The Music, Language, and Culture Workshop

October 18 – SEM Conference Dry-Runs

Please join us Thursday, October 18 at 4:30 pm in Goodspeed 205 as we help some of our own prepare for the showdown in New Orleans! Papers will be presented by Alisha Lola Jones and Michael O’Toole. As always, refreshments will be served.


“This Prayer Is UnSpoken”: Redefining Faith, Blasphemy, and Authentic Worship through Musical Performance – Jones

Throughout his 2009 recording, UnSpoken, the Pentecostal artist TON3X explores the queer practices that he believes are embedded in Christianity. Although these practices are generally not discussed in most Pentecostal churches or on contemporary gospel recordings, TON3X uses lyrics to illustrate the kind of honesty toward which he believes Christians should strive. For TON3X, such transparency about specific personal triumphs amounts to a form of authentic worship. To worship God “in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24) is thus a radical exploration of matters that are not set apart for a particular socioreligious context outside of worship but that have particular saliency within a Christian frame. In this paper, I examine TON3X’s demonstration of worship “in spirit and in truth.” We will consider the extent to which his musical interpretation of authentic worship evokes a less sexually restrictive performance of faith and the re-appropriation of “blasphemy” as a tool for spiritual education and worship.

Rehearsing Publics in a ‘Turkish Art Music’ Ensemble in Berlin – O’Toole

How are publics imagined through the practices of rehearsal? How does the rehearsal space itself constitute a form of imagining a public? Ethnomusicological studies of publics, drawing upon the work of Michael Warner and Charles Hirschkind, have tended to focus on how publics are constituted in and through musical performance as well as media forms such as radio and recordings. And yet crucial to the formation of publics through performance are the ways in which publics are imagined and represented in the practice of rehearsing for a performance. In this paper, I will consider the ways in which a variety of potential publics are imagined and represented in the rehearsals of an amateur ensemble for Turkish Art Music in Berlin, Germany. Drawing on participant observation at rehearsals and concerts, as well as interviews with ensemble members, I will argue that the activity of rehearsing enables participants in this ensemble to imagine themselves as members of multiple publics, as well as to situate the ensemble itself as a form of public-making. I will argue that this process of public-making through rehearsing is crucial to understanding the political context of musical practice for Turkish Germans in Berlin, where the formation of publics is deeply intertwined with local constructions of ethnic, religious, and musical difference. By imagining multiple forms of local, national, and diasporic publics through the practices of rehearsing, performers of Turkish Art Music in Berlin can craft varied interventions in struggles over the representation of identity and citizenship in contemporary Germany.


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