Thursday, September 6, 2018

Dissertation Digest: Listening to a Liberated Paris: Pierre Schaeffer Experiments with Radio

By Alexander Stalarow

Dissertation Digest: Listening to a Liberated Paris: Pierre Schaeffer Experiments with Radio
I first became interested in Pierre Schaeffer when I encountered his pair of electroacoustic operas based on the Orpheus myth. Comprising Orphée 51 and Orphée 53, Schaeffer’s Orpheus project offers a very early example of mixing live performance with prerecorded music and sounds; it also mixed new compositional processes with old stories. Alluding to past Orpheus settings by Monteverdi and Gluck, among others, Schaeffer placed his operas in conversation with the rich interpretive history of the myth. He also used its drama to advocate for a new type of composer, one used the burgeoning techniques of musique concrète involving the capture, manipulation, and retransmission of recorded sounds. At its 1953 Donaueschingen premiere, German critics assailed Orphée, some on the grounds that making musique concrète was not an act of original creation worthy of a composer per se. Schaeffer’s own retrospective account suggests that electronic music historians have tended to agree with his German critics: “It was thus we lost the battle of Donaueschingen and that we were plunged for years into international reprobation, while there rose in the sky of Cologne, a dawn favorable to the hereditary and electronic enemy!”<1>



Donaueschingen Festival, program cover, 1953, GRM Archives
 
Schaeffer himself may have relegated Orphée 53 to a pile of failed experiments. I, however, was drawn to rethinking the project on its own terms by considering its potential to broaden the conceptual role of the composer in light of new methods for music making in midcentury France. Such questions sparked my first entry into Schaeffer’s world, which was enlivened by his own copious writings, his recordings of radiophonic art and musique concrète, and later by archival materials as well—administrative documents, radio program transcripts, correspondence, personal notes—housed outside of Caen at the Institut Mémoires de l’Éditions Contemporaines (IMEC).

Schaeffer’s material and audiovisual archival traces highlight his multifaceted career. He was at once an author, sound engineer, radio artist, administrator, musician, and mentor to interns and junior employees in the studios he directed for French state radio (Radiodiffusion Nationale and its postwar successor Radiodiffusion Française). It was at these radio studios under French state patronage that Schaeffer pursued his multifaceted career, and radio mattered to his creative work in two interrelated ways. First, as an institution, radio facilitated Schaeffer and his team’s access to particular resources, both technological and human. Making the radio programs that Schaeffer wrote, directed, and produced for the Studio d’Essai between 1942 and 1945, for example, required the institution’s machines and network of people comprising bureaucrats, technicians, and artists. When he would in 1948 orient his experiments toward more strictly musical concerns by founding the Groupe de Recherche de Musique Concrète (GRMC), much of the human and technical infrastructure was already in place. Second, radio mattered as a medium, both as a type of transmission and of creation itself, shaping not only who listened, but also where, why, and how they might do so.


My dissertation, Listening to a Liberated Paris: Pierre Schaeffer Experiments with Radio, starts a conversation about the ways in which radio mattered to the creative labor, collaborative process, creation, and diffusion of Schaeffer’s music. Drawing appropriate attention to radio in Schaeffer’s career provides needed context for both the musique concrète project and for Schaeffer’s theoretical writings on the phenomenology of sound. The recent translation of his Treatise on Musical Objects makes the latter particularly apt. I argue that Schaeffer’s musique concrète compositions and his theories of sound perception are best understood as parts of a broader project with radio at its center. To do this, I analyze the largely overlooked radio programs that Schaeffer’s produced from 1942–1947, revealing the origins of many sources and techniques Schaeffer would use in his musique concrète works, from his Cinq Études de bruits (1948) to Orphée 53, the work that sparked my interest in Schaeffer in the first place. Further, listening to his radiophonic art helps relocate Schaeffer—a figure who is often relegated to the pioneering fringes of postwar music histories—in an intellectual network at the heart of institutionalized French culture.


The first half of my dissertation considers Schaeffer’s work building a model for making radiophonic art. Chapter 1 recounts Schaeffer’s upbringing, schooling, and his formative professional activities from 1936–1942. After exploring his interests in music, literature, and philosophy while pursuing a rigorous engineering degree at the École Polytechnique, Schaeffer’s first job for French state radio involved redeveloping the Paris Opéra’s live radio broadcasting system for its 1936–1937 season. Here Schaeffer used both his musical ear and his training as an engineer to choose which microphones to purchase, where to place them around the stage, and he trained recordists and musicians alike in the art of sound recording. The work, however, frustrated him. Capturing with precision opera singers as moving targets seemed futile next to his work recording in a studio, where he found that moving the microphone by even one centimeter had a profound impact on the sonic result. Schaeffer quickly turned his attention to the development of a proper radiophonic art, one that would study and leverage the inherent abilities of the medium, rather than attempt to retransmit other arts conceived for acoustic consumption.


Chapter 2 focuses on Schaeffer’s founding role in 1942 at the Studio d’Essai, an experimental studio staffed by thespians, musicians, technicians, and poets dedicated to radiophonic production. The studio’s first major production, La Coquille à planets, an eight-episode radio opera, served as an experiment with the technical and artistic aspects of studio production, fostering new collegial relationships between artists and technicians from diverse backgrounds. Schaeffer collaborated closely with Claude Arrieu, who composed a full score for the work, and helped producer Maurice Cazeneuve developed a model for his role of metteur-en-ondes, responsible mainly for the montage of recorded scenes. The Studio d’Essai also served national needs as well, producing the first official French broadcasts after the Liberation of Paris by Allied forces in August 1944. In his Chronique sonore de Paris libéré (1945), Schaeffer sampled footage from these broadcasts, which include speeches by General de Gaulle, cheering crowds, tolling bells, and a recording of La Marseillaise.



Interior front courtyard, Studio d’Essai at 37, rue de l’Université,
photo credit: Alexander Stalarow.

Une Heure du monde (1946), the central focus of my third chapter, took Schaeffer's radio experiments to the world stage. With the war over, Radiodiffusion Française now used its technical and artistic acumen to reach international audiences and to flood the Parisian airways with the sounds of cultural internationalism. Throughout the series, Schaeffer’s audience encountered a global community through a wide sampling of recordings featuring speech, noise, and music from around the world. In the last episode, “Radio Babel,” Schaeffer considers a theoretical model for international radio communication where sounds, noises, musics, and speech interact in confusion. This episode indexes Schaeffer’s theories of acousmatic sound by training audiences to listen without context.


Chapters 4 and 5 explore Schaeffer’s musique concrète project in light of his past experiences in radio production and point to continuities in techniques as well as a shared listener-centered creative approach. In Chapter 4 I analyse each musique concrète piece Schaeffer produced from 1948 through 1951, examining the sound materials used, their significance, and the contributions of Parisian musicians including Pierre Boulez, Gaston Litaize, and Pierre Henry. The chapter ends with a discussion of Schaeffer and Henry’s Symphonie pour un homme seul (1950), which I use to address two crucial aspects of the musique concrète project: the acousmatic concept (the perceptual implications of hearing sounds without seeing their source) and the studio’s concert culture in Paris and abroad. Both converge in my analysis of a 1952 Boston performance of Symphonie pour un homme seul as a ballet danced by Merce Cunningham, who uncannily reconnected manipulated sound fragments of recorded human gestures with live choreography. Chapter 5 draws on the institutional and aesthetic connections between radio and cinema in Schaeffer’s thought to examine Orphée 51 and Orphée 53. I put Schaeffer’s opera in conservation with Jean Cocteau’s film Orphée (1950) as I argue that the two works present analogous postwar interpretations of the mythic protagonist.


Listening to a Liberated Paris broadens our understanding of Schaeffer, and expands the view of his impact beyond the electronic compositions and theories of sound perception for which he has risen in fame. Working from this expanded perspective, I situate these very aspects of his legacy to show how radio and experimentalism played formational roles in his interdisciplinary artistic and creative aspirations. This re-envisioning connects the previously disconnected spheres of experimental musical practices, and radio as institution and medium, in mid-century France.

***
<1>Pierre Schaeffer, La Musique concrète (Press Universitaire de Paris, 1973), 23 via Simon Emmerson, Living Electronic Music (Ashgate, 2007), 77.

***

Alexander Stalarow is a Collegiate Professor of Music History at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. His research on Pierre Schaeffer has been supported by a Chateaubriand Fellowship and an Alvin H. Johnson-AMS 50 Dissertation Fellowship. He completed his Ph.D. in musicology at the University of California, Davis in 2017.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Teaching Music & Difference—Let’s Get It On: Pedagogy, Sexuality, and Music

By Amber R. Clifford-Napoleone

Note: This essay is the final installment in Musicology Now's "Teaching Music & Difference" series, which features additional essays by Jesus Ramos-KittrellRebekah Moore, and Angela Glaros


Music scholars do not do well with sex.

Musicology, ethnomusicology, popular music studies, anthropology of music. . . . whatever field or discipline we claim, the truth is that as a field of study we need to do better with sex. And I mean that word in every way: sexuality in terms of sexual behavior, sexual identity, sexual orientation and gender expression, and changing definitions of sex as a biocultural marker.  As scholars, we notice and critique colleagues who ignore race, indigeneity, and/or ethnicity. We might not always get those critiques correct or present them nearly often enough, but we see those faultlines.  We attempt to speak to the inclusion of women, again not well enough or often enough, or with nearly enough force inside our own organizations and institutions, but we are at least aware. About sexuality, however, there is still a broad field of lack. Lack of knowledge, to be sure, but also a lack of engagement, interest, and effort. The ignorance looks ignorant.

Have you ever tried to research “sexuality and music?” What you will find is two things: scholarship about music and gender, and mainstream material about music and sexual behavior. I recently did some research at the Kinsey Institute, focusing on music and its inclusion in the famous archive.  I ended up with files filled with news clippings of LGBTQ+ musicians and performers, two folders of Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival, and one article titled “Sex Differences in Sexual Imagery Aroused by Musical Stimulation.”  The 1958 article by Beardslee and Fogelsong suggested that women were more likely to have a sexual response to music because the rhythm was pseudosexual, arguing that women “listen more closely to learn” sexual technique from music. I’ve found a similar dearth of resources at archives and repositories all over the world, from the British Library to the Lesbian Herstory Archives.  If the subject is not a famous queer performance, or someone famous for being a queer performer, then it is not in the archives as “sexuality.” Unless the article is about how music makes the brain want to listen to Barry White, it is not archived as “sex.”

I teach an ethnomusicology course that focuses on globalization and popular music. I examine the ways in which music has traveled, been appropriated, been covered and sampled and impersonated, as a way of understanding global flow.  As a lesbian female professor, I am assumed by some of my students to embody their ideas about gender and sexuality- even if they are not sure what the difference really is. For my students who identify as non-normative in terms of gender and/or sexual identity, I’m somewhere between a signal of queerness that they identify with, and they are hoping to see some bit of themselves in what I teach.   That is a constant challenge in a discipline where sexuality is still largely silenced.

This is not to say that there is no literature about the music of the world and sexuality. The problem is that such works are used as add-ins, optional texts, the readings that get assigned for the one day you’re “doing gender.” Garcia’s work on sexuality and club culture, MacLachlan’s essay on GALA choruses, and Taylor’s recent monograph on LGBTQ+ folx in popular music, are all important contributions. There is also a long history of work in this field that we all know: Brett and Wood’s all-important work building a history of gay and lesbian musicology, Munoz’ work on worldmaking, important work in jazz studies by Tucker, my own work on heavy metal, and West’s amazing work on hip-hop.  These are all works, both germinal and current, that seek to describe and explain the complications of gender and sexuality. The problem is that we, as teachers and scholars, are complicit in marginalizing these works by treating them as sidebars to a grander narrative. We miss an opportunity to teach the cultural constructions of gender and sexuality with/in/through music. I propose that not only is the study of music the place to talk about sexuality, it may be the most productive place to do precisely that. To welcome that opportunity, however, scholars must avoid three things: exoticizing, eroticizing, and failing to admit biases.

As scholars of music, we should all be at least familiar with the dangers of exoticism. In ethnomusicology and anthropology, especially, avoiding the exoticization of our interlocutors is paramount.  When it comes to sexuality, however, exoticizing difference happens in classrooms every day. If sexuality and sexual identity are included in our curriculum, how are they represented? As opera divas? Disco queens? How often has sexual identity been reduced to whether Tchaikovsky was gay, or how Billy Strayhorn passed?  Even a cursory examination of common texts will shed further light on this issue.  Sheila Whiteley’s classic Sexing The Groove, an essential collection on gender and popular music, has two essays specifically about sexual identity: “Mannish Girl” about singer k.d. lang, and “Missing Links” about lesbian culture in the 1990s riotgrrl movement. It is simply not enough to include in our pedagogy lesbian folksingers, 1970s disco divas, Aaron Copeland, and the nan dan of Peking opera.  The result is two-fold: making sexual diversity exotic and sensational, and positioning sexual diversity in music is an exception, an exotic rarity that exists only in coffee shops and drag culture.

Another issue is eroticizing sexuality in world music.  You cannot divorce the sex from sexuality, and at its core sexuality is about our attractions. Sometimes, however, an attempt to discuss sexuality quickly becomes an exercise in eroticizing musicians and performers, both historically and today. When this happens, their identity as a performer of music, or as a composer, is eclipsed by their sex lives.  As a queer person I am often guilty of this myself, merging my identity as a fan with my work as a scholar. While we should not ignore the sexuality of our subjects and their work, that same sexuality should not become the story we tell about music.  Non-normative sexuality is only one facet of people who identify as LGBTQ+, and their work should not be reduced to that point. At the same time, there are thousands of stories we could tell about sexuality and music that we avoid, or do not know.  One excellent example is Genesis Breyer P-Orridge:  a founding member of Throbbing Gristle and Psychic TV, they are without question among the most important music performers of the 20th and 21st centuries. P-Orridge gave birth to industrial, acid house, and experimental music, pushed the Moog synth to new heights, and brought music to new boundaries of visual and performance art.  P-Orridge identifies as pandrogynous, a term that “is the conscious embracing of gender roles, sexual orientations, or cultural traditions so as to render the person’s original identity completely indecipherable.”  While P-Orridge’s sexuality is undoubtedly part of their work, it is also not the sum total of their work or their lives.  It is one opportunity, among thousands if not millions, for a pedagogical move to talking about sexuality as a factor in the music.

Finally, as teachers and scholars we must acknowledge our ignorance and identify our biases when it comes to gender and sexuality.  We do not get trained in our doctoral programs to teach about either, and unless you identify as something other than heterosexual and cisgendered, knowledge about gender and sexuality may range from confusing to frightening.  We live in a world where knowledge, conceptions, and presentations of different sexualities are changing rapidly for some, while it feels like a long fought battle for recognition to others. Those of you who teach may indeed be in a time and space where your students seem to know more than you do. Those of you in classrooms may feel that your teachers do not have a complete understanding of gender in your time, your culture, and your life. All of these reactions are fair, and honest.  As professionals, however, it is our job to learn. That is why we all joined the ranks of academia hopefully, due to a thirst for knowledge and the search for it. We must refuse to be so confused, or frightened, or disappointed, that we avoid the opportunity to learn. If you do not feel that you understand gender and sexuality in the 21st century, read, ask, seek help. Learn not just your students’ names, but their pronouns. Get trained through your campus safe zone program, and make sure your students and colleagues understand that you support those living through changes in their identity. Find those scholars who have done the heavy lifting to create a study of genders and sexualities in music, and include them in your curriculum regularly. Assign reading by LGBTQ+ writers. Diverse sexuality exists in every species on earth. It is also culturally constructed and mediated, and received through the eyes, ears, desires, and experiences of one’s life. In this way, it is not unlike music. Using sexuality to study music is an opportunity not only to make our students better thinkers, but also to demonstrate that sexual diversity has always been there, that the study of music is not separate from that diversity but woven within it, and that we as music scholars will refuse to embrace the phobias and oppressions that exist around us. It is not just good pedagogy, it is good humanity.

In a recent article, blogger Ace Ratcliff asked why there are no accessible spaces in science fiction. “In a universe this big,” wrote Ratcliff, “sci-fi could show us a reality where we have evolved beyond neglecting or outright ignoring a significant portion of our population.”  We can bring that reality closer only if we are willing to do the work of truly, intentionally, refusing to use music scholarship as a vessel for marginalization, sensationalism, and ignorance.
***
Amber R. Clifford-Napoleone (PhD American Studies, U Kansas) is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Director of the McClure Archives and Museum at University of Central Missouri. She is also the author of Queerness In Heavy Metal (Routledge, 2015) and Queering Kansas City Jazz (forthcoming, U Nebraska). She can be reached at Clifford@ucmo.edu.

Monday, August 27, 2018

Teaching Music & Difference: Thick Listening

By Angela Glaros

Note: This essay is the third installment in Musicology Now's "Teaching Music & Difference" series, which features additional essays by Jesus Ramos-Kittrell, Rebekah Moore, and Amber R. Clifford-Napoleone.

I don’t teach ethnomusicology full-time, or even a single course devoted to music.  I’m an anthropologist who does ethnomusicological research.  I teach in the Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology at Eastern Illinois University.  Our Introduction to Anthropology course (taught by myself and my other full-time anthropology colleague) counts toward our anthropology minor as well as our sociology major.  It also helps fulfill the university’s general education requirements, specifically Citizenship in the Social and Behavioral Sciences, which includes courses that emphasize civics, ethics, or diversity.  As EIU’s catalog states, “Diversity courses focus on students’ capacity for viewing issues or problems from multiple perspectives…[t]he examination of history, language, and/or traditions of other countries or cultures (anthropological, artistic, literary, philosophical, political, or sociological) aids in using cultural sensitivity when making informed and ethical decisions.”<1>  As a survey course, “Intro to Anthro” covers a wide spectrum of topics: culture, ethnography, economic systems, kinship, religion, gender, and many others.  Moreover, my colleague and I enjoy the freedom in our individual sections to choose our own books and arrange our topics to take advantage of our particular areas of expertise.

Such freedom, however, is tempered by larger institutional factors.  For example, our school of music already offers a “Non-Western Music” course whose description promises that “[t]he music of a variety of world cultures, such as Asian, African, and South American, will be examined in their appropriate contexts.”<2> Given the often territorial nature of academic departments, particularly during challenging economic times, the only opportunity for me to bring my own research into the classroom without appearing to duplicate courses taught elsewhere was to incorporate ethnomusicology, albeit briefly, into my Intro classes.

At first, I simply lectured about music, explaining the relationship of anthropology to ethnomusicology, discussing the ethnomusicological shift from studying music in culture to music as culture, reviewing classes of instruments, and talking about what kinds of things the study of music can show us (relationships to nature, gender relations, etc.).  I also discussed dance, focusing on how bodily motion and the use of space engaged local cosmologies.  After a few semesters, however, that lecture morphed into a combination of in-class exercise and mini-lecture that I called “Thick Listening,” after Geertz’s (1973) discussion of the importance of “thick description” in ethnographic interpretation. <3> While Damon Krukowski uses “thick listening” in his 2017 Paris Review article to refer to the process of listening to noise in analog music, I have been using the term since at least 2014 in the ways described above.  In any case, our respective meanings are not unrelated, since Krukowski describes the process of listening through surface noise back to the original conditions of the recording—that is, to original cultural production—in ways that make ethnographic sense.<4>

This  “Thick Listening” exercise is intended to expose students to some of ethnomusicology’s methods and questions, and also to counter the visual bias prevalent in college classrooms by forcing them to rely on their ears.  I begin by questioning the status of music as a “universal language,” an old chestnut that most students have heard and accepted.  Then I play four samples, allowing ample time for listening and writing down their descriptions as thickly as they can.  Next, we briefly discuss each one to identify common observations.  Finally, I perform a “reveal” where I identify each sample and discuss some of the features of this form of music.  Currently, my samples include a Bosavi recording from Steven Feld’s research in Papua New Guinea, a Byzantine rendering of Psalm 136 by Greek Orthodox monks, Tuvan throat singing, and a Northern Plains pow-wow song.<5>  Three out of four of these tracks involve no instrumentation, which simplifies the listening process and showcases a variety of vocal techniques, allowing me to provide more context, drawn from my own research on vocal aesthetics.  Additionally, the pow-wow song bridges music and dance, incorporating older research of mine on pow-wow dancing in Montana, while the Byzantine chant engages my ongoing research on liturgical chanting.

What do students hear?  
While almost no one recognizes any of the music samples before the “reveal,” I am continually surprised by how much students identify.  They are particularly attentive to the relationship of sound and space.  For example, students point out water sounds in the background of the Bosavi recording (which takes place near a waterfall), and they observe that the Byzantine piece sounds like it’s being played in a large stone building, pointing out the reverberation.  They notice song structure, particularly call-and-response, which also shows up in both of these pieces.  They also notice rhythm, which is hard to miss in the pow-wow song, given the presence of percussion.  And they make reasonable guesses as to the gender of singers, based on pitch and vocal quality.

How do we further “thicken” the listening?  
During the “reveal,” I discuss the related concepts of aesthetics and cosmology, pointing out how music can show us how people construct their worlds through sound.  In the Bosavi example, the cascading voices serve as metaphor not only for the waterfall, but also for the Bosavi style of communicating that they call “making talk together,” as Feld discusses in “Aesthetics as Iconicity of Style, or ‘Lift-up-over Sounding.’”<6>

For the Byzantine chant, I explain the importance of the drone not only to sound but as a sonic icon of the Church, providing a place for errant souls to return, just as the drone helps wandering lead chanters come back to the tonic.  With the Tuvan example, I discuss the importance of animism, and how the sounds of throat singing may be interpreted as literally otherworldly.  Finally, with pow-wow, I discuss the importance of the circle—the shape of the drum, the circle of dancers, and the cosmological relation of all beings, while they also see the relationship of dance to the song with a video clip of a pow-wow grand entry.  In each case, what makes music sound “right” is married to some extent to how people understand themselves in relation to each other and their world(s).

What don’t students hear when asked to listen thickly?
My classroom sound technology doesn’t lend itself to the “thickest” listening, as individual headphones might.  Some students hear more nuance than others, depending on the particular classroom.  However, the largest challenge I face is simply my students’ lack of exposure to people who live and believe differently from them, which affects the entire semester, not just this lesson plan.  Their responses to unfamiliar sounds are somehow more immediate, visceral, and potentially problematic, since “gut reactions” tend to be difficult to unpack and interpret in limited time frames.  For example, while many students recognize the Byzantine chant as something Christian, because they hear the word “Alleluia” or because it resembles church music they’ve heard, some laugh at the throat singing, commenting that it “sounds like a burp.”  Others describe the high male falsetto of pow-wow singing as “violent,” like “screaming.”  Here is where I interject my story of similar prejudice in white towns that bordered reservations, where people described pow-wow singing as “war whoops.”  For context, I play students the end of Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven,” as another example of a high, strident male falsetto with a definite place in the mainstream American soundscape.<7>

If I could devote more time to music in my Intro class, I would address some of the gaps in students’ music literacy, particularly Western art music and its history, without which additional comparisons to more familiar forms of music prove challenging (though here, the music majors come to class overprepared, if anything).  Without the ability to listen thickly and reflexively to a wider range of Western genres, I worry that this exercise doesn’t do enough to prevent the exoticization of “other” musics, negating the possibility that they, too, incorporate Western identities, values, and contexts, as Jesús Ramos-Kittrell has suggested in his recent post.  To take my students beyond Western and non-Western as categories that constrain their musical understanding, this exercise must emphasize that it isn’t only “Others” who link sound and cosmology in some sort of mystic fashion; rather, all of us make and remake our worlds through sound all the time.

***

<1>Eastern Illinois University. 2018. Course Catalog, General Education.  http://catalog.eiu.edu/preview_program.php?catoid=32&poid=4751Accessed May 10, 2018.
<2>MUS 3562G, http://catalog.eiu.edu/content.php?catoid=32&navoid=1305.  Accessed May 10, 2018.
<3>Geertz, Clifford.  1973.  The Interpretation of Cultures.  New York: Basic Books.
<4>Krukowski, Damon.  2017.  "Surface Noise."  Paris Review.  April 21, 2017. 
https://www.theparisreview.org/blog/2017/04/21/surface-noise/#more-110135 Accessed May 8, 2018.
<5>“Ulahi and Eyo:bo Sing at a Waterfall.” Bosavi: Rainforest Music from Papua New Guinea. SFW CD 40487.  Smithsonian Folkways Recordings, 2001; Monks of Simonopetro.  “Exomologiste To [Give Thanks Unto the Lord]."  Agni Parthene: The Monks of Simonopetro are Chanting.  B0002J6EEU.  Fataka Records, 1990; Tuva Ensemble.  “Kargiraa-Style Song.” Tuva: Voices from the Land of the Eagle.  PAN2005CD.  Pan Records, 1993; Northern Cree Singers.  “Singer’s Song.” Nikamo—“Sing!”—Pow-Wow Songs Recorded Live at Samson.  CR-6378.  Canyon Records, 2005.
<6>Feld, Steven. "Aesthetics as Iconicity of Style, or 'Lift-up-over Sounding': Getting into the Kaluli Groove." Yearbook for Traditional Music, Vol. 20 (1988), pp. 74-113.

<7>Led Zeppelin.  "Stairway to Heaven."  Led Zeppelin IV.  ATL 50-008.  Atlantic Records, 1971.

***

Angela Glaros is Associate Professor of Anthropology and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies at Eastern Illinois University.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Teaching Music & Difference: Critical Awareness for a Global Music Industry

By Rebekah Moore

Note: This essay is the second installment in Musicology Now's "Teaching Music & Difference" series, which features additional essays by Jesus Ramos-Kittrell, Angela Glaros,  and Amber R. Clifford-Napoleone.

If one were to search the phrase “what is world music” and scroll past the list of upcoming local concerts and festivals conjured by search engine optimization, one would quickly come across a 2012 article by Ian Birrell for The Guardian, titled “The Term ‘World Music’ is Outdated and Offensive.” The author condemns this marketing silo for non-Anglo artists on the basis of its valuation of cultural rootedness-as-purity and as a disavowal of the digitized and highly mobile world in which most people now live. His loathing for this designation, however, does not prevent him from exploiting the marketing potential of defining difference according to a geographic otherness: He is co-founder of a London-based concert promotion and production company called Africa Express. To a degree, I empathize: enticing concert-goers thirsty for something other than the mainstream pop fodder of the major labels and live event companies with the promise of a soundscape of exotic elsewheres is a profitable and personally fulfilling strategy for many concert curators and producers—myself included. As director for international yoga, dance, and music festival BaliSpirit, I catered a stage line-up to Californian and Australian yogis and digital nomads island-hopping between Bali and Phuket by booking musicians and dancers from First Nations and the Global South, who would match in performative spectacle the festival’s exotic tropical backdrop. I rebranded the world music concert series as “One World, One Stage,” as a strategy to downplay the tokenistic presentation of difference and convey the cosmopolitan’s vision of one human tribe. But in retrospect, I did little to challenge the festival’s appropriative tendencies or discourage cultural stereotyping.

In subsequent professional roles in the public and private sectors, I generally managed to avoid the ethical problem of world music as genre or creative and professional “ghetto,’ to borrow from Senegalese singer Youssou N’Dour’s assessment of the music industry’s handling of “nonwestern” musicians in a 2000 interview.<1> In 2017, I opened a new professional chapter as an academic ethnomusicologist. Now, I must contend with a teaching mandate to design courses that “engage with difference and diversity,”<2> and ethnomusicology’s culpability for the persistence of world music as a core requirement in conservatories and music departments. This new role compels me to question: What are universities really trying to accomplish by insisting on diversity in curricula? “Diversity” to what end? Are academics challenging or reinforcing the white male domination of the classical music canon with such requirements? Can a world music “survey course,” a mainstay in many American college and university curricula and charge of many early-career ethnomusicologists, offer anything more than superficial coverage of music traditions that have been canonized by world music textbooks and bear a resemblance to European colonial expeditions? Or should such courses be exorcised from music curricula, as neocolonial specters?


In my current post as a music industry professor for a program oriented toward professional development rather than theoretical inquiry, I do not necessarily have to answer most of these questions. But I do have to contend with the preparation of students entering a profession carrying global economic and social impact, which will shape both how they interact with professionals who do not share their socioeconomic privilege and also what they envision as sustainable, ethical business practice. So I have been compelled to offer a “Global Music Industries” course as supplement to a curriculum focused largely on U.S. music business opportunities and developments. Thus, like colleagues at other institutions leading world music survey courses, I am doing my best to cover the “rest” of the world’s music, largely ignored by music curricula, and yet still avoid tokenism and the allure of cultural competence.


The course’s practical objective is to help prepare students for international music careers involving activities such as international touring and contract negotiations or the navigation of diverse legislation on licensing and IP protection across national borders. Students encounter modes of music production and consumption through diverse knowledge sources, such as ethnographic studies and industry trade reports, with a focus on grounded practice outside the U.S. music industry and its global conglomerates. Course content is organized topically by professional practices and challenges, such as recording and record labels, live performance, market research, instrument manufacturing, government interventions, and emerging business models. A strong focus on peripheral markets—vis-à-vis mainstream entertainment conglomerates—provides an exercise in “mainstreaming,” to borrow from Anne Rasmussen, diverse modes of music professionalism.<3> The ethnographic studies, in particular, introduce professional activities that are both familiar in practice and culturally distinctive. Students encounter, for example, album sales strategies along the North American powwow trail,<4> payment structures in a New Delhi recording studio,<5> pirates as crucial distributors within Myanmar’s popular music industry,<6> and digital activism as a core professional activity among Indonesian recording artists.<7>



Indonesian rock band Navicula during their tour of Kalimantan (Indonesian Borneo) to raise awareness about deforestation and its impacts on indigenous communities, wildlife, and the global climate. Photographed by the author.

Rather than focusing on how students might navigate these diverse markets, the course encourages them to explore the myriad ways in which professionals consolidate music production, distribution, and consumption. The course’s implicit objective is to encourage these students, most of whom will work within the dominant music industries of the United States, Europe, or China to a) dispute the narrow definition of music’s value as consumer good propagated by the highly regulated, centrally controlled, capitalistic recording industries with which they are most familiar and b) recognize their own complicity with unequal access to resources for producing and consuming music.


Unfortunately, in the course’s first iteration, student self-assessments and teacher evaluations suggest that the implicit objective was not achieved. This is due, in large part, to my decision to keep this priority objective close to the vest, based on my concern that students might reject a blatant challenge to modern music business practices. Instead, I might have explicitly insisted on critical engagement with core business values and ethics. An additional problem is that the stated objective’s focus on preparing students for fruitful careers imparts a goal of economic dominance that is at odds with the implicit objective. Thus, the course could be critiqued as providing training grounds for ongoing musical imperialism.


With fine-tuning, however, courses like “Global Music Industries” might offer an interesting alternative to world music survey courses. By focusing on music in practice and profession, rather than as aesthetic tradition, such courses could denaturalize current business models that coalesce power in a corporate oligopoly and accelerate creative homogenization. They could prioritize entrepreneurial thinking about sustainable music practice and stimulate critical engagement on the common ground of professional practice shared by recording and touring artists worldwide.


Key to these outcomes would be an explicit rejection of cultural competence as a course outcome and instead the adoption of the lens of critical awareness. This notion, developed through research on healthcare and social services for diverse populations, provides useful pedagogical frameworks, whereby instructors would support students in working toward the principles of “‘curiosity’ and of ‘informed not knowing,’” to use the words of social work scholars Mark Furlong and James Wight.<8> In such approaches, the aim is not to accumulate a body of knowledge about cultural and professional others; rather, critical awareness “establishes a context for practice that regards ‘the other’ as a mirror upon which the practitioner can see the outline of their own personal, professional, ideological, and cultural profile.”<9> By explicating critical awareness as a course objective, instructors would challenge students to recognize the plurality of music professionalism and their own positionality within it and to undertake global creative exchanges through a lens of informed not-knowing—a lens that prevents them from seeing the world’s musical traditions as territory to acquire.


If one were to take, at face value, university diversity requirements as strategies to foster inclusivity, mutual respect, and collaboration, then one would be compelled to advocate for the continual inclusion of courses introducing diverse musics and musical values, as a means to critically engage with intersectionality, define music as a rightful human experience, and build students’ commitment to equal access to music production and consumption. Such courses would overtly confront the inequities created by regional or cultural differentiation, the canonization of certain traditions over others, and the accumulation of cross-cultural knowledge as the means to succeed in a digitized, mobilized world. Perhaps, then, we could effectively equip students with the global curiosity and cosmopolitan responsibility required to make a world of difference in how we all experience music.

***
<1>N’Dour, quoted in Taylor, Music and Capitalism, p. 89.
<2>“Engaging Differences and Diversity.”
<3>Rasmussen, “Mainstreaming American Musical Multiculturalism.”
<4>Scales, Recording Culture.
<5>Booth and Shope, More than Bollywood.
<6>MacLachlan, Burma’s Pop Music Industry.
<7>Moore, “My Music, My Freedom(?)”
<8>Furlong and Wight, “Promoting ‘Critical Awareness’ and Critiquing ‘Cultural Competence,’” p. 39
<9>Ibid.

***

Works Cited


Booth, Gregory D., and Bradley Shope. More than Bollywood: Studies in Indian Popular 

     Music. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.
“Engaging Differences and Diversity.” NUpath: The Core Curriculum at Northeastern 
     University. Accessed May 11, 2018. 
     https://www.northeastern.edu/core/requirements/engaging-differences-and-diversity/.
Furlong, Mark, and James Wight. “Promoting ‘Critical Awareness’ and Critiquing ‘Cultural 
     Competence’: Towards Disrupting Received Professional Knowledges.” Australian Social 
     Work 64, no. 1 (2011): 38–54. https://doi.org/10.1080/0312407X.2010.537352.
MacLachlan, Heather. Burma’s Pop Music Industry: Creators, Distributors, Censors
     Rochester: University of Rochester Press, 2011. http://ezproxy.neu.edu/login?
     url=http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.ctt1x7285.
Moore, Rebekah E. “‘My Music, My Freedom(?): The Troubled Pursuit of Musical and 
     Intellectual Independence on the Internet in Indonesia.’” Asian Journal of Communication
     23, no. 4 (2013): 368–385. https://doi.org/10.1080/01292986.2013.804105.
Rasmussen, Anne K. “Mainstreaming American Musical Multiculturalism.” American Music 
     22, no. 2 (2004): 296–309. https://doi.org/10.2307/3593008.
Scales, Christopher A. Recording Culture: Powwow Music and the Aboriginal Recording 
     Industry on the Northern Plains. Durham: Duke University Press, 2012.
Taylor, Timothy. Music and Capitalism: A History of the Present. Chicago: University of 
     Chicago Press, 2015.

***


Ethnomusicologist Rebekah E. Moore has returned to the United States and American academe after a decade-long career in Indonesia, where she worked in public programs management, concert and festival production, and band and tour management. Last Fall, she joined the music faculty at Northeastern University, in order to teach undergraduate and graduate music industry courses and coordinate the graduate certificate programs in arts administration and cultural entrepreneurship. Prior to accepting this position, Rebekah was Senior Manager for @america, the world’s largest center for U.S. public diplomacy, located in Jakarta. Rebekah has published articles in the Asian Journal of Communication, Asian Music, Collaborative Anthropologies, and Inside Indonesia. She is co-founder of Bersama Project, an Indonesian nonprofit foundation that supports musicians and artists to stage creative interventions on violence against women and LGBTQ+ young people, an organization to which she continues to contribute as Project Advisor.

Friday, August 17, 2018

From the Archives: Finding the Unexpected

By James Parsons

As anyone who has engaged in archival research can attest, what one discovers can be rewarding, but also, as the saying goes, not so much. Yet every once in a while what one uncovers can be downright delightful, as I was reminded during a July 2017 trip to New York City.

What took me there was the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library of the Grand Lodge of New York (http://nymasoniclibrary.org/). My goal was to gain a contextually richer understanding of Friedrich Schiller’s 1785 poem “An die Freude” (To Joy), a poem made famous by Beethoven’s partial and reordered use of it in the finale of his 1824 Ninth Symphony. As it happens, Schiller’s poem was immensely popular both before and after Beethoven, and nowhere more so than among German Freemasons. Schiller’s verse, whether by itself, or, less often, when included in the guise of a song setting, runs through Masonic publications during the last quarter of the eighteenth century and even after the Ninth like a red thread.


Lieder zum Gebrauch der vier vereinigten Logen in Hamburg (Songs for the Use of the Four United Lodges in Hamburg), published 1801. No. 17, beginning of Schiller’s “An die Freude.”

Personifying Freude in his poem’s first strophe, Schiller proclaims, “Joy, beauteous spark of the gods, / . . . . Your magic joins again, / what custom callously has divided.” As many readers will recall Schiller—and Beethoven in his setting of Schiller’s verse—ends the first stanza with the couplet “All men become brothers, / where your gentle wing lingers.” Yet this is the couplet’s contents only in the 1803 second version of the poem overseen by Schiller; in the first version, written in 1785 and published in 1786, the stanza ends “beggars become brothers of princes, / where you gentle wing lingers.” [1] If one reads the poem with a knowledge of Schiller’s other writings, what emerges is a program whereby the individual and community work together to attain Enlightenment, self-synthesis, or Bildung, what Schiller himself in his 1795 Ueber die ästhetische Erziehung des Menschen, in einer Reihe von Briefen (Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man) addresses in the directive “Erkenne dich, weise zu sein,” to be wise know yourself. [2] That process was intrinsically communal, starting with the single self and requiring reciprocity with one’s community. Schiller addresses just this subject in the second strophe of “An die Freude,” when, after mentioning friendship and marriage, he moves next to the single self able to name (nennen) her or himself: “Ja — wer auch nur eine Seele / sein nennt auf dem Erdenrund!” (Yes — even he who calls only one soul / his on this round earth!). To name one’s self in the sense Schiller means here is to know one’s self, to have embarked on the path towards Bildung, the same concept he addresses in the passage from his Letters on the Aesthetic Education of Man cited above. As more than two centuries of critical commentary attest, the two lines that follow almost always are misunderstood: “And whoever has never known this [the joy named in the poem’s title] weeping, must steal away, from this alliance!” Arguably the most famous critic to erroneously take Schiller to task was Jean Paul Friedrich Richter (1763-1825). As Jean Paul declared in the 1813 second edition of his Vorschule der Aesthetik (School for Aesthetics), “I should depart silently, accompanying the unloved butt of the song, when the company chanted and cheered the heart-revolting sentiments, ‘Who ne’er could do it, weeping let him steal out of our band.’” [3] The misunderstanding is that Schiller casts out the single self; I disagree. What Schiller finds problematic is the person unwilling to embark on the challenge of Bildung.

Making a complete case for the argument that Schiller does not banish the single individual would require a great deal more space than what I wish to take up here. Briefly, however, in my project-in-progress which will address the social history of Schiller’s “An die Freude” and the fallout of that context in the finale of Beethoven’s Ninth, I am interested in trying to understand the popularity of Schiller’s poem among Freemasons yet also its appeal for society at large during the last quarter of the eighteenth century and into the nineteenth. As I hope to make clear in my current project, coming to terms with the popularity of poem and symphony sheds light on Beethoven’s attraction to the poem and the related fact that Schiller’s “An die Freude” occasioned a great number of musical settings in the years before Beethoven’s. Moreover, Schiller’s was not the only poem to address Joy as a philosophical concept or to have been given the name “An die Freude” or some similar title, many of which date to the early 1740s. Clearly, Beethoven didn’t set to music just any poem on any subject. Schiller’s “An die Freude” possessed deep cultural resonance.



Johann Friedrich Reichardt, “An die Freude,” from Zwey und sechzig Freymaurer-Lieder: mit Melodien zum Gebrauch der Loge zu den drey Degen in Halle (Sixty-two Masonic songs With Melodies for Use at the Lodge of the Three Swords in Halle). [4]

Searching through pertinent German publications at the Chancellor Robert R. Livingston Masonic Library between 1785 and 1830 that include Schiller’s “An die Freude” poem or poems bearing a similar title greatly advanced my research. All told, I consulted some forty volumes in which I found Schiller’s poem, a musical setting of his “An die Freude,” or a poem by another German poet addressing the same topic.

On my second day I made a poignant discovery, when, looking through the volume Lieder für Freymaurer (Songs for Freemasons), published in Hannover in 1809. Opening the book to page 142 I found nestled between that page and the next the remnants of a flower and the marks it had made on both sides of those pages. The flower makes good sense given that the poem into which it is inserted is called “Freundschaft,” “Friendship,” by August Gottlieb Meissner (1753-1807). The first two lines in translation are: “In the streams of life, there often enough flow the bitterest of tears.” In the lines that follow Meissner states that life’s tears can be assuaged by friendship, that is from within the social environment of self-cultivation Schiller treats in his “An die Freude.”


Lieder für Freymaurer (Hannover, 1809), pages 142 and 143.


Lieder für Freymaurer (Hannover, 1809), title page.

Most of the time turning the pages of eighteenth- and especially nineteenth-century printed sources is a finger staining not to mention eye and nose straining endeavor. Sometimes, however, the researcher comes across something that makes for a stand-still if not heart-stopping moment. For me the discovery of the flower was one of those moments, a tangible sign that someone before me had enjoyed this book and memorialized that experience. Was the flower a sign of friendship between the individual who had pressed the flower between the book’s pages and another? Did Meissner’s poem possess special significance for the person who left the flower? Before I allowed too many more questions to formulate I returned the volume to the librarian and made my way to the library’s exit on West Twenty-Third Street. In its own way, history had taken shape and reached out in the form of that preserved flower. Suddenly the more than 200 years that separated me from the 1809 Lieder für Freymaurer were no more. In that moment the past seemed very much alive.
***
[1] Writing the poem in 1785, Schiller published two versions of “An die Freude,” the first in 1786 in the second volume of his literary journal, Thalia, the second in the 1803 collected edition of his poems. The wording here, in English translation, is from the latter version, set by Beethoven. On the differences between the two versions see Friedrich Schiller, Schillers Werke: Nationalausgabe, ed, Julius Petersen et al. (Weimar: Hermann Böhlaus Nachfolger, 1943), 1: 169–72 and 2, part 1: 185–87, and my “‘Deine Zauber binden wieder’: Beethoven, Schiller, and the Joyous Reconciliation of Opposites,” Beethoven Forum (2002) 9/1, 1-53; here 4-5.
[2] Schillers Werke: Nationalausgabe, 20: 331.
[3] Jean Paul Richter, Vorschule der Aesthetit nebst einigen Vorlesungen in Leipzig über die Parteien der Zeit, 2nd ed., vol. 3 (Stuttgart and Tübingen: J. G. Cotta, 1813), 887-88.
[4] No composer attribution is provided in this publication; Reichardt’s authorship is established from Reichardt, Lieder geselliger Freude (Leipzig: G. Fleischer, 1796), No. 34, p. 76—music provided on foldout following the poem’s second strophe;  see http://idb.ub.uni-tuebingen.de/diglit/Mk90_R01_1/0163?sid=2433e061df1d4dd633eca390ab96bd98.
***


With his primary research interests the German Lied and Beethoven, James Parsons is Professor of Music History at Missouri State University and serves as the editor of the AMS Newsletter. The research discussed above was made possible by a Missouri State University 2017 Summer Faculty Fellowship. All of the photographs above were taken by the author with permission.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Six Easy Ways to Foster an Accessible and Inclusive Music History Classroom

By Kimberly Francis, Michael Accinno and Meagan Troop

Many music educators today grapple with this daunting question: How do we create and foster accessible teaching and learning experiences? By “accessible” we are referring to approaches that address learner variability by providing multiple opportunities and options for those with sensory, mobility, cognitive, and learning differences. A good place to start is with the principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), a framework that aims to maximize learning for all students. Indeed, UDL“provides a blueprint for creating instructional goals, methods, materials, and assessments that work for everyone—not a single one-size-fits all solution but rather flexible approaches that can be customized and adjusted for individual needs” (CAST, 2012).

UDL provides three central principles for tackling the question of designing for learner variability. First: Instructors should provide multiple means of representation, or, in other words, present content and information in various formats. Second, the pedagogy should  provide multiple means of action and demonstration of learning, or allow learners to express what they know in different ways. And finally, instructors should provide multiple means of engagement, which essentially means that students should be offered options that will stimulate and motivate them (CAST, 2012). Ultimately, the accessible and inclusive classroom can be characterized as differentiated, flexible, and empowering.

Within the last decade, Ontario legislation has provided guidelines for reducing barriers and maximizing learning for all, such as in the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA) and the Ontario Human Rights Code (OHRC). A few higher education institutions, such as the University of Guelph, The University of Waterloo, and The University of Calgary, have also created useful resources for practitioners on the topics of Universal Instructional Design (UID) and Universal Design for Learning (UDL). At other institutions, the question of universal design is often left to the instructor’s discretion or handled on more of an ad hoc basis, still leaving the instructor with the question: Where does one begin? In this post, we offer some straightforward tips on how to make the music history classroom more inclusive for all learners.

Start small. Don’t expect to anticipate every issue, and don’t think you need to find a solution to every difficulty all on your own. The key to starting is asking yourself: Have I inadvertently privileged, excluded, or disengaged someone through my approach? Have I thoughtfully addressed questions of complexity, flexibility, and accessibility? Inclusive design means thinking about flexible, customizable mechanisms that support multiple experiences, model inclusive pedagogy, promote excellence, and empower the student.

It may be easier than you think to begin to adapt your curriculum. Try an outcomes-based approach, starting with what you want your students to be able to do when the course is done. Then, design for those goals with choice and flexibility in mind. Throughout the process, seek out and be open to feedback. Like all good curriculum, designing with difference in mind takes time. Here are six simple considerations to make when designing your course:

Step 1: Start with the syllabus


Effective inclusive design reduces physical, psychological, and emotional barriers to learning. However, despite our best efforts as educators to minimize all barriers through inclusive design approaches, there may still be individual accommodations that need to be made in our courses depending on the context and circumstances. Traditionally and all too often, accommodation statements are buried towards the end of the syllabus for a given course, leading students to feel they are an afterthought or a cursory concern for the instructor. Instead, promote the possibility for success across your classroom population by placing a statement of inclusion and accommodation requests at the top of your syllabus. Also, in the interest of promoting multiple means of representation, present a video announcement on your Learning Management System (LMS) as part of your introductory materials. (More on accessibility and video content, see below.) If you create “learning agreements” with your students on the first day of class, consider making accessibility an important part of these conversations. Begin by stating an openness to learning differences and by providing a diverse range of instructional goals, activities, and assignments, as this approach can often be the best way to set the tone of inclusion for your course.

Step 2: Make TEXT more accessible


Be it textbooks, online notes, transcripts, or powerpoint presentations, text is a prevalent part of the teaching and learning experience. Most screen readers, software used by blind and visually impaired computer users, enable access both to online and print text. Remember, though, that contrast is important when preparing slides. You should ensure that all visual materials contain enough contrast to be visible to everyone, including those with colour-blindness or other visual differences. Text formats should be flexible, allowing students to adjust for size and layout when possible. Scanned PDFs of articles and books often lack the flexibility that screen readers require. Another way to enhance the accessibility of your classroom is to allow students to download and manipulate notes as they see fit. Also, be sure to check with your institution’s LMS (Learning Management System, for example Blackboard, Desire2Learn, or Moodle) support team to ensure your texts are useable on multiple devices and in various formats (tablet, phone, and personal computer). Finally, consider developing descriptive elements and alternative text (alt text) for images and figures. Detailed prose explanations will allow all students to develop deeper understandings of the images you include. When you write an alt text, consider what a student would need if they couldn’t see the visual components at all. Include a clear description of the content and a sense for the function or the importance of that content. Check out this website for further guidelines.

Example 1 Example of alt text for Moritz von Schwind’s drawing of a Schubertiade (1868)

ALT text: Schubert plays piano in a drawing room for 30 attentive guests.


Step 3: Make AUDIO more accessible


We are instructors of music. Sound is inherently an important part of what we do. So, what are some key tips for incorporating sound into the classroom that takes into consideration learner differences? First, ensure you’re using high-quality recordings that can allow for volume adjustment, playback options, and pausing. Second, be careful not to overwhelm students. Students on the autism spectrum might need to move around. Make it clear to students at the outset that it’s okay to move around the classroom as needed. Have stopping points, where appropriate, or provide structural cues of some kind, i.e. provide goal posts that break down larger formal structures. Third, provide tactile or visual alternatives. Link to sheet music or musical notation when appropriate. Inquire about the possibility of offering braille scores. Have supporting written materials available for download through your LMS or in a purchased textbook. And finally, make sure all audio files are downloadable, clearly labelled, and compatible across platforms (MP3 or MP4 files are the best).

Step 4: Think beyond music examples: Additional Uses for Audio


One of the greatest strengths of music classrooms is their ability to attract students interested in sound, and students are increasingly interested in creative expression when it comes to submitted materials. Don’t stop at musical examples. Consider podcasts, speeches, videos, and performances as a part of classroom materials. Record a lecture and pair it with visual slides on your LMS for students to consult later. Record an explanation or a play-by-play of a certain work that can be paired with a score. If your LMS allows it, provide recorded feedback on assignments. Create a class playlist on YouTube. (For more on how to find videos that honor copyright law use the Creative Commons Search Tool.)


Audio is also a compelling tool to incorporate into assignments. With the use of smartphones and laptops, students can create their own podcasts, perhaps even incorporating interviews with members of the community. Students can orally record arguments on a topic or create journal reflections. Audio can also serve as a means to craft, track, and reflect upon goals during the course. Most written assignments can be offered as oral assignments with a little tweaking of prompts and evaluation criteria.


Step 5: Make VIDEO more accessible

Videos are increasingly important to the music history classroom. Whether experienced through concert recordings, opera on film, or other multimedia formats, the visual element of performance can inform the aural element in unique ways. Whenever presenting audio material (and here’s another place to remind you of the Creative Commons search tool), there is a simple checklist to consider when taking into account learner differences. First, include captions and a transcript—also referred to in some instances as “described video”—for video materials. (For some handy DIY resources for closed captioning and transcription see here.) Be careful to test these for pacing—for example, captioning that runs too quickly can be difficult to digest. Try to ensure material is delivered at a moderate pace and that pauses are included. Keep in mind - closed captioning is excellent for many learners. For example, those who are learning a new language, listening in noisy spaces, or those who prefer to read along while listening will appreciate closed captioning. Just as with audio examples, video examples should allow students access to playback controls and be careful not to make your videos overly long. Recent research shows that students engage more with shorter videos and an optimal length of 6 minutes or less (Guo, 2013). If you’re interested in including opera videos with built-in subtitles, an excellent resource to consider is OperaVision, a consortium of European opera companies that provides video streams of its productions free of charge.



Example 2: Subtitled Version of Verdi’s La Traviata from OperaVision





Similar to audio, videos need not be limited to music examples. Instructors can use videos to conduct interviews with experts, create a course blog, or share multimedia presentations. Encourage students to record responses to course material using VINE, create mini-documentaries, remix existing videos, or record a teach-back session where they present concepts in their own words. And, in creating their own videos, ask students to incorporate their own closed captioning and accessibility elements. Turn the creation process into a space to engage the question of learning difference with your students.


Step 6: Consider ways to support Executive Functioning


Executive functioning is a skill present in everyday life. It includes those parts of the brain that manage logistics, execute tasks, and oversee day-to-day routines. These skills can be easily supported and developed in the classroom, benefiting a wide range of learners, including students with ADHD, second language learners, and (more broadly) first-year undergraduates and transfer students adapting to the demands of the university environment. The easiest way to support executive functioning is to establish clear expectations, classroom norms, and assessment criteria. This approach might include co-creating norms with your students to generate a shared language around expectations and values to collectively foster an inclusive teaching and learning environment. In terms of assessment and evaluation, a rubric (holistic or analytic) or checklist for assignments, a clear breakdown of materials, or a suggested timeline can help to support student focus and reflection. Give students the opportunity to be interactive when not in the classroom. Allow them to create or annotate notes together by setting up a classroom google doc or a discussion board. Insert check-in moments throughout the course through self-check quizzes. Be clear about expectations and give immediate feedback.


Overall, designing with difference in mind opens up opportunities for student engagement, and creates a flexible, empowering, inclusive classroom. Many of these approaches have been tried by ourselves or our colleagues, and students are excited by the opportunity to explore creative assignments and multiple means of demonstrating and expressing what they know. Indeed, inclusive design for learning can mean that students feel actively engaged in their education. It makes the lessons of music history more immediate and implicates students in their own learning process. The types of Instructional strategies and assessments included in this post also encourage students to think creatively and critically in their own mobilisation and transfer of knowledge. Creating this type of classroom environment makes music history more inclusive, engaging, and relevant for educators and learners alike.

HELPFUL SITES

 ***
Michael Accinno is a Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Music at the University of California, Riverside. His research examines the development of music education at schools for the blind in the nineteenth century. Accinno’s work has been published in the Oxford Handbook of Music and Disability Studies, and he has presented papers at the American Musicological Society, the Society for American Music, and the Society for Disability Studies. He currently serves as the Webmaster of the AMS Music and Disability Study Group.


Kimberly Francis is an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Guelph, Canada. She is a feminist musicologist and the author of Nadia Boulanger and the Stravinskys: A Selected Correspondence (Rochester, 2018) and Teaching Stravinsky: Nadia Boulanger and Consecration of a Modernist Icon (Oxford, 2015). She serves as Editor-in-Chief for the University of Guelph’s award-winning journal, Critical Voices: The University of Guelph Book Review Project.



Meagan Troop holds a PhD in Education from Queen's University and is currently an educational development consultant and professor at Sheridan College in Ontario, Canada. In this role, Meagan is involved in supporting faculty in the design and development of inclusive, active, and collaborative pedagogical approaches. She is an active researcher in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) field and recently joined the Editorial Board of The Canadian Journal of SoTL.