Kendra Preston Leonard is a musicologist and music theorist whose work focuses on women and music in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries; and music and screen history, particularly music and adaptations of Shakespeare; and a librettist and poet. She is the Executive Director of the Silent Film Sound and Music Archive (www.sfsma.org) and the Head of Scholarship and Research for the Institute for Composer Diversity (www.composerdiversity.com).
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.
Michael Palmese is a doctoral candidate in musicology at Louisiana State University with a minor in comparative literature. His primary research interests encompass music and art from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, particularly minimalism and postminimalism. In addition, Michael is interested in Samuel Beckett, politics and music, modernism, Arnold Schoenberg, and aesthetics of the Viennese fin de siècle.
Richard Elliott is a cultural musicologist with a particular interest in popular musics of the world. He is the author of the books Fado and the Place of Longing: Loss, Memory and the City (Ashgate, 2010), Nina Simone (Equinox, 2013), The Late Voice: Time, Age and Experience in Popular Music (Bloomsbury Academic, 2015) and The Sound of Nonsense (Bloomsbury Academic, 2018). He has also published articles and reviews on popular music, literature, consciousness, memory, nostalgia, place and space, affect, language and technology. Richard is Senior Lecturer in Music at the International Centre for Music Studies at Newcastle University, where he specialises in courses related to popular music. Prior to this he taught courses on popular music, contextual music studies, and music and media at the University of Sussex. He has also worked as a teacher of English for Academic Purposes, a journal editor and a reviewer of books and music. Richard’s research interests are wide but predominantly connect to ways in which music reflects and produces time, space and memorable objects. His early work explored the roles played by loss, memory, nostalgia and revolution in popular music and was heavily influenced by theories of place and spatiality. These ideas were developed in his first book Fado and the Place of Longing, which analysed Portuguese fado music as a reflection and production of space and place. An ongoing theme is the various ways in which music creates or evokes ‘memory places’ that take on significance for individuals and communities. More recent work reflects music’s potential to soundtrack lives and histories; Richard’s 2015 book The Late Voice explores the representation of time, age and experience in popular song. The Sound of Nonsense, published at the very end of 2017 (with a 2018 publication date), reflects Richard’s interest in words, music and sound studies. It brings together novelists, nonsense writers, sound poets, experimental composers, comedians and pop musicians in an attempt to get at the role of sound in creating, maintaining and disrupting meaning. Richard’s other areas of specialisation include the global span of popular music styles from the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, music and cultural theory, urban musicology, the poetics of song and the politics of authenticity. He has a background in a variety of disciplines, having gained a Bachelor’s degree in Comparative American Studies, a Master’s in Popular Culture and a PhD in Music.
In the United States, most middle-class listeners often have passive contact with bossa nova. In recent decades, this contact is often in the context of restaurants, bars, and increasingly in spaces more directly affiliated with commerce such as clothing stores, coffee shops, and bookstores. As common as bossa nova and other Brazilian musical styles are in commercial spaces, few have questioned why that genre above others has been uniquely poised to fulfill a variety of ubiquitous music needs, and more to the point, what social and cultural transactions occur when the music is placed in these contexts. This essay seeks to understand the ease with which bossa nova, in all of its guises, has found an extended life as ubiquitous music in outlets where audiences are least likely to be paying attention to what they are hearing. While the practice of using bossa nova in restaurants and bars has a precedent through its popularity among jazz musicians, this essay focuses on the role of pre-recorded music in these contexts. It draws from interviews conducted with independent record industry personnel in Brazil as well as with the producers of “canned” music content for a variety of retail contexts. This essay is in conversation with debates of distracted sensory perception from auditory / sound studies and media studies. By treating bossa nova as sound more than as a musical text in these environments, this essay foregrounds the unique function of this musical style as conducive to commerce.
During an interview, Andris Nelsons, music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, stated unequivocally that sexual harassment was not a problem in the world of classical music because, “If [people] could realize how important [music and art] are…I believe they would become better human beings.” The interview was in response to the recent spread of the hashtag #MeToo, in which people described personal experiences of sexual harassment and/or abuse, some within the classical music community. Nelsons’s comment was tone-deaf and ill-timed: In less than two weeks, The New York Times would break the story of conductor James Levine’s sexual abuse of teenagers. Why did classical music fans continue to defend Levine’s behavior in terms of his musical genius? This talk examines the remarkable spread of the idea that listening to good music develops an individual’s inner moral compass. Nineteenth-century books on music aimed at the general listener argued that certain types of music encapsulated particular values of the Victorian era, including congeniality and control over emotion. The association of particular musical styles with certain values—especially “high art” music with moral rectitude—encouraged music historians to gravitate toward “Great Masters” of music. Tracing the expected convergence of moral development and musical sensitivity demonstrates the ways in which sanitization of composer biographies continued well into the twentieth century, influencing generations of classical music enthusiasts. Audiences often conflate musical works with the lives of their composers, grafting aesthetic “power” onto individual people. Twenty-first century social media is poised to overthrow the status quo for this style of music by undermining the power of revered musical men.
<span style=”font-size: 7.5pt; font-family: ‘Verdana’,sans-serif; color: black;”>South Atlantic Modern Language Association, Atlanta, GA, November 3-5, 2017</span> <p style=”font-variant-ligatures: normal; font-variant-caps: normal; orphans: 2; text-align: start; widows: 2; -webkit-text-stroke-width: 0px; text-decoration-style: initial; text-decoration-color: initial; word-spacing: 0px;”><span style=”font-size: 7.5pt; font-family: ‘Verdana’,sans-serif; color: black;”>The Emily Dickinson International Society has a guaranteed panel at this year’s SAMLA, and we […]
The Muslim-dominated ‘Swahili coast’ has always served as a conceptual as well as physical periphery for post-colonial Kenya. This article takes Kenyan youth music under the influence of global hip-hop as an ethnographic entry into the dynamics of identity and citizenship in this region. Kenyan youth music borrows from global hip-hop culture the idea that an artist must ‘represent the real’. The ways in which these regional artists construct their public personae thus provide rich data on ‘cultural citizenship’, in Aihwa Ong’s (1996) sense of citizenship as subjectification. I focus here on youth music production in the Kenyan coastal city of Mombasa between 2004 and 2007. During this time, some local artists adopted a representational strategy that subtly reinscribed the symbolic violence to which members of the coast’s Muslim-Swahili society have long been subjected. I examine the representational strategies that were adopted during this period by Mombasan artists who happened to be members of the Muslim- Swahili society (‘subjects of the Swahili coast’, as I name them), with an ethnographic eye and ear trained on what they say about the ways in which young subjects of the Swahili coast are objectified and subjectified as ‘Kenyan youth’ in the twenty-first century.