Dec. 3: James Symons

Please join us for our final workshop of the quarter with special guest James Symons, a PhD Candidate in Music Theory and Cognition at Northwestern. James will be discussing an excerpt from his dissertation, “Temporal Regularity as a Key to Uncovering Statistically Significant Schemas in an Eighteenth-Century Corpus” (accessible here). Our own John Lawrence will serve as respondent. As always, we will meet on Wednesday from 4:30 to 6:00 in Logan 801, buoyed by assorted refreshments and animated exchange.

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Nov. 12: Tommaso Sabbatini

“Scribe and Meyerbeer’s L’Africaine: a world-minded Parisian opera”

Please join us this Wednesday (Nov. 12, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m., Logan 801) for Tommaso Sabbatini’s presentation of his paper for a conference on nineteenth-century grand opera outside Paris. Lauren Eldridge will serve as respondent. Tommaso’s draft is available here; his abstract may be viewed here.

We hope you will brave the oncoming polar vortex to share snacks, beverages, and lively discussion with us!

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Oct. 29: AMS Presentations

4:30 Ted Gordon - “Sound is God: La Monte Young and Pandit Pran Nath in New York”

5:15 Miriam Tripaldi - “Dispelling the Western Myth: Opera, Mobility, Experimentation, and the Emergence of the Russian Nation in Saint Petersburg”

We are proud to welcome our own Ted Gordon and Miriam Tripaldi next Wednesday, Oct. 29, as they gear up for their approaching AMS Milwaukee presentations. Abstracts are accessible here. Please join us over refreshments for what promises to be a lively and enlightening exchange in Logan 801, 4:30-6:00 p.m.

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Oct. 22: Peter Gillette

“Columnated Ruins Domino, 1966: Reading the Beach Boys’ ‘Surf’s Up’ as Critique of Lincoln Center” 

Please join us next Wednesday (October 22, 4:30–6:00 p.m., Logan Terrace Room 801) as we plunge ears first into the Beach Boys’ “Surf’s Up,” led by our friend and colleague Peter Gillette. To wet your whistle, check out his paper here and a special version of the song here. Peter’s work on this topic grows out of ongoing ethnographic and archival research on the social and material history of the New York Philharmonic. We look forward to seeing you there!

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Oct. 8: Professor Lawrence Zbikowski, “Words and Music”

We are delighted to launch this year’s workshop series with a special presentation from Professor Lawrence Zbikowski on his current book project, Toward a Cognitive Grammar of Music. Our discussion will center especially on the book’s sixth chapter, “Words and Music” (downloadable here). You are cordially invited to join us for this exciting inaugural event in Logan Terrace Room 801 on Wednesday, October 8, 4:30 – 6:00.

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Music History and Theory Workshop Fall Schedule

We’re pleased to announce the fall calendar of events for the Music History and Theory Workshop. We hope you’ll join us as we kick off the year with a special presentation from our very own Professor Lawrence Zbikowski next Wednesday, Oct. 8.

Oct. 8              Lawrence Zbikowski 

“Words and Music,” from Toward a Cognitive Grammar of Music

Oct. 22            Peter Gillette (University of Iowa)

“Columnated Ruins Domino, Summer 1966: Reading The Beach Boys’ Surf’s Up as Critique of Lincoln Center”

Oct. 29            AMS Presentations

Ted Gordon - “Sound is God: La Monte Young and Pandit Pran Nath in New York”

Miriam Tripaldi - “Dispelling the Western Myth: Opera, Mobility, Experimentation, and the Emergence of the Russian Nation in Saint Petersburg”

Nov. 12           Tommaso Sabbatini

“Intimate Space and Popular Spectacle: Revue, Magic Lantern, and War in Maurice Ravel’s L’Enfant et les sortilèges

Dec. 3              James Symons (Northwestern University)

“A Cognitivitely Inspired Musical Concordance”


Each session will be held in Logan Terrace Room 801 on a Wednesday afternoon, 4:30-6:00. Refreshments will be served; spirited colloquy will ensue. You can join our listserv here. We look forward to seeing you at upcoming workshops!

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Final Workshop of the Quarter and End-of-Year Celebration: Marcy Pierson!

Join us next week for our final workshop, Marcy Pierson with respondent George Adams! The pre-circulated reading is available on the downloads page with the password erasure.We’ll be partying at this last workshop of the year, with a spread catered by Chipotle to accompany our tasty conversation!

Here are the meeting details:
Logan Terrace Seminar Room (801)
Wednesday, June 4
4:30 p.m.–6:00 p.m.
Marcy writes:
The Voice under Erasure in Darmstadt and beyond

Modernist composers since 1950 or so have evinced a marked disease with melody and thus, I argue, with the voice. The composers in my dissertation exploit the expressive power of the singing voice, but also find it imperative to intervene, to obstruct. I am particularly concerned with those who express ambivalence toward, rather than an outright rejection of, melody and singing: composers who invoke them, but also put them under erasure by distorting them in various ways. This chapter will introduce this project by delineating its scope, elucidating its theoretical foundations, and outlining its methodology.
See you there!
Ana and Chelsea
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A Second Pair of Proposals: Liz Hopkins and Patrick Fitzgibbon

Dear all,

Join us for next week’s workshop, where we’ll discuss proposal materials from Patrick Fitzgibbon and Liz Hopkins! Pre-circulated materials are available here, with the password proposals.


Music, Science, and Science Fiction: The Feeling of Knowing

Liz Hopkinsforbiddenplanet

My project looks at the use of electronic music in science fiction films and nature documentaries from the 1960s and 70s. I am considering ways in which this music was developed to convey emotional, physical, and ideological meaning through connotation and denotation, as well as the underlying philosophies of compositional processes. I argue that these sound tracks become a means of understanding the mass cultural assimilation of and emotional relationship with science, technology, and ways of knowing.




Musical Rule-Breaking, 1450-1800

Patrick Fitzgibbon

Patrick Workshop Image
Rules are the basic stuff of music theory. My project looks at what happens when they get broken. Through a series of case studies on characteristic early-modern texts, I explore musical rules in relation to sites of authority and enforcement; notions of mistake and misconduct; inflections of socioeconomic rank; and processes of discursive activation/sublimation. The main question is: why should a musician, past or present, not only fail to heed rules but also seek to breach them?


The paper I have forwarded for your consideration comes from my prospectus-in-progress. Following several pages surveying my overall topic, the paper sketches in a few of the issues that I view as central to each case study. I would be most grateful for your help identifying any future pitfalls or paths forward that you find especially striking.

The workshop will take place on Wednesday, May 21, from 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., in the Logan Terrace Seminar Room (801). See you there for food, drink, and delicious discussion!

Ana and Chelsea

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Wednesday, May 7: Daniel Callahan with Respondent Tom Gunning

“In Search of Lost Movement, Movers, and Music”

Wednesday, May 7, 4:30–6:00 PM

Logan Center, Terrace Seminar Room (801)


Daniel Callahan, Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Music and the College

Tom Gunning, Edwin A. and Betty L. Bergman Distinguished Service Professor, Department of Art History, Department of Cinema and Media Studies, and the College

 Fuller Vortex Beckett

Samuel Joshua Beckett, [Loie Fuller Dancing], ca. 1900.


In the 1890s Loie Fuller, draped in especially long silks, would take center stage in front of darkened halls and spin and manipulate her fabrics under changing lights. Audiences and critics, including Stéphane Mallarmé, loved it. Over a hundred years later, some scholars in different fields—dance studies, comparative literature, art history, philosophy (the dust jacket of Jacques Rancière’s English translation of Aisthesis capitalizes on Fuller’s image), and film studies (most notably my esteemed respondent, Tom Gunning,—have turned their attention to Fuller after decades of relative neglect. Absent in the recent literature on Fuller—as in the vast majority of contemporary accounts —is a consideration of the role music played in her performances. Why is this? For Wednesday’s workshop, I would like us to consider some material from my book manuscript’s first chapter. At the end of the chapter, I introduce Loie Fuller and begin to explore her performances as acts of music visualized, as embodiments of Hanslick’s arabesque, and as key part of the prehistory of early US modern dance and its dependence on music.

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A Pair of Proposals, April 23: Lauren Eldridge and Chaz Lee

Join us next week as we discuss the dissertation proposal materials of Lauren Eldridge and Chaz Lee! In this special session of the workshop, the time will be split between the two documents/presenters, with ample space to discuss each. As always, there will be food and drink to enjoy, along with vibrant discussion!
The documents are available on the download page of the website (see the right sidebar of the page), with the password propose.
NB: The workshop will take place in the room NEXT DOOR to the usual spot, in room 802 of Logan. Same bat time as usual, 4:30–6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, April 23.
Lauren writes:
In music schools throughout Haiti, women perform pedagogy through participation in mizik klasik. This genre encompasses both compositions in the style of Western European art music and traditional Haitian melodies. As composers, teachers, performers, students, and archivists, these women offer a sonic counterpoint to a media narrative that defines Haiti as “the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.” They present Haiti as one of the first contemporary republics, among them the only nation governed in independence by formerly enslaved Africans. They also insist that Haitians are diverse in class position and religious affiliation, but that they share a rich cultural heritage. In this dissertation, I urge a close listening to a group heretofore subsumed in a mythically undifferentiated nation. I call attention to women who perform, teach, and learn mizik klasik, while negotiating a politics of respectability. I argue that they are rewriting mizik klasik by including themselves in its history, a history vital to modern perceptions of Haiti. They perform this pedagogical work through the gift of music.
Chaz writes:
I’m interested in the persistence of attachments to Western classical music in many places around the world. I think that what the category of the “classical” means is still up for grabs, especially as a mass-mediated and transnationally circulating aesthetic that overflows the bounds of a delimited canonic repertory and that can be found, for instance, in the soundtracks of different national cinemas, Korean, American, French, Indian, etc. One of my presuppositions is therefore that the persistence of the classical has not only to do with an attachment to specific musical content but also with the particular affective structure of that attachment. This structure pertains to how certain conventions come to be sensed and experienced as emphatically conventional through the affirmation of a shared space inhabited by subjects united in a common fantasy of being common. The pre-circulated case study is a first stab at giving this cosmopolitan generality a specific shape, to be followed by other close-readings and some fieldwork.
See you there!
Ana and Chelsea
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