RMA 2015 Programme - Abstracts
Wednesday 9 September late morning sessions (11:00 – 12:30)
Session A. Panel: The Reception of ‘Silver Age’ Operetta in the UK, Germany, Italy and Poland (Dome)
Derek B. Scott (University of Leeds), convenor and chair; Valeria De Lucca (University of Southampton); Stefan Frey (University of Munich); Anastasia Belina-Johnson (Royal College of Music)
The session will be divided into 75 minutes for paper presentations, followed by a 15-minute panel discussion that will be opened to the floor
Operetta was one of the first examples of popular theatrical form that crossed international borders with ease, and its international appeal became more striking than ever when Die lustige Witwe (The Merry Widow) played successfully to audiences all over Europe. Operetta of the of the twentieth century, often termed ‘Silver Age’ operetta, has been greatly neglected by musicologists, and there has been very little study of the cultural transfer of operetta from Vienna to other European cities. Academic attention has focused, instead, on America’s influence on European stage works. Without deeper knowledge of these operettas and their audience reception, we are lacking in our understanding of what the cultural mainstream was in early twentieth-century Europe. Recently, there have been encouraging signs of a new flowering of interest, as the music enters the public domain free from copyright restrictions. New publications offering digitized reprints of the vocal scores, and historic recordings of radio broadcasts have become available. This panel focuses on the reception of Silver Age operetta in European metropolises other than Vienna, and seeks to enhance our knowledge of cultural transfer and transformation.
‘I Am So Cosmopolitan’: The Reception of Silver Age Operetta in London
Derek B. Scott
Silver Age operetta enjoyed remarkable success in London after The Merry Widow was produced to great acclaim in 1907. In contrast to operas, which tended to transfer to foreign stages with very few changes, except for libretto translation, operettas were frequently subjected to considerable alteration during the creation of new versions. This paper investigates the London productions in the context of cultural and social issues of the period, examining audience expectations, aspirations, and anxieties, and the social, cultural, and moral values of the times in which these works were created. It investigates how the operettas engage with modernity, innovative technology, social change, cultural difference, and cultural cosmopolitanism.
‘Operetta is Dying’? Critical Response to Silver Age Operetta in Italy
Valeria De Lucca
After a somewhat slow start, the 1907 production of La vedova allegra (Die lustige Witwe) at the Teatro dal Verme in Milan quickly became an overwhelming success. While audiences around Italy rushed to secure a ticket to attend a performance in Milan, Turin or Genoa, the production sparked strong reactions among critics. Although some argued that the Italian adaptation of Lehar’s operetta marked the ‘death’ of the genre, others welcomed this work as a breath of fresh air that would ignite new energy and open a new phase for musical theatre in Italy. Taking the critical reactions to La vedova allegra as a starting point, this paper considers the reception of silver age operetta in Italy at a moment of crucial transformation in musical entertainment, in which the boundaries between ‘high’ and ‘light’ musical theatre were being redefined. Critics’ reactions offer an insight on the anxiety surrounding not only questions of ‘genre’ and ‘style’ but also the effects that foreign imports could have on the Italian operatic scene.
‘Mother, the Man with the Coke is Here!’ The Reception of Silver Age Operetta in Berlin
If Leo Fall’s operetta The Dollar Princess had only been performed in Vienna, probably nobody would have heard about it. Theater an der Wien’s production closed after 80 performances. Half a year later The Dollar Princess opened in Berlin and was a huge success. When it passed the 500th performance Fall’s operetta had already conquered London and New York. As had happened with Franz Lehár’s The Merry Widow, its international run started from Berlin and not from Vienna as was the norm for Johann Strauss, Franz von Suppé and Carl Millöcker. Back then there had been only one important world premiere: Strauss’s Eine Nacht in Venedig, yet even Die Fledermaus was better received in Berlin than Vienna. The same happened with Millöcker’s Gasparone, which contained a waltz tune that became a popular song in Berlin with the new text: ‘Mutter, der Mann mit dem Koks ist da!’
In the early twentieth century Vienna remained the birthplace of operetta, but Berlin became the marketplace. During World War I things began to change and, afterwards, composers like Fall, Oscar Straus, Robert Stolz or Ralph Benatzky moved to the German capital. When, finally, Lehár premiered his works there, the NYT wrote in 1929, ‘Berlin is now leading Vienna in operetta’. This paper will examine the reasons for that process. One was the economy: Berlin was the place to earn money; another was the city’s urban appeal. Ultimately it was the better mise-en-scène, which resulted from transcultural processes taking place between Berlin, London, New York, to a much greater degree than between Vienna and the rest of the world.
‘Diva Then Went to Warsaw’: The Reception of Silver Age Operetta in Poland
In the beginning of the twentieth century operetta was one of the most extravagant theatrical attractions, and productions from Vienna and Berlin travelled all over Europe. Although Paris, Vienna, Berlin, Budapest, London, and New York were the capitals of operetta, it was thriving in other cities too. Silver Age operetta was popular in Poland, where opera and operetta houses in Warsaw, Poznań, L’viv, Krakow and Łódź regularly presented works by major operetta composers. Operetta stars were popular in Polish and Russian theatres, whose public easily forgave their capriciousness and such frivolities as running away from creditors whilst appearing in lavish and well-paid productions. This paper will look at famous Polish operetta performances and their contributions to new interpretations, examine operettas favoured by the Polish public, and investigate the activities of the opera and operetta theatres in Poland between the two world wars, which still remain only sketchily researched.
Session B. Cultural Transplantation (Aston Webb WG5)
Jan Smaczny (Queen’s University, Belfast), Chair
Milhaud’s Christophe Colomb and the Judgment of History
Peter Tregear (Australian National University)
Largely forgotten today, Darius Milhaud’s opera Christophe Colomb was one of last successes of the Weimar operatic stage. Under the championship of conductor Erich Kleiber, its premiere season in Berlin was to run for some two years, and it was considered by many admirers of Milhaud’s music his finest achievement. Set to a libretto by Paul Claudel, it was a self-conscious attempt at a new kind of music drama and was to be followed by two more large-scale operatic works by Milhaud centred around the history of the Americas (Maximilien and Bolivar). The choice of subject matter was more than incidental. In discussing Colomb, had Claudel declared that whereas Wagner had surrounded his drama ‘with a kind of narcotic atmosphere in which everything happens as in a dream’, he wished his musical drama to arise out of the ‘coarsest reality’. By engaging with actual historical subjects, as opposed to drawing on myth or imaginary archetypal figures, the opera placed the audience in the role of the judgment of posterity. The ‘heroic’ course of Columbus’s life was presented in the manner of a stylized history lesson.
This paper explores what the subject matter, character and early reception might tell us not just about changing attitudes towards Wagner’s operatic legacy, but also aspects of the relationship between French and German musical modernisms between the two World Wars, and their shared interest in both the idea and political (and physical) reality of America.
Jolivet’s Rameau: Theory, Practice and Temporal Interplay
Deborah Mawer (Birmingham Conservatoire)
The aesthetic of André Jolivet (1905–74) is directed by two relationships which sometimes become conflated: other times and places; the erstwhile and elsewhere. While Jolivet’s engagement with a non-Western primordium is significant, my focus here is on his invocation and reinterpretation of a French musical past, evident in articles of the later 1930s–40s. Given recent anniversary commemorations, I examine Jolivet’s essay on Rameau as a notable temporal interplay located in a substantial volume Les Musiciens célèbres of 1946 (which may itself be viewed as intertextual mélange, along the lines of Michael Klein, 2005, or Dmitri Tymoczko, 2011).
I aim to ask how Jolivet portrays Rameau; what Jolivet’s writing reveals about his creative attitudes (both matters embracing theory and compositional practice); and how all this relates to broader issues of temporality and interplay. After setting out a temporal-conceptual background, I will offer a themed reading of Jolivet’s essay, for which the crucial philosophical referent is Henri Bergson.
Revealingly, while illuminating Rameau as object, Jolivet says much about himself as subject. His careful, iterative balancing between compositional theory and practice (Bourdieu-like), as an insightful assessment of what Rameau stood for, mirrors his own dialectic. He upholds – idealizes? – Rameau’s status, yet is sensitive to the risks of misreading through time, whether as Bloomian anxiety or hagiography. Most interesting is Jolivet’s assessment that Rameau could take his time to embed his discoveries thoroughly: even in 1946, there is a perceived danger of being hurried – something we regard typically as a bane of our postmillennial lives.
Neoclassicism as a Subset of Avant-Garde Discourse in France and Czechoslovakia
Martin Curda (Cardiff University)
In the broadest sense of the term, neoclassicism, as opposed to the serialism of the Second Viennese School, has come to denote a particular strand of interwar European music, represented by Stravinsky and, to some extent, by Satie and the composers of Les Six. This current of French music had considerable influence on certain circles of Czechoslovak composers, particularly those united in the so-called Music Group of Mánes (established 1932). However, the nature of this influence is far from straightforward. Since neoclassicism is strongly embedded in French music, arts, culture and politics, it is not easy to see how it ‘translates’ into the Czechoslovak context.
My paper presents a comparative study of the treatment of neoclassicism and related notions in the writings of artists, composers and avant-garde theorists from France and Czechoslovakia, respectively. This enquiry, in turn, illuminates fundamental aspects of the notion of neoclassicism itself. When subjected to deconstructive discourse analysis, neoclassicism appears as a subset of an international and interdisciplinary avant-garde debate, which typically puts into alignment philosophical, aesthetic and ideological categories while using metaphorical language that refers to the human body and bodily health and draws examples from across artistic disciplines, including visual arts, architecture and theatre. Neoclassicism is thus not to be regarded as a ‘monolithic’ and reified stylistic doctrine unique to France, but rather as a flexible assemblage of elements, adaptable, albeit with significant variations, to various national and ideological contexts.
Session C. Russian and East European Music Study Group Panel. Across the Revolutionary Divide: Narratives of Russian Music pre- and post-1917 (Aston Webb WG12)
Pauline Fairclough (University of Bristol), convenor and chair; Olga Panteleeva (University of California at Berkeley); James Taylor (University of Bristol); Katerina Levidou (University of Athens); Rebecca Mitchell (Oberlin College, USA)
The session will be divided into four 15-minute presentations, followed by a 30-minute plenary discussion that will be opened to the floor.
The theme of our session reflects the very recent turn in Russian/Soviet music studies to explore trends in Soviet and émigré musical aesthetics that pre-date 1917. In particular, this panel offers new perspectives on how early Soviet and émigré musical narratives positioned Russia in relation to the West, drawing directly on established narratives of the late nineteenth century and the Russian ‘Silver Age’.
James Taylor’s research explores the way in which narratives of ‘decadent’ and ‘healthy’ music, already mooted in late nineteenth-century writings on art, became the starting-point for a narrative war between opposing camps in early Soviet musical writings. Focusing on the pseudo-scientific, biological and sociological labels applied to Western composers, Taylor argues that these concepts were used as discourse markers to identify either cultural threats or advantage to Soviet music culture. Olga Panteleeva begins her examination of Russian musical narratives around the same period, tracing the Soviet preoccupation with materialist ideology to a new generation of writers from the mid-1880s, who believed that by applying the methods of natural sciences to the study of music, they could reveal similar ‘laws’ of motion and harmony. Panteleeva shows that the merging of positivist scientific discourse with that of Soviet ideology was especially potent, and that these pseudo-scientific discourses were gradually appropriated by different interest groups, assuming life-or-death importance as the stakes grew ever higher.
Also examining the question of how Russian musical identities were defined in relation to the West, Katerina Levidou focuses on post-1917 ‘Eurasianism’ – a movement that declared 1917 to be a decisive break with the past, but which nevertheless had its roots deep in the nineteenth-century Slavophile tradition. Levidou demonstrates that two of the movement’s eminent spokesmen, Pierre Souvtchinsky and Arthur Lourié, created a form of musical metaphysics that drew its entire raison d’etre from the pre-1917 ‘Silver Age’ obsession with the messianic potential of art. Rebecca Mitchell’s paper focuses on conflicting ideas of ‘Russianness’ in music after 1917, taking Rachmaninoff as a test case. Amongst both émigré and Soviet Russian musical communities, Rachmaninoff emerged as a symbol through which to interpret the dramatic changes wrought by the Revolution on Russian society and culture. Despite divergent paths after 1917, individuals both in Soviet Russia and in emigration interpreted Rachmaninoff’s significance through conceptual categories rooted in the late Imperial worldview that Mitchell calls ‘musical metaphysics’ – the belief that music was uniquely equipped to overcome the crisis of modernity.
About the Russian and East European Music Study Group
The study group was formed in 2006 by Pauline Fairclough and Rosamund Bartlett. It is now convened by a directorium of scholars: Pauline Fairclough (Bristol), Patrick Zuk (Durham), Philip Bullock (Oxford), Katerina Levidou (Athens), Ivana Medic (Belgrade) and Danijela Spiric-Beard (Cardiff). It has a large international membership and its annual conferences, held in the UK and Europe, regularly attract speakers from the United States, the Far East, Russia and former Soviet republics as well as Britain and Europe. Its parent association, the British Association of Slavonic and East European Studies (BASEES), is, together with its American counterpart ASEEES, the leading organization of Slavonic Studies in the world. It supports thirteen study groups, all of which are represented at its Cambridge annual conference. The REEM study group aims to bring together international and cross-disciplinary researchers within Slavic music studies. Our themed session marks the first time REEM has had a presence at the RMA Annual Conference.
The Unnatural Selection: Positivism and Politics in Early Soviet Musicology
The seeds of Soviet musicological discourse were planted long before the revolution. The mid-1880s witnessed the advent of a new generation of writers who advocated applying the methods of natural sciences to the study of music in order to discover music’s immutable laws, and who were well-versed in European positivist literature. These writers’ formative years coincided with the two decades in which science and civil liberties triumphed in Russia (1860s–70s). This ‘Golden Age’ fostered the belief that scientific progress spurred progress in politics, thus conflating revolutionary and positivist discourses. Their union lived on for decades, as the ideological grip on Soviet scholarship grew stronger, and idealist philosophy was shunned and persecuted. To give an example, the theory of symmetrical modes conceptualized as universal musical laws was forged in the 1900s by Boleslav Yavorsky and Nadezhda Bryusova (the poet Valery Bryusov’s sister), who enthusiastically embraced scientific spirit. This theory was later appropriated by the ‘founding father’ of Soviet musicology Boris Asafyev, who in the 1920s was in the vanguard of the Soviet quest to establish a rigorous discipline of music scholarship. Such recognizable ideological clichés as ‘the struggle of materialism and idealism’ surfaced time and again in the pre-revolutionary decades – not as clichés, but as sincere convictions. In my presentation I will make several stops along the way in which these voluntary and chosen convictions became official and enforced, and were invested with prestige so high that it justified exclusion and oppression.
The ‘Decaying’ West: Soviet Musicological Attitudes to the West in the 1920s
In Soviet musicology, the bulwark of previous scholarship on the Soviet 1920s tends to distinguish between the two leading music factions – ACM (Association of Contemporary Music) and RAPM (Russian Association of Proletarian Musicians) – the former being considered cosmopolitan, while the latter is considered nationalistic and anti-western. Nevertheless, these accounts often fail to reflect that many ACM musicologists, whilst building contacts in the West, were also predicting the downfall of Western culture. In the same way, they fail to acknowledge that several RAPM members, whilst attacking Western European culture, were keen to praise and appropriate a number of pre-revolutionary western composers into the Soviet canon. On a closer inspection, it soon becomes clear that the West could be both negatively manipulated for ideological gain and simultaneously praised and appropriated depending on ideology or taste.
Drawing upon previous scholarship on Soviet ‘appropriation’ (cf. Katerina Clark, 2011; Fairclough, 2013), the aim of this paper is to examine how Western culture was ambivalently perceived and discussed by the Soviet musical intelligentsia in the 1920s. It will focus primarily on the pseudo-scientific, biological and sociological determinations given to Western music and its composers, used as discourse markers to identify either trans-cultural threats or well-being to Soviet music culture. Using such language, Soviet musicologists could therefore effectively renegotiate and reconstruct meaning (and even manipulate evidence to fit an ideological narrative) on the West, as part of formulating an intellectual consensus on the direction of music culture.
Orpheus in Exile: Eurasianist Reframings of Russian Pre-revolutionary Aesthetics
The 1917 Russian Revolution has been typically perceived in terms of discontinuity, as a rupture in Russian history. It was certainly conceptualized as a cataclysmic event by a group of intellectuals who fled Russia after 1917 and settled in the West, a group that advocated the so-called Eurasianist ideology over the interwar years. In its attempt to understand the historical and political circumstances that led to the Revolution and the ensuing exile, Eurasianism drew upon the nineteenth-century Slavophile nationalist tradition, among others. At the same time, it put forward a modernist criticism of the Western world that was also deeply rooted in turn-of-the-century Russian thought. In advocating Eurasianist ideas, Pierre Souvtchinsky and Arthur Lourié – who wrote extensively on music in the Russian émigré and the Western press – put forward a musical metaphysics that centred around the messianic conception of a composer whose work would awaken human consciousness and would redeem modern humankind. This paper will analyse their views on culture and music, highlighting their links with pre-Revolutionary musical and more broadly artistic thought. Thus, it will be argued that Eurasianism’s very intellectual background challenges one of the movement’s main tenets, namely the conception of a historical rupture in 1917, while the diffusion of certain Eurasianist ideas in the West through Souvtchinsky and Lourié brings to the fore not only historical continuities (over 1917), but also fascinating geographical linkages (from the East to the West) as regards musical thought.
Embracing Melancholy: Rachmaninoff, ‘Russianness’ and the Politics of Musical Identity after 1917
In a 1929 letter sent to the composer Sergei Rachmaninoff from Tel-Aviv, the Russian-Jewish émigré David Schor begged the composer to consider moving to Palestine, where he could regain the spiritual balance and harmony necessary to allow his compositional gift to once again find expression. Schor’s belief in music’s ability to transform and unify a world shattered by the catastrophic events of the early twentieth century echoed a trope that had been common in late imperial Russia. In the final years of the empire, music had regularly been envisioned as a means through which to overcome the social and cultural divisions wrought by modernity – a worldview that I have elsewhere called musical metaphysics. Schor’s letter, like countless others sent to Sergei Rachmaninoff in the years after the Russian Revolution, demonstrates the continued influence of musical metaphysics in shaping interpretations of music after 1917. Drawing on contemporary periodicals and newspapers, as well as fan letters to the composer (both from those who remained in the Soviet Union as well as those who emigrated), this paper will examine the evolution of musical metaphysics amongst the former musical community of late imperial Russia, now divided along new ideological, geographical and political lines. While Rachmaninoff served as a symbol of the lost world of imperial Russia, his admirers sought to utilize his image in distinct and often contradictory ways. Central to my analysis will be the question of how musical ‘Russianness’ (here embodied in the figure of Rachmaninoff) was reinterpreted after 1917.
Wednesday 9 September lunch-time events (13:30 – 14:15)
Lecture-recital: Microtonality on the Guitar (Dome)
Agustín Castilla-Ávila (Salzburg)
- Introduced by Scott Wilson (University of Birmingham)
I am a composer, guitarist and Vice-President of the Austrian Microtonal Society. I have developed a sixth-of-a-tone system for classical guitar (on an ordinary guitar), whereby I use six equal strings tuned at sixths of a tone. This approach allows any guitarist to play microtonal music without acquiring a special guitar or developing a special technique for it. The lecture should be interesting not only for guitarists but also for composers who may receive many new ideas about the possibilities of the guitar. These ideas may be found in texts such as The Contemporary Guitar (1985) by John Schneider or Franck Jedrzejewski’s Dictionnaire des musiques microtonales (2004). In the lecture, I will present several microtonal guitars and defend why I chose my sixth-of-a- tone system; I will show what can be done with this guitar and its details (such as notation). I normally present all the information connected to my personal decisions as a composer.
SOUNDwalk (assemble 13:25 at Bramall main entrance)
Annie Mahtani (University of Birmingham), Project Leader
Guided by the SOUNDkitchen collective, these walks typically involve simple ‘ear cleaning’ exercises designed to draw attention to different sonic features particular to the location. The walks are intended to extend the walker’s listening abilities, augmenting the natural hearing range through the use of audio technology. This may include listening to recorded audio tracks that present recordings from locations at different times of day, night or year. Listeners may be transported to visible landmarks such as inside a church or onto the roof of a distant building. Carefully placed microphones enable walkers to hear hidden sounds from locations that are usually inaccessible such as under water, high in the branches of trees, or inside objects.
SOUNDkitchen is dedicated to the promotion of composers and artists working in the field of sound. At its core is a collective of composers with a background in electroacoustic and experimental music. SOUNDkitchen provides a regular platform for local artists to explore, experiment and present their work alongside that of international composers and sound artists. It offers a programme of exciting and eclectic new music that uses technology to form part of the aesthetic experience. SOUNDkitchen’s ethos is to support local artists and provide professional development to those in early stages of their careers through networking events and the opportunity to contribute to a thriving sound art community. Since launching in December 2010, SOUNDkitchen has put on a series of events around Birmingham working with over 200 artists. Many of our artists have produced and premiered work specifically for our events and some have gone on to form new collaborations.
Wednesday 9 September afternoon sessions (14:30 – 16:00)
Session D. Panel: When was British Musical Modernism? Post-War Perspectives, 1945–1980 (Aston Webb WG5)
Alison Garnham (King’s College London); Philip Rupprecht (Duke University), convenor and chair; David Beard (Cardiff University); Heather Wiebe (King’s College, London), invited respondent
The three papers (each 20 minutes) will be followed by a formal response (10 minutes), then questions and discussion (20 minutes)
This panel builds on lively ongoing debates surrounding the politics, poetics, and fundamental character of so-called ‘Modernism’ in twentieth-century music (see Laura Tunbridge (ed.), 2014: ‘Round table: Modernism and its Others’). Modernism, in a specifically British musical context, has been recognized as a period spanning the early century through 1960 (Matthew Riley, 2010). But many salient traits of early-century modernism – the ‘experience of visual and linguistic strangeness’, an anti-bourgeois bias (Raymond Williams, 1989) – continue well into the middle and later twentieth century. The present panel charts threads of continuity in a period in which modernism was championed by art music composers (in the works of the ‘Manchester Group’) and supported by the BBC (especially during William Glock’s Controllership, 1959–73) as a self-consciously progressive art. The 1950s and 1960s were both a period of heightened British interest in ‘European’ modernism (including at Darmstadt), and a time of anxious responses to American culture, whether in Pop Art, or in rock music.
A coexistence of ‘high’ and ‘low’ styles in the 1950s and 1960s, and their schematic division by successive BBC administrations, raises urgent questions about the operations of cultural hierarchy and the interplay of musical styles in British culture post-1945. Modernist composers in 1950s and 1960s did not necessarily foreswear writing tunes or the desire to reach audiences. Nor did modernism simply disappear from British music in the 1970s, ousted by minimalist, experimentalist, or ‘post-modern’ stylistic developments. The historical terrain is far from settled and still in need of preliminary mapping. The ideological vocabulary of European debates of the 1960s – on the relations between an ‘autonomous’ or politically committed art and mainstream entertainment culture (see Gianmario Borio, 2014) – is less pronounced in British writings, and yet this culture was no less visibly defined by stark oppositions between the elite and the popular, between music labelled ‘highbrow’ and music considered mass entertainment.
In asking ‘When Was British Musical Modernism?’, we present papers covering the 1950s–70s from intersecting institutional and stylistic perspectives. Paper one offers a fresh view of Glock’s position as a modernist animateur in the 1950s, set against a reading of the more traditional tone of the BBC’s postwar Music Department; paper two punctuates the prevalent stereotypes of 1960s modernist art-music as grey atonal structuralism with case studies of three composers (Arnold, Williamson and Crosse). Paper three follows questions of style and cultural hierarchy into the 1970s, by focusing on a younger composer – Judith Weir – seeking a stylistic direction in the wake of post-war modernist achievements.
William Glock and the BBC in the 1950s
‘I feel rather as though I were a citizen of Wittenberg in 1536 and Luther had just been elected Pope’ were the words of Walter Legge on the appointment of William Glock as BBC Controller of Music in 1959. As well as conveying vividly the surprise that greeted Glock’s appointment, they show the commanding position that the BBC – not yet 40 years old – already held in British musical life. The idea of the postwar BBC as the ‘papacy’ is in stark contrast to the way it was seen earlier in its short life, when the radical and cosmopolitan musical policies of Pitt and Clark had compounded the fears of established musicians already nervous about threats posed by the new technology.
After the war, the BBC suffered a rapid turnover of Music Directors, two of whom died in office, and none of whom had the power and authority within or without the Corporation that William Glock was later to wield. Increasingly, BBC Music came to represent tradition and orthodoxy, while Glock operated as (in his own words) the ‘musical underground in the 1950s’, running a series of ventures which, despite their somewhat ‘fringe’ status (and shoestring finances), excited the imagination of a younger generation and garnered extraordinary support from prominent musicians across the world.
Glock and his future employer had followed very different paths throughout the decade leading up to his appointment. This paper will explore what these two paths represented for British music, and why the BBC’s management should have sought such a change of direction in 1959.
Swinging (Modernist) London: the Serial Avant-garde and the Tuneful Middlebrow
Few narratives of 1960s music recognize much connection between the explosion of pop-rock (from Beatlemania to psychedelia) on the one hand, and highbrow modernism on the other. Serialism and atonality, we are often told, did not mix with dance rhythms or old-fashioned tunes. And yet there is a large body of new art music in the 1960s that bridges the supposed divide. There is a need to acknowledge a ‘vernacular modernism’ (Miriam Hansen, 1999) in music (as well as in cinema), a middlebrow in which high and low, the difficult and the accessible, the esoteric and sentimental, may brush up against one another. This paper offers three case studies.
Press reception of Malcolm Arnold’s Fourth Symphony (1960) typifies the caricatures of ‘the new’ bestowed by critics suspicious of a symphony laced with nostalgic music-hall tunes. In Malcolm Williamson’s Third Piano Concerto (1964), modernist rhythmic fracturing (in 11/16 metre) coexists with singable waltz tunes in an eclectic and extrovert drama. Gordon Crosse, in Changes (1966), aimed to create music ‘enjoyable’ for performers and listeners. Fresh from educational works for BBC Schools TV, Crosse in his ‘New Year Carol’ finale affirms ‘simple’ melodic shapes (bugle calls), while retaining an underlying intervallic rigour reflective of his earlier serial practice.
In these and many other 1960s scores, the myth of a monolithic modernism is replaced by the reality of music that is eclectic in style and cosmopolitan in tone. A rigid distinction between ‘high and low forms’, may, as Linda Hutcheon (2000) argues, be less true to twentieth-century art than a recognition of fluid stylistic cross-currents.
Out of the Air: Judith Weir’s Emergence in 1970s Britain
The 1970s witnessed a pluralist, postmodern turn in British music, in which post-Cageian experimentalist, neo-Romantic and other historically conscious voices amplified the succession from Britten’s middlebrow modernism to Tippett’s late lyricism. Arguably, this retrogressive tide represented a ‘post-coital’ depression after the golden age of the 1960s: old certainties were restored, but with ‘recognition of their fictiveness’ (Paul Griffiths, 1992). Yet despite these shifts, British modernism persisted: Peter Maxwell Davies blazed a trail with his Fires of London ensemble, a taciturn Harrison Birtwistle grew steadily in stature, and the ‘new complexity’ was born.
This paper explores the challenges this complex scene posed to a member of the youngest generation in the 1970s: Judith Weir (b. 1954). Drawing on her earliest works, including pieces withdrawn or previously undocumented, the paper charts Weir’s search for an individual style, offering new perspectives on her music and the decade as a whole.
Generally considered a more ‘accessible’ composer now, Weir’s historical consciousness is immediately evident in Where the Shining Trumpets Blow (1972–3) and Ohimè (1973–4), orchestral student works based on Mahler and Monteverdi. Yet in 1975, modernist trademarks – self-denial, an anti-romantic fastidiousness, objectivity and detachment – are evident in the wind quintet Out of the Air. Commissions from the Fires of London followed, prompting a Maxwell Davies influenced setting of Scottish folk material. Finally, in 1980, Weir composed her most demanding piano score ever for Michael Finnissy, declaring: ‘I wouldn’t want to discount the achievements of the avant-garde. They are part of us.’
Invited Respondent (10 minutes)
Session E. Panel: The Music Industry in the Digital Age: Creativity, Labour and Regulation (Dome)
Ananay Aguilar (University of Cambridge), convenor and chair; Adam Behr (University of Edinburgh); Kenny Barr (University of Glasgow); Kariann Goldschmitt (University of Cambridge)
The panel comprises three consecutive 20-minute papers followed by a 30-minute discussion
When, in 1999, it became clear that the wheel of fortune had turned for the music industry, reactions were split: some lamented the industry’s downturn while others celebrated the advent of greater opportunities for independent musicians. Fifteen years on, the industry is dominated by an even smaller number of major record companies and a series of individuals have been put behind bars for crossing the majors’ interests. Surprisingly little is known about the fate of independent music makers, besides their struggles with major corporations to make their voices heard. This has put legal matters concerning the production and circulation of music high on the agenda. While the major companies’ efforts have largely focused on preventing piracy and retaining their rights for more extended periods of time, the question of how to best support independent creators, and also consumers, requires urgent academic enquiry.
This panel brings together music scholars concerned with fundamental questions about the working conditions under which contemporary creativity takes place: how do musicians create and use the legal framework creatively; how do they use digital technologies to negotiate visibility; and what new mechanisms are available for monetizing their creations? These questions are at the heart of the panel members’ investigations and present pathways to reflecting on a regulatory framework that better serves the interests of professional music makers. Answers have been sought mainly through interviews but also observations and are therefore provided by music makers themselves. Consistent with the global flow of music through the internet, the panel engages in these matters from a global perspective, enriched by their experience of working or doing fieldwork in the music industries around the world. The members have different backgrounds and work with methodologies from popular music studies, ethnomusicology and musicology: this interdisciplinarity not only characterizes the wider field of music studies today but is also much needed to resolve the complexity of problems facing the music industry of the digital age, as has been recognized by strategic directions taken by funding bodies such as the AHRC and associations like IASPM. Importantly, the panel members’ work is supported by RCUK CREATe.
Ananay Aguilar’s work brings together the Faculties of Law and Music at the University of Cambridge to examine how performers use the legal framework available to them to make a living.
‘Take It Away’: Copying, Copyright and Creative Practice in Popular Music
Although copying of different kinds – from rote repetition in pedagogy to more nebulous forms of inspiration in composition – is intrinsic to musical practice to varying degrees, copyright law has intervened in more specific spheres of activity. Its historical emphasis on melodic and lyrical content has helped to shape the legal and industrial context of generations of musical practice. These same practices have been heavily disrupted, however, by the growth in digital technology and its affordance of direct incorporation of prior works into new ones. Yet whilst industry narratives have tended to focus on the distribution of music via digital means (piracy, downloads and streams), and the licensing of samples has become part of mainstream industry practice, the role of digital technology and copying in the relationships between musicians in the creative process, as opposed to between musicians and audiences in the distribution of musical products, remains under-examined. This paper draws on primary interviews with musicians and their representative organizations as part of the RCUK CREATe research consortium. It discusses the ways in which technologically inflected copying feeds into creativity in popular music. What do musicians regard as ‘fair use’ and where, within their work, do they take account of the legal ramifications of their practices? By examining the intersection of copying, copyright and creative decisions, the paper illuminates the relationship between the legislative framework and creative decisions, and how this shapes working lives and the popular music aesthetic.
Music Copyright and Gift in the Digital Music Economy
The music industries are, to a large extent, constructed upon the exploitation of copyright that subsists within musical works and sound recordings. This market in privatized music rights appears to operate in opposition to conceptions of musical creativity as a process of reciprocation, community, exchange and tradition: a gift economy. The ‘market economy/gift economy dichotomy’ takes on increased significance in the contemporary digital environment where music can be transmitted instantaneously to global audiences with and without the permission of the rights holder. To date, much of the academic study in this area has focused on consumer and industry responses to the challenges and opportunities that digitization presents. This paper shifts the focus to creator responses. Using Lewis Hyde’s seminal work The Gift (1983) as a touchstone text, the paper examines the extent to which professional and semi-professional creators (songwriters and performers) attempt to reconcile these two apparently oppositional forces as they operate in the contemporary digital music market. Drawing on in-depth interviews with a number of independent music creators operating in the UK, the paper analyses and critiques these informants’ accounts of their own practices and attitudes. The paper finds that independent creators are often highly adept at resolving the apparent incompatibility between trading music as commodity and gifting music to audiences. Indeed, it appears that a mixed model combining commodification and gifting lies at the heart of the commercial decision-making of creators in the digital age.
Branding as Musical Labour in the New Brazilian Independent Record Industry
In the post-CD musical economy, musicians and record labels contend with the increasing importance of personal and corporate branding for their financial survival. This presentation shows how the consequences of the changing music industries have transformed Brazilian musical labour to something more akin to the broader creative industries, such as design and advertising. Due to those economic changes and the growing prominence of branding in general, record label personnel are engaging in practices normally reserved for design firms and marketing specialists. This presentation focuses on the growth of co-branding between artists associated with YB Music, a record label based in São Paulo, and products such as alcoholic beverages and cosmetics, to demonstrate how changing working conditions affect the routes through which music reaches local and global audiences. It argues that the Brazilian music industry’s shift to a labour market more akin to the discourse of flexibility and autonomy of creative labour has arisen from the larger structural changes of neoliberalism on musical production and dissemination. As a result, precarious conditions force musicians and record label personnel to constantly expand their skill-set which currently includes marketing savvy and branding. Based on an ongoing ethnography of the Brazilian music industry as well as recent writing on music and creative labour (Stahl, 2013; Hesmondhalgh and Baker, 2011), this presentation shows how the changing labour conditions of music industry workers in production, dissemination and marketing are taking part in the new economic paradigm.
Session F. Song, Dance and Community (Aston Webb WG12)
Catherine Tackley (Open University), Chair
Tango and the Erotic: Music and the Sex Culture in Early Twentieth- Century Japan
Yuiko Asaba (RHUL)
Tango arrived in Japan, where ballroom dance had been an alien concept, in the 1910s receiving fascination across socio-economic classes. The Japanese newspapers juxtaposed the provocative image of ‘scandalous dance’ as dubbed by the North American and European intelligentsia, with its immense popularity within the ‘Western aristocracies’. The national and cultural boundaries of Japan were traversed by the sexual and scandalous images of tango, together with the cultural legitimacy given by the North American and European upper-class dance circles. Tango was introduced to the Japanese aristocracy in the 1930s, while it was also welcomed into the lower-class Japanese cabarets where many unlicensed prostitutions took place. At the same time, the melodramatic imagination of this era about the ‘continent of hope’ – part of the promotion of the Japanese migration to South America – was reflected in the use of tango in the Japanese Kayokyoku popular songs.
This paper examines the complex relations between sex culture, class, and dissemination of a genre by exploring the internalisation of tango in Japan. How, it will be asked, do the cultures of circulation bring to light and shape the organisation of both real and imagined boundaries of public morals, class and race? Drawing on the experience as a professional tango musician for over a decade, the presentation will be accompanied by practical demonstrations on the violin by the author.
New Music for Mbira and String Quartet: A Site of Intercultural Exchange
Amanda Bayley (Bath Spa University), Chartwell Dutiro (Mhararano Mbira Academy, Dartington Space)
The exchange of ideas and sounds generated from combining Chartwell Dutiro’s mbira music and dance from the Shona tradition of Zimbabwe with a classically trained string quartet results in creative practice that defines itself through the act of collaboration. Particularly significant is locating how creativity occurs across disciplinary as well as cultural boundaries because, as Martin Stokes has recently articulated, ‘music doesn’t simply “flow” across the gap as some, talking more generally about cultural globalization and transnationalism, like to imply’ (Stokes, 2012).
Recorded evidence (video and audio) from participant observation will reveal how the musicians and dancer work together to create new music. The research examines the duality of oral and notated traditions and the significance of memorization and improvisation. The role of notation is challenged in a context where definitions of composer, performer, and ‘master musician’ are redundant. Participants have to find a structure that they can all understand in order to bring meaning and permanence to their creative developments. Examples will demonstrate how the string players learn to listen to dance movements with dance playing a pivotal role in creating new music across cultures. By bringing the conditions of making and listening, history and culture, to the forefront of research, in preference to the dominant musicological interest in works as self-contained entities (Taylor, 2007), the unfolding of events at a practical level sheds new light on intercultural music-making.
‘In the Good Old Days When Times Were Bad’: Entrepreneurial Narratives of Nostalgia in the Work of Dolly Parton
Kieran Fenby-Hulse (University of Coventry)
This presentation examines the creative role of nostalgia in the work of Dolly Parton and, in particular, how Parton uses nostalgia as a way in which to build and unify her brand and image. By considering the way in which Parton expands the role of singer-songwriter to that of creator-performer-businesswoman, I argue that Parton uses nostalgia as a meta-narrative device to engage audiences with notions of cultural heritage, collective memory, and rural poverty.
As a necessarily interdisciplinary study, this paper brings together ideas from musicology, literary theory, cultural studies, and management studies (Boym, The Future of Nostalgia, 2002; McClary, Conventional Wisdom, 2001; Phillips, Fairground Attractions, 2012; Fox, Real Country, 2005; and Weber (ed.), The Musician as Entrepreneur, 1700–1914, 2004). Through a literary and musical analysis of songs such as Coat of Many Colours (1971), Appalachian Memories (1983) and Shattered Image (2002), I show how Parton engages playfully with literary and musical clichés and cultural tropes to imbue her work with an idealized image of rural southern America. The analyses are supported by an exploration of Parton’s autobiographical writings and her business ventures (for example, Dollywood, The Imagination Library). By drawing attention to the narrative role that nostalgia plays in Parton’s music, business ventures and public persona, I suggest that Parton’s evocation of an idealized image of rural Tennessee mountain life serves to foster an intimate connection with her audience and forms the basis for her brand image. The paper involves a performative element that requires attendees to sing some of Parton’s songs.
Wednesday 9 September plenary session (16:30 – 18:00)
The Peter Le Huray lecture (Elgar Concert Hall)
Music, Sound Art, and the Contemporary: From Interdisciplinary to Ontology
Georgina Born (University of Oxford)
Andrew Kirkman (University of Birmingham), Chair
Georgina Born is an anthropologist who worked earlier in her life as a musician. She is Professor of Music and Anthropology at Oxford University and Professorial Fellow of Mansfield College. In 2014 she gave the Bloch Lectures in Music at the University of California, Berkeley, and she is currently Schulich Distinguished Visiting Chair in Music at McGill University. She directs the European Research Council-funded programme ‘Music, Digitization, Mediation: Towards Interdisciplinary Music Studies’. Recent books are Music, Sound and Space (ed., 2013), and Interdisciplinarity: Reconfigurations of the Social and Natural Sciences (ed. with Andrew Barry, 2013). Improvisation and Social Aesthetics (ed. with Eric Lewis and Will Straw) will be published by Duke in 2016, and Digital Musics: A Global Anthropology in 2017. In 2007 she was awarded the RMA’s Dent medal, and in 2014 she was elected a Fellow of the British Academy.
Wednesday 9 September public concert (18:30 – 19:30)
Trio Atem’s Nina Whiteman and Gavin Osborn
Join Trio Atem's Nina Whiteman & Gavin Osborn for an evening of extraordinary solo & duo music for mezzo-soprano & flute. Two classic works - Luciano Berio's celebrated exploration for Cathy Berberian of 'a few words for a woman to sing' & Kaija Saariaho's evocative sonic setting for flute after a text from Oiseaux by St. John Perse - are joined by new & recent music written especially for the performers. Bringing together works by well-established names alongside the newest generation of rising stars, this concert explores the fantastic range of sounds & atmospheres available for two instruments that have been at the heart of experimental music in the 20th & 21st Centuries.
Nina Whiteman is a composer and mezzo soprano based in Manchester with a growing reputation as an engaging British compositional talent. As a singer, she co-founded, co-directs, and performs with Trio Atem, who are active commissioners and performers of recent repertoire. She is also known as a solo performer, regularly commissioning new work, and often finding herself singing in rather unusual venues as part of experimental collaborative projects. Nina has worked artists from a range of disciplines, including Ron Athey, Jackie Haynes, Michael Mayhew and Karen McLeod.
Nina's recent compositions have drawn primarily on scientific source materials, particularly Vera Rubin’s research in astronomy. During 2013-14 commissions included a new work for Psappha (The Galaxy Rotation Problem), and a collaboration with Ealing Youth Orchestra (Dark Matter Sounding). She is currently working on a commission from the BBC Philharmonic orchestra for a new radio play in collaboration with comedian Francesca Martinez.
Previous commissions have come from ensembles such as Manchester Camerata, Quatuor Danel, and TOEAC. Nina’s work has been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, commissioned by the Adopt-a-Composer scheme (PRS for Music Foundation/Sound and Music/Making Music), and featured at major venues and festivals including the Bridgewater Hall, Cheltenham Music Festival, Kettle’s Yard, Media City, and the RNCM.
As a flautist, composer & sound-artist specialising in extended forms of new music, Gavin Osborn has performed in most of UK's premiere festivals & concert series. Equally at home in composed, improvised, acoustic or electroacoustic worlds, he has collaborated as a soloist & chamber musician (most notably with Trio Atem) on repertoire which frequently pushes into new, exciting territories of performance & creativity. His collaborations across genres & praxes with other makers & performers have frequently cross-pollinated music with ecological, political & social engagements in the wider world. Current projects include several new commissions (as flautist), chamber works & installations (as composer/creator), & curating a series of contemporary music events in Manchester bringing together composers & performers in an informal exchange of ideas & sound.
Thursday 10 September morning sessions (9:30 – 10:30)
Session G. RMA-affiliated Music and/as Process Study Group Session: Compositional Processes as Research: Part I (Elgar Concert Hall)
Lauren Redhead (CCCU), convenor and chair; James Saunders (Bath Spa University); Larry Goves (Royal Northern College of Music); Richard Glover (University of Wolverhampton); Cara Stacey (University of Cape Town/SOAS); Steve Gisby (Independent Researcher); Fabrice Fitch (Royal Northern College of Music)
Three pieces will be performed here, with discussion/questions to follow in Session K
This session incorporates two major areas of interest for the Music and/as Process Study Group: music which is composed from, or by (or can be said to be entirely) processes and that which is practice-led or practice-as research. It presents research within composition, drawn from an open call for works amongst the study group members, which includes or is based on process. The presenters work across a variety of genres, styles and approaches in contemporary music. Music as process represents a compositional trend or tradition in contemporary music that has been most readily recognized in minimalist musics but also includes serialism, algorithmic composition, the inclusion of pre-tonal devices and non-Western influences in music and improvisatory approaches. As a result, today the composition of and use of process transcends genre and is an important line of enquiry for composer-researchers and improviser-researchers. The session creates an opportunity for composers to present their work in a particularly appropriate way, highlighting both the research and practice components of their work. Group members are investigating many relatively new areas of practice and research: in particular the spaces between improvisation and composition and the boundaries between practice and process. Recent areas of interest have emerged as devised music, collaboration and process in relation to graphic, text and open notation.
Important considerations in presenting practice-led research are that the music should speak for itself and that it should be recognized as the research itself, rather than merely as a presentation or demonstration of research knowledge. These two considerations are reflected in the non-traditional presentations of practitioner-researchers here. An attempt is made to bridge the gap between research presentations and practice presentations in a lecture-recital style structure that will be part way between a concert and a conference session. Composers will offer short introductions to their music, accompanied by critical programme notes. Their works will then be heard in full, either as live performances or as recordings. Such presentation of work has been trialled at the annual Music and/as Process conferences leading to fruitful discussion of issues in and around the music presented, and the perception by the composers involved that the research aims of their work have been clearly articulated.
Things to Do
James Saunders (9:30 – 9:50)
James Saunders’s things to do is an ongoing project which currently comprises a series of autonomous pieces that may be performed individually or simultaneously. Each of the constituent pieces uses a set of instructions in different categories (currently noises, pitches, devices and processes) which are spoken by players during the performance and which govern the actions made by the players. Players respond to instructions they can hear by realizing the defined actions as soon as possible after they are spoken. The differences in each piece, and the relationships between the players, are determined by constraints that govern who each player responds to and who gives instructions. The approach creates modes of interaction between individuals, allows group behaviours to emerge and reveals the personal characteristics of each performer in an immediate way. Players may use any instruments, sound-producing objects, devices or sound processing equipment (digital, analogue, or acoustic) and performances are characterized by the wide range of personal choices brought together as a group. The pieces model behavioural processes and develop my interest in embodied systems, drawing on research in decision-making theory.
Biography: James Saunders is a composer with an interest in modularity. He performs in the duo Parkinson Saunders. He is Head of the Centre for Musical Research at Bath Spa University. For more information, see www.james-saunders.com.
Two from Dr Suss
Larry Goves (9:50 – 10:10)
A summary of the piece (and the role of process in the piece): Dr Suss is a poem by Matthew Welton that responds to Simon Patterson’s lithograph The Great Bear. Patterson takes Henry C. Beck’s 1931 map of the London Underground and replaces all the stations’ names with proper nouns in thirteen categories (one for each underground train line). Welton alphabetizes these nouns and groups them in thirteen sections; each sentence within each section is identical apart from a changing ‘Patterson’ noun and a descriptive word of his own. Two from Dr Suss is part of an ongoing compositional response to this text which explores process as a tool for compositional variety, framework and engagement with performance practice. In Getting into the car… each sentence is set partially traditionally notated and partially governed by speech rhythm. For each repetition a spoken syllable is removed and replaced by either/or a note from the flute or cello. This process of transformation produces subtly unpredictable rhythmic variety, a negotiation between the performers for the identity for the spoken rhythm, informs the compositional actions and provides a structural framework for the rest of the piece. The second song adheres to my more usual approach to composition but is affected by the processes in the first.
Biography: Larry Goves is a composer based in Manchester. He has written for numerous ensembles, had music broadcast around the world (including BBC Radio 3, BBC Radio 6 Music, New Zealand’s Concert FM and New York’s WQZR) and released on NMC, Dutton Epoch, The London Sinfonietta’s Jerwood Series, Nonclassical, Slip Discs and PRAH. He is a tutor in composition and academic studies at the Royal Northern College of Music, runs the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain composition course and was the former composer in residence at Royal Holloway, University of London.
Logical Harmonies (1) and (2) (2010), for Solo Piano (c.3’30” each)
Richard Glover (10:10 – 10:30)
These two short piano pieces present an example of simple audible processes: the chords of the circle of fifths are played unison in both hands, after which one hand phases the progression by one chord at a time until returning back to unison with the other hand. Logical Harmonies (1) phases the right hand, (2) the left. This presentation could involve the performance of both pieces, or of just one if restricted by time. These pieces came out of obsessions with the idea of non-arbitrary composition: an unattainable ideal, but one in which as few decisions are made in the construction process. As discussed elsewhere, if I feel a process is right, then it needs no interference from me; these two pieces best represent that notion within my overall compositional output. The pieces also take full advantage of what I deem the clarity of the piano to be; I will articulate what is meant by this and how the register, dynamic and notational design support this idea. My presentation will briefly contextualize these two pieces within my overall work, particularly with regard to the structuring and sense of closure evident in Logical Harmonies.
Biography: Richard Glover is a composer and researcher investigating the perception, construction and notation of experimental musics. He has written book chapters on the music of Phill Niblock and the role of technology in minimalist music, and ‘Overcoming Form: Reflections on Immersive Listening’ co-authored with Bryn Harrison (November 2013). He is currently working on a major new publication concerning the temporal experience in experimental music, and his portrait CD Logical Harmonies was released on the ‘another timbre’ label in October 2013.
Session H: Genesis (Dome)
Hugh Macdonald (Washington University in St Louis), Chair
Yet another Version of War and Peace? Reconstructing the Original Version of Prokofiev’s Opera
Katya Ermolaev (Royal Conservatoire of Scotland)
Sergei Prokofiev (1891–1953) spent over a decade writing and revising his opera, War and Peace Op. 91, yet he died before ever seeing the entire opera fully staged. In spite of revising War and Peace in four stages (resulting in five distinct versions), Prokofiev never managed to satisfy the artistic directors and Soviet censors in charge of bringing the opera to life. The opera as it is known today is the heavily censored and revised fifth version of the opera, based on a Soviet publication from 1958, five years after the composer’s death.
Prokofiev’s original opera is fully reconstructable. Using autograph manuscripts and other archival sources as the basis for my Ph.D. research, I have prepared for publication an orchestral score of Prokofiev’s first version of War and Peace. In this presentation, I discuss the process of reconstructing the original version of the opera, arguing that such a project is valuable on many levels. Not only is it vital, for musicologists, to restore the composer’s original voice and artistic vision, but it is also worthwhile in that Prokofiev’s original version is more coherent aesthetically and narratively. Moreover, the restored version is more practical and performable for modern opera companies.
I conclude the presentation by exploring the viability of my edition of War and Peace as a replacement for the beloved – yet problematically Sovietized – version of the opera, and I assess the contribution and implication of such reconstructive work to Prokofiev studies and to Russian and Soviet music scholarship more broadly.
A Genealogy of Musical Ideas in the Early Works of Sergei Prokofiev
Christina Guillaumier (Royal College of Music, London)
Sergei Prokofiev’s musical language demonstrates his unique ability to self-satirize and to regenerate his materials, as well as a continued penchant for humour and parody. Such tendencies have been documented in analytical and critical appraisals of the composer’s work but to date any analytical approaches applied to the music remain problematic and unconvincing. In his early compositional works (such as Four Études Op. 2 and Sarcasms Op. 17) the composer plays with both the concepts of the ‘grotesque’ and the ‘carnivalesque’.
Close examination of Prokofiev’s early, unpublished manuscripts reveals the way that the modernist composer rewrote his early gestures and idea-types, metamorphosing them into the parodic, grotesque and carnivalesque materials that are such a distinctive feature of his style. A comparative analysis of early and unpublished ideas with their recontextualization in the piano pieces of Op. 2 and Op. 17 demonstrates how Prokofiev strove from the beginning of his compositional career to ‘modernize’ and reposition his musical materials. By drawing directly from these previously unseen archival materials and from the composer’s own creative characteristics, this paper will provide an innovative critical and analytical approach to the composer’s development of a distinctive compositional voice.
Session J: Theory and Perception (Aston Webb WG5)
Annie Mahtani (University of Birmingham), Chair
Ancient Greek rhythm as Modernity in Music of the Twentieth Century
Wai-Ling Cheong (Chinese University of Hong Kong)
The resurgence of additive rhythm in twentieth-century European art music has been ascribed to Balkan, African or Indian influences. Few have questioned if it has also a Hellenistic root. In Griechische Rhythmik (1870), Nietzsche reflects on the glorious past of what he refers to as Dionysian rhythm, which is manifestly additive in makeup. Nietzsche finds it wildly expressive and reads into Wagner’s Tristan (Act III, Scene 2) a notable revival of ancient Greek rhythm (Corbier, 2009). This resonates with the use of ‘Logaèdes’, ‘Péons’ and even ‘Strophe sapphique’ as work titles in Essais sur les rythmes oubliées by Anton Arensky (1861–1906), a student of Rimsky-Korsakov, and lends support to Messiaen’s claim that Greek rhythm has survived the obliterating power of time. Presented amidst his most organized thoughts on Greek metrics, a chapter-long discussion in volume I of Traité de rythme, de couleur et d’ornithologie (1994), Messiaen’s argument is fortified by his discovery about Stravinsky’s obsessive use of ancient Greek rhythm in ‘Sacrificial Dance’ (rehearsal nos. 149–166). Once illuminated, the Greek metrics in the Russian pagan dance become most unmistakable. It is thus perplexing that they should have escaped critical attention for so long. In the light of Messiaen’s claim to have rediscovered Greek metrics in music by Stravinsky, and his theorization in Traité I, this paper will investigate how selected twentieth-century composers have appropriated Dionysian rhythm and modernized ancient Greek rhythm in their crave for modernity.
The Double Life of the Solfège de l’objet sonore: Recovering the Exchange between Acousmatic Theory and Cybernetics
Patrick Valiquet (University of Edinburgh)
In 1952 Pierre Schaeffer published his first collection of writing on musique concrète. Written mostly in diaristic and polemical voices, the book ends incongruously with a sketch for a new solfège, or ear-training practice, consisting of a set of didactic definitions and diagrams meant to bridge gaps in expertise between composers and engineers. Further elaborations appeared in Schaeffer’s monumental Traité des objets musicaux in 1966, an audio illustration prepared in collaboration with students and technicians in 1968 and a guide published by Michel Chion in 1983. Schaeffer’s co-author on the first version of the solfège was Abraham Moles, a doctoral student in engineering at the Sorbonne whose thesis on musical and phonetic signals represented one of the first francophone contributions to the postwar interdiscipline of cybernetics. Moles’s writing during and after his brief exchange with Schaeffer also argues for a reformed solfège, but articulates it as a part of a search for fundamental aesthetic laws with links to information theory, evolutionary biology, and Gestalt psychology. This alternate enunciation places the theory of musique concrète within the broader uptake of communication metaphors across the postwar arts and humanities, and thus troubles Schaeffer’s rhetoric, privileging the immediacy of auditory experience over scientific rationalization. This paper tracks the parallel courses of the solfège to illustrate how exchanges with the sciences informed mid-twentieth-century thinking among musicians and music scholars. Taken together, the two solfèges show how musical aurality, literacy and pedagogy were reconceptualized in line with contemporary ideas about communication, freedom and cognition.
Thursday 10 September late morning sessions (11:00 – 12:30)
Session K. RMA-affiliated Music and/as Process Study Group Session: Compositional Processes as Research: Part II (Elgar Concert Hall)
Three pieces will be performed here, followed by a 30 minute questions/discussion session with all six composers of the study group
Cara Stacey (11:00 – 11:20)
Ligwalagwala is a multi-movement composition created from makhoyane musical bow songs composed during my PhD research. The work is written for voice, makhoyane bow, visuals and electronics. The doctoral research investigates how this Swazi gourd-resonated bow and its music are representative of individual artistic expression in Swaziland. It examines how the makhoyane interacts with the greater Swazi national cultural imaginary. I study compositional methods and modes of musical transmission amongst key bow players in Swaziland, as well as perceptions surrounding musical bows throughout Swazi society. From Conquergood’s idea of ‘dialogical performance’ (1985), Feld’s ‘dialogic editing’, the principal methodology in this research is through ‘compositional conversations’. The act of performing makhoyane songs involves careful aural response to quiet overtones, creative music-making, but also involves the player’s body as a mechanism by which the instrument makes sound (the chest acts as the calabash mute and provides added resonance). Through composition-based practice, I compose makhoyane songs myself and perform these for the musicians I work with, in order to stimulate conversation surrounding the music and to further my ethnographic coperformative witnessing. Ligwalagwala is a creative demonstration of these makhoyane songs and their interaction with space and landscape in Swaziland.
Biography: Cara Stacey is a South African musician, composer and researcher. She is a pianist but also specializes in different southern African musical bows (umrhubhe, uhadi, makhoyane) and vocal traditions. Cara holds a BMus from the South African College of Music (University of Cape Town). She completed her Masters in Musicology at Edinburgh University (2009) and a MMus in Performance of southern African musical traditions at SOAS, London (2012). Cara is a PhD candidate at UCT/SOAS, researching the makhoyane bow of Swaziland. Her first solo album features Shabaka Hutchings, Seb Rochford, Ruth Goller and Hugh Jones (forthcoming 2015).
Steve Gisby (11:20 – 11:40)
Fragmented Melodies (2014) is the latest composition as part of my interest in catalogue pieces. The piece combines processes of both pitch and rhythm, working through all seventy permutations of a bisected duration: eight beats, constructed of four played beats and four silent beats. The rhythmic patterns appear in a reverse binary sequence, beginning with 11110000 and ending with 00001111. Pitches are assigned to specific beats, which are then heard or not heard, depending on the rhythmic patterns. My primary interest in the concept of catalogue pieces is based on a fascination with combinatorics – the branch of mathematics concerned with finite structures. Recent pieces have been built upon process that rigorously work their way through all permutations of a given idea, in combination with some form of indeterminacy. The juxtaposition of strict, mathematical logic, whilst also allowing the performers some freedom of choice within given parameters, continues to be an area of great interest for me. Fragmented Melodies, however, marks a departure from this idea, and will hopefully lead to new compositional territory.
Biography: Steve Gisby is a composer, bass guitarist and educator living near London. His music has been performed in the UK, Europe and USA. As a bass guitarist, he has performed throughout the UK, as well as on HTV West (ITV), Channel 4, and satellite broadcasts to the USA, Canada, Mexico, Europe and the Far East. In May 2014, along with pianist Michael Bonaventure, he gave the world premiere of Tom Johnson’s Intervals. He has given lectures and papers at IRCAM, Furman University in South Carolina, California State University, Surrey University, the University of Huddersfield and Canterbury Christ Church University. He also works as an examiner for Trinity College London.
Per Serafino Calbarsi IIIa: Antistrophes (pour voix seule)
Fabrice Fitch (11:40 – 12:00)
This work is the last panel of a triptych based on the work of François Rabelais. It sets or ‘enacts’ a spoonerist alexandrine in French. In keeping with French tradition, the encoded version is ‘clean’ (‘que j’aim’ le vent qui siffle dans la flût’ de pan’) and its decoded version obscene (‘que qui s’enfle dans le flan: j’aim’ la vie de put[e]’). Spoonerisms are meant to be read, so the piece is a ‘performance’ of it in real time, gradually unfolding the coded version (p. 1), then a transition to the uncoded version (pp. 2, 3). Part 1 begins with a single syllable, adding one with each line until all twelve are present (but each line has two syllables not used in the previous line, and subtracts one). Page 2 reverses the process, and Page 3 begins it again until the uncoded version is revealed in full. The number of syllables is thus regulated by triangular numbers and Fibonacci relationships. In addition, each syllable is set to a single pitch. (The resulting twelve-tone row is derived from a fragment in Boulez’s Pli selon pli.)
A historical precedent might be proposed in Josquin’s motet Ut phoebi radiis, which also uses accretive processes focused on the syllable, whose effects have direct consequences for the interaction of text and music. However, the tension here lies in the way that the listener’s perception of these very basic, strict serial and combinative procedures co-exists with the anarchic shifts of (textual) meaning to which they give rise.
Biography: Fabrice Fitch is a composer and musicologist of early music. He has worked with and been performed by Ensemble Exposé, distractfold, Exaudi, Fretwork, Ensemble Leones, the Orlando Consort, The Kreutzer String Quartet and individuals including Neil Heyde, Peter Hill, Christopher Redgate. He is completing a triptych commissioned by Trio Atem (with funds from the Ralph Vaughan Williams Trust) based on the work of Rabelais. He is Head of the Graduate School at the Royal Northern College of Music.
Session L. Panel: Continental Music for the British Public: Exchange and Interaction in Early Eighteenth-Century London (Aston Webb WG5)
Matthew Gardner (Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt am Main) and Helen Coffey (Open University), convenors and co-chairs; Amanda Babington (University of Manchester and University of Aberdeen); Martin V. Clarke (Open University)
Four 15-minute papers will be presented here, followed by a half-hour discussion
In his 1713 publication Das neu-eröffnete Orchestre, the German theorist and composer Johann Mattheson neatly summed up London’s appeal to the aspiring musician as follows: ‘In these times, whoever wishes to be eminent in music goes to England. In Italy and France there is something to be heard and learned; in England something to be earned.’ The British capital’s concert life certainly held considerable appeal for musicians on the continent: newspapers of the period contain numerous advertisements of the musical outputs of these visitors, as performers, composers and teachers. Many factors contributed to London’s development into this leading musical centre: its great size, prosperity, commercial character and social and political outlook were integral to the success of its concert life, and the vogue for Italian music not only attracted composers such as Handel, but numerous performers who had worked in this milieu on the continent. Yet, achieving success within this most challenging of music markets was not without its obstacles: changing fashions and fierce competition meant that many celebrated musicians ended their careers destitute.
This panel will consider the various means by which Londoners could encounter music and musicians from the continent during the early eighteenth century. Each paper focuses on one of the ways in which continental musical influences could reach a British audience. The first paper will consider the performance of Italian opera within London’s theatres; the second concerns continental instrumentalists of the capital’s concert halls as performers and teachers in the homes of the elite; the third will discuss the further dissemination of continental music through the publications of John Walsh; and the final paper will examine Moravian and German influences on music for the Methodist church. The papers and the ensuing discussion will demonstrate the extent to which these different spheres of interaction were linked; how these musical developments relate to non-musical factors (such as the commercial, political, religious and cultural circumstances in the British capital); the degree to which foreign musicians and musical influences were readily accepted in London; and how continental practices and repertoire were adapted to suit the tastes of the British audience.
Experiencing Italian Opera in Early Eighteenth-Century London
On 16 January 1705 the London composer and violinist Thomas Clayton gave the first performance of an all-sung English opera in the Italian style at Drury Lane Theatre. Clayton’s opera was inspired by Italian opera and the desire of English gentlemen for something similar back home in London, instead of plays with music, having experienced all-sung Italian opera whilst on the grand tour to the continent. Between 1705 and 1711 a number of other all-sung operas followed Arsinoe, marking a gradual move towards Italian opera in London. However, one essential element that was not yet readily available in London were Italian singers and especially castratos, who were introduced gradually through bilingual opera performances made up of a mixed cast of English and Italian performers. The establishment of Italian opera in England, performed by Italians, was a way for London audiences to enjoy opera culture from the continent without having to leave the capital. This paper explores the ways in which London audiences experienced all-sung Italian (or Italian-styled opera between 1705 and 1720, making particular reference to the adaptation of operas for the London stage owing to the performers and composers available, the arrival of Handel and the reasons why Italian opera was a sought-after entertainment in London.
‘By the Best Masters now in England’: Continental Influences on Music Pedagogy in Early Eighteenth-Century London
When the German musician Johann Sigismund Cousser arrived in London in 1704, he was already prepared for the challenges he would face as a musician trying to make ends meet in the British capital. Cousser brought with him a notebook in which he had jotted down advice he had received from the composer Jakob Greber on how a musician could endear himself to the London public. Amongst the several pointers Cousser took from Greber were the primary means by which a performer could make a living in London’s competitive music market, through appearances in the theatres, benefit concerts or in the homes of the elite. Yet it was not only through the public sphere that performers could establish themselves: as Greber’s advice to Cousser suggests, association with, and performance for, the elite were key to any musician’s career in London, often paving the way for greater fame. This paper will consider the private employment of musicians, and namely instrumentalists, from the continent in the homes of the elite during the early eighteenth century, focusing on their activities as teachers. It will assess how the aristocracy were able to encounter music and musical practices from the continent by this means, and how both teacher and pupil could benefit socially and culturally from the exchange of musical ideas.
The Question of Influence in the Dissemination and Reception of Works by Foreign Composers Published in England in the Early Eighteenth Century
The dedications associated with Francesco Antonio Bonporti’s musical works show that his compositional activity was intended to further his career as a priest. However, he also achieved considerable acclaim as a composer through the publication of his works, not only in Italy by Giuseppe Sala, but also by Estienne Roger in Amsterdam and John Walsh in London. His publications also allowed for the wider dissemination of his compositions through performances across Europe. For example in 1715 the virtuoso violinist Francesco Maria Veracini was reputed to have included Bonporti’s Op. 10 sonatas in his concert tours of Germany. But did the popularity of Bonporti’s works influence the publishers’ decisions to print and circulate them, or did the publication of the works by such a well-known publisher as Walsh influence their reception? Focusing on Walsh’s publication of Bonporti’s works, in particular his 10 Solos for a Violin and Bass Op. 7, this paper explores the relationship between publisher and audience, and looks at the potential impact of this relationship on the dissemination of works by foreign composers in England during the early years of the eighteenth century.
‘To Spread through All the Earth Abroad…’: Continental Influences on Early Methodist Hymnody
Martin V. Clarke
Eighteenth-century Methodist hymnody was deeply shaped by two continental influences: the first, mediated through its close contact with London’s Moravian community in the late 1730s and early 1740s, introduced hymn texts and tunes from a variety of Germanic Pietist traditions; the second, brought about through its work amongst London’s theatrical community, elicited original compositions for Charles Wesley’s hymns from German-born John Frederick Lampe (1746). Handel too would compose original settings for three hymns by Wesley, but these only entered into wider Methodist repertoire following their rediscovery by Samuel Wesley in 1826.
This paper begins by examining Moravian influences on Methodist hymnody through selected textual and musical examples, but also more generally in terms of the understanding of hymns as doxological and pedagogical, and their pervasiveness in all aspects of communal religious life. It goes on to argue that this understanding of hymnody as a means of cultural engagement with actual and potential followers opened the way for the assimilation of Lampe’s compositions, originally published in a discrete collection, into general Methodist repertoire. Though Lampe’s compositional style was markedly different from the Germanic melodies borrowed from the Moravians, these two strands of repertoire are connected by Methodism’s underlying commitment to communicate its message through the medium of congregational song. Lampe’s decorated, affecting melodies can be seen as a direct attempt to engage and evangelize a community familiar with the latest trends in secular stage music as much as the Germanic melodies were attractive because of their robust structure and profile.
Session M: Paul Dukas at 150 (Dome)
Laura Hamer (Liverpool Hope University); Helen Julia Minors (Kingston University, London), convenor and chair; Christopher Brent Murray (FRS-FNRS/Université libre de Bruxelles); Laura Watson (Maynooth, Ireland)
This panel comprises four 15-minute papers
The imminent 150th anniversary of the birth of Paul Dukas (1865–1935) offers an opportune moment to appraise his role in French modernism. Dukas’s music has consistently been admired for fusing personal originality with order, clarity and architectural solidity. Several works are steeped in tradition, but a handful display experimental qualities which warrant greater scholarly attention. Dukas ceased to present himself as a public artist after La Péri (1912); this line of thought dominates ostensibly authoritative writings by commentators close to the composer (Brussel, 1936; Samazeuilh, 1936; Favre, 1969). The influential Revue musicale editor Henry Prunières further portrayed Dukas as an ‘independent’ amongst his peers. Such assessments are problematic because they promulgate two misconceptions: that Dukas was more or less creatively spent before World
War I and that he had limited interest in shaping or engaging with new directions and discourses in French music that emerged after the war.
Our re-evaluation of Dukas’s postwar position is informed by recent enquiries into interwar French modernism (Caron, De Médicis and Duchesneau, 2006; Wheeldon, 2011; Kelly, 2013). Kelly calls for better recognition of 1913–39 as a time when diverse musical cultures and debates flourished in France. We respond with a case study of Dukas’s activities around that period. Overall, this panel seeks to demonstrate that Dukas made vital contributions to the formation and growth of French modernism.
Paul Dukas’s Female Composition Students: Elsa Barraine, Yvonne Desportes and Claude Arrieu
Dukas’s Conservatoire composition classes of the late 1920s and early 1930s were distinguished by the number of students, such as Messiaen, who went on to pursue successful careers. Young men studied alongside equally talented women, including Elsa Barraine, Yvonne Desportes and Claude Arrieu, who also went on to be amongst the most prolific French composers of their generation. In relation to the second paper, this contribution will explore Dukas’s role in forming the younger generation from a specifically gendered perspective.
Although educational opportunities for female composition students were well developed during the interwar period, the professional world remained complex, with women facing institutionalized misogyny from publishers and gendered reception from critics. Dukas’s nurturing of his female protégées extended beyond the classroom by facilitating influential connections and important performance opportunities. Thus, the often problematic entry into the professional world that women faced was eased.
The soundworlds of Barraine, Desportes and Arrieu are very different, but all three acknowledged the tremendous influence of their maître. Intriguingly, given Dukas’s well-known scepticism towards the competition, Barraine and Desportes achieved their first professional successes through winning the Prix de Rome. Arrieu, meanwhile, obtained early public performances with Walter Straram’s orchestra. Although Dukas was important to all three women, he was particularly close to Barraine, since a shared Jewish cultural identity created a strong bond between them. This paper will explore the formative influence that Dukas had upon these female students.
Paul Dukas’s Modern Aesthetic Revealed in Funereal Mode: Le Tombeau in La Revue musicale
Helen Julia Minors
Paul Dukas composed short pieces for La Revue musicale, notably a piano solo for the Tombeau de Claude Debussy: La Plainte, au loin, du faune… (1920) and a song for the tombeau dedicated to the poet Pierre de Ronsard, Sonnet de Ronsard (1924). These works are part of Dukas’s contribution to a commemorative body of work: they reveal him both citing Debussy’s Prélude à l’après-midi d’un faune and appropriating the text of Ronsard. Both works demonstrate Dukas’s modern approach to reinventing and adapting musical forms. Representative of Dukas’s developing modernist aesthetic, despite looking to the past, these works are not limited to a funereal tribute; rather they involve a renewal of musical ideas.
Building on recent research into tombeau, memory and nostalgia (Puri, 2012; Kelly, 2013), as well as the plethora of recent reassessments of French modernism (Wheeldon, 2011; Kelly, 2013), this paper analyses the contributions of Dukas’s students to his dedicated 1936 tombeau in comparison to his own contributions to the journal in 1920 and 1924. The comparison reveals a composer who was grounded in romantic forms but who engaged actively with a new musical aesthetic.
This paper illustrates that Dukas’s progressive musical output and aesthetic is responded to by his pupils in turn. It contributes to a new perspective of Dukas as one who was active in the formation of French modernism. His pupils’ intertextual responses to his works in this tombeau offer a testament to his legacy.
The Dukas Composition Class at the Paris Conservatoire (1927–1935)
Christopher Brent Murray
The past twenty years have seen an increasing number of research projects devoted to Conservatoire pedagogy (in the work of Yves Balmer, Matthew Brown, Jean Boivin, Anne Bongrain, Rémy Campos, John Clevenger, Alexandre Dratwicki, Julia Lu, Marguerite Sablonnière and Jean-Claire Vançon, among others). There remain, however, many gaps in our knowledge of how Conservatory students were taught. The case of Paul Dukas’s eight-year tenure as a composition teacher from 1927 to 1935 provides the occasion to embark upon such an inquiry.
My study resituates the oral sources that have heretofore dominated accounts of Dukas’s teaching by crossing them with archival sources (primarily official minutes of composition exams and concours in Conservatoire archives) and surviving manuscripts of student works composed for these institutional evaluations. I also consider how successful student compositions often became their authors’ first published works – a process in which Dukas played a precious, catalysing role.
Taken together, these oral, archival and musical sources make it possible to paint a more complete picture of the Dukas class, including the criteria that were used to evaluate the progress of young composers, the media within which they most often worked and the unspoken stylistic limits of the Conservatoire context. These findings also yield a new portrait of Dukas the pedagogue, a man involved in launching the musical careers of a generation of composers including Jehan Alain, Elsa Barraine, Yvonne Desportes, Maurice Duruflé and Olivier Messiaen.
Dukas’s Piano and Song Commissions, 1909–25: Reflection and Renewal
Between 1909 and 1925 Dukas composed four miniatures – the piano pieces Prélude élégiaque sur le nom de Haydn (1909), La Plainte, au loin, du faune… (1920) and Allegro (1925), plus the song Sonnet de Ronsard (1924). These were commissioned to commemorate, respectively, Haydn’s centennial, Debussy’s death, Ronsard’s 400th anniversary and Koussevitzky’s Légion d’honneur award. Although each score stems from a particular historical moment, Dukas frequently uses a modernist musical language to articulate their sentiments of remembrance and reflection.
This paper considers these pieces as a group and argues that they provide a new perspective for understanding the composer’s creative process after Ariane et Barbe-Bleue. Although Dukas’s œuvre is often rooted in tradition, these short commissions experiment with style, form and harmony in a fashion that reveals a keen interest in modernism, especially the quality of sonority fundamental to the French aesthetic from Debussy’s generation onwards. In short, they are true to Dukas’s assertion in 1923 that composers should manifest ‘a faculty for renewal’. The novel aspects of these scores are matched by their atypical modes of dissemination, which perhaps lent Dukas a greater sense of artistic freedom while composing.
Recent research (e.g., Kelly, 2013) asserts that during 1913–39 several French musicians and commentators tried to reach consensus about their cultural heritage and forge connections between the prewar and postwar eras. This paper explores how Dukas’s aforementioned music and critical writings participated in these efforts, and traces how he made a significant contribution to this stream of post-World War I French musical discourse.
Thursday 10 September lunch-time events (13:30 – 14:15)
Lecture-recital: Xenakis, Nomos Alpha for Solo Cello (Elgar Concert Hall)
Alfia Nakipbekova (Leeds College of Music / University of Leeds)
- Introduced by Amy Brosius (University of Birmingham)
My lecture-recital will involve a presentation and performance of Nomos Alpha by Xenakis (1966), a landmark composition of the twentieth century for solo cello, in order to address issues related to interpretative approaches in contemporary music repertoire. The work is described by the composer as ‘symbolic music for solo cello, possessing an extra-temporal architecture based on the theory of groups of transformations’ (Xenakis, 2013). My presentation will examine the changing nature of the role and interpretative choices of the performer negotiating the score, which aims to ‘objectivize’ the sound of cello. Nomos Alpha represents Xenakis’s stance on the function of music – he rejects the notion of music as a medium for expressing emotion and ‘any form of musical anthropomorphism – the cello as an imitation of the vox humana’ (Xenakis, 2013). I will focus on the following questions: To what extent can a performer express his/her individual artistic approach and subjective reading of the score that demands almost non-human precision in utilizing all instrumental and extended technique resources? In what way does the ‘physicality’ of playing live in real time influence the listener’s perception of this composition? What are the interpretative limitations that such a work presents to a performer?
SOUNDWalk (assemble 13:25 at Bramall main entrance)
Annie Mahtani (University of Birmingham), project leader
A guided walk designed to encourage active listening to the sound environment. See Wednesday lunch-time above.
Thursday 10 September afternoon sessions (14:30 – 16:00)
Session N. Panel: Discrete/Continuous: Media Archaeology and Music (Elgar Concert Hall)
Alexander Rehding (Harvard University), convenor and chair; Gundula Kreuzer (Yale University); Roger Moseley (Cornell University); Peter McMurray (Massachusetts Institute of Technology)
15-minute introduction (Rehding), three 15-minute statements (Kreuzer, Moseley, McMurray), followed by a 30-minute discussion
The idea of media archaeology is associated with a group of primarily German scholars around the late Friedrich Kittler, Wolfgang Ernst, Bernhard Siegert and Siegfried Zielinski. Common to their diverse approaches to media is an underlying concern with storage, transmission, and processing of information. Music, sound and noise have always played an important role in this project – Kittler’s (unfinished) ten-volume magnum opus, for instance, was dedicated to Music and Mathematics from ancient Greece to the Turing Galaxy. While musicology has taken note of Kittler’s work on gramophones, many other ideas that have emerged from these conversations about media have yet to take hold in music and sound studies: Siegert’s explorations of ‘cultural techniques’ expand notions of what kinds of operations might constitute mediality; Zielinski’s explorations of ‘variantology’ have pushed toward a less Eurocentric understanding of where media histories lie; while Ernst has begun to apply ‘media archaeology’ writ large to sound and sonic histories.
Media archaeology offers enormous possibilities for musicology, broadly conceived, not least as its focus and questions sharpen the view for a perspective that is often thought to be incidental to music. Simply put, from a media-archaeological perspective, the question of whether sounds are stored in the magnetic charges of a cassette tape, binary code, a music box, or indeed the muscle memory of a pianist is of central significance. Media archaeology argues that the medium is not merely a vehicle that is somehow external to music, but rather inextricably connected with it – the sounds only exist in and by virtue of its medium.
We bring these ideas to bear on three different areas of musicological enquiry. Alexander Rehding will begin with a broad introduction to the field of media archaeology. Gundula Kreuzer plunges in medias res by exploring Wagnerian operatic aesthetics in dialogue with Kittler’s media-theoretical reflections on Wagner’s stage works. Roger Moseley examines eighteenth-century paper machines in his reconsideration of musical dice games and the tradition of ars combinatoria. Peter McMurray opens up the discussion to the idea of sonic archaeology – that is, applying archaeological approaches beyond technologies that mediate sound to sound itself – in sketching a history of meta-aurality, or the process of listening to listening itself.
Kittler’s Wagnerian Fantasies
Wagner’s concept of the Gesamtkunstwerk is frequently cited by scholars of media and digital arts as a precursor of film and new media. Since his provocative essay ‘World-Breath: On Wagner’s Media Technology’ (first published in 1987), Friedrich Kittler in particular cast Wagner as the prophet of both gramophone and cinema: Wagner, he argued, invented ‘a machine that works on three levels or in three data fields: first, verbal information; second, the invisible Bayreuth orchestra; third, the scenic visuality with its tracking shots and spotlights avant la lettre.’ Rarely acknowledged in musicology, this division chimes remarkably with the common discussion, among opera scholars, of opera’s three ‘signifying systems’. Yet, while opera studies have tended to conceive of these as hierarchically interdependent, Kittler presupposes their initial separation into ‘individual sensory channels’ as the revolution through which music drama became the first modern mass medium.
My paper seeks to explore this thesis from three perspectives: first, the notion of Wagner as a fundamental turning-point in the history of opera as multimedia; second, Kittler’s own distinction between art as symbolic and media as materially ‘real’ means of communication; and third, the idea of distinct sensory channels. Nineteenth-century opera, including Wagner’s, is built on deeper interrelations between vision, speech, and sound than generally recognized, with certain acoustic
events especially prefiguring – even replacing – visual information or semantic meaning. These observations lead me to examine the role of Wagner in Kittler’s media theory more broadly, and to sketch further benefits of media-archaeological perspectives for opera studies.
Mechanisms of Spontaneity: The Musical Play of ‘Paper Machines’
Over the later eighteenth century, a cluster of Würfelspiele (dice games) provided a source of diversion for musical amateurs. Such games devised by (or attributed to) Johann Philipp Kirnberger
(1757), C. P. E. Bach (1757), Haydn (1790), Mozart (1791), and others wove their ludic ‘magic’ via mechanisms of spontaneity. In the terminology of Markus Krajewski, they operated as ‘paper machines’ capable of generating innumerable outcomes via the algorithmic manipulation of permutational principles that were mapped onto the rules governing musical syntax and elaboration. These texts are procedural and performative: having provided the player with a database and tabular index, they instruct him or her what to do in order to produce music. This effected not merely a shift in tone, but a transformation of the text’s epistemological function, bringing it closer to the nonlinear modes in which the randomly accessible skills associated with improvisation were conceived and processed.
In media-archaeological terms, Würfelspiele index a history of algorithmic music that stretches from C. P. E. Bach to C. P. U. Bach (a digital game developed for the 3DO console in 1994) and beyond. But they also suggest how normative eighteenth-century musical texts might be understood to choreograph ludic interactions between minds and mechanisms via digits and keys. Such games invite us to conceive of scores as devices that constrain and afford musical play. Registering the material, cultural and ideological conditions under which such play emerged might enable us to bring eighteenth-century textual traces into closer contact with our own ludic worlds.
Meta-Aurality: A History of Listening to Listening
The practice of attending to and reflecting on processes of hearing dates back millennia. During the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, scientists and musicians alike began to observe other forms of sound actually proceeding from the ear, most famously in the case of John Cage’s 1951 visit to the anechoic chamber at Harvard, where he heard the sounds of blood rushing through his ears and thus determined that silence was an impossibility. At the same time as Cage was listening to his non-silent ‘silence’, acousticians began to consider an even more radical possibility: that the inner ear itself must also produce sound through the very act of resonating with soundwaves passing through it. In other words, listening is a form of mechanical sounding, and the auditory system is a multifaceted producer of sound.
An archaeological approach (Foucauldian, media, or otherwise) highlights each of these ruptures, as well as the ways in which they fold onto one another recursively: humans continue to encounter listening situations in which the ontology of aurality itself is destabilized by other forms of aurality that call into question the givenness of sound and of listening. Sonic archaeology highlights these interconnected ruptures, crises which are not solved by the advent of new media technologies (anechoic chambers, high-sensitivity microphony) but rather intensified by them. Finally, these moments point to another possibility: of considering the ear and the entire listening apparatus as a medium itself, one that can productively be interrogated through a kind of post-human media archaeology.
Session O. Association for the Study of Art Record Production Panel: Creative Hyper-production – Experiments in Classical Music and Live Digital Signal Processing (Dome)
Simon Zagorski-Thomas (London College of Music, University of West London), convenor and chair; Amy Blier-Carruthers (Royal Academy of Music); Andrew Bourbon, Emilie Capulet (LCM, UWL); Mine Dogantan-Dack (University of Oxford)
This session will present some results from a project which combines theoretical analysis and practice-as-research. It seeks to extend the aesthetics of recorded classical music to embrace the creative possibilities of digital signal processing, non-linear performance practice and digital editing techniques. The project’s participants take the roles of performer, producer, engineer, and researcher and work together to use theories of ecological perception and embodied cognition to facilitate collaboration between musicologists, performers and recordists in the creation of digital recordings of the classical repertoire. The repertoire will include piano and string quartet works from the early eighteenth to the early twentieth century. It will also use spatial processing and 5.1 surround mixing to create virtual environments in which to stage live performances and the aim is to stage such a performance as part of the session. The format of the session will be:
- Introduction to the project – 10 minutes
- Some video of the pre-production and recording sessions and an explanation of the collaborative process – 20 minutes
- Playback of one of the recordings – 5 minutes
- Explanation of the RedNet Performances – 10 minutes
- Some video of the pre-production and rehearsal and an explanation – 20 minutes
- A performance of one piece from the piano repertoire involving a surround mix of four pianists (depending on resources, some of this may be played on digital keyboards) – 15 minutes
The participants are joined by Mine Dogantan-Dack to discuss future developments – 10 minutes
Session P: Sources – Places (Aston Webb WG5)
Mark Everist (University of Southampton), Chair
Anglo-Swedish Liturgical Transmission of Universal Feasts, s. XI–XII: A Case Study of Marian Liturgy
Sean Dunnahoe (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Recent studies in Swedish liturgical history have suggested that Anglo-Saxon and early Norman England maintained a stronger cultural influence over Scandinavia than previously thought. In particular, John Toy has produced an invaluable study on the use of English local saints’ feasts in Scandinavian manuscripts. However, no work has yet been done on the transmission of English versions of universal feasts into Scandinavia. This paper represents some first steps in this direction, using English Marian feasts, particularly the Conception feast, as a case study. The Anglo-Saxon feast of the Conception has received ample attention throughout the past century, yet no music survives, and much of its history remains under controversy: Van Dijk thought the feast was extirpated in the Lanfrancian reforms, while Francis Davis claimed it remained silently celebrated in England until the fifteenth century, when it was transmitted rapidly across Europe. Using fragmentary evidence found in seventeen sources from medieval Sweden – including three kalendars, eight breviaries and six missals, containing musical material now lost from English sources – I will attempt to demonstrate that neither of these views is wholly accurate. As one early twelfth-century kalendar shows, the Conception feast was successfully transmitted to Sweden prior to its extirpation in England, and subsequent sources show that it remained in use there throughout the Middle Ages, though with frequent alterations. This places Scandinavia as the more likely candidate for the late medieval transmission of the feast observed by Davis, and allows the possibility of reconstructing the feast’s content.
‘Happiness is our People’s Right’: Happy in Tehran and the Contesting of Social Boundaries
Laudan Nooshin (City University London)
In November 2013, Pharrell Williams’s song ‘Happy’, originally written for the soundtrack to ‘Despicable Me 2’, was re-released as a single together with a music video billed as ‘the world’s first 24-hour music video’. Comprising images of people in Los Angeles dancing and miming along to the song, the video was posted on the website 24hoursofhappy.com. Soon after, tribute videos started appearing online and within a short period ‘Happy’ went viral with videos of happy, dancing people from all over the world. To date an estimated 2,000 videos from 153 countries have appeared.
Wanting to be part of this contagious global phenomenon, a group of young Iranians made their own music video in May 2014 and posted it on YouTube. Many aspects of ‘Happy in Tehran’ – including the public expression of joy, dancing in public, and women appearing without head covering – challenged local cultural and legal boundaries on behaviour in public space. The young people were arrested, prompting an outcry, both within Iran and internationally; the Iranian President Hassan Rouhani even spoke up on their behalf, tweeting ‘Happiness is our people’s right. We shouldn’t be too hard on behaviours caused by joy’. They eventually received suspended sentences in September 2014.
This paper explores some of the issues raised by ‘Happy in Tehran’, focusing on the ways in which the music video engages with and challenges discourses around a series of established boundaries, including those between public and private, legal and illegal, Islamic and ‘un-Islamic’ and local and global.
‘A Key that Unlocked the Symphony’s Opening’: Reflections on the Genesis of Mahler’s Seventh Symphony
Anna Stoll Knecht (University of Oxford)
Gustav Mahler’s account of the genesis of his Seventh Symphony tells of a composer searching for inspiration in the mountains. Rowing on a lake, the rhythm of the oars suddenly inspires an opening theme and from this kernel, the entire symphony is completed in four weeks. This ‘Big Bang’ story suggests an archetypal organic work, while the reception history of the symphony tends to indicate the opposite. Indeed, the Seventh has progressively acquired the status of ‘problem child’ in the Mahlerian canon, and scholars have argued that its ‘lack of unity’ originates from a fragmented compositional process.
This paper discusses the relationship between the genesis of the Seventh and its completed form. First, it examines how Mahler’s compositional narrative impacts upon our interpretation of the work, either by confirming or contradicting it. Second, I interpret the scholarly search for the ‘boat sketch’ as a quest for origins that can be compared to Mahler’s focus, in his narrative, on the beginning of the Seventh. Seeing this beginning as a ‘key’ that unlocks both the composer’s creative process and our interpretative act (Mitchell, 2007) reveals a linear and teleological conception that is challenged by the highly intertextual character of the symphony. In fact, I suggest that an intertextual hearing of the finished work can inspire a non-linear view of the Seventh’s genesis, which shows how genetic and analytic perspectives illuminate each other.
Thursday 10 September plenary session (16:30 – 18:00)
The Annual General Meeting (Elgar Concert Hall)
Including announcement of election results, President’s report, trustees’ annual report and accounts. The AGM is open to all RMA members without the need to register for the conference. Non-members are welcome at the meeting, but may not vote.
Immediately following the AGM the recipient of this year’s Edward Dent medal award will be announced, along with the Call for Proposals for next year’s annual conference at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
The Edward Dent Medal Award and Lecture (Elgar Concert Hall)
Three Music Theory Lessons
Alexander Rehding (Harvard University)
- Mark Everist (Southampton University, President of the Royal Musical Association), chair
This paper attempts to understand music theory from the perspective of writing and sounding. I will examine three fundamentally different music-theoretical practices, which operate with different forms of written notation, different musical instruments, and with surprisingly different purposes in mind: the monochord-based theory of Franchinus Gaffurius (1518), the siren-based theory of Wilhelm Opelt (1834), and the piano-and-score based theory commonly practiced in our age. If we like to attach a date to this third practice, we can do worse than to take the appearance of Walter Piston’s Harmony (1941), which introduced the term ‘common practice’.
The instruments that feature, explicitly or implicitly, in these three music theories hold the key to a fuller understanding: monochord, siren, and piano function as ‘epistemic things’ – they are objects that, in producing sounds, simultaneously generate knowledge about music. From a media-archaeological perspective, these three music-theoretical practices stand emblematically for pythagorean, digital and textual mechanisms. Each approach opens up a different world of understanding how sound and music work.
Alexander Rehding is the Fanny Peabody Professor of Music at Harvard University, an affiliate of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures, an associate at the Center for European Studies and at the Center for the Environment. His work lies at the crossroads of music history and theory. His publications include Hugo Riemann and the Birth of Modern Musical Thought (2003) and Music and Monumentality: Commemoration and Wonderment in Nineteenth-Century Germany (2009). While his work has focused on European music of the nineteenth–twentieth centuries, Rehding is interested in the transfer of music from non-Western contexts during different ages, using different technologies – for instance, as in the group-curated exhibition Transmission/Transformation: Sounding China in Enlightenment Europe (2011) – and more broadly in media archaeology and sound studies. Rehding served as co-editor of Acta Musicologica and is currently editor-in-chief of the Oxford Music Handbooks Online series. His work has been recognized by several awards including a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship in 2009; he was the first recipient (in 2001) of the Jerome Roche Prize.
Friday 11 September morning sessions (9:30 – 10:30)
Session Q. Media and Identity (Aston Webb WG5)
Ben Winters (Open University), chair
Unheard Peoples: Primitivism and Postcolonialism in James Horner’s Avatar
Daniel White (University of Manchester)
This paper investigates the use of musical exoticism in the scores of fantasy films, focusing on ways in which composers have tried to create the imagined musical styles, cultures and traditions of fictional people groups. The research centres on contemporary Hollywood blockbusters with particular focus on James Cameron’s Avatar, and includes several examples from this film.
The body of the paper features analyses of several of James Horner’s cues from the film that feature non-Western musical elements, alongside interpretations of the ways ethnic signifiers are used and heard by Western audiences. These interpretations are then compared with claims made by ethnomusicologist Wanda Bryant, with whom Horner consulted during the film’s production, seeking to evaluate the success with which Bryant and Horner were able to create a coherent musical culture for the indigenous alien population of the film.
Drawing on discourses from musical exoticism and the work of Edward Said, the paper highlights the presence of potentially racist undercurrents in the film and its score, and underlines the powerful role fantasy cinema has to play in contemporary intercultural discourse. To quote Joshua Bellin, ‘[fantasy films] play a vital role in circulating and validating pernicious cultural beliefs embedded within specific social settings’ (Bellin, 2005). If this is the case, it is important that we understand the power that such films hold over Western audiences, particularly when they appropriate non-Western voices in exoticist or primitivist capacities.
Anton Bruckner versus Giuseppe Verdi: Luchino Visconti’s film Senso (1954) as a Forum for a Discourse in Nineteenth-Century Music Aesthetics
Michael Baumgartner (Cleveland State University, Ohio)
Set towards the end of the Italian-Austrian war of unification, around 1866, Luchino Visconti’s melodrama Senso (1954) tells the story of Countess Serpieri, who begins an affair with the Austrian lieutenant Mahler. As pars pro toto, the lovers represent the Austrian army occupying the people of Northern Italy. An investigation of the film reveals that the music plays a preeminent role not only in supporting the narrative, but also in portraying the political situation in Northern Italy during the Risorgimento. Visconti emphasizes the condition of the Italians under the Austrian yoke by juxtaposing Verdi’s Il trovatore with Bruckner’s Seventh Symphony. Bruckner’s music dominates the film as an oppressive and overpowering force not unlike the Austrian supremacy over the North Italians. Visconti politicizes his Italy in Senso by having the occupier Bruckner overshadowing the occupied Verdi. Verdi – the epitome of a unified Italy – rivals Bruckner who is a fervent devotee of Wagner. Bruckner’s admiration for Wagner is reinforced in the film through the excessive recurrence of the Seventh Symphony’s ‘Adagio’, which Bruckner wrote after Wagner’s death. The conflict, solidified by this music, stresses the dichotomy of south versus north, whereby the Italian attraction to the north is personified in Serpieri who is enticed by the lieutenant Mahler. Visconti offers a larger discourse in Senso, reflecting on the political climate of Italy’s Risorgimento through music, the heated discourse of the second half of the nineteenth century of both the superiority of Austro-German or Italian music, and the division between absolute and programmatic music (here absolute music which becomes film music).
Session R: City Soundscapes (Aston Webb WG12)
Arman Schwartz (University of Birmingham), chair
Artois as a Home for the Thirteenth-Century Motet: The Testimony of the Noailles Collection
Gaël Saint-Cricq (Université de Rouen)
The motet collection of the Noailles Chansonnier (BnF, f.fr. 12615 or N) offers a unique field of inquiry for the search of works within the thirteenth-century motet repertoire that were cultivated apart from the central Parisian tradition of the motet. Copied between ca. 1270 and 1280 in Artois and possibly Arras, this large collection offers, of its ninety-one specimens, no less than fifty motets found only in N and its artesian contemporary ‘twin’, the Chansonnier du Roi (R). Moreover, the context of its preservation confers on it a particular place in the history of the repertoire, for N – and R – are the only two sizable collections of polyphonic motets preserved in provincial songbooks, where N is surrounded by various other lyric and non-lyric collections, some typical of Artois and the city of Arras.
This paper will demonstrate that part of the motet collection in N constitutes a gathering of local works, stemming from the musical and literary culture of Arras, and related to song practice. Evidence in the structure and composition of the codex, the practice of self-referential quotations within the manuscript as a whole and Artesian culture, and finally the presence of idiomatic phrasings in the tenors, the texts and the compositional procedures, all points to a specifically Artesian cultivation of the motet, providing an original, sometimes alternative, perspective on the genre.
Meyerbeer and Mobility in Mid-Nineteenth-Century Florence
Francesca Vella (University of Cambridge)
‘What can one do... journalism has Crimeanised the world!’ grumbled a musical correspondent from Florence in 1855. His claim was prompted by the globalizing repercussions of the recent frenzy of war reporting, but it might also invite exploration of similarly outward-facing mid-nineteenth-century trends in music criticism. The role of journalism in shaping a transnational and trans-local dimension to musical genres and composers, and in refracting established notions through multiple local histories and geographies, has recently begun to attract scholarly attention. But its implications for the Italian context remain largely unexplored. My paper will re-examine several familiar ideas in mid-nineteenth-century critical discourses about Meyerbeer, both within the local culture of Florence and in light of broader transnational developments.
Florence staged all the Italian premieres of Meyerbeer’s grands opéras from Roberto il diavolo (Robert le Diable) in 1840 to Il profeta (Le Prophète) in 1852. The appearance of these works spurred heated discussions about their so-called ‘eclectic’ style, in the process drawing attention to the increasing circulation of people, music and critical ideas across national and municipal borders. Yet such notions of mobility and cosmopolitanism can also be seen as part of a wider discursive web of self- and external fashionings of the Tuscan city. Drawing on primary sources and engaging with theories of cosmopolitanism, I propose an account of a Florentine Meyerbeer in which the mobility inscribed in nineteenth-century journalistic practices is central both to the engendering of contemporary representations of the composer’s grands opéras and to the negotiation of local, national and supranational identities.
Session S. Performing Beethoven (Dome)
Rachel Cowgill (University of Huddersfield), chair
The Multi-Movement Cycle in Nineteenth Century Criticism: Beyond the Beethovenian Model
Erica Buurman, (Canterbury Christ Church University)
Since the nineteenth century, prominent theoretical discussions of the multi-movement instrumental cycle have tended to focus on aspects that owe a debt to a particular Beethovenian model – namely the ‘symphonic’ design characterized by formal expansion, multi-movement integration and teleological drive perhaps best exemplified by the Fifth Symphony. Although, as Scott Burnham acknowledges, this ‘heroic’ model only applies to a handful of Beethoven’s works, this model can be seen as a benchmark within theoretical constructs as diverse as Marx’s notion of the ‘Idee’ and Réti’s concept of ‘thematic process’.
Within nineteenth-century music criticism, however, the Beethovenian cycle was not universally hailed as the ideal model for multi-movement organisation. Although the innovative aspects of Beethoven’s approach to multi-movement instrumental works are often emphasized, another viewpoint also existed that saw his continued reliance on the basic four-movement symphonic cycle as outmoded. An anonymous writer in the Allgemeine musikalische Zeitung of 1813, for instance, considered the continued use of the four-movement cycle in symphonies as ‘monotonous’, and proposed a number of more original alternatives. Similarly, Ferdinand Praeger, a prominent early enthusiast for Wagner, considered that Beethoven’s dependence on the eighteenth-century model of the instrumental cycle was at odds with the spirit of ‘emancipation of free thought’ that underpinned his age. This paper examines these critiques of the Beethovenian model, and proposes an alternative view of Beethoven in nineteenth-century music criticism as a conservative, rather than an innovator, in the realm of the multi-movement cycle.
Audiences of the Future: Concerts for Children in Interwar Britain
Kate Guthrie (University of Southampton)
In March 1926, a young London audience witnessed an unusually controversial performance of Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony. The concert was in a series for children pioneered by the philanthropist Robert Mayer. In an obvious effort to engage his listeners, the conductor Malcolm Sargent prefaced the performance by suggesting that the symphony told the story of a giant and his wife; he then invited those present to sing the main themes to silly words. Critics were divided: some argued that Sargent’s approach demeaned the music; others praised him for appealing to the youthful imagination.
My paper takes this concert as a starting point to reflect on the conflicted attempts to create a broader audience for elite music in interwar Britain. There was more at stake here than mere pedagogy: as ‘the audience of the future’, children represented a sounding board for intellectuals exploring the boundaries between education and entertainment, intellect and imagination, art and commerce. Drawing on archival materials and undocumented reviews, I show that, despite assertions that the children’s concerts were not a commercial enterprise, the organizers engaged with an array of businesses – from gramophone companies to graphic designers – in an attempt ‘to get children into the habit of paying for tickets’. By situating these concerts within the broad debate about citizenship and cultural participation, I explore how the commodification of leisure time intersected with the commodification of art – even as intellectuals increasingly fought to dissociate elite music from the marketplace.
Friday 11 September late morning sessions (11:00 – 12:30)
Session T. Panel: Music and Race in 1920s Britain (Aston Webb WG5)
Laura Tunbridge (University of Oxford) and Alexandra Wilson (Oxford Brookes University), convenors; James Nott (University of St Andrews); Andy Fry (King’s College, London), chair
There will be three twenty-minute papers followed by a half-hour discussion
This interdisciplinary panel examines attitudes towards race and issues of cultural protectionism in Britain in the 1920s, through the lens of opera, song, and dance. At its heart is the question of how British critics and audiences responded to foreign musicians in a world that culturally, politically and economically, was becoming ever more international in outlook. On the one hand, African-American musicians were found to be invigorating and exciting, introducing new styles of dancing and dance music; on another, their popularity prompted concerns about moral degeneration and racial purity. In the concert hall and opera house, the presence of non-native musicians was recognized as raising the standards of performance. But for some their success seemed to be at the expense of British musicians. Cultural protectionism in Britain is something more often discussed as a phenomenon of the 1930s, as a result of the economic crash. By considering its manifestations in the previous decade, a better understanding can be gained of continuities and intensifications through the interwar period.
The ‘Antipathetic Alien’: Opera and Cultural Protectionism in 1920s Britain
Immigration and the related issue of economic protectionism are, today, routinely front-page news. This paper reflects upon how similar types of protectionist and chauvinistic rhetoric were used in the 1920s but with a rather different spin, being applied specifically to culture. Within the domain of opera, foreign artists were simultaneously loathed and adored. ‘Star’ singers in particular were, on the one hand, ‘boomed’ by the press and, on the other, depicted as ‘coming over and stealing British jobs’; British singers, meanwhile, were advised to adopt foreign names if they hoped to appeal to a broad public. Protectionist rhetoric was also applied to composers and to operas themselves. Opera per se was regularly characterized as an ‘un-British’ artform and individual works (particularly verismo operas and some works by Puccini and Strauss) were disparaged for being unacceptable in their subject matter to British audiences. Some of the debates had long historical roots, whilst others were prompted by the particular economic, social and political circumstances of the decade, as well as by ongoing (although by this time fading) ambitions for Britain itself to become a great producer of operas. In this paper I shall consider what debates about cultural protectionism, often tinged with what appears to later eyes as racism, can tell us about the formation of national identity and about celebrity culture in Britain during the 1920s.
London’s Dance Craze and Racist Stereotyping during the 1920s
James Nott (University of St Andrews)
Dancing and race were inextricably linked for a number of reasons. Most obviously, during the early twentieth century, dancing in Britain became influenced by unprecedented exposure to foreign dance forms, many of which came from black American culture. Whilst for most people these developments were not regarded as problematic, for a few they caused considerable concern. Dancing and dances became a convenient way to express wider ideas about race and racial theory circulating in British society at the time. Particular dance steps and rhythms, for example, were seen to typify racial characteristics and their popularity with white British dancers generated some concerns about racial purity. More significantly, the racial debate concerning dance forms helped to perpetuate, extend and reinforce racial images. This paper will thus explore how during the 1920s London’s dance culture was transformed by the presence of black musicians and black dance forms in the city’s dance venues. As London was the centre of a vast Empire, for a minority this was seen as symbolic of cultural, moral and national decline. Thus I will also investigate the racist stereotyping that this transformation brought about. In doing so, I hope to illustrate how dance music and dances were key to shaping British stereotypes about black people in the early twentieth century.
Hearing ‘Sonic Blackness’ in the Voice of Roland Hayes
Laura Tunbridge (University of Oxford)
One of the first American classical singers to appear in London after the First World War was the African-American tenor Roland Hayes. He and his accompanist Lawrence Brown arrived in 1920, intending – if all went well – to stay for a few years. He became one of the most successful recitalists in the city, regularly attracting large audiences in a variety of venues. Hayes had already gained some recognition in the States but his American career was limited by his race. Attitudes in London were somewhat different and, while it could not be said that white audiences and reviewers were less prejudiced, the city’s mix of African Americans, Africans, and long- established black British communities promised a fertile environment in which Hayes could explore his racial identity. London also proved to be – as it was for many other American musicians of the time – a useful stopping point en route to continental Europe. Hayes made his debut in Berlin in 1923; his hostile reception there, for British as well as for German commentators, brought to the fore issues surrounding his racial identity.
A recurring strand in reviews of Hayes’s performances was the notion that his voice had a distinct colour – ‘rich purplish red’, according to one correspondent – that marked him as different from his white counterparts. The detection of ‘sonic blackness’, as Nina Sun Eidsheim calls it, further complicates racial relationships within the realm of classical singing, so often presented as if deracinated yet – as this case study from the 1920s reminds us – so often not.
Session U. Style (Aston Webb WG12)
Simon Keefe (University of Sheffield), chair
Reviving Rhetoric: Eighteenth-Century Music and Modern Musicology
Lodewijk Muns (Den Haag)
That music and language are closely connected is a familiar topos, which has a particular relevance to music of the eighteenth century. Between Johann Mattheson (1739) and J. N. Forkel (1788) a shift took place from the conception of ‘musical speech’ towards the idea of a ‘universal language of feeling’.
Exploiting the linguistic paradigm, Forkel makes a distinction between musical ‘grammar’ and ‘rhetoric’. If grammar describes how sentences are put together, and rhetoric is above all the art of connecting sentences in discourse, this still seems a reasonable point of departure, given suitable definitions of musical sentences and musical discourse.
The study of musical rhetoric has seen a remarkable boom since the 1980s, in close association with the revival of historical performance practice. There is considerable confusion however about the scope and status of rhetoric in the context of eighteenth-century culture and its relevance to present day musical understanding. This calls for (1) a critical assessment of the sources; (2) an evaluation of the position of rhetoric in relation to the emerging discipline of aesthetics; and (3) a clear distinction between widely different definitions of ‘rhetoric’.
Composers were acquainted with a rich variety of discourses: those of real life, of literature and of the stage. This experience of language-in-practice (which we share with them) is the object of rhetoric in its broadest definition, of discourse analysis, and linguistic pragmatics. Their possible connections with music theory and aesthetics have yet to be explored.
How to Forge a Missing Link: Winfried Michel’s ‘Haydn’ and the Style-Historical Imagination
Frederick Reece (Harvard University)
Forged musical works are surprisingly common. Since Guido Adler’s (1911) assertion that authorship and historical periodization are always legible in the styles of works themselves, authentication has been haunted by expert endeavours to court authorial misattribution through compositional mimicry. This paper explores one such case from 1994, when, at the height of the new-musicological moment, the news broke that six recently rediscovered Haydn sonatas (dubbed ‘The Haydn Scoop of the Century’ by H. C. Robbins-Landon) were not by Haydn at all.
The forgeries, produced in the early 1990s by the German pedagogue Winfried Michel, were compelling not only because they were based on four-bar phrases recorded in Haydn’s Entwurfkatalog, but also because these incipits corresponded to a crucial yet ill-documented period in Haydn’s chronology. The radical technical innovations posed by the Sonata Hob. XVI: 20 of 1771 have no precedent in the authenticated corpus of Divertimento Sonatas dated prior to 1767, making the discovery of lost works from the 1767–70 ‘missing-link’ period a style-historical holy grail.
In exploring how Michel’s sonatas rang true against a background of established authentication methodologies and theoretical accounts of the Galant and Sturm und Drang paradigms, my own detailed stylistic analyses of the forgeries are complemented by original interviews with Sotheby’s manuscript specialists whose testimony was responsible for their falsification. Reading Michel’s sonatas as artefacts of aesthetic prejudice, the practice and reception of forgery is adopted as a lens through which to contemplate the style-historical imagination as a construct that continues to shape musicological discourse.
Session V. Panel: White Light: Arvo Pärt Today (Dome)
Andrew Shenton (Boston University); Laura Dolp (Montclair State University); Robert Sholl (Royal Academy of Music/University of West London), convenor and chair
This panel comprises three 20-minute papers, plus a 10-minute discussion
Arvo Pärt’s 80th birthday (on 11 September 2015) occurs in the course of the 2015 RMA conference. The momentum of Pärt scholarship has built up through conferences at Boston University and at the London Southbank, curated by Andrew Shenton and Robert Sholl respectively. These events lead to the publication of The Cambridge Companion to Arvo Pärt (2012). Pärt’s music has also played a catalytic role in Contemporary Music and Spirituality (Ashgate, 2015), edited by Sholl and Sander van Maas, which makes a significant contribution to the broader conversation about art and the role of secularization, the claims of modernity and post-modernity.
These three papers present critical interdisciplinary focuses on this composer that build on and extend this foundational research. Together they embrace the interpretation, context and meaning of Pärt’s music through the lenses of performance, media and culture and musical and cultural theory and analysis to provide insight into how the composer can be understood today.
Andrew Shenton’s paper addresses performance. Pärt performance has been dominated by the Hilliard ensemble’s recordings, which have created a blueprint for the Pärtian sound world. Established with the ‘imprimatur’ of the composer, these idealized performances not only reveal the way in which this composer has been marketed (Dolp, 2012), but they embody all of the problems of performing living composers. Shenton places Pärt in this context, discussing how theory and practice, knowledge, experience and performative intuition can be employed by performers. How should the performer resist history, play with it and/or usurp it today?
Laura Dolp focuses on the mediation of Pärt’s music through the New York White Light festival.
Her paper shows the ways in which Pärt’s music and ideology has informed this festival and the ways in which it continues to shape its aesthetic. The significance of this paper lies in its examination of the agency of Pärt’s ideology that shapes its reception today.
Finally Robert Sholl’s paper addresses the questions of interiority, experience and analysis in Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel (1977). Is this interiority really symptomatic of religious expression (a construction of the music promoted by the composer), or is the music constructed to reflect our own beliefs? This paper frames Pärt’s spiritual and utopian aesthetics to show where Pärt’s music situates the listener today.
Andrew Shenton (Boston University)
This paper deals with the extended issues concerning both live and recorded performances of Pärt’s music. The first part deals with issues of performance practice of music in which the composer wishes every note to be ‘beautifully played’, and examines how one might bring a personal interpretation to music that is so carefully controlled. It considers the composer’s own comments about performance, comments from renowned interpreters of his music (especially those who worked closely with him) and offers practical guidelines so that one can move from being a mere executor of the notes to an interpreter. The second part examines how recordings that received the composer’s imprimatur form an adjunct to the printed score and offer what has become a stylized ‘manner of realization’ (to use a phrase coined by John Milson), that has greatly influenced subsequent performances. Using theories of performance from Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin and others, this essay uncovers the extent to which Pärt is directly integral to acts of both interpretation and perception.
Consuming Spirit: Arvo Pärt and the White Light Festival
Laura Dolp (Montclair State University)
Since its inception in 2010, the publicity of the annual White Light Festival in New York has prominently featured a quotation by Pärt as a centrepiece of their curatorial mandate to consider music and its transcendence-inducing potential: ‘I could compare my music to white light, which contains all colours. Only a prism can divide the colours and make them appear; this prism could be the spirit of the listener.’ The Festival frequently performs Pärt’s music and more generally demonstrates an enduring confidence in his ethos, which serves as a springboard for its programming. Described by Jane Moss, Lincoln Center’s Artistic Director, as an ‘exploration of music and art’s power to reveal the many dimensions of our interior lives’, the Festival has included a wide variety of musical performances, panel conversations on topics such as the role of morality in human evolution, film screenings and performances of works characterized as studies of an ‘enigmatic and poignantly human world’. Through a close analysis of press and other public commentaries, my paper considers the ways in which the aspirations of the Festival capitalize on ongoing themes in Pärt’s broader cultural reception, including the impact of technology on cultures of listening, his commercial agency, and the affective modelling that his music provides in the corporeal and visual experience of the concert hall.
Arvo Pärt and Interiority: Inside the Mirror
Robert Sholl (Royal Academy of Music/University of West London)
The spirituality of interiorization is seminal to the experience of Arvo Pärt’s tintinnabular music. But if there is, in Seán Hand’s (2003) words, a ‘disengagement of interiority as vision from the reality envisioned’, then we come a little closer to the true perspective of tintinnabulation: that its very attraction lies in its neutrality and plasticity and in its refusal to engage with an exterior world of meaning. This paper addresses the meaning and experience of interiority, through an analysis of Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel (1977). In particular, it focuses on the way in which the composer sets up rules and then breaks them in this work and it interprets this as a traumatic resistance to Lacanian Real (Lacan, 1966/2006). Finally it sets these findings in the context of Lacanian suture, which as Joan Copjec (Copjec, 1994) states, ‘supplies the logic of a paradoxical function whereby a supplementary element is added to the series of signifiers in order to mark the lack of a signifier that could close the set.’ This paper explores Pärt’s construction of this crucial illusory ‘as if’, the paradox of closure, that is an essential index of the exterior dilation of interiority, experience, as much as powerful ingredient of this music’s legacy.
Friday 11 September lunch-time events (13:30 – 14:15)
Lecture-recital: Michael Cryne, Hearing Voices for Solo and Modified Cellos (Elgar Concert Hall)
Rebecca Turner (Goldsmiths, University of London)
- Introduced by Andrew Kirkman (University of Birmingham)
There have been many important developments in the cello repertoire in recent years that have affected cello playing and technique. One of the major developments since the 1950s has been an increased interest in the textual and timbral potential of the instrument, as composers have sought to create new and original aesthetics and to transport the cello into new contexts. The development of electronic music was pivotal in these explorations – not only in terms of the cello’s increasing popularity in the electro-acoustic medium, but also influencing the way in which many composers approached writing for the acoustic cello. This influence has a wide range: from looking to imitate electronic music using acoustic means and developing new techniques to achieve this end; to forming new ideas about sound and consequently extending the sonic potential of the cello; to alternative approaches to the form, rhythm, timbre, melody, harmony, and the overall construction of a piece.
For this presentation, I will perform a new work called Hearing Voices for solo cello and electrically modified cello with prepared electronic presets, by Michael Cryne and then draw on the performance to explore salient issues and ideas surrounding this topic. Hearing Voices presents the cellist with several new and altered playing techniques that at times require the player to modify his or her approach to playing, hearing and performing the music. The major aspects for the discussion will include the practical challenges of playing with electronics; the new and unusual musical colours in this electro-acoustic combination; how electronics have affected certain standard cello techniques, such as sul ponticello, sul tasto, various bow-pressure techniques, microtones and harmonics; and finally, how the cellist should approach playing the work.
SOUNDWalk (assemble 13:25 at Bramall main entrance)
Annie Mahtani (University of Birmingham), Project Leader
A guided walk designed to encourage active listening to the sound environment. See Wednesday lunch-time above.
Friday 11 September afternoon sessions (14:30 – 16:00)
Plenary Session: The Public Face of Music Research (Elgar Concert Hall)
Simon McVeigh (Goldsmiths, University of London), convenor and chair; Katia Chornik (University of Manchester); Andrew Kirkman (University of Birmingham); Stephen Newbould (Birmingham Contemporary Music Group); David Owen Norris (University of Southampton). Lauren Redhead (Canterbury Christ Church University); Derek Scott (University of Leeds), respondents.
What is the role of music [or musical] research outside academia? How can we draw out the public value of the creative and intellectual contribution, nationally and beyond? Are we fulfilling our cultural and social responsibilities? How do we rate the interaction between researchers and the creative industries? Are we communicating effectively with a wider public?
A concept of Public Musicology has started to achieve some currency in recent years, by analogy with Public Anthropology, a term that implies not only public dissemination but an active role in fostering social change. Debates about arts education and about the public impact of research have tended to force us into defensive positions; yet there is potential as never before, especially in a period of massive technological change, for a much more positive engagement with the pressing social, cultural and intellectual issues of our time.
The intention of this closing session, taking ‘music research’ [or ‘musical research’] in the widest sense and including creative practice, is to encourage a broad-ranging discussion of these issues following short provocations from the panel-members.