The Ritual of Celebration!

Tammy Kernodle

Volume XLVI, No. 2
(Spring 2020) 


The Ritual of Celebration!

Award, Fellowship, and Subvention Recipients


Call for Bulletin Contributions

Upcoming JSAM Contents

Musical Theater Pedagogy in Times of Crisis

Book Reviews

Bulletin Board

The Bulletin of the Society for American Music


Tammy Kernodle

One of the hallmarks of our annual conference is the announcement of our award winners and fellowship recipients. It is truly the high point of our business meeting. This celebratory moment encompasses who we are as a body of educators, scholars, curators, librarians, performers, editors, and publishers. It is the moment where we not only celebrate ourselves and our achievements, but where our past, present, and future intersect and is illuminated the strongest. The Distinguish Service Award and the Lifetime Achievement Award recognizes individuals who have given exemplary service to our organization and the field of American music. These awards commemorate years of service, sacrifice, and fidelity that laid the professional and intellectual pathways that many now traverse in their efforts to promote American music. The Lowens Book and Article awards recognize scholars whose work continues in this legacy by further broadening our scholarly discourse. The numerous fellowships we award each year in addition to the Housewright Dissertation Award, Cambridge University Press Award, and Mark Tucker Award ensure the progression of thought and practice for years to come. 

This year our ritual of celebrating our award winners will change. There is no way that the energy and excitement that surrounds the announcement of these awards at our annual conference can be replicated, but this special issue of our Bulletin is the first of many ways in which we will celebrate our award recipients. It is my hope that this celebration will culminate at our 2021 conference in Tacoma. In the meantime, please join me in celebrating the 2020 Society for American Music award and fellowship recipients.




2020 Recipients of SAM's Awards, Fellowships, and Subventions


Wiley Housewright Dissertation Award

Daniel Fernando Castro Pantoja, 
“Antagonism, Europhilia, and Identity: Guillermo Uribe Holguín and the Politics of National Music in Early Twentieth-Century Colombia”

Honorable mention: Maria E. Murphy, 
“Bodies, Technologies, Viruses: Music and Social Immunity in Bio-Pop, New York City, 1980s” 

The winning of the 2018 Housewright Dissertation Award is Daniel Fernando Castro Pantoja ’s dissertation, “Antagonism, Europhilia, and Identity: Guillermo Uribe Holguín and the Politics of National Music in Early Twentieth-Century Colombia,” which sheds a much needed light on twentieth-century Latin American music and its complex and paradoxical relationship to Western art music and national identity in Colombia. The author’s use of discursive theories of antagonism critiques the binary division and power relations between indigenismo and Europhelia and helps to situate the music of Colombian composer Gillermo Urbibe Holguín within a transnational and colonial musical and cultural frame. Castro Pantoja’s research contributes widely to discourses on Western art music’s relationship to otherness, music nationalism, politics, and identity formation.  Daniel Castro Pantoja, a native of Colombia, is currently the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Scholar-in-Residence in Musicology at the Kathrine G. McGovern College of the Arts at the University of Houston.  He holds a PhD in Musicology from the University of California, Riverside (2018). Castro Pantoja is currently working on a book project that examines the naturalization of partisan politics in Colombian aurality during the early-twentieth century. His research interests include music and de/coloniality, populism, Latin American cultural studies, semiotics, and political philosophy. His work has been published in  Trans-Revista Transcultural de Música (Trans-Cultural Music Review), Latin American Research Review, and the Smithsonian Folkways Festival blog. Most recently, Castro Pantoja curated an immersive sound exhibition at the Blaffer Art Museum (Houston, Texas) based on Colombian composer Jacqueline Nova's work for tape,  Creación de la Tierra (1972). 
Photo by Dr. Bernard 
Gordillo Brockmann
Maria E. Murphy’s dissertation offers fresh insights on important women musicians of the later twentieth-century avant-garde through her conceptual frame of bio-pop connected to the idea of bio-politics. Murphy’s innovative approach to the study of popular music moves beyond straightforward notions of genre, style, and musical analysis. Her dissertation places embodiment at the center of musical meaning and a range of discourses in queer studies, AIDS history, history of feminism, technology, and American political history, thereby addressing many transformative issues that had shaped the 1980s and its legacy in the United States.  Maria Murphy is currently serving as Interim Associate Director at the Alice Paul Center for Research on Gender, Sexuality & Women at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work examines the relationship between music technologies and body politics through multimedia performance art, American experimentalism, and aesthetic activism in the 20th and 21st centuries. She is currently working on a monograph entitled  Bio-Pop: Laurie Anderson, Technobodies, and Aesthetic Activism. Maria is also interested in developing creative spaces for hands-on research. As an extension of her research practice, she has performed at Vox Populi, Slought, the Philadelphia Institute of Contemporary Art Incubation Series, and Fringe Arts Scratch Night.    

Irving Lowens Article Award

William Cheng,
“Black Noise, White Ears: Resilience, Rap, and the Killing of Jordan Davis,” Current Musicology 102 (Spring 2018)

Honorable mention: Brigid Cohen,
“Enigmas of the Third Space: Mingus and Varèse at Greenwich House, 1957,” Journal of the American Musicological Society 71, no. 1 (2018)

Both the winner and honorable mention for the 2018 Irving Lowens Article Award make bold strides in breaking new theoretical ground and engaging notoriously difficult issues in American culture.

The winner of the 2018 Irving Lowens Article Award is William Cheng  for the article “Black Noise, White Ears: Resilience, Rap, and the Killing of Jordan Davis,” published in Current Musicology. Drawing on an imaginatively wide range of academic and unexamined documentary sources relating to the “Loud Music Trial” (2014), Cheng explores the urgent question of how “white misimaginations” of black physical and social excess are implicated in “racist ideologies that dehumanize, discredit, or outright destroy black life.” As a public musicologist, in dialogue with critical race theory, media, and sound studies, Cheng models the relevance of the humanities to illuminate and problematize national narratives of race. William Cheng is an Associate Professor of Music at Dartmouth College. He is the author of Sound Play: Video Games and the Musical Imagination  (Oxford, 2014), Just Vibrations: The Purpose of Sounding Good (Michigan, 2016), and Loving Music Till It Hurts  (Oxford, 2019); and the coeditor of Queering the Field: Sounding Out Ethnomusicology (Oxford, 2019), A Cultural History of Music in the Modern Age  (Bloomsbury Academic, in progress), and the Music & Social Justice Series with the University of Michigan Press. His writings have appeared in various academic journals as well as in Washington Post, Slate, Huffington Post, TIME, Pacific Standard,  and the Chronicle of Higher Education.
An honorary mention for the 2018 Irving Lowens Article Award goes to Brigid Cohen  for her article, “Enigmas of the Third Space: Mingus and Varèse at Greenwich House, 1957,” published in the Journal of the American Musicological Society. Cohen’s study explores a series of improvisation sessions in Greenwich Village that brought together Edgard Varèse, Charles Mingus, and others. Employing expert analyses of session recordings, personal interviews, and painstaking research in numerous archives, Cohen brilliantly explores dilemmas of race and citizenship in New York City during a post-war period of American cultural ascendancy and national canon formation. In the process of highlighting the transient cultural crossings that play out across an uneven field of power, she deals insightfully with crises of citizenship, power, and race that persist to the present day.  Brigid Cohen is Associate Professor of Music at New York University. She has taught and published on the politics of 20th-century avant-gardes, archive studies, diaspora and cosmopolitanism theory, 20th-century German-Jewish diasporic thought, histories of genocide, and intersections of music, literature, and the visual arts. Her book  Stefan Wolpe and the Avant-Garde Diaspora (2012) won the Lockwood Award from the American Musicological Society. She also edited and convened the round table “Edward Said and Musicology Today,” published in  Journal of the Royal Musical Association in 2016.  She is currently writing Musical Migration and Imperial New York , which explores questions of displacement and citizenship through a study of New York concert avant-gardes, jazz, electronic music, and performance art in the 1950s and 1960s. Her recent work has been supported by the Max Planck Institute for History of Science, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and Wellesley College. 

Irving Lowens Book Award

Naomi André,
Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2018)

The winner of the 2018 Lowens Book Award is Naomi André  for her book Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement, published by University of Illinois Press. Focusing on opera, this monograph explores important questions of how race, class and ethnicity shape not only musical works but also musical experiences in both the United States and South Africa. André using an innovative methodology that gives not just opera scholars but music scholars in general new ways of approaching and understanding the reception of works, making astute observations in ways the bring both clarity and complexity to both. André argues that opera is a “capacious” genre that has been able to sustain not only a multitude of interpretations but multiple and changing audiences and in so doing makes shows the ways in operatic works depicting race have been received by diverse audiences over multiple generations. Naomi André is Professor in the Department of Afroamerican and African Studies, Women’s Studies, and the Residential College at the University of Michigan. She received her BA from Barnard College and MA and PhD from Harvard University. Her publications include topics on Schoenberg, women composers, and teaching opera in prisons. Her book,  Black Opera: History, Power, Engagement (2018) examines race, gender, sexuality, and nation in opera in the US and South Africa. Her earlier books, Voicing Gender: Castrati, Travesti, and the Second Woman in Early Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera  (2006) and Blackness in Opera (2012, co-edited collection). She is the inaugural Scholar-in-Residence at the Seattle Opera.  

Mark Tucker Award

April P. Morris,
“Composing a Nation in Crisis: Musical Americanism and U.S. National Identity in Ellie Siegmeister’s Vietnam War Works” 

  The winner of the 2020 Mark Tucker Award for outstanding conference paper by a student is April Morris , for “Composing a Nation in Crisis: Musical Americanism and U.S. National Identity in Elie Siegmeister’s Vietnam War Works.” Ms. Morris’ paper explores the Ellie Siegmeister’s complex negotiation between musical nationalism and political nationalism, focusing on the Vietnam War work The Face of War and “Evil.” In the words of one reviewer, “Composing a Nation in Crisis” provides a conceptually rich (nationalism, anti-war art, socialism) and complicated argument of having to negotiate both American identity and loyalty and his protest of the Vietnam war. The music analysis makes an important case about his relationship to trends in U.S. music and how it represented his nationalism and/or anti-war protest. Morris’s paper presents a depth of ideas and analysis that makes an important contribution to understanding American music in the late 20th century.  April Morris is a PhD candidate in Musicology at the University of Western Ontario. Her research interests lie in the relationships between music, national identity, politics, and performance, particularly in the twentieth century. April’s dissertation examines the involvement of U.S. composers in Vietnam War protest during the late 1960s and early 1970s, contextualizing their anti-war efforts within the cultural movements of the time. Her dissertation research is supported by a Doctoral Fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC). April holds a Master of Arts in Musicology, also from Western (2015), and a Bachelor of Music from the University of Ottawa (2013). 

Lifetime Achievement Award


Marva Griffin Carter has an unparalleled career as teacher and scholar of African American music in all its diversity, including individual composers and performers and the broader history of jazz and its African retentions in the myriad musics of the New World. Her deep understanding of the music of the black church, springs from her decade-long service as organist at the historic Ebenezer Baptist Church in Atlanta. Dr. Carter’s groundbreaking work on Will Marion Cook, supported in part by Smithsonian Institution Fellowship, came to fruition in Swing Along: The Life of Will Marion Cook (Oxford UP, 2008). In the words of one committee member, this book “occupies a major place in musical theatre scholarship, for it not only brings to light the work of an extraordinarily talented creator but also places this output in the contexts of African American musical performance, European-inspired concert music, and the overtly White world of Broadway musical theatre.” Other publications include “The ‘New Negro’ Choral Legacy of Hall Johnson,” in Chorus and Community, ed. Karen Ahlquist (2006); and “The ‘New Negro’ Legacy of Will Marion Cook” in Afro-Americans in New York Life and History (1999).

Dr. Carter’s years of service to the Georgia State University School of Music have earned her the Barbara Jordan/W. E. B. DuBois Award for Outstanding Teaching in 1998, and her leadership roles in the Society for American Music include service on the Editorial Board of JSAM, as a member of the Program Committee and the Board. She has also represented the cause of American music outside of SAM—serving on the American Musicological Society Council and Cultural Diversity Committee and as a much-valued Member of the Committee on the Publication of American Music. Her generous spirit and insightful advice to younger scholars has changed our society forever and for the better. For these accomplishments and for her pioneering presence in the field, the Society for American Music is proud to offer its 2020 Lifetime Achievement Award to Marva Griffin Carter.

Distinguished Service Citation

Katherine “Kitty” Preston has served the Society for American Music in ways too numerous to count. She showed extraordinary leadership as President from 2011 to 2013, and has since been one of our most creative and effective fund raisers, as a longstanding member of the Development Committee. Her many years of service on the Board and as a member of the Membership Committee, Nominating Committee, Site Selection and Program Committees, in addition to numerous Awards committees have strengthened our institutional health and our intellectual endeavors. Always generous with her time, she has been “unrelenting” in her support of junior and not-so-junior scholars, inspiring new generations of scholars and the general public with her intellectual acumen, approachability, and genuine passion for all types of music. Even in retirement, she continues to advocate in word and deed for more and better integrated approaches to music in 19thC America, most notably through her outstanding scholarship. Her monographs Opera on the Road and Opera for the People reveal “painstaking archival research presented in accessible language,” with particular attention to “the crucial contributions of women to the development of opera in 19th-century America.” Her MUSA edition of Bristow’s Second Symphony is a model for source-critical, philological, and historical study,” and we look forward to her future work on Bristow and other key figures. For her service to American Music, both within the Society and in the wider world, the Society is very pleased to honor Kitty Preston with its Distinguished Service Citation.


Adrienne Fried Block Fellowship

 Emily Ruth Allen,
“Home of the ‘Original’ U.S. Mardi Gras: Mobile, Alabama and its Brass Bands” 

Kyle DeCoste,
“Popular Music and the Politics of Black Childhood

This year’s Adrienne Fried Block Fellowship committee elected to share the award between two outstanding projects that seek to follow its namesake’s intellectual spirit in illuminating our understandings of musical life in large urban communities. Both winning proposals foreground not just urban activities, but the ways that actors and agents—civic, municipal, social, and artistic—impact our understanding of diverse musical practices within cities.

Our first winner is Emily Ruth Allen for a project titled “Home of the ‘Original’ U.S. Mardi Gras: Mobile, Alabama and Its Brass Bands.” This project combines archival and interview research to explore how parade music negotiates racial borderlines in a city often overlooked in the history of U.S. Mardi Gras celebrations. The study has broad implications for understanding music and race in music scholarship.   Emily Ruth Allen is a PhD candidate in Musicology at Florida State University, where she also received a Master of Music degree in Historical Musicology. Additionally, she holds a Bachelor of Music degree with Concentration in Outside Fields (Math) from the University of South Alabama. Allen’s research interests include U.S. Southern studies, critical race theory, and tourism studies. Her dissertation research focuses on Carnival musics in Mobile, Alabama. Allen has presented her work at conferences of the Society for American Music and the Society for Ethnomusicology. In addition to the Adrienne Fried Block Fellowship, her research has been supported by an FSU Musicology Area Summer Research Award, an FSU UROP Materials Grant, and an FSU Graduate School Dissertation Research Grant.   
Our second winner is Kyle DeCoste for a project titled “Popular Music and the Politics of Black Childhood,” which uses ethnomusicological methods to compare how music articulates and invents identity among African American youth in Chicago and New Orleans. Built on an impressive theoretical base, this study confronts racialized bias in the conception of black childhood and shows how music is being used by musicians and educators alike as a tool to confront racism. This project too has broad implications and will inform a range of musicological projects in its exploration of music and identity. Congratulations to both Block Fellowship winners. Kyle DeCoste is a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at Columbia University. He was the recipient of the 2019 David Sanjek Student Paper Prize from IASPM-US and has published articles in  Ethnomusicology, the Journal of Popular Music Studies, and SEM Student News. With the Stooges Brass Band, he is co-author of  Can’t Be Faded: Twenty Years in the New Orleans Brass Band Game (forthcoming September 2020, University Press of Mississippi). His dissertation is a multi-sited dialogic ethnography of the liberatory politics of Black childhood in popular music and spoken word communities in the United States. 

Photo by  Pableaux Johnson

Paul Charosh Independent Scholar Fellowship

 Kelli Rae Tubbs,
"Back in Time"

The winner of the 2020 Paul Charosh Independent Scholar is Kellie Rae Tubbs  for her independently produced video series, “Back In Time,” which explores the techniques and pedagogy of drummers a century ago, by examining the instruments, sheet music, and trade journal advertisements in circulation in the late 1800s and first decades of the twentieth century. Tubbs documents and resurrects the sounds that American drummers had at their disposal in vaudeville, musical theater, and silent film and in doing so provides an important and accessible avenue for both scholars and the general public to understand the innovative contributions that drummers and instrument makers of this period made to American popular music.  A working drummer and percussionist for more than three decades, Kelli’s resume spans the musical spectrum, covering jazz, pop, country, bluegrass, drum corps, brass band, and children's music. Since 2017, she has served as the house percussionist at the Smoky Mountain Opry in Pigeon Forge, TN. Over the last decade, Kelli has established a formidable “second” career as a collector, researcher and clinician. She has presented on the preservation and restoration of antique drums as well as historical drumming methods at the Chicago Drum Show and the Percussive Arts Society International Convention (PASIC). Currently, she is writing a book with the noted drummer, author, and educator Daniel Glass, entitled  The Postcard Project: A Snapshot of Drumming Life, 1900-1930 (due in 2021).  Kelli is a member of the Sabian Education Network and the D’Addario Education Collective. She has been a regular contributor to  Vintage Drums Legendary Sounds and Tom Tom Magazine and has served on the Scholarly Research Committee of the Percussive Arts Society. 

Edward T. Cone Fellowship

 Liliana Guerrero

The winner of the 2020 Edward T. Cone Fellowship is Liliana Guerrero for her project that identifies and advocates for song repertoire by Latina-identifying composers in the United States. In addition to writing a published treatise, engaging in interviews, and compiling a database of Latin American women composers, Guerrero will focus on song cycles by Mari Ésabel Verde, Tania León, Gabriela Lena Frank, and Laura Elise Schwendinger that she will perform in a series of lecture-recitals. Guerrero argues that there is a lack of representation of Latina-identifying composers and their distinctive narratives in classical art song repertoire in the United States, and this project is part of a larger effort to “close the gap between compositional output and public awareness of song literature by Latina composers.”   Dr. Liliana Guerrero is a recent graduate of Florida State University, where she received a DM in Voice Performance. She was previously the recipient of a Phi Kappa Phi Love of Learning Award and participated in the NYU Steinhardt Faculty First-Look Fellowship Program. Other awards include two Koch Cultural Trust Grants and an Omicron Delta Kappa Endowed Scholarship. This summer, she will present a lecture recital at the National Association of Teachers of Singing Conference based on her doctoral treatise, “Contemporary Song Literature by Select Latina Composers.” In August, she joins the faculty of Texas Lutheran University as Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Vocal Studies. She is the 2020 recipient of the Edward T. Cone Fellowship.  

Margery Morgan Lowens Dissertation Fellowship

Clifton Boyd,
“The Role of Vernacular Music Theory in the Institution of Barbershop Music” 

Alexander Cowan, 
“Unsound: A Cultural History of Music and Eugenics” 

 Clifton Boyd’s work examines race and music theory in barbershop harmony at a moment when the Barbershop Harmony Society, the leading society for barbershoppers, is for the first time seeking to diversify its overwhelmingly white and male ranks through its new "Everyone in Harmony" campaign. Boyd’s timely project is groundbreaking in taking vernacular music theory seriously, assessing how an accessible, even marginal music culture’s members theorize their own music. Boyd adroitly connects barbershoppers’ music theoretical boundary work to the genre's history of miscegenated roots and racial exclusion. Boyd's work illustrates the importance of connecting critical race performance studies to music theoretical methods in unexpected places in the American music landscape. Clifton Boyd received the Margery Lowens Dissertation Research Fellowship for his project “The Role of Vernacular Music Theory in the Institution of Barbershop Music,” being completed at Yale University. Boyd’s project investigates the role of music theory in the social culture of American vernacular musical communities, with a focus on racial and gender discrimination. Drawing primarily upon the history of the Barbershop Harmony Society (BHS), from its founding in 1938 to its contemporary “Everyone in Harmony” diversity initiative, his research explores how communities leverage musical style in processes of institution building. Furthermore, he argues that the BHS’s pursuit of balance between preservation and modernization expressed through their vernacular music theory provides insight into academic practices of music theory and recent efforts to become inclusive of diverse music theories and music theorists. 
 Alexander Cowan’s work demonstrates that late-nineteenth-century theories of musical aptitude were important to development of eugenics. However, what begins on the fringes of musicological research ends up startlingly close to the center. Cowan shows that major musical organizations and educational institutions of 1920s and 1930s were deeply involved with or inspired by eugenics. The resulting dissertation, “Unsound: A Cultural History of Music and Eugenics,” is archivally rich, closely argued, and soberly written. In a field usually dominated by studies of the left wing, Cowan challenges us to approach the subject from a different direction, providing a fresh—if disturbing—perspective on otherwise familiar ground. Alexander Cowan is a PhD candidate in Historical Musicology at Harvard University. He holds an MMus from King’s College, London, and a BA in Music from the University of Oxford. His dissertation, “Unsound: A Cultural History of Music and Eugenics,” explores how ideas about music and musicality were weaponized in British and US-American eugenics movements in the first half of the twentieth century, and how ideas from this period survive in both modern music science, and the rhetoric of the contemporary far right. 

Judith McCulloh Fellowship

Pallas Catenella Riedler, 
“Oceanic Vernaculars and the American Sailor: Synthesized Nautical Identity in Joanna Colcord’s Roll and Go (1925)”

The winner of the 2020 Judith McCulloh Fellowship is Pallas Catenella Riedler  for her project “Oceanic Vernaculars and the American Sailor: Synthesized Nautical Identity in Joanna Colcord’s Roll and Go (1925).” This support will permit her to conduct extended archival research at the Massachusetts Historical Society to craft a “polyphonic” study of this key source. The committee was impressed by the theoretical richness of the project, as well as its efforts to engage with the emergent scholarship on musical transmission through maritime channels. Pallas Catenella is pursuing an MA in Ethnomusicology and PhD in Historical Musicology at the Eastman School of Music. With the support of the Judith McCulloh Fellowship, she will engage in short-term residency at the Massachusetts Historical Society, analyzing the attempts of female ethnographers to preserve the folk musical traditions of Atlantic maritime communities for her thesis, “Synthesizing Archives of the Sea: Nautical Identity in the Maritime Music Collection.” For her work on this project, Catenella has received the Paul Cuffe Fellowship from the Mystic Seaport Museum and Hollace Anne Schafer Award from the New England Chapter of AMS. This summer, she is excited to teach a workshop on maritime music (“Swashbuckling Sailors and the Songs They Sing”) for Eastman’s summer program.   

Anne Dhu McLucas Fellowship

Owain J. Graham, 

“Music and Curanderismo: Traditional and Touristic Cultural Production in San Martín, Perú” 

The winner of the 2019 Anne Dhu McLucas Fellowship is a versatile young scholar who is conducting research on changing shamanic and ritual musical practices among Quechua-speaking communities in the upper Peruvian Amazon. The recipient is particularly interested in how Amazonian songs called  icaros are used in shamanic tourism, and how these songs and tourism itself has changed and is changing concepts of “authenticity” and “tradition” among Peruvian indigenous peoples. The recipient of this year’s award is  Owain J. Graham of the University of California at Riverside.   Owain Graham is a doctoral candidate in ethnomusicology at UC, Riverside. His research focuses on the confluence of cultural tourism, ritual music, and Amazonian traditional medicine. He is a recipient of the UCR Chancellor’s Distinguished Fellowship and the Manolito Pinazo Memorial Award. He taught music theory and founded the guitar studies program at the Baptist University of the Américas (San Antonio, TX). He received his MM from UT, San Antonio, where he studied guitar performance and pedagogy with Matthew Dunne and was awarded first prize at the 2013 CLFA research competition for his presentation  Linear Analysis and Interpretation in Schubert’s “Sonata for Arpeggione and Piano.” Mr. Graham holds a BM from Stetson University where he studied guitar with internationally renowned performer and teacher, Stephen Robinson. 

Wayne Shirley Research Fellowship

David Font-Navarrete,
Música de los cultos africanos en Cuba: Revisiting and Nourishing the Archive”

David Font-Navarrete has proposed to revisit Lydia Cabrera’s and Josefina Tarafa’s  Musica de los cultos africanos en Cuba. This is in Font-Navarret’s words “the most robust and valuable single document of Afro-Cuban musical traditions in the mid-20th century.” It includes audio recordings, photographs, one article and liner notes. Font-Navarrete has worked with Cabrera’s heir Isabel Castellanos, who has donated Cabrera's archive to the Cuban Heritage Center at the University of Miami. Missing from that archive is a copy or draft of Cabrera's seminal and major work,  El Monte. Font-Navarrete has translated most of this work into English. He has arranged with the Library of Congress and the CHC to produce a better-quality digital version of the recordings, and will contribute more extensive liner notes, which will include Castellano's insights into the collection. He will work to make the entire collection available at both the LOC and CHC, in both Spanish and English. In addition he has the following publishing plans: “translation and annotation for the first English edition of Cabrera’s magnum opus  El Monte, under contract with Duke University Press; submission of an article to the Journal of the Society for American Music  (tentatively titled ‘Lukumi Music, Lost and Found in Translation’); and a monograph (tentatively titled Afro-Cuban Music: Art, Ritual, and Culture).”

In doing this Font-Navarrete will be making available to the Hispanophone and Anglophone world communities a significant work of very limited distribution from Cuba’s pre-Revolutionary period. He will be highlighting the work of two female ethnographers. He will be contributing to the disciplines of African Diasporic studies; Afro-Cuban anthropology and ethnomusicology; Caribbean studies; religious and shamanistic studies; Caribbean ethnomusicology; the history of ethnomusicology; women’s studies; and the history of recording. Perhaps most important, he will make ethnographic materials recorded in the mid-20th century available to the unique source communities from which they came, helping those communities claim or reclaim their heritages. In addition, Dr. Font-Navarrete’s project will contribute valuable materials to the archives in which he will be working, perhaps most importantly the Library of Congress: most significant given the purpose and namesake of this award. And, given Font-Navarrete’s record, it is likely that the project will result in multiple scholarly contributions.  
David Font-Navarrete is a musician, artist, and ethnomusicologist. Currently, he is Assistant Professor in the Department of Music, Multimedia, Theatre, and Dance at Lehman College CUNY. As an ethnomusicologist, he has conducted primary and archival research in Cuba, Senegal, the Gambia, and the United States. His current research projects include: a critical translation of Lydia Cabrera's  El Monte; a multimedia-enhanced monograph on the confluence of cultural traditions, avant-garde art, and an ethnography (tentatively Art at the Edge of Tradition: A Century of Afro-Atlantic Ritual and Culture ). Font-Navarrete earned a BA from Antioch College (1995), an MA from the University of Maryland College Park (2007), and a PhD from York University (2011).   

Eileen Southern Fellowship

Michael Levine,
“Media Piracy and Cultural Exchange in Cuba’s Offline Internet”

Michael Levine’s project seeks to extend “internet and media studies outside Anglophone destinations and music research towards the study of Afro-Cuban artistic communities in the Global South that utilize alternative internet spaces to circulate new music.” His research on Afro-Cuban music and its weekly underground distribution (via USB drives) reflects both the digital forms contemporary music takes, and the determination and creativity of people living under a repressive political system that prohibits certain musical styles and genres from being broadcast over state-controlled outlets. In arguing that EP’s ( el paquete semanal) USB drive-based network “marks the most significant expansion of public space in Cuba since the 1959 revolution,” Levine’s project merges studies of copyright law and internet theory with ethnographic observations of musicians who perform  cubatón and those who disseminate it via EP. Cubatón is subject to official biases in Cuba and artists who produce this music are heavily censored. This music has urban origins, a lyrical focus on black identity, and draws from a popular Caribbean dance music style ( reggaetón). Thus, his research plans to shed light on both an African diasporic music culture still at risk as well as the state that it circumvents. Considering increasing restrictions posed toward travel to Cuba from the United States, this project is timely and Fellowship funds will be used toward a four-week residency that will involve the ethnographic work mentioned above as well as archival research at  Casa de las Americas. Mike Levine is a doctoral candidate in musicology at the University of North Carolina. His dissertation investigates Cuba’s offline internet (called  el paquete semanal) and its relationship to media piracy, music production. He utilizes dual methodologies in ethnography and digital humanities to examine issues of critical race, internet equity and the impact of informal circulations of music inside the underground digital network. He has written for weekly online sound studies publication  Sounding Out!, independent arts and literature magazine Hypermedia, the academic journal  Cuban Studies, and plays Ableton Live and bass guitar in the Brooklyn-based dance punk rock band Ghost Guns. 

Virgil Thomson Fellowship

Elissa Harbert,
“Singing the Past on Broadway: History Musicals and Cultural Memory”

Ashley Pribyl,
“Fifty Years of Company: Exploring Shifts in Marriage, Gender, and Sexuality Through an American Music, 1969-2019”

The Virgil Thomson Fellowship Committee for 2020 is pleased to award funds to two projects: “Singing the Past on Broadway: History Musicals and Cultural Memory” by Elissa Harbert, and “Fifty Years of Company: Exploring Shifts in Marriage, Gender, and Sexuality Through an American Music, 1969-2019” by Ashley Pribyl. Committee members found both projects compelling, well-designed, and highly representative of the mission of the Fellowship.

Harbert’s project is compelling and timely given the popularity of Hamilton  and the discussion surrounding its historical presentations. Her plan to complete research in archival materials, and the scope of the work planned for this period, give us utmost confidence in her ability to complete this project in the time allotted, and to ultimately complete the book for which it is intended. The committee looks forward to the completion of this project.  Elissa Harbert is Assistant Professor of Music (Music History) at DePauw University. Her research focuses on musical theater, cultural memory, and historical representation in dramatic productions for stage and screen. She is currently writing her first book,  Singing the Past on Broadway: History Musicals and Cultural Memory, and is grateful for the Virgil Thomson Fellowship’s support. Harbert previously taught at Macalester College and Northwestern University, where she completed a PhD in Musicology and was awarded the Alvin H. Johnson AMS 50 Dissertation Fellowship. She has published articles on history musicals such as  1776 and Hamilton in Studies in Musical Theatre  and American Music, where she also served as Book Review Editor, and has contributed several chapters to edited collections on musical theater. 
The same currency applies to Pribyl’s study of Company . With the now-postponed revival of the musical (originally scheduled for March, 2020) in which the main role is female, this is a timely examination of “the complicated shifting relationship between marriage, gender, and sexuality in the last fifty years through the lens of the creation, production, and reception” of this musical. The funding will enable access to specific archival sources with the goal of completing work in these resources and producing an interesting and compelling manuscript.  Ashley Pribyl’s primary areas of research include the Broadway musical, music in post-war New York City, American politics, and queer and feminist studies. Her current project, a cultural-historical monograph on Stephen Sondheim’s ground-breaking musical  Company, contextualizes and explores national ruptures around relationships, marriage, and sexuality from 1970 to the present. Dr. Pribyl holds a PhD from Washington University in St. Louis, where she was a Lynne Cooper Harvey Fellow in American Culture Studies and a Graduate Fellow at the Center for the Humanities. She has published in  Studies in Musical Theatre and has received grants from the New York Public Library and the Royal Music Association. Dr. Pribyl also actively performs on the French horn. 

Judith Tick Fellowship

Maria E. Murphy,
“Laurie Anderson and Early Experimentation with Bio-Pop”

The winner of the 2020 Judith Tick Fellowship is Maria Murphy (see above for bio)  for “Laurie Anderson and Early Experimentation with Bio-Pop.” The Tick award will fund Murphy’s travel to the Getty Research Institute in Los Angeles in order to examine audiovisual archival sources from the experimental venue, the Kitchen, where Anderson first crafted her multimedia approach to performance. This research will inform Murphy’s treatment of Anderson’s work in the 1970s and 1980s in two chapters of a larger book project. Murphy’s sophisticated approach considers Anderson’s role in the reclassification of the parameters of the human-technical relationship in order to exercise what she has framed as “aesthetic activism.” Anderson’s activities are considered within the contemporary context of HIV/AIDS, reproductive rights, and U.S. imperialism.

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H. Earle Johnson Publication Subvention

Sarah Eyerly,
Moravian Soundscapes: A Sonic History of the Moravian Missions in Early Pennsylvania

Evan Rapport,
Damaged: Musicality and Race in Early American Punk

Sarah Eyerly’s Moravian Soundscapes: A Sonic History of the Moravian Missions in Early Pennsylvania , published by Indiana University Press, offers an illuminating analysis of the role played by sound, and its conceptual construction into “sound worlds,” among 19th century Moravian and Native American Christian communities. Eyerly asserts, “Whereas Native Christians sang hymns to bridge the spaces between the natural and the human, European Christians sang to override the ‘wilderness’ . . . [and] to sonically claim a Christian and more specifically Moravian space within the contested geographies of eastern Pennsylvania.” Bringing together sound studies, auto-ethnography, and historical scholarship, Eyerly makes a powerful argument about the centrality of sound—both natural and humanly constructed—in the construction and perception of social, religious, and spatial relationships on the so-called “eastern frontier.” Enlivened by a cogent authorial voice and enriched by a well-conceived companion website, this book promises to recast our historical narratives even as it does the essential work of filling in the record in a neglected area of American music scholarship.  Sarah Eyerly is Associate Professor of Musicology and Director of the Early Music Program at Florida State University. Her research interests include eighteenth-century music, sound studies, performance practice, and the geo-humanities. She is currently involved in an interdisciplinary research project on the history and transmission of Moravian hymns in the Mohican language. Other projects include heritage tourism and indigenous representation at Moravian mission sites in Ohio, and sound reconstruction of the Apalachee and Spanish musical culture of Mission San Luis in Tallahassee, FL. She has received fellowships and awards from the American Council of Learned Societies, the American Musicological Society, and the Society for American Music. She is a Faculty Fellow in Data Humanities at FSU, and serves on the Board of Directors for the Mozart Society of America.
Evan Rapport’s Damaged: Musicality and Race in Early American Punk , published by the University Press of Mississippi, is an impressive history of punk rock in the United States that fuses incisive musical analysis with a nuanced reading of race relations in the late 1960s through mid-1970s. Given that most punk histories focus on punk through its image, the committee was especially impressed with the author's deployment of an argument that encompasses postwar demographic shifts, structural racism, documents from the historical archive culled from a wide variety of sources, original interviews, and close musical readings. Rapport presents a gripping historical narrative and fiercely argues that punk has functioned as “one of the most meaningful and intense expressions of the race and class tensions at America’s core,” and that to understand what punk has meant we need to take a serious and sustained look at the music first. Evan Rapport is Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at The New School. In addition to Damaged , he is the author of Greeted with Smiles: Bukharian Jewish Music and Musicians in New York (Oxford University Press, 2014), about the musical life of Jewish immigrants from Central Asia. He has also published on settings of Persian poetry, arrangements of George Gershwin’s concert works, and the idea of “ethnic music” in New York. He has directed the Contemporary Music program at The New School’s Eugene Lang College, and he currently directs the college’s Civic Liberal Arts civic engagement program. Rapport is also an accomplished saxophonist. 

Sight and Sound Subvention

Marian Wilson Kimber,
“In a Woman’s Voice: Musical Readings by American Women Composers”

  “In a Woman’s Voice: Musical Readings by American Women Composers” will be a video recording of musical readings for spoken word and piano by women composers, performed by  Marian Wilson Kimber, reciter, and Natalie Landowski, piano. The project is based on the work in Wilson Kimber’s book, The Elocutionists: Women, Music, and the Spoken Word  (University of Illinois Press, 2017). The influx of female performers into elocution during the Progressive era resulted in women’s dominance of spoken-word compositions, which were frequently performed for audiences in women’s clubs from the 1890s to the 1940s. The texts treat stereotypically feminine topics—fashion, courtship, or domestic life—often in satirical tones, supported by musical commentary in the piano. Composers such as Phyllis Fergus and Frieda Peycke created works that specifically appealed to women while subtly resisting existing gender norms. Wilson Kimber and Landowski have been performing these works for several years to warm response in academic settings and for the music’s original audience, women’s groups; this recording will help further the rediscovery of this practice. Marian Wilson Kimber is Professor of Musicology at the University of Iowa. She has published numerous articles about women in music, Felix Mendelssohn and Fanny Mendelssohn Hensel, and recitation in concert life. Her book, The Elocutionists: Women, Music, and the Spoken Word (University of Illinois Press, 2017) won SAM’s H. Earle Johnson Subvention, as well as a subvention from the American Musicological Society. With pianist Natalie Landowski, Wilson Kimber is a founding member of the duo, Red Vespa, which is reviving the performance of comic spoken word pieces by women composers. Red Vespa has delighted audiences in Kansas City, Chicago, Boston, and Washington, DC, and has appeared at Ohio State University as the William A. Hammond Lecture in the American Tradition. 

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Call for Bulletin Contributions

The Bulletin editorial board invites members to contribute feature articles, reviews, and news, as well as ideas for future Bulletin segments or series. We welcome essays and opinion pieces on current issues in American music (broadly conceived) and music scholarship; reports on concerts and conferences of interest to our membership; transcriptions of interviews with prominent persons in American musical life; reviews of recent books, online resources, media (including albums and documentaries) pertaining to American music; and updates on our members’ scholarly, creative, and professional activities. You can contact members of the editorial board via the SAM website or via the email addresses listed at the bottom of the Bulletin issue.


Upcoming JSAM Contents

Journal of the Society for American Music
Volume 14, Number 2 (May 2020)


Paul Williams: The Cage Mix
Mark Davenport 

Taking the German Muse out of Music: The Chronicle and US Musical Opinion in World War I
E. Douglas Bomberger

“Spinnin’ the Webb”: Representational Spaces, Mythic Narratives, and the 1937 Webb/Goodman Battle of Music
Christopher J. Wells

Improvisation and Value in Rock, 1966
David Brackett 




Katherine K. Preston, Opera for the People: English-Language Opera and Women Managers in Late 19th-Century America
Laura Moore Pruett 

Denise Von Glahn, Libby Larsen: Composing an American Life
Megan Murph 

Andrew R. Martin, Jackson, Steelpan Ambassadors: The US Navy Steel Band, 1957–1999
Michael B. Vercelli 

Ann Powers, Good Booty: Love and Sex, Black and White, Body and Soul in American Music
Jacqueline Warwick 


George Nierenberg, director, Say Amen, Somebody
Deborah Smith Pollard 

Rachel Barton Pine, violinist, Blues Dialogues: Music by Black Composers
Laura Risk 


Musical Theater Pedagogy in Times of Crisis

A discussion hosted by Colloquium: Music Scholarship at a Distance

Friday, March 27, 2020, 4pm
Conveners: Liz Wollman and Trudi Wright

On Friday, March 27, just before we learned that SAM was moving our 2020 conference online, the newly reformed Musical Theater Study Group of the Society for American Music (SAM) met via Zoom. Together, we explored ways the subject of musical theater can be used as a jumping-off point to analyze and interpret the broader culture in times of crisis. We cultivated participant-generated ideas and discussed pedagogical successes and shortcomings. We hope the session allowed participants the chance to build on opportunities for growth in lectures, projects, assessments, and assignments.

We are grateful to the Music Scholarship at a Distance organizers and moderators, Paula Harper and Will Robin, for helping us promote and run the session. The online colloquium, which took place so early in quarantine, was inspiring; it allowed teachers and participants to think through what their classes might accomplish for the remainder of a topsy-turvy semester. Thank you to the 60+ people who joined the conversation. SAM was mentioned fondly and regularly by many of its members throughout the gathering; afterward, several unaffiliated participants approached us about how to gain membership. Although our intention was not recruitment, the spur in interest was a welcome byproduct of our time together.

Trudi Wright began the session with a quote, which comes out of the Great Depression but sounds eerily contemporary. In 1938, drama critic John Mason Brown commented, “There are now a great many things to be thought about in our musical. They no longer permit us to be pleasantly relaxed. They demand us to be jubilantly alert. Our laughter at them is the surest proof that we are thinking.” (From Stanley Green’s Ring Bells, Sing Songs, 1971)

Participants then shared assignments that work well in their classes.

• Naomi Graber shared an assignment that works well for the Music Education master’s degree students she teaches. She has them choose a scene from a famous movie or book to adapt into a scene and song for a musical. The students must process how a song works in a scene, and the emotions/feelings/intentions of the characters. Students can choose popular songs for use in their scene, which can function like songs do in jukebox musicals. They also can write scenes about protest, which can feature popular songs as well.

• Liz Wollman described the class she taught the day after the 2016 presidential election. She was supposed to teach Fiddler on the Roof and Cabaret, but instead the class decided to focus on something lighter, and opted for early rock and roll musicals, with a focus on Bye, Bye Birdie. Flexibility in teaching can be key when living through times of crisis.

• Wollman also described an assignment where students found clips of propaganda for her film music course. This would be a great time to introduce students to Marc Blitzstein!

• Jess Sternfeld described an assignment asking students to observe how the entertainment industry reacts in times of crisis. She mentioned the three-hour telethon hosted by Rosie O’Donnell to raise money for the Actor’s Fund (aired on 22 March 2020). Jess asked students to think about what artists do with their art, especially at a time when they cannot be performing live. What does crisis look like when you sing for a living? She also mentioned examining the song “We Are the World.”

• Dan Blim introduced some questions for the group, including “What resonances are there between teaching and performance?” and “What does collaboration look like in this age?” He described an assignment where his students study primary sources from the show Finian’s Rainbow (1947). The producers of the show did not let it run in theaters that were still segregated. Blim uses this work to introduce ways that musical theater can make social or political statements through content and through business decisions.

• The group discussed the odd times we find ourselves in, given that there is no live theater occurring as we know it. This is a topic that musical theater scholars will surely not only follow, but also study, write about, and analyze for years to come. The last time Broadway shut down as an industry was during 9/11—and then for only two nights. Wollman also mentioned that there was little in the way of professional live theater during the Civil War. Theater closure and the impact it has on both the art form and its industry could be an interesting topic for MT Pedagogy to explore in future years. The closures have already generated a number of questions, including: 

• How will the pandemic influence the relationship between commercial and nonprofit theaters? If the economy remains depressed even once live theater resumes, how will funding work, which theaters will be prioritized, and how will local, regional, Off Broadway and Broadway theaters survive?

• Will there be a Tony Awards ceremony this year, and how will theater awards be affected by the closures?

• Will national tours resume, and how, and in what context?

• Will new models for theater consumption and performance be devised in the long and the short term? And how will the new models reshape theater culture in the long and short term?

• Stephanie Jensen-Moulton described an oral history project that she uses in the classroom. She has her students interview artists from Off-Broadway and other musical theater productions in New York City. She wants her students to learn about how COVID-19 and the theater closures are affecting real people. Hearing from the artists themselves has made an impact on her students.

• Jensen-Moulton also shared ideas on students giving in-class theatrical performances, which is a project especially well-suited for performance majors.

• She challenged the group to think of online spaces and how the pandemic may provide inadvertent opportunities to re-appropriate mediated platforms.

• She also mentioned how all of this is impacting high school and college theater productions, and how musical theater stars like Laura Benanti have created positive means of helping students process their disappointments on social media.

• Trevor R. Nelson, who works with students in a Western NY prison, challenged the group to consider the hidden labor of prisoners. He also reported that because of the shelter-at-home situation in NY, he was not able to teach his students; prisoners have lost access to education because of COVID-19.

• Jonathan Kulp reported that his department was re-imagining the idea of space, especially for their directing classes. The pandemic has challenged us to consider new pedagogical approaches that differ radically from the physical and spatial ways we have grown used to when we think about acting and singing.

The meeting ended with an agreement that the SAM Musical Theater Study Group would consider the topic “Broadway Post-COVID” at our next in-person SAM meeting. We would also like to host a Broadway sing-a-long after our session in memory of our dearly departed colleague Michael Pisani.

If you are a SAM member and interested in joining the Musical Theater Study Group, please contact Liz Wollman ( or Trudi Wright ( You can also find out more by visiting “Interest Groups” in the “Community” section of the society’s website. We look forward to seeing you at our next meeting in 2021!


Book Reviews

San Francisco and the Long 60s. Sarah Hill. Bloomsbury Academic, 2016. 357pp. ISBN: 9781628924213. Paperback.

Monica Ambalal, Merritt College


The Bay Area has long been associated as a haven of social change and acceptance for new ideas, practices, and musical genres. Bands like Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane are popular examples of the innovative artists that thrived in San Francisco in the 1960s, and numerous texts and articles have seemingly exhausted their contributions. Sarah Hill’s San Francisco and the Long 60s is a refreshing addition to the ever-growing 1960s popular-music library. This is not a retelling of activist Berkeley and it is not a deification of boomer-generation bands. This is the story of the Bay Area from 1965 to 1969 and the surrounding communities that contributed to the soundscape, shaped the experience of music practices, and welcomed future generations to share in this counterculture of collective memory involving music, drugs, and activism.

The title is a play on Eric Hobsbawm’s theory of the “long 19th century,” which provides a total timeline of the era extending beyond the confines of specified dates. Hill borrows the idea by organizing her book into two main sections: the short 60s and the long 60s. The first five chapters, which make up the bulk of the text, focus on the years 1965–1969, and the second half connects the years and musical practices beyond 1969 to those who set the stage for new political movements in California. While most of the chapters center on Oakland, Berkeley, and San Francisco, Hill includes the histories of Marin County and Big Sur where spiritual practices contributed to the hippie counterculture of the 1960s. The organization of the book is unique in that it reads like a historical ethnography, featuring ten carefully placed interlude chapters found throughout the text. In these sections the author deconstructs a song that reflects the sentiment of a particular time like “Everyday People,” or the chart-topping 1968 hit “Summertime Blues.” Each of these selections includes artist biographies and band personnel, a short history of the song, and a brief analysis of the song structure, making this an appropriate choice for both the armchair reader and the classroom setting. The author uses local primary source documents from Barb and the San Francisco Chronicle, oral histories, interviews, and historical college newspapers from the Bay Area. It should be considered that while Hill is a senior lecturer at Cardiff University interested in popular music countercultures, her time as an undergraduate at UC Santa Cruz and her experience growing up and living in Oakland situates her expertise as an author and Bay Area native.

The book begins with a prelude titled “Ripples”—a play on the Grateful Dead song—in which Hill tells the story of the now-defunct Black Oak Books of Berkeley. The prelude is a personal narrative, yet one that readers can relate to in a time when physical bookstores, seen by some as irrelevant, are often forced to close. In the chapter “1965,” the author is quick to point out the established varieties of music in the Bay Area at the time (jazz, opera, ballet) and the polemic that unfolded between conservative or established families and the young artists and musicians, hippies, and gentrifiers newly arrived to San Francisco and Berkeley. As Ravi Shankar was playing the Masonic, new venues like The Matrix and the Red Dog Saloon were established as permanent venues for new sounds, while Bill Graham was promoting an artist collective called the San Francisco Mime Troupe and Ken Kesey held the first Acid Tests. The following interlude on “Laugh, Laugh” by The Beau Brummels is a unique choice, as the song is one that is repeated on 60s on 6 XM radio each week, and while the audience usually knows the song, many do not remember the band. Each of the verses are carefully documented and Hill includes a brief chart history and personnel list to help solidify the Beau Brummels as a San Francisco band that contributed to the 60s pop sound.

Themes of drug culture and experimentation are found throughout the chapter “1966,” where Hill begins with the history of the Trips Festival that brought the hippie underground music subculture into the media spotlight. Rather than pointing to tired clichés of drug trips and the free love movement, the author writes about the total psychedelic experience as one that included art movements like poster art that grew from concert culture, and aural and visual signifiers like the light show happenings at local dancehalls. This part of the text also introduces readers to political positioning and differences of programming occurring between the Fillmore founded by Bill Graham, and Chet Helm’s Avalon Ballroom. Rounding out the chapter is an interlude dedicated to The Great Society—an earlier name for the Jefferson Airplane—and the song “Someone to Love.” In “1967,” Hill conducts interviews and uses narrative from the former SF hippie zine Oracle to offer a rich depiction and retelling of the Human Be-In as it occurred in Golden Gate park that January. The event was held as a reaction to the recent banning of LSD in the state of California, and the author posits that the actions of this movement led to a number of organized meetings that helped to recognize the issues and shifting attitudes of communities living in the Haight district of San Francisco at the time. Her interviews display an alternate version of the movement where former Bay Area residents and activists are validated and comfortable sharing their active participation of the drug culture of the 60s. Moby Grape is one of the more unique bands mentioned in the book, and the author credits them with creating a direct influence on other groups of the time: “Moby Grape is an eclectic record, a rare studio insight into the many musical facets that contributed to a ‘San Francisco’ sound” (142). In order to offer a more complete idea of the influences on their sound, Hill situates Moby Grape amongst the free love movement and the Monterey Pop Festival, and organizations like The Hell’s Angels and the Black Panthers.

Notably, the author marks the end of the “Summer of Love” here in 1967 when a host of police raids occurred throughout the Haight and members of Grateful Dead were arrested on drug charges. While “1968” is the shortest section of the text, it includes facts and data that reflect the interest in San Francisco bands that began appearing regularly on Billboard charts and Time magazine, with hefty contract prices increasing to meet demand. The final chapter concludes with the polarizing dichotomies of the hippie movement. First, she juxtaposes the movement as it was situated in the peaceful communes in Marin and Sonoma counties, with the devastated and torn communities in Berkeley’s People’s Park. Then she makes a predictable comparison between the peaceful Woodstock festival and the turbulent Altamont Free Concert, both held in the same year. Finally, an appropriately placed final analysis of “Everyday People” by Sly and the Family Stone concludes the “short 60s” part of the text. In the postlude Hill offers final thoughts to the reader that point to movements occurring outside of popular music. The San Francisco Tape Center, Terry Riley’s In C, and choreographer Carlos Carvajal’s interpretation (Genesis 70) are considered alongside John Adams’s The Dharma at Big Sur from 2003.

While the text is meant to inform readers of the happenings of 1960s San Francisco, Sarah Hill ultimately offers a unique style of writing that locates the shifting attitudes of the time within musical genres and the influences of multiple networks that informed a sound that would eventually come to fruition for artists like Jerry Garcia and Janis Joplin. Potential readers should know this does not serve as a musical encyclopedia of sorts, yet it is certainly accessible to a variety of audiences and it complements music textbooks like What’s that Sound? by John Covach and American Popular Music.1  Instead, Hill has written a comprehensive text focused on the counterculture experience, one that helps to develop “the San Francisco sound.” For a future edition I would like to see more pages dedicated to immigrant communities and people of color. While Santana and Jimi Hendrix are mentioned on a few pages, there is no mention here of the Red Power or Chicano movements, or blues artists like Big Mama Thornton and Odetta who were established names in the Bay Area and an important part of the civil rights and activism of the mid-60s. Finally, the author does include a “star map” of the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, but the inclusion of city and county maps would be a welcome addition to help readers locate concert venues and neighborhoods mentioned in each chapter. While the author focuses on Grateful Dead mostly due to her interest with the archive held at UC Santa Cruz, the personal narratives of the interviewees are a drawing factor that help to shape the book and offer a new retelling of the hippie movement. This book remains an excellent source for students, enthusiasts, and academics interested in learning about the Bay Area of the 1960s and is useful for anyone interested in history, sociology, and women’s studies.

1 Starr, Larry and Christopher Waterman. American Popular Music: From Minstrelsy to MP3, 5th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2017.


Listening for the Secret: The Grateful Dead and the Politics of Improvisation. Ulof Olsson. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2017. 284pp. ISBN: 9780520286641. Paperback.

Basil Considine, Abilene Christian University


Olsson’s wide-ranging Listening for the Secret is not a book for the casual listener or person looking for an introduction to The Grateful Dead. The first volume in a projected series about this long-lived and legendary band, it is something of an ode to the mammoth horde of choice soundbites by and about the musicians, filtered through critical theory. Fans of The Grateful Dead and its music will appreciate how these details and flashes of insight swirl around the band’s large corpus of music. Someone looking for an entry point into the band’s history and music will, per the author’s introduction, likely find better luck with one of the more chronological histories of this counterculture American rock band.

Listening for the Secret has the general feel of three collected lectures that have been grouped as chapters. The writing presumes a general understanding of the context and the band, and even more so with the dizzying array of theorists who are quoted. The manner in which these are interwoven divides each chapter into focused areas, some of which are likely of considerably more interest to one group of readers than others. The multitudinous references to The Grateful Dead’s many songs practically invites a playlist to accompany the reading.

The first chapter, “Popular Avant-Garde? Renegotiating Tradition,” explores the band’s activities from eight different entry points, conveniently marked as numbered subsections. The first two of these explore The Grateful Dead’s relation to the mainstream and whether or not they qualified as members of the avant-garde in their first decades of performance (opinions generally agree that the band had gone commercial by the ’90s). Then come two shorter sections about the band’s process and influences, penned in an accessible style that recalls a well-written NPR feature. The remaining sections explore ideas of tradition, counter-capitalism, the band-audience dynamic in improvisation, and how the latter manifested in their album recordings.

The second chapter, “Wave that Flag: An Apolitical Band,” is in many ways a study of reception history by way of Theodore Roszak’s concept of counterculture dissent and Benedict  Anderson’s conception of imagined communities. Told in non-linear fashion, this study’s central threads are the diverse and often conflicting impressions of what the band and everything around it represented. This chapter has many choice anecdotes and colorful explorations, especially regarding police surveillance on The Grateful Dead during the so-called War on Drugs. This chapter would be a fine piece of reading for a popular music class, and for casual Deadheads.

The third chapter, “Crashes in Space: Aspects of Improvisation,” delves into the group’s famous (and famously long) improvisations in live concerts. Much of this chapter explores key context around familiar elements of the band: how the duration of LP sides created a maximum recorded length for their signature song “Dark Star,” which then became a starting point for lengthier improvisations onstage; how advances in amplification and MIDI synthesizers opened and closed musical doors; and how shifting tastes and contract language reigned or let loose their improvisations. While Olsson refers the reader to more focused and specialized works on The Grateful Dead in his introduction, more of these explanatory anecdotes and flashes of practical insight would have been welcome.

A key consideration when considering this volume is the question of its audience. As a whole, the book is written for a scholarly audience, but there are many passages of interest to a more general readership. Someone possessing a more casual familiarity with the band can skip through and enjoy much of the second and third chapters without having to understand Adorno, Foucault, and the host of other theoretical names. The extensive footnotes and bibliography also refer readers to more targeted works on the many interesting and often bizarre (some might say trippy) incidents in The Grateful Dead’s history. Reading the book will probably send you down a listening rabbit hole to check out the specific live performances referenced, most of which have fan- and band-provided recordings that can be listened to easily and freely online.


Half a Million Strong: Crowds and Power from Woodstock to Coachella. Gina Arnold. University of Iowa Press, 2018. 214pp. ISBN: 9781609386085. Paperback.

Rebekah Hutten, McGill University


Music festivals have long been considered spaces of both individual freedom and collective identity. While media and academic analyses often focus on performers at music festivals, in her book Half a Million Strong: Crowds and Power from Woodstock to Coachella, Gina Arnold offers an alternative approach, considering the shifting nature of festival crowds across the 20th and into the 21st century. By focusing on the tension between utopian narratives about the festival experience and the reality of gendered and racial violence at festivals, Arnold admits uncomfortable and forgotten stories into the archive, effectively disrupting pervasive discourse about music festivals as utopian sites of ecological preservation, music-as-transcendent of identity, and sexual liberation. Writing in a journalistic voice, Arnold repositions dominant ideas about rock festivals, highlighting how, despite the feeling that participating in a music festival crowd is socially and politically effective, rock festivals and crowds are “are not sites of resistance” (14).1

Though the bulk of the book centers around influential rock festivals that took place in the 1960s, Arnold begins her history in 1910 with the soprano Luisa Tetrazzini, who s ang to 250,000 people in an outdoor concert on Christmas Eve. Though Tetrazzini’s concert does not represent the typical 20th-century music festival, it is an apt point of departure for considering music festival crowd behavior. Listening to music within a large crowd creates a sense of community: imagined community, perhaps, but community nonetheless. Though the ideologies and values of festivals have shifted throughout the past century, Paul Gilroy’s concept of “listening together” is mobilized as a common theoretic in all festival crowd narratives.

Throughout her book, Arnold differentiates between music festival crowds and other forms of crowds such as protests, rallies, and public spaces like shopping malls or subway trains. In chapter one, she argues that festivals are a place where people purposefully choose to gather together “to participate in public life” (13). Additionally, joining the festival crowd imparts a sense of becoming part of an important historical moment, an idea which has been propagated in the wake of festivals such as Woodstock, Coachella, and Burning Man. Festivals are presented in films and print media as creating history, but they tend to be devoid of “political, ideological, or religious cohesion” (14). One such narrative promoted by festivals themselves is that they are a site of ecological preservation wherein participants can “return” to nature. Arnold outlines compelling and stark facts contrary to this myth: for example, following the 2015 Glastonbury Festival, it took eight hundred people six weeks to clean up the thousands of tons of garbage and waste left by festivalgoers. Large festivals mime overpopulation, and in doing so, create the less-than-ideal conditions of such overpopulated spaces.

Chapter two takes up Bob Dylan’s now almost-folkloric 1965 Newport Folk Festival performance. Though electrified acts had been around before Dylan “went electric,” the discourse surrounding his amplified act strongly influenced the formation of subsequent rock festivals and even rock crowds. Arnold brings attention to the conflicting ideologies that existed between rock and folk genres, demonstrating how crossing genre boundaries can reveal moments of genre-policing by the audience. Dylan’s “going electric” and the resultant booing from the audience represented audience perceptions of “selling-out,” inauthenticity, and as Arnold arguesbroader anxiety over the political turmoil of the 1960s. This collective anxiety stemmed from the audience sensing that “what was once a community had become a crowd” (33). Chapter three traces a history of late60s Californian music festivals. After 1965, the rock festival was codified as a countercultural space through the Monterey Pop Festival, the Aquarian Festival, Woodstock, and the Altamont Free Concert. Across these festivals, the dominant themes Arnold explores are commercial viability, audience expectations that festivals should be free, festival producers attempting to shape a utopian experience for both performers and audiences, social and sexual liberation, and violence. In chapter four, the US Festival is given primary consideration for its combination of discussions surrounding technology, pleasure, money, and American nationalistic democracy.

Turning to the issue of violence toward people of color and unequal racial representation at rock festivals, Arnold dedicates chapter five to contrasting the outdoor civil rights benefit concert in Peekskill in 1949, Woodstock, and the Wattstax Festival of 1972. While both Peekskill and Woodstock offered quasi-socialist ideologies, the Peekskill concert ended in a race riot perpetrated by white people and directed against Jews and African Americans. The festival space of Woodstock, Arnold argues, allowed similar ideologies to proliferate without the same level of violence that occurred at Peekskill, because its model was “aligned with white middle-class norms” (83). Though rock festivals mythologize freedom and liberation, audiences at festivals are not racially diverse. Wattstax, however, was an exception to primarily white rock festival crowds. A one-day event held at the Los Angeles Coliseum in 1972, Wattstax and its subsequent film critiqued discourses about freedom by positing the festival as part of a solution to racial and social problems.

Pivoting to considerations of gender representation and gendered violence, c hapter xix complicates the myth of sexual freedom with the reality of sexual assault and rape at rock festivals. Festivals were a site in which narratives about sexual liberation ran rampant ; however, accounts of widespread nudity were a myth invented by the press. In actuality, sexual assault at festivals was, and remains, widespread.2  In addition to physical violence, gendered roles at festivals were solidified in MTV’s depiction of young, white, sexualized women in shows such as Spring Break and Girls Gone Wild . These shows normalized sexualized festival behaviors without showing the girls as agents. Perhaps in response to male-centric festivals which were, and remain, not very safe for women, several women-only festivals were created in the late 1990s, such as Lilith Fair. Arnold’s inclusion of these women-created and women-attended festivals serves to show how women did resist systemic violence, with the festivals serving as inherently political vehicles for women to gather, perform, and appreciate music and art.

In chapter seven, Arnold teases apart the connection between raves, EDM crowds, and MDMA use. She argues that rave crowds embody a heightened sense of imagined community: they move in unison, feel safe in uniformity, and are united by the electronic aesthetic. A brief history of electronic dance music illustrates why EDM is now present at almost all 21st-century music festivals: it is a highly profitable musical genre that draws large crowds (such as those at Burning Man and Tomorrowland). Chapter eight considers a different type of musical community that forms at the Hardly Strictly Bluegrass festival. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass is a free festival, funded by the late Warren Hellman, with a utopian agenda that is realized: it is safe, donates to charity, is well-organized, provides adequate amenities, and a staggering 750,000 people attended on average over its three-day span.

In her conclusion to Half a Million Strong, Arnold shows the importance of small music festivals like Burger Boogaloo, where capitalist ideologies are not denounced but are instead creatively accommodated. However, rock festivals in general are argued to have harmed the political and social effectiveness of late 20th- and 21st-century protests. Moreover, at racialized political protests such as Standing Rock, white people have consistently treated the protest as a music festival (a practice that has been strongly denounced by Indigenous and Black activists). Since the 1960s, festivals “have trained largely white crowds to gather peacefully, but they have trained them in ways that allow them to believe they are effecting change merely by gathering to listen to music” (175). Of course, white people simply “gathering to listen” is not politically effective.

With personal experience working in arts festival administration, reading Arnold’s comprehensive review of festival rhetoric struck me as an important step toward understanding how festival spaces are not equally safe for all audience participants. Her book comes amid recent initiatives that aim to educate festival volunteers and concertgoers about bystander intervention, such as Project Soundcheck in Ottawa, Ontario, and quantitative reports documenting racial and gendered violence at festivals.3  At the same time, Arnold makes room for lived experiences of utopian mythology, those moments when imagined communities become “actual” communities. She is attuned to the embodied experience of participating in a large crowd amassing, ultimately, to listen together.

Arnold seems to have missed an opportunity to engage with Benedict Anderson’s seminal work on imagined communities;4  nevertheless, this book will be a useful tool for researchers studying crowd behavior at music festivals, as well as for those interested in a model that implicitly integrates musical cultures and intersectional feminist frameworks. Moreover, Half a Million Strong is an accessible and enjoyable means through which to engage with a critical view of festival crowd behavior. Arnold’s experience as a music journalist and long-time music festival writer shines through her writing as she highlights the disjuncture between experiencing festivals as both sites of pleasure and reflections of broader social problems surrounding race, gender, and navigating living conditions under late neoliberal capitalism.

1  Arnold’s use of the term “rock festival” is broad, referring to a crowd exceeding forty-thousand people on land that has been restructured for the festival space, including genres exceeding the boundaries of “rock” music.

2  For those seeking further information about the high rates of sexual assault at mass gatherings, such as music festivals, see Sampsel et. al 2015.

3 See, for instance, Sexual Assault Network, and Ottawa Coalition to End Violence Against Women. n.d. “Project Sound Check.” Project SoundCheck. ; Kari Sampsel, Justin Godbout, Tara Leach, Monica Taljaard, and Lisa Calder, “Characteristics Associated with Sexual Assaults at Mass Gatherings.” Emergency Medicine Journal 33, no. 2 (2016): 139–43,

4 Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1983).


The Selected Letters of John Cage. Laura Kuhn, ed. Wesleyan University Press, 2016. 674pp. ISBN: 9780819575913. Hardback.

Breanna Stewart, McGill University


John Cage received an astounding number of letters throughout his life, particularly in his later years, and felt duty-bound to answer them all. Compiling a collection of these letters is no small task. Laura Kuhn’s sizable but meticulously assembled compilation of his letters offers valuable insight into his creative world.

The main body of this collection is divided into five parts, each spanning several years from the beginning of Cage’s life as a composer in 1930 to his death in 1992. Kuhn includes introductions to each chapter, which do not serve as biographical summaries, but rather provide a framework in which the letters can be situated and understood. Kuhn identifies the people with whom Cage corresponded and provides editorial comment on the topics of discussion within the letters. Likewise, her footnotes also provide welcome explanation without being cumbersome. Kuhn also writes a preface for the entire volume that explains how the collection came to be from her work as executive director of the John Cage Trust, which she had a large hand in founding shortly after the composers death in 1992.

Editorially, Kuhn has made clear efforts to reproduce the letters just as Cage wrote them. Her changes are minimal to ensure ease of reading. Where the original forms of the letters are especially eccentric or individualistic, however, Kuhn has described the original in an editorial note. For instance, Kuhn transcribes her best estimate of Cage’s early piecemeal letters to Merce Cunningham and offers a scanned image of an original piece. While the loss of eccentricities can be viewed as regrettable, Kuhn does her best to preserve the letters’ integrity. Kuhn also takes persuasive steps to situate this collection within other published material concerning Cage. For instance, she directs readers towards other collections of correspondence between Cage and Pierre Boulez and Merce Cunningham. Moreover, Kuhn notes in her preface that this volume seems to contrast greatly with Cage’s Diary: How to Improve the World (Youll Only Make Matters Worse) in being much more apolitical. Kuhn argues rightfully, however, that the two are complementary, and together ultimately form something like an autobiography. This collection offers insight into a wide range of topics from Cages compositions and artistic thought to travel, food, art, mycology, his environment and living spaces, his financial difficulties and professional successes, and his personal life.

The first part, “1930–1949,” begins with Cages student years under the tutelage of Adolph Weiss, Henry Cowell, and Arnold Schoenberg. It centers mainly on Cages search for identity and direction. These letters reveal a kind of self-consciousness, but also a devotion to his emerging craft. Later in this section, the letters are dominated by his investment in creating a center for experimental music, exemplifying Cage’s drive toward innovation and belief in his pursuits. The final letters in this section outline his travels to Europe, documenting yet more of Cage’s intense preoccupations, first with Erik Satie, and then with Pierre Boulez after they met in Paris. The infamous correspondence between Cage and Boulez has been published elsewhere, and thus not every letter Cage sent to Boulez is published here. Moreover, while the lack of Boulez’s letters alongside Cage’s responses is somewhat disadvantageous, this collection does have the benefit of presenting Cage’s description of their professional contact to other correspondents, situating this correspondence more broadly.

Part two, “1950–1961,” reveals an increasing insightfulness and eloquence in Cage’s writing, particularly concerning composition and performance in his letters to Boulez and David Tudor. While Cage remains fairly silent overall concerning his romantic life, letters of this time period do reveal his famously intense captivation with Tudor. His earlier letters to Pauline Schindler and Merce Cunningham likewise shed light on his private life. During this decade, Cage’s evolving compositional practices are seen with the growth of I Ching, magnetic tape, and indeterminacy as compositional tools. Moreover, his forays into Zen Buddhism and mycology begin to appear. Cages letters to Peter Yates are particularly interesting, as they contain thoughts on aesthetics, music history, and style, and express clear opinions about modern compositional trends. For instance, in August 1943 Cage wrote to Yates that each sound is unique, and is not informed about European history and theory,and that if one stops thinking, all those things distinguished spring back suddenly into one thing: sound in space. Needing no excuse(1701). Not only do these words reflect the tone and general sentiment for which Cage is known, but even the subtlety of his eccentric word choice here is reflective of Cage’s increasing specificity and creativity.

The following sections continue much in the same way, winding through Cages various projects, concerns, and day-to-day events. Part three, “1962–1971,” documents Cages growing concerns around health and continuing financial problems, while still remaining devoted and hard-working as his professional reputation continued to flourish. Several large, pivotal projects are documented in this decade. Part four, “1972–1982,” further documents Cages growth in reputation, as well as an increasing breadth of thought. For instance, Cage becomes even more preoccupied with the relationship between art and politics, which results in as much writing as composing. Finally, part five, “1983–1992,” reveals a slowing down in some ways. Nevertheless, Cage remained unceasing in his compositional practice and, to the last months of his life, these letters portray an unremitting commitment to his work. Overall, throughout this collection threads of insight into his compositions and projects, as well as into his thoughts on composers, music, art, nature, and politics, emerge alongside comments about everyday life. The substantial merit of this volume, then, is its ability to show how these various threads are all intimately tied together. Through these letters, Cage reveals a steadfast adherence to himself, a constant pull towards originality, and a keen attention to the modern world around him. This collection illuminates a man who is passionate and intelligent, kind and emotional, and extremely determined. As Kuhn says, these letters show that John Cage began life as John Cage and finished life as John Cage(xviii). 


Bulletin Board

If current restrictions on travel and campus activities are lifted, Williams College Special Collections Department will be pleased to again offer a short-term fellowship to an individual conducting on-site research in the Paul Whiteman collection. The 1- to 2-week fellowship includes the cost of travel to Williamstown and accommodations within walking distance of the Williams College campus. Also included in the fellowship is a $500 stipend. Applicants should send a project proposal and a CV to with Paul Whiteman Collection Fellowship in the subject line by May 4, 2020. Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis. The dates of the fellow’s visit are flexible, but the research must be completed between July 1, 2020 and June 30, 2021.

Large collection of vinyl long-playing records available to be donated: classical (especially baroque and early classical). Of special note, seeking an appropriate recipient, is an extensive collection of Balkan folk music: Romanian, Bulgarian, and Hungarian, collected in the 1980s before the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Communist satellite nations had special folk music academies producing excellent works. Contact Frank Manheim, (Telemann backwards) or 703 631 0166.


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 2020 by the Society for American Music, ISSN 0196-7967.

Editorial Board
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Items for submission should be submitted via the Bulletin's information page. 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.