June 3: Gary Tomlinson

We are beyond delighted to welcome distinguished guest, Gary Tomlinson, for our final workshop of the quarter, taking place next Wednesday, June 3rd (4:30-6:00 PM in Logan 801). Professor Tomlinson will be discussing his recently published book, A Million Years of Music: The Emergence of Human Modernity  (Zone Books/MIT Press, 2015), a richly woven narrative about the evolution of human musicking capacities, drawing on cognitive studies, archeology, and evolutionary theory, among other fields. For those pressed for time, he has recommended reading Chapter 1, the end of Chapter 6 (starting on page 225), and all of Chapter 7, skimming pp. 237-260.

Please join us as we crown this year’s workshop series with a lively discussion on musical beginnings!


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May 20: Su Yin Mak

For the penultimate session of our annual series (this Wednesday, 4:30–6:00 in Logan 801), we are thoroughly honored to welcome special guest Su Yin Mak, Associate Professor of Music Theory at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Professor Mak will present a paper on “Schillerian Aesthetic Play in Schubert’s String Quartet in A minor, D. 804″ (draft downloadable here), about which she writes:

Schubert’s String Quartet in A minor, D. 804 has long been associated with memory and nostalgia, not least because of the citation in the third-movement Menuetto of the opening figure from ‘Strophe aus Schillers Die Götter Griechenlands’ (D. 677), which sets an explicitly elegiac text.  That Friedrich Schiller was an important author for Schubert is well-documented, and in my earlier work on lyricism in Schubert I have argued a close correspondence between Schubert’s paratactic style and Schiller’s paradigm of the elegy.  Currently I am working on a paper that further considers ways in which Schiller’s theory of the aesthetic imagination may also inform our understanding of Schubert’s discourse.   In notebook entries and letters written around the time of the quartet’s composition, Schubert’s remarks on the imagination’s power to transcend and beautify miserable reality suggest familiarity with, and sympathy for, Schiller’s view of the imagination in On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters.  In particular, Schiller’s notion of play-drive (Spieltrieb), which mediates between the sensuousness of intuitions and desires (Stofftrieb) and the urge to impose order on feelings and experiences (Formtrieb), finds resonance with Schubert’s constructions of subjectivity in the quartet.  For this workshop presentation, I propose a reading of the third movement that draws upon both these tropes taken from Schiller:  the dialectical opposition between ideal and actuality in his conception of the elegy, and the negotiation between materiality and form in his conception of the imagination.

Schubert spielt

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May 6: Patrick Kaufman

We are excited to welcome Patrick Kaufman to the workshop this Wednesday (4:30 p.m., Logan 801) as he presents his paper, “Alia Practica Musicae” (Another Practice of Music).  In it, Patrick considers historical and intellectual context to put forward an alternative reading of Gaffurio’s landmark Practica musicae of 1496, ultimately suggesting that its references to Roman banquet culture and Neoplatonic secret philosophy disclose previously unacknowledged music-theoretic import. Our other music-theoretically predisposed Patrick (Fitzgibbon) will serve as respondent.


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April 22: Susan Hohl

We are delighted to welcome Susan Hohl to the workshop this Wednesday (4:30–6:00 in Logan 801) as she sheds light on the coordinates of Liszt’s personae as traveler, reader, and musician. As a PhD candidate in Comparative Literature, Susan draws on a broad interdisciplinary background, as is amply evident from her paper “Reading as Pilgrimage: The Stations of Liszt’s Literary Imagination and Recovering the Music in ‘Die Loreley'” (downloadable here). To even further energize and inform the conversation, Meredith Moretz will act as respondent. We look forward to what is sure to be a wide-ranging exchange!

Liszt watercolor

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April 8: Chelsea Burns

Please join us for the first workshop of the quarter this coming Wednesday (April 8th; 4:30-6:00 pm in Logan 801). Chelsea Burns will present material from her work in progress, “’Way Down South in Dixie': Langston Hughes and Blackness in the American South as Interpreted by Carlos Chávez and Silvestre Revueltas” (accessible here). We look forward to seeing you all at what is sure to be a lively discussion!

Langston Hughes

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Spring 2015 Schedule

April 8            Chelsea Burns, PhD Candidate in Music History/Theory
                                       “Way Down South in Dixie”:
                                       Langston Hughes and Blackness in the American South
                                       as Interpreted by Carlos Chávez and Silvestre Revueltas

April 22          Susan Hohl, PhD Candidate in Comparative Literature
                                       Reading as Pilgrimage: The Stations of Liszt’s Literary Imagination 
                                       and Recovering the Muse in “Die Loreley”

May 6             Patrick Kaufman, PhD Student in Music History/Theory
                                       [Dissertation Materials on Renaissance Music Theory]

May 20           Su Yin Mak, Professor of Music at the Chinese University of Hong Kong
                                       [Lecture TBA]

June 3             Gary Tomlinson, Professor of Music and Humanities at Yale University
                                       [Forum on A Million Years of Music (MIT Press, 2015)]

All sessions held in Logan 801 on select Wednesday afternoons, 4:30–6:00.
Refreshments provided. For announcements and updates, join our Listserv. See you there!

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Zach Loeffler and Max Silva

Please join us for the last workshop of the quarter (Wednesday March 4; 4:30-6:00 pm in Logan 801) as Zach Loeffler and Max Silva present material from their dissertation proposal drafts. We look forward to seeing you all there!

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Feb. 18: Sarah Iker

On February 18 (4:30–6:00, Logan 801) we are delighted to welcome our friend, colleague, and resident maven of all things Stravinsky, Sarah Iker. Sarah is sharing her hot-off-the-press draft of a new dissertation chapter, “Reviving Pergolesi in Stravinsky’s Pulcinella” (accessible here); Chelsea Burns is serving as respondent. Please join us for what is sure to be a punchy, vivacious discussion!


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February 4: Gilad Cohen

Please join us for our next workshop (February 4, 4:30–6:00 p.m., Logan 801) as we welcome Gilad Cohen, Assistant Professor of Music Performance/Theory at Ramapo College, who will be presenting a paper entitled “Breaking Away From the Pack: Unique Large-Scale Structure in Pink Floyd’s Song ‘Dogs’”. He writes:

In their seventeen-minute track “Dogs” from the 1977 LP Animals, Pink Floyd used a small amount of material, appropriate to a standard-scale song, and expanded each of its sections enormously by employing heavy repetition and an exceptionally slow harmonic pace. Yet how can a rock song that is based on so little material retain vitality over the course of such prolonged duration? This paper analyzes and assesses the ways in which “Dogs” succeeds in maintaining a sense of variety, direction, and cohesiveness throughout its extended length. Through an inspired scheme of structurally foundational guitar solos, a motivic use of melodic and harmonic tension, and a meticulously woven fabric of text, harmony, texture, sound, and instrumentation, the song maintains a propulsive forward drive in spite of its thematic economy.

Pierce Gradone will serve as respondent.

Additionally, please take note of the following upcoming performances featuring Professor Cohen’s music:

Concert #1The Chicago Ensemble playing music by Telemann, Dutilleux , Dvorak and Gilad Cohen.

Sunday, February 1st 2015 at 3pm, The University of Chicago’s International House, 1414 E. 59th St., Chicago, IL. $25 general, $10 students, free for I-House residents.

Concert #2The Chicago Ensemble playing music by Telemann, Dutilleux , Dvorak and Gilad Cohen.

Tuesday, February 10th 2015 at 7:30pm, the new chapel of Fourth Presbyterian Church, Chestnut and Michigan Avenue, Chicago, IL. $25 general, $10 students.

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Jan. 21: David Levin

We are thrilled to welcome Professor David Levin (Jan. 21, 4:30–6:00 p.m., Logan 801), who will present a paper on “Adorno’s Spectacles: Stravinsky and the Place of Dialectics.” Professor Levin writes:

“In the course of his critique of Stravinsky, Theodor Adorno famously argued that Stravinsky’s music denied the musical subject a basis from which to engage the rhythmic displacement that so forcefully and so thoroughly characterized his music.  Unlike the modernist practices which Adorno celebrated, the rhythmic strategies of Stravinsky’s music purportedly stood in for a compositional practice that canceled meaningful critical engagement.  The question that I propose to pursue in this paper involves a dimension that Adorno, in his critique, tended to disregard, namely, the role of mise-en-scene in the disposition of Stravinsky’s work.  What happens when the auditor is also a spectator, when the composition in question is staged, its musical discourse supplemented by embodied action?  And given the range and diversity of productions of The Rite of Spring, could one imagine a choreographic practice that displaces the displacement?  What would such a practice entail?  And what would be its consequences?”

We look forward to what is sure to be a stimulating and indeed spectacular talk!

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