44th Annual Conference Preview, Kansas City

Kansas City Skyline

From the Local Arrangements Committee

Welcome to Kansas City! On behalf of the Local Arrangements Committee and the host institution, the University of Missouri—Kansas City Conservatory of Music and Dance, we’re looking forward to another marvelous SAM conference. We’ll be based at the Intercontinental Hotel on the beautiful Country Club Plaza, so you’re just minutes away from a variety of wonderful restaurants and shops. The Plaza boasts distinctive architecture inspired by Seville, Spain and is home to a great deal of public art. Whether the temperatures in early March are spring-like or still a bit chilly, the atmosphere of the Plaza is something truly special.

We’ve planned two splendid evening performances. On Thursday evening you’ll have the opportunity to hear the winners of the UMKC Conservatory’s Concerto Competition appearing with the Conservatory Orchestra under the direction of Robert Olson. Then on Friday evening, the Vivian Perlis Concert will showcase the music of this year’s Honorary Members Chen Yi and Zhou Long. This not-to-be-missed performance, which will feature a US premiere, will take place in the historic St. Paul’s Episcopal Church.

Our Friday morning sessions will take place at the National World War I Museum and Memorial. Especially since we are in the centenary of the War and have sessions devoted to music during the Great War, this is an extraordinary opportunity for SAM to collaborate with a nationally recognized museum.

Friday afternoon excursions are a mainstay of SAM conferences, and this year we’ve arranged an abundance of offerings. You may stay at the National World War I Museum and Memorial and experience not only its marvelous collections but also its iconic architecture. We’ve also planned a visit to the 18th and Vine Historic Jazz District, with visits to the American Jazz Museum and other area venues and will feature a performance by jazz students from the UMKC Conservatory of Music and Dance. Other possibilities include the River Market area and the Steamboat Arabia Museum. The Steamboat Arabia was loaded with nearly 200 tons of cargo when it sank in the Missouri River in 1856. Many of its treasures have been recovered, including shoes, clothes, buttons, tools, glassware, and more, and the museum offers an eye-opening view into life in the American West during the nineteenth century. You might choose to explore the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, one of America’s leading art museums. The neoclassic building from 1933 and the iconic Bloch Building from 2007 are treats in themselves, and the recently opened Bloch Galleries are home to a fine collection of Impressionist art. Special exhibits on view during the SAM conference include “Through the Eyes of Picasso,” which explores Picasso’s fascination with masks and indigenous cultures, and “Dreams of the Kings: A Jade Suit for Eternity,” featuring artifacts of the Han Dynasty from Xuzhou, China. Finally, there’s the Thomas Hart Benton Home and Studio State Historic Site, which celebrates the life and work of Thomas Hart Benton, a Kansas City-based painter who included musical references in many of his canvases. The Victorian-era home where he lived from 1939 until his death in 1975 is now a museum devoted to his work, and his studio, which had been a carriage house, is preserved exactly as he left it at the time of his death.

The Saturday evening banquet will feature a traditional Kansas City barbeque buffet, along with live music by local performers. A subcommittee of the Local Arrangements Committee is planning some exciting banquet activities that you won’t want to miss!

See you in Kansas City!
Bill Everett, Chair, Local Arrangements Committee

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From the Program Committee

The Program Committee for SAM’s Kansas City conference also wishes to invite you for a most varied and intellectually satisfying program. We had a huge variety of fine proposals from which to choose and, thanks to you, were able to assemble a program that will surely offer something for just about everyone:

Featured sessions include: one devoted to both concert music and types of popular music during World War I (to be presented at the National World War I Museum and Memorial!), others in honor of the scholarly legacy of Samuel Floyd’s pioneering work on African American music, one on the music of our new Honorary Members Chen Yi and Zhou Long, and various topics on music in Kansas City. Beyond these sessions we have a veritable smorgasbord of fascinating possibilities in many paper sessions and two poster sessions: varied topics on music in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, music of resistance, papers on concert music throughout the twentieth and into the twenty-first centuries, experimentalism, patronage, aspects of jazz, various approaches and repertories of popular music, female opera composers and other operatic topics, music for film and television, bands and band music, musical theater, Paraguayan music and other topics on music in Latin America, and a recent Choctaw hymn book, among other themes. Our seminar topic is Music and American Cultural Memory, and there is yet another session on place and memory. The Committee on the Conference offers sessions on the digital humanities and training on understanding our natural biases. The lecture-recitals will concern music by female composers written to accompany recitations, Irving Berlin’s Yip Yip Yaphank, technology used for hip-hop beat-making, and a saxophone quartet by University of Kansas composer Forrest Pierce. There will also be several interest group meetings and the annual Sacred Harp sing. We look forward to seeing you in Kansas City!

Paul Laird, Chair, Program Committee

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From the President

Dear SAM Colleagues,

A lot of work has been going on behind the scenes this fall! SAM contracted with Your Membership to build and host our new website; as of this writing our membership records have been transferred and we are working on design. My hope is that we’ll have basic functionality by March or April. I will have a more specific update at our annual meeting.

Sandra Graham, SAM President
Sandra Graham, SAM President
More importantly, in 2018 SAM will have a new logo! In September I appointed a committee to hire a graphic designer to create a new logo for SAM that that reflected who we are now. Chaired by board members Steve Swayne and Glenda Goodman, the committee comprised Vanessa Blais-Tremblay, Marva Griffin Carter, Kate Galloway, David Garcia, and Denise Von Glahn, with Mariana Whitmer and me serving ex officio. The committee quickly singled out French-Canadian designer Pier-Luc St.-Germain, of St.-Germain Fabrique, Montreal, to work with us.

Pier-Luc designed an extensive questionnaire, in which the nine of us answered such questions as “What are the first five words you think of when you think of SAM?” He compiled all of these into a word cloud, which revealed the most prominent perceptions we had of SAM. Then he showed us different color combinations that he thought expressed our answers, as well as a large variety of logos to determine our aesthetic preferences. We made our choices, and he went to work on the design. The full results of the questionnaire appear in an email from me to the membership, but the standout adjectives that people used to describe SAM were: encouraging, progressive, supportive, interested, inclusive, and friendly.

We looked at five logos in various permutations of colors. The logo we picked, by consensus, was titled “Momentum.” This is how Pier-Luc describes the conception of the logo: “Every SAM member is united in his or her passion for music and musicology. The lines that ’bounce’ illustrate the strong M, in an upward, uplifting motion, building momentum. The diverse rays of color represent the most common hues found in the different flags of the Americas.” (These imply rather replicate the colors found in the flags.) Pier-Luc noted that a good logo has to work well in both black and white as well as color. We have two typographical versions, one with the Society’s full name and one with its acronym:

Society for American Music LogoSAM Logo

The board unanimously and enthusiastically embraced this logo. It will begin appearing on all official SAM publications, correspondence, and publicity early in 2018. Order a conference bag this year and be the first to own this collector’s item—the first generation of bags with the new logo! (We’ll have extras at the conference if you’ve already registered and didn’t order one.) Please join me in thanking Steve and Glenda for their expert guidance throughout this process, and the committee members for their diligence and thoughtful input. It’s my hope that this logo is indeed more encouraging, supportive, inclusive, and friendly to all of our members and friends.

Our new website will have a subpage that explains the design process and thinking about the logo, both for those who would like to know more and for the historical record. This information is included in my all-member email.

Incoming and Outgoing

We are delighted to welcome Tammy Kernodle (president-elect), Leta Miller (secretary), and Mark Katz and Jessica Sternfeld (members-at-large) to the board, beginning on the Sunday of the 2018 conference. Their arrival also means a departure, and I’d like to take the opportunity to express deep appreciation to our outgoing board members. First, secretary Neil Lerner. Executive committees and members-at-large have come and gone, but Neil has been a bedrock of the board since 2010! He has written at least a monograph’s worth of minutes and notes along the way, and we have relied on his institutional memory in countless circumstances. In 2018 he will be able to turn his bionic fingers and laser focus to other pursuits. It’s difficult to encapsulate the extent and value of his service, so I offer a heartfelt “Thank you, Neil.” I hope he hears a chorus of gratitude in Kansas City as well!

Rotating off the board as members-at-large in 2018 are Steve Swayne and Renee Norris. Renee has served the board as liaison to the Honors, Awards, and Subventions Council; Steve has served as program committee chair and logo committee co-chair during his board tenure. Both Renee and Steve have been heavy lifters, their board service marked by collegiality, wisdom, and dedication.

And finally, the board will bid farewell to past president Chuck Garrett. SAM members are well aware of his superb leadership, organizational skills, and judiciousness. Personally, I am deeply grateful to him for acting as a guide and sounding board as I navigated my first year as president. (The training wheels are now off!)

I don’t mean to eulogize these board members prematurely—they will be with us for most of the Kansas City conference—but I wanted to give conference-goers a chance to thank these people for their service when you run into them!

Finally, profound thanks to the nominating committee chaired by Eric Hung for the last two years, and staffed by Theo Cateforis, Andrew Granade, Nancy Rao, and Gillian Rodger. The nominating committee serves for two years and is then completely reconstituted. This committee demonstrated repeated commitment to giving our membership slates of candidates that were diverse and inclusive to serve on the board. Thank you to them, to every member who agreed to stand for office, and to all those who voted in the elections.

The Annual Conference: Some Experiments!

Elsewhere in the Bulletin you will read about our wide-ranging program of papers in Kansas City (it is extraordinary!) and the slate of extracurricular events that is so enticing it will be hard to choose how to fill your schedule. Paul Laird, chair of the program committee, and William Everett, chair of local arrangements, have outdone themselves.

The 2017 Post-Conference Survey revealed some issues that could be addressed immediately, and some that require more thought over the longer term. The Membership Committee and the Board are working on the latter. As for the former, the survey revealed that some conference-goers had trouble feeling the friendliness that SAM was noted for, and others commented on a lack of transparency. So in Kansas City we’re going to try four things to remedy that:

Other conference highlights include tributes to this year’s honorary members, composers Chen Yi and Zhou Long, whose music will be celebrated and performed at Friday night’s Vivian Perlis concert, and will be the subject of a panel on Saturday at 10:30 a.m. Our Friday sessions at the World War I Museum are sure to be memorable. The announcements of awards and fellowships is always a joyous occasion at our business meeting, but this year we’ll be announcing the first recipient of the Walser-McClary fellowship, as well as the first recipients of the Richard Crawford, Eileen Southern, and Charles Hamm fellowships! I could go on, but please check out the continuously updated program on the SAM website!

New Development Committee

People were tuckered out after the SAM 2.0 campaign—both organizers and donors. But our financial needs never go away, and we have two more fellowships that have begun but remain underfunded: the Latinx and Latin American Music Fellowship (in honor of Robert Stevenson), and the American Antiquarian Society Fellowship for those studying American musics before 1877 (to be offered in conjunction with the AAS). Our immediate goal is to increase their balances so that we can start offering these fellowships. Our new development committee is chaired by Mark Clague, and includes Dale Cockrell, Katherine Preston, Christine Baade, Maribeth Clark, and Mariana Whitmer and me serving ex officio. You’ve all received the annual appeal in the mail, and you’ll be hearing more from the committee at the conference. But please join me in giving. (Don’t forget the convenient DONATE button on the SAM website!) In addition to completing these two fellowships, we’re looking to expand support for conference travel to independent scholars and those without institutional financial support-and of course our operating expenses never go away. We accomplish amazing things for a society our size. Thanks to all donors for your generosity.

I look forward to a happy reunion in Kansas City. Let the countdown begin!
Sandra Graham, President

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Letters to the Editor

Editor’s note: Tamara Levitz’s feature article “Decolonizing the Society for American Music” in the Fall issue elicited several letters from longtime members. Two responded to Levitz’s suggestion that SAM reconsider “friendliness as a brand.”

To the editor:

I read with interest Tamara Levitz’s provocative and insightful essay on “decolonizing the Society for American music.” I appreciated her fresh perspective on an organization I have been a member of for three decades, most notably her willingness to look deeply at our words and deeds and ask the difficult questions about whether we are really making any difference in addressing the deeply rooted system of inequities that affects our field.

But I confess that, on first reading, what took me aback was her recommendation that we “abandon friendliness as a brand.” It dawned on me that collectively—and probably for the first time—we had been victims of “friendliness shaming.”

I was once a target of this friendliness. When I first joined the (then Sonneck) Society and started attending meetings, I was a member of a tiny minority: K–12 teachers. I anticipated that, in accordance with my humble outsider status, I’d sit quietly in the back of the room and learn from the exalted scholars . . . which I did, and which I enjoyed very much. But the “friendliness” of the Society didn’t allow my experience to end there. Members were delighted to learn of my role as a high school teacher; they were genuinely interested in my experience, in how their scholarship could support me, and in how the Society could do more for K–12 education. I’m gratified that SAM over the years has actively developed and encouraged opportunities for K–12 teachers: Voices Across Time, Dvořák in America, and (the ever-more-timely topic of) “The Star-Spangled Banner.” These efforts have resulted in increased resources and support for teachers to engage their students in critical dialogue about American culture and the role of music in shaping that culture.

I take Professor Levitz’s point that our “seemingly joyful immersion” in conference activities such as group singing risks communicating a cozy familiarity that feels warm and invitng to those of us within the circle—but which runs the risk of excluding those who don’t share our collective experience. I also take her point that we should spend time thinking about the messages we are sending and whether there are other ways to widen the circle.

But let’s be honest: there is no more cozy (if not always friendly!) familiarity than that of academe. And Professor Levitz’s recommendations are for the most part the “usual suspects”: theorizing, critique, debate, analysis, workshops, conference sessions . . . in other words, more talking to and about ourselves in contexts and language far removed from any significant presence of the groups to whom we presumably want to show respect. I’d also say that Professor Levitz’s analysis has its own whiff of colonialism (“I visited SAM! The natives were singing and playing brass instruments! They even seemed to enjoy it! Clearly I need to enlighten them!”). Recommending that we forego music making in favor of talking about ourselves making music seems not only backward (even silly) but primarily designed to put us back into a very comfortable academic zone.

Prof. Levitz argues:

Certainly achieving all of these goals has proven elusive. But it is not from a failure to “ask why”—nor, I would argue, has there been no progress. It has been my observation that the Society welcomes input—including Professor Levitz’s critique—and does not deserve this kind of “straw man” argument.

However much we may want to dismantle white supremacy, it’s going to be tough as long as our field attracts an overwhelmingly white group. If we want to do more than talk amongst ourselves, I believe that we need to consider the root causes of this lack of interest in the arts and humanities. And if we are really serious about taking actions to address the systemic inequities of the system we need look no further than our local public schools. (Not those that most children of professors attend, mind you, but those in underserved communities.)

I submit that—rather than another workshop, conference session, or paper written in vocabulary that excludes all but a tiny inner circle—we would have a greater impact on this situation if, individually and collectively, we created partnerships with underserved schools and helped strengthen their arts offerings (group singing perhaps?). Would our efforts pass some kind of ideological and behavioral purity test developed behind the ivy-covered walls of academe? Doubtful. But I speak from experience when I say that teachers, families, and students are less concerned with any theory of ours—no matter how brilliant—than with improving the experience of the vulnerable children in their communities.

As I wrote several years ago in the Bulletin:

I welcome the dialogue that SAM is engaging in with Professor Levitz and others. But I’m going to keep on singing. And being friendly.

Susan Key

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To the editor:

Tamara Levitz’s scolding of SAM members in the latest Bulletin is hard to argue with. That’s because it’s so abstract—few of us will see in it any practical steps one might take to improve the Society. The clearest one is her demand that we stop being friendly, which seems like a really bad idea. As she knows from personal experience, when a group of people stops being friendly, some of them leave, making the organization less inclusive and diverse. Another is her complaint that we need to engage with “Indigenous and Native American scholars,” a remarkable assertion given that she didn’t consult with Tara Browner, a twenty-year SAM member who is Choctaw and who happens to work in the same building as she does, before holding forth on that topic.

Levitz mocks our efforts to achieve greater inclusiveness and diversity as “potentially hollow gestures toward multiculturalism.” On the contrary, as someone who, with Susan McClary, has recently funded in perpetuity SAM dissertation fellowships for underrepresented students, I believe wholeheartedly in such incremental progress.

Finally, Levitz writes that she felt excluded because she didn’t already know Hosea Ripley’s “Fireman’s Polka,” the Brass Band’s theme song. Well, I didn’t know it either when I went to my first SAM conference; that’s why we always pass out the lyrics. Yet I find her essay much less useful and inspiring than it: “Do your best for one another, making life a pleasant dream! Help a worn and weary brother pulling hard against the stream!”

Robert Walser
Professor of Music and Provost Scholars Mentor,
Case Western Reserve University
Tenured Second-Chair Trumpet, Society for American Music Brass Band

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Founding SAM member Raoul Camus took issue with Levitz’s characterization of the organization’s early years. He encourages us to remember the “pioneering women” of those days in the following account. Camus also expresses discomfort with the focus on academic achievements and institutional affiliation—the same issues currently being discussed among members of the Forum for Early Career Professionals.

Dear Elizabeth, and the other distinguished members . . .

For those of you who were not there at the time, please let me review the formation of the society:

Leading up to 1976, many efforts were being made to celebrate the Bicentennial. States organized special committees (the Queensborough meeting was in part supported by the New York State Bicentennial Committee) and musical organizations started looking for appropriate music reflective of the time. Arthur Schrader organized a “Joyful Sounds” conference at Old Sturbridge Village May 5–6, 1973. Barbara Lambert hosted a meeting (by invitation only) at the Colonial Society of Massachusetts May 17–18, 1973 with many of the people who had attended the Sturbridge celebration. It was at the final luncheon of that meeting that Irving Lowens proposed the formation of a society named in honor of Oscar Sonneck. Enthusiasm was high, but how does one do such a thing? Especially since there already was an American Musicological Society (at least in its name).

The AMS met in Washington, DC in November 1974. Margery Lowens arranged to have a luncheon at the Iron Gate Restaurant and worked tirelessly to contact anyone interested in American music to attend. I realize my memory may be faulty after all these years, so perhaps someone can correct me, but I seem to remember 156 people showed up! Incidentally, the only one to leave early was Wiley Hitchcock, presumably because he felt such a new society would endanger his new Institute for Studies in American Music at Brooklyn College. To respond to Levitz’s sexism about “revered men,” here are two women who certainly should be revered: Lambert (whom I colloquially refer to as the mother of the society, since it was proposed under her auspices) and Margery Lowens who did so much to begin the actual formation of the Society. A Steering Committee was organized to prepare Bylaws and nominations for officers.

It was decided that those who were interested in forming the new society should meet during the SEM conference at Wesleyan in October 1975. In a shack during a cold and rainy evening, I presented the recommendations of the Steering Committee, and a slate of officers was elected: Irving Lowens, Cynthia Adams Hoover, Vivian Perlis, Jean Geil, and Neely Bruce officers; Nicholas Tawa, Richard Crawford, Gilbert Chase, Arthur Schrader, Thornton Hagert and Nicholas Temperley members-at-large.

This was simply an organizational meeting held as part of the SEM meeting. The first actual meeting of the new Society was the Bicentennial celebration at Queensborough Community College in New York, May 28–30, 1976. Out of personal humility, I will refrain from quoting the many laudable comments in the Newsletter about that conference, but may I say that it set the tone for many years of subsequent conferences.

The next conference was at Williamsburg, April 1977. New officers were elected: Lowens, Tawa, Kate van Winkle Keller, Geil, and Raoul Camus officers; Allan Buechner, Crawford, John Graziano, Rita Mead, Carolyn Rabson, and Schrader members-at-large.

Following that conference, the Board met at the house of John Graziano in Flushing, New York, September 1977. The meeting lasted the whole weekend, and here is another woman who should be revered: Roberta Graziano, who fed and tended to the comforts of all the Board members attending, even putting them up in her house. Present were Lowens, Tawa, Geil, Camus, Buechner, John Graziano, Rabson, and Schrader. Regarding Levitz’s accusations, I quote from the Newsletter of September 1977: “Considered first were several queries from members. In answer to a question of whether the Society is too broad based and, perhaps, better limited to scholars, the Board agreed that the Society’s strength derives from its appeal to a widespread variety of interests, and that it should continue to address itself to as many concerns in American music as possible. Responding to questions on joint meetings with other groups and local meetings, the Board felt that the Society could sponsor sessions with other organizations, and that local meetings could certainly be held, with notice of such meetings appearing in the Newsletter.”

That said, discussion did include what should we consider “American.” We knew that Charles Seeger, with SEM, would prefer we not go into his area, ethnomusicology. Robert Stevenson, with his new Latin American publications, would prefer we not include anything to do with Latino or South American music. I remember that there was a lot of discussion about a possible submission on Ecuadorian native music. It was decided that such a submission would be sent to Stevenson for his journal, and, if rejected by him, considered for publication in our journal. The same decision would be made about papers dealing with ethnomusicology . . .

In going through old correspondence in preparation for this response, I came across a letter from Jacklin Stopp, dated May 1, 1999. Quoting from her letter:

In May, 2013, I submitted “A report to SAM’s Board by a disgruntled old curmudgeon” in which, among other points, I complained about the introductions given at SAM meetings. Lowens always said he was not interested in what the person did in the past, or what s/he was planning to do in the future. Present what you have now, and without any academic introduction: a graduate student the same as an established “revered” scholar. I remember sitting next to Lester Levy, the famous collector of sheet music, at a meeting. He was at the Queensborough meeting, and had become a great supporter of the Society until that meeting. Listening to the introduction of the next speaker with the mention of academic degrees, etc. He said to me he didn’t have any of those, and felt out of place. He never came to another meeting; we should have people like that as members of our society!

Raoul Camus

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Past president Katherine Preston discusses the importance of contextualizing the written record with institutional memory, as well as some practical barriers to changes suggested at the Montreal workshop.

To the editor:

I attended Tamara Levitz’s presentation in Montreal, including the subsequent workshop, and I have carefully read her fifteen-page essay. We, as a Society, welcome and value the crucial input of individuals or communities who are underrepresented in our organization (or those who endeavor to speak on behalf of those individuals and communities). I thank Professor Levitz for her time and effort, for many of her ideas are thought-provoking and will lead to much discussion. But I also believe that some of her points deserve response.

Professor Levitz, at the top of her essay, identifies herself as an outsider: someone who is not a member of SAM, and who had never attended a national meeting of the Society. To prepare herself for her Montreal presentation, she reports, she read published documents (articles from American Music and JSAM, the contents of the Bulletin, and programs of past conferences) and “reviewed materials . . . gathered from the large number of archives I had visited related to the history of the AMS” (my italics). She did not, apparently, consult documents in the Archives of the Society for American Music (which are in the Library of Congress), such as minutes of the Society’s Board and Long-Range Planning Committee meetings, or the reports from occasional Board retreats at which important issues have been discussed and debated. She had “engaging conversations with . . . members of SAM,” so as a past president (and long-term member of the society, former board member, and two-term secretary), I was quite disappointed that she never contacted me for an interview. In fact, however, she evidently did not consider it important to interview past elected officers of the Society (the “administration” to which she assigns various tasks in her essay): I checked with past presidents and several vice presidents who have served over the last twelve years and have located none who were interviewed. Perhaps she did not want anyone with institutional memory to contradict her carefully crafted assessment, but as a scholar I question this approach. I am disheartened in particular by this lack of archival or oral-history research because it would have shed light on whether or not the Society had ever taken any steps to address issues of inclusivity and decolonialization (whether or not the latter term was used in discussions). Levitz chose to assume that we had not, which at the least diminishes the authority of her conclusions.

Does Professor Levitz really believe that the elected leaders of the Society for American Music have not discussed at length the issues related to the name of the Society? Like what “American” music means? And how wide-ranging our mission and vision statements should be? And how we can be more inclusive? And what we can do to encourage diversity of all kinds? In my experience, these types of issues—the kind of questions she raises—have been discussed regularly, as have various approaches to solving problems and the complications that different proposed solutions entail. I will give one example of some of the complexities: What happens when we truly broaden our scope to include Latin America—does that mean that we need to publish articles in Portuguese and Spanish (as she suggests)? If so, how do editors find scholars willing to assess and edit such articles? (Believe me, it is hard enough to get folks to vet articles in English.) Do we require that authors of foreign-language articles should also submit translations, and if so, who pays for the translation? If the authors pay, isn’t that inherently unfair? If the Society pays, where does the money come from? Do we raise the dues? I present these questions not as excuses, but rather as examples of the types of issues that responsible leaders need to weigh in relation to most of the suggestions that folks threw out as part of the workshop in Montreal. This does not mean that we should reject such proposals, but does suggest that nothing is as simple as it might look at first sight.

Societies like SAM clearly need to be more aware of whiteness and blind spots; as individual members we must confront our implicit biases. But this has been happening—perhaps not rapidly enough for some, but belief in process means recognition that change occurs over time. I joined both SAM (then the Sonneck Society) and AMS in 1979, as a master’s degree student in musicology. I have watched both organizations change in a dramatic manner over the last almost-forty years. I recommend that anyone who believes that we are standing still as a discipline should engage in the exercise of looking at the conference programs—especially those from the AMS—from that period of time (they are all online). I suspect that anyone who has not done this would be shocked at how absolutely white and male and Eurocentric the AMS was forty years ago and how dramatically it has changed since then. I believe strongly that the Society for American Music—an organization whose members have long been interested in the ethnic and racial diversity of music of the Americas and that has championed the validity of this music as the focus of important scholarly discourse—served as a catalyst for that profound change in the AMS, and in the discipline of musicology. And I reject Levitz’s cavalier dismissal of these efforts (the Society’s “strategies of promoting diversity and inclusion” [11]) as a means to conceal its “entanglement” with “coloniality.”

We scholars must expand our research, even of Eurocentric music, to understand better how it fits into the broader context of non-white music, to question whether our academic approach has been colored by the fact that many of the early leaders in the discipline were white men, to ask how our analyses have been shaped, inevitably, by the fact that we view the world through an American (Western, imperialist) lens-all while expanding our historiography to include more work by musicians and academics of color. We need to be more involved with identifying and challenging engrained structures of patriarchy, white supremacy, and neocolonialism. But pretending that none of this is happening is counterproductive. There is a lot of scholarship out there that does this—in SAM and elsewhere—and this body of research is growing. I am encouraged by this, as we all should be. We also should celebrate such changes, double-down on our efforts, and move to the next level. We should listen to the concerns of those who are underrepresented and act to bring about change, but should also continue, expand on, and celebrate the work that we, as scholars, have been engaged in for decades. We must labor together to achieve the goals that most of us share.

Katherine K. Preston
David N. and Margaret C. Bottoms Professor of Music
The College of William and Mary

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2016 JSAM Articles Win Awards

Two articles published in the 2016 volume of the Journal of the Society for American Music received prestigious awards this fall. Darren Mueller’s essay on the “Ambassadorial LPs of Dizzy Gillespie” (Volume 10, Number 3, pp. 239–369) received the inaugural Award for Best Essay in Popular Music Scholarship from the American Musicological Society’s Popular Music Study Group. Less than two weeks later, Matthew J. Jones received the ASCAP Foundation Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award for his article “‘Enough of Being Basely Tearful’: ‘Glitter and Be Gay’ and the Camp Politics of Queer Resistance” (Volume 10, Number 4, pp. 422–445). These accolades are a testament to the tremendous work of outgoing editor Karen Ahlquist, who edited and nominated both articles.

Matthew Jones
Matthew Jones
Jones’s essay reads Cunégonde’s aria “Glitter and Be Gay” from Leonard Bernstein’s 1956 musical Candide as an expression of the queer sensibility known as camp. Jones contrasts the original cast recording performance by Barbara Cook with a lesser-known 1996 recording by the activist and singer-songwriter Michael Callen. One of the first people to be diagnosed with AIDS (then called “Gay-Related Immune Deficiency” [GRID]), Callen wrote numerous books about living with the disease, all while performing as a singer and pianist and founding the gay male doo-wop group The Flirtations. Jones’s analysis of “Glitter” identifies “affective zones” in the aria, which “map out a trajectory from the private expression of sincere feelings to the public performance of feigned gaiety that corresponds to the contrast between the closet and public life.” (430) The essay also serves as a primer for anyone wanting to understand the growing literature on camp. Jones understands the term as both malleable (it may be used as multiple parts of speech) and political. Camp can be a way of expressing queer sensibility while remaining closeted. It can be humorous and exuberant in the face of the shame, repression, or illness that is often part of being gay in a homophobic society. In Jones’s eloquent words, “Camp is strategy for resistance and critique, for making fun out of the serious as a way to relieve oppressive conditions and for saying one thing and meaning another.” (435)

Dworkin and Jones
Richard Dworkin and Matthew Jones
In a December 9th Skype interview, Jones told the Bulletin that his interest in Callen began in graduate coursework at the University of Virginia. While browsing YouTube (“that tried and true scholarly resource!”) he happened upon an excerpt from an interview with Callen. Jones wrote to the video’s poster, who went by the user name “Betty Byte,” requesting access to the full video of the interview. “Betty” turned out to be Callen’s longtime partner Richard Dworkin. Dworkin alerted Jones to the existence of the Michael Callen Papers at the Pat Parker/Vito Russo Library in New York City’s LGBT Community Center. Dworkin also gave Jones access to his private archive of ephemera, as well as to other important people in Callen’s life, including members of the Flirtations and the Women’s Music legend Holly Near. What began as a relationship between researcher and informant has become a lasting friendship. Jones recalled his first meeting with Dworkin in New York, when they attended a fundraiser for the Audre Lorde Community Center together: “We were on the subway and he was still feeling me out as a researcher.” Dworkin gradually warmed to Jones as they talked. “He said ’We’ve been waiting for someone to tell this story.’ That’s the moment when we went from being interviewer and research subject to being friends . . . It has shifted the axis of my life.” Jones describes Dworkin as “an amazing human,” and “an accidental witness to everything that is important in late twentieth-century LGBT history . . . It was remarkable that all of this happened out of a YouTube video.”

Darren Mueller
Darren Mueller
Mueller’s award-winning essay analyzes two 1950s Gillespie LPs: Dizzy Gillespie: World Statesman and Dizzy in Greece, both produced by Norman Granz. The two ostensibly “live” records were marketed to domestic jazz record buyers as documents of the trumpeter’s world tours on behalf of the US State Department. But as Mueller shows, the recordings were in fact made in New York City over two studio sessions in 1956 and 1957. Their track listings have little overlap with the actual concert programs that Mueller unearthed from the Marshall Stearns Collection at the Institute for Jazz Studies at Rutgers. (Stearns authored the liner notes for both LPs.) Gillespie’s tours with an integrated band were designed to counter anti-US Russian propaganda, which targeted developing and newly independent nations during the Cold War. But while the tours used jazz to paint a positive picture of the United States abroad, the LPs promoted jazz as culturally significant music to US listeners: “the LPs were the product of a political and technological moment when Gillespie’s record label could leverage musical diplomacy to sell records and thereby circulate an elevated vision for jazz within the country’s cultural hierarchy.” (240)

Speaking with the Bulletin this month, Mueller discussed his article within a wider narrative about jazz and the “cultural politics of respectability.” He points out that Gillespie toured and recorded as “jazz ambassador” long before the music was officially declared a “national treasure” in 1987; and before Wynton Marsalis’s work with the Jazz at Lincoln Center in the 1990s. Gillespie’s tours and albums, as well as their promotion by figures like Granz and Stearns, can be understood as a nascent part of the cultural project to gain recognition for jazz. The tours and LPs show that “people in the industry were trying to uplift jazz in the cultural imagination of the United States. Being recognized by the government as something of value was hugely significant towards that goal.” But Mueller is quick to acknowledge that the tours under “the stamp of the State Department” were “tied to the legacy of colonialism.” While jazz is certainly worthy of the official recognition that these tours conferred, “the tours were part of a larger postcolonial strategy by the United States, and certainly related to the State Department’s other political activities. From today’s vantage point, I don’t think that you can separate these performances from that.” Of course, Gillespie’s motivations for the international tours were probably different from those of State Department officials: “I believe these performers were thinking more about jazz in the United States and improving the music—and their own—standing at home.”

As Jones and Mueller’s essays show, JSAM attracts article submissions of the highest quality. Jones describes the journal as “the most natural home” for his essay on “Glitter and be Gay” because it “deals with quintessentially American music. It straddles so many aspects of American music: Bernstein (an architect of the American sound, in a way), theater, and queer popular art.” Mueller chose JSAM for its broad, interdisciplinary readership: “I had published already in a jazz-specific journal, and I wanted a journal with a wider reach. Obviously, being connected to one of the largest societies, I thought JSAM would be a great venue in terms of subject matter and readership. I thought a lot about audience when I chose to submit.” Mueller is pleased that his work in JSAM is being read outside the circle of jazz scholars to a degree that has exceeded his initial expectations: “The intuition about a broader audience was proved correct. I had a historian contact me about doing a panel at the American Historical Association conference . . . and the fact that article was recognized by the AMS Popular Music interest group proves to me that JSAM has quite a broad audience.”

Both award-winning authors were full of praise for Ahlquist and JSAM’s publication process. Mueller told the Bulletin: “Karen was really positive about the article—it was really easy to work with her. Through the editorial process, it ended up so much better than it started. In an age when there are so many critiques of peer review, I have a good story!” Jones concurs that Ahlquist’s editing improved the work, describing her as both challenging and supportive: “Karen said, ‘there’s something in this.’ She wanted to push me on it . . . I was surprised at how generous she was as an editor to make this the piece that it could be.” He was “floored” to hear that Ahlquist had nominated his work for the ASCAP award, describing it as “gratifying . . . to have support from someone with her stature in the field.”

Mueller is developing a book about the jazz industry and the long-playing record. He will also speak about Cannonball Adderley and the New York City paper The New Amsterdam News as part of a panel on Jazz and the Black Press at SAM’s upcoming conference. Jones is currently looking for a publisher for his completed critical biography, Love Don’t Need a Reason: The Life of Michael Callen. Meanwhile, he is at work on a second book called Hearing AIDS: Soundscapes of an Epidemic. He will publish an essay about singer-songwriter Joni Mitchell this year.

Ahlquist completed her tenure as JSAM Editor with the 2017 volume, handing the reins to the capable hands of Loren Kajikawa. She shared the authors’ excitement after learning of the awards this fall: “I was thrilled to hear (in quick succession) of two prizewinning JSAM articles out of the fourteen published in vol. 10. Suddenly the success attainable by our authors was staring me in the face. We’re on a roll! And moving forward we can work with this energizing knowledge in mind. Having nominated several articles from vol. 10, I look forward to nominating from vol. 11. After that, Loren will have the privilege of shaping music scholarship through peer review at its highest level.”

Kajikawa told the Bulletin, “I feel like I’m filling gigantic shoes. The recent awards attest Karen’s high standards and skills as an editor. I feel incredibly fortunate to have worked with her. She made sure to bring me in early, and I have benefited from her mentorship this past year as I took over the peer-review process and began work on my first issue.” While Ahlquist will be a tough act to follow as editor, she established procedures to make things easier for everyone who succeeds her. According to Kajikawa, “something most people wouldn’t know is that during her time as editor, she helped to clarify and improve the process for transitioning between editors. The system that she designed helps to ensure a smooth transfer of responsibilities from one editor to the next. I’m so grateful for Karen’s guidance and support, and future JSAM editors will benefit from her hard work and dedication.”

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Call for Proposals: Special Issue of JSAM

Settler Sounds: Music, Indigeneity, and Colonialism in the Americas

In her 2016 article on “Settler Colonialism and Enduring Indigeneity,” J. Kēhaulani Kauanui reflects on the rise of settler colonial studies in American Studies and the enduring need for the discipline to engage with Indigeneity. Described as “a structure, not an event” in Patrick Wolfe’s 2006 formulation, the theoretical framework of settler colonialism has been particularly useful in Indigenous studies and for historians of empire to distinguish between various kinds of colonial and postcolonial nations on the basis of their political economies. It has become increasingly clear in the intervening decade that the concept of settler colonialism may be useful not only for Indigenous studies, but for any investigation that seeks a comparative framework for understanding the history of societies founded on the dispossession of Indigenous people in the modern era. Moreover, there are good reasons to think that the idea is also useful for studies that seek to understand the conjunctures between political economies, and such elements of cultural history and social formation as aesthetics, affect, and embodied modes of knowledge.

We are soliciting submissions for a special issue of the Journal of the Society for American Music, guest edited by Gabriel Solis (University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign) and Jessica Bissett Perea (University of California, Davis), that will investigate sonic aspects of the Americas through a consideration of the distinct, yet related, modes of colonialism and Indigeneity that have come to define the region. The purpose of the issue is twofold: first, to evaluate how a focus on music and other sonic phenomena may help us better understand the sociohistorical formation of the cultures of the Americas; and second, to discover how a focus on modes of discovery, settlement, and expansion of colonial regimes in the Americas and beyond can help us develop transnational perspectives in American music studies. Critically, we hope to use this issue to grapple with the ongoing relevance of Indigenous people and their claims to sovereignty for American music scholarship. In this moment of global upheaval, we ask, how can perspectives that foreground American states’ foundational status as settler colonies help bring new relevance to work in our field?

We welcome writing from any discipline of music and American studies, using any methodology. Individual studies need not be comparative or transnational, but we seek scholarship that identifies intersectional aspects even of highly localized case studies. We are particularly interested in studies that take a perspective that crosses linguistic divides—Anglo, Iberian, French, Russian, and more—in American music studies and work that engages beyond the settler-Indigenous dialectic to consider how a settler colonial framework helps understand the sonic dimensions of racialization in the Americas through slavery, immigration, and refugee movement, as well as musical experiences of gender and sexuality.

Topics may include, but need not be limited to:

For questions regarding this special issue, contact Gabriel Solis.

Article submissions should be sent electronically to JSAM’s Editor Loren Kajikawa by April 1, 2018. Please indicate in the body of your message that you wish your article to be considered for this special issue.

Additional information:
Authors should send their submissions in MS Word and also include an abstract of no more than 200 words. The submission itself should be anonymous throughout the text and notes. Articles should range from 5,000 to 10,000 words (excluding notes). Longer articles will be considered but may be edited for length. The Journal of the Society for American Music employ humanities style citations following the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition.

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Journal of the Society for American Music

Volume 12, Number 1 (February 2018)

Visualizing Music in the Silent Era: The Collaborative Experiments of Visual Symphony Productions
   Mary Simonson

“Musical Structure, Dramatic Form, and Song Pairings in Cole Porter’s Kiss Me, Kate
   Michael Buchler

“The Rise and Fall of “Indie Classical”: Tracing a Controversial Term in Twenty-First Century New Music
   Will Robin


Chuck Haddix, Bird: The Life and Times of Charlie Parkery; Stanley Crouch, Kansas City Lightning: The Rise and Times of Charlie Parker; Peter Pullman, Wail: The Life of Bud Powell; Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr., The Amazing Bud Powell: Black Genius, Jazz History, and the Challenge of Bebop
   Scott DeVeaux

Dominic Symonds, We’ll Have Manhattan: The Early Work of Rodgers & Hart
   Todd Decker

Phil Jamison, Hoedowns, Reels, and Frolics—Roots and Branches of Southern Appalachian Dance
   John Spitzer

Alicia Kopfstein-Penk, Leonard Bernstein and His Young People’s Concerts
   Ann Glazer Niren

London Sinfonietta and Queen Mary University of London, Steve Reich’s Clapping Music, iPhone ed., v. 1.0.4; Joseph Gender and Third Coast Percussion, Third Coast Percussion: The Music of Steve Reich, iPhone ed., v. 1.0.7
   Twila Bakker

James D. Payne, Far West; Haitao Guo, Bright Sun Mansion
   Eric Hung

Karen Collins, Beep: A Documentary History of Game Sound; Karen Collins and Chris Greening, Beep: Documenting the History of Game Sound
   Dana Plank

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Conference Report: “American Women Pianist-Composers: A Celebration of Amy Beach and Teresa Carreño,” (University of New Hampshire)

Jennifer C.H.J. Wilson

The sesquicentennial of Amy Beach’s birth and the centennial of Teresa Carreño’s death were the original impetus of the stimulating conference, “American Women Pianist-Composers: A Celebration of Amy Beach and Teresa Carreño,” held on the University of New Hampshire (UNH) campus on September 15–16, 2017. The program committee not only included the music, careers, and lives of Beach and Carreño, but also invited contributions about Pan-American women and music making; female pianists’ experiences with transatlantic networks; and the relationship between female musicians born in the 1850s and 1860s and younger generations of women. In doing so, the music and themes of these two influential women were juxtaposed against a larger geography, broader sociocultural issues, and included lesser-known, but regionally-significant women pianist-composers, such as Cécile Chaminade (France), Josefina Filomeno (Chile), Arabella Goddard (UK), Helen Hopekirk (Scotland, the United States), Guadalupe Olmedo (Mexico), and Delfina Pérez (Chile). In a large room adjacent to the archives of Beach’s letters, photos, diaries, scores, and manuscripts, a concentrated group of librarians, musicians, scholars, and the general public discussed a range of issues and mediums, uncovered mysteries and figures, and intoned piano phrases, which surrounded the nineteenth- and early twentieth-century worlds of women and music.

As with all focused conferences, the program provided a unique depth alongside a wide range of perspectives for conference attendants. A specialized audience heard a close examination of Beach’s pieces inspired by nature alongside a new interpretation of her piano concerto and her role within the National League of American Pen Women’s Promotion of Women Composers. The issues of Victorian womanhood and “The New Woman” were addressed not only within Beach and Carreño, but also in the career of Cécile Chaminade and The Etude magazine. Issues of archival preservation were also highlighted in multiple presentations. In the case of Carreño and the other South American composers, librarians and scholars discussed matters of physical and digital scholarship, which can help or hinder access to research. At its core, we were intrigued and alarmed by the extremely limited resources and access that our colleagues from the southern hemisphere had as a result of political upheaval or infrastructure issues.

Three lecture recitals stimulated our ears as well as our minds. First, scholar Alejandro Barrañón from the Universidad Autónoma de Zacatecas, México performed the works of Guadalupe Olmedo, a virtuosic Mexican pianist and composer. His thrilling performance of her works was likely their American premiere—nearly 150 years after their creation. Next, pianist, lecturer, and Beach specialist, Virginia Eskin provided a musical tour of Beach’s piano music that included her earliest to latest compositions. And lastly, bass-baritone Robert Osborne, mezzo-soprano Anna Tonna, and pianist Babette Hiernolzer performed a chamber music concert about Carreño’s career as an opera singer, producer, and conductor. From a script based on research from the Teresa Carreño Papers at Vassar College Library, you could hear her passionate voice and diverse musical contributions during the nineteenth century.

While the works and life of Mrs. H. H. A. Beach saturated the conference environment, it was fitting, I think, as a robust example of what is possible when a collective effort is brought to bear to highlight the life and works of an important woman composer. Co-directors, Liane Curtis, from Brandeis University and Women’s Philharmonic Advocacy, Sarah Gerk, from Binghamton University, and Bill Ross, of University of New Hampshire Special Collections organized a well-publicized conference that aligned with numerous local and national events. At the UNH campus alone, the conference included an inaugural concert—the first of nine—to perform Beach’s works by the faculty and students in the Department of Music, UNH and a special exhibit, A Brilliant Life: The Musical Career of New Hampshire’s Amy Beach, featuring photographs, manuscript scores, and personal objects from the Amy Cheney Beach Papers, UNH Museum, Milne Special Collections, and Archives in the UNH Dimond Library.

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Conference Calendar

Call for Proposals: Teaching Difficult Topics in the American Music Classroom
Hosted by the Pedagogy Interest Group of the Society for American Music
National Conference, February 28–March 4, 2018
Panel: Thursday, March 1, 12:15–1:45 p.m.

The teaching of music history often forces us to engage with concepts that can be uncomfortable to address. Music frequently plays a role, or at least reflects, instances of structural inequality throughout history. The American music classroom can make these conversations even more difficult as we deal with more recent histories that can affect students more personally. As educators, we play a critical role in aiding students to discuss both the historical issues that affected American music development as well as the social challenges happening today. These discussions relating to topics such as gender, sexuality, race, class, inequality, discrimination, etc. can be heated and create a tense classroom environment. This session will feature a panel of speakers presenting in a variety of formats (lightning talks, demonstrations, etc.) that discuss methodologies that work well to address these often difficult topics.

If you are interested in presenting, please submit a proposal of no more than 250 words to Jeffrey Wright by February 1, 2018. Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by February 15.

Call for Conference Seminar Topics
Society for American Music 45th Annual Conference
New Orleans, Louisiana, March 20–24, 2019
Deadline: February 19, 2018

The Society for American Music invites proposals for seminar topics for its 45th annual conference to be held in New Orleans, Louisiana, 20–24 March 2019. The Society for American Music is dedicated to the study, teaching, creation and dissemination of all musics in the Americas. The seminar-format session is devoted to a moderated discussion of a set of written papers submitted in advance and posted on the SAM website two weeks prior to the conference. Full submission guidelines may be found here. All queries should be submitted to the program chair, Greg Reish.

Call for Abstracts: Jewish Music and Humor
Sunday, April 29, 2018
Center for Jewish History
15 W. 16th St. New York, NY 10011

The Jewish Music Forum, a Project of the American Jewish Historical Society, issues a call for papers for the conference: Jewish Music and Humor, with keynote address “Scoring Jewish Comedy: The (Very) Early Years” by Dr. Daniel Goldmark (Case Western Reserve University)

The Jewish Music Forum welcomes the submission of abstracts for scholarly papers on topics related to the theme of Jewish Music and Humor. Humor has historically been an important and frequently present component of Jewish music. Humor enables Jewish musicians to negotiate their place in society, express an ever-changing national and religious identity, engage in conversations that may not otherwise take place, and much more. In what ways do humor and music intersect in Jewish cultures? How have humor and music been used in the political and social aspirations of Jews? Through what discourses do musicians and comedians confront and shape Jewish identity? In this conference we seek to investigate these concepts and others, ultimately asking about the ways that comedy and music have been implicated in conversations about Jewishness.

We welcome proposals that approach these topics from any disciplinary perspective, and encourage scholars to suggest topics across a wide scope of time and place. Scholars in all career stages are encouraged to submit work, in the hope of connecting the scholarship of senior scholars, recent PhDs, and graduate students. A limited number of travel stipends are available for graduate student attendees.

Possible topics may include, but are not limited to:

Submission Deadline: February 1, 2018
Acceptance Notifications: February 15, 2018
Abstract word limit: 300 words

Please send to abstract submissions in .doc format to info@jewishmusicforum.org. Papers will be 20 minutes in length, followed by a 10 minute Q&A.

Max Steiner: Man and Myth Symposium February 24–25, 2018
California State University, Long Beach
Keynote speaker: James V. D’Arc (Brigham Young University)

Max Steiner, the film composer for King Kong, Gone with the Wind, Casablanca, and The Searchers, has long been hailed “Dean of Film Music.” But Steiner’s familiar presence in iconic films overshadows the vast majority of his work and legacy, which remain more acknowledged than studied. Only recently, for instance, has research on early sound cinema corrected long-held beliefs on the relationship of Steiner’s music in King Kong to early Hollywood scores. Similar work remains to be done, whether considering Steiner’s upbringing in Vienna, his peripatetic career in musical theater, his fluctuating arrangements with Hollywood studios, his relationships with individual filmmakers and musicians, and his shifting approach to composition across genres and over time.

This symposium brings together scholars to reconsider and expand our understanding of Steiner’s work, its historical context, and its broader relationship to musicological film studies.

Please send inquiries to steinersymposium@gmail.com.

Symposium Organizing Committee:
Roger Hickman (California State University, Long Beach)
Nathan Platte (University of Iowa)
William H. Rosar (University of California, San Diego and Journal of Film Music)
Aaron Fruchtman (California State University, Long Beach)

Symposium: Diversifying Music Academia: Strengthening the Pipeline
October 31–November 1, 2018
San Antonio, TX

“Diversifying Music Academia: Strengthening the Pipeline” is a symposium devoted to the issues of diversity and inclusion in musicology, music theory, and ethnomusicology. Led by Project Spectrum, a coalition of faculty members and graduate students, this event seeks to explore why in music academia it remains difficult for racially, economically, and sexually minoritized people to finish graduate degrees, seek gainful employment, and—when applicable—get tenure. Workshops, panels, and keynote presentations will primarily take place on Wednesday afternoon through Thursday afternoon (October 31 and November 1), as a pre-conference to the AMS/SMT 2018 Joint Meeting in San Antonio, Texas. Additionally, several events organized by Project Spectrum will take place during the AMS/SMT meeting (November 1–4), at the conference hotel. For more information and updates, please visit our website or contact Project Spectrum. Undergraduates, graduate students, independent scholars, and faculty from all disciplines are encouraged to attend.

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Forum for Early Career Professionals

The Forum for Early Career Professionals is coordinating a yearlong initiative that explores contingent labor, an effort that we call “SAM and the Gig Economy.” Our goal is to raise awareness about the ways in which contingent employment—defined as temporary, short-term, and/or freelance work—shapes the lives of American music scholars. In this conversation, we seek to include those American music scholars who undertake all types of contingent labor, regardless of whether the work takes place within the academy.

The initiative’s main event is a panel discussion that will take place during the annual meeting in Kansas City, on Thursday, March 1 at 10:30 a.m. Panelists will include Mark Davidson, Reba Wissner, and Douglas Shadle. From the discussion, we hope to develop a set of actionable items or recommendations for fostering better support of contingent workers in the Society for American Music. We invite all Kansas City attendees with a stake in discussions about contingent labor to attend and contribute to this process.

In the meantime, for all who are gigging or on the job market this winter, we present these alternate lyrics to the rock ’n’ roll masterpiece “Johnny B. Goode” by the late, great Chuck Berry, who died in March 2017. Contributed by a FECP member who wishes to remain anonymous, the new lyrics are offered in the spirit of commiseration and solidarity with our many contingent colleagues.

“A Job’d Be Good”

Teach at the university for little pay
And try to write your manuscript on Saturdays
Grading term papers late into the night
Working two jobs because the money’s tight
Even though your cover letter’s written well
You’re not on the tenure track and you are worried as hell

Oh no! Can’t get a job, no! Can’t get a job, no! Can’t get a job, no! Can’t get a job, no.
Oh, a job’d be good.

You wrote your dissertation on a fellowship
While sittin’ in a coffee shop—you felt so hip
Faculty see you sit and work all day
Typing to the rhythm while the radio plays
Passing grad students, all in jealousy,
Say, “my, can’t wait to read that in the library!”

Oh no!

Your advisor told you someday when you graduate
That you will get a job and then won’t life be great?
Publishers come knocking with contracts in hand
Search committee chairs a-callin’ from throughout the land
But that is not exactly how it all worked out
You’re livin’ hand-to-mouth and your career’s in doubt

Oh no!

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Student Forum

It’s that time of year again, and we need your help! The 2018 Silent Auction needs donations of new or used books, scores, CDs, or any other items of interest to the SAM membership. Books, which tend to increase revenue substantially, are especially welcome. All donations and proceeds benefit the Student Travel Endowment. We had a very successful auction last year, and we thank you for that! Items should be brought with you to the conference or can be mailed to the conference hotel. Contact Kori Hill or SAM Executive Director Mariana Whitmer for more information.

For student members: The annual meeting in Kansas City will be here before we know it! The Student Forum organizes several events, and we are always looking for volunteers to help. At the conference, we will hold a Student Forum Business Meeting to elect a new co-chair and discuss student ideas and issues. Like last year, the meeting will follow our student luncheon with SAM donors. We are also organizing scholar meet-and-greets for the third year, for which we’ll designate specific times for students to talk informally with SAM scholars. If you have questions or would like to get involved with any of these happenings, contact co-chairs Kate Sutton or Kori Hill.

You can also help stretch your travel budget and get to know a fellow SAM student member by participating in the Student Forum roommate search. If you need help finding a roommate for Kansas City, check the Student Forum Facebook page or e-mail the Student Forum co-chairs.

Finally, if you are going to Kansas City, the Bulletin seeks a graduate student author to write a report on the national meeting for the spring issue. Document a graduate student’s perspective on the conference and highlight exciting presentations you hear by fellow students! Contact Kate and Kori if you’re interested.

We look forward to seeing you in the spring!

Kate Sutton and Kori Hill, Student Forum Co-Chairs

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New Members

The Society for American Music is pleased to welcome these new members:

Kelli Bomberger, Lincoln, NE

Michael Bennett, Concord, MA

Abigail York, Bloomington, IN

Nathan Huxtable, Batavia, IL

Mary Sheehy, Overland Park, KS

Holly Roberts, Eugene, OR

Nathan Smith, Chicago, IL

Donna Di Grazia, Claremont, CA

Judith Mabary, Sturgeon, MO

Nicole Vilkner, West Windsor, NJ

Brian Jones, Richmond, VA

Danielle Sofer, Kilkock, Co Kildare, IRELAND

Douglas Peach, Bloomington, IN

Sean Latham, Tulsa, OK

Matthew Crosby, Temple, TX

Roxy DePue, Riverside, CA

Rhae Lynn Barnes, Anaheim, CA

Megan Francisco, Seattle, WA

Ben Worley, Columbia, MO

Abigail Shupe, Fort Collins, CO

Hannah Jellen, Urbana, IL

Henry Stoll, Boonton, NJ

Adam Schroeder, Glen Carbon, IL

Katrice Kemble, Durham, CT

John Benoit, Indianola, IA

Deborah Nemko, Jamaica Plain, MA

Rebecca Dirksen, Bloomington, IN

Melissa Camp, Arlington, TX

Eric Johns, Claremont, CA

Jamil Jorge, Cranston, RI

Sandra Coffin, New York, NY

Michael Carlson, Manchester, CT

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Book Reviews

The Cambridge Companion to Hip-Hop. Justin Williams, ed. Cambridge University Press, 2015. 349pp. ISBN: 9781107037465. Hardcover.
   Steven Moon,
, University of Pittsburgh

The prevalence of hip-hop culture is apparent to anyone who uses social media. Videos of rapping schoolteachers and children learning to breakdance at the Pomona Hip-Hop School of Arts appear alongside previews for “Martha & Snoop’s Potluck Dinner Party.” A freestyle by Eminem circulates widely as the rapper criticizes Trump and the political right. Beyond the borders of the United States, hip-hop has had an equally profound impact on culture and politics, evidenced by an ever-growing body of scholarship on localized hip-hop practices spanning six continents.

The Cambridge Companion to Hip-Hop, edited by Justin Williams, represents important interdisciplinary research on many time periods and geographic locales of hip-hop performance. Chapters are often short and written without extensive disciplinary jargon, allowing authors to make salient points with concise, readable arguments. Contributing authors come from a diverse array of disciplinary homes, including not only ethno/musicology, but music theory, English and German literature, dance studies, theater, sociology, anthropology, Africana studies, American studies, and film studies. In addition, there are contributions from freelance journalists and others working beyond the academy. The methodological and theoretical scope of the volume is therefore quite broad, illustrating the diversity of approaches one can and should take to hip-hop studies.

The first part, titled “Elements,” references the four generally accepted practices of hip-hop: MCing, breaking, graffiti, and DJing. Alice Price-Styles begins with a discussion of the fluidity between rap and poetry, citing the rise of spoken word and jazz poetry during the Harlem Renaissance. Through important case studies, including an examination of the Black Arts Movement, Price-Styles does critical work to re-historicize the genre. Imani Kai Johnson and Ivor Miller take similar approaches in their chapters, which frame the development of hip-hop within larger narratives of diasporic consciousness. Kjetil Falkenberg Hanson’s chapter provides a technological history, discussing the adoption and adaption of the turntable and the development of the DJ as performer and musician.

Perhaps most compellingly in this section, Travis L. Gosa argues for the addition of a fifth element to Williams’s four: knowledge. Gosa cites the intervention of neoliberalism in hip-hop—the silencing of Black Nationalist politics and the corporate acquisition of smaller recording labels—as a critical development that contributed to “the end” of socially conscious hip-hop. The remaining chapters of the book (on religion and performance) might each be read through Gosa’s chapter, which consolidates the sociohistorical perspective of the previous chapters with a critique of contemporary practice and demonstrates how hip-hop’s history bears down on its present.

“Methods and concepts” comprises the second part of the book, in which each chapter proposes a mode of analysis or representation. Two chapters by Oliver Kautny and Kyle Adams analyze the formal structures of rap music, examining the lyrics, rhythm, and harmony respectively. Both authors focus on the importance of time in rap music. Adams notes that the cyclical constructions require new analytical tools, and Kautny proposes a methodology for studying rhythmic structures and “microtiming.” Both authors link these formalist aspects of musical construction directly to affect in order to discuss how the “feel” of music is technically produced. In his chapter, Chris Tabron locates this affective encounter at the meeting point of artists, producers, and engineers. Highlighting the act of listening, Tabron takes a phenomenological approach to understanding both the production of hip-hop and the listener experience, emphasizing the importance of artists’ and producers’ interaction with technological mediums in creating an affective experience for the listener.

The remainder of this section focuses on methods for studying hip-hop’s sociopolitical context. Anthony Kwame Harrison provides an ethnographic account of underground rap in San Francisco, emphasizing the researcher-interlocutor relationship as a locus of racial politics playing out in the underground scene. These politics can also be read in the representation of rap music in American cinema, as explicated by Geoff Harkness. Harkness thoughtfully considers how both racial and gendered politics influence the representational and narrative function of rap and hip-hop in cinema, politics which are further analyzed in Regina N. Bradley and Christopher Deis’s subsequent chapters. As Gosa does in his earlier chapter on neoliberalism, Bradley understands hip-hop in relation to capitalism. Artists such as Jay-Z have founded their careers upon the trope of the black capitalist success story, and such processes are inherently racialized and gendered. For Deis, however, hip hop exists within popular culture, which holds no emancipatory power for the artists or practitioners. According to Deis, popular culture can only mirror “real” systems of power and is prone to manipulation by the elite, and he therefore requires a rethinking of what “politics” means in relation to genres such as hip-hop that are imbued with social power.

The final section of this tri-partite volume includes case studies that examine hip-hop in geographic, temporal, and technological terms, demonstrating the breadth of the field and emphasizing the necessity for interdisciplinary approaches. Studies by Noriko Manabe, Richard Bramwell, Sujatha Fernandes, Ali Colleen Neff, and Brenna Reinhart Byrd focus on hip-hop outside the United States, each offering a case for the localization of hip-hop, its entwinement in local politics, and its place within the hip-hop diaspora. This is balanced against genre-specific analyses from Amanda Sewell and Mike D’Errico, whose chapters illustrate the evolution of hip-hop into other forms of embodiment. For Sewell, this is Nerdcore, a genre that parodies hypermasculinity through its focus on the marginalization of the “nerd.” D’Errico’s chapter asks how the turntable has been disregarded as a metaphor for the combination of disparate musical elements, and explores the technological development of a new aesthetic through increased focus on technological production. This chapter in particular relates closely to the material in Part I, as the technological historiography flows well into an account of contemporary practice. Finally, several other chapters focus on time periods, most interestingly that of the Obama presidency.

One critique may arise from readers. In Williams’s introductory chapter, and in several chapters throughout the book, the contemporary relevance and legitimacy of hip-hop are traced through its institutionalization at museums, such as the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, and universities, such as Harvard and Cornell. By citing Afrika Bambaataa’s visiting professorship at Cornell as an indicator of hip-hop’s significance, for example, Williams creates a slippage between social and academic significances that some readers might question. Such instances, however, might be attributed to the authors’ specific positionalities rather than academic imperialism. Overall, the volume is an excellent resource for readers new to hip-hop studies as well as those in search of a fresh approach. Williams has compiled a microcosm of hip-hop methodologies and frameworks that cross disciplinary boundaries and span the decades, making it a useful text for anyone who loves hip-hop.

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The Cambridge Companion to the Singer-Songwriter. Katherine Williams and Justin A. Williams. Cambridge University Press, 2016. 366pp. ISBN: 9781107680913. Paperback.
   Michael Lisinski
, Ryerson University and York University

The singer-songwriter is an ill-defined and problematic figure in academic discourse on music. It is therefore heartening to see this Cambridge Companion emerge, for it contains several illuminating and well-researched essays on this subject. Possibly due to the subject’s under-exploration, editors Katherine Williams and Justin A. Williams have opted for breadth over focus. As a result, this collection of sometimes-contradictory essays seeks less to form a complete picture of the singer-songwriter than to begin hashing out who the singer-songwriter is and why they are important.

The chapters in the book’s first section chart the path by which the singer-songwriter has developed throughout history and deal with foundational issues, such as when the singer-songwriter truly emerged as a cultural figure. David R. Shumway’s essay locates the singer-songwriter’s genesis in the late 1960s and early 1970s with the popularity of James Taylor’s “confessional” songwriting, describing the birth of the singer-songwriter as we commonly recognize it. In the next chapter, by contrast, Natasha Loges and Katy Hamilton take the reader to eighteenth-century Germany to recount the history of the Lied, a type of composition that resided between high and low art forms and was intended to be sung by amateurs. Marc Finch then uses bluegrass music—and specifically bluegrass pioneer Bill Monroe—to question rigid notions of individualist authenticity in a genre in which song authorship is often truly collaborative. Allan F. Moore’s chapter traces the lineage from English folk music to the singer-songwriter by way of such artists as Ewan MacColl, identifying key folk themes such as politics, regional identity, and personal experience. Simon Barber turns the focus to creative labor, examining the details of creative work at the famous Brill Building publishing house in the 1960s. Christa Bentley’s chapter then moves the reader to America’s West Coast, where she explores the influence of Los Angeles’s intimate Troubadour venue in launching the careers of Taylor, Carole King, and Joni Mitchell. Lastly, Michael Borshuk bookends the section by documenting the 1970s “professional” singer-songwriters, such as Randy Newman, Steely Dan, and Billy Joel, whose emphasis on craft forms a neat counterpoint to the “confessional” songwriting discussed earlier by Shumway.

If the first section deals mainly in broad overviews, Part II exhibits detailed individual cases. It opens with Tōru Mitsui’s account of Thomas D’Urfey, a seventeenth-century playwright, poet, and songwriter who counted England’s King Charles II among his fans. Then, returning to more familiar territory, Josep Pedro frames early twentieth-century blues and folk singer Leadbelly as a foundational figure in the singer-songwriter movement. In the next two chapters, Jada Watson treats the importance of place, identity, and nostalgia in Dolly Parton’s songwriting, and Phil Allcock traces Elton John’s evolution from songwriting collaborator to global brand. Joshua S. Duchan views three of Billy Joel’s songs through their commentary on the American working class. Timothy Koozin analyzes Nick Drake’s idiosyncratic compositional and performance techniques, showing how an understanding of Drake’s practice of deploying simple and commonplace guitar gestures in new tuning contexts can help one grasp his highly unique style. Lori Burns, Alyssa Woods, and Marc Lafrance then establish Kanye West as a singer-songwriter based on his use of storytelling and personal narrative. In a similar way, madison moore emphasizes James Blake’s emotional songwriting by placing him at the border between blue-eyed soul, electronic music, and the idea of the singer-songwriter figure. Sarah Suhadolnik shows how Adele’s image is crafted with the aid of distinctly personal and emotional song narratives through which audiences relate to her persona. Lastly, Jo Collinson-Scott applies Deleuze and Guatarri’s notion of “becoming” to the artist Joanna Newsom in order to understand freak folk’s temporally non-linear relationship to traditional folk’s “old weird America.”

The book’s third section focuses entirely on the singer-songwriter in relation to gender. It begins with a thoughtful essay by Kevin Fellezs on Joni Mitchell’s playful and problematic adoption of different racial and gender identities in the 1970s. In the next chapter, Jennifer Taylor probes the tensions, limitations, victories, and political significance of Sarah McLachlan’s all-female music festival Lilith Fair. Katherine Williams then uses the careers of three LGBTQ singer-songwriters to glimpse changing societal attitudes toward non-heterosexual behaviour. Chris McDonald draws analogies between Tori Amos and the shaman character found in many global cultures, arguing that her personal, cathartic songs offer healing to listeners sharing similar experiences. Megan Berry uses the concept of the “queer gaze” to explore how KT Tunstall, Missy Higgins, and Bic Runga destabilize gender expectations. Lastly, Sarah Boak places the rise of female sing-songwriters in the 1990s into its cultural context while highlighting artists like Tori Amos, PJ Harvey, and Alanis Morissette.

The final two sections are both much shorter than those that precede them. The “Frameworks and methods” section opens with Mark Marrington’s analysis of songwriting pedagogy in relation to theories of creativity and education. Marcus Aldredge positions open mics as liminal spaces in which amateur singer-songwriters both perform and practice in order to develop their craft. Lastly, Rupert Till discusses Nattiez’s musical semiotics, Attali’s stages of music, and Adele’s song “Someone Like You” to show how singer-songwriters unconsciously perform emotion through embodiment, which can engender ascriptions of authenticity. This authenticity theme continues into the “Global perspectives” section, which begins with Nick Brae discussing the localized national identity of New Zealand’s Don McGlashan. Franco Fabbri and Ioannis Tsioulakis then trace the comparable developments of Greece’s entechno and Italy’s canzone d’autore genres from their leftist origins onward. To end the volume, Lucy Bennet brings social media into consideration, arguing that singer-songwriters’ confessional modes are well-suited to platforms like Twitter, which can in turn further reveal artists’ personalities to fans and facilitate direct engagement with them.

As mentioned above, there are some tensions between chapters. Till’s chapter, for instance, appears to dismiss Elton John as a singer-songwriter, while both Allcock and Williams use him as a case study. Similarly, Burns, Woods, and Lafrance’s attention to Kanye West threatens to violate the criteria outlined in several other chapters. In my view, this is not a weakness of the compilation; rather, it merely signals that research around the singer-songwriter has not yet solidified a comfortable set of shared assumptions and definitions. If two scholars’ definitions of the singer-songwriter clash, all the better—it provides an opportunity for other scholars to examine the contradiction and advance their own propositions.

Some musical artists receive a greater degree of attention than others, and scholars studying these artists specifically will find multiple angles from which to examine their subject. Joni Mitchell, Carole King, James Taylor, Billy Joel, and Adele all make several appearances, signalling perhaps a tacit agreement regarding the prototypical singer-songwriter. On the other hand, the inclusion of unexpected artists allows for unique perspectives. Mitsui’s essay on D’Urfey, for example, is an idiosyncratic gem in the collection, an amusing and detailed historical account of a “singer-songwriter” who has received little attention elsewhere.

A handful of chapters notwithstanding, readers may be frustrated by the relative lack of formal analysis here, though they will find plenty of historical context for understanding artists from multiple eras. Scholars working at the intersections of music and cultural studies or gender studies will find much to work with, as will those studying the histories of folk culture or popular culture. The inevitable disciplinary gaps may lead readers to imagine new lines of inquiry. For instance, exploring the singer-songwriter’s music from a strictly semiotic perspective could greatly enrich the subject. Some musicians and music teachers may also wish for more of the pedagogical exploration found in Marrington’s essay. It would be hard to press any complaints too forcefully, though, as this volume introduces audiences to a neglected subject through several lenses already, and gives scholars ample opportunity to build on this work in the future.

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Digital Signatures: The Impact of Digitization on Popular Music Sound. Ragnhild Brøvig-Hanssen and Anne Danielsen. MIT Press, 2016. 188 pp. ISBN: 9780262034142. Hardcover.
   Ryan Blakeley
, University of Ottawa

From Auto-Tune to the cut-and-paste tool, the advent of digital audio technologies has not only radically redefined how popular music is created but has also heavily influenced how it is received by its listeners. This relationship between technology and music lies at the heart of Ragnhild Brøvig-Hanssen and Anne Danielsen’s Digital Signatures, a book that explores audible instances of digital mediation in popular music recordings and interrogates their role in shaping popular music aesthetics. The book largely revolves around Brøvig-Hanssen and Danielsen’s concept of “digital signatures,” a term that they define as “musical aspects that bear clear, audible traces of digital technology . . . that is, the sonically distinctive character of digital mediation” (2). The use of digital signatures and how they can influence musical meaning and production is considered in six analytical chapters, which are framed by introductory and concluding chapters that integrate and provide commentary on the main themes running throughout the book.

Neither author is a stranger to the subject matter; in fact, three of the book’s analytical chapters (2, 4, and 5) are revised chapters from Brøvig-Hanssen’s doctoral thesis on digital mediation in popular music recordings, which was supervised by Danielsen.1 The other three analytical chapters (3, 6, and 7) are supplied by Danielsen, who has, among other things, written extensively on rhythm in relation to digital technology.2 Both authors’ experience with musical analysis and recording technology makes them particularly well-suited to explore their proposed concept of digital signatures.

Each of the analytical chapters examines a specific type of digital technology employed in popular music, analyzing specific songs that exemplify the technology’s implementation and its implications for the listener. Chapter 2 focuses on the use of digital technology to manipulate sonic space through an examination of Kate Bush’s “Get Out of My House.” The chapter concentrates largely on digital delay and reverb (which were, in 1982, relatively new), highlighting intentionally unnatural uses of space and considering their potential metaphorical significance. In Chapter 3, Prince’s “Kiss” is used as a case study to demonstrate how digital synthesizers, samplers, and the MIDI protocol were able to facilitate an unprecedented level of sonic richness and rhythmic perfection in the 1980s.

The idea of sonic perfection is further explored in Chapter 4, which discusses the use of digital silence and considers both its potential for creating high-fidelity recordings and the backlash from artists who valued the sonic imperfections of predigital recordings. In this chapter, Portishead’s “Strangers” provides an example of both digital silence and analog audio signatures (such as vinyl crackle) being integrated into a single song, fusing the aesthetics of high-fidelity and lo-fi music. Using digital technology to subvert sonic perfection is also considered in Chapter 5, which demonstrates how the use of the cut-and-paste tool commonly found in digital audio workstations (DAWs) can be used to intentionally emulate sonic glitches. Los Sampler’s “La Vida es Llena des Cables” and two versions of Squarepusher’s “My Red Hot Car” are used to show how glitch sounds—easily afforded by the cut-and-paste tool—have become common in popular music, influencing how we perceive and interpret them.

The final two analytical chapters consider other digital tools that have opened up creative possibilities for musicians. Chapter 6 focuses in particular on the use of digital sequencers in DAWs to produce complex microrhythms. The “seasick” grooves of two Snoop Dogg songs—“Can I Get a Flicc Witchu” and “Bang Out”—are used to explore the microrhythmic complexity that can arise from digital temporal manipulation. Chapter 7, on the other hand, examines the digital pitch correction tool Auto-Tune. In this chapter, the authors combine a general discussion of the use of pitch correction by hip-hop and pop artists with an analysis of Bon Iver’s “Woods” in order to consider what the use of Auto-Tune says about the relationship between humans and technology and to explore how artists incorporate it overtly to communicate meaning.

Each of these analytical chapters emphasizes the experiential aspect of digital signatures, demonstrating how the use of digital technology can be made apparent to the listener. Importantly, these analyses not only pinpoint moments of opaque digital mediation, but additionally investigate how these instances have the potential to influence the meaning of the music being analyzed. The authors also stress that while many of these sonic effects were not necessarily impossible to achieve prior to digital technologies, they were significantly more challenging to produce and thus less feasible as creative tools.

Because each of these chapters is independent, the book covers a wide range of distinct examples of digital signatures. However, the chapters’ standalone nature does mean that none of the topics can be explored in extensive detail, and results in a somewhat fragmented structure to the book. The analyses, however, are concise and convincing, and are supported by a host of relevant references, further demonstrating Brøvig-Hanssen and Danielsen’s facility with the material. Figures featuring spectrograms, wave data, and musical notation appear frequently throughout the analytical chapters and assist in demonstrating the authors’ claims; the spectrograms and wave data are especially effective, as they allow the reader to visualize the specific instances of digital intervention that the authors discuss. (One can, for instance, clearly see the overt use of pitch correction in Bon Iver’s “Woods” by looking at the spectrogram in Figure 7.1, page 122). The writing, while unmistakably academic, remains clear and engaging throughout and avoids excessive technical language, making it equally accessible to an audience unfamiliar with digital technology as it is to those with a deeper understanding of the subject matter.

It is worth noting that while certain burgeoning fields of research, such as record production, have investigated the relationship between technology and music, this research has tended to focus on aspects such as economics and the technology itself. Consequently, musical analysis is frequently shifted to the sidelines. By emphasizing musical analysis in the context of digital mediation, Digital Signatures carves out a unique space in a relatively untapped area of research and will hopefully serve as a foundation for future work in this area.

Digital Signatures provides a necessary step towards connecting the study of digital recording technology with musical analysis and successfully offers insight into some of the more prominent and significant examples of digital signatures. The book will prove invaluable for anyone interested in recording technology and the links between digital mediation and the creation, aesthetics, and meaning of popular music.

1 Ragnhild Brøvig-Hanssen. "Music in Bits and Bits of Music: Digital Signatures in Popular Music Recordings" (PhD dissertation, University of Oslo, 2013).
2 In addition to her own writings, Danielsen has also edited a collection on musical rhythm and digital technology. See Musical Rhythm in the Age of Digital Reproduction. Farnham, UK: Ashgate, 2010.

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Italian Birds of Passage: The Diaspora of Neapolitan Musicians in New York. Simona Frasca. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014. 263pp. ISBN: 9781137322418. Hardcover.
   Dorothy Glick Maglione
, University of Kansas

Over four million Italian immigrants arrived in the United States between 1880 and 1924. Simona Frasca sheds lights on this community by delving into the intricacies of musical dialogue between Italy and America in Italian Birds of Passage: The Diaspora of Neapolitan Musicians in New York. An English translation of her 2010 Italian publication, this work details the relatively unexplored narrative of Neapolitan song in the United States. New immigrants absorbed American musical habits and tastes through cultural assimilation while they struggled to maintain connections with Italy. Probing aspects of this cultural duality within the immigrant community, Frasca reveals its manifestation in popular Neapolitan song. She identifies numerous immigrants who performed and recorded Neapolitan song, often highlighting the careers of lesser-known individuals. Her engaging work does not sever music from the human immigrant experience. Addressing social complexities, Frasca also grapples with the discrimination, stereotyping, and identity struggles many immigrant performers faced as they assimilated to life in New York.

Setting the stage for her work on Neapolitan song, Frasca describes the early twentieth-century New York Italian American population in the first chapter. She conveys not only the locations and sizes of the major Italian neighborhoods but also introduces the most widely circulated periodicals, important religious holidays, popular music venues, and Italian-language radio programs. In the second and longest chapter, Frasca continues exploring this community through Enrico Caruso’s career. She begins the chapter by demonstrating the influence of the Italian-language press in New York. The editors of La follia de New York aimed to maintain Italian roots and present a positive image of the Italian community. This weekly periodical not only included advertisements and reviews of musical happenings in the city but also featured, from 1906 on, a caricature drawn exclusively for the paper by Caruso. Additionally, Caruso found his way into the home through the Victor Talking Machine Company. Frasca provides a brief history of the gramophone and phonograph and outlines how the Victor Talking Machine Company’s use of Caruso as a marketing tool shifted the American perception of Italian immigrants. He was an Italian immigrant “who achieved social status and was self-determined-within the dimensions that define the model of an immigrant ’self-made man’ ” (42). As a star at the Metropolitan Opera, Caruso offered immigrants the opportunity to be proud of their ethnicity. Frasca then turns her attention to analyses of several of the twenty-one Neapolitan songs Caruso recorded. Addressing both works created solely in America and those Frasca calls hybrids, “born midway between Naples and New York,” she highlights Italian and American influences and aspects (55). The final subsection of the chapter compares the careers of Caruso and Louis Armstrong in an attempt to investigate the difficulty of situating southern Italian immigrants in the polarized race classification system of early twentieth-century America—a problem further complicated by the prejudices that existed between northern and southern Italians.

By examining the careers of Caruso’s contemporaries in the third chapter, Frasca exposes how the nuances of Italian culture were represented in entertainment. As music and theater were prime vehicles both for introducing immigrants to the moral and economic views that defined the American way of life and for reinforcing traditional Italian values, the author illustrates evidence of migration through detailed linguistic and rhythmic analysis. Frasca notes instances of Italian words in English songs and the use of words that hybridize English and Italian by combining Italian dialects with Anglo-American terms. Several case studies, including that of Eduardo Migliaccio, provide context and repertoire for analysis. Known on the stage as Farfariello, an examination of Migliaccio’s career offers a look into the macchietta, or sketch. The macchietta presented stereotypes of European immigrants in a comical way to large audiences. Migliaccio was a successful performer who often dressed in traditional costumes and, through humor, confronted the “recesses of Italian immigration” (83). Through linguistic analysis, Frasca unmasks the migration narrative in several of Migliaccio’s popular songs before expanding her scope to include similar examples from the work of other Italian American performers.

Shifting the gaze from New York, the fourth chapter deals with artists who returned to Italy. Frasca first examines the career of Dan Casler, highlighting his connections to Irving Berlin, Broadway, and the Original Dixieland Jazz Band. Born in Naples, Casler immigrated to the United States only to return to Italy with the economic slump in 1929. His late cinematic work in Italy contains evidence of his first-hand experience with American popular music during his tenure in New York. Frasca expands the conversation to include other aspects of American music in Naples, including a brief discussion of the dissemination of jazz through records, scores, and performances during the First World War. The habanera rhythm present in “O sole mio,” for example, reflects the influence of tango and the Argentine presence in Italy. The author concludes the chapter with case studies of poet E.A. Mario and composer and arranger Gaetano Lama.

Frasca devotes the fifth chapter to important Italian American women performers and the gendered aspects of several early twentieth-century popular genres. Beginning with a brief overview of the feminization of silent films and vaudeville shows, Frasca compares the differences between women’s roles in Italy and America and discusses the increasing societal interest in all-female ensembles. As in many of the previous chapters, several individuals with noteworthy careers are detailed with a brief analysis of features epitomizing the blend of two cultures. The most successful Italian immigrant women artists—Mimì Aguglia, Gilda Mignonette, and Teresa De Matienzo—are described at length, and Frasca provides the extant details of their singing and acting careers in both Italy and America. Additional vaudeville and stage performers are included in the final subsection of the chapter. Overall, the chapter delivers a fascinating look at an underrepresented population of performers in a historic period characterized by changing gender roles in society.

Chapter six returns to the history of record labels, integrating specific figures who worked as conductors and arrangers. Considering both the Italian and American markets, Frasca illuminates aspects of immigrant music engagement and consumption. Alfredo Cibelli is Frasca’s example of a well-rounded musician who, as the head of the foreign department of the Victor Talking Machine Company, played a significant role in the Italian American immigrant music narrative. After a brief examination of race records, this concise chapter closes with a discussion of two Victor employees, director and arranger Rosario Bourbon and conductor Nathaniel Shilkret.

Simona Frasca’s scholarship established a foundation for inquiry into Neapolitan song and exposed the careers of many forgotten figures. Two years after the publication of Italian Birds of Passage, the 2016 collection of essays, Neapolitan Postcards: The Canzone Napoletana as Transnational Subject, edited by Goffredo Plastino, expanded upon Frasca’s scholarship, thereby broadening the field. The groundbreaking work in Italian Birds of Passage provides a departure point for similar studies on subsequent immigration periods, as well as an investigation into the treatment of Neapolitan song by second-generation Italian musicians. Detailed and well-organized, this work provides an overarching look into a captivating and underresearched aspect of early twentieth-century music.

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Songs of Sorrow: Lucy McKim Garrison and Slave Songs of the United States. Samuel Charters. University Press of Mississippi, 2015. 352 pp. ISBN: 9781628462067. Paperback.
   Rebekah Alexis Hutten
, University of Ottawa

Samuel Charters, the prolific author of twenty-four books, described the purpose of his work as follows: “For me, the writing about black music was my way of fighting racism. That’s why my work is not academic, that is why it is absolutely nothing but popularization: I wanted people to hear black music.”1 The final book he wrote before his death in 2015 furthers his life-long goal of popularizing African American musical traditions by extending his work to the genre of slave songs. Charters does not provide a definition of slave songs, but the music he writes about was created during the Civil War (1861–1865), during which abolitionists provided relief services to newly-freed slaves. This body of music included improvised call-and-response songs, hymns, spirituals, songs that had been sung on plantations, and songs that were sung during and after African Americans were freed from slavery. (A more accurate descriptor for this repertoire might be “African American Civil War folk songs.”)

The historical period during which slave songs were collected was brief. Following Northern capture of Southern plantations in November 1861, a number of the abolitionists helping to establish freed African Americans began writing down the melodies and texts of their songs in an effort to preserve this fascinating oral tradition before the songs and their usage were lost to history. Lucy McKim was one of these abolitionist song collectors, and was an influential force behind the publication of the first substantial collection of slave songs. Pioneering female ethnomusicologists are not often given full-length biographical consideration, and therefore Charters’s Songs of Sorrow: Lucy McKim Garrison and Slave Songs of the United States is a welcome addition to writings on the role of women in nineteenth-century American ethnomusicology.

Following an introductory chapter, the book explores the origins of the McKim family and the events that led up to the Civil War. Charters illuminates how a growing consciousness of slave songs as an idiomatic folk genre developed among Northern abolitionists. Much of the narrative revolves around events that took place at Port Royal in 1861. Charters describes in meticulous detail how Union soldiers captured Port Royal. He recounts how freed slaves sang improvised songs while bringing their masters to be imprisoned by Union soldiers. Charters outlines McKim’s formative visit to Port Royal, where she served as her father’s secretary for approximately one month. During this time, McKim collected songs sung by freed slaves, two of which she arranged for voice and piano and later published.

While one might expect that Charters would focus primarily on McKim’s role as an early ethnomusicologist, he next turns to her love life, the topic that occupies the middle chapters of the book. While grieving for her first sweetheart, who died in battle, McKim meets Wendell Garrison, whom she began courting. Charters maintains that McKim was undoubtedly happy in her domestic life and adapted to her roles as wife and mother with ease, but McKim’s own words suggest otherwise, as she clearly stated that she was reluctant to give up her independence prior to her marriage. In a letter to Wendell, she wrote: “I like you very much, better than any man I know. You excite in me the warmest admiration and respect. But I love no one. I feel strong and independent alone. Life is brimming with excitement and occupation. The world seems wide before me. I am so young: freedom is so sweet: I cannot part with it” (159). Following the middle chapters, Charters adopts a more politically-driven approach, examining Lincoln’s re-election and assassination, the early years of the Reconstruction era, and how women’s rights were mostly ignored by male abolitionists, thereby providing more context for the reader to appreciate McKim’s frustration with her domestic situation.2

Charters explains the making of Slave Songs of the United States past the midpoint of the volume. He writes that McKim was devoted to the project, but unfortunately does not clearly state her role. Charters should have noted from the outset of the book that McKim was in fact a co-editor of the book along with her husband Wendell Garrison, William Francis Allen, and Charles Pickard Ware, all of whom were also Northern abolitionists. As a co-editor, McKim curated songs from the personal collections of people who spent time at Port Royal, rather than—as Charters leads readers to believe—collecting them in a field setting.

In the closing chapters of Songs of Sorrow, Charters concentrates on McKim’s rapidly declining health and her death in 1877. The final chapter briefly describes the lives and deaths of other central figures who appear throughout the book. Charters then includes three appendices that elaborate on the slave songs themselves. These appendices are analytic, briefly explaining the musical qualities of the songs as well as their social functions within American slave culture. The information provided is undeniably intriguing, but still seems to fall short: why, for example, were descriptions of the music not included in the book proper, and why is so little time spent on explaining the social function of the slave songs within the complex cultural conditions that reigned in the United States? In the book, Charters dedicates more space to describing McKim’s personal love life than to explaining her work on Slave Songs. This authorial choice is disappointing, given that the title of the book would lead one to believe that it would address her intellectual work more heavily than her romantic relationships.

Future studies of Lucy McKim’s life, research on abolitionist ethnomusicologists, and examinations of the musical content and social function of slave songs would benefit greatly from employing theoretical frameworks and methodological tools from the fields of musicology, critical race theory, and feminist studies. Critiques and discussions of abolitionists (including McKim and her family) who enjoyed watching blackface minstrel shows would have been extremely valuable, but this is an area that Charters unfortunately shies away from.3

Future critical work might explore issues of ethical methodology in nineteenth-century ethnomusicology, or investigate the ramifications of romanticizing a white woman who collected the songs of African Americans without giving the African American song creators any credit by name. One might also assess how McKim’s published arrangements of slave songs relied on the tradition of European music, which inevitably distorted the songs’ original function within slave culture. Though Charters’s goal was to fight racism through his research and writing, he regrettably reinforced white supremacist ideologies by avoiding issues of systemic power within McKim’s own work.

In Charters’s decisions neither to adopt an analytical approach to understanding the slave songs’ function in the cultural life of African Americans nor to address methodological issues in the songs’ collection, he has left a space for other scholars’ research. Yet in spite of its critical shortcomings, Songs of Sorrow is a useful biographical document for future study and reference.

1 Larry Rohter, “Samuel Charters, Foundational Scholar of the Blues, Dies at 65,” New York Times, March 18, 2015.
2 McKim’s frustration can be seen in a letter to Ellen, where she wrote “Would that I could put a nightgown & tooth-brush in to that same bag, & run on to spend a week with you without other baggage & without children. But you know how it is” (Charters, p. 234).
3 Examples of Charters’ describing the McKim’s and other abolitionists’ involvement in minstrel shows can be found on pp. 40–42 and p. 162 in Songs of Sorrow.

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The Hell-Bound Train: A Cowboy Songbook (Second Edition). Glenn Ohrlin, ed. Charlie Seemann. Texas Tech University Press, 2016. 269pp. ISBN: 9780896729629. Paperback.
   Joanna Zattiero
, University of Texas-Austin

Originally published in 1973 as part of the University of Illinois Music in America series and out of print for many years since, the second edition of Glenn Ohrlin’s compilation of cowboy songs, poems, and anecdotes is a welcome addition to scholarship in American music. Included in this edition are both the original foreword from the first edition, written by folklorist Archie Green, and an editor’s note on the new edition written by Charlie Seemann, Executive Director Emeritus of the Western Folklife Center in Elko, Nevada. Both the original foreword and Seemann’s note on the new edition serve as important resources in their own right, at once positioning Ohrlin and his work within the context of cowboy and popular American culture and providing a useful introduction to cowboy culture, history, and musical life in general.

Glenn Ohrlin (1926–2015) was a working cowboy for most of his life as well as a rodeo competitor, a well-respected performer and historian of cowboy songs, an illustrator, and a storyteller. Unlike most other collectors of cowboy songs, Ohrlin knew the profession firsthand and understood the topics, tropes, and styles present in the music he dedicated much of his life to. His cowboy songbook includes 100 works, each with an introduction that provides the provenance of the piece as well as other relevant information such as how he came to know different variations of the lyrics or music, how he found the work to be relevant to his own life and experiences, when and where he may have performed the piece, and, for those songs that he composed himself, what inspired him. These introductory notes are easily as important as the songs themselves, as they offer an important window through which to view the songs’ movement through both time and space, at least as far as Ohrlin was aware.

The reader will find many well-known songs within this collection, such as “The Strawberry Roan” and “The Cowboy’s Christmas Ball,” as well as lesser-known songs, such as “Jake and Roanie” and “The Stray” (a song Ohrlin composed based on the text of the poem “The Estrays,” which he discovered in the magazine Bit and Spur in 1948). Many songs that Ohrlin chose to highlight clearly reference landmarks and events from across the various regions of North America. These include “Saskatchewan” and “Chuck Wagon Races” (both songs that reference Canadian cowboy culture), “The Sierry Petes,” “My Home’s in Montana” (a song sung to the same tune as the classic “Cowboy’s Lament,” which is also known as “The Streets of Laredo”), and the humorous “The Swede from North Dakota.” Also of interest are the songs that Ohrlin carefully notes as deriving from Irish and English folksongs, such as “Charlie Quantrell, Oh,” “Paddy on the Turnpike,” and “Button Willow Tree.” While not every song in the collection directly references specific elements of the cowboy lifestyle, all have been passed down through aural tradition as cowboys sang around myriad campfires and bunkhouses, at rodeos across the country, and at music festivals and other social gatherings.

Particularly important to the collection’s value are Judith McCulloh’s clear and concise musical transcriptions, which accompany most, but not all, of the included songs. Tempo markings and notation for the first, and sometimes second, stanzas of these pieces are provided, and McCulloh’s brief introductory note sheds some light on the transcription process and her desire to “give a general notion of each tune” rather than to try and provide exacting transcriptions (xxv). These transcriptions are extremely helpful when referencing the works included in this edition because most other collections of cowboy song, including Jack Thorp’s highly influential Songs of the Cowboys and John and Alan Lomax’s Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads include, at best, only one line of music for each song—and these are often of questionable provenance.

The focus of Ohrlin’s work is at once musicological, historical, and folkloric. His thorough and detailed introductions concerning each song coupled with his engaging anecdotes provide information about the history of these works and shed light both on the nature of his own musical life and on cowboy and folk culture of the mid-twentieth century. Anyone interested in the culture and history of the American West, and particularly that of working cowboys and folk singers, will surely find The Hell-Bound Train of great interest. Its scope is both narrow, focusing on cowboy songs of the American West during the early- to mid-twentieth century, and broad, taking perspectives from folklore, history, and musicology. One could compare this work in many ways to much of the Western landscape itself—finely detailed yet still wide open, accessible for as far as the eye can see.

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Depression Folk: Grassroots Music and Left-Wing Politics in 1930s America. Ronald D. Cohen. The University of North Carolina Press, 2016. 201 pp. ISBN: 9781469630465. Hardcover.
   Christy J. Miller
, University of Kansas

Depression Folk is Ronald Cohen’s most recent addition to his already extensive body of work on twentieth-century American folk music. Some of his previous publications on the subject include accounts of the 1950s and 1960s folk revival, including “Wasn’t That a Time!” (1995), Rainbow Quest (2002), and Roots of the Revival (coauthored with Rachel Clare Donaldson, 2014), and volumes illuminating the involvement of significant individuals, such as Woody Guthrie: Writing America’s Songs (2012) and Alan Lomax, Assistant in Charge (2010). Depression Folk examines the position of folk music within what Cohen describes as the “political, economical, cultural, and social maelstrom of the Depression years” (4). As the subtitle suggests, discussions of the impact of political forces on folk music are threaded throughout, but in no way is this simply a book on music and politics. Cohen masterfully weaves together the many streams of musical, cultural, and political activity that characterized the 1930s. The result is an immensely readable narrative that does considerable justice to the dynamic nature of a complicated decade in America’s history.

The structure of the book is generally chronological, with most chapters addressing only two or three years. Internally, Cohen divides each chapter using subheadings, which allows him to explore several concurrent historical movements without forcing them into a single, linear narrative. The author embraces a broad definition of folk music, and as a result Depression Folk at various times touches on “hillbilly (country) songs, rural blues, spirituals, cowboy songs, western swing, ethnic music and performers, singer-songwriters, labor songsters, and various others” (5).

Chapter 1 discusses folk music prior to the stock market crash of 1929. Cohen describes the folk song collecting efforts of Carl Sandburg, Robert Gordon, and others. He also pays homage to the early commercial recordings of folk music, discussing performers like the Carter family and Jimmie Rodgers. Most notably, the chapter maintains that folk music was largely apolitical throughout the 1920s. Chapter 2 then describes how folk music became more politically assertive, focusing on the early years of the Depression through the end of the Hoover administration. Here, Cohen explores the precipitous decline of the music industry, the labor songs of Aunt Molly Jackson and Ella May Wiggins, the early songbooks of the Communist Party, and the response of popular songwriters to the national crisis.

The third chapter focuses on the early Roosevelt years (1933–1934), and Cohen offers succinct explanations of contemporary international politics and FDR’s New Deal. John and Alan Lomax are featured in this chapter, as is Huddie Ledbetter (Lead Belly). Cohen expands upon the Communist Party narrative begun in the previous chapter with a discussion of the activities of modernist composers like Charles Seeger. Additionally, the chapter gives ample credit to the roles of radio, published song folios, and folk festivals in disseminating folk music repertory to a broadening American audience.

Chapter 4 extends the discussion of the New Deal programs and policies through the year 1936. The chapter traces the activities of Alan Lomax throughout his collecting trips in the southern United States and the Bahamas and into his employment at the Library of Congress. In another section, Cohen describes the Communist Party’s growing interest in traditional heritage and folklore, and thereby in folk music. New musicians on the nascent folk scene are also introduced in this chapter, including Pete Seeger and Josh White.

Chapter 5 centers on 1937, though Cohen positions many of the chapter’s topics within the surrounding chronological context. This chapter devotes considerable attention to the founding of left-wing labor schools and their use of songs to promote political agendas, and Cohen introduces future Almanac Singers Agnes “Sis” Cunningham and Lee Hays in this context. Woody Guthrie emerges in this chapter, and his early songs are contextualized alongside the Dust Bowl and the plight of the country’s many Depression migrants. The Lomax narrative continues, and Cohen’s discussion of the burgeoning New York City folk scene brings together musicians such as Lead Belly, Earl Robinson, Aunt Molly Jackson, and Abel Meeropol. Chapter 6 then explores how folk music began to influence other cultural expressions in the late 1930s, including theater and published folk song collections. Additionally, Cohen looks at the role of folk music and other political songs in the Peace Movement prior to US entry into the Second World War.

The heavily weighted seventh chapter describes the end of the decade, which saw a significant reduction of governmental support for folk music as many of the New Deal policies lost funding. At the same time, the chapter details other settings in which folk music was experiencing growing attention. Alan Lomax began to shift his attention toward promoting urban music making with the CBS radio programs American School of the Air and Back Where I Come From. Roy Harris’s Folksong Symphony and other works stand as testimony to the interest of classically trained composers in folk material. The chapter also calls attention to the late 1930s convergence in New York City of many individuals who would play influential roles in the coming folk revival, a thread that Cohen continues in the book’s epilogue.

Depression Folk is a strong addition to the canon of Depression era and folk music studies. Cohen gives careful attention to the national and global contexts of his subject matter, and several of the chapters open with brief but informative summaries of the immediate cultural and political context. One of the volume’s greatest strengths is its easy navigability, with clear subheadings appearing frequently within each chapter. Likewise, the thorough index is helpful for revisiting fine details. An eight-page gallery of illustrations in the center of the book contains several fascinating songbook covers and other printed ephemera, including—most interestingly—the full program for the 1940 “Grapes of Wrath Evening” benefit held for the John Steinbeck Committee for Agricultural Workers.

In Depression Folk, Cohen handles a complicated era in American history with deft surety. He guides the reader through the decade with explanations that even non-specialist readers will find readily intelligible, a feat that is accomplished without compromising the complexity of his multifaceted narrative. It is a skilled writer who can transmit an abundance of evidence-backed information while still weaving a compelling read. In Depression Folk, Ronald Cohen manages this task with grace and ease.

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Stephen Sondheim and the Reinvention of the American Musical. Robert L. McLaughlin. University Press of Mississippi, 2016. 301pp. ISBN: 9781496808554. Hardcover.
   Samantha M. Cooper
, New York University

Stephen Sondheim and the Reinvention of the American Musical is a well-constructed literary analysis of the postmodern elements at play in the works of Stephen Sondheim. Within this text, Robert L. McLaughlin’s goal is “to use postmodernism as a frame through which to look at the musical theater and the plays of Sondheim and his collaborators,” while at the same time positioning Sondheim’s works as the “bridge between the musical theater of his mentor, Oscar Hammerstein II, and the postmodern musical theater of the 1970s” (viii). McLaughlin explains that, although others also wrote postmodern musical theater, Sondheim and his collaborators set the intellectual and aesthetic standards that have continued to dominate the genre into the present day (x). McLaughlin comments on the connections between postmodern literature, culture, and musical theater, offering readers a text that aims “to put Sondheim’s work in conversation with its cultural moment” (vii). In doing so, he makes a compelling case for the continued study of musical theater with the same intellectual rigor, academic methodology, and respectful attitude that are consistently applied by scholars to other art forms.

As an English scholar, McLaughlin differs from musicologists in his approach to Sondheim’s works and music. McLaughlin plays to his strengths, avoiding traditional biographical methodologies and musical analyses in favor of literary criticism. He offers his text as a response to the call for postmodern and poststructural theoretical approaches to Sondheim’s musicals that appeared in Stephen Banfield’s Sondheim’s Broadway Musicals (University of Michigan Press, 1995).

Chapter 1, “Instructions to the Audience,” opens by defining postmodernism and its connection to musical theater. According to McLaughlin, postmodernism is “marked by an awareness—perhaps a hyperawareness—of the ways in which language mediates between us and our experience of the world” (4). Postmodernist artworks are self-referential, intertextual, and performative, and they use these modes to challenge socially constructed identity formations.

To establish Sondheim’s place in the historical trajectory of Broadway musical theater development and to articulate how he and his collaborators became skilled crafters of the form, McLaughlin outlines the Broadway musical’s aesthetic development. McLaughlin groups the American musical theater practices of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s together, suggesting that, in these decades, musical theater was dominated by formulaic musical comedies. Subsequently, there was a shift towards the realist aesthetic propagated by Rodgers and Hammerstein in the 1940s and 1950s. By the 1960s, McLaughlin claims that a new kind of musical had emerged; this creation imbued the self-referential, intertextual, and performative aspects of the musical comedy form with intellectual significance, sophistication, and seriousness. To display this early shift towards the post-modern musical, McLaughlin offers the examples of Sondheim’s Do I Hear a Waltz? (1965) and Evening Primrose (1966).

Chapter 2, “Opening Doors,” examines Sondheim’s shows from the 1950s and 1960s in order to contextualize the transition from the Rodgers and Hammerstein realist aesthetic towards Sondheim’s postmodern aesthetic. In great detail, McLaughlin explores how Sondheim’s lyrics for West Side Story (1957) and Gypsy (1959), as well as his music and lyrics for A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum (1962), and Anyone Can Whistle (1964) moved away from “golden age” musical theater conventions and towards the postmodernist challenging of norms of power, identity, narrative, and knowledge. McLaughlin concludes the chapter by demonstrating why it is truly Company (1970), with its complete eschewal of narrative structure and discrediting of inherited societal certainties, that was the first postmodern musical.

Chapter 3, “With So Little to Be Sure Of,” concentrates on Sondheim’s collaborations with director Harold Prince on their musicals Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), Pacific Overtures (1976), Sweeney Todd (1979), and Merrily We Roll Along (1981). Since these productions came to fruition during the high point of cultural postmodernism in the United States, they are highly experimental in nature. McLaughlin uses textual analysis as well as cultural theory to demonstrate how each musical challenges and undermines structures that provide meaning, such as narrative. These works also question conventional understandings of ontological and epistemological knowledge production and identity formation.

Chapter 4, “Take Me to the World,” investigates Sondheim’s musicals from the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s, including Sunday in the Park with George (1984), Into the Woods (1987), Assassins (1991), Passion (1994), The Frogs (2004), and Road Show (2008). These shows differ not only in how they were created—namely, through a process of presentation and refinement in nonprofit theater venues—but also in how they confront reality. Faced with what McLaughlin terms “postmodern backlash” (148), Sondheim and his collaborators grew tired of postmodernism and responded by writing musicals that problematized representation, narrative construction of knowledge, and the making of meaning. In short, they began to use their productions to look outwards towards people and society.

Chapter 5, “Move On,” serves as the text’s conclusion. In this chapter, McLaughlin looks broadly at the contemporary musical theater landscape and assesses how some of Sondheim’s contemporaries have engaged with postmodernism and reacted to the precedents that he has set.

McLaughlin’s Stephen Sondheim and the Reinvention of the American Musical provides an important starting point for the investigation of musical theater with the tools of literary analysis and historical deconstruction. Conscious of the fact that the object of his study is still alive, McLaughlin defers to the composer and professes some hesitancy in writing about, around, or on behalf of Sondheim. While McLaughlin makes strides by focusing on texts and plots, future works written for music studies audiences may wish to offer a more holistic treatment of the musical as an embodied and interdisciplinary art form.

McLaughlin’s research has relevance not only for musicologists but for scholars of American studies, cultural studies, drama studies, literary studies, musical theater studies, and performance studies, and his detailed writing invites repeated reading. As part of his analysis, McLaughlin dialogues with essential scholars of the humanities, including Louis Althusser, Mikhail Bakhtin, Homi Bhabha, Ernest Bormann, and Michel Foucault. One of the book’s strengths is its potential appeal to undergraduates, graduate students, and general readers interested in postmodern musical creations. While readers might have been able to better appreciate McLaughlin’s excellent primary and secondary source research if his publishers had opted for footnotes instead of endnotes, aficionados of musical theater will certainly appreciate the author’s covert, witty references to Sondheim’s lyrics that are sprinkled throughout the text. By making a provocative case for how postmodern theory can help us understand Broadway musicals in a new way, McLaughlin’s text will remain a helpful and instructive literary contribution.

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Bulletin Board

Peter Bloom
Peter Bloom
Flutist Peter H. Bloom marked his 40th season with the Aardvark Jazz Orchestra as the band performed Fall and Winter concerts, including director Mark Harvey’s Swamp-A-Rama Suite at MIT Cambridge; classics and rarities by Duke Ellington at the Silver Center (Plymouth, New Hampshire); and music by Mark Harvey on themes of peace and justice at the band’s historic 45th Annual Christmas Concert (Emmanuel Church Boston). In other American music concerts, Bloom performed premieres by Karl Henning (Tiny Wild Avocadoes and Kurosawa’s Scarecrow) at King’s Chapel Boston; Music and Dance from the Great American Songbook with The Modernistics in the Walker Series (Concord, New Hampshire); and multiple shows of Blues, Ballads and Bebop with his own jazz duos and trios in venues across New England.

Joe Horowitz’s six-year-old “Music Unwound” consortium, now funded three times by the NEH, supports thematic festivals dealing with topics in American music. It also links orchestras and music festivals to high schools and universities. The South Dakota Symphony “Dvořák and America” festival took the New World Symphony to an Indian reservation. The El Paso Symphony/University of Texas at El Paso “Copland and Mexico” festival crossed the border into Juárez. Most recently, the Las Vegas Philharmonic’s “Copland and Mexico” festival forged a partnership with the University of Nevada. This spring South Dakota tackles “Copland and Mexico” and El Paso explores “Kurt Weill’s America.” The Music Unwound Weill festivals have spawned a music theater piece, “Change the World, It Needs It!,” juxtaposing Weill, Brecht, and Blitztstein. Its co-creators are Horowitz and Kim Kowalke. For information, see Joe’s blog.

Joe’s DC-based PostClassical Ensemble this spring pays tribute to Harry Burleigh and Samuel Coleridge-Taylor with an immersion experience titled “The Legacy of the Sorrow Songs.” PCE’s “Deep River: The Art of the Spiritual” will be broadcast live over the WWFM Classical Network—whose “PostClassical” radio series has so far created two-hour features exploring “Dvořák and Hiawatha,” the Lou Harrison Centenary, “Copland and the Cold War,” and “The Most Under-rated 20th Century American Composer” (Bernard Herrmann). These and other PostClassical programs are archived online. Joe’s book-in-progress, Using the Past, proposes a new template for the history of American classical music.

Esther Morgan-Ellis has published a book entitled Everybody Sing!: Community Singing in the American Picture Palace (UGA Press). During the 1920s, a visit to the movie theater almost always included a sing-along. Patrons joined together to render old favorites and recent hits, usually accompanied by the strains of a mighty Wurlitzer organ. The organist was responsible for choosing the repertoire and presentation style that would appeal to his or her patrons, so each theater offered a unique experience. When sound technology drove both musicians and participatory culture out of the theater in the early 1930s, the practice faded and was eventually forgotten. Despite the popularity and ubiquity of community singing—it was practiced in every state, in theaters large and small—there has been scant research on the topic. This volume is the first dedicated account of community singing in the picture palace. As such, it presents the origins of theater sing-alongs in the prewar community singing movement, describes the basic components of a sing-along, explores the unique presentation styles of several organists, and assesses the aftermath of sound technology, including the sing-along films and children’s matinees of the 1930s. It includes nearly one hundred images, such as photographs of the movie houses’ opulent interiors, reproductions of sing-along slides, and stills from the original Screen Songs “follow the bouncing ball” cartoons.

The words and music of the Shakers contains some of the most beautiful and meaningful messages from America’s past. Their religious folk music was composed by both women (Sisters) and men (Brethren) from the 18th to 20th centuries. Shaker music has become increasingly popular in our time and has been performed and recorded by non-Shaker musicians, especially their best-known song, “Simple Gifts” (first line: “Tis the gift to be simple”). Roger Lee Hall, Director of the Center for American Music Preservation (CAMP), has studied and performed music of the Shakers for over forty years. Now he has prepared a new collection titled “Invitation to Zion”: A Shaker Music Guide (2017). Available on a multimedia computer disc, it includes the Guide to Shaker Music, published by PineTree Press, which includes a supplement about one of the most prominent Shaker composers, Issachar Bates (1758–1837). Also on the disc are arrangements of Shaker tunes, and several concert videos of Shaker music arrangements performed by The Canterbury Singers in New Hampshire, directed by Kathryn Southworth. Read about this informative computer disc at CAMP’s website.

Barbara B. Heyman notes that Samuel Barber’s Vanessa will be performed at the Glyndebourne Festival in August, where she provided the program notes and will be giving a talk. She is also working on the second edition of Samuel Barber: The Composer and His Music, which will be published by Oxford University Press.

Douglas W. Shadle won a 2017 ASCAP Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award for his book Orchestrating the Nation: The Nineteenth-Century American Symphonic Enterprise.

Judy Tsou was named an Honorary Member of the American Musicological Society at its business meeting in Rochester, New York in November. She was honored for her work in both musicology and music librarianship. The honorary text, in part, reads, that her “work on race and gender in music has been pioneering, and . . . [she has] been at the forefront of writing about representations of race in sheet music and opera. . . As a music librarian, [her] contributions to music copyright were visionary, and [she has] led the way in collection building, worldwide integration of new technologies, and the preservation of sound archives. [Her] leadership led to the merging of IAML and MLA and includes [her] presidency of the Society for American Music.” In addition, she was recognized for her many contributions to AMS, including chairing the committees of Status of Women, Music in American Culture Award, and on Race and Ethnicity, as well as serving on the Board of the Journal of the American Musicological Society.

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In Remembrance

The Heart of Rae Linda Brown

Rae Linda Brown
Rae Linda Brown
Dr. Rae Linda Brown (1953–2017) recognized Florence Price’s “perseverance and commitment to musical excellence” in her groundbreaking critical edition of the composer’s symphonies. As someone who knew Rae Linda for thirty years, I can say that she, herself, possessed these same qualities and more.

Although she’s been a fixture throughout my professional life, I can’t recall precisely when we met. It was probably at a national gathering of African American composers, music theorists, music scholars, and performers convened by our mutual friend and mentor the late Samuel A. Floyd, Jr. and his juggernaut, the Center for Black Music Research. As an aspiring musicologist, I’m sure that she was introduced as someone I needed to know. And for good reason. At that time, Rae Linda was a young assistant professor of music history, having earned an undergraduate degree in music education from the University of Connecticut, a master’s degree in African American Studies and a PhD in musicology, both from Yale University. And on top of all that, she was an accomplished organist. As an African-American woman of that time, these credentials and experience, quite frankly, made Rae Linda a very rare individual.

It would be easy to be intimidated by someone with that background. But I learned quickly that beyond being highly respected and accomplished, she was also supportive, down to earth, and possessed a ready, dry sense of humor. A good part of the joke for me was the intensity with which she stared you down after saying something witty—always with an infectious, sly grin that expressed both a resolute self-control and a desire to connect. Rae Linda carried herself with confidence and a regal sense of dignity. She became a mentor, confidant and friend. And I wanted to be like her.

Rae Linda’s most visible recognition was due to her scholarship about Florence B. Price, a prominent African American woman composer from the 1930s to 1950s. She gained her reputation when the Chicago Symphony Orchestra premiered her Symphony in E Minor in 1933. It was the first time a major American orchestra had performed a large-scale work by an African American woman composer.

I don’t recall ever speaking to Rae Linda specifically about her childhood in Hartford, Connecticut or the fact that she came from a highly musical family. But I imagine her as an intensely inquisitive young musician. The same person who would, years later as a graduate student, serendipitously stumble onto a Price score while cataloguing an unwieldy archive. There, in the disarray, she discovered her Price, the pioneer. Ultimately Rae Linda would go on to become the international authority on the composer, writing articles and creating critical editions of Price’s piano and orchestral music, activities that brought the former star before new audiences. She had completed a still-unpublished biography of Price, The Heart of a Woman, which at the time I read through it as her research assistant, revealed not only profound insights into her music but also accounted for the personal challenges the composer faced being an exceptional woman of her time in the arts.

Rae Linda had other areas of expertise. When she left her first faculty position at the University of Michigan for the University of California, Irvine, she helped to develop its jazz studies program. Rae Linda loved jazz and was a dedicated teacher of its history. She talked to me a lot about the musicians she found moving, what was new and what had made an impact on her. Just as she championed the Western art music of African American composers and performers, she was also a promoter of the jazz musicians in her circle.

At Irvine, she grew interested in administration, becoming Chair of the Department of Music and ultimately moving into upper administration as faculty assistant to the executive vice chancellor and provost and serving as dean of several interdisciplinary programs. During that time, she was President of the Society for American Music (1999–2001), the first African American to hold that position. I remember her presiding over the annual business meeting in which a discussion took place that would change the name of the group from the Sonneck Society. It was a somewhat contentious moment, but she presided over the proceedings with her usual calm and poised professionalism. She was clearly a builder.

In 2008, her gifts for administration led her to become Associate Provost for Undergraduate Education at Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles. When I visited campus one year, I was stunned to hear her play organ for the convocation. This was a side of her I’d only heard about. I thought to myself they’d really hit the jackpot with an administrator who was also a working musician. Indeed, Rae Linda seemed to always keep a church gig, something I always admired. I’m sure playing brought her joy, satisfaction and balance. Her last and most impressive professional accomplishment was becoming Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Pacific Lutheran University in 2016.

I think I most miss talking shop with her. She was a ready fount of useful information and could strategize like nobody’s business, especially after she gained the administrator’s bird’s-eye view. As a West Coaster for most of the time I knew her (she loved the ocean, by the way), Rae Linda could “hang” with the best of them. I figured it was because the time zone was usually in her favor. I’d mostly get to see her at annual conferences, where she’d have much more energy than me, particularly during those precious moments when busy scholars catch up on professional and personal matters—after the sessions, at the bar. She’d buy. I’ll always remember her as the “grown up” at the table: someone to look up to as she guided and encouraged younger scholars, laying it on the line, never holding back. And always with humor and grace.

When Rae Linda Brown passed away on August 20, 2017, we lost a treasure who was just as much a pioneer to our field as Florence Price was to hers. She, indeed, left behind an enduring legacy of perseverance, commitment, and musical excellence.

Musician. Mother. Scholar. Administrator. Colleague. Champion. Friend.

Rae Linda was amazing.

She won.

Guthrie P. Ramsey, Jr.
University of Pennsylvania

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Remembering Paul Zukofsky

Paul Zukofsky
Paul Zukofsky
The death of Paul Zukofsky at the age of 73 in Hong Kong on June 6, 2017 left a vacuum in musical life, even though he had ceased violin playing for many years, abandoned his administrative activities, and retreated into his own inner world. His silent presence was nevertheless a source of support for many nonconformist artists. By the turn of the millennium, Zukofsky’s absence was felt throughout the music scene. He emigrated from the United States to East Asia (Thailand, Hong Kong, Japan). I never asked Paul how this step came about. It was enough for me to be able to contact him again after his years of disappearance, and to avoid indiscreet questions. Since then I never knew his physical address, and I never met him personally again, although it was our mutual desire to establish something together in the future.

In March 1989, on the occasion of my recital at Weill Hall in New York, I met Zukofsky for the first time to discuss the unusual notation of Morton Feldman’s Untitled Composition (1981) for cello and piano. The meeting in his apartment in New York remains an unforgettable experience for me, what with his demonstrations on the violin, coupled with his analysis of Feldman’s keen intellect, full of bons mot, and his intense and breathtakingly speedy reading. Regarding Feldman’s notation of double-sharps and double-flats: Paul explained that different approaches are possible. It was clear, for example, that the note A double-sharp could not and should not be identical to C-flat or B. On the piano, with equal temperament, all three pitches are identical—there is only one note on the keyboard for them. Significantly, with few sporadic exceptions, Feldman notated no double-sharps or double-flats in the piano part. Paul derived these pitches using Pythagorean, Meantone, or Just Intonation. As a result, the frequency of an A double-sharp or C-flat may be higher or sometimes lower than that of the note B depending on which intonation system is used. After having calculated several passages of the piece with three or four different intonation systems and having monitored the results on the violin, Paul recommended to me Hermann Helmholtz’s book Die Lehre von den Tonempfindungen (1862). However, he specifically recommended the English version, On the Sensations of Tone, as the translator added a very helpful and extensive appendix that contains detailed tables of many international scales and intervals with precise frequency indications. How closely Paul knew the relevant specialized literature! As a farewell, as if my absorption capacity had not yet been exhausted, Paul also showed me a book by Max Reger, On the Theory of Modulation, which explains transitions from one harmony to another. It was curious: for the derivation of the pitches in Feldman’s work, according to Zukofsky’s method, was strikingly similar to Reger’s harmonic approach. Finally the question arose: Did Feldman himself have this mathematically accurate determination of the pitches in mind? Paul said no, “Morton didn’t know, but he did care, John [Cage] knows, but he does not care.” We laughed with relief.

Zukofsky I met again in New York in April 1991, following my one-week collaboration with John Cage on ONE8 for cello solo. Then, in the summer of 1992, Paul had organized John’s 80th birthday concerts in the Summergarden of the Museum of Modern Art, where ONE8 was scheduled for two days. John rang me in Europe a few weeks before, because he wanted to replace the cellist who had been planned for it. The reason was that this cellist did not have a curved bow, which is absolutely necessary for the piece. John explained to me his confrontation with Paul in a conversation on July 17, 1992 in New York in the context of these concerts. Our conversation is transcribed in the book MUSICAGE by Joan Retallack in addition to further remarks on Zukofsky.* A meeting with Paul could not take place during this period, because he began to work as director of the Schoenberg Institute in Los Angeles. But I must have called Paul there at this time, because I congratulated him on his new job. John had already told me this news. Paul responded in his characteristically cool way: “There is no secret in this world.” A final telephone call with Paul in Los Angeles took place in May 1994, when I was again in New York to give two concerts together with the pianist Anthony de Mare, including, among other pieces, Morton Feldman’s Untitled Composition. And then, after the liquidation of the Schoenberg Institute in Los Angeles in 1996 and the relocation of the archives to the Arnold Schoenberg Center in Vienna, Paul had suddenly disappeared from the face of the earth! Strangely, even close friends could not tell me his whereabouts.

Zukofsky and I established contact via email again some time after the year 2000, presumably via his website. I remember that Paul was already writing from East Asia. Later, he asked me if I would be available for a symposium on Cage in New York in 2004. Unfortunately, nothing came of it. A few years later, in August 2008, Paul mentioned that his record label: “CP2 is supposed to be an abbreviation for Contemporary Performance Practice. There was supposed to be a Center, but it never happened.” Playing with irritating esoteric abbreviations was again typical of Paul: cpp = cp2. Of course, mathematically, this spelling is not objectionable.

The last “act” in our intellectual exchange refers to Johann Sebastian Bach. Zukofsky contributed a supplementary comment in 2013 to my newly-begun blog the bach update, which is dedicated to the compositions for violin and cello solo. Paul got into detail on the subjects of slurs, articulation and meter. The resulting correspondence was instructive. He wrote that articulation can be related to “the harmonic motion, but that is rarely spoken of as articulation.” Apart from the traditional sense of the word articulation, he would use it “more in the anatomic sense—how bones, or a skeleton, is articulated. The concept is crucial for music, but is rarely thought of.” And as far as the barlines in Bach’s works were concerned, they were almost always meaningless, merely a convention. Bach would usually not pay “attention to the meters AT ALL. Why so few people understand this is a complete mystery to me.” The last email from Paul to me dates from December 2015, where he made plans to make recordings in Tokyo as a conductor.

It is regrettable that the music establishment neglected Zukofsky’s brilliant skills as both a violinist and an amazing mediator of musical ideas in his final years. At the end of November in the Cage year 2012, Paul wrote to me that he wasn’t involved in a single concert or presentation dedicated to the composer: “Not one thing AT ALL!” Such a central figure for Cage’s work as Zukofsky would have seemed indispensable. It is unfortunate that public appreciation for Paul Zukofsky must come in the form of an obituary.

Michael Bach

* John Cage, Joan Retallack, and Michael Bach, “Cage’s Loft, New York City, July 18, 1992.” In Retallack, ed., Musicage: Cage Muses on Words, Art, Music; John Cage in Conversation with Joan Retallack (Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press, 1996), 287–331.

The Bulletin of the Society for American Music

The Bulletin is published in the Winter (January), Spring (May), and Fall (September) by the Society for American Music. Copyright 2017 by the Society for American Music, ISSN 0196-7967.

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Editor: Elizabeth Ann Lindau (Elizabeth.Lindau@csulb.edu)
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Items for submission should be submitted to Elizabeth Ann Lindau as an attachment to e-mail. Photographs or other graphic materials should be accompanied by captions and desired location in the text. Deadlines for submission of materials are 15 December, 15 April, and 15 August.

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