The Music, Language, and Culture Workshop

April 27, 2015
by nchana

April 30 – Margaret Walker at EthNoise!

Please join us on Thursday, April 30 for a workshop co-sponsored by SASI (South Asian Sound Initiatives): Margaret Walker will give a talk entitled “From Salaam to Pranaam: The Sanskritization of North Indian Dance.” Please find an abstract below.

In preparation for the discussion, Margaret encourages us to read in advance her recent chapter in The Oxford Handbook of Musical Revival. (Please check your email for the password and link or email

As always, we will meet from 4:30-6pm in Goodspeed 205. Our workshop is open to the public and all are welcome.


From Salaam to Pranaam: The Sanskritization of North Indian Dance

There is an unquestioned and widely disseminated understanding about the performing arts of India. Ancient, devotional, sacred, they have, in spite of various foreign influences, global dispersion, and individual creativity, remained faithful to their roots in Hindu ritual. Recent research in a number of classical dances tells a different story, however, showing this accepted history to be a creation of the 20th-century national revival, when music and dance were gentrified and Sanskritized so they could be detached from their roots in the 18th and 19th-centuries and accepted by the rising middle class as national treasures. My research has specifically focused on investigating this type of revisionist history in the dance genre now called kathak, the classical dance of North India. While the reading I’ve suggested covers the larger socio-historical context of the revival, my presentation will focus further on some of the actual changes in repertoire and performance practice that took place as kathak moved into the public arena as new, ancient marker of Independent and bourgeois Indian identity.

April 17, 2015
by nchana

April 23 – Lauren Eldridge at EthNoise!

Please join us on Thursday, April 23 for a presentation and discussion with Lauren Eldridge. The talk is entitled “Racing Genre: Choral Performances of an Authentic Haiti.” Please find an abstract below.

As always, we will meet at 4:30pm in Goodspeed 205. Our workshop is open to the public and all are welcome.


Racing Genre: Choral Performances of an Authentic Haiti

Art music composed by people of Haitian descent has a long legacy throughout the diaspora, but several recent performances have recently fired the imaginations of listeners, challenging them to consider their relationship to Haiti. This presentation examines the performative tensions that arise within these spaces, and in the discursive zone between two mutually constitutive genres: mizik klasik and foklò. Highlighting the role of these genres in two performances of “N’ap Debat,” a choral composition by Sydney Guillaume that holds as its subject the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, I argue that musicians and their audiences are engaging in complex contests of meaning regarding the authenticity of the music and the identities of those present. They are, in this sense, both “racing” against genre and “racing” the actual genres by deploying an array of social strategies to recompose both nation and self. Mizik klasik (roughly, “classical music”) encompasses Western European-style art music. Foklò denotes a wide range of expressive practices that include depictions of Haitian history and Vodou. Since the early twentieth century, composers of mizik klasik have incorporated references to foklò into their work. Meanwhile, the principal patrons of foklò have been cultural elites trained in mizik klasik. The performances reviewed in this presentation, one in Michigan and one in Mirebalais, challenge auditors toward more nuanced understandings of authenticity. By racing (against) genre, musicians and their audiences take part in a performance at the crossroads of group identity and self.

April 3, 2015
by nchana

April 9 – Ibby Grace and Michael Bakan at EthNoise!

Please join us Thursday, April 9 for “Thinking in Music”: A Dialogue between Autistic Self-Advocate Ibby Grace and Ethnomusicologist Michael Bakan. Please find the abstract below.

In preparation for the discussion, Michael Bakan encourages you to read his recent article in Ethnomusicology: “‘Don’t Go Changing to Try and Please Me’: Combating Essentialism Through Ethnography in the Ethnomusicology of Autism,” which will serve as a prelude to the discussion.  (Please check your email for the password and link or email

We will meet from 4:30-6:00pm in Goodspeed 205. As always, our workshop is open to the public and all are welcome.


“Thinking in Music”: A Dialogue between Autistic Self-Advocate Ibby Grace and Ethnomusicologist Michael Bakan 

“I sort of ‘think in music’ in the same way Temple Grandin says she ‘thinks in pictures,’” writes the Autistic scholar, professor, activist, and musician Dr. Elizabeth J. “Ibby” Grace. “Sometimes in order to think, I structure the thoughts into [something] more like music, or they do themselves like that….This enables me socially in ways I would have no chance of access to without [music]….”

What does it mean to “think in music” from an Autistic perspective? How can music enable social efficacy and reciprocity on the part of neurodivergent individuals, especially those who may find other modes of communicative expression and exchange—speaking, conversational interaction, and gestural communication foremost among them—to be not only challenging but positively disenabling? How is music employed to “harmonize” language and the self in the experiential world of an Autistic person who describes herself as one who thinks not in words or in pictures, but rather in music?

These are some of the questions that were addressed in a series of online dialogues between Ibby Grace and the ethnomusicologist Michael Bakan over the course of a six-month period in 2014. The transcripts of these dialogues form the basis of a chapter on Grace in Bakan’s forthcoming book, “Speaking of Music: Conversations with Autistic Thinkers.” This EthNoise session provides an opportunity for Grace and Bakan to engage in a live dialogue of reflection and exploration centered on the documented record of their previous online exchanges. The format will involve Bakan presenting selected passages from the online dialogue transcripts of the book and inviting Grace to respond to and comment upon them. This will open up avenues for further discussion between the two presenters, and in turn with the other workshop participants.

“Speaking of Music” is not a book about dialogues or based on dialogues; it is a book of dialogues. Here that book’s dialogical and agentive priorities will be extended to encompass the intertextuality of the actual work with both the collaborative partners responsible for its creation and a community of scholars and activist thinkers—the EthNoise community—that is ideally positioned to critically engage with and advance the larger project of an ethnomusicology of autism and neurodiversity.


Michael Bakan is Professor of Ethnomusicology and Head of World Music in the College of Music at Florida State University.

Elizabeth J. Grace is Assistant Professor of Disability and Equity in Education in the College of Education at National-Louis University.