Ethnomusicology, Musicology, Improvisation
B.Mus. Honours (Manitoba)
M.A. (University of California, San Diego)
Ph.D. (University of California, San Diego)
Ellen Waterman is both a music scholar and a flutist specializing in creative improvisation. Waterman’s interdisciplinary research interests range across improvisation, contemporary performance, gender, technology, ecomusicology, and acoustic ecology. With Gillian Siddall, she is co-editor of Negotiated Moments: Improvisation, Sound and Subjectivity (Duke 2016). Her work on gender, sound, and technology includes a special issue of the journal Intersections: Journal of Canadian Music 26.2 (2006), co-edited with Andra McCartney. Her books on acoustic ecology and sound art include Sonic Geography Imagined and Remembered (2002) and The Art of Immersive Soundscapes (with Pauline Minevich, 2013). From 2010 to 2015 Waterman was dean of the School of Music at Memorial University of Newfoundland. In 2015-16 she is on research leave as a Bye Fellow at Robinson College, University of Cambridge where she is writing a book on the ecology of experimental music performance based on her comparative ethnography of twelve experimental music festivals/venues across Canada.
Improvisation is central to Waterman’s work, and she is a core researcher and executive member of the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation (IICSI) funded by a SSHRC Partnership Grant (2013-2020). IICSI is a partnered research institute that includes sites at U. Guelph, Memorial, McGill, U. Regina and U.B.C. Waterman is founding co-editor of the online, peer reviewed journal Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études critiques en improvisation www.criticalimprov.com. She developed the Improvisation Tool Kit at www.improvcommunity.ca, drawing together information from several community-engaged projects to create a free resource for teaching improvisation. IICSI-MUN offers annual activities including a postdoctoral fellowship, a public speakers series Improvising Spaces, and an improviser-in-residence program. www.mun.ca/music/research/iicsi.php
Waterman’s distinctive musical practice blends flute and vocalization. She studied flute with Jan Kocman, Douglas Stewart, and John Fonville and voice with Carol Plantamura. In the 1980s and ‘90s she performed in a number of R. Murray Schafer’s Patria series of environmental music theatre works and he composed the solo flute pieces Aubade, and Nocturne (1996) for her. Her doctoral dissertation is an ethnography of Patria the Epilogue: And Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon. Waterman has been privileged to work with an array of great improvisers including, Pauline Oliveros, Jesse Stewart, Ione, Eric Lewis, James Harley, Medea Electronique collective, Chris Chafe, Viv Corringham, Norman Adams, George Lewis, Nicole Mitchell, Miya Masaoka, Malcolm Goldstein, Jean Derome, Joane Hétu, Lori Freedman, Michael Waterman, and Michael Young. She has performed at national and international festivals and venues including Open Ears Festival of Music and Sound, the Guelph Jazz Festival, the Suoni Per Il Popolo, and the Onassis Cultural Centre. Waterman has also been artist-in-residence for several festivals, including The Art of Immersive Soundscapes (U. Regina), Sound Travels Festival (Toronto), and the Chicago Creative Music Workshop (Chicago Jazz Festival). In 2014 she participated in the Koumaria Residency in Sellasia, Greece.
Waterman is represented on premiere recordings of works by Brian Ferneyhough (CRICD 652) and R. Murray Schafer (CMCCD 8902, MW72). Her current project is ~spin~, a duo with composer James Harley, exploring the intersections between acoustic/electro-acoustic performance and real time multi-channel sound diffusion. Their first recording Like a ragged flock… was recorded in the 8-channel ADAPPS sound studio at U. Guelph and was released in 2015. It is a DVD in 5.1 surround sound (with additional stereo files) distributed by Centrediscs.
Selected Recent Publications
Like a ragged flock… ~spin duo~ (flutes/voice Ellen Waterman, electronics, sound diffusion James Harley) DVD in 5.1 surround sound with additional stereo files. ADAPPS15001. Distributed by Centrediscs.
Negotiated Moments: Improvisation, Sound and Subjectivity. Co-edited with Gillian Siddall. Duke University Press, 2016 (in press).
The Art of Immersive Soundscapes. Co-edited with Pauline Minevich (with DVD ed. by James Harley). University of Regina Press, 2013.
Intersections. Special Issue: In and Out of the Sound Studio: Women, Gender and Technology. Andra McCartney and Ellen Waterman, eds. 26.2(2007).
Sonic Geography Imagined and Remembered. Peterborough: Frost Centre for Canadian Studies and Native Studies; and Manotick: Penumbra Press, 2002.
Articles and Book Chapters:
“Improvisation and the Audibility of Difference: Safa, Canadian Multiculturalism, and the Politics of Recognition.” In Negotiated Moments: Improvisation, Sound and Subjectivity. Co-edited by Gillian Siddall and Ellen Waterman. Duke University Press, 2016 (in press).
“Introduction: Improvising at the Nexus of Discursive and Material Bodies.” Negotiated Moments: Improvisation, Sound and Subjectivity. Ed. Gillian Siddall and Ellen Waterman. Duke University Press, 2016. (In press)
“The Ecology of Musical Performance: Towards a Robust Methodology.” With Alice Boyle. In Current Directions in Ecomusicology: Music, Nature, Environment. Co-Edited by Aaron Allen and Kevin Dawe. Routledge, 2015: 25-39.
“Trust and Risk in Improvisation: Opening Statements.” Improvisation Studies Reader: Spontaneous Acts. Ed. Rebecca Caines and Ajay Heble. New York and London: Routledge, 2014. 59-62.
“Listening Trust: The Everyday Politics of George Lewis’s “Dream Team”.” People Get Ready: The Future of Jazz is Now! Ajay Heble and Rob Wallace, eds. Duke University Press, 2013. 59-87.
“Send and Receive: Technology, Embodiment and the Social in Sound Art” for The Art of Immersive Soundscapes. Anthology and DVD. Pauline Minevich and Ellen Waterman, editors. University of Regina Press, 2013.
“Say Who You Are Play Who You Are: Improvisation, Pedagogy, and Youth on the Margins.” Action, Criticism & Theory for Music Education, Special Issue: Music Education in Urban Contexts. Co-authored with Ajay Heble, Ashlee Consolo Willox, Rob Jackson, Melissa Walker. 10.1(2011): 114-131. http://act.maydaygroup.org/articles/Willox-Heble10_1.pdf
“Naked Intimacy: Eroticism, Improvisation, and Gender,” Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études critiques en improvisation. Vol 4.2 (2009) http://www.criticalimprov.com
Critical Essays and Interviews:
"Reflections on Music from the New Wilderness: a dialogue between Tyler Kinnear and Ellen Waterman." The Western Front, Echoic Chamber, 2014. http://front.bc.ca/events/refelctions-on-music-from-the-new-wilderness-a-dialogue-between-ellen-waterman-and-tyler-kinnear/
"When it Rains: Experimental Music and 'the Cultural Ecology'." The Western Front, Echoic Chamber, 2010. http://front.bc.ca/events/when-it-rains-experimental-music-and-the-cultural-ecology/
"Sound, Place, Space: The Immersive Sound Art of Gordon Monahan." Liner essay for Monahan’s CD Saskatchewan Sound Installations. C3R 015, 2008.
"I Dreamed of Other Worlds": An Interview with Nicole Mitchell. Critical Studies in Improvisation/Études critiques en improvisation 4.1(2008). http://www.criticalimprov.com
"Barnyard Drama’s chansons de métissage." Musicworks 99(2007): 25-31.
"Lori Freedman: Clarinettist Immersed in Sound." Interview. Musicworks 94(2006): 18-23.