The Music, Language, and Culture Workshop

Winter 2018


Please find below EthNoise’s meetings for Winter 2018. We meet in Goodspeed Hall 205 from 4.30-6pm on Thursdays. All are welcome to attend!


1/18 Herbert Quelle (German Consul General, Chicago) – Monika’s Blues: On the Trail of the German Harmonica and African American Blues Culture

Walter, a 70-year old German-American retired teacher, travels from his hometown in Chicago to the Mississippi Delta. On the way he befriends an African-American family who share his interest in the importance of the harmonica in Blues music. Walter’s conversations with them and his frequent inner-monologues communicate facts and figures about the history of the instrument, the Blues and exemplary Blues harmonica players. These are interwoven with historical events relevant for the freedom struggle of African Americans.


2/15 Nadia Chana (Music) – dissertation chapter: “New Tools for the North: Rereading Nanook through Tanya Tagaq”


2/22 Joe Maurer (Music) – “Voice, Nostalgia, and the Singing Pirate”

This paper analyzes the “pirate voice” as a musical feature of the contemporary pop culture pirate. I argue that this aural construction developed in part through the influence of 19th-century sea chanteys and the maritime nostalgia of the 20th-century United States. The fantastical pirate is a common figure in 21st-century popular culture. One integral yet seldom-examined element in this phenomenon is the use of song to establish the pirate character. These songs feature in Disney’s multibillion-dollar Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, but they also play prominent roles in media ranging from video games—most notably Assassin’s Creed IV, which sold over 11 million copies—to comedy, as Key & Peele’s “Pirate Chantey” music video has been viewed nearly 5 million times on YouTube. This paper builds on previous scholarship analyzing the sea chantey singing voice within the U.S. maritime revival movement (Carr 2006, 2009). I also draw on historical accounts of the sea chantey voice (Smith 1888, Bone 1932), media analysis, and my own fieldwork with present-day maritime musicians to argue for an understanding of the pirate singing voice as a phenomenon rooted in nostalgia for the nation’s maritime past. That actual maritime history of shipping, whaling, and harsh conditions is replaced by romanticized pirates in the historical imagination—a sleight of hand enabled in part by song. This paper demonstrates how the seemingly lighthearted pop culture pirate phenomenon is intertwined with the history of maritime work songs, pre-industrial nostalgia, and music revival in the United States.


3/1 Will Buckingham (Music) – dissertation chapter: “Collecting Décimas: Samuel G. Armistead and the Isleño Heritage Revival”




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