Thursday, November 20 – Thomas Hilder

Please join us for our penultimate meeting of the Autumn Quarter. This Thursday, we’re excited to welcome Thomas Hilder for a presentation entitled  “Sámi Musical Performance, Indigeneity, Cosmopolitanism.” (Please see below for Thomas’ abstract and bio).

As always, we will meet from 4:30-6:00pm in Goodspeed 205. We look very much forward to seeing you!


My paper explores the politics of cosmopolitanism in musical performance of the Sámi of northern Europe. Through a post-WWII political and cultural movement, the Sámi have highlighted their history of Christianisation, land dispossession and cultural assimilation, whilst working towards Sámi political self-determination within and across the Nordic states and Russian Kola Peninsula. Participation by Sámi activists, academics and artists at international indigenous meetings since the 1960s not only helped strengthen articulations of indigeneity at home, but also led to the Sámi playing an important role in campaigning for global indigenous rights (Minde 2008, 1996). Sámi musical performance, often drawing on the distinct unaccompanied vocal practice of joik, has strengthened political articulations, assisted wider cultural revival, as well as facilitated inter-indigenous cultural and political exchange.

Based on multi-sited ethnographic research, I will explore the challenges, potentials and contradictions of Sámi musical cosmopolitanism. Firstly, I investigate the participation by Sámi joikers at international indigenous meetings and the impact of these inter-indigenous encounters on Sámi musical performance. I then analyse the Sámi singer Mari Boine to unearth the ways in which aesthetic and political indigenous solidarity has been articulated. Finally, I examine the role of the Riddu Riđđu Indigenous Peoples’ Festival in forging a global indigenous network. By drawing on political and postcolonial theory (Ivison, Patton & Sanders 2000), and the literature of cosmopolitanism (Delanty 2009; Forte 2010; Feld 2012) I ask: how might Sámi musical performance propose alternative models for transnational collaboration and geo-political organisation?


Thomas Hilder is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Center for World Music, University of Hildesheim, after having completed his PhD in ethnomusicology at Royal Holloway, University of London in 2010. His main research area is the popular music of the Sámi, of northern Europe, with a particular interest in postcolonialism, digital media and transnationalism. He is author of the forthcoming monograph Sámi Musical Performance and the Politics of Indigeneity in Northern Europe (Rowman and Littlefield), and is co-editor of the book projects Music, Indigeneity, Digital Media and Music and Cultural Memory in Post-1989 Europe: Sounding Contested Past(s). In addition, he teaches courses on Nordic music, music and politics, and music and gender at the University of Hildesheim and Humboldt University, Berlin, he co-organises the annual doctoral workshop in ethnomusicology at the Center for World Music, and co-runs the Berlin ethnomusicology research group BEAM.

Thursday, November 6 – SEM Dry Runs (Part 2)

Please join us for the second of two workshops in which students will present their conference papers in preparation for the Society for Ethnomusicology conference. This Thursday, we’re excited to hear Meredith Aska McBride, and Michael O’Toole. (Please see the abstracts below).

As always, we will meet from 4:30-6:00pm in Goodspeed 205. We look very much forward to seeing you!


Single Moms and Tiger Moms: the Politics of Parenting in Chicago’s Music Education Programs (Meredith Aska McBride)

This presentation explores the contested politics of parenting in Chicago’s music education programs. I examine two competing, and equally imagined, parental models implied by different types of programs: the low-income “single mom” who is unable to meet her children’s educational and developmental needs, and the affluent, hyper-competitive “tiger mom” who uses music education as one weapon in an arsenal of intensive parenting tools. Both of these models are, of course, inaccurate in various ways and are gendered, raced, and classed. My paper explores how these models shape program design, funding, and curriculum and the ways in which parents, students, and program staff work within and against these parental specters. I further connect these politics of parenting to ongoing public and academic discourses of urban citizenship.


“My personal longing to tell this story”: Anatolian Music and Armenian Silence in Marc Sinan’s Hasretim: An Anatolian Journey (Michael O’Toole)

Since the early twentieth century, composers of western art music in Turkey and its diasporas have frequently drawn on the diverse musics of Anatolia as a source of musical material and inspiration. Composers in the early years of the Turkish Republic often regarded the diversity of Anatolian musics as a problem to be overcome in creating a national school of composition. More recently, several composers have more explicitly embraced the pluralism inherent in the cultural, linguistic, and musical diversity of Anatolia. In this paper, I discuss the work of Marc Sinan, a German composer of Armenian and Turkish descent, who has engaged in several ways with Anatolian musics as a source of creative material, compositional inspiration, and transnational collaboration. I focus in particular on Sinan’s 2010 multimedia composition Hasretim: An Anatolian Journey, which involves multiple forms of collaboration between musicians in Armenia, Germany, and Turkey. Drawing on discussions with the composer, fieldwork at the debut performance in Dresden, and analysis of the concert film released by ECM, I discuss Sinan’s strategies for representing the presence and absence of Armenian music and culture in Anatolia, and how Sinan relates Hasretim to his own experiences as a descendent of survivors of the Armenian Genocide. Situating my analysis in ethnomusicological discussions of music and trauma, I discuss the ways in which Sinan creatively reworked his own ethnographic recordings of Anatolian musicians, shaping the images, sounds, and narratives of Hasretim to represent Anatolia as a site of both musical abundance and musical loss.

Thursday, October 30 – SEM Dry Runs (Part 1)

Please join us for the first of two workshops in which students will present their conference papers in preparation for the Society for Ethnomusicology conference. This Thursday, we’re excited to hear Will BuckinghamDaniel Gough, and Lindsay Wright. (Please see the abstracts below).

As always, we will meet from 4:30-6:00pm in Goodspeed 205. We look very much forward to seeing you!


With “Drums Beating and Colors Flying”: Race and the Portuguese in Mid-Nineteenth Century New Orleans (William Buckingham)

Ethnographic studies of processional traditions have explored the power of musical bodies moving through urban spaces to articulate identity and ideology. This paper explores these issues and contributes to an understanding of the mutability of such processes through its diachronic historical scope. Drawing on conventional historical methods with an ethnomusicologist’s attunement to relationships of space, music, and politics, I explore the heretofore unexcavated musical history of the Portuguese immigrant community in nineteenth century New Orleans. Contracted by labor recruiters to work on sugar plantations in the 1840s, by mid-century Louisiana’s Portuguese immigrants rapidly rejected their interstitial and precarious racial categorization and associations with plantation labor as they abandoned the sugar parishes and migrated to New Orleans. They established benevolent societies which staged extravagant ritual processions through the streets of New Orleans, accompanied by military fife and drum bands and brass bands. Through these performances, adapted from the dominant culture while articulating both a Portuguese character and a broader white immigrant identity, Portuguese New Orleanians were able claim their own space in the city and achieve inclusion in the dominant white racial category. Following the revolutionary upheavals of the Civil War in New Orleans, these musical performances of identity and belonging, boosted by a second wave of Portuguese immigration in the 1870s, continued to be deployed to assert white privilege, now as a weapon in the violent backlash to Reconstruction-era politics and assertions of freedom and dignity by New Orleanians of color.


Music Producers in São Paulo’s Cultural Policy Worlds (Daniel Gough)

This paper examines the role of a specific type of musical agent—the producer—within São Paulo’s institutionally mediated music scene.  Drawing upon research in policy anthropology, I argue that cultural policy practices have created new sets of relations in São Paulo’s music scene.  I connect the emergence of free-lance producers to the specialization of policy instruments and bureaucratic procedures in São Paulo’s cultural infrastructure.  In this paper, I will present a brief overview of the various channels through which musical performance is institutionally mediated in contemporary São Paulo before describing how contemporary cultural policies influence the job description(s) of the such producers.  In particular, I explore how the cultural edital, or proposal writing process, has become the defining policy procedure in São Paulo’s music scene, and the implications of these new kinds of technical knowledge for musicians and musical production.  I draw upon participant observation in cultural policy training seminars as well as interviews with musicians and professionals in these areas in order to describe how musical labor has shifted as a result of these policy instruments.  The concluding section of this paper will examine some of the consequences of these policy trends for musical life in the city.


“No accident of birth”: Suzuki Pedagogy and the Politics of Talent in a Northern Virginia Violin Studio (Lindsay Wright)

The music pedagogy developed by Japanese violinist Shin’ichi Suzuki has gained increasing prominence amongst American families since his first influential visit to the States in 1964. One of the most contentious aspects of Suzuki’s philosophy is evidenced by the first sentence of his book on music education: “Talent is no accident of birth.” In a country where perceptions of exceptional ability still adhere to Enlightenment and Romantic conceptions of the natural genius, the ways children are taught music—especially when they encounter setbacks—often fall back on assumptions about inherent ability. Regardless of current scientific debates about relative levels of inborn musicality, beliefs about talent powerfully influence how persistently students seek to achieve such perceived musical potential. Drawing upon fieldwork with a prominent American Suzuki teacher and the exceptionally proficient students in her studio, this paper explores how perceptions of talent are altered and negotiated as students develop their musical abilities. I argue that perceived talent is a privilege that can be gained by families with the means to acquire the educational resources to affirm and foster it. Furthermore, I seek to tie such perceptions to a larger discourse about talent in American music education: how does the privilege of appearing naturally talented gain students other privileges? The reasons children take music lessons are manifold and reflective of shifting trends in parenting philosophies and educational values; using Suzuki violin as a telling example, this paper investigates the oft-overlooked place of perceived talent within this discourse.

Thursday, October 23 – Rehanna Kheshgi

Please join us on Thursday, October 23 at 4:30pm, (Goodspeed 205) for our second workshop of the Autumn Quarter.


Rehanna Kheshgi, doctoral candidate in ethnomusicology, will present an overview of the first chapter of her dissertation, “Kasi Jun: Intimate Encounters with the Crescent Moon,” which focuses on intimacy and youth in rural Assam through music and dance performances associated with the springtime bihu festival. Laura Ring, anthropologist and author of Zenana: Everyday Peace in a Karachi Apartment Building (2006) will serve as discussant for the workshop session. In order to make our discussion most productive, participants are encouraged to read the chapter in advance. (Check your email for the password and link).

Thursday, October 9 – Beverley Diamond

Please join us on Thursday, October 9 at 4:30pm, (Goodspeed 205) for our first workshop of the Autumn Quarter.

We are excited to welcome renowned ethnomusicologist Beverley Diamond for a question and answer session.

Please note that Beverley Diamond will also be giving a formal presentation, Taking Aesthetic Action: Canada’s Indian Residential Schools, at the Music Colloquium Series on Friday, October 10 at 3:30pm.


Beverley Diamond (B.Mus, M.A. Ph.D. University of Toronto) is a Canadian ethnomusicologist who assumed the Canada Research Chair in Traditional Music at Memorial University in 2002. Before arriving in St. John’s she held full-time teaching positions at McGill, Queen’s, and York Universities, as well as visiting professorships at the University of Toronto and Harvard University. At Memorial University, she established the Research Centre for Music, Media and Place (MMaP) to serve as a liaison between university and communities on research projects of mutual interest. MMaP publishes in a variety of print and audio-visual media, including an archival CD series “Back on Track.”

Since the early 1970s, she has worked extensively in Inuit and First Nations communities in the Northwest Territories, Labrador, Quebec, and Ontario. Since 1999, she has done research in Sami communities in Norway and Finland. Her work has explored the relationship of music to issues of cultural identity (relating to such diverse subjects as women’s expressive cultures, musical instruments as cultural metaphor, and indigenous popular music), indigenous modernity issues (cultural property, technological change) and the role of the arts in reconciliation. Her publications include the books Native American Music in Eastern North America (2008, commissioned by Oxford University Press for their Global Music series, and Visions of Sound:Musical Instruments of First Nations Communities in Northeastern America (co-authored with M. Sam Cronk and F. von Rosen; University of Chicago Press, 1994), as well as several co-edited anthologies: Post-Colonial Distances. Popular Music in Canada and Australia(Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007); Aboriginal Music in Contemporary Canada. Echoes and Exchanges (McGill-Queen’s.University Press, 2012) She also works on issues of historiography, particularly as they relate to Canadian cultural diversity, co-editing Canadian Music: Issues of Hegemony and Identity, (Canadian Scholars Press, 1994) and serving as editorial advisor for Canada for the Garland Encyclopedia of World Music. With Finnish ethnomusicologist, Dr. Pirkko Moisala, she co-edited Music and Gender (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2000). Dr. Diamond’s most recent SSHRC-funded research has concerned the transnational circulation of indigenous music, cultural property, and the social construction of meaning in relation to changing technologies. During her 2012-13 Leave, she is finishing a book on the social history of audio recording in Newfoundland and Labrador.

Dr. Beverley Diamond was named a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada(RSC), considered to be the highest academic honour in Canada. The society calls Dr. Diamond “a guiding voice in contemporary ethonomusicology in Canada” and “an inspiring mentor to more than 70 M.A. and Ph.D. students,” and credits her for developing cross-cultural perspectives on gendered musical practices. She received a Trudeau Fellowship (2009-12) and was the first recipient of the SOCAN Foundation/CUMS Award of Excellence for the Advancement of Research in Canadian Music. A Festschrift was published in her honour in 2010.

Fall Quarter 2014 Schedule

Fall Quarter 2014 Schedule

We are pleased to announce our presenters for the autumn quarter.

October 9: Q & A with Beverley Diamond

October 23: Rehanna Kheshgi –  “Kasi Jun: Intimate Encounters with the Crescent Moon”

October 30: Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM) presentations – William Buckingham, Danny Gough, and Lindsay Wright

November 6: SEM presentations – Meredith Aska McBride and Michael O’Toole

November 20: Thomas Hilder – “Sámi Musical Performance, Indigeneity, Cosmopolitanism”

December 11: Genevieve Dempsey  – “The Sacred Sound of Congado: A Revival of Afro-Brazilian Religiosity”


Unless otherwise noted, all workshop meetings are on Thursdays from 4:30-6pm in Room 205, Goodspeed Hall, University of Chicago campus.

EthNoise! 2014-2015

Welcome to EthNoise!

EthNoise! is a student-run workshop based in the Department of Music which provides a forum for graduate students and guest speakers to present and discuss ongoing research. We meet on Thursday afternoons from 4:30-6pm approximately every other week during the quarter.

A few updates for 2014-2015:

Please note the new name of the workshop: EthNoise!: The Music, Language, and Culture Workshop.

The new student coordinators are Will Buckingham ( and Nadia Chana (

Please send us an email with any questions or interests regarding the workshop–especially if you’re interested in attending, presenting, or participating as a respondent to a paper.

The fall quarter schedule and additional details will be up shortly.

Thursday 29 May – Maria Welch

Please join us this Thursday 29th May for our final EthNoise workshop of the year. 
GOH 205 
We would like to welcome our very own Ph.D. student Maria Welch who will present the following paper:
“Sounding the Body, Singing the Soul: the Musical Labor of Guarani Youth Choirs.”

As modernity continues to reshape Brazil, indigenous communities lay claim to their representation vis-à-vis expressive practices that frame their identity as integral in ecological and cultural stewardship. In my research, I purport to examine the pedagogy and transmission of voiced and embodied expressive practices among Guarani youth.  As both an identity and praxis, children’s choirs have constituted a key axis in the meditational means employed by the Guarani to negotiate the politics of culture. Through an engagement with the emic category of ‘childhood’ and its musical production in three villages both rural and urban, my methodology will analyze the vocal and kinetic expression of youth choirs and their socio-cultural, as well as cosmological, significance.


Thursday 15 May – Professor Ron Pen

Dear All 

Please join us Thursday 15th May for our penultimate EthNoise workshop of the year. 
GOH 205 
We would like to welcome Professor Ron Pen of the University of Kentucky who will present the following paper:
“Kyrgyzstan and Kentucky Embraced a Local and Global Dialogue”
The negotiation of local and global perceptions of culture has been shaped by popular culture dissemination, social media, ease of travel, and increasing urbanization. The East Kentucky region of Appalachia and the mountainous Tien Shan area of Kyrgyzstan have been conceived as oppositional forces harboring traditional cultures bound to community in continuity despite changing modern political and social contexts.
Both cultures have been used to exemplify national identity. In the United States Appalachia represented a bastion of British culture in opposition to the diversity of immigration   In Kyrgyzstan, traditional nomadic culture represented core values in opposition to Russian and Soviet influence.  In both cases, the mountains were conceived as symbolic and actual borders that protected traditional culture.
Through several recent U.S. State Department-sponsored cultural exchange opportunities, I, in concert with an old time string band The Red State Ramblers, was in a position to interact with traditional Kyrgyz musicians.  Observations concerning nationalism, myth, narrative epics, pedagogy, folklore strategies, and persistence of traditional culture in new contexts will be illustrated through a power point discussion and music.
Ron Pen is professor of music at the University of Kentucky where he also serves as director of the John Jacob Niles Center for American Music and coordinator of the Division of Musicology and Ethnomusicology.  With research and performance interests in traditional Appalachian culture, he is a fiddler with the Red State Ramblers and a founding member of the Appalachian Association of Sacred Harp Singers.  As a member of the Red State Ramblers he has participated in U.S. State Department cultural exchanges in Kyrgyzstan, China, and Ecuador. His recent publications include I Wonder As I Wander: The Biography of John Jacob Niles (University Press of Kentucky 2010) and “Preservation and Presentation of the Folk: Forging an American Identity” in Music, American Made: Essays in Honor of John Graziano (Harmonie Park Press 2011).


Thursday 24 April – Meredith Aska McBride and Michael Riendeau

Dear All

Hope you can all come along to our first workshop of the Spring quarter!

Please join UChicago PhD candidate Meredith Aska McBride with guest speaker, Michael Riendeau for their presentation entitled “The Evolving Role of the Urban Arts Educator in the 21st Century”


Over the past several decades, music education, and arts education more generally, has entered an era of privatization, in which students largely access formalized arts education either through private, tuition-based programs or through teaching artists subcontracted to teach in public, private, and charter schools. Since the turn of the 21st century, arts education, and music education in particular, has often been used by policymakers and administrators to attempt to accomplish other social policy goals, mainly targeting urban children of color euphemistically known as “at-risk youth.” This presentation describes and examines Chicago’s music education landscape through these twin lenses of privatization and citizenship, exploring both the issues and the opportunities present in this model. PhD candidate Meredith Aska McBride will begin with an overview of music education in Chicago, contextualizing it within nationwide trends. Noted Chicago-based teaching artist Michael Riendeau will then describe his career, pedagogical methods, and teaching philosophy and discuss how he responds to these ideological formations within his own work. Michael and Meredith will then jointly discuss the after-school drumline program at EPIC Academy in the South Chicago neighborhood, where Michael is finishing his third year as a teaching artist and where Meredith has completed fieldwork observations.


Meredith Aska McBride is a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of Chicago. Her dissertation is entitled “Harmonizing the City: Music education and urban citizenship in Chicago.”

Michael Riendeau is a noted teaching artist and percussionist based in Chicago. He holds a BA in music from Lawrence University and has studied a number of forms of West African drumming in Paris, Ghana, and Senegal. His teaching work in the Chicago area has spanned diverse settings, including residencies at the Cook County Juvenile Detention Center and in numerous schools across the city, mainly on the south and west sides; and serving as a private percussion teacher at several schools in the north shore suburbs. Michael frequently speaks and teaches on teaching artistry and has worked in particular with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra’s Institute, the Civic Orchestra, and the Merit School of Music.


Same time (4.30-6.00pm), Same place (GOH 205)

See you there!