April 15, 2021
Join us this evening at 5:00pm for a workshop presentation by PhD Candidate Hannah Rogers!
Abstract: In retrospect, Mardi Gras 2020 marked the beginning of the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic in New Orleans. Murmurs about the virus circulated here as elsewhere, but at the time the threat itself seemed still distant, even as thousands of visitors arrived from all parts of the country, and even from beyond its borders. Mardi Gras 2021, then, was a chance to revisit not only the city’s strategy for containing the pandemic, but also to see whether the trope of resilience so prevalent in New Orleans’ image could prevail under such circumstances. A year into the crisis, with great loss of life and wages already behind it, how would New Orleans muster the Mardi Gras spirit? In this excursus, I grapple with the silence of Mardi Gras 2021 and the limitations of the national and international mediation of New Orleans as an exceptional site of resilience.
April 8, 2021
Join us this evening for a presentation from visiting professor Dr. Sylvia Alajaji!
“Legibility and its Discontents: Reflections on the Cacophonies of the Armenian Diaspora”
This talk will serve as a meditation on what, in essence, is an epistemological question: what is Armenian music? It is a question whose ripples extend far: into the nature of Armenian identity itself and the ways Armenian subjectivity has been constructed across time and place. Central to this question is the work of the beloved Armenian composer and folklorist Komitas Vardapet (1869-1935). He is a figure who not only has come to represent the very possibility of an “Armenian music” but, through the ways he has been written about, memorialized, and made central to the Armenian musical imaginary, has come to represent the possibility of an Armenia made whole.
But what is the sound of this whole—its contours, textures, and limits? And what is the meaning of that sound for a diaspora marked by its multiplicities and its varied (dis)connections to the nation-state of Armenia? Through an engagement with the discourses surrounding the life and work of Komitas, this talk will reflect on the implications of his centrality to the Armenian musical imaginary and how, through this centrality, the Armenian diaspora is made to emerge as an entity—as a Diaspora—its cacophonies and incommensurabilities subsumed into a legible whole. In examining the implicit elisions, alignments, orientations, and histories that attend such articulations, it becomes apparent that Diaspora, with its promises of clarity, stability, and knowability, is a construction that both maintains and needs maintaining and one that finds its legibility in the expanse of the Western gaze.
February 16, 2021
This talk continues the project of our research on country duo Karl & Harty’s song “Kentucky” (1941), which over the two or three decades after WWII became a staple, familiar number in the country and bluegrass songbook. We examine versions of the song by the Blue Sky Boys (1947), the Louvin Brothers (1956), Homer & Jethro (1957), and the Everly Brothers (1958); a number of these seem to have spawned distinct cover lineages in the 1960s–1970s and after. We then focus on the Blue Sky Boys, whose four recorded versions of the song (1947, 1949, 1963, 1964) provide fascinating windows into their performance practices, artistic choices, and commercial compromises with the country music industry that they demonstrated and negotiated over the course of their career. As in our initial study, our arguments here focus on the problems of racialization in “Kentucky”: the different lineages illustrate a variety of ways in which racial and ethnic style markers suppress, affirm, or amplify the multiracial/multiethnic dimensions of the original song. In the case of the Blue Sky Boys in particular, their strong aesthetic preferences (seemingly inseparable from their religious and personal values) reimagined the song as a purified expression of rural Appalachian whiteness.
Join us tonight on Zoom!
January 28, 2021
Join us tonight at 5:00 pm as we workshop PhD candidate David Wilson’s paper, “Diplomatic Dances: The White-Haired Girl’s Journey from Revolutionary Classic to Post-Mao Palimpsest.”
The Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) is often regarded as one of modern China’s most isolated periods. Furthermore, it is often regarded as quite separate from the historical periods that precede and follow it. As such, it is easy to forget that the Cultural Revolution was deeply formed by its historical antecedents, and that China was a key player in the rapidly shifting global politics of the 1960s and 1970s. This paper investigates the Shanghai Ballet’s 1977 tour of Canada, and the company’s overseas performances of the iconic revolutionary ballet The White-Haired Girl, as a way of situating China in its global historical and political context in the period immediately following Chairman Mao’s death.
We look forward to seeing you tonight!
January 14, 2021
Welcome back to Winter Quarter! Join us tonight at 5:00 pm for a panel presentation discussing the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the classical music world. We’ll be hearing from:
Audrey Slote: “Sounding Resilience: Freelance Musicians in the Time of COVID-19”
Melani Shahin: “Rehearsing Together Alone: An Examination of Virtually Mediated Music-Making and Socialization in College Orchestras during the COVID-19 Pandemic”
The COVID-19 pandemic presents unique challenges for performers and scholars of music. Restrictions on travel and gatherings have led to necessary adaptations in the ways we produce and consume music, particularly classical music. Many classical musicians face an unprecedented level of precarity in their careers. Yet for many of us, music and the arts feel more essential than ever before. The resilience and determination of performing musicians to continue making and sharing their art stands out against a bleak backdrop of uncertainty and isolation.
We look forward to seeing you tonight!
December 3, 2020
Please join us this evening at 5:00 pm for the final EthNoise! of the fall quarter!
“Forgetting, Forgetting, Forgetting: Recording the Wounded Dialectic in Heiner Müller and Heiner Goebbels’s Wolokolamsker Chaussee“
The teaching piece (Lehrstück) and radio play, Wolokolamsker Chaussee (Volokolamsk Highway), was created by the East German playwright, Heiner Müller, in the waning years of the Cold War. Müller had long collaborated with the West German composer, Heiner Goebbels, so it was hardly surprising that they should again work together to transform the radio play into a recording that would be broadcast during the months of transition from the Fall of the Wall to German reunification (1989–90). Recordings of the performances, made at different radio stations in the West and East, were engineered by the ECM recording studio and released as an LP that metaphorically sounded the healing and further collapse of modern German and European identities. It is the ECM recording itself—a passing record of history—that is the subject of a new monograph by Phil Bohlman in the Bloomsbury series dedicated to reflections on single popular-music albums, “33 1/3.” The recording itself raises multiple ontological questions about the nature of a musical and dramatic work that exists only as a recording, sutured together from multiple fragments of text, narratives, and genres of music. Reimagined in traditional epic style, Wolokolamsker Chaussee is a parable of modernity and the violence it brings to history and humankind.
Hannah Judd, a PhD student in ethnomusicology, will serve as the respondent. You can join us on Zoom
(password: modern). We look forward to seeing you then!
November 12, 2020
This evening, EthNoise is excited to welcome Dr. Elliott H. Powell for a presentation on his recent publication, Sounds from the Other Side: Afro-South Asian Collaborations in Black Popular Music.
Elliott H. Powell is a Beverly and Richard Fink Professor in Liberal Arts and Associate Professor of American Studies and Asian American Studies at the University of Minnesota. He is an interdisciplinary scholar of U.S. popular music, race, sexuality, and politics. His first book brings together critical race, feminist, and queer theories to consider the political implications of African American and South Asian collaborative music-making practices in U.S.-based Black Popular Music since the 1960s. In particular, the project investigates these cross-cultural exchanges in relation to larger global and domestic sociohistorical junctures that linked African American and South Asian diasporic communities, and argues that these Afro-South Asian cultural productions constitute dynamic, complex, and at times contradictory sites of comparative racialization, transformative gender and queer politics, and anti-imperial political alliances.
Dr. Powell will be in conversation with Thalea Stokes, a Ph.D. Candidate in Ethnomusicology at the University of Chicago.
You can join us tonight at 5:00pm on Zoom (password: miles).
November 5, 2020
Take a break from refreshing the news and join us tonight at 5:00 pm for a panel presentation on the contemporary challenges and possibilities of ethnographic fieldwork. We’ll be hearing from:
Fiona Boyd: “Negotiating Curatorial and Artistic Relevance through Performance and Space on NPR’s Tiny Desk and Tiny Desk (Home) Concert Series”
Erol Koymen: “Ethnography in Distinctive Virtual Spaces: The 2020 Istanbul Music Festival”
How have music scholars’ research questions and methodologies had to adapt in light of the current pandemic? What new possibilities are afforded by socially-distant approaches to musicking, and what new tools and resources become available or necessary? How has the role of the ethnographer changed in its transition to the virtual realm? Join us on Zoom
(password: fieldwork) for a lively discussion of the contemporary moment and its implications for our work as scholars.
October 5, 2020
Welcome back to the 2020-21 academic year! This year, EthNoise! is meeting entirely online via Zoom. We kicked off our EthNoise! season early with two summer sessions, where we heard from several of the students who will be presenting at this year’s Society for Ethnomusicology annual conference. This Thursday, join us for the final round of dry-runs, where we’ll be hearing from:
Joseph Maurer: “Nonprofit Organizations, Music, and Heritage in Immigrant Chicago”
David Wilson: “Diplomatic Dances: Ideology and Reception in the Shanghai Ballet’s 1977 Canadian Tour”
You can find the Zoom link here
(password: SEM3). A brief note that this session will be recorded. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or concerns before then, and we look forward to seeing you!
November 15, 2019
For the final EthNoise of the quarter, we are excited to welcome back history PhD candidate Jun Lee to present “Dual History of Utagoe: The Cases of Utagoe Kissa, 1995 to the Present.” Jun will be presenting the introduction to the final section of his dissertation, and will discuss the link between Utagoe, a mass singing movement in post-War Japan, and commercial coffeehouses that provide a space to perform this movement’s repertoire. The chapter he is presenting can be found here. The password is Utagoe.
Jun Hee Lee is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at the University of Chicago. His doctoral dissertation, titled “A Singing Voice for Our Times: the Utagoe Movement in Postwar Japan and Processes of History-Making,” follows two musical phenomena in post-World War II Japan: Nihon no Utagoe (Singing Voice of Japan), a singing movement that has maintained varying degrees of relationship with the Japan Communist Party, labor unions, socialist states, and musical professionals; utagoe kissa (“singing voice café”), a singing venue where patrons could sing songs together with instrumental accompaniment, whose repertoire included songs born from or introduced by the Utagoe movement.