MA Symposium: Music, Materiality and (De)Coloniality

Monday, April 12, 2021


This is the second of two symposia of Master’s theses presentations by PhD candidates in our graduate programs: Musicology & Ethnomusicology and Music & Multimedia Composition. Please register here.

About the Program

Essential Tremors
Jake Sokolov-Gonzalez

This paper is a companion piece to a multi-media performance lecture titled Essential Tremors. This paper and Essential Tremors are formed out of shared research, language, and intention. Together, they form the work. Thinking of performance as “showing doing,” the work is a performance that shows the cultivation of understanding through attention to vibration. The method of the work is tripartite, all three approaches belong to a vibrational epistemology that engages intellectually, sonically, and materially with the knotted, unruly vectors of influence that flow into and out of a single vibrational nexus, specifically, a phone call between my father and his father on September 11th 1973. While we enter the nexus with the vehicle of a personal narrative, ultimately the work is a loop - a loop imbricated in copper. By mapping the intermodal force of copper as it affects the narrative, the scope of the work expands to gesture towards the embedded extractive realities of digital life, the material legacy of colonial neoliberalism, and the potential of vibration as an interpretive instrument of history.

3D Printing Native Flutes: Collaborative Approaches to Repatriation
Jay Loomis

Indigenous communities and scholars have engaged in debates on repatriation for decades. At times, clearly a museum should return artifacts to a Native tribe, but in other situations the merits of repatriation are unclear. In this paper I propose that replication should play a more central role in these contentious conversations on repatriation. I argue that the art and science of creating a successful replica can offer practical answers to complicated repatriation questions, and I respond to the “repatriation skeptic” perspective reflected in the 2002 document titled the “Declaration on the Importance and Value of Universal Museums.” In the polarized repatriation debate, I posit that a well crafted replication project can serve both sides of the issue by taking into account the needs of museums (who want to keep their artifacts), while also serving the communities that are requesting the return of their objects. I survey several examples of successful repatriation projects (Hollinger, et al) while considering the complications that arise, especially regarding the replication of sound archives and musical instruments. Collaboration with Native people is key to my discussion of the decolonizing possibilities of making a replica to keep at a museum, while returning the original object to a community of origin. I examine ways that an effective repatriation project can generate connections between Indigenous communities and museum publics, which serves the mission statements of museums and reinforces the values laid out in the Declaration. In my discussion of replicating Native American wind instruments, I foreground my recent conversations with the Jemez Pueblo flute maker, Marlon Magdalena, and the director of the Haffenreffer Museum at Brown University, Bob Preucel. My argument is that a closer consideration of replication practices can be useful to scholars, curators, and museologists as they engage in ongoing debates about repatriation and responsible curatorial practices.