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

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

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

Archival Nothing

Published Jan 23, 2019

As opposed to other realms of art, like literature or painting, a plethora of “great women singers” has existed in the Caribbean and Latin America since the recording industry began. These were marquee artists with legions of adoring fans. Yet, the critical paucity regarding their careers has been severe. It seems obvious, but bears repeating,… Read more

Seeing and Hearing the Thinking Voice

Published Jan 23, 2019

Given that my own work is focused on questions of diaspora, visuality, and queerness, I am very grateful for the fact that Fiol-Matta models for us a mode of both listening and looking with deep care. This critical listening and critical looking make apparent an entirely different understanding of Puerto Rican music culture, through an… Read more

The Wonder of Delays

Published Jan 23, 2019

There are many things feminist music critics must too often defer by force or by choice. There is so much work and time involved in the mere fact of saying: there is more to the story. In the Latinate New York world, trying to tell a different story—any shift in its form or its players—has… Read more

Power and Equity in the Academy: Change from Within

Published Jan 23, 2019

Excerpt: As an undergraduate music major interested in graduate study in music theory, I asked Joseph Straus, with whom I was taking an independent study in music theory and feminism, if he knew of any  published work  in feminist music theory. The only relevant writing he could think of was Susan McClary’s “Pitches, Expression, Ideology,”… Read more

Editor’s Note

Published Sep 19, 2018

Issue 101 of Current Musicology presents five articles that exemplify the journal’s commitment to critical discussions of music and sound across the disciplines. In her article, “As Time Goes By: Car Radio and the Travel Experience in Twentieth-Century America,” Sarah Messbauer explores the advent of car radio in the United States during the first half… Read more

From Coups that Silence Ezan-s to Ezan-s that Silence Coups!: Sonic Resistance to the 2016 Turkish Military Coup

Published Jul 31, 2018

In the early morning hours after the July 15, 2016 Turkish military coup, Turkish President Recep Tayyıp Erdoğan FaceTimed in to CNNTürk to issue an apparently desperate call for Turkish citizens to occupy city squares and “defend democracy.” Erdoğan’s call was loudly repeated by Islamic calls to prayer from muezzins synchronized nationwide via text message. Hearing these calls, thousands of Turks ventured out and collectively reclaimed urban streets and squares for Erdoğan’s government. This paper examines the process by which Islamic calls to prayer forged Turkish citizens into a unisonous body that claimed and transformed secular urban spaces, initiating an epochal neo-Ottoman shift in Turkish politics. I engage with this process via a hybrid virtual-physical ethnographic site derived from coup resistance, treating YouTube videos and contemporary Turkish media as both windows into on-the-ground resistance and sites at which Turks negotiate their political subjectivity. To unpack the role of sacred sound and affective embodiment in leading coup resistance and transforming space (Hirschkind 2006, Massey 2005, Thrift 2009), I employ Turino’s theories of Peircean semiotics and participatory music making. I argue that Islamic calls to prayer-led resistance not only turns the tables on the repressive sonic regimes of Republican Turkey, but also challenges understanding of twenty-first century nationalisms rising in the twittersphere. In the early hours of July 16, 2016, Facetime and text message laid the foundations, but it was Islamic calls to prayer resounding in streets and squares that forged citizens into a unisonous body capable of transforming secular urban space and the future of Turkish politics.

Black Labor and the Deep South in Hurston’s The Great Day and Ellington’s Black, Brown, and Beige

Published Jul 31, 2018

Among the musical representations of Deep South African American life circulating in the 1930s and early 1940s, Ellington’s extended composition Black, Brown, and Beige and Zora Neale Hurston’s staged revue The Great Day stand out for their shared emphasis on the laboring body. This emphasis, I argue, countervailed predominant representations produced in two important spheres of artistic activity at the time. The first, Tin Pan Alley, had inherited much from the legacy of nineteenth-century blackface minstrel theater and tended to present Southern plantation life through nostalgic, bucolic tableaus and through playful “naturally rhythmic” dancing black bodies. The second, intellectuals associated with the Harlem Renaissance, cast the concert spiritual as the music best suited to put black cultural actors on equal footing with their white counterparts, positioning the “soul” as the bearer of African American culture, thus downplaying the role of the body.

Building on works from Cedric Robinson and Raymond Williams, this article highlights the ideological work that goes into naturalizing ideas of race and space. In the 1930s and 1940s this ideological work could be seen in what Ellington labeled “the Dixie Chamber of Commerce dream picture of the South.” Through Ellington’s poetry and Hurston’s critical essays, I show the intent of these artists to reimagine the Deep South landscape in ways that highlight the contribution of black labor. Then, through an analysis of Ellington’s music and Hurston’s staging of folkloric songs, I demonstrate the specific ways that each artist went about realizing this intent.