The Music, Language, and Culture Workshop

August 30, 2016
by Leitner

Autumn 2016 Schedule

EthNoise meets on Thursdays from 4.30-6pm in Goodspeed Hall 205, unless otherwise stated. Our schedule for Autumn 2016 is as follows:

  • September 29 (week 1): Introducing new UChicago Ethnomusicology faculty member Prof Jessica Baker.
  • October 6 (week 2): Reports from the field by PhD students Laura Turner, Hannah Rogers, Maria Perevedentseva, and Lester Hu.
  • October 20 (week 4): Society for Ethnomusicology conference presentations by PhD students Mili Leitner, Joe Maurer, and Ailsa Lipscombe.
  • October 27 (week 5): Society for Ethnomusicology conference presentations by PhD students Adrienne Alton-Gust and Evan Pensis.
  • November 17 (week 8): Guest speaker Prof Gabriel Solis, UIUC.
  • November 18 (week 8 – Friday 4pm): Guest speaker Prof Kimberly Cannady, Victoria University (New Zealand).
  • December 1 (week 10): Ameera Nimjee, PhD candidate in Ethnomusicology, presents a chapter from her dissertation.

May 19, 2016
by jmmaurer

May 19: Olha Kolomyyets

A thrilling year of intellectual engagement is winding to a close. Please join us for our final EthNoise! workshop of the year this Thursday, May 19, at 4:30 in Goodspeed 205. Olha Kolomyyets, PhD, Ethnomusicologist, Professor at the Musicology Department, Ivan Franko Lviv National University (Ukraine), Liaison Officer of  International Council for Traditional Music (ICTM) in Ukraine, Fulbright Scholar at the Department of Music, University of Chicago (2015-2016), will present a paper titled “The Musical Journey of A Ukrainian Ethnomusicologist at the Turn of the Millennium: A Very Short Introduction.” 

“Starting my journey in Ukraine at the very beginning of a new Millennium, I passed different paths, moving from encounters inside my country to the outside musical world: studying native musical culture during the first years of Ukrainian independence and revival (cultural, spiritual, educational) in the country, exploring musical cultures of ethnic minorities in different regions of Ukraine (in particular Armenian and Volokhi (Bajeschi) communities) and their correlation with local Ukrainian culture; and moving on, crossing the Ukrainian border for a field work research covering the stylistic school of Kirana singers in the context of professional music of the oral tradition of Northern India, which became a topic of my dissertation.

As a Fulbright Scholar, studying the basic methods of learning and researching traditional musical culture of other (unrelated, foreign) ethnicities in academic and performance settings in the US, I consider this a new period and one of the most important turning points in my musical and scholar journey. In my presentation I describe the crucial encounters that happened on my way, the researches that led me to my current project in the United States and made me reconsider the best achievements and intentions of Ukrainian ethnomusicologists during the developing of the discipline in the beginning of 20th century, which often were not realized in corpore due to different political and social obstacles. Those researches also caused me to ask and consider many questions, among them why studying the musical culture of foreign ethnicities, the area scantly developed in Ukrainian ethnomusicology, but considering the historical, social and cultural contexts, remains extremely urgent. That is why, opening borders for world musics, is important for a Ukrainian ethnomusicologist in the Age of globalization to keep the balance between solving urgent questions in the study of native musics for “not to lose much what is close to home” [Bohlman, 2002], and, on the other hand to look for the appropriate tools and fruitful discussions with the colleagues from abroad because of “the need for intercultural understanding” [Hemetek, 2009] in its broadest sense.”

As always, we will meet in Goodspeed 205 at 4:30 pm, and we will provide food and drink. Please join us for our final talk of the year!

May 3, 2016
by jmmaurer

Thurs May 5 — Sat May 7: Conference and Concert

The Global Midwest – The History of World Music Recording

Chicago Conference – May 5–7, 2016

Franke Institute for the Humanities


Ontologies of Recording – The Chicago Workshop


Thursday, May 5

4:00 – Opening session – African American Recorded Palimpsests

Travis A. Jackson (University of Chicago) – opening talk

7:30 pm – Performance, New Budapest Orpheum Society, Fulton Hall – “Yom ha-Shoah:

Commemoration Performance for Holocaust Remembrance Day”


Friday, May 6

Morning session – Recording Diaspora

9:00 – Opening remarks

9:30 – Aileen Dillane (University of Limerick) – “The O’Neill Cylinders and the World(ing)

of Irish Music in Chicago, c. 1903”

10:30 – Coffee break

10:45 – 11:45 – Edwin Seroussi (Hebrew University of Jerusalem) – “Unlocking the EMI

Recordings Archive: A Judeo-Spanish Song Collection Resurfaces after a Century

of Silence”


Afternoon session – Historiographies of Recording

1:15 – Lars-Christian Koch (Berlin Phonogram Archive) – “Hornbostel in America”

2:15 – Ian Nagoski (Canary Records) – “Recordings of the Ottoman-American Diaspora

in Chicago and New York City, 1893–1919”

3:15 – Coffee break

3:30 – Workshop session at the John Steiner Collection, Special Collections (presenters:

Michael Allemana, Will Faber, and Hannah Rogers)


Saturday, May 7

Morning session – The Traveling Scholars Seminar

9:00 – Part 1

10:00 – Coffee break

10:30–12:00 – Part 2

The Traveling Scholars are the twelve participating graduate students from the Universities

of Chicago, Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and Wisconsin–Madison.


April 25, 2016
by ameeran

April 28: Timothy Rommen

Please join us for another Spring workshop on 4/28 at 4:30pm in Rm. 205, Goodspeed Hall. Special guest Timothy Rommen, Professor of Music and Africana Studies, University of Pennsylvania, will present his new research, in a paper titled “It Sounds Better in the Bahamas: Musicians, Management, and Markets in Nassau’s All-Inclusive Hotels.” As usual, light refreshments will be served. See below for an abstract.



Premise: Ethnomusicologists working in the Caribbean have historically, and for a variety of reasons, generally avoided focusing on music in touristic contexts. Scholars in disciplines such as anthropology, cultural geography, and leisure studies, for their part, have focused solely on tourism, leaving any engagement with music to the “experts.” And yet, all-inclusive resorts represent one of the primary sites of encounter between local musicians and tourists throughout the Caribbean. More to the point, tourism is such a ubiquitous economic and social fact in the region that it must be taken seriously as a lens through which to understand and analyze local musical production.

Context: “It’s better in the Bahamas!”—claims the nation’s current tourism slogan. But what exactly is this better “it”? Assuming, for a moment, that an answer might involve music in some way, the Ministry of Tourism has virtually no ability to control whether or how tourists will experience “it” while visiting the Bahamas. This is the case because there is virtually no live music on offer outside of hotels. The live music that is performed in the hotels, moreover, is almost entirely disconnected from (cultural) policy and labor concerns (due to the lack of an effective musicians’ union). In fact, the hotels in which visitors experience their Bahamian vacations are, essentially, free agents. They all have their own branding to worry about and their own commitments to clientele, and this is especially the case at the all-inclusive resorts such as Sandals and Breezes that promise a package experience to their guests. What role do musicians play in these contexts? What creative constraints do they face? How do they make decisions about repertory and style?

Case Study: With these ideas in mind, this paper explores the complicated dynamics attendant to contemporary tourism in the Bahamas, focusing on two musicians—Funky D and Alia—who have built their careers around performing for tourists at all-inclusive hotels (Breezes, in particular). Paying particular attention to notions of craft, to genre expectations, to agency and encounter, and to exploring the ambivalences, joys, and frustrations they experience in negotiating their positions within all-inclusive resorts (both as employees and as performers), this paper makes a case for why ethnomusicological perspectives on music touristics are so urgently needed in the region.

April 12, 2016
by ameeran

April 14: Braxton Shelley

Please join us this coming Thursday, 4/14/2016 for a presentation by Braxton Shelley, a PhD candidate in the Department of Music. His presentation is titled “A Sacred Symbol: The Gospel Vamp’s Divine Choreography.” Braxton will introduce his dissertation chapter, which you can find here. Please focus on pages 17-27 in particular.

As usual, the workshop will be held at 4:30pm in Room 205, Goodspeed Hall (1010 E 59th St), and light refreshments will be served.


In this chapter, I develop a theory of the relationship between the gospel vamp and “shouting,” a referent for holy dancing among many African American Christians. After contextualizing the brand of movement that is often coincident with gospel performance historically and culturally, I shape an understanding of “shouting” as the embodied performance of transcendence. Analyzing the interpenetration of music and movement in a communion service at Chicago’s Greater Harvest Missionary Baptist Church, I will point out the “theology of sound” that underpins these practices, reading these phenomena through the work of theologians ranging from Thomas Aquinas, Louis Marie Chauvet and Yves Congar to J. Kameron Carter and Ashon Crawley. The pneumatology implied by gospel performance will come into sharper relief through analyses of performances of Lashun Pace’s “In Everything Give Thanks” and Glenn Burleigh’s “The Name.” In these performances, I am interested in the ability of the vamp, when modified, to substitute for shouting music. Building on Lawrence Zbikowski’s work in cognitive musicology, I will propose that the gospel vamp functions as a sonic analog to “shouting.” I will argue that through its relationship to these transcendent movements, the vamp accrues for itself something of the sacred: it becomes a kind of sonic sacrament by choreographing physical encounter with the divine.


April 4, 2016
by allemana

April 7: Mateo Mulcahy

This week we are delighted and honored to start the Spring Quarter with a presentation by Mateo Mulcahy, Director of Community Projects and Events, Old Town School of Folk Music. His presentation is titled: “Awareness, Deep Engagement, and Sustainability: Presenting Endangered Musics to Audiences in Chicago.”  Please see abstract and bio below.

We will meet in our regular place at our regular time: Thursday, April 7, 4:30-6:00pm in Godspeed Hall, Room 205. As always, our workshop is open to the public, and all are welcome.


As programmer of World Music Wednesdays and the Global Dance Party series at the Old Town School of Folk Music, Matthew “Mateo” Mulcahy works to bring endangered music, artists, and traditions from around the globe to U.S. audiences. These musical traditions are those in danger of extinction or assimilation, surviving through only a handful of practitioners or cultural standard bearers for their communities. This presentation will discuss the challenges that emerge from programming endangered musical practices. One challenge is to develop blueprints for presenting and raising awareness for endangered arts in a meaningful way. This entails identifying artists, facilitating and producing tours, and developing performance and educational residencies. A second challenge is to create financial opportunities such as pursuing grant funding and developing budgets. A third challenge is to develop promotional strategies and community outreach. Discussed will be how to meet these challenges through deep engagement, defined as artist engagement that includes activities which reach a diverse demographic through performance, education, collaboration, and exchange in a variety of settings and locations with a substantive media footprint. Mulcahy argues that endangered arts will only survive if there is an audience to support them. Since many artists in isolated communities have increasingly fewer opportunities to express their arts in their own communities and rely on the broader world community to sustain their arts, presenters and consumers of ethnic arts have a responsibility to create the infrastructure and audiences to sustain and preserve them for future generations.

Mulcahy holds a B.A. in Spanish/International Development from Washington University. He has worked in the music entertainment business for more than 30 years in many different capacities: radio host and producer, video documentary producer, concert promoter, DJ and DJ business owner, live music venue owner and manager, talent buyer, musician and vocalist in salsa groups. Since 2006 he has worked as the Director of Community Projects and Events at The Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago. At the Old Town School Mulcahy is responsible for supervising all community and outreach projects including the World Music Wednesday Series, Field Trips, Thursday World Music Workshop Series, Global Dance Party Series, and other initiatives that engage new audiences. Mulcahy also manages partnerships, international exchange, and residencies with institutions and organizations at the local, national and international levels, producing over 100 concerts a year for the School.  He has previously served as a panelist for MIDSEM in 2010, 4° Encuentro de las Artes Escénicas in Mexico, MICSUR in Argentina, FIMVEN in Venezuela, and for grant applications with the National Endowment of the Arts, Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events, and the GlobalFEST Touring Fund. In 2013 he curated and co-produced a 12-episode televised series, Musicology: Live From The Old Town School Of Folk Music, which aired in partnership with WYCC PBS Chicago.

March 7, 2016
by jmmaurer

March 9: Rudolf Pietsch

This week we are delighted and honored to welcome Rudolf Pietsch, Prof. Dr, and Deputy Director, Institut für Volksmusikforschung und Ethnomusikologie, Vienna, for a special Wednesday workshop sponsored in conjunction with the Music History/Theory workshop. His presentation will be on the topic “Sound aspects caused by the formation of intentional and accidental multipart instrumental music.” He will draw examples from various Austrian musical ensembles.

IMPORTANT NOTE: This workshop is on Wednesday, March 9 in a special location, room 801 in the Logan Center for the Arts.

In addition to his scholarly work, Professor Pietsch in an eminent musician (for a sample performance, see We invite you to join us for his presentation, the ensuing conversation, and refreshments on Wednesday, March 9  in Logan 801 from 4:30-6pm.

March 2, 2016
by jmmaurer

March 3: Nadine Hubbs

This week we are delighted and honored to welcome Nadine Hubbs, professor of women’s studies and music at the University of Michigan, for a special Thursday workshop sponsored in conjunction with the Music History/Theory workshop. Her presentation is entitled, “How the White Working Class (Supposedly) Became Homophobic: Antibourgeois Country and the Middle-Classing of the Queer.”

IMPORTANT NOTE: This workshop is in a special location, room 801 in the Logan Center for the Arts.

Nadine Hubbs is professor of women’s studies and music and faculty associate in American culture at the University of Michigan, where she also directs the Lesbian-Gay-Queer Research Initiative. She has written on gender and sexuality in popular and concert music throughout many essays and reviews and in two books, The Queer Composition of America’s Sound (California 2004), and Rednecks, Queers, and Country Music (California 2014). Music and gender-sexuality studies are fused with class analysis in Rednecks and her other recent work, including “‘Jolene,’ Genre, and the Everyday Homoerotics of Country Music: Dolly Parton’s Loving Address of the Other Woman,” published last fall in Women and Music, and two forthcoming essays: “The Promised Land: Springsteen’s Epic Heterosexuality and Prospects for Queer Life” and “How the White Working Class (Supposedly) Became Homophobic: Antibourgeois Country and the Middle-Classing of the Queer.”

We heartily invite you to join us for the presentation, ensuing conversation, and refreshments on Thursday, March 3 in Logan 801 from 4:30-6pm.

February 18, 2016
by jmmaurer

February 18: Inna Naroditskya

This week’s workshop features Inna Naroditskaya, Professor of Musicology and Ethnomusicology at Northwestern University. She will be presenting a paper on tango entitled “. . . now I’m here, I’m dancing a tango” (L. Bernstein, Candide). The abstract is posted below.


We will meet in our regular place at our regular time: Thursday, Feb 18, 4:30-6:00pm in Godspeed Hall, Room 205. As always, our workshop is open to the public, and all are welcome.



When tango, fenced off as a hobby from my occupation as an ethnomusicologist, gradually turns into fieldwork, when ethnographic research begins not as a study of others, but as an ethnography of self, the dance steps become a metaphor of migration, head-spinning pivots, dislocating sacadas, and desired axis linked with diasporic transition and craving for stability. The pleasure of dance links my personal story, with Russian and Jewish immigration sagas in Chicago, Odessa, Buenos Aires, elsewhere.

Attempting to make sense of the sizable presence of Soviet immigrants in the Chicago tango scene brings me hundred years back – in Russia, where during the turbulent march towards WWI, twentieth century futurism, cubism, suprematism had a “rendezvous with tango.” The tango craze spun across Russian classical repertoire (Stravinsky, Shostakovich, Prokofiev), operettas, cinematography (Dunaevsky), popular music, and dance. While tango plied the ocean from South America to Europe and Russia, Russian Jews at approximately the same time migrated to Americas.

The tango scene, populated by Jewish musicians, entrepreneurs, and dancers, seems inherently related to Jewish musical sensibilities; tango’s nostalgic, often heartbreaking tone resonates with the tragedy of pogroms, exiles, and the Holocaust. Tango songs map the patterns of Jewish immigration: “El Choclo” lived a double life as an early Argentine tango tune and a Jewish drinking song in Odessa. The melody of “Papirosen,” a tango song premiered on the New York stage, was sang decades before in Russia. Its reincarnation in the first Soviet musical film attained mass popularity, while “Papirosen” itself was reintroduced to the Jewish Soviet crowd by the Israeli Sisters Barry. Whether or not conscious of cultural links between tango, Russian modernism, and Yiddish culture, Russian Jewish immigrants in Chicago and elsewhere are attuned to tango songs and challenging tango movement.

February 9, 2016
by jmmaurer

February 11: Edwin Seroussi

This week’s workshop features Visiting Professor Edwin Seroussi (Emanuel Alexandre Professor of Musicology and director of the Jewish Music Research Centre at The Hebrew University of Jerusalem).

In preparation for Professor Seroussi’s talk, we ask that you read his paper, “Nostalgic Soundscapes: The Future of Israel’s Sonic Past” (Israel Studies, Volume 19, Number 2, Summer 2014). (e-mail for the paper)

Please also listen to the following three songs (discussed in the article):

Kobi Oz, “Elohai” (Hebrew: “My God”)

Yehuda Polikar, “Limonero” (Judeo-Spanish: “The Lemon Vendor”)

Dudu Tasa and the Kuweitim, “Walla ajabni jamalak” (Arabic: “Oh my God, I loved your beauty”)


You are invited to join us for dinner (at a location TBD in Hyde Park) with Professor Seroussi after the workshop. Please let us know if you are interested in attending.

We will meet in our regular place at our regular time: Thursday, Feb 11, 4:30-6:00pm in Godspeed Hall, Room 205. As always, our workshop is open to the public, and all are welcome.


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