Wednesday, 21 November 2007

bodies and music again

Aaaargh, I am way behind with all of this....

Monday, 2 July 2007

bodies and music

Together with a colleague, I'm organizing a research seminar on bodies and music. I'm trying to work out what to speak (and write) about. I could do something on sixteenth-century Italian music and bodies--perhaps querying the idea that modern bodies perform Cinquecento song in the same way as Cinquecento bodies (that's what is implied by McClary in her most recent book); this would necessarily entail looking at how Cinquecento bodies performed. I have some ideas about what such a paper might look like. But I'd also like to write something about an area of music that is newer (in academic terms) to me. I've been thinking about work on jazz and pop for some time now. The question is what could I do?

Mina Agossi is very cool indeed and I love her music. Perhaps I'm too much of a fan to write something on her, though, because every time I try I just seem to start and end with "wow, she's so cool".... Perhaps there's something to be said about identity. Most of the scholarly writing on jazz with which I'm familiar deals with the "canonic" figures of jazz (especially Miles), most (all?) of whom are American. Agossi is not a canonic figure, and nor is she American. So I wonder if there could be something to say regarding identity issues, European (French) politics, that kind of thing. Another possibility would be to look at the writings about Agossi--her website, myspace page, fan sites, journalism (such as this), or reviews on blogs (such as this choice example)--and look at the kinds of things people say about her to see what the trends are, perhaps do a discourse analysis type thing.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

research plans

Phew, busy few months--two conferences (one of which I was organizing), then straight into examining. It's all over for the summer, though--time to resurrect my research.

I have several projects on the go:

  • An essay on decorum, music and innuendo in Italian academies of the sixteenth century for an essay collection with OUP.
  • A book review for JSMI.
  • An article that was to be a chapter in a book on early modern masculinities is now cast adrift and in search of a new home. I need to work out where to send it and get the blasted thing out.
  • An article on sprezzatura that I have trailed around as a conference and seminar paper several times.
  • I need to decide whether to get together a proposal for an essay collection from my conference.
  • I'm going to propose an edition of dialect songs. We'll see how that goes--worst I can hear is "no".

Far too many to complete in one summer, I think, especially since there's only 8 weeks or so left and I am due about 3 weeks holiday.

Monday, 5 March 2007

farinelli ideas

So, I've been thinking about the movie Farinelli for a while--partly because I show it to my students and their reactions are always so fascinating, but particularly at the moment since one of my UG supervisees is writing a dissertation on it.

There being no castrati around these days, Farinelli's voice was created by blending a soprano and a countertenor (courtesy of IRCAM). This weird sound doesn't always sync with the actor's lips. As my colleague CM pointed out, synchronized sound/lips is an obsession of Hollywood rather than of European cinema: it's just not considered important in Euro film.

Anyway, I've been wondering about this recently particularly in relation to two theories:

1. Donna Haraway's work on cyborgs
2. fragmented body (Lacan) - thanks to CM for this one.

Got a few ideas on this--not sure whether it's enough to make into a paper yet. Had my student gone down either of these avenues, I wouldn't be thinking about this now (ethics)....

The fragmented body idea is possibly the most fruitful initially, but I think the cyborg has mileage too. The question is what exactly.

This might turn into a paper someday. At the moment, I should be working on a paper for this conference.

Sunday, 11 February 2007

more Monteverdi

Last week's Monteverdi classes went OK. I should have planned this week's sessions already but of course I haven't. Last week we ended up talking about “suit and tie” music and dealing with some of the less welcoming beliefs some students bring to class. We were able to look at the kinds of language used to describe Monteverdi and the 1610 publication and see how the authors were trying to bring Monteverdi into the Western canon. (Quotes will follow.) I think all in all it was a reasonably successful session, although next time I need to remember to define canon earlier in the class.

My other lecture course was utterly dreadful. I'm gonna scrap that lecture on laude and devotional music because I never seem to have time to work out what I'm talking about and it's just boring.

My seminar group started their presentations last week. Got off to a great start, and the new format is working a treat. I've had students pair up so that a student introduces the student speaker, thanks them and chairs the question session at the end. And I also assigned a pair of students each week the responsibility of getting the question session going. I said I'm happy for them to read the papers in advance, or to practice with each other, or even for the speakers to plant questions, but I wanted the students to pay each other the courtesy of discussing the ideas in some detail after the paper. And it worked better than I could have imagined: I didn't ask questions at all, but stayed off to the side acting as camera operator and the students did a fantastic job.

Sunday, 4 February 2007

Music, Ideas and Monteverdi

Well, I'm about to start teaching the entire music first year undergrad cohort in my third of a compulsory unit that is my department's answer to the survey course. We don't do a historical survey, and I'm very pleased about that. But I need to review my portion of the unit and decide what to keep, what to replace, and what the hell I'm gonna say tomorrow. And I still don't know if the bookshop has the scores.

My main problem, actually, is why did I choose Monteverdi?

This really bugs me, because I didn't think I was really in to doing the canon thing, and yet somehow that's exactly what I've managed to do.

Next year, I'm not 'doing' Monteverdi. Next year, I'm gonna use music by Maddalena CasulanaChiara Margarita Cozzolani. That's a cert.

But this year, I'm stuck with Monteverdi.

I want to introduce the students to studying early music, but most importantly to the idea that we define early music--that it's not about unearthing the right or wrong way to do something, but it's about contemporary imagination and possibilities. That it's not all clear cut.

I wondered about starting by having the students role play going to a concert, or rather, coming out of a concert and talking about what they heard. Maybe compare what they might say then with what they might say after coming out of a trad gig, or out of a dance club? I'm interested in the way we talk about 'classical' music, specifically things like 'did you like the Beethoven?' That definite article, the privileging of the composer. These are all issues I want to raise tomorrow.

Need to think about this some more, though.

Going to do dishes and think.

Tuesday, 30 January 2007

What is musicology?

I realised that, for a blog mostly on musicology, I hadn't actually mentioned it yet.

Here's one definition.

I'm not sure how I'd define musicology, though. I guess for me it's the study of music(s) in historical, cultural and social contexts. But I'll need to think some more about that, because it probably has limitations I haven't noticed.

concerts of video game music

On 2 Jun this year, the (Swedish, I assume) Royal Philharmonic will give a concert in Stockholm Concert Hall. Nothing weird about that. What is unusual is the repertoire:

"PLAY! A Video Game Symphony Concert

Play! is a tribute to video game music, a concert tour in which symphony orchestras the world over perform music from well-known video games. During the concert, memorable sequences from games will be shown on big screens.

Music from twenty or so well-known games: Castlevania, The Revenge of Shinobi, The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion and The Darkness.

The Royal Philharmonic under the direction of Arnie Roth, chief conductor and producer of Play!"


Unfortunately I don't know these games. What's going through my head is the Sonic tune, the sound effects from handheld Gameboys, that kind of thing. If fact, now I think about it, I usually turn off the music in video games and just keep the sound effects. I'm not sure why--perhaps because I find it distracting?

Anyway, this concert series bears thinking about. I'm guessing it's a way to draw new audiences into classical music. I wonder if it will work?

Saturday, 27 January 2007


So, I'm giving some thought to how I might change some of my undergraduate courses next year (even though we're barely halfway through this year), and I'm thinking that I might start using podcasts as a means of assessment. Rather than me produce them for the students (which I kinda think I might try this semester for the first years), I thought I'd ask the students, working in groups, to produce podcasts exploring particular course-related topics. I haven't given much thought to the kind of project yet, but I know I want to incorporate peer assessment too.

I'm keeping an eye on podagogy because this person seems to be doing something unusual with podcasting and iPods, but I'm not sure what it is yet.