DepositPerformance and History

This seminar investigates musical performances of the past in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Ranging from Anton Webern’s famous transcription of a Bach fugue to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hit musical Hamilton, we will seek to explore how compositional practices in the twentieth century drew inspiration from a range of historical sources, and explore how this relationship between the past and the present shapes this century’s cultural politics.

DepositPerformative Publications

This article is a print rendition of a web-based experimental publication which reflects upon and at the same time is itself an example of performative publishing. A performative publication wants to explore how we can bring together and align more closely the material form of a publication with its content. Making use of software, the web-version of this article has been written ‘in the margins’ of the performative publication it reflects upon, entangling itself with this project at various points. The reflections written in extend the performative publication both theoretically and practically by examining the correlation between performative publishing and technotexts (Hayles), performative materiality (Drucker), liberature (Fajfer), and feminist design (McPherson), and the ethical and political challenges towards academic publishing these kinds of concepts and practices pose. The web-version of this article stresses the collaborative and processual nature of scholarship, where through both annotators and reviewers have become active participants on this evolving publication, which is both open-ended in time and collaborative in authorship.

DepositNotes for a Phenomenology of Musical Performance

Understanding performance can not only increase our theoretical grasp of music but reveal something of the general character of human experience. Performance evokes a condition that affects the fundamental aspects of experience: the perception of time and space, of the body and sensation, and of personal and social experience. A phenomenological description of performance from within the situation reveals a transformation of ordinary experience. Time and space are transfigured, body awareness and the sensory system are intensified, the dynamic character of musical experience is heightened, and its personal character is enlarged to encompass both audience and tradition, as the listener becomes an active participant in this process.

DepositPhysical Performance and the Languages of Translation

Our lack of reliable information concerning the physical and choreographic aspects of ancient tragic performance permits modern writers to construct their own imaginative re-creations of the ancient text/body relationship in a wide variety of modes. The range of ways in which texts translated or adapted from ancient tragedy are capable of suggesting performative physicalities is accordingly broad. However, we often respond to these new theatre works as if they were linguistic artefacts, as if theatre translation were merely the replacement of one counter with another in a word game played out at the level of the printed text, and relayed to an audience without the crucial corporeal intervention of breath, bone, tissue and muscle. This chapter is concerned with what physically happens in that moment when the written text of a drama is filtered and resonated and shared though the medium of an actor’s body. It is also concerned with the opportunities presented by the multiple re-versioning of Greek drama in the contemporary theatre to explore the multiple ways in which the formal qualities of dramatic text, especially poetic texts, can influence the physical life of a performance.

DepositPerforming Spiritualism in the Silent Cinema

The silent film era, usually defined as 1895-1927, coincided with a revival of belief in spiritualism in America. Desperate to find meaning in the deaths of the Great War and the 1918 Spanish Flu epidemic, the bereaved sought contact with the dead and evidence of an afterlife. Given this fascination with spiritualism, it is not surprising that the topic quickly became a favorite for filmmakers. This resulted in numerous moving pictures that featured the presence of spirits, which in turn required musical accompaniment suited to the subject. Cinema musicians borrowed from the aural atmosphere of the Spiritualist Church, private and public séances, and other entertainments and experiences involving the supernatural. Both professions were ones in which women could not only fully participate, but were thought by many to be better suited than men for the work at hand. The highly gendered musical and moral educations and expectations for women in the nineteenth century, which were intended to prepare women for domesticity, were exactly the training they needed to succeed as professional mediums and cinema accompanists. The code of morals that held up accomplished women as respectable models provided mediums and accompanists with considerable power in determining the aesthetics and practices of their workplaces.