Join us at the American Musicological Society Annual Meeting

This week the 2017 American Musicological Society’s annual meeting convenes in Rochester, New York and AMS members can save 40% on new and forthcoming titles when they visit our booth in the exhibit hall.

If you cannot attend the meeting, the discount is available online for 15 days after the show—use source code 17E9198 online (enter code at checkout).

Meanwhile get an early look at some of the titles we’ll have on view:

          
 

          
 

          

We are also offering a chance to win a free paperback copy of one of our Luminos Open Access music titles. The digital editions are always free (visit luminosoa.org to download), but please visit our booth at AMS to enter to win a print copy of your choice of either Keys to Play by Roger Moseley or Instruments for New Music by Thomas Patteson.

     

Watch this space through the weekend for more #amsroc17 posts, with free content from UC Press journals and more.


Martha Feldman Wins the Otto Kinkeldey Award at AMS in Vancouver

We are delighted to announce that Martha Feldman was awarded the Otto Kinkeldey Award for her book, The Castrato: Reflections on Natures and Kinds, last week at the American Musicological Society’s annual conference.

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The Otto Kinkeldey Award each year honors a musicological book of exceptional merit published during the previous year by a scholar who is past the early stages of his or her career. “Early stages” of the career is normally considered to mean no more than ten years beyond completion of the Ph. D. degree.

Recently released in paperback, The Castrato: Reflections on Natures and Kinds has received considerable praise from reviewers, and we’re proud that Martha’s work has earned this significant recognition.

“Rich in scholarship and filled with subtle analysis.”
—Colm Tóibín, London Review of Books
“This is a remarkable book. . . . An impressive achievement.”
—Nicholas Clapton, Early Music
“Meticulously researched, beautifully written and richly illustrated . . . In this book, as erudite as it is gripping, there is little to criticize.”
Cultural History
For related content, see our series of posts relating to  or other awards-related news.

Must-Read Journals at the 2016 American Musicological Society Conference

This post is part of a blog series celebrating the American Musicological Society annual conference taking place in Vancouver, Canada from November 3–6. Please visit our booth if you are attending, and otherwise stay tuned for more content related to our Music books and journals programs.


Whether or not you are attending the  conference in Vancouver, you can access a special selection of free content from our music journals. For a limited time, Journal of the American Musicological Society, The Journal of MusicologyMusic Perception, and 19thCentury Music are making select content available to subscribers and non-subscribers alike.

Journal of the American Musicological Society

Editor-in-Chief: W. Anthony Sheppard; Incoming Editor: Joy H. Calico

JAMS coverThe Editorial Board of the Journal of the American Musicological Society is pleased to present the Journal’s first virtual issue. The aim of this inaugural issue is to offer a diverse swath of current scholarship to a broader public. To that end the virtual issue showcases three recent colloquies—collections of brief essays by multiple authors—whose themes range across singing and song literature, performance studies and vocality, aesthetics, disability studies, and philosophy.

 

 

 

The Journal of Musicology

Editors: Peter Schmelz and Jesse Rodin

JM coverThe most recent issue of The Journal of Musicology focuses on Russian music, with articles by Leah Goldman, Gleb Tsipursky, Anne Searcy, and Richard Taruskin. Each scholar rejects the simple top-down totalitarian model of state control that once dominated western conceptions of Soviet musical creativity. Yet they also go further, examining precisely how creative choices were made within the Soviet state. They offer fresh insight into issues of individual creativity and the construction of musical meaning, as well as explore the complex layers of bureaucracy that influenced artistic production.

 

 

Music Perception

Editor: Lola L. Cuddy

MP coverIn recent years, and especially within the last decade, activity and interest in musical corpus research—that is, research involving statistical analysis of large bodies of naturally occurring musical data— has increased dramatically. In view of Music Perception’s longstanding dedication to scientific, empirical approaches to music research, the journal has devoted two special issues to the topic. The articles represent the diversity of research methodology in the field. Repertoire studied ranges from common-practice classical to jazz, and there are studies of compositional style, investigations into theoretical assertions and historical practice, a meta-study on stimulus characteristics used in perceptual studies, and a study on pattern recognition and production in improvisation. You can read the special issues here and here.

 

19th-Century Music

Editor: Lawrence Kramer

NCM coverLast year marked the 150th anniversary of the end of the American Civil War and the publication at roughly the same time of the original version of Walt Whitman’s collection of Civil War poems, DrumTaps. To commemorate these events, 19th-Century Music has published a special issue on Music, the Civil War, and American Memory. The issue looks at how music proved to be one of the chief vehicles for constructing and transmitting Civil War memory and at the important, though belated role, that Whitman’s war poetry played in the process.

 

 


Vancouver and the Global New Music Scene

This post is part of a blog series leading up to the American Musicological Society annual conference taking place in Vancouver, Canada from November 3–6. Please visit our booth if you are attending, and otherwise stay tuned for more content related to our Music books and journals programs.


by Tim Rutherford-Johnson, author of Music after the Fall: Modern Composition and Culture since 1989

Vancouver, unlike Paris, New York or Cologne, is unlikely to be high on anyone’s list of cities to have had an impact on the direction of contemporary art music. Yet when I was writing Music after the Fall, I was struck by how often my attention was drawn to the Canadian West Coast – and not only because of the frequently beautiful music that gets made around here. Thanks to the teaching of Christopher Butterfield and the Czech émigré Rudolf Komorous at the University of Victoria, just the other side of the Salish Sea, two generations of composers have emerged with distinctive voices. Among them are Martin Arnold, Cassandra Miller, and Linda Catlin Smith, whose 2007 piano solo Thought and Desire exemplifies an understated, highly personal style that is fascinatingly detached from the pressures of the US or European scenes.

One of the very first composers featured in the book, Hildegard Westerkamp, has been based in Vancouver since 1968. My opening chapter even includes a photograph of Kitsilano Beach.

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Kits Beach, photo by Phil Smith

Westerkamp, and the beach, appear thanks to her Kits Beach Soundwalk, an electroacoustic piece that transforms recordings of waves and barnacles into a magic realist fantasy through 300 years of music history. Unlike the composers mentioned above, Westerkamp was taught by R. Murray Schafer at Simon Fraser University. An environmentalist as well as a musician, the 83-year-old Schafer can probably claim to be Canada’s most celebrated living composer. His reputation stands on his work as the father of “acoustic ecology,” the scientific and creative exploration of our sounding environment.

Together with a like-minded group of composers and students (Westerkamp joined them a little later), he set up in 1969 the World Soundscape Project to raise public awareness of environmental noise and sound, document the aural environment, and establish a practice and methodology for good soundscape design. The WSP produced a number of influential publications, among them field recordings made around Vancouver and Europe, and Schafer’s manifesto text The Tuning of the World, in which he sets out the field of soundscape studies alongside an ecological program for protecting the acoustic environment against man-made noise.

Field recording has gone on to become a significant artistic and scientific discipline, and the sounds of the environment have become commonplace within experimental music. Composers around the world today are capturing more and more exotic sounds – from beneath the surface of the Hudson River to the insides of bottles, pipes and manholes – and incorporating them into their music in a variety of ways. The appeal is not only environmental, but also about redefining the nature of musical subjectivity – ultimately, what it means to listen and to be part of a sounding world. Vancouver may be out of the way to some, but its reverberations endure.


9780520283152Tim Rutherford-Johnson is a London-based music journalist and critic. He was the contemporary music editor at Grove Music Online and edited the most recent edition of the Oxford Dictionary of Music. He has taught at Goldsmiths College and Brunel University, and since 2003 he has written about new music for his blog, The Rambler.


Looking Back at Loft Jazz

This post is part of a blog series leading up to the American Musicological Society annual conference taking place in Vancouver, Canada from November 3–6. Please visit our booth if you are attending, and otherwise stay tuned for more content related to our Music books and journals programs.


by Michael Heller, author of Loft Jazz: Improvising New York in the 1970s

Like so many others, I graduated college without a plan. The only thing I knew was that I wanted to work in music, and I somehow stumbled into a job with New York’s Vision Festival – one of the premier showcases of the jazz avant-garde. It was a small operation, with just three of us huddled in a tiny office in the East Village apartment of Patricia and William Parker. Patricia—a dancer and choreographer—was the organization’s executive director. In ten years, she had built the festival up from a tiny event run on $5,000 and elbow grease into a major event attracting international audiences and securing funding from top arts organizations. The work also put me in close contact with a close-knit community of avant-garde improvisers, based primarily around lower Manhattan. When I would ask about their influences, one topic kept cropping up over and over again: the New York loft scene of the 1970s.

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What were the jazz lofts? In a nutshell, the lofts were a collection of venues organized by musicians inside of mostly vacant industrial buildings in lower Manhattan. Musicians often lived in the spaces as well, blurring the line between public and private spheres. The jazz history books that I had read so dutifully as an undergrad had scarcely a mention of them, although they cropped up occasionally in artist bios (“So and so began their career performing in lofts before moving on to…”). Yet for a generation of New York artists, the vibrancy of the loft era remained a powerful source of inspiration. It was influential not only due to the music that was created, but also for the empowering value it placed upon artist-organized production strategies—strategies that continue to animate projects like Vision up to the present day. It was those conversations in Patricia’s apartment that fueled my initial fascination, ultimately resulting in this book.

Loft Jazz: Improvising New York in the 1970s makes no attempt to offer a comprehensive history of the scene. Instead, it works to unravel various threads of meaning that surrounded loft practices. This includes extended explorations of terms like “freedom” and “community,” ideals that crop up so frequently in jazz discourse but that can mean very different things in different contexts. It also considers the ramifications of private archiving among musicians, particularly in relation to a wave of affordable, consumer-grade recording equipment that came on the market in the 1960s. For a scene that produced fewer commercial records than earlier periods in jazz, these private archives become the linchpin for reconstructing the histories of local musical networks, even in the jazz mecca of New York City.

Over the course of my research, I would also learn that not everything about the lofts could be spun into a tidy romance. The spaces were as controversial as they were celebrated, beloved by some and abhorred by others. Perhaps nothing attracted more ire than the very phrase “loft jazz,” which opponents claimed was never a coherent style. Worse yet, some argued that the phrase glorified the meager settings in which innovative African American artists were forced to perform. These arguments are part of the story as well, and play a major role in the complex and conflicted legacies surrounding the period. But to those who remembered them fondly, the power of the lofts lie in the excitement surrounding a scene that teemed with artistic opportunity. Where music could be experienced every night on every block, and opening a venue could be as simple as opening your living room.


Heller.Headshot.2016Michael C. Heller is an ethnomusicologist, music historian, and Assistant Professor of Music at the University of Pittsburgh.


Warsaw Autumn: Making New Music in Cold War Poland

This post is part of a blog series leading up to the American Musicological Society annual conference taking place in Vancouver, Canada from November 3–6. Please visit our booth if you are attending, and otherwise stay tuned for more content related to our Music books and journals programs.


by Lisa Jakelski, author of Making New Music in Cold War Poland: The Warsaw Autumn Festival, 1956-1968

Jakelski cover Making New Music in Cold War PolandWhat can institutions tell us about contemporary art music? The Warsaw Autumn festival provides some intriguing answers to this question. Launched in 1956 (and still running today), the Warsaw Autumn was at the heart of a vibrant musical culture in Poland whose diversity and modernity were unique in Cold War Eastern Europe. Electronic music from West Germany, symphonies from the Soviet Union, sonic experiments from Poland, and avant-garde dance from the United States—these were just some of the things a festivalgoer could see and hear in the 1950s and ‘60s.

The Warsaw Autumn fascinates me because of its unique location during the Cold War. At the time, the festival was on the cultural fault line between East and West, and, as a result, it was a place where there were heated debates about what new music could (and should) be. I’ve been just as intrigued by the stories of the people who’ve been involved with the festival. In writing this book I’ve encountered savvy composers, traveling performers, wheeling-and-dealing cultural officials, partisan critics, curious tourists, and rioting audiences. Telling their stories has allowed me to present new music as a social phenomenon—the creation of many different actors working through institutions. Following the journeys of people, objects, and ideas has also led me to a more nuanced understanding of Eastern Europe during the Cold War. Instead of being muffled by an Iron Curtain, musicians in Poland, through the Warsaw Autumn festival, were able to participate meaningfully in networks that stretched across the world.


Lisa Jakelski is Associate Professor of Musicology at the Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester.


What Mozart and Super Mario Have in Common

This post is part of a blog series leading up to the American Musicological Society annual conference taking place in Vancouver, Canada from November 3–6. Please visit our booth if you are attending, and otherwise stay tuned for more content related to our Music books and journals programs.

This post is also in honor of International Open Access Week, October 24–30, 2016. At publication date, a free ebook version of this title will be available through Luminos, University of California Press’s Open Access publishing program for monographs. Visit www.luminosoa.org to learn more.


by Roger Moseley, author of Keys to Play: Music as a Ludic Medium from Apollo to Nintendo

Keys to Play cover MoseleyIn languages ranging from French to Turkish and German to Japanese, the verb “to play” is applicable to both games and instrumental music. But what kinds of games might we be playing when we play music? Johan Huizinga, the founder of modern play studies, remarked in 1939 that “it seems probable that the link between play and instrumental skill is to be sought in the nimble and orderly movements of the fingers.” Growing up, I was vaguely aware of parallels between the hours I spent at the piano keyboard and the computer keyboard, or with Nintendo gamepad in hand. Exercises of dexterous timing and the navigation of obstacles in the form of double thirds or Goombas occupied me throughout my childhood. Decades later, when writing Keys to Play, I found myself articulating my sense of what exactly these activities have in common and how they might illuminate one another.

I was particularly intrigued by how Huizinga’s focus on “the nimble and orderly movements of the fingers” hints at a genealogy of digitality that links fingers to numbers and fortepianos to game controllers. Since its earliest musical incarnations, the keyboard has materialized and arrayed bits of information, making them available for processing by both humans and machines. Keys and buttons represent bits as spatially divergent entities that are configured and mapped according to cultural memory, the elements of which are stored and retrieved by recourse to notes, letters, numbers, tunings, and temperaments. Temporally, the keyboard enables these bits to be processed in sequence, configuring strings of events that can be programmed (composed), executed in real time (performed), or both at once (improvised).

At the same time, keyboards afford analogical modes of play. From the clavichord’s infinite sensitivity to the Guitar Hero controller’s cheerful fakery, both the isomorphism and the discrepancy between digital action and sonic outcome activates the logic of mimesis, revealing the senses in which play unfolds in a subjunctive mood. Under the rubric of make-believe or fantasy, we play as if things might be otherwise.

To alight on another point of linguistic contact between music and games, in both cases the “score” is indicative of a need to objectify and quantify the outcome of a playful process. To score, etymologically, is to mark: to tally, in the case of games, and to prescribe, in the case of music. In this sense, a score describes and constitutes the ludic rules according to which the music is to be played. Throughout Keys to Play, I wanted to conceive of figures such as Mozart and Beethoven not as composers in the traditional sense, but as game designers, creators who engineered playful adventures for themselves and others to act out.

These connections help explain why Keys to Play considers the playing of Mozart’s keyboard concertos and Nintendo’s New Super Mario Bros. Wii side by side (and even goes so far as to mash them up). Shuttling between the digital and the analog, between the concrete and the fantastical, between the nimbleness of eighteenth-century fingers and the wanderings of the twenty-first-century imagination, musical play enables us to act as if the world were—or might yet become—a more wondrous place.


Roger Moseley is Assistant Professor of Music at Cornell University. Active as a collaborative pianist on modern and historical instruments, he has published essays on the interface of the keyboard, the performativity of digital games, the practice of eighteenth-century improvisation, and the music of Brahms.