Gurminder K. Bhogal, PhD ’04, has been awarded the International Alliance for Women in Music’s Pauline Alderman Award for Outstanding Scholarship on Women in Music (2017) for her article “Listening to Female Voices in Sikh Kirtan,” published in Sikh Formations (13/1–2, 2017: 48–77).
Bhogal’s paper represents an effort to rectify the omission of women in historical narratives about Punjab, the Indian state bordering Pakistan and a dominant region for the Sikh tradition. Through an exploration of sound recordings by female kirtaniye, or Sikh devotional singers, and a discussion of listening and performance practices in the Sikh tradition, Bhogal sheds light on the lives of a number of female Sikh musicians and the role of women and the female voice in Punjab, greater India, and the world.
Every two to three years, the International Congress on Women in Music issues a call for scholars to submit their best work writing on women in music. From those submissions, the Congress recognizes a book and an article with the Pauline Alderman Award in honor and memory of pioneering musicologist Pauline Alderman.
The adjudicator for this year’s award (recognizing work from 2015 and 2016) described Bhogal’s paper as “extremely valuable to current scholarly discussions concerning female voice, female embodiment, and larger questions of historiography, specifically how one creates a history from a paucity of documentation. … The effectiveness of Bhogal’s scholarship beyond the circle of Sikh scholars, likely intended as its audience, speaks to the way good writing resonates beyond the obvious and speaks beyond the specialists.”
Gurminder K. Bhogal graduated from the University of Chicago Department of Music in 2004 with a dissertation titled Arabesque and Metric Dissonance in the Music of Maurice Ravel (1905--1914). She is currently Catherine Mills Davis Professor of Music at Wellesley College. Her research examines early twentieth-century French music and culture with a focus on relationships between music and the visual arts, and she explores these connections in her books, Details of Consequence: Ornament, Music and Art in Paris (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013); and Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune (New York: Oxford University Press, 2018).
Bhogal recently published the article, “Orchestral Tissue, Subordinate Arabesques, and Turning Inward in Maurice Ravel's Boléro,” in MTO 26/2 (2020). Current projects include an exploration of Debussy’s piano music; French modernism, grotesquerie and the oriental subject in The Rite of Spring; ephemeral timbres and arabesque melody; and the idea of unheard sound (anahad nad) in Sikh scripture. She currently serves as Review Editor of the Journal of the American Musicological Society, and she teaches courses in music history, theory, and analysis at Wellesley.