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Thursday 25 September, 11:00 am - Ó Riada Hall, Music Building, UCC
The field of hip hop studies is bursting with groundbreaking studies on the art of the MC and top notch examinations of the DJ are now emerging, slowly but surely. Notably, the former studies tend to focus on hip hop’s ingenious wordplay and rhetorical contours, while the later tend to take up the slack in discussing musical sound. This schism in scholarly examination has exposed a lacuna: the MC is also a musician, playing with and against the beat, managing articulations, word shape, rhythm, pitch space, timbres, crafting an individual style that—in hip hop parlance—is an MC’s signature flow. Among the greatest compliments one can pay an MC for exhibiting verbal dexterity and formal mastery in hip hop parlance is to describe his or her performance as “ill.” In this paper I theorize “illness” in hip hop, focusing on a handful of MCs whose flows embody disjuncture, incomprehensibility, and brokenness. Using Jeru’s freaky arrhythmia on the hit track Come Clean as a starting point to examine exceptional, non-normative flows from Keak da Sneak to Missy Elliot and Craig Mack I argue that illness is a critical theory at the core of hip hop’s performed aesthetic. By articulating this disability studies framework to Afro-diasporic and postcolonial studies theorizations, I show how this embodied theory might elaborate our understandings of the blues code, décalage, articulation, detour, disarticulation and difference, the break, and signifyin(g). Indeed, I argue that hip hop’s marked illness emerges from a long line of performances of disability in black music, dating back to the iconic pimp limps of 1970s funk, the raggedness of black music in the early 1900s, and the seminal disjointedness of “Jim Crow” performances in antebellum America.
J. Griffith Rollefson is Lecturer in Popular Music Studies in the Department of Music at University College Cork, the first permanent position of its kind in Ireland. Griff is a musicologist who does fieldwork, drawing on postcolonial theory, African American studies, and media studies in his research and teaching (including courses on global hip hop, blues, jazz, and American music). Before Cork, he served on the music faculties of the University of Cambridge and the University of California, Berkeley where he also served as UC Chancellor's Public Scholar. In that position he led the community engaged scholarship project “Hip Hop as Postcolonial Studies in the Bay Area” bringing Berkeley students into dialogue with inner city youth. Rollefson’s work has been published in Black Music Research Journal, Popular Music and Society, Twentieth-Century Music and elsewhere, and has appeared in the edited volumes Crosscurrents: European and American Music in Interaction 1900-2000 (eds. Oja, Rathert, Shreffler), Native Tongues: An African Hip Hop Reader (ed. Saucier), and Hip Hop in Europe (ed. Nitzsche and Grünzweig). He is currently preparing for publication his book European Hip Hop and the Politics of Postcoloniality, based on fieldwork with hip hop communities in Paris, Berlin, and London.
Friday 26 September, 1:10 pm - Aula Maxima, UCC
Thursday 02 October, 11:00 am - Ó Riada Hall, Music Building, UCC
Temporality, layered processes, negative space, and the boundaries between sound and silence are critical to my work as a composer. '...of mirrors and insects...', Shadowbuilders, Gush, and Drip each deal with these aspects in differing ways. In this presentation I will discuss influences on my work as well as my compositional technique in these four works. The title for '…of mirrors and insects…' is taken from a brief but evocative passage in Jonathan Safran Foer’s first book Everything is Illuminated. In the novel a young Jewish American man goes to Eastern Europe in search of his roots. The temporally disjointed narrative snaps back and forth between the protagonist’s lived time in contemporary Ukraine, a geological mode of ancestral time recounting the lives of his forebears, and a type of dreamed time that weaves these times together, and to which the title refers. The piece for clarinet, violin, cello, and piano was thus composed with three distinct time layers in a fashion similar to how the novel works with its separate temporal layers. Indeed, the quartet is essentially three pieces overlaid one on the other. In both its instrumentation and its focus on time and process, the work also evokes the historical genesis and context of Olivier Messiaen’s Quatuor pour la fin du temps—a piece written in a German internment camp in 1941. Shadowbuilders for piano solo addresses the challenge of building negative space in music. Rather than tones calling attention to silences, this piece attempts to invert this fundamental musical relationship by carving space for sound out of silence. Gush and Drip--for solo alto saxophone and flute, respectively--are drawn from my series of short solo works on fluid themes. Gush employs a steady stream of a small group of notes that slowly unfolds revealing a group of microtonally inflected passages and longer tones. Drip is in many ways a foil to Gush as the piece begins with a pointillistic pacing slowly building a great deal of momentum before returning to rest. Together, the four pieces best represent my current compositional interests and procedures and will thus be the focus of our attention in this talk and listening session
Mary King received her Doctorate in Music Composition from Northwestern University in 2006 where she studied with Jay Alan Yim and Augusta Read Thomas. She has served as Assistant Professor of Music at California Baptist University as well as Visiting Scholar at the University of California, Berkeley and Affiliated Lecturer in the Faculty of Music at the University of Cambridge, where she supervised the orchestration module. She is the recipient of numerous awards including a Hamburger Klangwerktage Composer Laureate Award, a National Association of Composers USA Young Composers Award, and the Ellen Zwilich Award from the International Alliance for Women in Music. Her music has been performed at venues in New York, Chicago, Paris, Florence, Hamburg and at a number of notable summer programs and festivals including June in Buffalo, Hamburger Klangwerktage, the Look & Listen Music and Art Festival (ISCM Series), and at the Centre de Création Musicale Iannis Xenakis (UPIC/CCMIX). Her works have been performed by the Cleveland Chamber Symphony, Oklahoma City Symphony, Eighth Blackbird, Claire Chase, Patricia Spencer, Stacey Barelos, John Sampen, and the International Ensemble Modern Akademie.
Friday 03 October, 1:10 pm - Aula Maxima, UCC
Saturday 11 October, 1:10 pm - Aula Maxima, UCC
Thursday 16 October, 11:00 am - Ó Riada Hall, Music Building, UCC
“The Travelling Sonnet: an interdisciplinary and creative approach to folk heritage”
The work to be presented today was carried out by undergraduate students of the Degree in Primary Education in Spain, who took part in this inter-university experience within the subject of Learning of the Musical Expression. The aim of the experience was to discover the folk heritage in four Spanish regions by means of an interdisciplinary and creative project that involving music, literature, visual arts and technology. The students from these universities, who collaborated using virtual networks, had the opportunity of writing sonnets, playing instruments, composing songs, as well as recording and editing their own audio-visual productions.The results of the student surveys show that experiences like this one give them the opportunity to actively participate in the learning process and to work with music in an interdisciplinary way, as well as to develop their creativity.
María Elena Riaño (PhD), formally trained as a pianist, is currently lecturing Music Education at the University of Cantabria (Spain) in the Bachelor Degree for Primary School Teachers and in the Master of Research and Innovation in Educational Contexts. She has also been in charge of the Musical Management in this university (2009-2012) as well as being President of the Society for the Musical Education of the Spanish State, SEM-EE (2006-2011), affiliated to ISME. Her interests are related to Creativity, Musical Education in early childhood and Interdisciplinary Projects. She has published articles in specialized magazines, edited some books such as: Creatividad en Educación Musical (2007), Voz, Cuerpo y Acción: Un espacio para la música (2010), Fundamentos musicales y didácticos en Educación Infantil (2011) and collaborated writing some chapters in others: “Desarrollo integral y educación musical en Educación Infantil” (2011), “Percepción integral de la música a través de la estimulación multisensorial: Una propuesta educativa musical para la edad infantil” (2013).
Wednesday 22 October, 6:00 pm - Theatre Development Centre, Triskel Christchurch
Thursday 30 October, 11:00 am - Ó Riada Hall, Music Building, UCC
“What Is a Musical Public?”
Across a wide range of musical practices, learning increasingly involves an orientation to imagined others. As young people acquire musical skills, they acquaint themselves with the practices of not only social intimates, but also distant and unknown musicians. They are able to do so in part thanks to the circulation of mass-mediated performances and publications: texts that enable a kind of long-distance allegiance-building. The musical orientation to strangers, long an aspect of the transmission of art musics, is also and increasingly evident in the dissemination of what are sometimes referred to as traditional, vernacular, and folk musics. My talk accordingly begins by exploring several different-yet-similar contexts of musical learning: of jazz, Western art music, and North American powwow singing and dancing. These ethnographic vignettes provide a point of entry into a discussion of three ways of understanding musical publics: as circulatory networks, as audiences of (intimate) strangers, and as social formations built around shared forms of embodied practice. They also reveal the intimate, domestic, and everyday contexts in which musical publicness is often transmitted. They furthermore suggest that investigations of sites where music is learned offer potentially rich opportunities to consider how musicians and groups cultivate some kinds of relationships while placing limits on others.
Byron Dueck is a lecturer in ethnomusicology at the Open University. His research interests include North American Indigenous music and dance, musical publics, and the social efficacy of rhythm and metre. His research on Aboriginal music and dance is the subject of a recent monograph, Musical Intimacies and Indigenous Imaginaries: Aboriginal Music and Dance in Public Performance (Oxford University Press, 2013). Dueck is currently a co-investigator on the AHRC-funded project, ‘Online Networks and the Production of Value in Electronic Music’. From 2009 to 2011, he was a co-investigator on the AHRC-funded project, ‘What is Black British Jazz?’, and in 2013 he and Jason Toynbee co-edited a themed issue of the Black Music Research Journal drawing upon this research. From 2007 to 2010 he was a member of the ‘Experience and Meaning in Music Performance’ research group at the Open University, and together with Martin Clayton and Laura Leante co-edited a volume that disseminates this work: Experience and Meaning in Music Performance (Oxford University Press, 2013). He is also the co-editor, with Jason Toynbee, of Migrating Music (Routledge, 2011).
Thursday 06 November, 11:00 am - Ó Riada Hall, Music Building, UCC
“Classical Music: Utopia or Police State?”
The performance of western classical music is surrounded by obligations: to the composer, to the work, to tradition. None of these has a plausible ethical or historical basis. The composer is (usually long) dead and cannot be harmed; the composer’s intentions are unknowable; his expectations are unknown until the invention of sound recording; recordings document changes in performance style so great that the very notion of what is ‘musical’ is revealed as historically contingent. In this context the notion of a ‘work’ is meaningless since nothing but the notes remain unchanged, and recordings show that the notes can sound very different and therefore generate very different meanings in the minds of listeners. Tradition is clearly a fantasy. Recordings show that there is no tradition: everything fundamental to musical character and meaning changes over time. There are therefore only two obligations on the performer: to do no harm, and to be powerfully persuasive. And yet, the imaginary obligations on performers are ruthlessly policed. Performers who try to escape them are denied work. It is no wonder that in this situation performers become ill with anxiety lest they make a mistake or fail to adopt correct style. This talk probes the nature of the classical music state and asks what could follow from a revolution.
Daniel Leech-Wilkinson studied at the Royal College of Music, King's College London and Clare College Cambridge, becoming first a medievalist and then, since c. 2000, specialising in the implications of early recordings, especially in relation to music psychology and ontology. He led a project on 'Expressivity in Schubert Song Performance' within the Centre for the History and Analysis of Recorded Music (CHARM), followed by 'Shaping Music in Performance' within the Centre for Musical Performance as Creative Practice. Books include The Modern Invention of Medieval Music (Cambridge, 2002), The Changing Sound of Music (CHARM, 2009) and, with Helen Prior, Music and Shape (Oxford University Press, forthcoming).
Wednesday 12 November, 6:00 pm - Theatre Development Centre, Triskel Christchurch
Thursday 20 November, 11:00 am - Ó Riada Hall, Music Building, UCC
“Little Thing, Big Thing: Small Sounds, Forgotten Sounds, and Data Sonification”
Derek Foott (PhD & MA, University College Cork; BA, University of Hull) is an intermedia composer working in the field of computer programming, electronic and acousmatic music, and interactive visuals. He co-founded CAVE (Cork Audio-Visual Ensemble) with Jeffrey Weeter in 2013, and recently performed at the International Computer Music Conference in Athens (September 2014). His work has premiered at the National Concert Hall (Dublin), Irish Film Institute, the Bluecoat (Liverpool), and York New Music Festival. Derek is currently a research affiliate with University College Cork, Ireland, where he teaches creative music technology. He specialises in electroacoustic and algorithmic composition, swarm intelligence, multimedia, live electronics, and interactive technologies. With interests in ecology, stigmergy, data sonification, and data visualisation, his work studies the evolution of physical and synthetic interrelationships, and behavioural interaction.
Derek will discuss current compositions, collaborative projects (with dancers, and visual artists), and composing with multimedia technology.