The Music History and Theory Study Group Presents:

Chaz Lee

University of Chicago

Periodizing New Age:

Style, Genre, and the Ends of History

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Logan 802

4:30 – 6:00 PM

The presentation will be a preliminary test drive of some thoughts that I am trying to work into a chapter on New Age music and postmodernity. My dissertation as a whole (provisionally titled Romantic Remnants/Minimal Moods) explores the persistence of Romanticism as style and ideology in contemporary film soundtracks and ambient music, with a particular focus on how Romanticism becomes present in ambient, minimalistic strains in the recent period stretching from the 90s onward. The New Age chapter would be where I try to bridge film music with other recorded “mood musics,” stylistically, aesthetically, and functionally. More specifically, though, I want to see if New Age helps us to arrive at a more differentiated sense of the historical present than the one canonically offered by “postmodernism.” If, as Dennis Hall argues, New Age could be understood as the paradigmatic musical genre of postmodernity, then how does its transformation (and perhaps even obsolence?) over the period stretching from the 80s to the present help us arrive at a finer historiography and aesthetics of postmodernism? How might the waxing and waning of New Age as a genre, alongside the persistence of a stylistic referent that nonetheless invites the New Age label, help us inventory the historic continuities and transformations many of us experience but have perhaps yet to narrate?

Note that this will be a conference-style presentation. There is no pre-circulated paper.

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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