The annual Columbia Music Scholarship Conference was held via Zoom on April 17, 2021. The keynote speakers included Jordannah Elizabeth, Estelle Caswell, Anne Midgette, and Seth Cluett.
This conference aimed to challenge the boundaries of traditional academic scholarship by engaging critically with different mediums and media: YouTube videos, podcasts, digital humanities projects, as well as public-facing writing (reviews, program notes, etc.). Through presentation, discussion, and workshops, the conference rethought the way musicological content is presented, and asked, in a time when pedagogy is increasingly moving online, how these means can help music scholars not only teach, but also reach a broader audience.
Conference materials have been posted online for asynchronous viewing (see the individual “session” tabs, above). The synchronous event on April 17th will consisted of question-and-answer sessions, as well as masterclasses led by each keynote speaker and a roundtable discussion on the role of public musicology in today’s media landscape.
Please contact cmsc.publicmusicology [at] gmail.com with any questions.
Cover photo by Fernando Lavin.
(all times in EDT)
10:15-10:30am – Conference Welcome and Opening Remarks
10:30-11:30am – Session 1: Considering Digital Music Pedagogy
- The Music Professors of “YouTubiversity” (Alisha Nypaver, Temple University)
- LINEWAVES: Coding in the Music Classroom (Drake Andersen, Vassar College)
- Pedagogy, Podcasting, and the Pulitzer Prize (Andrew Granade & David Thurmaier, University of Missouri - Kansas City Conservatory)
11:30am-12:10pm – Session 2: Amplifying Marginalized Voices
- Black Musical Nostalgia Verzuz Pandemic Isolation: How Webcast Concert Competitions Connect African American Social Media Users (Abigail Lindo, University of Florida)
- Ms., Opera, Music, Mr.: Podcasting and Presenting Gender Bias Research (Allison Chu & Frances Pollock, Yale University)
12:30-1:30pm – Session 3: Questioning Musical Institutions
- Musical Work in the Time of COVID-19: Musicking in Capitalist Ruins (Mark Rodgers, University of Washington)
- The Accessibility Dilemma: The Supremacy of Video; A Working Theory about The Evolution of Musicology (John David Vandevert, Independent Scholar)
- Biographical Gossip, Musical Publics, and the Post Truth, 1820-2020 (Kristin M. Franseen, Carleton University)
2:30-4:30pm – Masterclasses
- 2:30 – Seth Cluett - Finding New Peers: Expanding Reach through Digital Tools
- 3:00 – Jordannah Elizabeth - Public Musicology Through Archives & Platforms: Creating Your Archival Project & Self-Contained Platforms
- 3:30 – Estelle Caswell - The Making of “We Measured Pop Music’s Falsetto Obsession”
- 4:00 – Anne Midgette - TBA
5:00-6:00pm – Roundtable Discussion
with Seth Cluett, Jordannah Elizabeth, Estelle Caswell, and Anne Midgette
10:30-11:30am – Considering Digital Music Pedagogy
Moderated by Sonja Wermager
Prior to the pandemic, YouTube was already widely used by professors as a teaching tool for well over a decade and has been the subject of a considerable amount of academic scholarship as early as 2009. After the mass shift to online learning, educators increasingly turned to YouTube to find materials to support their virtual classrooms. Some began creating and publishing their own content for their students, perhaps without considering the potential ramifications of posting their video lectures on a public platform.
This paper is a preliminary exploration of what the author intends to be a larger study on the current situation regarding public musicology and the value of online college courses in comparison to the educational resources that are freely available to students through platforms such as YouTube. Research questions include: what criteria contribute to making YouTube an effective teaching and learning tool, particularly when students use self-directed learning? How do self-directed learners locate, critically evaluate, and utilize content posted on YouTube? What benefits are afforded by an online college education that cannot be replicated by self-directed learning on YouTube? What methods used by successful YouTubers could serve as a model for college professors to increase the efficacy of their online teaching methods? In this paper, I begin to explore these questions using a theoretical lens adapted from Ken Bain’s landmark study published in What the Best College Teachers Do to analyze four of the top YouTube music analysis channels.
Alisha Nypaver specializes in teaching general education classes and creating online and hybrid courses. Her current research interests focus on testing and integrating cutting-edge educational tools in both traditional and online classrooms, finding new ways to teach digital citizenship, pedagogical practices for music in higher education, redefining the standard undergraduate music curriculum, and the history of music in Philadelphia. In addition to her work in teaching and new course development, Nypaver serves as a Quality Matters online course reviewer, instructional designer, and is the online course coordinator for the Department of General Education at Temple University.
LINEWAVES (https://linewaves.org) is an online repository of coding-based lessons designed to support instruction in undergraduate music theory courses. All materials are organized into modules that can easily be combined, customized, and integrated into existing music curricula, while scaffolding through programming topics.
Modules reflect a range of methodologies, and are designed for diverse skill levels in both music and coding. For example, an instructor teaching an advanced post tonal music theory course may introduce coding to their students by having them perform post tonal operations such as pitch-to-pc conversion or transposition computationally using simple math. More advanced students may explore the “Skips and Steps” sequence of modules, in which the prevalence of melodic skips and steps is compared across genres using the music21 toolkit. At present, all modules are written in Python.
Among numerous pedagogical benefits, like expanding access and equity and promoting code literacy, LINEWAVES also models critical inquiry. Presenting theory using computational tools demonstrates that knowledge can change over time, and that it can be approached empirically. One of the biggest obstacles to integrating computational methods in the music classroom is connecting the content in dense programming tutorials with meaningful musical activities. LINEWAVES addresses this gap through its modular organization, which is extensively cross-referenced with programming topics and designed to map seamlessly onto existing music curricula.
Drake Andersen is Adjunct Assistant Professor of Music at Vassar College, where he teaches electronic music. Areas of research include twentieth-century experimental music, virtual scores, and open-source software communities. Forthcoming publications include an article on technological mediation in the music of Pauline Oliveros in Organised Sound and an account of Earle Brown’s encounters with minimalist aesthetics in the 1960s and 1970s in Perspectives of New Music. He is also a composer and an improviser with live electronics. dandersen [at] vassar.edu
Pedagogy, Podcasting, and the Pulitzer Prize (Andrew Granade & David Thurmaier, University of Missouri - Kansas City Conservatory)
In early 2020, musicologist Andrew Granade and theorist David Thurmaier launched “Hearing the Pulitzers,” a podcast that examines the composers, juries, and the awarded and nominated works of the Pulitzer Prize to discover who had agency in steering the course of American music in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Although this endeavor could have been accomplished as a book-length study, the podcast medium allows us to reach a wider audience interested in the award, connecting our scholarly work with the American public while inviting them into a conversation about the place of music and how we place value on music in contemporary American life. It also allows for 30-minute examinations of works like Copland’s Appalachian Spring and Ives’s 3rd Symphony which can then be used in collegiate classes as supplementary materials or as the basis for class discussion.
We specifically considered the pedagogical uses of podcasts when creating this show. Accordingly, in the first episode, shared for this conference as a springboard for discussion, we present our rationale for the podcast along with background on the Pulitzer Prize in music. In the conference discussion, we will share what we have learned in the process of creating a podcast, including practical considerations like equipment and software needs, marketing ideas, and the choices we made to craft a podcast built upon current scholarship, yet presented in an accessible way.
Andrew Granade is Professor of Musicology and Associate Dean of Academic and Faculty Affairs at the UMKC Conservatory. His research focuses on the American Experimental Tradition, the American wind band, and music history pedagogy, and he is the author of Harry Partch, Hobo Composer.
David Thurmaier is Associate Professor of Music Theory and Chair of the Music Studies Division at the UMKC Conservatory. His research focuses on the music of Charles Ives, the Beatles, and music theory pedagogy. His recent publications appear in HAYDN, Interdisciplinary Literary Studies, and Theoria. He is currently Vice-President of the Charles Ives Society.
11:30am-12:10pm – Amplifying Marginalized Voices
Moderated by Lauren Bernard
Black Musical Nostalgia Verzuz Pandemic Isolation: How Webcast Concert Competitions Connect African American Social Media Users (Abigail Lindo, University of Florida)
Since March 2020 Verzuz live social media concerts have provided the predominantly black viewer-base with a brief period of levity in the face of the emotional trauma and fatigue of #Black Lives Matter, #Say Her Name, pandemic-related financial distress, and the emotional wear of isolation. The battle-style webcast performances on Instagram Live each feature two well-known artists performing old material, encouraging the formation of safe, black virtual gatherings. I posit that these events act as a coping mechanism and cultural conduit, illuminating aspects of black musical identity and offering varying degrees of interaction and involvement to minimize anxiety while allowing social media patrons to listen and discuss music in community during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Unlike traditional live performances, interactions in Verzuz concerts are not limited by temporality, proximity, or cost, replacing the typical construct of a cohort of moving physical bodies with separated bodies forming subgroups and communicating simultaneously with one another and the performers themselves – challenging traditional audience and performer roles. Centering my argument on the concepts of ritual and affirmation as theorized by Christopher Small in his hallmark work Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening (1998), I discuss the complexities of African American musicking in times of difficulty, cultural practices in these concerts, technological liberation and limitation through social media, the idea of temporality and novelty in this context, and the creation of collaborative musical spaces in the face of an isolated existence.
Abigail Lindo is a Jamaican-born, African American vocalist and ethnomusicologist in her second year of PhD studies at the University of Florida. Her research interests include Portuguese music, Jamaican popular music, gender and identity formation, and community music-making. A former music educator, Lindo taught elementary and secondary instrumental and vocal music in Lee and Charlotte County, Florida for six years, simultaneously earning her masters in music education before coming to UF in Summer 2019 to begin her PhD. Her current dissertation topic focuses on the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores and how festival culture has aided in the creation of a distinct musical identity in the region, considering notions of individuality, collective experience, and citizenship. She is a classically trained mezzo-soprano and enjoys writing songs in her downtime.
Ms., Opera, Music, Mr.: Podcasting and Presenting Gender Bias Research (Allison Chu & Frances Pollock, Yale University)
Critical reviews are important opportunities for composers to receive feedback, promote their work, and build public personas. Reviews published in major publications, such as the Arts section of the New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, are junctions where critical reception and public consumption meet. Audiences look to reviews for confirmation of their taste, art that is up and coming, and indications of where artistic trends are heading. Recently, public discourse has also shifted to focus on composers who have been historically marginalized, sometimes uplifting them, and other times using their identity as a tokenized commodity used to sell seats. This is certainly true when it comes to women writing opera.
Using a corpus of 78 reviews, we completed a rhetorical analysis examining gender bias in opera reviews. Our research confirms that, even amongst the most progressive attempts to uplift female identifying composers, significant structural bias still exists. Because publishing this research in an academic setting alone would likely do little to raise public awareness, we created a podcast series called “Ms., Opera, Music, Mr.” in which we explore the extenuating circumstances that create the conditions for structural bias. Past episodes have included discussions on tokenism and identity as commodity, the impact of reviews for individual artists, and the demographic makeup of the field of music criticism. For the conference, we present a hybrid podcast/research paper on our findings and the significance of presenting the research to a broader public audience through conversations with scholars and practitioners alike.
Allison Chu is a Ph.D. student in Music History at Yale University, with research interests in opera in the twenty-first century, contemporary music, and identity. She holds a Bachelor of Music in Clarinet Performance (2019) and a Bachelor of Arts in English (2019) from the University of Michigan. From 2017 to 2019, she worked with the University of Michigan Gershwin Initiative as an Editorial Assistant, and she was awarded an EXCEL Enterprise Fund grant for her research on George Gershwin’s Blue Monday. Allison is also one of the founding members and current co-chair of the Grant Hagan Society, an affinity group that supports people of color in the Yale Department of Music. Allison is invested in bridging the gap between performers, scholars, and the public; she has been a guest lecturer at the 2020 Lakes Area Music Festival and is one of the founding members of the Midnight Oil Collective.
Frances Pollock is a composer who is excited by all kinds of music. Her favorite music inspirations are Dolly Parton, Whitney Houston, Francis Poulenc, Joni Mitchell, Missy Elliot, Stephen Sondheim, Jonathan Dove, and Billy Joel. Known for her “bold and bracing” (Baltimore Sun) opera writing, Frances Pollock’s music “pulls no punches and never flinches.” (City Paper). Frances’ first opera, Stinney won a Johns Hopkins Diversity Grant and a Best of Baltimore award. It was presented again in workshop in the 2019 PROTOTYPE festival in New York City. It will have its world premiere in 2022 with Greenville Light Opera Works in Greenville, SC. Frances has since written opera’s for WNO (librettist Vanessa Moody) and Chicago Lyric/Seattle Opera (librettist Jessica Murphy Moo). She is currently developing a cross-disciplinary piece called Salt with librettist (and wife and best friend) Emily Roller. Frances is a founding member of the Midnight Oil Collective.
12:30-1:30pm – Questioning Musical Institutions
Moderated by Mike Ford
Musical Work in the Time of COVID-19: Musicking in Capitalist Ruins (Mark Rodgers, University of Washington)
In March 2020, as the pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) raged its way across the United States, most theaters, nightclubs, restaurants, and bars closed their doors. Suddenly, the calendar of live music was wiped clean, leaving in the lurch thousands of musicians who rely on gigs for some part of their income. Layoffs and furloughs quickly followed for musicians and music teachers fortunate enough to be under contract with schools, symphonies, and other arts organizations. Those able to continue drawing salaries, offering private lessons, or cobbling together freelance jobs had to learn on the fly how to teach and play remotely, activities that have introduced more work, new challenges, and unforeseen expenses to manage. Meanwhile, as families who paid for private lessons and institutions who employed music teachers moved to tighten their budgets, these jobs began to look less secure than they had just months before. In this paper, which is based on oral history interviews that my students and I collected from working musicians and music teachers in Washington State in June 2020, I explore the ways in which the pandemic has affected many forms of musical work in our region. These interviews reveal that many musicians entered the crisis in positions of acute financial precarity, thanks to the effects of several decades of neoliberal policies in the United States. But another theme emerges as well: that throughout the pandemic, to paraphrase the anthropologist Anna Tsing, musicians have found ways of living and thriving in capitalist ruins. Links to organizations mentioned in the talk:
Mark Rodgers is a Lecturer in Music History at the University of Washington School of Music. He earned his PhD at Yale University in 2018 with a dissertation titled “Renaissance Formalisms in the Cultural Archive of Tonality,” and he has presented his work at many conferences, including the annual conferences of the American Musicological Society, the Society for Seventeenth-Century Music, the Renaissance Society of America, and the Society for American Music. At the University of Washington, he organizes the oral history project Musical Work in the Time of COVID-19 in collaboration with the Labor Archives of Washington, and he teaches courses on a wide range of topics in the School of Music and the interdisciplinary Honors Program. For the 2020-21 academic year, Rodgers also redesigned the School of Music’s “Concert Season” course to showcase how Seattle-area music organizations have continued producing concerts throughout the pandemic.
The Accessibility Dilemma: The Supremacy of Video; A Working Theory about The Evolution of Musicology (John David Vandevert, Independent Scholar)
A scholastic Neo-Renaissance is upon us, where the ossified methodologies of past epochs are no longer adequate tools for the contemporary intellectual. The ‘Accessibility Dilemma’ (Powers, 2016) within the realm of classical music and the sonic-arts is but one mountain in this evolving landscape, long-term solutions still ambiguous. Minimalism, Neo-Romanticism, and polystylistic approaches were once tried (Endris, 2014), but the general focus has now fallen on evolving student education, improving public relations, and diversifying concert repertoire (Smiraglia et al. 2018; Knott, 2015; Letts, 2006). In effect, there has been a push to ‘humanize’ classical-music and refresh the genre with a new, sociocultural complexion. Comparably, within Musicology, there have been readily no major innovations regarding its mode of academic dissemination despite the number of Journals seemingly growing exponentially; in 2016, composite analysis taken by Dr. Phillip Howie from leading Publishers recorded over 12,000 Journals in circulation. However, with the onset of COVID-19, the historical discipline has had to embrace the cyberscape and quickly adapt traditional practices to fit the current circumstances, the community, ‘virtual colloquium’ initiative ‘Music Scholarship at a Distance’ launched by Dr. Paula Harper back in March of 2020, being one of the first exclusively-online strategies for Academic confluence ahead of the total lockdown measures. Musicology has become an online participant, and video programming has become standard practice, formally in-person engagements adopting live-communication platforms. This involuntary transition to video marks a new chapter in Musicology, but I question the breadth of its acceptance, especially in the wake of heightened discussions of societal equality on numerous fronts. Using YouTube as a case-study into the potential development of a ‘people’s -ology,’ advancing the dialectic on how video inclusion can further liberate music studies and scholastic propagation from the intellectually sophisticated is not only necessary but required. I theorize that in order for Musicology to have a successful future, it must start to reorient itself as a people’s discipline and modernize its impenetrable framework.
John David Vandevert is a graduate of Westminster Choir College in Vocal Performance; however, he is currently engaged as an independent Music Researcher and Writer. Interested in how music coalesces with life, much of his work deals with 'hearing' music as an intonational expression of socio-cultural dynamics. He has written on an eclectic range of topics, including Soviet music methodology, Hip-Hop, Samuel Barber, and is currently working on a paper about Ravel's latent embodiment of fin-de-siecle in 'Pavane for a Dead Princess.' He has given previous national and international talks, in 2020 participating in Zagreb's Academy of Music Future of Musicology Conference, while in 2021 appearing in American Musicology Society's New York Chapter Winter Meeting talking about the Asafievian conceptualization of 'New Listener.' He currently works as Grant Research Coordinator for Opera NexGen and is applying for a Master's in Musicology, with hopes to begin in the fall of 2021.
Biographical Gossip, Musical Publics, and the Post Truth, 1820-2020 (Kristin M. Franseen, Carleton University)
As a response to the proliferation of online misinformation, many journalists and science communicators promote public education in media literacy. In particular, Binkowski (2020) argues that the study of history is vital for illustrating critical evaluation of conflicting sources and narratives. The biographies of long-deceased composers might seem far removed from this crisis over the “post-truth” era, in which claims that feel real are often valued over verifiable truths. I argue, however, that debunked musical stories reveal how (mis)understandings of the past function as counter-histories that can serve a variety of functions for their creators and readers.
This short paper explores two popular case studies from my ongoing research on the role of gossip in music biography: the myths of Salieri’s intrigues against Mozart and the various conspiracy theories surrounding Tchaikovsky’s death. I focus on the proliferation and evolution of pseudo-historical thought in biographical writings from the nineteenth century onward, including invented or exaggerated anecdotes, authorial speculation, and fictional works aimed at a broad audience that make some appeal to musicological knowledge. This project builds on the work of critical biographers Philip Bullock (2016) and Timo Jouko Herrmann (2019) and the approaches developed by literary scholar James Shapiro (2010) and public musicologist Linda Shaver-Gleason (2016-2019) to consider how certain recurring narratives appear anachronistically “universal” to different musical publics. I conclude with some examples from my own teaching experiences of how musicologists might better address debunked musical “knowledge” in engaging with both students and the general public.
Kristin M. Franseen (she/her/hers) is a contract instructor in music history at Carleton University and independent scholar living in Montréal. She received her PhD from McGill University in 2019, with a dissertation on early twentieth-century queer musicologists. Her research appears in Music & Letters, 19th-Century Music, and the Cahiers de la Société québécoise de recherche en musique (SQRM), and her monograph Imagining Musical Pasts: The Queer Literary Musicology of Vernon Lee, Rosa Newmarch, and Edward Prime-Stevenson is under contract with Clemson University Press. She is also in the preliminary stages of two new projects: (1) an examination of Edward Prime-Stevenson’s use of gramophone recordings for queer canon-building through shared gossip and listening practices and (2) a look at Antonio Salieri’s posthumous reception through the lenses of collegiality, biography, and the post-truth.
Anne Midgette, writer and critic, for 11 years consolidated her various cultural interests under the title of the chief classical music critic of the Washington Post. She is now returning to freelance life to finish a long-planned book and expand her sights again to other arts.
Estelle Caswell is an Emmy Award-winning video journalist currently working for Vox.com. Her series, Earworm, has reached over 50 million viewers and covers a wide range of music topics—from deconstructing trends in hip-hop to jazz music theory. She brings together experts across the musical field to teach music history in a wholly unique way. Photo credit: Asa Mathat for Vox Media.
Jordannah Elizabeth is an author, music critic, editor, lecturer, and essayist. She is a columnist at the historical Black newspaper New York Amsterdam News and her work has appeared in NPR Music, Village Voice, DownBeat, and many other reputable publications. She has lectured and received invitations as a guest journalist from Harvard University, Pratt Institute, Maryland Institute College of Art, and De Montfort University in Leicester, England. She is the author of Don’t Lose Track (Zer0 Books), The Warmest Low (Publik / Private Small Press), and the upcoming book, She Raised Her Voice!: 50 Black Women Singers Who Sang Their Way Into Music History (Running Press Kids / Hachette Book Group).
Seth Cluett is a composer, visual artist, and writer. With work ranging from photography and drawing to installation, performance, and critical writing, his “subtle…seductive, immersive” (Artforum) sound work has been characterized as “rigorously focused and full of detail” (e/i) and “dramatic, powerful, and at one with nature” (The Wire). The recipient of grants from Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Fund and Meet the Composer, his work has been presented internationally at venues such as The Whitney Museum, MoMA/PS1, Moving Image Art Fair, CONTEXT Art Miami, GRM, and STEIM. Cluett is a Lecturer in Music (Computer Music and Sound Studies), the Assistant Director of the Computer Music Center and Sound Art Program at Columbia University, and is Artist-in-Residence with Experiments in Art and Technology at Nokia Bell Labs. For more about his work and research: www.sethcluett.com or http://vimeo.com/sethcluett
Organizers and Moderators
PhD Student in Music TheoryWebsite
Calder Hannan graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. in Music and Physics in 2017 and joined Columbia's Music Theory PhD Program in Fall 2018. His research interests include popular music (especially extreme and progressive metal), rhythm and meter, the experience of musical form, and transcription. His dissertation will prospectively explore moments of tactus transformation in recent popular music from music theoretical, ethnographic/cultural, and cognitive perspectives.more info...
PhD Student in Historical Musicology
Anya Wilkening is a PhD Candidate in Historical Musicology at Columbia University. Her research focuses on new analytic approaches to musical borrowing in the Medieval era; her dissertation, entitled "Degrees of Separation: Intermusicality and Intertextuality in Medieval Monophonic Song," is in progress under the guidance of Susan Boynton. Most recently, Anya presented her work at the 2022 Vagantes Conference on Medieval Studies, where she received one of three Vagantes Paper Prizes. Her work has been supported by the Professor Howard J.more info...
PhD Student in Historical Musicology
Callum Blackmore is a graduate student in historical musicology studying French opera in the long eighteenth century. His dissertation, provisionally titled “Opera at the Dawn of Capitalism: Staging Fiscal Crisis in France and Its Colonies from Rameau to Cherubini”, explores representations of economic life on the operatic stage in the lead-up to the French and Haitian Revolutions.more info...
PhD Student in Historical Musicology
Lauren Bernard is a PhD student in Historical Musicology at Columbia University. She holds degrees in music from The University of North Texas (2015) and Brandeis University (2018). Her current research interests include the perception of race in timbre and sound, musical constructions of alterity and identity, and Afrofuturism.more info...
PhD Student in Historical Musicology
Justin Gregg is a PhD candidate in Historical Musicology at Columbia University, where he began in the Fall of 2018. His research broadly revolves around the intersections between music and European politics in the early twentieth century; he is currently working on a dissertation provisionally titled “Mahler, Politicized: Cosmopolitanism, Diplomacy, and Musical Internationalism in the 1920 Mahler Festival,” under the guidance of Prof. Walter Frisch.more info...
PhD Student in Historical Musicology
Sonja Wermager is a PhD Candidate in Historical Musicology. Her research focuses on intersections of religion and music in nineteenth-century Germany. She is currently finishing her dissertation, "Robert Schumann and 'The Artist's Highest Goal:' Religion, Romanticism, and Nation in the Late Choral Works," which is supervised by Walter Frisch.more info...
PhD, Historical Musicology 2022
Mike Ford completed his PhD in Historical Musicology at Columbia University in December 2021. His research focused on improvisation in non-musical settings such as corporate management and lean startups. By transposing understandings of musical improvisation from musicology and critical improvisation studies, his research provides insights into the day-to-day activities and thinking of business leaders and founders.more info...