Abstracts

Adjarho, Atase J. (University of Alberta)

“The Place of South African Music as a Weapon against Apartheid”

This study examines the place of South African songs as a weapon of resistance by Indigenous South Africans against Apartheid. Additionally, this paper will draw from Lee Hirsch and Sherry Simpson’s 2002 film – Amandla! A Revolution in Four-Part Harmony. Drawing from Amandla, this research will explore the relevance of these songs in the context of their struggle and how they became the core of their nationalist movement. This paper will adopt the analytical methodology to unravel the power and potency of music in the struggle for independence as portrayed in this film by South African musicians who were part and parcel of the liberation movement. The findings of this study reveal that music was an important aspect invoked by South Africans as a means of expressing their resistance/rejection to the Apartheid regime through peaceful protest.

Ahamadian, Nasim (University of Alberta)

“Localizing the Little Voices: Introducing Iranian instruments to program children’s musical education in Iranian nurseries”

In today’s Iran, traditional musical instruments are rarely used for the educational purposes of nursery schools. Transportable keyboard is the most popular instrument performed lively for children to accompany their songs. Consequently, children hardly know their own traditional instruments and local tunes. In other words, Iranian instruments have no major place in children’s choice of interest when they start considering an instrument to learn. This fact prompted my idea of ‘localizing musical education for pre-school children’ by introducing Iranian instruments in nurseries. To study the capability of Iranian traditional instruments to accompany the songs, and building the participating circle of 3 to 6-year-old children through concentration and tendency to sing, clap and dance, an ensemble of Iranian traditional instruments consisting santūr, tār, setār, and tombak was gathered and performed common children songs lively in the process of frequent sessions in three nurseries. Besides the live observation of the experience on the field, videorecording the sessions, informal chats with children, and attaching their subject-related drawings shortly after the sessions, provided further detailed analysis. According to this research, Iranian musical instruments are capable of involving children in joyful social participation. Percussions and hammered-instruments such as Tombak and Santūr with strong sound and the possibility of easily making sounds by moving both hands freely and visible rhythmical body movements are the most encouraging instruments. Children accepted traditional instruments depending on their identifiable and distinctive characters in performing movements, local background, sonority, and appearance, more enthusiastically than keyboard, as ‘a universal sound-machine’ with no identifiable character or visible performing movement. This research contributes to the discourse of localization in the context of music education, in addition to providing musicians and music educators with the ideas of programing traditional instruments and local tunes in educational context of nurseries according to children’s demands.

 

Boucher, Cindy (University of Alberta)

“Problematizing Queer Ethnomusicology”

In their brief 2015 post “Ethnomusicology’s Queer Silences,” William Cheng and Gregory Barz noted an under-representation of queer subjects in both the field and fieldwork of ethnomusicology despite considerable attention to LGBTQ subjects and queer theory in other disciplines. They offer some examples of queering the field, relying heavily on readings of ‘queer’ as non-normative, and note a lack of ethnomusicological exploration of queer subjects (i.e., songs, people), with ethno-focused researchers grossly underrepresented among the best known LGBTQ-focused musicology volumes. They write that it is important to think about these gaps, but the brevity of the article means they do not meaningfully address, from either a philosophical or practical standpoint, how such a void could have formed in this field amid such a flurry of queer academic activity. In this paper, I suggest that this scholarly gap is rooted not in a lack of interest, a lack of willing queer scholars, or a lack of queer subjects, but rather in a problem of definition that makes queer subjects both difficult to discuss and challenging to access. Because ethnomusicological practice is often rooted in geographical place, in communities, in cultural histories, in participatory methods, queerness, which is defined instead, at its core, by subjectivity and desire, poses new challenges to qualitative methods and textual analyses. For these challenges, ethnomusicology has yet to adapt its many tools. With no intention of answering the questions it raises, this paper uses the issues introduced by Cheng and Barz’s as a foil for breaking down the concept of queer ethnomusicology. Drawing on both insider- and fieldwork-based experiences of LGBTQ identity and research, I aim to begin a critical discussion about how such a concept as “Queer Ethnomusicology” might (or might not be) useful in ethnomusicological practice, with special attention to traditional methods in field research.

 

Byl, Julia (University of Alberta)

Greening Brittany (Dalhousie University)

Fire of Unknown Origin: Patti Smith, Androgyny, and Punk Rock

Patti Smith was one of the first female performers to carve a space for herself in rock n’ roll without adopting a limited role such as those that had previously been available to women in the genre. While male glam rock stars like David Bowie have been celebrated for the feminized androgyny of their performing personae, Smith’s androgynous persona has been described as “tomboyish,” and she is often criticized for trying to be one of the boys. Her work in the New York punk scene contributed significantly to punk’s resistance of the commodified culture of arena rock. Through close examinations of Smith’s performance strategies, including her repertoire, stage performance, and vocal presence, I aim to show that her performance of gender on sound recordings and during live shows opposes such a simplified analysis. Informed by Patti Smith’s first memoir Just Kids as well as the works of Philip Auslander, Joanne Gottlieb and Gayle Wald, Judith Halberstam, Simon Reynolds and Joy Press, and Angela McRobbie, I intend to consider the ambiguous and sometimes contradictory nature of her gender performance. While she resisted traditional performances of femininity as a means of constructing an artistic space for herself that intended to transcend the limitations of gender, Patti Smith had a tendency to both overlook her context as a woman performer of rock n’ roll, and to inadvertently perpetuate the very masculinist traditions that she strove to transcend. Because of these interacting intricacies, I argue that Patti Smith’s androgyny can be read at once as a strategy of resistance, and as a means of constructing a legitimate space for herself in rock n’ roll.

Henry, Shawn (Dalhousie University)

“Sounding Disability in Musical Theatre”

What does disability sound like? Contemporary Broadway composers such as Adam Guettel, Stephen Sondheim and Tom Kitt are changing the way we hear disability. Musicals such as Guettel’s Tony Award winning The Light in the Piazza feature a disabled girl as the central character of the show. The musical tells the story of Margaret Johnson who takes her mentally challenged daughter, Clara, on a trip to Italy. In this 2005 setting, Clara’s disability is vaguely described by her mother who breaks the fourth wall and tells the audience that Clara is, “not quite as she seems.” Guettel’s music echoes composers such as Debussy, Stravinsky, Ravel, Britten and even Stevie Wonder: gorgeous melodic lines with the undercurrent of cacophony. His score for Piazza is rich and soaring but there is always a feeling of unrest caused by passages that never seem to resolve. By combining current scholarship on music and disability research with an in-depth analysis of the text and score to the Light in the Piazza, I will examine the musical treatment and sonic markers of the disabled girl and how audiences perceive disability though sound. Current studies into disability aesthetics by scholars such as Ann Fox, Jessica Sternfeild, Raymond Knap and Neil Lerner place their emphasis on groundbreaking research focusing mainly on text, interpersonal character analysis and dramatic representation onstage. I intend to take this a step further and analyze how a character, such as Clara, is musically represented. Compositionally, she is written with a different approach. The sudden mood shifts of her character affect rhythmic patterns, abrupt changes in tempi and emphasis on unexpected words in phrases. Musical research into these areas are vital to exploring how characters such as Clara are given agency through deliberate musical representation.

 

Kay, Matthew (Michigan State University)

“The Romani Brass Band: Weddings, race, politics, power and stereotypes”

It is widely believed that the Roma are a group of people who originated from Northern India, and travelled westward between the twelfth and fourteenth centuries. Since their Diaspora, the Roma’s lack of a singular homeland has made them the target of persecution. Commonly known as “gypsies,” a term used derogatorily by outsiders, or by the Roma ironically to describe how outsiders view them, the Roma became marginalized and earned mythical representations as free spirits, prone to sorcery and thievery. The Roma became renowned for their musical prowess, and have used and adapted their music as a commercial enterprise for Romani and non-Romani patrons. I will examine the role of music, especially brass band music in Romani culture, and its importance to both the Romani and Serbian community. Weddings are the primary source of income for Romani musicians and play a key role in the wedding ceremony. During the wedding musicians earn money from tips. Power, politics, and race influence the practice of tipping musicians, and vary between Roma and non-Roma Serbian weddings highlighting issues of discrimination towards Roma in Serbia. Romani musicians will often exploit negative gypsy stereotypes for their own commercial gain, portraying themselves as primitive rural people, steeped in exoticism and sensuality. I will tackle stereotyping by examining the music industry’s expectations of negative stereotyping, especially towards ethnic groups. This presentation will be a culmination of four years of researching music from the Balkans, including two months I spent in the summer of 2015 researching Romani brass music in Vranje in the south of Serbia. During this presentation, I aim to dispel some of the myths attributed to the Roma people and bring awareness to the richness of their music and its inseparability from the culture.

 

Khaira, Arshdeep (University of Alberta)

“Understanding Diaspora Identity Amongst Immigrants to Canada: A Case Study on the Influence of Gospel Music in Renewing Cultural Interdependence Between West Africans”

This research explores the way community identity is maintained in a highly diverse and multi-cultural setting (Edmonton, AB – a city made of a varied demographic population with settlers from all over the world) amongst immigrants from West Africa, focusing on the role of Gospel Music in particular in creating ideas of interdependence amongst this greater cultural group. Interdependence in this context essentially refers to the way that Canadian immigrants from West Africa socially engage with each other in a way that is mutually beneficial and contributes to the maintenance of their indigenous culture, language and customs in their new social setting (Canada). The greater cultural group here refers to natives of the various West African countries, who while unique in their own ethno-linguistic characteristics, share much in common at the macro-cultural level. Although West Africans form many different unique cultural, linguistic, ethnic and religious groups, in this paper, I address questions pertaining to the way a macro West African cultural identity is maintained amongst new immigrants from the region, and the way envisioning themselves as the part of a larger socio-cultural group assists in the process of acculturating to a new Canadian social context, and also assists them in maintaining their cultural, ethnic and linguistic uniqueness in light of their “micro” identity (for example: Akan Tribe from Ghana). My goal is to show how this sense of macro identity is created, fostered and nurtured through the mutual participation of different West African groups at The Church of Pentecost (Edmonton). I show, through my own first hand documentation of church activities, and interviews with participants at the services, that the West African Diaspora community is able to engage in this new level of macro-group identification (ie, West African, rather than Ghanaian, or Liberian) in a way that cultural groups in the locality of origin are unable to, and that Gospel music plays a definitive role in facilitating this process.

Mitra, Jahandideh (Memorial University of Newfoundland)

“Marx in Categorization of Improvisation Ensembles”

In this paper, I employ some notions of Marx’s account into the concept of leadership in an improvisation ensemble. I refer to the concepts that Marx applies to explain “how a society is shaped”, in order to study “how the structural organization of an improvisation ensemble as a social community is formed”. In the Marxist theory of “historical materialism”, Marx defines the concept of “mode of production” as a way that a society is structured to produce the necessities of life. It has two important aspects; “the forces of production” and “the relations of production”. The forces of production contain all gathering materials which put them to work in the process of production. The point is that the potential of these forces are put into operation only when individuals in the society come into the relations of production (Morrison 2006). So, since the goal of an ensemble (as a social unit) is making (producing) music, the “mode of production” appears. If I consider the members of an ensemble as the “forces of production” then the “relations of production” appears when the members gather to make music. The question is how the “relations” in an ensemble (social unit) are shaped? Referring to Marx, I answer this question with the concept of ‘class’. The resulted relations of production make a domain that one class always control the other (Morrison 2006). In this regard, by considering the “mode of production”, I divide the improvisation ensemble into two categories: actual improvisation and pre-composed improvisation ensemble. Furthermore, by employing the aspect of “relations of production” with respect to the concept of “class” in the second category, I divide this category into two sub-categories: Pre-composed improvisation ensemble with the class conception and pre-composed improvisation ensemble without the class conception.

Noh, Eunkyung (Michigan State University)

“Gaspar Cassadó; Spanish-Catalan identity in Suite for Violoncello Solo”

In recent days, few know of Gaspar Cassadó and his achievements even though he was revered as one of greatest cellists and talented composer of early twentieth century. He gained the same respect as his teacher and mentor, Pablo Casals, however, it seem to be certain that his fame was undermined severely, when Casals’s accused him of being a supporter of fascism to a reporter for the the New York Times. Thus, my presentation will discover the significance of Cassadó, acknowledging his styles of work and his Spanish-Catalan identity in his piece. Cassadó also was a talented composer, with broad knowledge of all the technical possibilities of cello. The Suite for Violoncello Solo, is one of the most successful of his 80 compositions and transcriptions; it displays structure of composition, and virtuosic cello technique. In this piece, not only his Catalan identity, but also his Spanish heritage is embedded through the use of folk-style melodies and dance rhythms. The exploitation of the Catalan folk dance Sardana, and flamenco from Andalusia is the main feature of this piece. Furthermore, Cassadó used many aspects of the instrument including its five octave range, umbral effects of harmonics, double stops, chords, and grace notes to imitate characteristics of traditional Spanish music. Because it is demanding work, performers might be tempted to focus on the technical challenges of the work. However, performers should also have the knowledge of Spanish Catalan characteristics. Therefore, I would like to talk about the features which can be helpful for understanding the expression of Cassadó’s Suite for Violoncello Solo, and suggest effective methods for playing the difficult parts of the piece, while also pointing out places to highlight the Spanish-Catalan features.

 

Northlich-Redmond, Will (University of Alberta)

“Multimedia Lecture-Recital”

I compose electronic music that is characteristically dense and unpredictable. I subsequently perform my compositions which involves improvisation, vocal performance, body movement, and software programs in conjunction with versatile MIDI controllers. The results reveal exciting possibilities for inclusion of ancillary media. My primary artistic focus, as well as the focus of my doctoral research, is to redesign my composer-performer aesthetic as a unique multimedia enterprise capable of immersing an audience in a fervent world of sound and motion. In my experience in electronic music, musicians and video artists function separately while attempting to achieve a similar aesthetic goal. This creates a divide between two highly expressive mediums that could find an ideal union when performed by one individual. Within my new “model,” the composer retains authority over both composition and performance of material from dual perspectives of sight and sound. The result is a significantly unified and personalized artistic statement, offering possibilities to expand the creative capacity of the composer-performer. This model has the potential to generate unique situations for working with traditional musical structures – chamber works, large scale orchestral compositions, operatic productions – with modern technological elements such as MIDI, touch-screen interfaces, and software programming. Furthermore, the cross-pollination of traditional and contemporary processes would allow for the re-contextualization of theoretical concepts (e.g. music theory, compositional practice), instrumental design, improvisation, and performance gesture as it relates to electronic music. My lecture-recital for the 2017 NCounters Conference will involve a preview of my future doctoral thesis composition: a dynamic audio-visual performance controlled solely by myself. My compositions will function as the focal point for improvisatory activity (e.g. sonic manipulation, coordinated videography, gestural accompaniment), effectively blurring the line between spontaneity and pre-composition.

 

Ojakovo, Oghenevwarho G. (University of Alberta)

“Music and Politics: Dialectics of Gender Construction in the 2016 Post-American Presidential Election”

The 2016 American election presents new political narratives about the identity of women in contemporary American society. They are often politically charged narratives, which are expressed through popular music during and after the post-election period to make a statement about a new America. There is ample evidence to argue that this way of new narratives about women is moving out of America and affecting other parts of the world. This paper examines the potency of music in making political statement for the rights, and the equal political participation of women in the post-Trump era. Focusing on the recent “Women March” at Government Centre, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, I ask a series of questions: of what relevance are the women’s protest songs in making political statement? Do these songs in any way contribute to our understanding of how the study of music and gender intersect? Can the Canadian national anthem, which we sing to reinforce the spirit of oneness, a bond that unites all be used for such political purpose? My presentation deals with these questions.

 

Omolaye, Bamidele V. (Obafemi Awolowo University)

“Modern Trends in Juju Music: A Study of Shina Peters”

From early 1990, Jùjú music has continued to experience tremendous changes in concept, practice and instrumental delivery. This is due to the performing flexibility and artistic creativity of the musicians in meeting the audience’s taste and satisfaction. This study traces the history of Jùjú music and examines its developmental changes with regards to hybridization of some musical instruments and materials both traditional and Western used in Shina Peters’ style of Juju music. The study employs both the historical and descriptive methods to examine the modern trends of Jùjú music. The recorded albums of Shina Peters’ “Afro-Juju Series1 and Shinamania Afro-Juju Series 2” were analysed in order to justify, specifically, the modern trends and developments in his style of Jùjú music. Review of relevant literatures such as books, journal articles, magazines and the Internet were also consulted. The results inter alia, show that the emergence of Shina Peters’ style of music which is the fusion of Afro (Afro beat) and Jùjú with the use of electric trap-set and the application of Yamaha ‘D-50’synthesizer keyboard resulted in what is known as “Afro-Jùjú”. The study therefore concludes that in spite of the application of Western musical instruments as evidenced in the performance practice of Shina Peters’ style of Juju music, the originality and its characteristic traits remain essentially a Nigeria popular music genre.

 

Parvar, Hossein (University of Alberta)

 

Rezania, Mehdi (University of Alberta)

“The Contemporary Santur Playing of Iranian Musician Ardavan Kamkar”

In the 1980s, Ardavan Kamkar, an exceptionally talented santur player and composer, changed the style of santur performance at a very young age. Over the 20th century, the santur had became one of the main instruments of Persian classical music due to its ability to allow musicians to create variety of styles in performing it. Throughout his decades-long career, Kamkar has continued to innovate in elements of santur performance, from techniques and forms to new tuning systems. Most uniquely, he has used material outside of the radif (the classical Persian music repertoire), [including the folk songs of his native Kurdish heritage and western compositional techniques]. These elements have made Kamkar’s innovations controversial and unorthodox amongst other musicians but popular among the younger generation of musicians who were born and grew up after the Islamic Revolution of 1979. In this article I will explore and analyze Kamkar’s music using his published and unpublished works and my interactions with him as his student. I argue that the multi-layered identity of his compositions and innovations are the result of his extraordinary period when he grew up in the post-revolutionary Iran. His hybrid compositions address the challenges of his generation from tradition, modernity, ethnicity, globalization and war to the social and political barriers. Ardavan Kamkar’s career has harnessed the flux of our rapidly changing world in a society that tradition and modernity are still heated controversial topics. Ardavan Kamkar along with Ostad Faramarz Payvar and Ostad Parviz Meshkatian have become the triangle that have shaped the repertoire and the method of today’s santur playing

Scoleri, Arthur (University of Iowa)

 “Alcina and the Illusory Heart: Exploring Gender and Emotion in G.F. Handel’s Opera Seria”

In Katie Mitchell’s 2015 production of Georg Frideric Handel’s Alcina (1735), a traditionally fantastical staging was foregone in favor of contemporary realism. In doing do, the production heightened the opera’s humanistic qualities and brought Handel’s inherently diverse representations of gender and sexuality into the immediate foreground. Through both musical and textual analysis, this paper addresses these oft-forgotten narrative elements. Further, It highlights the unconventional characterizations of Ruggiero and the women between whom he is caught, Alcina and Bradamante. In seducing Ruggiero, Alcina, Handel’s Baroque witch, develops uncharacteristic affections for her captive. Though spellbound, the once-valiant knight refuses to return her romantic sentiments, instead favoring more carnal pleasures. Fortunately, Ruggiero’s fiancée Bradamante—disguised “en travesti”—arrives to restore his morals and masculinity, thus preventing Alcina’s wrath. By subverting common character archetypes, Handel challenges audience expectations. Furthermore, he underscores these depictions by assigning his characters musical motives typical of the opposite sex or character type. Alcina does not define herself through the usual virtuosic and vengeful projections, instead defaulting to the tender “Ah! Mio cor.” Likewise, Ruggiero’s arias are far from conventional heroics while under Alcina’s enchantment. Specifically, the breadth of Ruggiero’s character development is understood through the extremes of the impetuous “La bocca vaga” and its opposite, the introspective “Mi lusinga il dolce affetto.” Handel represents his characters unconventionally in terms of gender both in text and music, and his composition in turn creates space for the audience to experience emotion and desire outside contemporaneous restrictions of gender.

Tenzer Michael (University of British Columbia)

“Three Polyphonic Homonyms”

Three musical homonym-pairs—vocal duets from Croatia and Eastern Indonesia, hocketed instrumental music from Bali and Uganda, and ensemble compositions from France and Japan— are analyzed to discover features both similar and distinct. As homonyms they each display remarkable psychoacoustic and structural connections, but there are also many incompatibilities in context, concept, and structure. The exercise stimulates comparative thought about polyphony as a worldwide phenomenon, especially its relationships to means of subsistence and technology. The paper also considers the three pairs in comparison to one another, questioning the possible explanations for the various features described, their genealogies, and the consequences of all this for the study of music history, particularly its deep history and origins.

Umezurike Uchechukwu and Madueke Sylvia (University of Alberta)

“Yori-Yori: Music and Happiness in Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah”

Music is integral to understanding the Nigerian identity, and it plays a strong unifying social role in the national life. The typical Nigerian street is usually abuzz with songs much of the day, and bars and shops often blare out songs throughout the night. Yet music seems to have not formed a central point of reference in much of contemporary Nigerian fiction. Indeed, there are few representations of music in Nigerian novels. What might account for this under-representation?

Why are Nigerian novelists paying scant attention to the place of music in their works? In answering these questions, the paper will examine Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Americanah, a novel that exemplifies some representations of music, and the musical genres represented in the text. It will also ascertain the relevance of music to the narrative, while highlighting the ways in which music circulates in the text. Drawing on Sara Ahmed’s theorisation on Affect, the paper argues that music functions as a happy object that ‘sticks’ people together, interpellates them as happy subjects, and constitutes them in a bond of positive future.

 

Zhang Jingyi (University of Bloomington)

“Exploration of Cross-Cultural Synthesis in Chen Qi Gang’s Compositions”

Chen Qigang, a lesser known Chinese-French composer who is the contemporary of Zhou Long and Chen Yi, rose to prominence in recent years since his appointment as Music Director for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games. As the last student of Olivier Messiaen, one is able to discover imprints of both Eastern and Western elements in his compositions. Chen’s encounter with Messiaen exposed him to novel compositional concepts and developed him as a composer. Chen regarded Messiaen as his greatest inspiration and Messiaen was an active promoter of Chen’s works. He once commented that Chen’s works show “real inventiveness” and reflects “a total assimilation of Chinese thinking to European musical concepts.” The nature of east-meets-west musical fusion has always been a source of fascination for musicologists as it pertains to the integration of two totally independent musical identities, creating a completely new musical idiom. In my paper, I aim to explore the distinctive and multi-varied procedures Chen undertook in the assimilation of both cultures and musical idioms by looking at his Instants d’un Opéra de Pékin (Moments from a Peking Opera), which represents the harmonious synthesis of the Chinese Peking operatic idiom and modern European compositional thinking and procedures. Chen’s Wu Xing (The Five Elements) explores the five-fold philosophical scheme used by the Chinese to shed light on the workings of the cosmo as well as the functioning of the human body and soul. In selecting these two important works by Chen, I will be focusing on the various compositional levels and approaches Chen undertook in the reconciliation of national and international traits, how the European musical model is reshaped and reinterpreted through the lens of Chinese thinking as well as how Chen manages to arrive at a distinctive voice that represents the fusion of cross-cultural elements.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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