Articles

Empirical Explorations of Guitar Players’ Attitudes Towards Their Equipment and the Role of Distortion in Rock Music

Published Feb 21, 2020

This article has its source in a larger research project on distorted guitar playing in rock music which focuses on distortion’s effect on playability and expressiveness, its psychological influences on chord perception, composition, and production, and on issues regarding genre aesthetics. While most work on rock music and guitar cultures has either studied recorded and… Read more

Wagnerian Singing and the Limits of Vocal Pedagogy

Published Feb 21, 2020

This article explores how singing became “Wagnerian” after Wagner’s death in 1883. Common perceptions of Wagnerian singing center on its sheer volume, its muscular and heroic tone. Interestingly, the last century of Wagnerian singing has been shaped by a school of singing defined not by theories of resonance and phonation, but by the disciplining of… Read more

Emcee Ethnographies: A Brief Sketch of U.S. Hip-Hop Ethnography

Published Feb 21, 2020

Hip-hop has become a popular subject of academic discourse, serving as a medium through which members of several disciplinary communities can engage issues of race, representation, aesthetic, gender, class, and performance, to list some of the most frequently evoked topics. This discussion explores the aims and procedures of contemporary ethnographies in conjunction with those of traditional… Read more

Berton’s Ludic Pedagogy and the Subdominant Otherwise: Tension and Compromise in the Early Paris Conservatoire Curriculum

Published Sep 25, 2019

The founding of the Paris Conservatoire in 1795 was intended to bring standardization and meritocracy to French musical pedagogy. However, major compromises were reached in the setting of the Conservatoire’s curriculum, aimed at synthesizing the diverse pedagogical approaches of its professors. Charles-Simon Catel’s Traité d’Harmonie (1803), the Conservatoire’s official harmony textbook, was one such compromise,… Read more

Brahms, Autodidacticism, and the Curious Case of the Gavotte

Published Sep 25, 2019

In later decades, Johannes Brahms repeatedly stressed the inadequacy of his musical education, claiming he learned nothing from Eduard Marxsen and Robert Schumann, the two figures usually regarded as his principal mentors. In this article, a tribute to the Brahms scholar Robert Pascall who died in June 2018, I test the reliability of Brahms’s comments,… Read more

Dialectics of Debate: Reflections on Three Pedagogical Scenes in Chinese Music History

Published Sep 25, 2019

Abraham Maslow’s theory of the hierarchy of needs with self-actualization at the pinnacle has been influential in educational philosophy, but pedagogy solely in this Western liberal sense does not fully account for delimited global contexts in which pedagogy may at certain times equate indoctrination, as when Chinese students are taught about the supremacy of the… Read more

“It’s Awfully Important to Listen”: Ella Jenkins and Musical Multiculturalism

Published Sep 25, 2019

The 1995 release of Multicultural Children’s Songs (Smithsonian-Folkways) solidified the reputation of Ella Jenkins (b. 1924) as the most prolific and influential U.S. children’s musician of the late 20th century. Yet while the album brought Jenkins’s music to new audiences, the compilation of her work under the “multicultural” moniker threatened to obscure the radicalism of her… Read more

From Idea to Institution: The Development and Dissemination of the Orff-Schulwerk from Germany to the United States

Published Sep 25, 2019

This literature review focuses on the history of the Orff-Schulwerk (translated literally as “Orff-Schoolwork”), conceived by German composer Carl Orff as an improvisatory, natural approach to music and movement education. The history of the Orff-Schulwerk and its journey to the United States can be divided into three distinct phases: first, its origins in 1920s Munich;… Read more

Ricardo Lorenz: A Post-Colonial/Modern Latin(o) American Composer

Published Jun 11, 2019

European art music was brought into the Euro-baptized American continent by the Spaniards and Portuguese as an art discipline that supported the conversion to Catholicism, and, in general, its colonization. Nevertheless, Latin American composers—using agency, creativity and the process of transculturation—appropriated and transformed this music tradition to produce their innovative and hybrid art music works… Read more

Through the Fabric of My Own: Louise Alenius and Embodied Interrelationality

Published Jun 11, 2019

Since 2014, Danish composer Louise Alenius has engaged in a series of performances characterized by extraordinary circumstances entitled Porøset. Eminently site-specific, Porøset has been mounted within the disheveled attic spaces and compact dressing rooms of the Royal Danish Theater in Copenhagen. Alenius, the sole recurring participant in each performance, meticulously structures these performances utilizing three… Read more

Telling Tales: A Survey of Narratological Approaches to Music

Published Jun 11, 2019

Of the various hermeneutic approaches to the study of music developed in the last half century or so, narratological analysis has gone further than many in navigating a path that draws on both cultural and structural contexts. This overview of the development of narrative theory in music charts the course of three “waves” of narratological… Read more

Editor’s Note: Sounding the Break: Music Studies and the Political

Published Jan 24, 2019

The academic study of music and sound is facing an array of political and intellectual challenges, prompting a pointed moment of critical self-reflection, what Stuart Hall might call a break—a conjuncture in which “old lines of thought are disrupted, older constellations displaced, and elements, old and new, are regrouped around a different set of premises… Read more

The Musicological Elite

Published Jan 23, 2019

Excerpt: Musicologists have been gripped by the desire to democratize, diversify, decolonize, and popularize their discipline. Driven by a growing moral demand to challenge the Eurocentric, heteronormative, exclusionary, colonial, settler colonial, non-diverse, and white supremacist legacies of  a discipline plagued by its rootedness in European classical musical traditions, they have recently accelerated their efforts to… Read more

Academic Labor and Music Curricula

Published Jan 23, 2019

Excerpt: In this paper we parse recent initiatives rethinking music curricula—in particular, those critiquing the enduring centrality of the Western art music canon—in connection to questions of academic labor and service. Many of our interlocutors ask us: “Why are conservative curricula a problem now?” The short answer is that canon-driven music curricula have always been… Read more

Introduction: I am Nothing

Published Jan 23, 2019

Excerpt: In 1969, at the height of the Cold War, the Puerto Rican singer Lucecita Benítez won the First Festival of Latin Song in the World with her performance of “Génesis”: Cuando nada en la tierra quede que tibie el sol Cuando nadie en la tierra quede que evoque a Dios Cuando sobre la tierra… Read more

Licia’s Lectures on Nothing

Published Jan 23, 2019

When nothing is left on Earth to feel the warmth of the sun When no one is left on Earth to invoke God When not even pain will be felt on earth There will only be a flame and that flame will be love, Love, love! To begin again. Considering its lugubrious content, it seems… Read more