Abstracts

Performing Pietism: Kuhnau’s Biblical Sonatas
Bethany Cencer, SUNY Stony Brook


Scholars have generally focused on the programmatic qualities of Johann Kuhnau’s six Biblical Sonatas without relating them to seventeenth-century Leipzig religious culture. In this lecture recital, I argue that the Biblical Sonatas espouse pietistic conceptions of spiritual engagement. The evidence comes from Kuhnau’s Preface and his novel, Der musicalische Quacksalber.


While Kuhnau was Thomaskantor in Leipzig (1684–1722), the Pietist movement was growing within the Lutheran church in reaction to orthodox practices. Founder Philipp Spener initiated a revival in Biblical devotion by advocating private gatherings dedicated to reading Scripture. Pietists championed the devout life, upholding spirituality that embraced both intellect and emotion. Though Kuhnau’s exact views on Pietism are unknown, the Biblical Sonatas reflect its credences by engaging listeners’ emotions, empowering them to integrate spirituality into everyday life. Kuhnau chose familiar Old Testament readings Leipzig citizens could empathize with—stories involving illness, healing, marriage, combat, and death. He introduced each sonata with a personally annotated version of its Biblical story, stating that his renditions “prepare the listener for the affect sought after.” He identified sonata movements with descriptive text, clarifying correlations between music and narrative. Finally, Kuhnau’s title page endorses a private, individual encounter with Scripture. It depicts a woman gazing at an open Bible while playing an organ, accompanied by the caption, “While playing, allude.”

Through a narrated harpsichord performance of the sonata “Gideon, Savior of Israel” and other sonataexcerpts, I show how the Biblical Sonatas can be convincingly situated within Pietist discourse. For example, movements vary in length, often in direct relation to real time. Chromaticism accentuates apprehension and deception. Repetition of motives emphasizes characters’ prevailing emotional states. Strategic use of recitative, stile concitato, and stile brisé texture synthesizes textual and musical meaning. The Biblical Sonatas, like the pietists, motivated listeners to experience an internalized, dynamic faith.


The Quiet Hand: Aesthetics of Bodily Decorum in the Keyboard Music of François Couperin
Eric J. Wang, UCLA

            When François Couperin published the second book of Pièces de clavecin in the mid-1710s, in the preface he urged his readers to consult his L’Art de toucher le clavecin for fingerings and advice on how to play certain passages of music. He regarded these directions as “absolutely indispensable”; the music could not exist without the right instruction. Indeed, many scholars and performers have regarded Couperin’s “Method” asone of the first documents of the eighteenth century to provide concrete and practical advice on how to perform French keyboard music in a “proper” manner.

            I would like to give special consideration to the title itself, in which Couperin chooses the word toucher, the sensation of actually touching the instrument. Whereas other French treatises, such as Saint Lambert’s or, later, Rameau’s, focus more specifically on the mechanical aspects of keyboard technique (i.e., “la mécanique des doigts,” such as fingerings and ornaments), Couperin specifically foregrounds the performer’s body through physical sensation – that is, touch rather than execution.

            Through this viewpoint, I argue that L’Art de toucher le clavecin is not just pedagogical in nature; rather, Couperin’s performance directions document ways in which the French regarded the body during performance. Just as Louis XIV’s courtiers at Versailles were expected to dance with grace and seeming effortlessness, Couperin reinscribes the concept of bon goût with the harpsichordist. His fingerings, for example, do not facilitate easier execution, but, rather, emphasize the “quiet hand,” which is perfectly centered over the keyboard and positioned for the absolute minim of physical motion. In this paper, I will demonstrate, through the préludes from L’Art de toucher le clavecin and selected works from Book II of Pièces de clavecin, how the keyboardist’s body, like dancers, serves as an analog to the French court aesthetics of physical balance and decorum.


Le basson français dans les brevets d’invention
Augustin Tiffou, L’Université de Paris IV–Sorbonne

            L’histoire du basson au XIXe siècle est, dans son ensemble, assez mal connue. De plus, deux systèmes de basson coexistent à cette époque et encore de nos jours : le basson de type allemand et le basson de type français. Les quelques études existantes sur l’instrument ont donné des informations de premier ordre sur le premier, tandis que les informations sur le second sont nettement moins abondantes. De ce fait, une étude sur le basson français semblait adéquate et nécessaire. Aussi, parmi les nombreux points que l’on peut aborder, l’objet de cette étude se limitera-t-elle sur le basson dans les brevets. On pourra ainsi trouver de nombreuses informations pertinentes qui donneront une meilleure idée de l’évolution de la facture de cet instrument. Pour ce faire, nous évoquerons en premier lieu la naissance des brevets français et leur coût. Ce point éclairci, nous observerons les brevets d’instruments à vent à Paris. Bien que la plus grande majorité des facteurs d’instruments se trouvent à Paris, les brevets nous prouvent que les facteurs des provinces ne sont pas moins prolifiques. Mais leur intérêt ne se limite pas là ; certains brevets étaient consacrés à l’amélioration du mécanisme d’un instrument, voire d’un groupe d’instruments, ce qui démontre qu’une amélioration apportée à un instrument pouvait être bénéfique pour d’autres. On observera, par ailleurs, que les brevets sur des instruments à anches doubles ont commencé à apparaître plus tardivement que d’autres. Il ne faudra donc pas s’étonner s’il a fallu attendre le milieu du XIXe siècle pour trouver un brevet spécifique au basson. Enfin, certains brevets ont fait l’objet de l’amélioration d’accessoires nécessaires à un instrument, en l’occurrence les anches. Ce survol de ces différents sujets sur les brevets devrait donner une bonne vue d’ensemble sur les améliorations que le basson français et, d’un point de vue plus large, les instruments à vent en bois ont connues dans leur facture au cours du XIXe siècle.


Landscape and Nationalism in R. Murray Schafer’s And Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon
Matthew Toth, University of Western Ontario

In the early 1980s, composer R. Murray Schafer started experimenting with new venues for his compositions.  Including works such as Music for Wilderness Lake, a piece written for a group of trombones encircling a lake at dawn, as well as the prologue and epilogue to the career-spanning Patria cycle (The Princess of the Stars [1981], And Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon [1983-], commonly referred to as the “Wolf Project”) Schafer started to move his creations out of the concert hall and into the wilderness.  While on a direct level a natural culmination of his work on soundscapes in the 1970s, this shift in venue is also indicative of other changes in Schafer’s thoughts concerning the form that a distinctively Canadian art should take.  In moving his performances outdoors, Schafer aimed to eliminate the boundaries between performer, composer and audience in an experience that he no longer referred to as music but as a type of “tone magic”. 
Although works such as these in many ways resist analysis, the Patria cycle has attracted much scholarly attention as of late.  Important research by scholars Ellen Waterman and Kate Galloway find ways to discuss the text of Schafer’s “tone magic”, work of no mean importance as scores often either do not exist or cannot do justice to works like Schafer’s that transgress the boundaries of traditional performance. My research takes Schafer’s text and places it in the context of his own writings, the changing cultural landscape of twentieth-century Canada and larger trends in works across the arts that seek to go beyond their traditional settings.  Ultimately, I show how Schafer’s choice of the Canadian wilderness as performance venue is indicative of deeper running discourses about Canadian identity that reflect changing attitudes towards the arts in post-Massey Report Canada.


Comme c’est étrange, cette musique qui ne bouge pas: Claude Vivier and Spectral Music
William Guerin, Indiana University

Despite Claude Vivier’s status as one of the most important Québécois/Canadian composers to date, and a significant figure in the international musical avant-garde, awareness of his work among Anglophone and non-Canadian music scholars has often seemed less than widespread.  In recent years, however, Vivier has indeed garnered more attention—in part, I suggest, as a result of increased interest by North American scholars in the musique spectrale of composers such as Grisey, Murail, Eötvös, and Saariaho.  As spectralism, like minimalism, seems bound to form one of the major categories into which scholars partition the motley array of post-serial styles, it thus has the potential to color significantly our hearing of Vivier’s work.  At a point in time when a full appreciation of Vivier’s legacy is still consolidating, a critical interrogation of his identity as a spectral composer is apt.

            By way of an analysis of Lonely Child (1980), one of his best-known works, as well as reference to selected others, I aim to show that Vivier’s relationship to spectralism is, in fact, tangled and problematic. Within Lonely Child, I identify a number of elements and techniques that seem to ally Vivier closely with spectral practices, including an engagement by purely acoustic instruments with the products of sound technology, a mystical conception of the overtone series, and a concern for the deep unity of timbre and harmony.  Yet, as I argue, just as many other facets of this work, such as its exhaustively melodic character, its exploitation of the expressive potential of the diatonic system, its thoroughgoing concern with extrinsic signification, and its highly-charged attitude of personal subjectivity, place it radically at odds with the philosophical and aesthetic program articulated by several key spectralists.  In light of this situation, I propose that scholars must approach the delimiting of any “spectral school” cautiously, mindful of the need to question the defining characteristics asserted by a number of its adherents.



Allusion as a Formal Determinant in the Music of Martinů
Damian Blättler, Yale University

The literature on collage music is split between that which focuses on the music’s referential elements and that which focuses on its technical materials.  The notion is that the referential and the technical occupy distinct analytical realms; Catherine Losada suggests that the study of the technical realm requires the suppression of the referential when she writes “By emphasizing technical aspects over the referential implications of the practice of quotation, this study describes the various formal, structural, and associative relationships between disparate elements in the musical collage” (Losada 2004: 35).

This paper suggests a methodology with which one can work in both the technical and referential realms, and examines the music of Martinů to demonstrate a way in which the music’s allusive/referential gestures can be read as the determinants of its form.  In the “Praeludium” from the Sextet for Woodwinds and Piano, the inter-war European conception of jazz is broken apart into its constituent components; the layering of allusion made possible by this distillation then serves as the basis for a novel formal structure that combines elements of both sonata form and Mark Spicer’s concept of accumulative form.  This paper also interfaces with recent scholarship on unity by Robert Morgan, Kevin Korsyn, and Daniel Chua to further discuss how the synthetic impulse of music theory might be reconciled with intentionally dis-unified collage music.


Walter Ruttmann’s “Blind Film”: Wochenende (1930), a Musicological Anvestigation
into an Audio-Visual Anomaly
Daniel Robinson, The University at Buffalo

On June 13, 1930, the German experimental filmmaker Walter Ruttmann (1887–1941) premiered his innovative media creation Wochenende (Weekend) in Berlin.  The work is an intricate piece of sound collage just over eleven minutes in duration, consisting solely of a soundtrack featuring various sound effects, fragments of music and snatches of dialogue.  Ruttmann himself referred to it as a “study in sound-montage” and “a completely new acoustic art.”  Weekend is practically a textbook example of musique concrète, a term that Pierre Schaeffer would not coin until 1948, nearly two decades later. It occupies a liminal position  between the fields of late-1920s radio practice and early sound film: commissioned by the Berlin Radio Hour for broadcast, but recorded on optical film, enabling the experimental, sound-montage to escape the technological limitations of the 78 rpm record.

Ruttmann’s previous work included his four Lichtspiel: Opus films (1921-24), generally classified as Absolute film, and his influential avant-garde documentaries Berlin: Symphony of a Great City and World Melody (1927 and 1929, respectively).  The filmmaker remained in Germany after the Nazis rose to power in 1933, began working for the Ministry of Propaganda under Joseph Goebbels, and was fatally wounded in 1941 while filming documentary footage on the Russian front.  This paper surveys Ruttmann’s career up to the making of Weekend in 1929–30, recounts some of the facts about the project, and then provides an analysis of the audio-film.  While taking into account the technological influences upon this media object, I focus on exploring modernist artistic currents—such as constructivism, dada, surrealism, and Gebrauchsmusik—which circulated throughout Ruttmann’s creative milieu in late-1920s Berlin, and are woven into the rich, sound fabric of the work.


Pre-standardized Blues Phraseology: Superimposition of Metric Symmetry in Marc Ribot’s “St. James Infirmary” and Robert Johnson’s “Come on in My Kitchen”
Sean Lorre, Rutgers Unversity

The modern conception of the blues has come to be associated with a strict formal construction of twelve-bar verses divided into three four-bar phrases. Prior to the near-universal acceptance of this formal conceit many early blues recordings demonstrate a distinct looseness and irregularity of form as well as meter. Though seemingly widespread, this performance practice can be heard in the 1930s recordings of Robert Johnson and Charlie Patton and is emulated in Marc Ribot’s 2001 solo guitar recording/arrangement of the jazz/blues standard “St. James Infirmary.”   For his interpretation of “St. James Infirmary,” Ribot strove to connect with this tradition, to create what he refers to as a “prototypical, pre-standardized blues.” In this performance Ribot eschews the modern twelve-bar form, instead drawing the formal construction of this piece from the earlier, rural blues tradition.

On his “St. James Infirmary” Ribot employs unusual phrase lengths but creates a perceived evenness out of this odd phrase structure, a technique that Robert Johnson also used for his 1936 record, “Come on in My Kitchen.” Both tunes are based around eight-bar melodies followed by responsorial cadential figures. Both Ribot and Johnson create odd-length verses by eliding the melodic “calls” with cadential “response” riffs.  This elision could easily contribute to an aural perception of unnatural unevenness or interruption; however, the way in which the combination of phrases is constructed superimposes a feeling of symmetry on an asymmetrical phrase length.

Through careful examination of my own transcriptions of these tunes, this presentation will further explore the similarities found in these two performances. These transcriptions and consequent analysis shed light on practice of irregular forms in early, rural blues and their modern reinterpretations. Drawing from Harald Krebs’ concept of “hypermetric irregularity” and Schenker’s idea of “reinterpretation,” the presentation will discuss in depth the ways in which odd phrase lengths are perceived as balanced.


White and Blue: Rhythmic Complexity In the Early Improvisations of Jack Teagarden
Alex W. Rodriguez, Rutgers University

A white trombonist from rural Texas, Jack Teagarden was an unlikely protagonist in the development of early jazz.  By the time he arrived in New York in 1927 at age 21, Teagarden was playing complex improvised rhythms with impeccable technique and a sophisticated, emotionally impactful blues feeling.  This landed him a part in one of jazz’s first interracial recording sessions: “Knockin’ a Jug” with Louis Armstrong in 1929. 

The concepts of metric consonance and dissonance developed by Harald Krebs to describe the music of Robert Schumann (first adapted to jazz by Ted Buehrer and Robert Hodson in 2004) are especially useful tools for understanding how Teagarden makes these rhythms work.  It is widely understood that jazz music has its roots in the blues; furthermore, rhythm has always been a central part of the music's definition.  Many discussions of early blues influence on jazz, however, focus instead on melodic constructs or timbral effects.  But it is Teagarden's deft application of improvised rhythmic techniques that projects his sense of the blues. 

I have selected five examples of Teagarden's early recorded improvisation: two takes of “She’s a Great, Great Girl” recorded with Roger Wolfe Kahn in 1928, two takes of “That’s a Serious Thing” with Eddie Condon in 1929 and the aforementioned “Knockin’ a Jug.”  By applying Krebs’s analytical tools to the rhythmic highlights of these solos, I will show how one of jazz’s early (and often under-appreciated) jazz masters used improvised syncopation to convey his own blues-inflected style.


CBC Radio, Glenn Gould and Isolation
Jamie Meyers-Riczu, University of Calgary jamiefmeyers@gmail.com

            Canada’s identity as a nation is inextricably linked to its association with the archetypal North—vast, cold and inhospitable.  Since Confederation, the geography of Canada has formed both an impediment and a solution to the task of creating a national identity from diverse people groups spread out across a continent. Although the distances between people in Canada isolate them from one another, this experience of isolation can also form a common bond.  This bond was reshaped by the introduction of the first national public media: the radio.  The radio, specifically the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), simultaneously reconfigured Canadian isolation by broadcasting a unifying voice for the nation and reinforced the idea that Canadian identity is defined by the country’s vast landscape. 

            In 1967, the CBC approached Glenn Gould, one of the nation’s most celebrated musicians, to create a radio documentary celebrating Canada’s Centennial.  In the resulting work, “The Idea of North,” Gould ruminates on the North and the tension between isolation and community experienced there. Through the piece’s medium, form, and content, Gould explores how a shared experience of isolation can draw people together, and in doing so traces a fundamental feature of the people who define their home as the “True North.” First, the medium for which Gould composed the piece holds a unique place in the nation’s attempt to resolve the isolation of its citizens. Second, he created a form he called “contrapuntal radio,” a syncretic genre incorporating conventional documentary and drama organized like a contrapuntal musical composition. To compress the documentary into sixty minutes, Gould decided to present the text of his characters simultaneously rather than cut crucial information. The voices of the five carefully chosen interviewees—recorded separately—now share the same aural space. Last, the interviewees reflect on their ideas of North and their experiences of isolation.  In assigning the North as the sign of isolation, Gould simultaneously reinforces the idea that Canada, and the identity of its citizens, is composed of a community of isolated people.


A Musicological Approach to Musical Identity:
Mapping Musical Sound onto Theories of Identity and Place
Nicholas Thompson, McGill University nicholas.thompson2@mail.mcgill.ca

In popular music, many socio-geographic musical centers or cities and their respective music scenes have come to be associated with a certain “sound.”  However, it would seem that in many cases this “sound” is not something that is sonically or musically qualified, acting instead as a kind of convenient label for categorization or an industry buzzword.  The issue then becomes “sound”: can a specific musical “sound” be identified and actually come to act as a signifier of a certain socio-geographic location or city?  The work of such scholars as Cohen (1991, 2007) and Connell and Gibson (2003) has traced out many of the socio-cultural aspects of city “sounds” and their related identities, yet there remains a need for more musicological or analytical input regarding musical aspects of identity and place.

In order to illustrate how links can be made between sound and identity, the first step will be to explore existing associations of musical genre, style and sound to identity.  The next step will be to look at theories of identity formation (Lacan 2006; Butler 1993, 1997) in order to see how a “sound” or certain “details of musical style” (Brackett 2002) can come be mapped onto these theories.  A further look into the issues of musical meaning as discussed by Middleton (1990) and the semiotic analytical techniques proposed by Tagg and Clarida (2003) will then lead to a discussion of ways in which particular musical elements or sonic properties can be identified with a particular “sound” and raise the question of whether or not this “sound” can come to act as a signifier of a specific musical identity or place.

Having formed a theoretical and analytical model through the process outlined above, the workings of this model will be demonstrated through the introduction to a case study on a perceived “Montréal sound” implicating the Montréal Anglophone indie rock scene since the international rise to fame of the local band Arcade Fire in 2005.


Lamentation as a Vehicle of Innovation in Late 16th C Roman Chant Reform and Monody
Barbara Swanson, Case Western Reserve University

The significance of humanism to both monody and Counter-Reformation chant reform is well documented in scholarly literature. No study to date, however, has explored connections between the two repertories, despite rich possibilities: early experiments in monody by Vincenzo Galilei and Jacopo Peri were both compared to chant; the recitation-like quality of early monodies like Giulio Caccini’s Perfidissimo volto resemble both rhythmic chant reforms and psalm tone; and the chant reforms of influential reformer Giovanni Guidetti arguably strove, like monody, to introduce expression and affect into chant “melodies” through rhythm, realigned melodic accent and placement of accidentals. In addition to examining such intersections, this paper will explore the significance of the Lamentations to both monody and chant reform by looking specifically at Giovanni Guidetti’s 1587 reformed chant for Holy Week and one of the earliest published monodies, Emilio de’ Cavalieri’s 1599/1600 Lamentations. Both Murray Bradshaw and Theodor Käser have noted the importance of the Lamentations, with their highly charged texts of desolation and despair, to early monodists. Bradshaw has further documented the use of Guidetti’s reforms in Cavalieri’s work. Although typically viewed as entirely distinct repertories, this study will suggest that monody and chant reform had much in common and may have mutually influenced one another in subtle ways.


The Debutante and her Critics: Ritual Initiation at the Paris Opéra, 1830-1850
Kimberly White, McGill University

            As the main launching point in an artist’s career, the debut is a significant event for the singer, theatre and audience. In 19th-century Paris, theatre-goers and critics spoke of débuts as performers had to present three different roles from the current repertory. Normally occurring between June and August when many premiers artistes toured the provincial theatres, the debut season provided a welcome diversion for those remaining in the capital. The theatrical and musical press suddenly overflowed with reviews of debutants: for female artists, critics spilled more ink on descriptions of their youthful figures than on their voices. Discussion of the voice centered on technique with praise directed toward the (male) vocal instructor. By concentrating on the woman’s physical appearance and highlighting her fragility, nervousness and inexperience, the debut becomes akin to a rite of sexual initiation where the power to determine success resides with the audience and critics.

            This paper analyses the debut phenomenon for women singers at the Paris Opéra during the July Monarchy and uncovers the gendered critique debutantes faced. After outlining the debut process, I identify general trends in the critical reception to uncover what was necessary for a successful debut. As a case study, I dwell on Cornélie Falcon’s 1832 debut as Alice from Meyerbeer’s Robert le Diable. While in 1927 Charles Bouvet described her debut as a public relations event orchestrated by Opéra director Louis Véron, I propose a new reading to show how Falcon’s debut successfully negotiated with contemporary gender ideologies. As Falcon’s dramatic-soprano voice and passionate acting style might have startled her audience, her debut required more careful framing. Astute choice of roles, performing alongside her instructor Adolphe Nourrit, showing deference to his authority in professional matters, and maintaining a modest stage demeanor kept Falcon well within the boundaries of acceptable behaviour while allowing her to showcase her extraordinary talent.


“Add Some Spice!”: Intonation in Konnakol
Raphaëlle Brochet, Wesleyan University

            Solkattu, commonly seen as the “drum language” used in South Indian classical music, consists of the solmization of the strokes played on the mrdangam. However, more than merely imitating the drum, solkattu also plays an essential role in the transmission and in the communication of rhythmic materials. The literature on solkattu generally focuses on the Carnatic rhythm itself, rather than on the vocal/performance aspect of it. I am suggesting in this study that solkattu is not only an insight into Carnatic rhythm, but also a performing art per se, and I will use intonation as a way to consider solkattu as a vocal practice. Performed, solkattu is then called “konnakol”. It is not to say that solkattu belongs to the realm of transmission, and konnakol, to the land of performance. The idea of rhythm transmitted through the medium of solkattu is relevant, but there are zones that overlap between transmission and performance; blurry margins where the transmission becomes a moment of performance, and where we can talk about konnakol for moments that happen in the context of a class. This is precisely what this study is about: the shifting border between transmission and performance, embodied by solkattu and konnakol, through the spectre of intonation. What are solkattu and konnakol, and what fields do they respectively cover? I will talk about different uses of solkattu; then we will turn to konnakol and to the intimate relationship that exists between the drum and the voice. Finally, I will try to show how the intonation behaves, and how it relates to the question of performance.


The Dynamics of ‘Freedom’ and Gender in Jazz: A Comparative Analysis of Sun Ra and Alice Coltrane
Mel Backstrom, McGill University

Since the inception of jazz discourse in the early twentieth century, the rhetoric of freedom has been one of, if not the, most pervasive and persistent of its tropes. Not only has “freedom” served to justify jazz music’s distinctiveness, argue for its moral worth and defend it from its critics, but it has also played a crucial role in the formation of identities within the jazz community as it came to be, for many, the telos towards which the entire history of jazz was progressing. Its ostensible singularity and self-evident meaning, however, serve to cover up questions that reveal freedom’s highly ideological functionality. Whose freedom does jazz supposedly represent? How is it used to justify reactionary socio-political stances? And given the enormous gender imbalance within traditional jazz historiography, how have women and men involved in jazz used the concept differently reflecting their own backgrounds, priorities and desires?

In order to help answer these questions I will discuss two musicians, Sun Ra and Alice Coltrane, who worked within the avant-garde jazz movement of the 1960’s when freedom attained its most explicit and insistent enunciation. These two are particularly well-suited for comparison in these regards not only on account of their differing genders, but also because of their common foregrounding of spirituality as inseparable from their music, the ambivalent ways they both made use of “freedom” and their complicated relationships with the politics of gender. Out of an analysis of their histories and music comes an interpretation of their highly idiosyncratic styles, an explanation as to why both have been often ignored by jazz historians, as well as an attempt to reverse the general silencing of their still unique and important voices.