The Music, Language, and Culture Workshop

January 31, 2012
by wfaber

February 2nd, Rachel Adelstein

Please join us at the Ethnoise! workshop this Thursday, February 2nd at 4:30, in Goodspeed Hall room 205.  We will welcome Rachel Adelstein (PhD Candidate, U Chicago, Ethnomusicology) as she presents “Kol Isha:  Jewish Women’s Voices In Prayer And Song”

Abstract: This presentation traces the paths by which women’s singing voices found their way into the contemporary non-Orthodox synagogue.  I address the sources of traditional Jewish cultural objections to women singing in public, many of which are still in force in traditional societies today.  I draw on historical sources to demonstrate how women gradually claimed space and presence in public sonic spaces so that their eventual emergence as cantors occurred with relatively little resistance.  I discuss the physical challenges that women liturgical singers faced upon encountering a beloved repertoire composed specifically for the male voice, and I draw on ethnographic research to show some of the ways that women have adapted to the vocal challenges of the contemporary cantorate.

Rachel Adelstein, PhD candidate in Ethnomusicology at the University of Chicago, holds a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin, where she wrote her thesis on music as a carrier of Holocaust memory. Her current research interests include contemporary Jewish liturgical music, American vernacular music, and issues of gender and women’s agency. In her spare time, she is a shape-note singer and a Scottish country dancer, and has recently taken up the gaohu (the soprano Chinese violin).

We look forward to seeing you there.

Photos: Hazzan Arlyne Unger (top) and performing khaznte Bas Sheva in the film Catskill Honeymoon (bottom)


January 24, 2012
by wfaber

Jan 26th, Nitasha Tamar Sharma

Please join us for an upcoming Ethnoise! workshop on Thursday, January 26th, at 4:30 in Goodspeed Hall, Room 402.

Dr. Nitasha Sharma (Assistant Professor of African American Studies and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University) will present a paper titled “Post-9/11 Brown: U.S. South Asian Rappers and a Critique of U.S. Empire.”

This talk draws from Dr. Sharma’s decade-long ethnographic research on South Asian American, or desi, hip hop artists. This multimedia presentation expands her book’s focus on South Asian/Black relations to a transnational scale by drawing upon recent examples of music made by desi rappers who make links with revolutions in the Middle East and North Africa. Dr. Sharma is an Assistant Professor of African American Studies and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University and she is the author of Hip Hop Desis (Duke University Press, 2010).


January 10, 2012
by wfaber

Jan 12th, Nathan Bakkum

Please join us for our second Ethnoise! workshop of the quarter.

We welcome Nathan Bakkum (Director of Musicology, Columbia College Chicago).  He will present a paper titled:

“Out But In: Between Discourse and Practice in a London Jazz Quartet.”

The discourse surrounding the production of “authentic” jazz has long coded the music as a product of African-American communities, focused on apprenticeship and live performance as primary educational modes. This discourse marks American musicians as insiders while forcing improvisers of other nationalities into hyphenated, hybridized musical identities. For the young British jazz quartet Empirical, this outsider status has not halted a focused, sustained, personal engagement with the jazz tradition. The ensemble’s 2009 recording, Out ’n’ In, presents eleven performances based on the music of Eric Dolphy. Rather than presenting a repertory project, Empirical undertakes a modern re-imagining of Dolphy’s work, based on a consideration of the processes and relationships undergirding the original recordings. The group sidesteps the traditional apprenticeship model, looking to recordings as their primary sources for understanding of the tradition. While their outsider status informs their reverent, intimate relationship with their source materials, Empirical’s intense, practical study has led the group to a collective understanding of experimentation and play as central ideologies demonstrated within Dolphy’s music. Through ethnographic and musicological analysis, this article explores several ways in which Empirical bridges the gap between these discursive and performative worlds through their active engagement with the jazz canon.
Nathan Bakkum serves as Director of Musicology at Columbia College Chicago, where he teaches courses in music history and popular music studies (including rock, jazz, and hip-hop) and coordinates the department’s offerings in music history and music appreciation. He holds a Ph.D. in History and Theory of Music (2009) and an M.A. in Ethnomusicology (2006) from the University of Chicago, an M.Mus. (2002) in Double Bass from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a B.Mus. (1999) in Music Education from DePaul University.  His research interests include jazz historiography, the production and reception of musical recordings, and intersections between history and anthropology. As a bassist, he has studied with jazz legend Richard Davis and Chicago jazz stalwart Larry Gray.

Thursday, January 12, 4:30
Goodspeed Hall, Room 205

Persons who believe they may need assistance to participate in this event, please call Will Faber in advance at 773.987.5299.


January 3, 2012
by wfaber

Jan 5th, Alisha Lola Jones

Please join us for the first Ethnoise! of the winter quarter.  Alisha Lola Jones (U Chicago) will present “‘This Prayer Is UnSpoken’: Breaking Silence and Negotiating Queerness in Black Gospel Performance.”

This paper examines performances and discourses of two gospel artists,
Ton3x and Jungle Cat, who embody longstanding tensions and
contradictions concerning queerness and black Christian identity.
Through a comparative description and analysis, I argue that these men
attempt to break the silence around issues of sexuality that persists
among gospel practitioners. Silence breaking is, in many ways, a
highly creative act through which these gospel artists launch
critiques and renegotiate their identities through social media.
Expressing a progressive black Pentecostal masculinity through musical
gesture and sound, they intentionally push boundaries of gender
identity while carving out new social and spiritual “homes” through
bodily performance. In so doing, they also give voice to “unspoken”
forms of gospel praise.

We will convene at 4:30 on Thursday, Jan 5th in Goodspeed 205.

Persons who believe they may need assistance to participate in this event, please call Will Faber in advance at 773.987.5299.