Virtual AMS/SMT 2020 Annual Meeting

AMS and SMT logos

November 8, 2020 | 10:00AM

Sunday, November 8

11:00 AM – 12:30 PM – Histories of Music Pedagogy: Techniques, Institutions, and Epistemologies (Workshop)

Lindsay Wright, speaker

In recent years, musicologists have turned to music education as an object of historical study, illustrated by an uptick in dissertations, conferences, and articles addressing pedagogical topics. Inspired in part by contemporary efforts to rethink the curricular organization of music departments, an interest in the historical roots of our pedagogical present has opened up rich arenas of investigation that have thus far received little scholarly attention.

As historians of science have long recognized, pedagogy is essential to the production and circulation of skill and knowledge, and therefore to generating and sustaining expert communities. In this regard, music is no exception. Music pedagogy, like the musical practices that it makes possible, is subject to considerable historical and geographical variation. From this perspective, analyzing music pedagogy can help explain not only the reproduction of musical knowledge and practice, but also how novel modes of musicking, thinking, and feeling come into being. 

We suggest that analyzing pedagogical cultures will spur musicologists to expand the purview of music-historical inquiry and to rethink established disciplinary problematics. These include the emergence of Werktreue as the dominant paradigm of musical performance during the late nineteenth century, discourses of the musical mind and body, and relationships among ideology, canon formation, and musical institutions. Relatedly, music education has functioned as a critical point of contact between musical practice and other ideological, epistemological, and technical formations, such as the human sciences and state-led projects of public reform. 

Comprised of six position papers, this workshop takes stock of these developments, considering the potential conceptual, historiographical, and empirical problematics that this newfound interest in the history of music education may generate. Focusing on Chopin and Liszt, Michael Weinstein- Reiman examines the nineteenth-century piano étude in light of changing conceptualizations of touch and virtuosity, theorizing the genre as an artistic mediation of physiological and spiritualist notions of musical training. Fanny Gribenski analyzes the Paris Conservatory as a laboratory of our sonic modernity, focusing on how the institution promoted new acoustical standards during the mid-nineteenth century that continue to shape global soundscapes to this day. Joshua Navon discusses shifting modes of assessing human musicality in German music conservatories in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Beginning by suggesting that most modern music pedagogies are classic forms of what Bernard Stiegler has called psychopower, Benjamin Steege questions the necessity of this status by turning to the case of early Dalcroze instructor Gustav Güldenstein, whose early career demonstrated an unusually critical stance toward psychological knowledge during the Weimar Republic. Taking up a tension at the core of James M. Trotter's 1878 treatise Music and Some Highly Musical People regarding the racialized nature of musicality, Lindsay Wright examines the historical relationship between music education, whiteness, and discourses of citizenship in the United States. Finally, examining body-based music pedagogies in the German Democratic Republic, Anicia Timberlake shows how abstract ideals such as "socialism" took on emotional, experiential meaning, and proposes a link between mature political citizenship and the process of learning to be musical.


11:00 AM – 12:50 PM – The Future of Jewish Music Studies (Jewish Studies and Music Study Group)

Philip V. Bohlman, speaker

This panel brings together scholars with a broad expertise in Jewish music topics to discuss how we can approach the study of Jewish music in the classroom and what role the Jewish Studies and Music Study Group should play in the future of Jewish music scholarship. The session will include remarks from our panelists and then an open discussion on such topics as ways to incorporate Jewish music into our standard music history curriculums, what the place of Jewish music scholarship is in musicological discourse, and how our study group should play a part in those areas and in promoting Jewish music studies as a whole.


3:00 PM – 3:50 PM – The Power of Music Criticism

“Music, the Public Sphere, and Nation-Building: 18th-Century Musical Writings in Berlin.” Siavash Sabetrohani

Around 1750, various elements came together to turn Berlin from a musical backwater to one of the leading European centers of music in both practice and theory. First, there was Frederick II's ascension in 1740 to the Prussian throne, which soon drew many notable musicians to the court. But equally important (and less recognized) was the creation of a robust public sphere of music theorizing and criticism, largely thanks to various periodicals issued by Friedrich Wilhelm Marpurg. Marpurg's periodicals helped create a public sphere in which people of various walks of life could discuss and criticize music openly. From the beginning, Marpurg worked energetically to promote a national style for the German nation by heralding the music of influential contemporaries who were active in the German-speaking lands. In order to maximize the outreach of his periodicals, Marpurg appealed to amateurs as well as professionals, male and female readers alike. Over the following generation, the music-literary scene in Berlin soon became one of the most dynamic in all of Europe, covering all aspects of contemporary musical life while using the language and tools of the most progressive musical theories circulating in Europe.  

The Seven Years' War (1756-63) serves as a useful dividing point between two distinct phases of this literary activity.  First, there was the pre-war generation of critics (e. g., Marpurg and Kirnberger) who reflected the conservative aesthetics of the court of Frederick II and looked upon operas by Graun and Hasse as the best models for contemporary music. After the war, there rose a newer generation of critics (e. g., Reichardt and Spazier) who extolled the works of Gluck and Mozart. Yet, these schools were united in the broader mission of advocating for a German national style that set itself apart from French and Italian models. While Forkel's 1802 biography of Bach is often cited as the beginning of the connection between music and nationalism in Germany, music theory and criticism can be seen to have functioned as a nation-building agent in periodicals in Berlin for at least half a century.


5:00 PM – 6:30 PM – Musical Interculturality: Scope, Methods, Approaches (Roundtable)

Philip V. Bohlman, speaker

Gender, racial, social, historical, and cultural biases surround research and teaching of music theory and music history in multiple ways. While many of these biases have been acknowledged for several decades and have given way to various critical traditions in our disciplines, the musical repertory of research projects, publications, and theory and history classes often remains restricted to works of Western, white, and classical canon. This panel discussion therefore aims at suggesting and scrutinizing ways of "decentering" research and teaching methods in the area of 20th- and 21st-century music. In the past 150 years, various processes of globalization, transnationalism, and hybridization have made the cultural origins, codes, and affordances of musics fluid and unstable as established tropes of musical exoticism or Orientalism have been increasingly rejected and challenged in musical composition and music practices. More specifically, such processes are reflected and transformed in certain trends of pre- and especially post-1945 art, popular, and traditional musics that have been described, among others, as examples of musical interculturality. By bringing together scholars from historical musicology/history, ethnomusicology, and music theory, the panel discussion shall result in proposals for current/future readjustments of research and curricular goals.

In order to frame the discussion, the participants will give short papers (10-15 minutes each) that explore the scope, methods, and approaches to musical interculturality, placing the focus on methodological and terminological questions within and across the disciplines of musicology, music theory/analysis, and ethnomusicology. These papers will be followed by 30 minutes of questions and answers. 


6:00 PM – 8:00 PM – Mediating the Cold War (AMS Cold War and Music Study Group and SMT Post-1945 Music Analysis Interest Group)

Jennifer Iverson, respondent


Recent scholarship in music studies has demonstrated the central roles that technology and mediation played in shaping musical practices since 1945, as well as our understanding of these practices during the Cold War and its aftermath. This alternative-format panel is a joint session of the Cold War and Music Study Group of the AMS and the Post-1945 Music Analysis Interest Group of the SMT. It features paired lightning talks from music scholars across sub-disciplines, who engage with these topics across different geographic regions and cultural-political contexts. Together, the panelists will offer new perspectives on, and prompt dialogue about, analyzing the role of mediation and technology in musical life during the Cold War. 

In the first pair of talks, titled "Innovation and Collaboration at CLAEM," Eduardo Herrera and Noel Torres-Rivera discuss creative practices at the Electronic Music Laboratory at the Centro Latinoamerican de Altos Estudios Musicales in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Herrera provides an overview of the studio's cultural politics, while Torres-Rivera offers an analysis of a work realized at this studio: Rafael Aponte-Ledée's Presagio de Pájaros Muertos (1966). The second pair of papers focus on the circulation of musical objects and ideologies in the Cold War United States. Ryan Gourley focuses on the politics of record circulation, analyzing American record labels run by Russian expatriates. He draws attention to how music and musicians from the USSR became participants in discourses of U.S. internationalism during the Cold War. George Adams offers an analysis of Maryanne Amacher's City Links (1967–), arguing that the logistical and theoretical difficulties of Amacher's work can be understood as expressions of a developing American cultural consciousness during the Cold War era. Following the paired lightning talks Gabrielle Cornish and Jennifer Iverson will offer reflections from the disciplines of musicology and music theory, respectively, and open up a discussion with panelists and audience members.

Recording Technologies and Cold War Cultural Consciousness

“Maryanne Amacher’s Musical Technologies.” George Adams

Maryanne Amacher was a prominent figure in American experimental music from the late 1960s onward, due to both her ingenuity as a composer and her expertise as a sound engineer. Her technological prowess enabled a conceptually rich compositional output that exceeded the spacial and temporal boundaries of typical musical performance. Ironically, the technological and conceptual vibrancy of her music has made it difficult to reproduce and record—or to theorize and analyze. Indeed, as Amy Cimini notes, to write about Amacher’s “wild sound” one must adopt some commensurate wildness of analytical method.

In this talk, I argue that the logistical and theoretical difficulties of Amacher’s work are expressions of a Cold War-era American cultural consciousness in which military technological efficacy threatened unprecedented destruction. Through long-distance telecommunication performances such as City-Links (1967–), and her use of audible “combination tones” resulting from vibrations in the inner ear, Amacher harnessed this technological efficacy and directed it toward musical ends. Rather than destruction, she geared her musical technologies for the production of an optimistic musical future by collapsing the bounds of musical time and space, and blurring the distinctions between bodies, instruments, performers, and listeners. Amacher’s work still leads the analyst well beyond the methods of music theory. But by considering how her music collapsed conceptual boundaries, we may begin to collapse some of the methodological boundaries between the apparent difficulties of her music, its place in American cultural history, and present-day practices of music analysis.