Columbia Music Scholarship Conference

CMSC 2018
MUSIC as/In Motion

Columbia Music Scholarship Conference

Conference Date: March 3, 2018

Location: 501 Dodge Hall, Columbia University

The annual Columbia Music Scholarship Conference (CMSC) will be held at Columbia University, New York on Saturday, March 3, 2018. This year's theme will be "Music as/in Motion." We are delighted to announce that Gavin Steingo (Princeton University) will deliver the keynote address.

The conference is open to the public and free to attend. Registration is encouraged but not required. Please register using the following link OR email cmsc2018 [at] with your name and institutional affiliation, if any.

PLEASE NOTE: Speakers do not need to register.


Provisional Schedule

9:30 - 10:00 Breakfast and Welcome

10:00 - 11:30 "Organologies and Technologies"

  • Nathan Smith (University of Chicago) “Formalizing the Fretboard’s Phantasmic Fingers”
  • Jeremy Smith (University of Minnesota) “The Functions of Continuous Motion in Electronic Dance Music”
  • M. Elizabeth Fleming (CUNY Graduate Center) “Going Digital: The New Valved Hornist in the Nineteenth Century”

11:45 - 1:00 "Patterns and Motion"

  • Andrés García Molina (Columbia University) “On Sound, Circulation, and Architecture”
  • Sergio Ospina-Romero (Cornell University) “Phonographs on the Road: The Technology of Sound Recording during the Acoustic Era”

2:30 - 4:00  "Bodies: Historical and Modern"

  • Alison Stevens (UMass Amherst) “Motion as Music: Hypermetrical Schemas in 18th-Century Contredanses”
  • Sophie Benn (Case Western Reserve University) “La Méthode graphique: Anatomy and Embodied Listening in Stepanov Dance Notation”
  • Chelsea Oden (University of Oregon) “Dance as Political Activism: Two Popular Choreomusical Responses to the Orlando Shooting”

4:15 - 6:00 Keynote Address: Gavin Steingo (Princeton University)

6:00 Reception


Keynote Speaker

Gavin Steingo seeks to understand globally circulating musical practices from the perspective of the geopolitical South. This research includes examinations of music and value, infrastructures and audio technologies, sound and race, and the politics of world music circulation. Gavin has recently pursued these topics in a monograph, Kwaito’s Promise: Music and the Aesthetics of Freedom in South Africa (University of Chicago Press, 2016, winner of the Alan P. Merriam Prize from the Society for Ethnomusicology), and through conversations with scholars across a broad spectrum of disciplines: a special issue of the journal boundary 2 co-edited with Jairo Moreno on the topic “Econophonia: Music, Value, and Forms of Life”; a co-edited book series (also with Jairo Moreno) exploring intersections of music and sound for Oxford University Press; and a volume (co-edited with Jim Sykes) on decolonizing sound studies forthcoming from Duke University Press.

Gavin grew up in South Africa and began his music career performing with the Johannesburg Youth Jazz Orchestra and as a guitarist in a fairly popular rock band with frequent radio and television appearances. Today, performance forms an important part of his research process. He regularly records in a variety of styles and genres, most recently, for example, on an album by the Venda singer Jininka Nkanyane. The album was nominated in two categories at the South African Traditional Music Awards (2016).

Gavin has taught in the music departments at Columbia University and the University of Pittsburgh as well as in the Department of Anthropology at Wits University, South Africa. He has received grants and fellowships from a range of agencies and institutions, including the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the American Musicological Society, the Heyman Center for the Humanities, the National Gugak Center (Seoul/South Korea), Akademie Schloss Solitude (Stuttgart/Germany), Merck Pharmaceuticals, and, most recently, the Alzheimer’s Association. In addition to his academic work, he consults with popular media outlets such as Afropop Worldwide and with performance venues such as the Apollo Theater and Carnegie Hall.

Recent Publications

2017. “Actors and Accidents in South African Electronic Music: An Essay on Multiple Ontologies.” Contemporary Music Review. Special issue on “Music and Mediation” edited by Georgina Born. Published online 24 November, 2017.

2017. “Kapwani Kiwanga: spéculations extraterrestres.” Translated by Louise Hervé. Images Re-vues: Histoire, anthropologie et théorie de l’art 14.

2017. “The Inaudible Nation: Music and Sensory Perception in Postapartheid South Africa.” Cultural Critique 95: 71-100.

2015: “Sound and Circulation: Immobility and Obduracy in South African Electronic Music.” Ethnomusicology Forum 24(1): 102-123. 


2018 Columbia Music Scholarship Conference Co-Chairs:

Jane Forner

PhD Student in Historical Musicology

Jane Forner entered the PhD program in Historical Musicology in Fall 2015. Originally from London, England, she completed her undergraduate degree at the University of Cambridge (Peterhouse) in 2014, where she received the William Barclay-Squire prize for distinction in music history. Her research centers on European opera since 1900, with interests in colonial history, interdisciplinary work across the visual arts, literature and philosophy, and theories of gender and race in opera. Her recent work has focused on the operas of Thomas Ades and Kaija Saariaho.

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