Late breaking information



Workshop on Cultural musicology 9/11/2012

Bilateral Workshop on Cultural musicology
Exploring its ‘Method, Aim and Scope’
University of Amsterdam

TIME AND DATE: 10.00-18.00 November 9, 2012 
LOCATION: Oost Indisch Huis D3.06, Kloveniersburgwal 48, 1012 CX Amsterdam (BUSHUIS)

A cooperation between the Musicological Department of the Georg-August University Göttingen and the Institute for Musicology of the University of Amsterdam (the Netherlands)
Local Organizer: Dr. Wim van der Meer
Program in pdf

.:: Participants 

.:: Prof. Dr. Birgit Abels, Musicological Department of the Georg-August University Göttingen (GER)
.:: Charissa Granger, Musicological Department of the Georg-August University Göttingen (GER)
.:: Julia Heuwekemeijer, Institute for Musicology of the University of Amsterdam (NL)
.:: Dr. Wim van der Meer, Institute for Musicology of the University of Amsterdam (NL)
.:: Eva-Maria van Straaten, Musicological Department of the Georg-August University Göttingen (GER)
.:: Prof. Dr. Andreas Waczkat, Musicological Department of the Georg-August University Göttingen (GER)

 .:: Topic of the Workshop

The dimensions
 of musicology and their interrelationships have been subjects of ongoing debate in recent decades, despite their long-standing history. Adler, in 1885, used the binary historical-systematic, with comparative as a subdivision of systematic. Seeger, in 1939, continued along this line, though he seems to have used comparative and systematic interchangeably. In the second half of the twentieth century, the two main pillars of musicology were musicology and ethnomusicology, especially in the United States, in spite of Seeger’s complaint about the appropriation of the generic term ‘musicology’ by the students of ‘western art music’. In recent times, a number of scholars, among them Tia DeNora and Alistair Williams, have been circulating the expression ‘cultural musicology’. This designation first emerged in 1959 in an article by Fidelis Smith that went largely unnoticed. Gilbert Chase coined the term cultural musicology once again in 1972, using it simply as a replacement for ethnomusicology, which was taken up by Kerman reintroduced in 1985. In 2003, Lawrence Kramer reinvented the terminology to denote the ‘rapidly aging new musicology’ , and around the same time, Routledge initiated a series called ‘critical and cultural musicology’, edited by Martha Feldman. The foreword included with each volume in the series states the following: 
Musicology has undergone a seachange in recent years. Where once the discipline knew its limits, today its boundaries seem all but limitless. Its subjects have expanded from the great composers, patronage, manuscripts, and genre formations to include race, sexuality, jazz, and rock; its methods from textual criticism, formal analysis, paleography, narrative history, and archival studies to deconstruction, narrativity, postcolonial analysis, phenomenology, and performance studies. These categories point to deeper shifts in the discipline that have led musicologists to explore phenomena that previously had little or no place in musicology. Such shifts have changed our principles of evidence while urging new understandings of existing ones. They have transformed prevailing notions of musical texts, created new analytic strategies, recast our sense of subjectivity, and produced new archives of data. In the process they have also destabilized canons of scholarly value. The implications of these changes remain challenging in a field whose intellectual ground has shifted so quickly. In response to them, this series offers essay collections that give thematic focus to new critical and cultural perspectives in musicology.

The smooth, loose and vague manner in which the terminology is applied would suggest that it is not a formal discipline. Perhaps it should be, however, as the old musicology (or pre-new musicology) would now definitely have to be renamed historical musicology, and ethnomusicology is no longer a viable denotation, as neither its subject matter nor its methods seem tenable.
 And what happened to systematic musicology? It survived in German speaking musicology departments, but elsewhere it transformed into theoretical musicology, music theory, empirical musicology and cognitive musicology. In Feldman’s series, cultural musicology is mentioned side by side with critical musicology, which is a very special branch which applies critical theory.

The question is, if cultural musicology according to Chase’s definition is ethnomusicology, and if according to Kramer’s definition it is new musicology, then do they have anything in common at all? Perhaps they have more in common than it initially appears, for new musicology was strongly influenced by the cultural turn that is so predominant in ethnomusicology. Tomlinson’s work, for instance, exemplifies this juxtaposition. Furthermore, if Chase considers the object of study to be ‘other’ music (including pop), and Kramer is a classicist, it should be recognised that those fences were torn down in the twentieth century. Now, in the twenty-first century, the boundaries between repertoires have become even more obscure.
Therefore, the orientations in musicology should be primarily methodological. In this workshop, we will attempt to explore the imaginable dimensions of cultural musicology from the core to the boundaries. 

.:: Aims of the Workshop 

In this workshop, we will bring together musicologists from the Departments of Musicology in Amsterdam and Göttingen, which have been critically engaged in recent years in the development of what can be termed cultural musicology. In addition to the scientific outcome that is to be expected, we anticipate substantial synergetic effects with respect to the proposed topic resulting from their interaction. In complementary ways, all participants have spent several years doing research from their own perspectives on the workshop topic. A secondary aim of the workshop is to facilitate constructive talks about future joint research projects related to the topic of cultural musicology.

.:: 1 Cultural Musicology: Some Points for a Note on the Scope, Method, History and Aim

Wim van der Meer 
Institute for Musicology 
University of Amsterdam 
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16
1012 CP Amsterdam
the Netherlands

Cultural musicology, like any other orientation in musicology, has music as its object of investigation. Cultural musicology needs to be able to, and indeed can, engage with any kind of music, but it does not limit itself to researching music. It is equally concerned with research on ideas about music and the processes and patterns of musical thinking or thinking musically (‘musico-logica’).

What is special to the cultural orientation in musicology is its method; it can be seen as the cultural analysis of music. Following Pollock (2007), this involves transdisciplinarity, encounters and concepts. About concepts, Dutch scholar Mieke Bal states the following:

At first sight, the object is simple enough: a text, a piece of music, a film, a painting. After returning from your travels, however, the object constructed turns out to no longer be the ‘thing’ that so fascinated you when you chose it. It has become a living creature, embedded in all the questions and considerations that the mud of your travel splattered onto it, and that surround it like a ‘field’.
In ordinary, dictionary-based usage, a concept is ‘something conceived in the mind; a thought, notion; a general idea covering many similar things derived from study of particular instances; Synonyms: see IDEA.’ Mostly, they are considered abstract representations of an object. Like all representations, concepts are neither simple nor adequate in themselves. They distort, unfix, and inflect the object. To say something is an image, metaphor, story, or what have you—that is, to use concepts to label something—is not a very useful act. Nor can the language of equation—‘is’—hide the interpretive choices made. In fact, concepts are, or rather do, much more. If well thought through, they offer miniature theories, and in that guise, help in the analysis of objects, situations, states, and other theories.
In the case of a musical objector better, phenomenonbeing a manifestation of sound that runs parallel to language, this is probably more so than with any other cultural object of research. Most of the time, the concepts which we use cause the analysis to divorce itself entirely from the phenomenon. Cultural musicology often focuses on relatively easy targets, such as identity, authenticity, hybridity, globalization and gender. While these targets are certainly of great interest, they do not provide insight into the diversity and multiplicity of musical expressions. The fact that certain musical genres play an important role in the construction, transformation and experience of identities is in itself relevant, but it fails to elucidate the differences between particular manifestations within those genreswhich it should do (that is why we are together here). Encounter is a broad methodological framework that we use to escape the conundrum of conducting both study room analysis and field research. Encounter here is taken as the manifold interactions between subject and object, among researcher, music, musician and audience. The colonial position of the participant observer has been reversed to occupy the role of a student, while at the same time, the European classical musicologist becomes a participant observer in his/her own backyard. However, there are myriad other ways in which the researcher engages with musical phenomena.

In many institutions of higher education around the world, the department of musicology limits its endeavours to the history of European classical music. This is the result of a historical process in which musicology in Europe was promoted by the intellectual elite, whose knowledge and interest in music was bounded by their social and cultural backgrounds. In institutions around the world that were modelled on the structures of their colonial masters, this particular viewpoint was perpetuated. At present, in countries in East Asia and, to some extent, Latin America, this conception of musicology is being questioned. It is interesting that the historical approach which is often considered the onset of musicology is really the youngest branch of musicology, if we take a wide historical and planetary perspective. Possibly the oldest mode of thinking about music is the systematic approach, that is, the theory of music. The oldest treatises that we are familiar with speak about tone and tuning systems, rhythms, genres and instruments. However, reflections on the relations among music, society and culturewhich we could well call cultural musicologyalso figured prominently in ancient texts. In oral traditions, profound thinking in these two orientations can also be recognized. The specific designation ‘cultural musicology’ has existed for more than half a century  (Smith, 1959), but in spite of this, it never became very popular terminology. We are confident, however, that this is about to change. 

.:: 2 Cultural Musicology (or Quo Vademus?) 

Birgit Abels 
Department of Musicology 
Georg August University Göttingen
Kurze-Geismar-Strasse 1
37073 Göttingen

What is cultural musicology? It is much more than a post-colonial incarnation of the academic disciplines historically known as comparative musicology, ethnomusicology and ethnochoreology. 
If a “disquieting relation between the old and the new” (Bohlman & Stokes, 2008, p. viii) exists in musicology which “stands at an [...] important historical juncture”, then we need to carefully choose the most viable path available at this juncture. With the ideal of a truly de-colonized approach, cultural musicology responds to this challenge by seeking to reflect on and providing the analytical tools that enable a holistic study of the world’s music, which refers to an approach that is open to integrating the methodologies and techniques which are characteristic of each of the three customary sub-disciplines of musicology: historical, systematic and ‘ethno’musicology. Terminologically, the name cultural musicology can be seen in analogy with cultural anthropology and, more importantly, cultural studies, both of which inform the field of musicology. Through easing the somewhat unconstructive debates around the scope of ethnomusicology, and facing the realities of the twenty-first century, cultural musicology can identify a way out of the disciplinary frustration apparent in a lot of recent literature, without falling back on an artificial distinction among ‘modern’, ‘popular’ and ‘classical’ music. 

Some boundaries between ‘musics’ have become increasingly blurred in recent decades, while others have shifted; in any case, these boundaries are in constant flux. While is by no means a new development, it is evolving at a rapid pace, and it requires a fresh set of perspectives. Cultural musicology offers one such set of perspectives, and in this talk, I shall elaborate on cultural musicology’s potential for helping us understand the many meanings of the world’s musics today, and the path that may lie ahead. 

.:: 3 Cultural Musicology: A Transductive Approach?

Eva-Maria van Straaten
Department of Musicology 
Georg August University Göttingen
Kurze-Geismar-Strasse 1
37073 Göttingen

Attempts to grasp the processes through which the diverse musics of the world take on meaning seem to illustrate their complexity without acceptably clarifying them. Frith’s (1996) proposition that music must be understood as an experience of the self-in-process emphasizes the relation between music and identity, but it does not address the music’s specific characteristics. Kramer (2003) suggests that music, unlike text and images, gives us an extremely immediate and bodily sense of self, but fails to produce a satisfactory account of how this sense of self is produced during our experiences of the various musics of the world; that is, the processes of how music acquires meaning in our lives remain opaque. My paper investigates the possibilities of ‘transduction’ as both a methodological tool and a theoretical concept for understanding cultural musicology and the crucial relationship between meaning and music. Searching for meaning in and through psychedelic trance (psytrance) music, the paper mobilizes the concept of transduction to explore how the psychedelic takes on meaning on the psytrance dance floor, or, stated differently, how this particular music comes to be experienced as psychedelic when experienced on the psytrance dance floor. As such, the presentation proposes an auditory, and maybe even multisensory, cultural musicology that attends to the processes of transductive mediation that produce meaning as inherent in music. 

.:: 4 Musicology, Humanities and the Challenge of Disciplinarity

Andreas Waczkat 
Department of Musicology 
Georg August University Göttingen
Kurze-Geismar-Strasse 1
37073 Göttingen

The position of musicology within the humanities has been notoriously difficult to define. Though there have been several attempts to establish musicology in relation to the humanities in general or to certain disciplines—typically history—there is still no consensus about where musicology is (or at least should be) located among the academic disciplines. An important event with respect to this issue was the International Congress of the Gesellschaft für Musikforschung, held in Bonn in 1970. This congress resulted in a wide variety of papers and other publications, but most of them merely repeated the old reflections without offering fresh insights. It seems as if—at least in German-speaking countries—musicology has been hesitant to do what other disciplines in the field of the humanities have done since that time, namely, open up discussions about cultural theory and reflect on contemporary cultural studies.

In my paper, I provide an overview of the theoretical framework of the PhD programme ‘Remembrance–Perception–Meaning’, hosted by the Musicological Departments of Göttingen, Hannover, Oldenburg and Osnabrück. This programme aims to investigate how the key concepts of remembrance, perception and meaning, which are to some extent derived from cultural studies, can serve to identify and clarify the position of musicology in the humanities. In doing so, I focus on disciplinary musicological research as the actual challenge in order to explore what a musicology that situates itself firmly within the humanities can accomplish and what it is about.

.:: 5 The Individual in Cultural Musicology 

Julia Heuwekemeijer
Institute for Musicology 
University of Amsterdam 
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16
1012 CP Amsterdam
the Netherlands

Culture and musicboth start, exist and end in the bodies of individual human beings. Many individuals engaged with music, ‘only’ listen, hum, sing along and move to the music. In my paper, I want to propose a promising method for cultural musicology: the creation of biographies of ‘ordinary’ individuals, in which their musical behaviour, love for, uses of, dislikes towards, approvals and disapprovals of (specific pieces of) music in their daily lives serve as the foundation from where insights will be gained into the ways in which music becomes meaningful. This method does not presume or start from a given style of music or (sub)culture. Although styles and cultures can and do play their roles in making music meaningful, it could be refreshing for cultural musicology to try and see what happens when styles and cultures are not the starting point, but only come into view at the moment this turns out to be part of the way that individuals derive meaning from and give meaning to music. In my paper, I explain the processes and working methods which I believe lead to these biographies, and I explore the potential benefits as well as the potential obstacles and weak points of this method. I also envision the rich and flourishing existence of cultural musicology outside the limited scope of the university by explaining how this method contains a great possibility of creating a broader demand for cultural musicologists.

.:: 6 Post-Tourism, Cultural Flows and the Chronicles of the Steelband

Charissa Granger
Department of Musicology
Georg August University Göttingen Kurze-Geismar-Strasse 1
37073 Göttingen

The American folk singer, Pete Seeger, wrote a manual on playing the steelpan after visiting Trinidad in 1959. Seeger was one of the first to document and incorporate this instrument into the American school system, and he was also responsible for the short documentary Music from Oil Drums (1956). Since that time, there has been a great attraction to carnivals worldwide, especially those that are fashioned after the Trinidadian cultural expression. The main feature here is the steelband. What is loosely termed as a pan-fraternity flocks to festivals, such as London’s Notting Hill Panorama, New York’s Labor Day Parade, Virginia Beach’s PANorama Caribbean Music Festival, Trinidad and Tobago’s National Panorama, The Netherlands’ International Steelband Festival, and diverse yearly collegiate concerts. I examine this post-tourist phenomenon in relation to an international pan-family consisting of performers, musicians, instrument builders and tuners, researchers, archivists, arrangers and, most notably, fans. Applying Arjun Appadurai’s postulations on global cultural flows and the production of locality, visibility will be brought to post-tourism and how it has influenced the global development of the steelband and the carnival identity. With respect to this,  and especially with regard to Seeger’s documentary, I argue that the aforementioned global cultural flows in the current post-tourist sphere inform the way in which the steelband is currently chronicled and information about it is disseminated.



Impulse Paper 1
Wim van der Meer, Amsterdam
Impulse Paper 2
Birgit Abels, Göttingen
REF: Wouter Capitain, Amsterdam

Paper 3
Eva-Maria van Straaten, Göttingen
Paper 4
Andreas Waczkat, Göttingen
REF: Anne van Oostrum, Amsterdam

Paper 5
Julia Heuwekemeijer, Amsterdam
Paper 5
Charissa Granger, Göttingen
REF: Ferdia Stone-Davis, Göttingen