Past Talks in the Music & Culture Lecture Series

Videos from many lectures in the series can be found on MMaP’s YouTube channel.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Music & Culture Lecture Series went on hiatus from the fall semester of 2020 through the fall semester of 2021.

2022–2023 Lecture Series
Winter 2022 Lecture Series
2019-20 Lecture Series
2018-19 Lecture Series
2017-18 Lecture Series
2016-17 Lecture Series
2015-16 Lecture Series
2014-15 Lecture Series
2013-14 Lecture Series
2012-13 Lecture Series
2011-12 Lecture Series
2010-11 Lecture Series

2022-2023 Lecture Series:

 Aging and Music

 Dr. Benjamin Zendel (Memorial University)

Tuesday, September 13, 2022, 7:30PM

Watch a video of this lecture here.

 Age-related decline in hearing abilities is one of the most common health issues reported by older adults. Such hearing decline often leads to a difficulty understanding speech when there is background noise.  Interestingly, lifelong musicians exhibit slower rates of age-related decline on auditory processing tasks that rely on the brain, such as understanding speech when there is background noise. Longitudinal work, where music lessons were provided to older non-musicians, has shown that music training can be used to improve the ability to understand speech when there is background noise. Together, this suggests that music training improves central auditory processing abilities that tend to decline in older adults. Other lines of research have shown that the ability to perform music perception tasks, such as identifying an out-of-tune note, synchronizing with a rhythm, or perceptually segregating two simultaneous melodies are relatively preserved in older adults, despite the fact that these tasks rely on both hearing and cognitive abilities that are known to decline with age.  This line of work suggests that music perception is a “cognitive strength” in older adults and suggests that music could be used as a “cognitive scaffold” to help rehabilitate other aspects of hearing or cognition that decline with age. Overall, these two lines of research highlight that central aspects of hearing are malleable and suggest that music or music training may be useful to improve hearing for older adults.

 La batalla de Angostura, 1847: Ensounding Trauma and National Destinies

Dr. David F. Garcia (University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)

 Tuesday, March 14, 2023, 7:30PM

Watch a video of this lecture here.

 Compared to the US Civil War, the United States’ invasion of Mexico from 1846 to 1848 occupies a marginal space in the collective historical memory of the United States’ long 19th century. Music of that war is shrouded even more in a collective forgetting. This lecture will explore music’s functions in narrating the war’s battles and in ensounding the national destinies of the United States and Mexico. I focus on one battle, the crucial Battle of Buena Vista, known in Mexico as La Batalla de Angostura, of February 22 and 23, 1847. US composers wrote and published piano pieces that narrated in music and text the events of this battle for domestic musicians and their listeners, while the apparent absence of published music by Mexican composers suggests a forgetting of the battle’s disastrous and traumatic results. This, in spite of the prominence of the playing of music by Mexican military bands throughout the war and particularly at this battle, which Mexican poet Guillermo Prieto nevertheless wrote about. I draw from archival sources of the war and focus my analysis on piano music and poetry to argue that destinies and traumas, Mexican and the United States included, were and still are audible and legible in the sounds rendered in US battle music and Mexican poetry. Following historian Marisa Fuentes, I listen and read against and along the bias grain of the archive to recover forgotten destinies and traumas, which still haunt the US-Mexican borderlands to this day.

Winter 2022 Lecture Series:

Somatic Orientalism and the Indian Body in Empire

Dr. Rumya Putcha (University of Georgia)

Tuesday, March 8, 2022 (7:30PM)

Watch a video of this lecture here.

Bringing together photography of the Indian body under the British and later the US American Empire, this presentation examines how colonial technology cultivated somatic Orientalism, a term that refers to the sensory, bodily, and emotional attachments that extend from colonial rule and its raced imperatives. Focusing in particular on photographic anthropology such as the commissioned works The People of India (1868) and The Oriental Races and Tribes of India (1863), I argue that photographic technology cultivated somatic forms of Orientalism and in turn established an imperial epistemology—that the Indian body is and was always out of place or time. Drawing on archival evidence, I demonstrate how this epistemology in turn justified the export of Indians to work on plantations in the Indian Ocean and Caribbean regions. Through a combination of critical transnational feminist ethnographic and archival research, I trace the emergence of somatic Orientalism and its logics of race and gender to the mid- to late nineteenth century and to the hypervisibility of Indians under the British Empire through their photographic, laboring, and affective representations. Ultimately, I interrogate the affective imperatives of somatic Orientalism, arguing that the visual, debased, and silent representations of Indians that circulated and continue to circulate through travel photography and photojournalism installed and continue to normalize mechanisms and epistemologies of empire.

2019–2020 Lecture Series:

Producing the ‘Soundtrack of America’ Concert Series at The Shed: Notes on Doing Ethnomusicology in Public

Dr. Maureen Mahon (New York University)

Wednesday, September 25, 2019 (7:30pm)

Watch a video of this lecture here.

On April 5, 2019, The Shed, New York City’s new multi-discipline arts and performance venue, opened with “Soundtrack of America,” a five-night concert series celebrating the legacy and continuing vitality of African American music. Conceived by black British filmmaker Steve McQueen, developed with the input of a creative team that included legendary African American composer and producer Quincy Jones, and featuring 25 emerging artists, the production made an artistic and political statement about the significance, influence, and power of the music African Americans have created during four centuries of life and struggle in the United States. In this lecture, I discuss the conceptualization, development, and execution of “Soundtrack of America” from my vantage point as Chief Academic Advisor to the project. I describe my primary task: the development of a “family tree” of African American music that identified key genres and artists from 1619 to the present that served as the organizing document for the production. In addition to discussing the production and some representative performances, I consider the opportunities and challenges I confronted as a professional academic working on a highly visible public-facing project that engaged the music and cultural issues at the heart of my research and teaching, particularly those associated with race and power.


‘The Baptists Are Going to Try to Tell You What to Do’: The Silver Strip in the 1940s

Dr. Holly Everett (Memorial University)

Tuesday, Oct 29, 2019 (7:30pm)

Watch a video of this lecture here.

A red-light district that came to be known as the Silver Strip emerged on the Texas-Louisiana border just outside the city of Orange in the tumultuous years of the 1940s. Long the destination of economic migrants from elsewhere in Texas and beyond, Orange’s population grew exponentially in 1940, a dramatic increase primarily attributed to Cajuns relocating from rural Louisiana. Orange was known as a Baptist-controlled community and documentation from the period suggests ongoing conflict between Catholic and Protestant worldviews. Cajuns’ appreciation of drink, music, dancing, and gambling has never met with the approval of conservative Protestantism, as part of what historian Shane Bernard refers to as North American “Anglo-Saxonism.” Inspired by the occupational folklife of musicians who worked in Silver Strip venues, this talk will examine factors contributing to and resulting from this culture clash in Texas’s “Cajun Lapland.”


Hyperchoral Entanglements: Reflections on Voice and Environment in the Anthropocene

Dr. Martin Daughtry (New York University)

Tuesday, February 4, 2020 (7:30 p.m.)

Watch a video of this lecture here.

From the standpoint of music studies, the relationship between the singing voice and the atmosphere is one of figure to ground or event to medium. When compared to the riveting performance that is voice, in other words, the air around us appears transparent, uniform, and theoretically inert: air is voice’s enabling material, nothing more. However, outside of music studies, as humans and other creatures struggle with global warming, smog crises, and rising CO2 emissions, air is front-page news. What might music and sound scholars learn if we turned the tables on voice and began taking air seriously? Drawing upon recent writing on the Anthropocene and the “nonhuman turn” in the humanities, this talk will attend closely to a number of different movements of air, presenting them as vocal performances. Along the way, I will propose a non-anthropocentric, "atmospheric" conception of voice that will allow us to track and critique our many, often vexing, entanglements with a wide variety of human and nonhuman vocal actors.


Listening with the Body: The Raqs Sharqi Dancer as Musical Interpreter

Dr. Ainsley Hawthorn (Yale University)

Tuesday, February 25, 2020 (7:30 p.m.)

Watch a video of this lecture here.

The accomplished dance performer is not merely an entertainer, artist, or athlete in their own right but an interpreter who translates sound into movement. Interpretive skill plays a particularly important role in Egyptian raqs sharqi or Oriental dance, which is customarily improvised by a solo dancer to live musical accompaniment. The heterophonic structure of classical Egyptian music creates interest by layering instruments, each of which simultaneously performs its own ornamentation on the melody, rather than by adding harmonies. As intermediary between the music and the audience, the dancer has the ability to direct the audience’s attention to a particular instrument or embellishment by emulating its rhythm, pitch, and dynamics in movement. In so doing, the sharqi dancer chooses not only what the audience will see, but what they will hear. This talk will discuss the concept of muḥāsabah (analytical listening) and will describe how, by being a sammīʿa (skilled listener), the dancer can enhance the audience’s appreciation of the music, temporarily making them skilled listeners as well. Ultimately, the talk will consider dance performance as a multisensorial practice that combines sounds, sights, and movements in order to heighten the audience’s aesthetic and emotional experience.

2018–2019 Lecture Series:

Minuet as Method: Embodied Performance in the Research Process

Dr. Sonja Boon (Memorial University of Newfoundland)

Thursday, September 27, 2018 (7:30 p.m.)

Watch a video of this lecture here.

What do bodies know? In this presentation, I use the minuet—the most popular eighteenth-century dance form—as a starting point to reflect on the potential of historical dance, as bodily performance practice, to illuminate not only musical performance, but also the ways that gender, class, and ethnicity are both influenced by and mapped onto social spaces. I argue that our understanding of the environment is shaped by the way that we move through space, and further, that the way that we move is shaped by our embodiment; that is, by the way that socially-constructed notions of sex, gender, race, class, ethnicity, ability, sexuality and so forth inform our experiences of our bodily selves. I suggest that operating from the perspective of embodied performance can open new windows into historical inquiry, windows that are otherwise inaccessible through more traditional archival, text- and image-based methods.


Lament of the Twenty-First Century: Posthumous Aurality and the Sounds of Refugee Deathwork in Turkey

Dr. Denise Gill (Stanford University)

Thursday, October 25, 2018 (7:30 p.m.)

Watch a video of this lecture here.

How do individuals in contemporary Turkey use sound to provide a good death? This talk engages examples from Dr. Denise Gill’s recent ethnographic research in Turkey to demonstrate the need for new methodologies and theoretical orientations to understand the intersections of death and aurality. Gill analyzes pivotal intersections of sound and melody as they manifest in multi-sensory Sunni Muslim deathwork. She interrogates new uses of sound technologies, emergent forms of listening during trauma, and consciousness-raising sound art developed as a response to refugees’ crossings of the Mediterranean and Aegean seas. Gill’s theoretical claims are grounded in her own experiential training and care labor as a gassale—the washer of the dead—in Istanbul’s Karacaahmet Cemetery.


Watching out for Dykes (on Broadway)

Dr. Ailsa Craig (Memorial University of Newfoundland)

Thursday, February 28, 2019 (7:30 p.m.)

Watch a video of this lecture here.

Starting from a point of autoethnographic reflection, this talk is an academically grounded fan-investigation of the hit musical, “Fun Home.” The talk explores sexual identity, resonance, and the power of representation in this Tony award-winning musical about the relationship between a young dyke and her (closeted) gay father. While the associations between musical theatre and gay male culture are commonly recognized and academically explored, there is no parallel connection between lesbian or dyke culture and the world and ways of musical theatre. The one notable exception to this is found in “Fun Home” which is the musical adaptation of Alison Bechdel’s graphic novel memoir of the same name. Drawing from work on gay male culture and musical theatre, as well as literature on the social roles and impact of musical theatre as form of cultural production, this talk explores how lesbian representation in “Fun Home” can be understood as parallel to or parting from the usual connections made between gay male culture and musical theatre. The overall aim of this exploration is to lead the audience to reflect on why—and how—it matters to see a dyke on Broadway.


The Call as Sonic Act: Ethics, Interpellation, Engagement

Dr. Luis-Manuel Garcia (University of Birmingham)

Tuesday, March 12, 2019 (7:30 p.m.)

Watch a video of this lecture here.

To call, to call on, to call out, to call up, to call in, to call over. Calls permeate musical and sonic life, drawing us into sticky social webs and tugging on our sense of responsibility. This lecture considers “the call” as a sonic act that exerts a kind of social force on others, raising questions about the ethics of sonic engagement. The recent “ethical turn” in electronic dance music will provide a case study for this exploration, drawing upon Louis Althusser's notion of “interpellation” to make sense of the complex play of power and complicity that take place when actors call each other into roles, identities, and relationships.

The 2017-2018 Lecture Series:

Ecological Performativity: A Creative Research Practice

Dr. Teresa Connors (International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation, MUN)

Thursday, September 21, 2017 (7:30 P.M.)

Watch a video of this lecture here.

Situated in creative-research, this talk tracks the development and realization of a series of non-linear audiovisual installations. These works explore the relationship of environment, material, and process, and are derived from an intensive data gathering procedure and immersion within their respective environments. The result is a multimodal line of inquiry that affords an orientation into a creative practice I have come to term “ecological performativity.” This is a mode of practice that considers—in act and thought—the context, formative creative process, and resulting artifacts as a responsive embodiment of larger structures of phenomena. The outcome is a creative thinking-making procedure that includes ideas on the subjective experiences of time, place, and the entangled agency of human and nonhuman bodies.


The Political Economy of Music and Sound

Dr. Jocelyne Guilbault (University of California, Berkeley)

Tuesday, October 3, 2017 (7:30 P.M.)

Watch a video of this lecture here.

In a project joining ethnomusicology, tourism studies, and sound studies, I theorize the political economy of music and sound in one speci c institution, the Caribbean all-inclusive hotels. This study demysti es the work of entertainment managers and musicians’ artistic performance in touristic encounters. It complicates how sounds are bound up in and mediate understandings of colonialism, race, gender, and national identities. It provides ways of thinking about affective marketing, place-making through sound, and musicians’ material and affective labor. It calls attention to how the economics invested in music and sound in touristic sites are deeply informed by local, regional, and global nancial dynamics. Drawing on eldwork in Saint Lucia, this study highlights the material, political, and economic conditions of music and sound that is central to human encounters in touristic sites.


Safeguarding Living Heritage in Newfoundland and Labrador

Dale Jarvis (Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador)

Tuesday, November 7, 2017 (7:30 P.M.)

Watch a video of this lecture here.

Public folklorist, storyteller, and heritage activist Dale Jarvis is the Intangible Cultural Heritage Development Offcer for Newfoundland and Labrador. Jarvis works with local partners to make sure that living heritage remains relevant to communities in the province. In this talk, Jarvis will give examples from the Heritage Foundation of Newfoundland and Labrador’s current research, showing how folklore and intangible cultural heritage is at the heart of local life and demonstrating the links between intangible heritage, built heritage, and community development.


The Idea of North, Post-Nationalism, and the Changing Ecology of Experimental Music Performance in Canada

Dr. Ellen Waterman (Memorial University of Newfoundland)

Wednesday, January 17, 2018 (7:30 P.M.)

Watch a video of this lecture here.

For much of the 20th century, Canada was defined by tropes of nature and place, most famously the “idea of north” that was first expressed in experimental music in Glenn Gould’s famous 1969 radio collage of the same name. But how does the “idea of north” trope relate to Canadian experimental music today? This talk explores the changing ecology of experimental music in the first decades of the 21st century and especially the symbiotic relationship between public funding and artistic programming and content. I track the effects on experimental music of shifting priorities at the Canada Council for the Arts towards a post-genre, post-reconciliation, diversity-driven agenda that positions music in terms of philosopher John Ralston-Saul’s ambiguous definition of Canada as a “perpetually unfinished experiment” in post-nationalism. Drawing on performance studies and acoustic ecology, I trouble these terms and show how experimental music festivals operate as dynamic ecosystems in which developing and often con icting notions of identity are performed.


“Metal is Always Protest Music”: An Ethnomusicological Perspective on the Indonesian Heavy Metal Scene

Dr. Jeremy Wallach (Bowling Green State University)

Wednesday, February 15, 2018 (7:30 P.M.)

Watch a video of this lecture here.

Dismissed as politically inert, if not reactionary, by many in western countries, heavy metal’s relationship to progressive social change is complex. With the emergence of academic metal studies has come greater awareness of the profound dedication of the genre’s worldwide fanbase and the threat it has posed to totalitarian regimes—in some cases aiding in their demise. This is illustrated by the history of metal fandom in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, and the former Soviet Union, among other locales, but one of the most dramatic cases can be found in the largest metal scene in Southeast Asia: Indonesia. Indonesian metalheads protested against the dictatorial Soeharto regime prior to its downfall in 1998, and in 2014 one of them became Indonesia’s seventh president, defeating a throwback from the repressive Soeharto years. How was this possible? This presentation attempts to answer this question, drawing on twenty years of ethnomusicological research on the Indonesian metal scene.


Stylistic Mediation and Creative Practice

Dr. Jayson Beaster-Jones (University of California, Merced)

Tuesday, March 6, 2018 (7:30 P.M.)

Watch a video of this lecture here.

In this presentation, I develop a theoretical model called “stylistic mediation” that explains the forms of musical changes that take place through musical-cultural encounters. By stylistic mediation, I mean the production of a musical representation in which material from one set of conventions is reframed according to the values of a different set of conventions. Coupling Peircean semiotics with insights from linguistic anthropology, cultural studies, and ethnomusicology, this model of mediation is a productive way to explain human creative processes. Drawing on disparate examples, including jazz and Indian film scores, I describe how practitioners from different expressive traditions mediate other modes of artistic practice to create novel representations. These mediations enable the production of new practices that sometimes solidify into new conventions. I argue that this notion of stylistic mediation has an analytic utility beyond music and thus becomes a useful way to describe the peregrinations of expressive culture over time.

The 2016-17 Lecture Series:

Dr. Harald Kisiedu (International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation, Memorial University of Newfoundland)

"Like A Cry You Wanted to Answer": Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky and the Rise of Jazz Experimentalism in East Germany

Wednesday, September 21, 2016 7:30 p.m.

This talk illuminates the rise of jazz experimentalism in the German Democratic Republic (GDR) with a focus on one of its major proponents: multi-reedist and improviser Ernst-Ludwig Petrowsky. Petrowsky’s engagement with post-1950s jazz practices took place within the context of politico-aesthetic debates that were decisively shaped by the Cultural Cold War. Focusing on the conditions of production in a state socialist system, this talk will explore the difficulties Petrowsky and other jazz experimentalists faced under the ideological constraints imposed by GDR cultural policy makers during the height of the Cold War. This talk will also reconstruct the critical reception of post-war jazz in the GDR and discuss Petrowsky’s engagement with African American experimentalism during the 1960s.


Dr. Matthew Rahaim (University of Minnesota)

Struck by the Arrow: Listening, Voice, and Ethical Virtue in North India

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 7:30 p.m.

A rich cluster of texts, from 12th century sufi apologia to 20th century marketing materials, surrounds Indian vocal practice: cosmopolitan Islamicate models of musical healing, yogic descriptions of sonic liberation, Chisti prescriptions for spiritual listening, and nationalist desires for moral reform through music education. The power of vocal performance, then, is not merely a matter of notes, but of ethical dispositions (tenderness, patience, and many others.) Drawing on years of ethnography and vocal practice, this talk surveys some of the ways in which these cherished virtues are nurtured and contested through circuits of vocal action and active listening.


Dr. Ian Sutherland (Memorial University of Newfoundland)

Of Conducting, Choirs and Executive Power: Aesthetic Reflexivity to Memories with Momentum

Wednesday, February 8, 2017 7:30 p.m.

Watch a video of this lecture here.

This talk rolls up key ideas that have developed across a number of studies looking at how the arts, primarily music, are being used in leadership development around the world. Working from an experiential learning foundation, the talk will discuss the role of aesthetic reflexivity, aesthetic workspaces and memories with momentum in situations where people learn with and through the arts. As an exemplary case study, the talk will revolve around extensive observational and interview data into choral conducting masterclasses and emergent insights into the aesthetics of power and powering.


Dr. Steven Friedson (University of North Texas)

The Music Box: Songs of Futility in a Time of Torture

Wednesday, March 1, 2017 7:30 p.m.

Watch a video of this lecture here.

Music deployed in the service of “enhanced interrogation techniques” in the putative “Global War on Terror” routinely subjected detainees to musical bombardment at high decibel levels over extended periods of time. Here musical experiences hold no agency—detainees don’t have a say in the matter. This lack of agency has resonance with my work on music ontologies of spirit possession in Africa, where those possessed claim not to be there at all. This talk brings these limit experiences, situated at the opposite ends of a continuum, into close proximity, revealing an ontological inversion. Instead of totally being-away as with spirit possession, detainees are totally there, unable to escape sensory overload of a magnitude we can barely imagine.


Dr. Katharine Young (Independent Scholar)

Scrape, Brush, Flick: The Phenomenology of Sound

Wednesday, March 15, 2017 7:30 p.m.

Watch a video of this lecture here.

The audible world is at once episodic and pervasive, outside and inside the body, impalpable and felt in the bones. Each sense brings forth its own world and yet, as Maurice Merleau-Ponty points out, all the senses open out onto the same world. The senses are synaesthetic, each sense conducting us to the others; the world is intersensorial, each thing offering a different self to each sense. This resonant incommensurability of the senses gives perception its depth, its richness, its inexhaustibility. Drawing on her work on folklore and aesthetics, the anthropology of the senses, and phenomenology, this talk will examine the sensual experience of perception and sound.

Music, Media and Culture Lecture Series 2015-2016

Dr. David Gere (UCLA, Art & Global Health Center)

Can Art Save Lives?

Thursday, September 17, 2015 (7:30 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.)

The Art & Global Health Center, founded by David Gere a decade ago at the University of California – Los Angeles, is premised upon the notion that the arts possess the ability to save lives, not literally by healing illness—in the biological sense—but by shifting the conditions that cause illness to flourish. This particular notion of art’s life-saving potential derives from Douglas Crimp, the New York art critic who, in the midst of the AIDS epidemic of the late 1980s, wrote in frustration about the celebration of beautiful or elegiac works of art meant to affirm our humanity, rather than the creation of works of activist art intended to stop the epidemic. “We don’t need to transcend the epidemic,” wrote Crimp, “we need to end it.” In this talk, Gere discusses Crimp’s bluntly utilitarian theory of art’s potential and uses it to lay out a taxonomy of ways in which the arts can change the world.


Dr. Mark David Turner (Memorial University)

Cinema and Space in Newfoundland and Labrador

Wednesday, October 14, 2015 (7:30 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.)

How do we begin to speak of a Newfoundland and Labrador cinema? Does it even exist before the Jones Brothers’ The Adventure of Faustus Bidgood? Is there such a thing as a Newfoundland and Labrador cinema? Are there features which unify the practice of film in this province? My presentation considers these questions in an attempt to understand Newfoundland and Labrador cinema as something rooted as much in space as it is in time.


Dr. Helena Simonett (Vanderbilt University)

The Accordion on New Shores

Wednesday, November 4, 2015 (7:30 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.)

The accordion and its myriad forms—from the concertina and the button accordion to the sanfoninha and the bandoneón—has spread and taken roots across many cultures. Branded as “the little man’s ‘piano,’” it became a medium for popular folk music in numerous regions of the world in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The accordion was thriving among the less affluent because it was complete “a one-man-band,” capable to providing melody, harmony and bass at once; it was also loud and durable and, therefore, ideal for outdoor performances. No other instruments has provoked so many scornful jokes, yet the accordion’s distinctive sounds have touched millions of people, stirred up passions and soothed pain.


Emma Broomfield (Choir with No Name, London UK)

Homelessness Arts: Improving Wellbeing Through Singing

Tuesday, February 9, 2016 (7:00 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.)

The event will feature live performances by local musicians (TBA).

Choir with No Name is a UK charity whose members are leaders in the field of homelessness arts. Starting with one choir in 2008 it now has 4 choirs around the UK and works with over 400 vulnerable and disadvantaged people a year. Founded on the premise that singing makes you feel good, its vision is simply to give people a place where they can belong and sing their hearts out. Through weekly rehearsals and regular performance opportunities Choir with No Name aims to help as many homeless and marginalized people as possible to beat loneliness and build their confidence and skills. Drawing on the experiences of setting up and running the choirs over the past 8 years, this talk will consider how singing can have a positive and powerful impact on the wellbeing of vulnerable people.

The talk will be followed by a roundtable discussion on Singing and Social Change (Panelists TBA). Please note that this event will begin at 7:00 P.M.


Dr. Atesh Sonneborn (Smithsonian Folkways Recordings)

“What’s a museum going to do with a record label?” The Story of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 (7:30 P.M. to 9:00 P.M.)

The mission of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings since the U.S. national museum’s 1987 acquisition of Folkways Records and Service Corporation was fundamentally shaped by a promise made to Moses Asch, founder of the legendary label. He produced an album a week for nearly 40 years, all 2,168 of which will be kept publicly available by the Smithsonian Institute in perpetuity, as per the conditions of the acquisition. In this talk, Dr. Sonneborn will share the extraordinary creation story of Asch’s encyclopedia of sound. Tales from three decades of stewardship unfold Asch’s failures and triumphs, as well as the juicy arguments, as the lecture reflects on the very idea that underlies the question, “What's a museum going to do with a record label?”


MMaP Lecture Series 2014 -2015

Dr. Kiri Miller (Brown University)

Dance Games and Body Work

Wednesday, October 1, 2014 (4:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.)

Digital dance games like Dance Central and Just Dance teach players full-body choreography routines set to popular club music, providing real-time feedback driven by a motion-sensing interface. These games offer a new channel for the transmission of embodied knowledge, and for indexing that knowledge through popular music. Game choreographers translate song into dance; players learn to feel out music with their bodies as choreographers do. Many players post videos of their performances online, as well as engaging in vigorous debates about the choreography for each song. Drawing on analysis of online discourse and interviews with players and game designers, this talk addresses dance games as the staging grounds for emergent forms of gender performance, multisensory interactivity, and participatory culture.


Dr. Kip Pegley (Queen’s University)

The Work of Music at the Canadian War Museum

Thursday, October 16, 2014 (7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., Auditorium, Bruneau Centre)

Why consider the role of music at the Canadian War Museum? Sound, including music, is not what comes to mind when thinking about this museum, or indeed any museum. But I argue here that the soundscape is as important to the museum’s message as the visual artifacts. All museums, of course, influence public opinion, but this agenda is particularly critical at war museums, especially during times of geopolitical conflict. In this presentation I explore how sound at the museum contributes to a compelling and particular narrative of Canadian history designed to persuade visitors that Canadians are singular, that we have been critically needed on the international scene to defend against dangerous (and changing) enemies, and that we should and will continue to play an important international role as combatants, thus justifying the government's decisions to send its military into dangerous—and highly controversial—conflict zones. Co-sponsored with the Department of Sociology, MUN.


Dr. Ingrid Monson (Harvard University)

From Freedom Sounds to Senufo Sounds: Social Vision and Improvisation in a Global World

Wednesday, November 26, 2014 (7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.)

Drawing on my work on jazz, race, and politics in the United States, I compare and contrast the social meanings of improvisation in jazz during the Civil Rights Era and music in Mali before and after the coup d’etat of 2012. My work on Malian balafonist Neba Solo, serves as a basis for thinking through the similarities and differences in the social and ethical impact of improvisation in the 21st- century world.


Dr. Aaron McKim (Clinical Chief for long term care in Eastern Newfoundland; family doctor practicing in Portugal Cove-St Phillips)

Tuned In: Intercultural and Interdisciplinary Roundtable on Health

Tuesday, February 10, 2015 (7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.)


Dr. Jane Gosine (Music, Memorial University)


Dr. Fern Brunger (Health Care Ethics, Memorial University)

This panel discusses on-going research on the impact that cultural dimensions of expression, belief and experience have on human health and well-being. Two panelists present work with music in relation to memory, mobility, and psychological marginalization. The third reports on Aboriginal approaches to health, approaches that raise important issues for biomedical practitioners as well as those in anthropology, ethnomusicology or other social sciences.


Dr. Gavin Douglas (University of North Carolina at Greensboro)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015 (7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.)

The Sound of Political Change in Myanmar

The past two decades have witnessed tremendous political unrest in Burma/Myanmar. Minority separatist movements, economic stagnation, chronic detention of political prisoners and a multitude of other obstacles have plagued the history of this once prosperous nation. Focusing on a wide variety of cases, supplemented by numerous audio and video examples, this presentation questions what role music has played in this tumultuous history. Not simply reflective of society, the role of music in Myanmar’s politics is not neutral but has been tied to the policies of the oppressing dictatorship and the pro-democracy resistance movements. From national unity festivals to monastic revolutions and from education policy to pro-democracy Internet campaigns, music has been a tool to both justify oppression and demand liberation and has been an active force in Myanmar’s struggles.


MMaP Lecture Series 2013-2014

Acoustic Ecology Symposium

September 28 (9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.)

Co-sponsored by the School of Music, this one-day event will include presentations by scholars from Memorial, York, Cape Breton and Concordia Universities. The topics include non-human sound production, industrial soundscapes, environmental issues in musical instrument manufacture, and musics that imitate place-based sound.

Keynote: Dr. Andra McCartney (Communications Studies, Concordia University).

10:45 – 12:30 p.m. Memorial string-of-pearls soundwalk.

Symposium participants will do a soundwalk with Andra McCartney, beginning from the symposium site. Rain or shine (bring an umbrella and walking shoes). The walk will have several moments, strung together like pearls: discussions of listening experiences, tactics and strategies; individual, small and large group walking; reflection and response.

5:00 – 6:00 p.m. Listening filters and standpoints

How do disciplinary routines channel listening in different ways? How can thinking about listening generate opportunities for fertile talk across disciplines? Andra McCartney will introduce and discuss two examples of sound recordings as a way to think about how listening is situated, channelled, and mixed, basing the discussion on contemporary research about interpretive communities as well as conversations with listeners during soundwalk/listening events.


Dr. Line Grenier (Communication, Université de Montréal).

Moments of music in action: Exploring the effectivity of Québec’s Étoile des Aînés/Senior Stars

October 23 (7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.)

In this talk Line Grenier explores intersections of aging and popular music in the context of a global demographic shift to “an aging society” and governmental discourses and policies around “active aging.” I do so by drawing on an ongoing collaborative, multi-sited, ethnography-based pilot project on Étoile des aînés/Senior Stars, an annual ‘music talent’ contest in Québec organized since 2008 by Chartwell-Reit, one of the most important investors in the seniors housing market in North America. Its aim is to examine the effectivity of Étoile des aînés as music in action (De Nora, 2004), as an event where memory work takes place, “call[ing] to mind the collective nature of the activity of remembering” as it connects “’public historical events, structures of feeling, family dramas, relations of class, national identity, gender, and ‘personal’ memory.” (Kuhn, 2007, 232).


Dr. Ivan Emke (Social and Cultural Studies, Memorial University, Grenfell)

From Outports to Netports: Community Media and Shared Identity in Rural Newfoundland and Beyond

January 7 (7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.)

It has been argued that the tools we use to communicate can influence the kind of community that we can create. In an age dominated by large urban media, how can a rural community construct and affirm its identity? Where does it get to tell its own stories? In this province, there has been a tradition of appreciating the link between the use of locally-focussed communications technologies and the construction and celebration of rural community life, from CBC’s Fisheries Broadcast to MUN’s Extension Services. This presentation will reflect on community media projects that use low-power FM radio, sometimes linked with the internet and webcasting. It will offer stories of the media events themselves interwoven with broader theories around communication, technology, community and identity.


Dr. Louise Meintjes (Music, Duke University)

Dancing Around Disease: Zulu ngoma in a time of AIDS

March 4 (7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.)

When confronted with diminishing capacities that represent a compromised social life -- whether of individual relationships or of a men's ngoma song and dance team -- how do men perform their responsibilities to other men? How do singer-dancers manage the necessity of caring for their fellow team mates in the presence of an HIV stigma that pushes their relationships to the limit? I present this case study to reflect on Africanist analyses of the performance arts in relation to HIV/AIDS.


MMaP Lecture Series 2012-2013

Dr. Benjamin Brinner (University of California - Berkeley)

Perspectives on the “Inter” in Intercultural: Israeli/Arab/Palestinian/Jewish Musical Collaborations

Monday, September 24

Drawing on and extending the analyses in his recent book Playing Across a Divide: Israeli-Palestinian Musical Encounters, Ben Brinner will speak about the understandings that musicians create in joint musical explorations that venture into terrain that has no clear cultural underpinning, yet is enmeshed in several socio-cultural worlds. These worlds differ in their assumptions about music, aesthetics, professionalism, and the political uses of art. How then do musicians working together on intercultural projects navigate these differences? Where are their obstacles and points of friction? What are the synergies that emerge from their collaborations? Focusing on the Bustan Quartet and its precursor, Bustan Abraham, this lecture follows a twenty-year arc in the lives of some of Israel’s leading creators and performers of “world music.”


Dr. Sherry Johnson (York University)

“Dancing from the Heart”: Interpreting Music in Ottawa Valley Step Dancing

Thursday, November 8

Donnie Gilchrist (1925-1984), known as the father of Ottawa Valley step dancing, was renowned for his ability to interpret music. When dancing solo, he never performed formalized “steps,” but improvised movements in relation to the music; one of his former students calls it “dancing from the heart.” By contrast, many of today’s young Ottawa Valley step dancers are criticized for not dancing to their fiddlers’ music. While blatant timing errors are seldom a problem, even some dancers who compete at the highest levels are admonished for a lack of internal feel for musical rhythm. At one level, this has to do with how steps are structured in relation to the structure of fiddle tunes. More recently, however, there has been renewed interest in matching the rhythm of particular fiddle tunes kinaesthetically. In this presentation Sherry Johnson examines how two renowned Ottawa Valley step dancers – Donnie Gilchrist and Nathan Pilatzke (b. 1970) – use structural and rhythmic elements to interpret fiddle tunes. She contextualizes this analysis with an overview of the changing relationship between step dancing and fiddle music in central Canada’s Ottawa Valley tradition.


Dr. Meghan Forsyth (Memorial University)

Creative Currents: Innovation and Tradition in Island Acadian Music

Tuesday, February 12

From new compositions to stylistic flexibility, innovation has emerged as a defining element of contemporary Island Acadian musical traditions on and off the public stage. But old and new forms of musical expression hang in a delicate balance, at one and the same time lauded and contested. Drawing on examples from Prince Edward Island and les Îles-de-la-Madeleine, Meghan Forsyth considers the social and artistic value placed on innovation in contemporary fiddling and francophone song traditions. She posits that global influences and local discourses about tradition and creativity inform how Acadian music is presented locally and to cultural outsiders, such as tourists and festival organizers, and how it reflects musicians’ connections to and expressions of historical memory.


Dr. Sean Williams (Evergreen State College)

Crossing the Divide: Hinduism and Islam in Sundanese Music

Tuesday, March 19

The Sundanese people of West Java, Indonesia are known in that nation as conservative Muslims. Yet their musical forms (over two hundred genres) defy that label; many of the main genres lean heavily on Hindu and animist stories, traditions, and musical materials. In the genre of tembang Sunda – the most aristocratic of any genre in the region – a combination of influences from different eras in Sundanese history connect contemporary Muslim musicians and audience members with their Hindu and animist past. Comprising a large zither, small zither, bamboo flute, and singer, the tembang Sunda ensemble is intended for an intimate audience of insiders. They know the words, they understand the context, and most of them are singers or musicians themselves. Because tembang Sunda is considered a powerful link to the rural past, the urban Islamic conservatism of its audience is suspended during an evening’s performance. This sense of simultaneous suspension and engagement creates a type of sacred space that lasts for most of the night. This talk will feature two songs; one explicitly Hindu in content, and another specifically Muslim. By examining the two songs in context, Sean Williams will explore the ways in which the music can transcend boundaries of space, time, and religion.


MMaP Lecture Series 2011-2012

Dr. Sherrie Tucker (University of Kansas)

Torquing Back: Alternative Spins on Jitterbug Memory, Dance Floor Democracy, and the Hollywood Canteen

Wednesday, October 12 @ 7:30pm

Sherrie Tucker, Associate Professor of American Studies, University of Kansas, is the author of Swing Shift: All-Girl Bands of the 1940s (Duke, 2000), and co-editor, with Nichole T. Rustin, of Big Ears: Listening for Gender in Jazz Studies (Duke, 2008). She is currently completing a book entitled Dance Floor Democracy: the Social Geography of Memory at the Hollywood Canteen (supported by a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities). She is a member of the Improvisation, Gender, and the Body team for Ajay Heble’s Collaborative Research Initiative funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada, entitled, "Improvisation, Community, and Social Practice."


Dr. Chris Tonelli (Memorial University)

Pastiche as Event: Theorizing Imitation in Recorded Popular Music

Monday, November 7 @ 7:30pm

Chris Tonelli completed his graduate work in the Critical Studies and Experimental Practices in Music Program at the University of California, San Diego and has taught at the New Zealand School of Music. His research interests include theorization of the voice, transnational flows of music between North America and Japan, reception theory, whiteness and masculinity, and improvisation. He is currently visiting Assistant Professor at the MUN School of Music.


Dr. Brian Cherwick

From Polka to Pow Wow: The Ukrainian Recording Industry in Winnipeg

Tuesday, February 7 @ 7:30pm

Brian Cherwick specializes in the musical traditions of Ukrainians in both the Ukrainian diaspora and in Ukraine. He has taught at the University of Alberta and Athabasca University and has worked as a researcher for the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village museum and as a Music Specialist with Edmonton Public Schools. His research interests include ethnic identity, performance studies, the ethnic music industry, material culture and oral history. His recent work documented historic leather trades in east central Alberta. He has performed throughout North America and Europe and his compositions have been broadcast on four continents and even featured on Hockey Night in Canada.


Dr. Dylan Robinson (Royal Holloway, University of London)

Reconciliation’s Senses

Monday, March 26 @ 7:30pm

Dylan Robinson is a Postdoctoral Fellow at Royal Holloway, University of London, where he is part of the Indigeneity in the Contemporary World project. Recent projects include “The Aesthetics of Reconciliation in Canada,” a study of the role that the arts play at the Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, and dramaturgical development of a new opera with mezzo-soprano Marion Newman (Kwagiulth) and composer Anna Höstman based on contemporary and historical interactions between the Nuxalk First Peoples and Norwegian settlers in the Bella Coola area of British Columbia.


MMaP Lecture Series 2010-2011

Dr. Ellen Waterman (Memorial University)

Improvising Bodies, Sites of Resistance: Adaptive Use of Musical Instruments for the Physically Challenged

Tuesday, October 12, 2010 7:30 p.m


Dr. Rob Bowman (York University)

The Determining Role of Performance in the Articulation of Meaning: The Case Study of 'Try a Little Tenderness’

Monday, November 8, 2010 7:30 p.m


Dr. Stephen Wild (Australia National University), Dr. Salwa El-Shawan Castelo-Branco (New University of Lisbon – FCSH), Dr. Beverley Diamond (Memorial University)

These scholars participated in panel that was titled, “Differing National Perspectives on Contemporary Ethnomusicology.”

Thursday, December 2, 2010 7:30 p.m


Dr. Georgina Born (Oxford University)

The Future of the BBC? Pros and Cons of Cultural Institutions

Wednesday, February 9, 2011 7:30 p.m


Dr. Jane Gosine (Memorial University)

The Effect of Distinct Social and Physical Environments on the Compositions of Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704)

Tuesday, March 8, 2011 7:30 p.m