The Music History and Theory Study Group

In collaboration with Ethnoise


Byron Dueck

The Open University

The Social Life of Chords

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Goodspeed 205

How do musicians acknowledge and extend relationships through the sounding materials they deploy? What kinds of connections do these deployments establish, and with whom (intimates, strangers, abstract publics, spirits)? This paper considers two sites where western harmony was initially disseminated in the context of colonialism, drawing on fieldwork conducted in Yaoundé, the capital of Cameroon, and the city of Winnipeg in western Canada. In Yaoundé, the focus is sacred and popular music played by xylophone ensembles (mendzaŋ); in Canada, it is gospel and country music performed by musicians of Indigenous (First Nations and Métis) heritage. In both sites, the talk explores how harmony mediates social ties.

Byron Dueck is Senior Lecturer and Head of Music at the Open University. He received his PhD in ethnomusicology from the University of Chicago in 2005 following degrees in piano performance at the University of Minnesota and Wilfrid Laurier University. His research interests include North American Indigenous music and dance, the music of Cameroon, and the musical mediation of relationships. He is the author of Musical Intimacies and Indigenous Imaginaries: Aboriginal Music in Public Performance (Oxford University Press) and the co-editor, with Martin Clayton and Laura Leante, of Experience and Meaning in Musical Performance (Oxford University Press).

Persons who believe they may require accommodations to participate fully in this event should contact the coordinator, Bradley Spiers at, in advance.

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