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Brown Home Brown Home Brown Academics

Colloquia Abstracts

'And on Movement...'

Wednesday, February 12at 6 p.m. Rm. 109 Orwig Music Bldg.
The composer and virtuoso saxophonist Steve Coleman has sometimes collaborated with the Brazilian dance artist Rosângela Silvestre, incorporating her into his musical ensemble. Introducing the band, he’d say, as a bandleader will customarily say, “On drums... On bass...” and then: “On movement, Rosângela Silvestre.” Silvestre would take her place on the sometimes cramped stage, close her eyes, and, when Coleman commenced the piece, gesture improvisationally with her arms and hands, subtly weaving through the soundscape in a way that both responded to and informed the musical flow. Silvestre was a signal movement teacher for me, and she figured in my first book, Samba: Resistance in Motion, informing much of my understanding of both “traditional” and experimental dance in Brazil. While she is, like Coleman, an innovative artist, her own understanding of the relationship between music and movement - the blurry line between them, and the ways in which musical and dance improvisation provoke and respond to one another - came from a practice learned in the space of Candomblé, an African Brazilian religion realized largely through collective music and dance making. My ethnographic writing on Brazilian dance focused on another dynamic relationship - that between dance and language, or perhaps even more counter-intuitively, dance and writing. The premise was that dance could function as a form of inscription in contexts where sometimes things couldn’t be put into words. Samba was published in 1995, and since that time, my work has taken a swerve: while my dance scholarship began in an ethnographic vein, I’ve more recently been exploring the relationship between music, movement and writing in works of fiction. My last book, I’m Trying to Reach You, is a ficto-critical novel that both theorizes and enacts the complex process of trying to find meaning as it emerges between the sonic, the kinetic and the narrative. While this may seem like a departure from my scholarly origins, the triangulated position between music, movement and words has remained the same. In this talk, I’ll try to bring you along on this trajectory, and I’ll also say a bit about my current project, another work of fiction based on my movement collaborations with an extraordinary sound artist. Its principal concerns are what constitutes technique, and where music, movement and words come together.

TECHNE: A Creative and Educational Model Emphasizing Difference *
Wednesday, February 19 at 5 p.m. Grant Recital Hall
TECHNE is an arts education organization offering modular workshops that combine sound, technology and improvisation. Our workshops incorporate organic, analog and digital realms as tools for expression and provide opportunities for students to listen, dialog, share and vocalize. An important aspect of TECHNE is addressing gender imbalance within electronic music fields by introducing young women to technology and alternative ideologies of music making. TECHNE’s co-founders, electronic musicians Bonnie Jones and Suzanne Thorpe, discuss how their creative careers have influenced and instigated their work in education and arts organizing. Thorpe and Jones will examine the criteria of musical affiliation, and discuss the implementation of alternative modeling through their educational outreach programs.

Survivors on the Thresholds of Music in Post-colonial South Korea

Wednesday, March 5 at 6 p.m. Rm. 109 Orwig Music Bldg.
There are a plethora of interstitial spaces between the rarified categories such as music, sound, and speech, or dance and everyday movement--heightened speech, chant, stylized walking, and many others. These are meeting grounds in which the shared features of the categories--rhythmic, melodic, textural, timbral and so on--are brought to the fore. Why are they so common? I believe this is because the shared features and threshold spaces between these arenas of experience and practice are a primary means by which the kinds of agency, meaning, sentiment and sociality cultivated in music cross into other arenas of social life, and vice versa. This essay looks to these thresholds to understand something of the utility of music for Korean survivors of the more traumatic events of East Asia's 20th century, in particular the Japanese military "comfort women" system and the Allied nuclear bombing of Japan. I introduce the idea of the 'musical', the idea of music as an adjective or a quality of human practice, to help explain this utility. Along the way I explain my basic perspective on the importance of the study of survivors' music, the inquiry into and documentation of the musical lives of those who endure or have endured violence and traumatic experiences.

Laetitia Sonami: The Lady's Glove and Spring Spyre *
Wednesday, March 19at 5 p.m. Martinos Auditorium/Granoff Center
Composer and performer Laetitia Sonami designed and built the first version of the Lady's Glove for the 1991 Ars Electronica festival in Linz, Austria. Since then, four subsequent versions of the Lady's Glove have been built; the fifth one has, by now, a lifespan of just over 10 years. With over 20 years of performing with the Lady's Glove, Sonami is now in the process of retiring the glove, and has, over the last several years, developed a new controller / musical interface called the Spring Spyre. Sonami, who often works closely with her mentor Eliane Radigue, gave the world premiere of Radigue's OCCAM IX (written for Sonami) on the Spring Spyre at the San Francisco Electronic Music Festival in 2013. Sonami will provide a history of the Lady's Glove, and will discuss the details of her current instrument, the Spring Spyre.

Archiving Electronic Music Cultures: Process, Pedagogies, and Politics
Friday, April 11 at 5 p.m. Martinos Auditorium/Granoff Center
Composer and theorist Tara Rodgers will share insights from the Pink Noises project, which began in 2000 as the critically-acclaimed website to promote women in electronic music, and in 2010 became her book, Pink Noises. Rodgers will also speak on her research of the history of synthesizers, as well as introduce two new projects, an artist book and digital archiving project, both of which are about documenting Rodger's own creative process as well as thinking about/intervening in electronic music historiography. Rodgers will discuss reframing the electronic music canons by addressing the questions of gender and race in the history of synthesized sound, emphasizing on how gendered and racialized metaphors inflect audio-technical language and representation.

Reengaging Ethnomusicology in the Real World
Wednesday, April 16 at 6 p.m. Rm. 109 Orwig Music Bldg.
This paper calls into question politico-epistemological potentials and challenges to intercultural dialogue in music ethnography, as well as its implications to subjects involved in the researched processes of music-making. A general idea central to the ethnographic experience, “collaboration”, as well as its outcomes in products either entirely authored or co-authored by non-academic subjects, will undergo closer scrutiny as a means to highlight the active role they may play or not in contexts of struggle for political recognition and valuing of forms of knowledge and practices under pressure from inequality and exploitation. Consent from and “collaboration” of knowledge producers in inventories and the making of representative lists has, for instance, one constant term in UNESCO’s policies toward intangible heritage, followed by nationally conceived policies in member countries. The argument will follow two basic steps: a) a synthetic examination of recent reviews of collaborative work in the social sciences vis-à-vis the increasing self-awareness of local-global political tensions; b) highlighting the role of the so-called “arts”, but particularly “music” as object of study demanding from academic researchers, in many instances, a more collaborative and co-authorial stance, referring briefly to two cases, an historical landmark in the field of ethnomusicology, the joint work of Alice Fletcher and Francis la Flesche, and a long-term (2003-2012) ethnography of sound praxis in Rio de Janeiro’s second largest favela conducted by its residents in collaboration with an academic research group.

Blectum from Blechdom *
Saturday, May 17 Martinos Auditorium/Granoff Center
Blectum from Blechdom is an electronic music duo formed in 1988 by Kristin Erickson (Kevin Blechdom) and Bevin Kelley (Blevin Blectum). Erickson and Kelley met at Mills College. Their first full length album The Messy Jesse Fiesta won second prize for Digital Musics at Ars Electronica in 2001. In addition to their collaborative work, both also maintain active solo projects. Erickson and Kelley will talk about their history as collaborators, trajectories as solo artists, and discuss future projects.

The Language of Chance *
Saturday, May 17 Martinos Auditorium/Granoff Center

Born in Lima, Peru, Maria Chavez is mainly recognized in the art community as an improviser, sound artist and curator. Her sound installations, visual objects and live turntable performances focus on the values of accidents and its unique, complicated possibilities with sound emitting machinery like the turntable. Influenced by improvisation in contemporary art, her work expands outside of the sound world straddling different disciplines of interest. This year, Chavez wrote and illustrated her first book, Of Technique: Chance Procedures on Turntable. During her visit, Chavez will present "The Language of Chance", a talk where she discusses in depth her practice and its relationship to chance and chance procedures.


Events marked (*) are part of our OPENSIGNAL artist collective series. See link to the right for more details.