Ellen Waterman

Musicology and Ethnomusicology

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 and contemporary music. She is currently Dean of the School of Music at Memorial University of Newfoundland where she also teaches in ethnomusicology.

Waterman’s research interests range across improvisation, contemporary performance, gender, technology, acoustic ecology, and radio. 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).  With Gillian Siddall, she is co-editing an anthology Sounding the Body: Improvisation, Representation, and Subjectivity under contract with Duke University Press. 

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).  She 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. Waterman is most passionate about a collaborative project led by visionary musician and humanitarian Pauline Oliveros and involving ICASP team members, the Deep Listening Institute, and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to develop, document, and study the AUMI – an adaptive use musical instrument for people with disabilities, http://www.deeplistening.org/site/adaptiveuse.

As a flutist, Waterman studied with Jan Kocman, Douglas Stewart, and John Fonville. She has been privileged to work with an array of great improvisers including George Lewis, Pauline Oliveros, Nicole Mitchell, Miya Masaoka, Malcolm Goldstein, Susie Ibarra, Joëlle Leandre, Jean Derome, Joane Hétu, Lori Freedman, Jesse Stewart, William Parker, David Boyko, Michael Zerang, Anne Bourne and Michael Young. Waterman has performed at national and international festivals and venues including Open Ears, the Guelph Jazz Festival, and the Onassis Cultural Centre. She 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).

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.

Selected Recent Publications

Edited Collections:

The Art of Immersive Soundscapes.  Anthology and DVD ed. with Dr. Pauline Minevich, University of Regina, and Dr. James Harley, University of Guelph. University of Regina Press, forthcoming, 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.  Editor and Introduction.  Peterborough: FrostCentre for Canadian Studies and Native Studies; and Manotick: Penumbra Press, 2002.

Articles and Book Chapters:

“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.

“Radio Bodies: Discourse, Performance, Resonance” for Radio Territories. Ed. Brandon LaBelle and Erik Granly Jensen. Errant Bodies Press, 2007.  118-153.

“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

“Purposeful Play: Women Radiomakers in Community-Based Campus Radio in Canada.”

Atlantis: A Women’s Studies Journal 30.2(2006): 76-87.

Critical Essays and Interviews:

“When it Rains: Experimental Music and ‘the Cultural Ecology’.” Essay commissioned by The Western Front artist run centre for their online critical research archive, Vancouver, 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.