here at the University of Chicago who will present a paper entitled

Time-Space Expansion: Confronting the Post-Punk Past as an Ethnographer

We hope to see many of you there! Refreshments will be provided.

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Welcome Back!

Hello all,

We hope you all had wonderful summers and that you have had good starts to the academic year. I’d like to introduce the two new coordinators for EthNoise 2013/14 – myself, Laura Shearing (3rd year PhD Ethnomusicology), and Maria Welch (4th year PhD Ethnomusicology).

Please watch this space for information on upcoming workshop sessions. Workshops will be held on Thursdays every two weeks or so (beginning in week 2) at 4.30pm. Our first session will feature recent work of our very own Professor Travis A. Jackson. Later in the quarter, we plan to hold an IRB/ethics session led by faculty members and advanced students, and a ‘fieldwork showcase’, featuring short student presentations about recent experiences in the field. This, we feel, will be a great opportunity to hear what current students in different stages of their degrees have been working on.

Please check back here in the next few days regarding more details about our first workshop session on Thursday, October 10. We hope to see you there!



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May 24 – Lauren Eldridge in recital


I am giving a piano recital on Friday, May 24, 2013 at noon in the Fulton Recital Hall, 4th floor of Goodspeed Hall. The program features the works of Haitian composer Ludovic Lamothe and will be accompanied by a discussion. All are welcome. Any questions, please email me at


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May 23 – Andrea Harris Jordan and Melanie Zeck

Thursday, May 23 at 4:30 pm in Goodspeed 205
We have the honor of presenting both Melanie Zeck and Andrea Harris Jordan. Their abstracts are below, please come prepared to engage with their research.

Music plays an important role in yearly rituals, school activities, and the hobbies and daily life of the Japanese who live in the mountainous area of central Honshu, Japan. Based off a year of life and informal fieldwork in Taka-cho and its surroundings, I will paint a picture of musical life in these communities through four broad strokes. First, Japanese seasonal festivals are always accompanied by ritual music making. Second, school festivals are places of both recorded music, but especially choral music are highly prominent. Indeed, choral music and amateur music making is valued by people of all ages in Japan. Third, Western Art Music has come to hold a notable place in the musical life on Japanese people, even in small mountain towns. Fourth, I will argue that western-style recorded music is a prevalent tool in sonically demarcating the local community. – AHJ

“The ‘Victor’ in Education: The Implications of Early Sacred Music Recordings for a ‘A Higher Order of Citizenship’”
This paper explores the relationship between early sacred music recordings and the (re)defining of America’s ethical value system through music education between 1900 and 1940. A pioneer in the recorded sound industry, the Victor Talking Machine Company (VTMC), produced a continuous stream of recordings but differentiated itself from its competitors by establishing a demand for these recordings through an extensive educational program. In so doing, the VTMC strove to position itself as the nucleus of America’s musical life, as both facets of the VTMC’s agenda worked together to cultivate America’s musical taste in an era of technological innovation.
In 1910 renowned educator and founding president of the Music Supervisors National Conference Frances Elliott Clark first introduced recorded sound through Victor Talking Machines (Victrolas) in the Milwaukee public schools, championing increased exposure to music as the gateway to a “higher order of citizenship.” Recruited by the VTMC later that year to serve as chair of its new Department of Education, over the next five years, Clark oversaw the placement of Victrolas in schools throughout 2700 American cities. Her primary responsibility at VTMC was to ensure that, through the advent of recorded sound technology, all Americans had access to “good” music—namely, music that served as a tool of social uplift and as a positive force on the individual and collective moral compass of Americans. After consulting her copious writings (many of which are still in manuscript), I contend that her belief in and commitment to promoting music’s positive effect on America’s ethical value system remained stalwart throughout her career.
Meanwhile, the number of sacred music recordings produced by the VTMC increased dramatically, featuring artists such as tenor Harry Macdonough, evangelist and gospel song writer Homer Alvan Rodeheaver, and the popular Trinity Choir. I am investigating the process by which Clark and her VTMC Department of Education colleagues promoted these and other sacred music recordings to music educators. For example, in the book What We Hear in Music, A Course of Study in Music History and Appreciation (first published by VTMC’s Department of Education in 1913), author Anne Faulkner Oberndorfer recommends the study of “My Jesus, As Thou Wilt,” a hymn that had been recorded by Macdonough for the Victor label in 1902. Of particular relevance to this project, however, is my examination of the reception history of these musical recordings and the extent to which they were integrated into public school music curricula during the interwar period. – MZ

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April 25 – Suzi Wint

Come one, come all! This Thursday, we will feature a job talk by Suzi Wint, who recently defended her dissertation. The abstract is below, and refreshments will be served.

Thursday, April 25
4:30 pm
Goodspeed 205

Classical Music and Christianity: A Migrated Practice as Ugandan Everyday

Though East African cultural practices such as novel-writing and theatre performance have been scrutinized for hints of European colonization, classical music has not undergone such public processes in Uganda. I argue that Kampala’s classical musicians see Western art music as linked to Christianity, rather than colonization. As such, it has “indigenized” along with Christianity, and at least in current imagination is part of a transnational practice through Anglican and Roman Catholic relationships, rather than being seen as a residue of colonization. Kampalans’ use of transnational networks help make classical music part of a Ugandan everyday.

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April 18 – Andrew Mall offers a gamelan workshop

EthNoise! The Ethnomusicology Workshop invites you to a special lecture/workshop introduction to central Javanese gamelan. Ethnomusicologist Andrew Mall, an instructor in the Department of Music, at DePaul University School of Music, and the education coordinator for Friends of the Gamelan, will lead participants through the major instruments of this traditional percussion orchestra, with roots in the royal courts of Indonesia. We will learn some basic features of gamelan music, discuss the different roles of individual instruments in the ensemble, and learn to perform a short piece. No experience in gamelan or percussion instruments is needed or expected.

When: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 4:30
Where: we will meet at Hyde Park Union Church on the corner of 56th and Woodlawn. Use the entrance on 56th, ring the buzzer for the ‘Fireplace Room,’ and identify yourself as part of EthNoise. The gamelan room is down the stairs and at the end of the
hall once you enter the building.

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April 5 – Karl Swinehart

Welcome back for the Spring Quarter! Our first workshop is co-sponsored with the Music History/Theory Workshop, and features Karl Swinehart, Collegiate Assistant Professor of the Humanities at the University of Chicago. Professor Swinehart will be discussing hip-hop collective Wayna Rap’s work and the sociocultural milieu from which they emerge and, in turn, actively reshape, drawing on interviews with these artists and analyses of their lyrics and videos to illuminate the changing conditions of indigeneity in this corner of contemporary Bolivian society. The paper is available below. Please join us!

When: Friday, April 5, 2013 at 3:30 pm

Where: Regenstein library, room 264

Who: ALL the music heads!

Swinehart Pre-Circulation

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