Late breaking information

MUSICOLOGY AT THE UNIVERSITY OF AMSTERDAM

12/09/2019

Ethnomusicology and arts-based research: a case study by Horacio Curti

Colloquium Musicology
Horacio Curti, Catalonia College of Music in Barcelona


Thursday 12 September 2019 15:30-17:00 uur 
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

This presentation is centered on a currently ongoing research that combines ethnomusicology and arts-based research. It originates from the author’s own experience as professional shakuhachi player educated in Japan. The methodology is based on literature review of sources related to diverse Japanese Arts, fieldwork processes centered on interviews and a trans-disciplinary arts-based research process.

The findings of the ethnomusicological research that are going to be presented provide theoretical depth to the re-contextualized, practice-based research. These will include issues related to the characteristics of sound that are cultivated and valued inside the Japanese hōgaku,邦楽, identifying a series of significant concepts that include: maneirosawarior yūgen among many others. 

Beyond these significant elements the concept of ‘obstacle’ is proposed as a construct that could help to develop an understanding of sound production processes favored and at the same time the label of ‘un-pure’ is proposed to describe the general characteristics of it.

Finally, from the framework of arts-based research, the artistic creation processes in progress and their problematics will be discussed.

06/06/2019

Classical Music as a Site of Political Emotions

Colloquium Musicology
Olga Panteleeva, Universiteit Utrecht

Thursday 13 June 2019, 15:30-17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

In this talk, Olga Panteleeva analyses the highly emotional discussions about the genre of Regieoper – a revisionist approach to operatic staging associated in Russia with Western European music culture. As a part of her research project about online classical music fandom in contemporary Russia, she positions these discussions in the long tradition of morality politics that presents Russia as culturally and morally superior to the West. Classical music has been a trump card for Russia in the power struggle with the “bourgeois West” since the 1930s. Appropriation of Western European masterpieces for the Soviet artistic canon during that time further contributed to the idea that Russia is heir and guardian to the great Western European culture. Locating contemporary discourses within the long tradition of equating aesthetic with ethics, this project demonstrates how the “cultural heritage” became paramount in constructing the discourses of national superiority in Putin’s Russia.
Arguing, after Sara Ahmed, against the psychologizing understanding of emotions as something that belongs exclusively to the private sphere, Olga Panteleeva interrogates the ways in which the politics of emotion in Russia creates the Other and solidifies a sense of national identity perceived to be under threat from the West. While this theoretical perspective aligns with a recent trend in political science to analyze the current anti-Western attitudes in Russia through the lens of Nietzschean ressentiment and feelings of resentment, this is the first research project that brings theory of emotions to bear on the contemporary politics of music in Russia.

Olga Panteleeva is a Lecturer in Musicology at Utrecht University in The Netherlands. She received her Ph.D. in musicology from the University of California, Berkeley. Engaging with different periods of Russian and Soviet music culture, her research focuses on the relationship between music and power, the intersections between musical and scientific discourses, and contemporary politics of classical music. In 2017-2018 she was a Fung Global Fellow at Princeton University as a part of a cohort working on the topic titled "The Culture and Politics of Resentment." She is currently working on a monograph, "The Making of Soviet Musicology," to be published by Indiana University Press. As a music critic Olga Panteleeva wrote for the Russian business daily Vedomosti and the independent online magazine Colta.ru.

23/05/2019

The Laws of Performance

Colloquium Musicology
Rebekah Ahrendt, Universiteit Utrecht

Thursday 6 June 2019, 15:30-17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

This colloquium is a preview of a new project Rebekah Arendt is developing, “The Laws of Performance.” This project builds on prior research she carried out on performance, migration, and international relations. Concentrating on the long eighteenth century, she explore the historical labor migration of a specific group--musical performers—in order to begin to answer questions about the free movement of labor (including enforcement of foreign contracts), the construction of citizenship, and the (moral) principles of public policy.
Her primary thesis is that a shared European legal foundation—the ius commune based on Roman and canon law—enabled performer mobility and the establishment of durable performing institutions. The transposibility of legal norms provided a common understanding of entitlements and obligations across Continental Europe, shaping the foundation of opera companies, theater troupes, and orchestral ensembles. However, local ordinances and case law overlaying the ius commune could create confusion or frustration for mobile populations that, like performing troupes, depended on the good will of local authorities. Moreover, performers faced moral objections due to social mores regarding their profession and to the fact that they often maintained no permanent residence (unlike merchants, for example).
To date, performance studies writ large has primarily considered law in terms of intellectual property rights or institutional organization, or as evidence for who was employed where, how, and at what time, particularly in studies of the early modern period. Ahrendt proposes reading legal documents from a different angle: for what they can tell us about the gradual, historical integration of performers and their ensembles into the urban landscape. In this, I respond to recent calls for recognizing law and the legal as cultural constructions, as dependent upon and constructive of place as any other aspect of cultural geography. I intend not merely to show that law partakes of culture or that culture refracts law, but to demonstrate that they are mutually constitutive. For example, legal agreements helped constitute the urban opera house, its inhabitants, and even its repertoire. Only through these agreements could the opera house become a site of performance and a feature of urban geography. In other words, it was through legal documents—themselves negotiated through acts of performance—that opera became a legitimized space. And opera in turn helped shape law: it caused cities to rethink urban planning projects, to regulate performance spaces, to legislate the identities of (foreign) performers in relationship to natural citizens, to reform tax laws to accommodate mobile populations and sporadic performance.
Ahrendt’s colloquium will focus on the establishment of opera in the Dutch Republic. How an opera house ended up on the early modern map of The Hague (and not of Amsterdam!) is a tale of urban renewal and spatial reorganization in line with many such accounts of opera’s participation in civic life. But it is also a story of how opera and law interacted, of how savvy entrepreneurs worked within (and on the margins of) a legal system. Drawing on an extraordinarily long paper trail created by an opera company around 1700, she examines the unique governmental and juridical structures of The Hague and their interaction with the institution of opera. From obtaining permission and funding to hiring a theater and performers, the company’s participation in the town’s legal geographies transformed what was essentially outsider space into a signifier of prestige, a provider of social welfare, and a successfully redeveloped theatrical center.

Rebekah Ahrendt is Associate Professor of Musicology in the Department of Media and Culture Studies. Prior to joining Utrecht’s faculty, she was Assistant Professor in the Yale University Department of Music and a Mellon Postdoctoral Scholar in the Humanities at the Center for the Humanities at Tufts University. A specialist in music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, Ahrendt’s work centers on the importance of mobility—whether through migration, exchange, or long-distance actor networks—in the construction of identity. Her current monograph project illuminates the musical networks maintained by the refugees, exiles, and migrants who traversed the landscape of the Dutch Republic. Much of her recent scholarship has focused on music and international relations, including the co-edited book Music and Diplomacy from the Early Modern Era to the Present (Palgrave Macmillan, 2014). Ahrendt is also a co-director of the international research project Signed, Sealed, & Undelivered, which has garnered worldwide media attention since its formal launch in November 2015. A graduate of the Royal Conservatory, The Hague, Ahrendt continues to perform and record on the viola da gamba.


09/05/2019

[ Cancelled ] The Evolution of Dance: How and when do new genres emerge in electronic dance music?

Colloquium Musicology
Alex van Venrooij, Universiteit van Amsterdam

Thursday 23 May 2019, 15:30-17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

In the thirty years since house music first emerged from the club scene of Chicago, this cultural form has transformed from a local subculture into a global field and in the process spawned a large number of new subgenres. How do these new subgenres develop? What is the process by which they emerge and are formed? And does the emergence of new genres perhaps show some underlying pattern? In this presentation, I will present some key findings from my research on the evolution of the electronic dance music field and provide a sociological analysis of the process of genre emergence.

Alex van Venrooij is assistant professor in cultural sociology at the department of sociology at the University of Amsterdam. His work has focused on the emergence, dynamics and effects of classification systems, such as genre categories, in cultural fields.

07/03/2019

"When" in Musical Rhythm: Is Beat Perception Special?

Colloquium Musicology
Fleur Bouwer, Universiteit van Amsterdam

Thursday 21 March 2019, 15:30-17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01


A packed Museum-square collectively swaying to the music of André Rieu. Going crazy on Lowlands festival. Kids singing a song together. As humans, we seem to all be capable of moving and synchronising to a musical beat. But is it indeed so easy to hear a beat in musical rhythm? How does the brain allow us to perceive a beat in sound and to predict when the next tone will be heard in a musical rhythm? In this talk, cognitive musicologist Fleur Bouwer will address these questions. Moreover, she will present data from her recent experiment in which she aimed to find out whether the perception of a beat in musical rhythm is "special" or uses general timing processes in the brain.

Fleur Bouwer is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Amsterdam, supervised by Heleen Slagter and Henkjan Honing. Using methods like EEG and fMRI, she examines how predictions shape the perception of music in general and musical rhythm in particular. Fleur obtained her PhD in 2016. She holds both a Master in Psychology (UvA) and a Master of Music (Amsterdam Conservatory). In 2016, Fleur received an ABC Talent grant, enabling her to continue her research combining her fascination for the human brain and her passion for music. In addition, Fleur is an enthusiastic educator, both in teaching courses at the UvA and in bringing the science of music cognition to the public.

07/02/2019

Modelling Melodic Patterns: Findings and Open Questions

Colloquium Musicology
Peter van Kranenburg, Meertens Instituut

Thursday 21 February 2019, 15:30-17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

From music theory it is widely accepted that music can be modelled hierarchically, score notation being just one level in that hierarchy. For example, for Western tonal music, theories such as the Generative Theory of Tonal Music (GTTM) or Heinrich Schenker's reduction methods are considered to result in valid analyses, revealing higher-level structures encompassing multiple individual notes, or even entire pieces. For the specific musical dimension of melody, no such well-established methodology exists. In this contribution, he will talk about a number of studies in which he uses computational methods to extract melodic patterns from monophonic music, both represented symbolically and as audio recordings. He will report some successes in detecting melodic cadences and relating melodic gestures in Jewish Torah recitation. Next, he will present some open questions, mainly on interpretation and evaluation of the findings of melodic pattern discovery algorithms.

Peter van Kranenburg is a researcher at the Meertens Instituut in Amsterdam. As a musicologist, he is interested in how and why we make and experience music. As a computer scientist, he investigates how we can use computers to support research on music. He is continuously searching to connect humanities and scientific approaches; a very intriguing challenge. Van Kranenburg has developed a method to automatically recognize the personal style of certain classical composers. Moreover, he worked on analyzing melodies that are used to recite the Qur’an, and he developed a way to compute to what extent two melodies are similar.

03/01/2019

Creativity & Innovation: North Bali’s Signature

Colloquium Musicology
Henrice Vonck, University of Amsterdam

Thursday 17 January 2019, 15:30-17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

Last summer, Undiksha University in Singaraja (North Bali) expressed their wish to set up a research centre for an in-depth and long-term study of North Balinese art and culture in cooperation with the Musicology department of the University of Amsterdam. This research will result in an online database, accessible for local and (inter)national interested parties, and researchers, and aims to revitalize the local culture and performing arts.

Recent studies increasingly show that innovation and creativity are the main style characteristics of North Balinese art and culture, compared to the more traditional and standardized South Balinese culture. Besides that, the region North Bali is a highly cultural diverse area, which led to a high sense of artistic competition among artists. In this dynamic whole, around the year 1915 a new and vibrant – and now omnipresent gamelan style – arose, called gong kerbyar. Sadly enough, the particular North Balinese style went out of vogue and has almost disappeared, because of the economic and cultural dominance of southern Bali.

In her colloquium she will shine a new light on the style characteristics of North Balinese art and culture, and then explain how we aim to (re)discover, describe and revitalise this local culture, and bestow it its rightful place in the artistic world.

Henrice Vonck is a musician-researcher and ethnomusicologist, whose dissertation Manis and Keras (1997) about gender wayang in Tejakula (North Bali) remains one of the few musicological studies of North Balinese music. Since 1987 Henrice is artistic leader of Irama Foundation, which has a longstanding history of concerts, theatre productions and summer schools with renown Balinese artists, like dalang Wayan Wija, dancers I Wayan Catra and I Wayan Dibia, composer I Made Asnawa, and teacher and gamelan maker I Nyoman Sudarna. Vonck was also programme coordinator of the two editions of the International Gamelan Festival Amsterdam (IGFA), in the Tropentheater Amsterdam.

Out of enthusiasm for the enormous diversity of the no longer in vogue North Balinese art and culture, she initiated and organized the International Conference and Festival for North Balinese Arts & Culture in Singaraja (2010, 2013). Following up on the recommendations from the 2013 edition, she is now establishing a Research & Education Centre for North Balinese Arts, in cooperation with Undishka, Universitas Pendidikan Ganesha (Singaraja, North Bali) and the Musicology department of the University of Amsterdam. In her working life Henrice is affiliated as Artistic Research coordinator to the Master of Music of Codarts University for the Arts, Rotterdam. Last but not least she works as a mindfulness trainer at Codarts and the Centrum voor Mindfulness in Amsterdam.

05/10/2018

Musical Parsing in the Age of Spotify

Colloquium Musicology
Dr. Sebastian Klotz, Humboldt University

Thursday 11 October 2018, 15:30-17:00

Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01


This talk addresses the interface of empirical music psychology and commercial music technology
applications. Music streaming and recommender systems rely on advanced semantic searches and
similarity queues. The software defines some 1.000 musical events per track, generated from real
consumer behaviour during streaming & listening. While these parsing algorithms are shielded by the
companies, they beg the question which theories stand behind these clustered segmentations and
synthesized user profiles.

New parsing strategies coincide with potential changes of the formal design of tracks: in main-
stream maximal pop (Hannah Pilarczyk), in-song structural and dynamic changes are replaced by persistent hook-lines which affect the overall lay-out. Should this be the case, non-syntactic
algorithmic parsing would be the ideal tool to capitalize on this tendency.

The presentation argues that user-based approaches to musical events add a new dimension to the
primarily syntax-based concepts used by music psychology and computational feature extraction.
Following up on research undertaken by Robert Prey, the talk will examine the ideologies and the
technical operativity of listening and of corpus-based analysis. Does Spotify re-define listening? Are
streaming platforms part of an ubiquitous audio-governementality (Tom Holert, Terre Thaemlitz)?

Dr. Sebastian Klotz is professor of Transcultural Musicology and the Historical Anthropology of Music
at Humboldt University Berlin. He is particularly interested in the ways music and sounds inform
knowledge cultures. Last year, he initiated the Erich von Hornbostel Audio Emergence Lab (HAEL) at
the Department of Musicology and Media Studies.

07/09/2018

Stomping Ground: Modern Female Bodies and Flamenco in Tokyo


Colloquium Musicology
Dr. Yolanda M. van Ede, University of Amsterdam

Thursday 20 September 2018, 15:30-17:00

Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

 
This presentation addresses the complex interactions between localization and globalization through bodily practices in the context of Japanese flamenco. Spanish Flamenco has gained immense popularity in Japan, especially among women. A highly gendered phenomenon, Japanese appropriation of flamenco links the dancers bodily to certain imageries and representations of places far away; in this case, southern Spain. In the course of its adaptation, however, flamenco has become adjusted to local meanings and practices. Sensory structures in processes of transmission are the cultural incentive; the dance is embedded in local cultural aesthetics as well as re-enacting particular local practices. A comparison of Japanese flamenco dancing with both Spanish flamenco performance and dominant Japanese sensory orientations highlights the importance of sound. On one hand, “Japamenco” is embedded in global developments whereby flamenco has become more of a spectacle than a musical collaboration between singers, musicians, and dancers. On the other hand, its focus on the dancer’s footwork emphasizes sound, particularly the amplification of sound, which runs against hegemonic Japanese aesthetics of femininity. Viewed in the context of modernity’s association with hyper-aesthesia, or an overabundance of sensory stimuli, flamenco offers Japanese women a localized stage on which they can present themselves as modern and cosmopolitan, not merely visually, but foremost aurally.
 
Dr. Yolanda van Ede is senior lecturer at the anthropology department at the University of Amsterdam. She has been researching gender, ritual and religion, and the anthropology of the senses, until she returned to her initial passion, dance. She conducted field research on flamenco in Tokyo and social/ballroom dancing in Manilla. Currently, she is a part-time student in fine arts at the Gerrit Rietveld Academy, in a quest for more creativity in anthropological methodology and knowledge (re)presentation.

07/06/2018

The Politicization of Melody: Religious Musical Performance and the Indonesian Culture Wars of 2017

Colloquium Musicology
Prof. Dr. Anne K. Rasmussen, The College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, Virginia, USA)

Thursday 14 June 2018, 15:30 - 17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

Although religious praxis in Indonesia is underestimated by both scholars of Islam and co-religionists in the Arab world and Middle East, connoisseurs recognize a rich culture of Arabic language performance in Indonesia ranging from Quranic recitation to various styles of devotional song.
A proactive adaptation of popular tunes from the Arab Eastern Mediterranean along with the canonization of Egyptian maqam has characterized this Indonesian Islamic soundscape since before the country’s independence in 1945, however; local arts and Indian Ocean networks have always shaped cultural practice fueling not only hybrid forms but also vigorous debate. Put into the context of 20 years of experience with Islamic performance in Indonesia and based on new fieldwork conducted in 2017, this presentation illustrates the intense political culture wars sparked by the use of local, Javanese melodies for Quranic recitation at the Presidential Palace.
As voices from the country’s Islamist extremist activists arose in hostile objection, even a pious public began to hear the reciter’s use of langgam Jawa as the perfect example of the flaws, immorality, and objectionable permissiveness of Indonesian Islam vis à vis the models of puritanical Salafism and literalist modernism that, today, guide globalized Islamic movements in Southeast Asia. Swept up in the Tsunami of racist nativism both Indonesian and Mediterranean Arab performance aesthetics have been on the chopping block as the country struggles to contain the vociferous presence of religious hardliners (Islam keras). In contextualizing these events, I theorize the ways circulation and signification politicize melody in two interconnected Ocean worlds.


Prof. Dr. Anne K. Rasmussen is professor of music and ethnomusicology at the College of William and Mary (Williamsburg, Virginia, USA). She did her Ph.D. in music at the University of California-Los Angeles and has repeatedly been elected to the board of the Society for Ethnomusicology. Since 1994 Rasmussen has directed the William and Mary Middle Eastern Music Ensemble, a forum for the study and performance of music and with musicians form the Middle East and Arab world.

26/04/2018

Crafting the Sound of Hildebrandt’s Organ Pipes


Colloquium Musicology
Dr. Peter Peters, Maastricht University

Thursday 24 May 2018, 15:30 - 17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01


As ‘mirrors of their time’ (Snyder, 2000), pipe organs have always reflected the artisanal knowledge and skills of their makers. Given their complexity as technological artefacts that are endowed with artistic qualities, these musical instruments offer a valuable contribution to an epistemic history of art that focuses on the travelling of facts and insights through technologies and materials. Since the 1990s, replicating instruments from the fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth-century has opened new ways of studying knowledge practices that revolve around historical organs. The actual building of these replica’s not only required a close reading and interpretation of sources, both archival and material, but also a relearning of historical organ building skills. In my presentation, I will present ethnographic fieldwork on the design and building of a new baroque organ at the Orgelpark, a concert venue in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. This recently inaugurated instrument takes the sound of historical Hildebrandt organs as a reference, and provides access to this baroque sound material through both a mechanical action and a digital console. Drawing on the work of the anthropologist Tim Ingold, I focus on the way the pipes for the new organ were crafted to trace the relations between knowledge, skills and aesthetics.

Dr. Peter Peters is assistant professor at the department of Philosophy at the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Maastricht University. He has published on music, time, and travel in technological cultures. His current research is concerned with (1) the production of knowledge in artistic practices, and (2) the innovation of musical cultures. In the past five years, followed the design and construction of a new baroque organ at the concert venue the Orgelpark in Amsterdam. He recently acquired a NWO Smart Culture grant to study and experiment with audience participation in symphonic music concerts, in collaboration with Zuyd University (Maastricht Conservatory and research centre Art, Autonomy and the Public Sphere) and the South Netherlands Philharmonic.

12/04/2018

Chiasmus and Reversal in the Works of Henry Purcell

Presentation Musicology
Dr. Alon Schab, University of Haifa

Monday 23 April 2018, 15:30 - 17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 1.01

The concept of temporal reversal seems to have occupied English composers throughout the seventeenth century. In some cases reversal is applied to general structural elements (like scoring and musical form, creating overarching structures that somewhat resemble later 'arch' forms). In other cases, however, as in Purcell's trio sonatas, reversal permeates the very foundation of contrapuntal technique. Thus, the allocation of imitative material to the various parts, as well as the disposition of imitative material along time, are directly dictated by a small number of palindrome-like patterns. In my lecture I will analyse some of Purcell's fugue movements, and discuss the various ways in which identifying temporal reversal challenges our understanding of Purcell's rhetoric, his compositional process, and the identity of those who influenced his technique.

Dr. Alon Schab is a musicologist, a composer and an early music performer. He wrote his doctoral dissertation in Trinity College Dublin on the subject of 'Compositional Technique in Purcell’s Early Instrumental Works'. Since 2012 he is a faculty member in the Department of Music at the University of Haifa. He is a committee member of the Purcell Society, and the secretary of the Israeli Musicological Society. His forthcoming book The Sonatas of Henry Purcell: Rhetoric and Reversal will be published (University of Rochester Press) in June. His recent rediscovery of the 1832 ‘Israeliten’ manuscript (together with his research partner David Rees), brought to light the earliest known source of Schubert’s Psalm 92 D.953.

19/03/2018

Learning rhythm and meter: The roles of statistical learning and dynamic entrainment

Colloquium Musicology
Dr. Benjamin Schultz, University of Amsterdam (Music Cognition Group)

Thursday 19 April 2018, 15:30 - 17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

Temporal expectancies play a crucial role in perceiving and producing music. Rhythm learning is hypothesized to occur through the statistical learning of temporal intervals but these theories are often insensitive to aspects of beat (i.e., perceived regular pulses at multiple timescales). The dynamic attending theory states that attentional oscillations synchronize with and adapt to regularities in an auditory scene and suggests that temporal expectancies are formed more readily for rhythms that imply a beat (i.e., metrical rhythms) compared to those that do not (i.e., nonmetrical rhythms). I present two behavioural experiments that show how rhythm and meter are learned through statistical learning and beat entrainment using highly controlled metrical and nonmetrical rhythms that contain identical statistical probabilities but differ in metrical structure. Results demonstrated that metrical and nonmetrical patterns are both learned. However, only one experiment showed that metrical patterns are learned more readily than nonmetrical patterns. In both experiments, abstraction of a metrical framework was evident in the metrical condition. Overall, results indicate that rhythm learning cannot only be explained by statistical learning but also requires dynamic temporal processing (e.g., entrainment). 

Dr. Benjamin Schultz was previously a post-doctoral fellow working with Caroline Palmer from November 2012 to June 2014 and Isabelle Peretz from July 2014 to July 2015. He received a Bachelor of Arts (2006) and Bachelor of Health Sciences (2008) in Psychology from the University of Adelaide, a PhD (2013) in Auditory Psychology from the MARCS Institute, University of Western Sydney (Prof. Catherine J. Stevens), and a PhD (2013) in Cognitive Psychology from the Université de Lyon 2 (Prof. Barbara Tillmann). His primary research interests include how people learn rhythmic sequences, entrain and move to the beat, and coordinate their speech and actions with others. In particular, he is interested in how people adapt the acoustic properties and the timing of sound productions in response to those of others in speech and music. Benjamin’s current projects examine the mechanisms that underlie acoustic cueing in persons with Parkinson’s Disease and other motor-related deficits (with Sonja Kotz) and plasticity (i.e., neural changes) that occur during rhythm learning (with Henkjan Honing).

01/03/2018

Solfeggio in the Long Eighteenth Century


Music Theorist in Residence 2018
Dr. Nicholas Baragwanath, University of Nottingham 

Thursday 8 March 2018, 15:30 - 17:30

Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

Each year the Vereniging voor Muziektheorie invites a guest from abroad to come to the Netherlands and Flanders to offer lectures, workshops, and seminars on a topic of choice. This year, Dr. Nicholas Baragwanath will present on:


Solfeggio in the Long Eighteenth Century

Apprenticed musicians in the eighteenth century would spend three or more years singing solfeggio before they were allowed to undertake lessons in playing an instrument, counterpoint, or composition. Solfeggio training provided the fundaments for almost every musician, regardless of their later specialism. Many thousands of their solfeggio manuscripts survive. They record compilations of sung lessons, usually conceived by a maestro and written-down for a pupil to sing, but sometimes originating in the pupil’s own improvisations. What they reveal about the art of melody is just as relevant to sonatas and concertos as arias.
To reconstruct how solfeggi were used, I will present evidence drawn from the following: (1)hitherto unremarked performance indications that regularly appear in manuscripts; (2) contemporary solmization and its founding principles; (3) a broad range of contemporary vocal repertory and singing treatises; and (4) consideration of the practical demands and pedagogical purposes of individual solfeggi.
Knowing how to “speak” galant melody explains how castratos managed to amaze audiences by singing the same aria five or six times in completely different ways, and how composers could write an opera in a matter of days. The secret lies in understanding how the same basic cantus firmi, learned in the first weeks of training, were sung for up to six years.

Following studies as a pianist, Nicholas Baragwanath completed postgraduate degrees at the University of Sussex. From 1998 he was Lecturer in Music at the University of Wellington, New Zealand, moving in 2001 to the Royal Northern College of Music, where he was Head of Postgraduate Studies and subsequently Dean of Research and Enterprise, overseeing the establishment of a new Graduate School and the introduction of PhD programmes. He joined the University of Nottingham in 2010.

21/02/2018

Volume and Vibration. A Sound and Music History of Loudspeaker Systems, Germany circa 1930

Colloquium Musicology
PD. Dr. Jens Gerrit Papenburg
Thursday 15 March 2018, 15:30 - 17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01
For the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, the Nazis built the “Reichssportfeld“ (now: “Olympiapark Berlin”). An important part of this gigantic sport field were various loudspeaker systems, which were installed by the electroacoustic department (ELA) of the company Telefunken. In my presentation I sketch a sound and music history of these systems that is informed by cultural and media theory. For this purpose I analyse different sonic strategies employed for addressing open air stages and stadiums and other fields and rooms circa 1930. To be able to elaborate the aesthetical, political and epistemological implications of these strategies I analyse the installation, application, use and reception of the sport fields’ loudspeaker systems, its sounds between “tender outdoor music” (Carl Orff) and monumental “mass rally music“ (Friedrich Trautwein) and the development of powerful tube amplifiers and giant loudspeakers by the companies Siemens & Halske and Telefunken.
Via 1920s and 1930s loudspeaker systems, I argue, sound was conceptualised more and more as an entity with “volume”. I introduce volume as a productive and fuzzy, primarily spatial concept that is situated between physics and traditional music theory, between measurable amplitude and musical dynamics. What discourses, practices and media technologies correlated circa 1930 with a new conceptualization of sound as a voluminous entity? In the second half of the 20thcentury massive sound volumes became a central aesthetic dimension of multiple forms of popular music. By exploring sound systems of the 1920s and 1930s aspects of a pre-history of this dimension can be studied productively.

PD. Dr. Jens Gerrit Papenburg studied musicology, communication research, and economics in Berlin, obtaining his PhD in 2012 with the dissertation “Hörgeräte: Technisierung der Wahrnehmung durch Rock- und Popmusik” and his postdoctoral qualification (Habilitation) in 2016 with “‘Para-auditive’ Subjekte der populären Musik: Eine Kultur- und Mediengeschichte, 1890–1936.” In 2017, he was visiting professor at the Institute for Culture and Aesthetics of Digital Media (ICAM) at Leuphana University Lüneburg, and in 2016/17 visiting professor for History and Theory of Popular Music at the Humboldt University, Berlin, where he taught and researched from 2006 to 2016 and again from October 2017.
Jens Gerrit Papenburg is the coeditor of  Sound as Popular Culture: A Research Companion (MIT Press, 2016). He cofounded the international research network “Sound in Media Culture: Aspects of a Cultural History of Sound” (funded by the German Research Foundation DFG, 2010–2016) and serves on the editorial board of Sound Studies: An Interdisciplinary Journal (Routledge). His research interests are popular music, culture, and media since 1890; sound studies; sonic media theory and historiography; and the history and culture of engineered music listening. 

07/11/2017

Recreating Jimmie Blanton: A case study of HIPP in jazz

Colloquium Musicology
Matthias Heyman, University of Antwerp
Thursday 7 December 2017, 16:30 - 18:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01
Jimmie Blanton (1918–1942), best known as Duke Ellington’s bassist between 1939 and 1941, is widely regarded as one of the key figures in the development of jazz bass playing. One of the musical characteristics he has been most praised for is his tone, in particular its loudness, which has been characterised as ‘outsized’, ‘resonant’, ‘roaring’, and ‘huge’. While Brian Priestley (2009: 85) observed that tone is often ‘thought of as god-given’, I wanted to understand why and how Blanton’s tone was (perceived as being) different from that of his peers. I examined a number of possible impact factors, such as his performance technique and his instrument, but found that none of these differed significantly from those of his fellow-bassists. Eventually, I (partially) found the answer by recreating Blanton’s music.
In this presentation, I discuss a recording session by the Brussels Jazz Orchestra and myself on bass in which we recreated the circumstances of an Ellington performance in the 1930s and 1940s, both live and in the studio, in a historically informed way, for example by using a historically appropriate instrumentation, repertoire, location, recording set-up, and performance practice. The outcome revealed that certain changes in the orchestra’s seating plan were key to Blanton’s perceived superior tone. I will review the preparation, recording process, and results, drawing on a combination of visual analysis of historical photographs, complete participant observation, comparative aural analysis, and formal and informal (semi-structured) interviews with a number of the participants. In broad terms, I will demonstrate that the concept of historically informed performance practice (or HIPP) is a useful, yet underused research tool in the field of jazz studies.


Matthias Heyman is currently finalising his PhD research at the University of Antwerp (Belgium). For his research, he contextualises the bass playing of Ellingtonian Jimmie Blanton. He is a lecturer of jazz history at the Jazz Studio (Antwerp) and the LUCA School of Arts (Leuven), and in 2016–2017 he lectured jazz courses at the University of Amsterdam.

22/09/2017

Marsilio Ficino’s Timaeus Commentary: Musical Speculations of a Renaissance Interpreter

Colloquium Musicology
Dr. Jacomien Prins, University of Warwick

Thursday 19 October 2017, 16:30 - 18:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

Marsilio Ficino (1433-1499) was one of the Renaissance’s defining scholars. Among his most important works was his Timaeus commentary. Despite the influence of Plato’s Timaeus in previous times, it was only with Ficino that the Latin West got its first complete translation. As one of the few Renaissance scholars to confront the challenges of Plato’s influential but also complex text, his commentary made Ficino the leading theoretician of the harmonics it propounds, but also an important interpreter of the ideas about music theory and practice it involves. In this paper, I address two questions central to Ficino’s interpretation of the Timaeus: why did he choose the theory of cosmic harmony from the dialogue as a matrix for his account of a physical world already undergoing radical change? And why did he want to revive Plato’s theory of the ethical power of listening? By investigating both Ficino’s interpretations of harmonics and of the physical and psychological mechanisms of perception and hearing, this paper argues that he used them above all to substantiate the biblical ideas that the world is a harmonic creation, that man is created with an immortal soul, and that the purpose of life is divine enlightenment. Furthermore, it demonstrates how Ficino revived Plato’s view of the delight taken in auditory perception to formulate a new music therapy in terms of a curious mixture of Neoplatonic and fifteenth-century scientific technical terms. Consequently, musical delight results from the correct perception of a sensory object as an imitation of divine harmonic order.
Dr. Jacomien Prins is a Global Research Fellow (GRF) at the Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) and the Centre for the Study of the Renaissance (CSR) of Warwick University and an affiliated scholar at the University of Utrecht. She has worked extensively on the interaction between music theory and philosophy in the Renaissance. Her work includes 'Echoes of an Invisible World: Marsilio Ficino and Francesco Patrizi on Cosmic Order and Music Theory' (Leiden: Brill, 2014), 'Sing Aloud Harmonious Spheres: Renaissance Conceptions of Cosmic Harmony' (London: Routledge, 2017), and an edition and translation of Marsilio Ficino’s commentary on Plato’s 'Timaeus' (Harvard University Press, the 'I Tatti Renaissance Library' series (ITRL), forthcoming). She is currently working on a book project titled ‘'A Well-tempered Life’: Music, Health and Happiness in Renaissance Learning'.