The Music, Language, and Culture Workshop

October 2, 2023
by emilywilliams

Society for Ethnomusicology Dry-Run Presentations
Join us in preparing to present in Ottawa!
October 5th and 12th – Cobb 115 – 5:00pm
Refreshments will be provided

October 5th:
(Re)orienting Improvisation: Ethics, Community, and Alternative Epistemologies of Creative Practice: A Roundtable
Varshini Narayanan – (individual paper title forthcoming)
Jonah Francese – “Rabbit Invents the Saxophone”: Indigenous Modes of Improvisation through Storytelling

This roundtable can be understood as a series of provocations to rethink the category of “improvisation” as a means of circumscribing musical traditions. Scholars such as Bonnie Wade (1973) have long since unsettled the Eurocentric dichotomy of improvisation and composition in the context of Indian classical music; more recently, MacDonald and Wilson’s (2016) qualitative study of free jazz ascribes varying degrees of agency to musicians within the improvising ensemble, furthering this conceptual rupture. The panelists for this discussion use “alternative epistemologies of improvisation” as a point of departure to challenge hegemonic definitions of improvisation in ethnomusicology, and to interrogate the translatability of “improvisation” when working across disparate musical traditions.

The agenda for this discussion is divided into three sections. First: What are the assumptions that underlie “improvisation”? What are the historical processes by which it has come to signify certain practices and aesthetic philosophies? Second: How do pedagogical approaches to improvisation vary across cultures, communities, and institutions? What values do these approaches uphold or subvert? Finally: wherein lies the value of improvisation as a concept, particularly in the context of cross-genre and cross-cultural encounters? Does the term erase difference, or can it be tooled in productive ways to encourage dialogic performances?

Individual contributions to this roundtable will include a comparative discussion of pedagogical practices in the guru-sishya parampara and the jazz conservatory, as well as other institutions; an exploration of indigenous perspectives on improvisation as storytelling; and a historical consideration of the conceptual linkages between Black music and improvisation.

October 12th:
Pramantha Tagore – TBD
Fiona Boyd – Live from WPAQ: Sounding Pastness for the Living
Rachel Chery – Radio Haïti: Broadcasting a Caribbean Diaspora through Music and Solidarity

May 16, 2023
by aimeegonzalez

EthNoise! Presents: Gabriel Solis

Dear all,
Just a friendly reminder for today’s joint EthNoise! + Sound and Society workshop, Thursday, May 11th from 5:00–6:30pm CT in Logan Room 801. It is an honor to be co-hosting Gabriel Solis (University of Washington) to discuss his work in progress. We will have refreshments and hope to see you there! 
Dr. Gabriel Solis
Divisional Dean of the Arts
University of Washington
“Is Global Jazz History Global Music History? On Musical Blackness, Universalisms, and the Challenge of Undoing Things”
Today, May 11th | 5:00–6:30 pm CT
Logan Room 801
Respondent: Travis Jackson
Cosponsored by Sound and Society 
Abstract: As the field of global music history grows, we are confronted with questions about its relationship to established subfields in music and sound studies: ethnomusicology, music history, jazz studies, popular music studies, music theory, and so forth. This talk works from case studies from my research into the circulation of Black music in Indigenous communities in the Southwestern Pacific throughout late modernity, to argue that Indigenous music making be understood as fully historical and the ubiquity of Black musical codes be understood as constitutive of modernity. Moreover, I argue against recent jazz scholarship that insists on Black erasure as the logical frame for a celebration of jazz’s global scope.


BiographyGabriel Solis is an ethnomusicologist and music historian whose work focuses on music, memory, and racialization in the 20th and 21st centuries. He came to the University of Washington in 2022 from the University of Illinois, where he had been a professor of music for 20 years, with affiliate appointments in African American Studies, American Indian Studies, and Anthropology. In previous administrative appointments he has striven to develop research capacity in the arts with a focus on intersections between scholarship and practice, and with a core commitment to building more equitable and inclusive approaches to the arts in higher education. Solis’ research in jazz, popular music, and contemporary Indigenous music in Australia and Melanesia has been supported by fellowships and grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and Mellon Foundation.

May 9, 2023
by aimeegonzalez

EthNoise! Presents: Melissa Castillo Planas

Dear all,
Please join us Today, May 4th from 5:00–6:30pm CT on Zoom, featuring Dr. Melissa Castillo Planas (CUNY). It is truly an honor to have Melissa discuss her work and forthcoming chapter with us. We are also very excited to be co-sponsoring this session with the Gender and Sexuality Studies Workshop! We hope to see you there!

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April 27, 2023
by aimeegonzalez

EthNoise! Presents: Rachel Chery and Jonah Francese

Dear all,
Just a reminder about our EthNoise session today, April 13th from 5:00–6:30pm CT in Goodspeed 402. We’ll have fried plantains, avocado fries, tostones, empanadas, and nachos! Hope to see you there!
Rachel Chery
Jonah Francese
PhD Students, Department of Music 
“Baile Donde Quieras”: The Global Politics of Black Dance in Fútbol
Today, April 13th | 5:00–6:30 pm CT
Goodspeed, Room 402
Abstract: On December 22, 2022, World Cup fans tuned in to watch the Round of 16 Brazil versus South Korea. With each passing goal, from Vinícius Júnior’s seven minutes into the game to Lucas Paqueta and Brazil’s fourth goal in the 37th minute, fans watched as players celebrated with samba performances individually and collectively. These celebrations drew both praise and criticism from fans and sports media. The World Cup was the culmination of months of critique in which Afro-Brazilian Vinicius Jr. had faced racism, xenophobia, and criminalization for his celebration dances. While scholars have looked to both dance activism and sports protest in their respective fields, in this presentation, we critically engage with Vinicius Jr. and the Brazil team by bringing music and dance performance literature into sports scholarship, as well as looking to the history of dance within a Brazilian soccer identity.


April 6, 2023
by aimeegonzalez

EthNoise! Presents: Charles Kronengold

Dear all,
Just a friendly reminder for today’s joint EthNoise! + Sound and Society workshopApril 6th from 5:00–6:30pm CT in JRL 264. It is an honor to be co-hosting Charles Kronengold (Stanford University) to discuss his work in progress. We will have refreshments and hope to see you there! 
Dr. Charles Kronengold
Assistant Professor of Music
Stanford University
“How Archives (and We) Change Theory”
Today, April 6th | 5:00–6:30 pm CT
Regenstein JRL 264
Cosponsored by Sound and Society 
Abstract: Stephen Best’s None Like Us examines a powerful lure of the post-Foucauldian “archival turn”: the hope that research into the archive of Atlantic slavery and colonialism “has made for the possibility of a ‘we’…for the emergence of centripetal social bonds” across time and space. This paper listens into a mid-twentieth-century archive that tests this possibility: hundreds of soul, gospel, funk, and disco songs that actually say “we,” “us,” and “ours.” These songs say “we” knowing that (as June Jordan wrote about AAVE speakers) “our language is a system constructed by people constantly needing to insist that we exist, that we are present.” And each song says “we” in full awareness of many other songs that do so. These songs themselves—in their moment—perform what Best has called “archivization”: “a process whose goal is both to preserve some record of black culture and to deform it in the process.” Taken together these instances show how archives can change theory. We’ll hear how these songs help create new kinds of body/mind, self/other, us/them, and human/object relations, new forms of mediation, and new sorts of analytical objects. 


BiographyCharles Kronengold writes and teaches about music, film, and aesthetics. He is the author of Living Genres in Late Modernity: American Music of the Long 1970s (UC Press) and, with his Stanford Colleague Adrian Daub, The James Bond Songs: Pop Anthems of Late Capitalism (Oxford University Press). His recently-finished second monograph, Crediting Thinking in Soul and Dance Music, tracks the varieties of verbal and nonverbal thinking in Black American musics from the late 1950s through the early 1980s; this book seeks to broaden our sense of what counts as thinking and thoughtfulness—in music and beyond. Since 2008 he has taught music history at Stanford, where he has also been a faculty fellow at the Stanford Humanities Center and affiliated faculty of the Program in American Studies, the Center for the Comparative Study of Race and Ethnicity, and the Program in Modern Thought and Literature. 

March 30, 2023
by aimeegonzalez

EthNoise! Presents: Heather Sparling

Dear all,
We are excited to invite you to the first EthNoise! workshop for the spring quarter today, Thursday, March 23rd from 5:00–6:30pm CT on Zoom. It is an honor to have Heather Sparling (Cape Breton University) discuss with us her work on Gaelic language revitalization through lyrics and digital media / databases. We hope to see you there! 
Dr. Heather Sparling
Canada Research Chair in Musical Traditions and Professor of Ethnomusicology
Cape Breton University
Respondent: Natalie Farrell, PhD Candidate, Music, University of Chicago
“Language in Lyrics: A Language Revitalization, Applied Ethnomusicology, Digital Humanities, and Community Development Project”
Thursday, March 23rd | 5:00–6:30 pm CT
Held on Zoom
Abstract: In this presentation, I will share a collaborative, community-based language revitalization project that exemplifies both applied ethnomusicology and digital scholarship. By focusing on the project’s development, challenges, and opportunities, and by providing insights “from behind the curtain,” the presentation offers lessons for those engaged in public scholarship, digital humanities, and community development. The Language in Lyrics project is a Nova Scotia Gaelic song and language documentation project ( that has documented more than 6,000 records of Gaelic songs known in Nova Scotia along with 1,000 song transcriptions, all freely available online (see Scottish Gaelic is an endangered language. Despite a relatively small number of Gaelic speakers in Nova Scotia, the Nova Scotia Gaelic community is the only recognized Gàidhealtachd (living Gaelic community) outside of Scotland. The Language in Lyrics project works with community to develop language and cultural resources while providing jobs and training opportunities for Gaelic learners. Some of the song transcriptions were generated through a crowd-sourcing activity, “transcription frolics,” developed for the project with community assistance.
Biography: Heather’s research interests include Gaelic song in Nova Scotia, vernacular dance traditions of Cape Breton, and Atlantic Canadian disaster songs. Her research addresses memory and memorialization as well as language revitalization through music. She is the author of Reeling Roosters and Dancing Ducks: Celtic Mouth Music (2014) and the editor of the journal MUSICultures. She also has a background in educational development and has been involved with the creation and revision of several academic programs at CBU. She is the principal flutist with the Cape Breton Orchestra and is learning the fiddle. She is also functionally bilingual in French and Gaelic.

March 2, 2023
by aimeegonzalez

EthNoise! Presents: Marysol Quevedo

Dear all,
Just a reminder that the final EthNoise! workshop for the winter quarter is TODAY, March 2nd from 5:00–6:30pm CT on Zoom. It is an honor to have Marysol Quevedo (University of Miami) discuss with us her work on Tania León and Afro-disaporic womanhood. We hope to see you there!
Dr. Marysol Quevedo
Assistant Professor of Musicology, University of Miami
“Afro-diasporic Womanhood in Tania León’s ‘Oh Yemanja’”
TODAY, March 2nd | 5:00–6:30 pm CT
Held on Zoom
Abstract: Cuban-born composer Tania León’s opera Scourge of Hyacinths (1994) received more than twenty performances and garnered the composer the BMW prize for best new opera at the Fourth Munich Biennale Festival. When Dawn Upshaw included its final aria, “Oh Yemanja (Mother’s Prayer),” in The World so Wide (1998), however, New York Times critic David Mermelstein found León’s aria an outlier within Upshaw’s album, opining “the soprano’s focused timbre conveys both maternal concern and a faintly exotic atmosphere.”
In this presentation I analyze “Oh Yemanja” as a synthesis of disparate traditions that, much like the composer herself, challenges categorization. Yemanja, an Orisha venerated in Afro-diasporic Yoruba religions, governs all forms of water and is worshipped as a nurturing mother figure by practitioners. In several accounts, León explains how the aria’s melody emerged from a prayer-song her own mother and grandmother sang. “Oh Yemanja” not only merges contemporary classical music traditions with Yoruba-derived melodies, it also combines aesthetic and spiritual practices that draw from and speak to Afro-diasporic understandings of womanhood, motherhood, sacrifice, and pain. In both text and music León offers a prayer to Yemanja that evokes the clear and nurturing waters through a hauntingly spiritual, liquid sonority. In contrast to Mermelstein’s superficial assessment of the female voice as “faintly exotic”–a dismissive appraisal historically levied at Afro-diasporic expressive practices–I contend that the aria can only be fully understood as a complex tapestry when one accounts for the frayed and mended identities of Afro-diasporic womanhood upon which it is based.
BiographyMarysol Quevedo, originally from Puerto Rico, is Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of Miami. In her research and writing she focuses on art music in Cuba before and after the 1959 Revolution, and cultural diplomacy and art music networks during the Cold War. Quevedo holds a PhD in musicology from Indiana University. With a minor in ethnomusicology, she favors an interdisciplinary approach that combines the methods of both historical musicology and ethnographic fieldwork. Quevedo has presented her research at academic conferences around the world and is an active member of the American Musicological Society, the Society for Ethnomusicology, and the Society for American Music, currently serving as Director-at-large of the American Musicological Society’s Board of Directors.Quevedo has published essays in Experimentalisms in Practice: Perspectives from Latin America  and Experiencing Music and Visual Cultures and the journals Cuban Studies and Boletín Música, as well as entries for the Dictionary of American Music and Oxford Annotated BibliographiesHer book, Cuban Music Counterpoints: Vanguardia Musical in Global Networks, is forthcoming with Oxford University Press.  

March 2, 2023
by aimeegonzalez

EthNoise! Presents: Aimee González

Dear all,

We are excited to have Aimee González presenting her dry run for the Society for American Music’s conference next month. This meeting will be on TODAY, February 23 from 5:00–6:30pm CT, and will be in person at Logan room 802. There will be food and we hope to see you there!
Aimee Gonzalez
PhD Candidate, Music, University of Chicago