Paper Session: Netflix, Hulu, and HBO: TV Platforms Tackling Trauma
Toby Huelin (University of Leeds, UK)
Listening to Trauma on Netflix: Music, Identity, and Homecoming in Tidelands
Scholars have used depictions of trauma in Homer’s Odyssey as a lens through which to refract contemporary homecomings and displacements, including the post-traumatic effects of warfare (Shay 2003) and the migratory experiences of refugees (Alcock 2003). The hero, Odysseus, returns to Ithaca to find his city transformed and distorted, experiencing the psychological trauma resulting from the loss of home. The themes of the Odyssey are transposed to a contemporary environment in Tidelands (2018), Netflix’s first original Australian series. Calliope (from the Greek: “beautiful voice”) returns from a period of incarceration to find her Australian coastal hometown overrun by the “Tidelanders”. These siren-esque sea creatures, derived from Homer’s text, ensnare and murder the locals whilst conducting a high-stakes drug trafficking operation. Like Odysseus, Cal seeks to regain control of her home. Whilst the concerns of the Odyssey resonate widely in modern-day culture, the specific expressions of Odysseus’s trauma in audiovisual media remain largely unexplored.
Music is central to the construction and representation of trauma in Tidelands. This paper argues that the use of pre-existing popular songs fulfils an important narrative function in the show, relating to how the programme creates an opposition between “home”, and the trauma resulting from its absence. The coalescing of musical and lyrical content with specific narrative choices embodies the trauma of Cal’s loss of home, reflecting the prior experiences of Odysseus. Such issues amplify local tensions concerning the mediated construction of Australian identity, as prioritised in Creative Australia’s National Cultural Policy (2013), and the traumatic destruction of home experienced by First Australians at the hand of colonial settlers. Drawing together a textual analysis of specific scenes with production insights originating from interviews with the show’s music supervisor (Lynn Fainchtein), this paper examines the significant relationship between music and trauma in the series.
Toby Huelin is a PhD researcher at the University of Leeds, UK, investigating the use of library music in contemporary television. He is the author of forthcoming journal articles on the role of music programming on BBC Four (Critical Studies in Television, 2022) and musical representations of Donald Trump in library music catalogues (European Journal of American Culture, 2022, co-authored with Júlia Durand). Toby is also a media composer: his music has been broadcast on Emmy Award-winning television (United Shades of America, CNN) and in a global advertising campaign for internet brand Honey. Prior to starting his PhD, Toby studied at Oxford University and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. His research is funded by the AHRC via the White Rose College of the Arts and Humanities (WRoCAH).
Shersten Johnson (University of St. Thomas, US)
Hulu’s Handmaid’s Tale: Orchestrating Trauma
The Golden Globe and Emmy award-winning Hulu TV series A Handmaid’s Tale, based on the 1985 novel by Margaret Attwood, premiered in April of 2017 shortly after the historic Women’s March at which appeared signs with sayings like, “Make Margaret Atwood Fiction again,” and “The Handmaid’s Tale is not an instruction manual.” In the ensuing years, the series has done extremely well, but our country has not. From the crippling pandemic to widespread systemic racism to the increasing gulf between haves and have-nots, the complex traumas of our current situation arguably resonate even more deeply with Atwood’s story now than did those of the time she wrote it.
This paper places the music of the Hulu TV series in conversation with Atwood’s book in order to discuss the role of music in dealing with and responding to trauma. It begins by exploring how Atwood herself is strongly attuned to the role music has to play in fostering (or forcing) a communal point of view, and proceeds to examine the function of Offred’s musical memory in the unfurling of narrative details. From there, it goes on to explore key moments from the series in which composer Adam Taylor employs virtuosic timbral soundscapes to intensify our empathy for the characters. Along the way, the paper discusses how the composer incorporates pre-existing music to draw on listener’s associations of violence and indoctrination. Finally, the analysis uncovers trauma in four registers: 1) diegetic, as a tool wielded by the members of the Republic of Gilead to inflict suffering, 2) narrative, as a means for Offred to process memory and pain, 3) intertextual, for us as listeners to recognize and understand familiar patterns of oppression, and 4) underscore, as a sonic analog of trauma that is both relentless and telling.
Shersten Johnson is Professor of Music at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, where she teaches music theory and composition courses as well as interdisciplinary honors seminars. Her interests include contemporary opera, embodied cognition, disability studies, and music pedagogy. Her publications appear in journals such as Music Theory Spectrum, Music & Letters, Music Theory Online, Opera Today, and The Journal of Music and Meaning. She is also author of several book chapters including “Understanding is Seeing: Music Analysis and Blindness” and “Embodied Rhythm and Musical Impact of Ritualized Violence in 20th-century Opera,” both in Oxford Handbooks.
James Denis McGlynn (University College Cork, Ireland)
‘I am no longer afraid’: A Case Study on the Musical Communication of Trauma in Narrative Film and Television
In 2019, Damon Lindelof’s nine-part adaptation of Watchmen was released to widespread critical acclaim. The series was especially praised for its bold continuation of the original Watchmen narrative (Moore and Gibbons, 1986), exploring the potential present-day consequences that could have arisen from Moore and Gibbons’ retelling of 20th-century history. Central to this adaptation is Lindelof’s handling of Watchmen’s fictional ‘11/2’ catastrophe which, in the original narrative, precipitates unspeakable destruction and loss of life in New York. Although originally serving the quite conventional function as the denouement of Moore and Gibbons’ Watchmen, revealing the antagonist’s hitherto ambiguous intentions, Lindelof instead adopts the 11/2 event as a prompt for investigating the psychological, sociological and cultural impact that a traumatic event of this magnitude could have hypothetically borne for the next generation of American citizens (Lindelof 2020). Notably, the series communicates characters’ experiences of this imaginary traumatic past through a complex network of musical rearrangements.
This paper examines how Watchmen adapts its source text to generate this potent commentary on our processing of traumatic memories, a phenomenon prominently facilitated by the series’ innovative use of musical rearrangement. I primarily focus on the episode ‘Little Fear of Lightning’: an hour-long character study of Wade Tillman (Tim Blake Nelson) and a compelling example of Watchmen’s use of its score to communicate characters’ struggles with trauma. Diegetic source music heard during 11/2 is continually quoted throughout the series’ non- diegetic score, garnering a leitmotivic association with trauma and forging parallels with music’s real-world capacity to enmesh itself with traumatic memories (McDonald 1993, 1). Ultimately, I hope to reframe Lindelof’s Watchmen which, in its audio-visual sublimation of established ties between trauma and music, enables our vivid entry into its troubled protagonists’ subjective experiences and reaffirms the affective resonance that even film’s most fantastical representations of trauma can elicit.
James Denis Mc Glynn is a PhD Excellence Scholar at University College Cork. His doctoral thesis, to be submitted in 2020, explores pre-existing music and narrative communication in the film score. As an undergraduate, James founded the UCC Orchestra, resulting in his receipt of a Quercus Creative & Performing Arts Scholarship in 2015 and a CACSSS PhD Excellence Scholarship in 2017. In 2018, he completed a three-month research residency at the Irish Culturel Centre in Paris, during which time he participated in Michel Chion’s ‘Audio-Vision’ workshops. Recently, James presented at the 2019 and 2020 Music and the Moving Image conferences.
Paper Session: Approaching Trauma through Reich’s WTC 9/11
Ryan Hepburn (Newcastle University, UK)
‘Simply sitting’: Interpretations of Shmira in Steve Reich’s WTC 9/11 (2010)
Towards the end of Steve Reich’s WTC 9/11 (2010), two episodes of Hebraic cantillation emerge. Both are Reich’s evocations of the vigils that were kept over body parts, in tents, in the East 30s, by members of lower Manhattan’s orthodox Jewish community (including, unusually, by a number of women, from Stern College). While these episodes represent startling and more expressive departures from the tone of the rest of the work, they also raise profound questions about New York-based responses to 9/11, to trauma more broadly, to the Jewish perception of 9/11 (and, by extension, to Holocaust memory), and to Reich’s own identity as a modern orthodox Jew.
With that in mind, the two episodes are interpreted in a variety of ways: as Reich’s expression of Jewish sorrow (one that positions 9/11 as an attack against the high-profile Jewish community in TriBeCa); as articulations of Jewish lamentation and solidarity; as creative realisations of Reich’s own post-traumatic psychological “working-through”; and – when read against the recorded words spoken by composer David Lang at the very end of the piece – as explicit extensions of the personal and social commentaries articulated previously in Reich’s Different Trains (1988): that is, as foreboding warnings about the continued safety and survival of Jews.
Ryan Hepburn received his PhD from Newcastle University, UK. He was supervised by Professor David Clarke, Dr Paul Attinello, and Professor Susan McClary. At present, he is working on two large-scale projects: turning his thesis (about post-War American musical responses to the Holocaust, AIDS, and 9/11) into a monograph; and a projected book project that traces the development of Steve Reich’s Jewish orthodoxy. The latter is significantly shaped and informed by Ryan’s own Jewish identity, whereby its impact is scrutinised in relation to what might be regarded as certain tropes common to Jewish creativity and commentary in the (post-)modern era, not least in relation to views around trauma and politics, image and appearance, creative collaboration and decision making, and professional expectation(s).
Dan Blim (Denison University, US)
Proximity and Distance in Reich’s WTC 9/11
Like Different Trains, Steve Reich’s WTC 9/11 approaches a traumatic event by using documentary recordings and interviews set to minimalist string quartet music. And like Different Trains, critics have praised its ability to “bear witness” to that trauma, citing visceral reactions that “completely eliminat[e] any distinction between” the work and its subject. Reich, however, asserts his distance, insisting he does not “elicit emotion.” Amy Wlodarski has effectively critiqued Different Trains’s purported objectivity; this essay similarly examines WTC 9/11 by illuminating the tension between proximity and distance as means of managing trauma in art. Drawing on press coverage and Reich’s archival materials, I explore this tension in three ways. First, the text promises first-hand proximity to the events, while Reich’s musical setting alternates between immediacy that evokes traumatic affect and distant reflection that gestures toward (incomplete) closure. Second, while Reich was not in Manhattan on 9/11, his friend, composer David Lang, was. Reich relied on Lang for personal accounts, re-recording others’ accounts, and key musical ideas. This reliance demonstrates a need for a more proximate surrogate while allowing Reich personal distance. Third, Reich’s initial album cover, a graphic photograph of the second plane about to strike, sparked controversy and was replaced by a detail of the original that suggests clouds rather than smoke. The two images invoke levels of proximity and distance—to the towers, to the emotions, and to the literal photograph—that resonate with Reich’s other aesthetic choices. Ultimately, I situate this tension between proximity and distance within broader debates over 9/11, where arguments about critical distance, emotion, and personal investment have been deployed at Ground Zero to shape public memory.
Dan Blim is an Assistant Professor of Music at Denison University. He completed his PhD in Historical Musicology, as well as a Graduate Certificate in Screen Arts and Cultures, at the University of Michigan. His dissertation, Patchwork Nation: Collage, Music, and American Identity received the Society for American Music’s Housewright Dissertation Award. His research areas include Broadway musicals, film music, music and political campaigns, as well as a book project on the role of sound in public memory in the 21st century. During the pandemic, he has jumped on the sourdough bandwagon.
Paper Session: Songs and Memory under Dictatorship
Jesse Freedman (University of California, Riverside, US)
Memories of Captured Song: Revisiting the History and Legacies of Music-Making in Chilean Detention Centers Through the Cantos Cautivos Testimonial Project
On September 11, 1973, the Chilean military led by Gen. Augusto Pinochet overthrew the government of the democratically elected socialist president Salvador Allende in a brutal military coup. This moment precipitated the internment, torture, and disappearance of tens of thousands of Chileans in more than 1,000 detention and torture centers across the country. The digital testimony project, Cantos Cautivos (Captive Songs), is a crowd-sourced online archive that allows victims of political detention and torture during the Chilean military dictatorship (1973-1990) to submit memories of their experiences connected with songs that they heard, performed, or wrote under these conditions. The project was founded in 2015 by Dr. Katia Chornik, and I have had fortune to be able to assist with and support Dr. Chornik’s work on this project in various capacities since February 2020. After briefly outlining the scope of the project as well as identifying several trends found across the over 150 testimonies, this paper will examine specifically those testimonies dealing with acts of creation that took place among detainees. Detention centers, in a number of instances, became sites for the formation of musical ensembles that challenged and structures of control and spoke out beyond the physical boundaries in which these important acts of expression were confined. These artists became not only powerful voices within the context of the global solidarity movement against the Pinochet dictatorship, but affected the history of Chilean music-making and the political role that these songs would play even up to the present moment. By examining these creative and innovative responses to trauma, it is my hope to foreground ways that prisoners exercised political and creative agency in the face of brutal violations of human rights.
Jesse Freedman is a doctoral candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of California, Riverside. His research focuses on the reception and mediation of Chilean nueva canción and the experience of Chilean exiles in the former German Democratic Republic during the years of the Pinochet military dictatorship. Jesse’s research has been supported by the Fulbright program and German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). He holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in classical guitar performance from Guilford College and the University of Southern California respectively.
Carlos van Tongeren (University of Manchester, UK) & Pedro Ordóñez (University of Granada, Spain)
Flamenco and Francoism: Engaging with Legacies of Dictatorial Violence through Deep Song
Scholars have generally understood flamenco as an artistic expression of the experiences of poverty, persecution and repression suffered by the poor underclasses in southern Spain since the 17th century. Strikingly, however, much less attention has been paid to ways in which flamenco may have helped artists articulate much more recent experiences of persecution, repression and forced displacement under the Franco-dictatorship (1939-1975). Furthermore, while there are well-known flamenco songs and interviews with artists from the late years of the dictatorship and post-Franco period that refer verbally to the hardships and repression under Franco suffered by different members of the flamenco community, to date almost no research has been done on how memories of the Franco-era are expressed in non-verbal ways in flamenco’s cultural “repertoire” (Taylor 2003) of embodied knowledge and practices. In this paper, we will argue for a new way to view and listen to flamenco practices in order to understand how this music has responded to crucial historical, political and cultural developments in twentieth-century Spain. Specifically, we will show how the highly codified and symbolical universe of flamenco deep song has been a medium for artists to store, voice and cope with personal and collective memories of traumatic experiences from the Franco-era. Using selected case studies from the flamenco repertoire since the late 1960s –from Enrique Morente and José Menese to Niño de Elche or Rocío Márquez, among others– we will attend to ways in which deep song has operated as ‘psychodrama’ (Mitchell 1994; Sieburth 2014), allowing artists to engage with personal and collective memories of dictatorial violence that might otherwise not have made it into the public sphere.
Carlos van Tongeren is a lecturer in Spanish Cultural Studies at the University of Manchester. His first book, entitled Comedia y melancolía en la narrativa neopoliciaca (Vázquez Montalbán, Taibo II, Padura) (Brill-Rodopi 2019), examines the intersections between comedy and melancholy in detective fiction written in post-totalitarian contexts across the Hispanic world. At present, his research deals with performances of memory of the Franco-dictatorship in flamenco since the Spanish transition. Outputs related to this project have been published in the Journal of Spanish Cultural Studies and Studies in Spanish and Latin American Cinemas and presented during public lectures in Spain, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
Beyond his BA in both History of Art and Music Sciences, Pedro Ordóñez qualified to become a guitar teacher in Seville and hold a PhD in Musicology from the University of Granada. Thus, as a musicologist, he’s always worked on the bond between music, arts, and poetry in the 21st century. Among his interests are the new music and arts education, Contemporary Flamenco, and sound art. He’s been working and living, for a short or a long term, in Grenade, Strasbourg, Berlin, and Paris. He’s currently working at the Department of Musicology in the University of Granada, running the Chair of Music “Manuel de Falla” and managing the Flamenco Studies Group.
Panel: Interdisciplinary Approaches to Trauma and Healing through Music, Dance and Narrative
This panel brings together scholars from arts and medicine, musicology, ethnomusicology, and theatre studies to examine the rich potential for interdisciplinary conversations about trauma studies. Covering a broad range of contexts from music and dance projects with African American youth, to the gendered nature of trauma in hip hop representations, to narratives of slavery in postcolonial West African popular music, to healing the traumas of environmental disaster in Puerto Rico through musical theater, these authors seek to open a dialog about the ways that music, dance, and narrative have the potential both to repeat traumas (for example, in images of betrayal, violence, and destruction), and to transform those traumas into healing, resilience, and hope. On this panel we ask: How do the particular uses of music, dance, and narrative affect experiences of trauma and healing? In what ways are traumas experienced individually, and in what ways collectively? How does gender identity affect how trauma is experienced? How do we as scholars, artists, and practitioners acknowledge the reality of racial, gendered, postcolonial, and environmental traumas, while leaving open the possibility for healing transformation? How can we mobilize the potential of music, dance, and narrative in the classroom to help students work through and understand trauma rather than only re-exposing them to a painful past, or creating a spectacle for those who have not had the traumatic experience? Can trauma be compared across cultures, or is it always a singular experience? Who is sanctioned to talk about trauma? How are we theorizing trauma? Is there room for indigenous, black, and feminist perspectives in our understandings of time, memory, trauma, and healing? By bringing together scholars from different arts-based disciplines and working in different cultural contexts, this panel offers an opportunity to address these questions from a variety of complex perspectives.
Dionne Champion (University of Florida, US)
Engaging with Racial Histories and the Traumas of Systemic Racism with African American Youth through Music and Dance
In recent years, a series of publicly recorded and widely shared videos have focused new attention on the racism, violence, and trauma that African Americans experience on a daily basis. Black youth have witnessed a continuous stream of brutal acts towards African Americans, including highly publicized accounts of Black deaths, often at the hands of police. These experiences contribute to the cumulative emotional wounds from collective and intergenerational traumas that have permeated Black communities since the acts of genocide, slavery, and forced relocation that brought African peoples to America (Daniel, 2018; Yehuda & Lehrner, 2018). This collective trauma is exacerbated by community development issues like poverty, homelessness, and disinvestment. Historically, Black music and dance have provided an audio and visual soundtrack for sense-making around the collective struggles of African Americans. From original slave songs, to jazz and soul music, to present day hip hop, music has provided a foundational language of struggle, empowering African Americans to resist and transform systems of oppression, and dance has provided avenues to express creativity while voicing social and political concerns. Drawing on ethnographic data from work with Black youth in Gary, Indiana, this paper examines two different contexts that utilize music and dance to engage youth in critical explorations of their racial histories through arts-integrated making activities. It considers how music and dance can help to counter effects of collective trauma and racism by supporting healthy conversations about race and racism and can contribute to growing conversations in arts and public health about connections between collective and communal art-making and critical health outcomes like social cohesion and well-being. Utilizing Snyder’s hope theory, I argue that music and dance provide a frame for sharing and connecting narratives, which can generate increased capacity for healing and resilience, the capacity to imagine social change, and social cohesion.
Dionne Champion is a Research Assistant Professor in the University of Florida’s Center for Arts in Medicine. Her work focuses on the design and ethnographic study of learning environments that blend STEM and creative embodied learning activities, particularly for children who have experienced feelings of marginalization in STEM education settings. Dionne is a chemical engineer, dancer, arts educator, and education researcher. Her background and experiences give her a unique perspective on issues related to STEM and youth of color as well as an informed perspective on the intersections of arts and sciences, informal and school settings, theory and practice.
Imani Danielle Mosley (University of Florida, US)
‘They’re Gonna Do It Anyway’: Performing Black Male Death-as-Spectacle in the Music of Black Lives Matter
In the response to the murders of Mike Brown and Trayvon Martin, among others, many Black artists sought ways to express their horror, pain, anger, and trauma. Galvanized by the Black Lives Matter movement, singers and rappers released songs as a way to use their platform to reach wider audiences and inform them of the protests happening nationwide. However, the process of retelling and recounting everything from artists’ personal experiences with police brutality and violence to fictionalized versions of actual events perpetuated a kind of performance that re-presents the spectacle of Black death that focuses on the bodily and the visible. That spectacle — one that has become ingrained in the American consciousness since slavery — is uniquely tied to the Black male body.
Songs by groups and artists such as N.E.R.D., Childish Gambino, Vince Staples, and others perform the trauma of Black death at the site of the body when textualizing commands from the police such as “hands up” and “don’t move,” to the BLM chants that turn death throes into action statements such as “I can’t breathe.” In focusing on the body, these songs remind listeners that witnessing Black death is generationally familiar. That familiarity carries within it what Joy DeGruy has coined “post-traumatic slave syndrome.” This analysis asks how the presentation of trauma and violence can be negotiated through the means of musical storytelling. In analyzing the text of these songs, I show how the history of brutality against Black men has constructed the way that Black male artists see themselves and their bodies, essentializing themselves as sites of visible, witnessed violence. In an attempt to bring awareness to the struggle of Black men in America, specifically in relation to the state, these songs unintentionally reproduce spectacle — by giving us the ability to witness and re-witness violence — and trauma.
Imani Danielle Mosley is Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of Florida. Her research focuses on Benjamin Britten, music in postwar Britain, and modernism in the Anglophone world. Her book project focuses on digital sonic mapping, acoustics, and ritual in the English churches and cathedrals central to Britten’s sacred music. In addition to her work on Britten, she also specializes in contemporary opera, reception history, masculinities studies, and race in 21st-century popular musics.
Sarah Politz (University of Florida, US)
Postcolonial Trauma and Accountability in Musical Remembrances of the Slave Trade in Benin, West Africa
When musicians from Benin, West Africa sing and speak about postcolonial trauma, they take an approach which seeks to navigate the doubleness of colonization’s effects: the denial and devaluation of African humanity and culture by French colonizers, on the one hand, and the betrayal of African leaders complicit in such forms of domination, especially their involvement in selling slaves, on the other. Drawing on several years of ethnographic fieldwork with musicians in Benin, and new song translations from the Fon language, this paper explores the complex nature of postcolonial trauma and processes of healing through music and narrative in Benin. Since the 1990s Benin has been engaged in a public program of reconciliation with the African diaspora through festivals and the construction of memorials. Through the original musical compositions of renowned Beninese singer and drummer Sagbohan Danialou and the Gangbe Brass Band, I show that poetic discourse surrounding these processes of healing and reconciliation is deeply incomplete and remains wrapped in feelings of division and ambivalence, whether between individuals, across sectors Beninese society, or between Benin and other parts of the world. These musicians express these feelings through images of departure and loss grounded in Benin’s local practices of music and spirituality, especially the ancestral practices of vodun, which were so devalued by colonization and Christianization. Joining growing conversations in trauma studies, for example in the work of literary scholars Irene Visser and Ogaga Ifowodo, this paper considers ways that ethnomusicology and music studies generally might acknowledge more fully the unique nature of postcolonial trauma, which is both collective and individual, and acute and chronic. I argue that attending to postcolonial trauma and healing processes requires more open understandings of temporality, spirituality, and global connections than anthropology or psychology have traditionally incorporated.
Sarah Politz is Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology in the School of Music at the University of Florida. Her work focuses on creative practice in African and Afro-diasporic music, particularly in the context of popular music and new African diasporas in Europe and North America. Her current book project is about sound, spirituality, and migration in the lives of brass band and jazz musicians from Republic of Benin, West Africa. Sarah performs actively as a jazz trombonist.
Colleen Rua (University of Florida, US)
Puerto Rico, You Lovely Island: Music, Trauma and Healing from Broadway to San Juan
In September 2017, Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico. Full electrical power had not been
restored by the time the island was rocked by a series of earthquakes in early 2020. By March 15, a lockdown was instituted due to the global Covid-19 pandemic. Now, a new hurricane season is underway. Repeated cycles of devastation leave the Puerto Rican public in a continuous loop of preparing and recovering. San Juan productions of Broadway musicals In the Heights (2008) and Hamilton (2015) in the aftermath of Maria opened new dialogue between the mainland and the island. As the US government retreated from relief efforts, composers and other artists organized fundraisers to support impacted communities and the artists who serve them. In the Heights, Hamilton, The Capeman (1998), and the 2009 revival of West Side Story each represent Puerto Rico, through character or creator. Each of these musicals uses its score to create spaces of confinement or expansiveness for its characters, and in doing so reiterates, resists, or transforms trauma. Salsa, reggaetón and rap form the foundational languages of moments of trauma (natural disaster, incarceration, death) and healing (community celebration, grieving, emancipation), and exist in dialogue with creative expressions by island-based artists. Theatre collective Y no había luz, supported in part by the Flamboyán Foundation, has been named a “first responder” in Puerto Rican relief efforts. Their multidisciplinary approach to creation centers around audience participation and family engagement pedagogy, relying heavily on music as they interrupt traditional notions of performance to prompt action, ignite possibility, and offer solace. In this paper, I draw upon the work of scholars Patricia Ybarra and David Montgomery, and deep ecologist Joanna Macy to argue that the aforementioned artists activate afterlives for their work that extend beyond performance to facilitate memory-making and transformation for impacted communities.
Dr. Colleen Rua is Assistant Professor of Theatre Studies at The University of Florida. Research interests include Latinx Theatre, Immersive Theatre, and the American Musical. Her book project focuses on four Broadway musicals and their creators as sites of healing for Latinx populations displaced by disaster. Recent publications include “El Poder y Educación: Bilingualism and Translation in the American Musical,” in Delos Journal of World Literature and Translation, “Navigating Neverland and Wonderland: Audience as Spect-Character,” in Theatre History Studies Journal and “Pop Operas, or, Broadway sells T-shirts!” in American Literature in Translation 1980-1990.
Saturday 10-11:30am: Keynote
Maria Hamilton Abegunde (Indiana University, US)
“Sing a Song”, It Will Keep You Calm: Prince, Earth, Wind & Fire and Surviving a Pandemic with a Little Wonder
How can a song or sound (re)connect you to breath? How can both – song and sound – expand your breathing so you regain balance and harmony in moments of panic and disorientation? During these moments, how do you find and follow the longest, loudest, or lowest note until it resonates you – all of you – into calm? Let us journey together to explore and discover more. And: Keep Your Head to the Sky…
Dr. Maria E. Hamilton Abegunde is a Memory Keeper, poet, and ancestral priest in the Yoruba Orisa tradition. Her research and creative work respectfully approach the Earth and human bodies as sites of memory, and always with the understanding that memory never dies, is subversive, and can be recovered to transform transgenerational trauma and pain into peace and power. She uses poetic inquiry, contemplative practices, and ritual to explore violence, especially in the US, Brazil, and South Sudan. As a poet and healer, she uses sound – humming, moaning, breathing – as one way to help others work through, reconcile, integrate and understand trauma. Dr. Abegunde’s poems have been published in numerous anthologies and journals, including the Kenyon Review, the Massachusetts Review, and Tupelo Quarterly. Essays are forthcoming in North Meridian Review, FIRE!!!, and the book ASHE: Ritual Poetics in Africa Diasporic Expressivity. She is the commissioned poet and ritualist for the ancestral masquerade series, including the collaborative community exhibitions Be/Coming, Keeper of My Mothers’ Dreams, and Sister Song: The Requiem. Dr. Abegunde is the founding director of The Graduate Mentoring Center and a faculty member in the Department of African American and African Diaspora Studies at Indiana University Bloomington.
Paper Session: Towards New Ethical Frameworks
Kyle Kaplan (Northwestern University, US)
Graham and Cowell at San Quentin
In April of 1937, Martha Graham visited Henry Cowell at San Quentin State Prison to request music for a new dance project where she would honor the tragic suffering of those affected by the Spanish Civil War. Considering the critical and personal success of the collaboration, Michael Hicks, Leta Miller, and Joel Sachs have discussed this encounter within the general narrative of Cowell’s prison years and his development of an “elastic” form for the two resulting works, Immediate Tragedy and Deep Song. While noting the effort Cowell and Graham made to navigate his imprisonment, this scholarship has not considered the ethical implications of this meeting and the ways it speaks to the intertwined kinship of artistic inspiration, collective trauma, and individual sexual abnormality.
Reflecting on the significance of this scene, this paper revisits its archival record to question how Graham and Cowell’s bodies were described and evaluated during their collaboration. Doing so shifts attention away from interpreting their music and choreography as a representation of wartime trauma in order to emphasize the everyday work that musical/sexual bodies perform while coping with scenes of violence. Examining correspondence, press, and prison documents, I argue that Graham and Cowell sought to address a universal ethical good but also acknowledged the exceptionalized status of their own bodies. I contend that while Graham’s claims of universality have been characterized as indulgent egoism, Cowell used this same logic to navigate institutions that attempted to regulate and control his sexual behavior. Rather than trying to strip out or ignore the complexities of Cowell’s sexual behavior in service of making him an innocent martyr available for reclamation, this paper instead looks to the ways Cowell and Graham were both complicit with the power dynamics that viewed them as exemplary for their ability grieve on behalf of a larger collective suffering.
Kyle Kaplan is a PhD candidate in Music Studies at Northwestern where he is also a Mellon fellow with the Gender and Sexuality Studies program. His dissertation, “Intimate Critique: Music, Intimacy, and the Romance of Identity,” reconstructs Hans Werner Henze’s social and creative networks in counterpoint with Adorno’s contemporaneous writings on aesthetics, ethics, and intimacy. His research has been supported by the Sexuality Project at Northwestern and the Jan LaRue Travel Fund, and has been published in Women & Music and PMLA.
Rebecca Lentjes (New York City, US)
Nonconsensual Listening, Everyday Sexism, and the Mundanity of Trauma
What is the soundtrack to everyday sexism? Examples in the United States might include the public clangor of street harassment, such as catcalls, whistles, and vehicle horns, as well as the cacophony of gender dominance in the private realm, such as interruptions, mansplaining, and the undermining of women deemed “shrill” or “bossy.” Women and girls develop adaptation methods, such as wearing headphones at all times, because these sounds are so ingrained in daily life as to feel inevitable. The background noise of everyday sexism might seem innocuous in the moment. However, the repetition and ubiquity of this noise has manifested over time as a form of collective cultural trauma inflicted upon feminized ears. Following queer theorists working adjacent to trauma studies, such as Lauren Berlant and Ann Cvetkovich, I introduce the concept nonconsensual listening as a form of gender violence perpetuated through the quotidian sounds of white male patriarchy.
Lauren Berlant problematizes the prevalence of individual “trauma narratives” within trauma theory by focusing on what she terms the “crisis ordinariness” of persistent, ongoing modes of collective trauma. Berlant theorizes the “intimate public sphere” as an affective space in which trauma exists not as a singular event, but instead as a gradual process through which individuals are incorporated as sites for continual (yet just as detrimental) physical and psychological harm. This process creates a “trauma culture” in which trauma itself is rendered utterly mundane; take, for example, the assumed inevitability of gendered sonic assault in the intimate public sphere. How might the everyday sounds of nonconsensual listening contribute to (or complicate) our understanding of trauma culture? My paper takes up this inquiry by examining the role of sound and aurality within the crisis ordinariness of gender harassment in the United States.
Rebecca Lentjes is a feminist activist and ethnomusicologist based in New York City. Her primary research interest is what she terms “sonic patriarchy,” the sonic counterpart to the male gaze. Her writing has appeared or is forthcoming in Resonance: The Journal of Sound and Culture, the Journal of Interdisciplinary Voices Studies, Sounding Out!, Music & Literature, and TEMPO, and she writes program notes for Lincoln Center and the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra. She can be found clinic escorting & volunteering for an abortion fund outside her various musicological endeavors.
Eric Hung (Music of Asian America Research Center, US)
Chronicling Trauma Beyond Pain: Two Asian American Musicians Work to Document Fuller Lives
Trauma studies scholars often have a propensity to emphasize pain in their writings. This is understandable, given the nature of available archival sources and some scholars’ appeal for action, but it is also problematic. As Tuck/Yang (2014) wrote, “Academe’s demonstrated fascination with telling and retelling narratives of pain is troubling, both for its voyeurism and for its consumptive implacability.”
This presentation focuses on two works that attempt to recover the fuller lives of people who have lived through trauma. Zain Alam’s “Lavaan” juxtaposes and overlays home videos (1959-71) of the biracial Sikh-White Dhillonn family with archival clips of television news stories about anti-Sikh violence. Its soundtrack combines the Sikh “Lavaan” chant and Alam’s original electronic music. Together, they not only reveal the family’s struggles to determine the extent to which they should preserve Sikh traditions, assimilate, create new hybridities, and resist, but also help the Dhillonn children see that their childhoods might have been a bit happier than what they remember.
Bochan Huy’s “Hello Hi!” is a remake of a song that her refugee father Chhan Huy wrote in 1987. In Cambodian diasporic communities, pre-Khmer Rouge Cambodian rock music remains central to the idealized homeland that many work to keep alive. Growing up as a member of her father’s band, Bochan remembers singing the same pre-Khmer Rouge songs in “always sung the exact same way.” Herremake demonstrates that members of her community have used creativity to move beyond “exile nostalgia” to come to terms with life in the United States for several decades.
I will conclude by presenting a possible ethical framework for trauma studies in music—one that focuses on benefiting the communities we discuss and helping them facilitate both internal and external discussions.
Eric Hung (he/him/his) is Executive Director of the Music of Asian America Research Center, and Adjunct Lecturer in the College of Information Studies at the University of Maryland. His research focuses on Asian American music and public musicology. He is also an active pianist and conductor who has performed in Germany, Austria, Hong Kong, Australia and throughout North America. Prior to joining the nonprofit world full-time, he was a tenured professor at Westminster Choir College of Rider University. Hung holds a Ph.D. in musicology from Stanford University and an MLIS in Archives and Digital Curation from the University of Maryland.
Paper Session: COVID as Contemporary Trauma
Kimberly Williams (University of Florida, US), “Humming Through the Apocalypse: Sound Bathing and Black Woman Healing”
The United States’ Coronavirus (or COVID-19) mortality rate is over 170,000 as of August 2020 (CDC). Black people are overrepresented in the aforementioned casualty toll because of medical racism, somatic traumas, and comorbidity diseases from wealth disparities (e.g. obesity, heart disease, asthma) (CDC). The COVID-19 virus latches and changes the machination of breathing and movement to potentially cause pneumonia, sepsis and superinfection (John Hopkins). The virus is literally breath-taking. This means Black life in a white, viral atmosphere further suffocates Black breath. Eric Garner’s death and his survival cry of “I can’t breathe” reverberates and is inextricably linked to the death of Debroah Gatewood, a Black woman who was denied hospital intervention and diagnosed four times before she abruptly died of COVID-19 (NBC). The virus’ psychobiological stasis is moated by anti-Blackness and police violence. Breonna Taylor was murdered while breathing in her sleep; she was also a medical technician during the virus’ uprising. Accordingly, in the contemporary national infatuation of mindfulness and meditation, where does Black breath and sound enter–more specifically, how are Black people examining and taking care of their breath in a geographic and atmospheric period of grieving? How are Black care practitioners utilizing sound as a conduit for healing and rest during the Coronavirus and Black Lives Matter Movement? How does their work complicate Afropessimism? For this conference paper, I will explore the virtual sound bath performed by Black female care practitioners. Sound bathes are communal, mediation groups that focus on the aural pleasure from African, Asian, and Indigenious instruments. I will be discussing specific practitioners who integrate Black feminism, sonic curation, and breathing studies with a particular focus on pleasure and recovery. Lastly, I will explore such theorists and works from Toni Morrison, Ashon Crawley, Jennifer Nash, Jennifer Stoever and more.
Kimberly Williams is a doctoral student in the English Department at the University of Florida where her work encompasses Black love and sound studies across multimedia and literature. You can find her published work in Standpoints: Black Feminist Knowledges published by Virginia Tech Press, Sounding Out!, Gulf Coast, Callaloo, and more.
Natalie Farrell (University of Chicago, US)
K. K. COVID-19: Temporality, Cultural Trauma, and the Animal Crossing: New Horizons Soundtrack
As the COVID-19 pandemic began to force the world to stay at home, millions of casual video gamers boarded flights to a private island, courtesy of Tom Nook, an entrepreneurial raccoon. The latest installment of Nintendo’s sims franchise, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, launched mid-March 2020, and it quickly transformed from an unassuming island escape sim to a venue in which players constructed the COVID-19 pandemic as a cultural trauma and wrestled with its temporal effects. Most recent scholarship about Animal Crossing focuses on its capitalist subtexts, but little has been written about its unexpected cultural significance during the pandemic.
In this paper, I argue that players perform the COVID-19 cultural trauma through their embodied interactions with the game’s soundtrack and its sonic enactments of temporality. The game has no overarching narrative, but during the first month of gameplay, players gather materials, welcome new personified animal neighbors, and develop their once-deserted island in preparation for the famed folk singer/Beagle K. K. Slider’s first concert. The game progresses in real time, and each hour corresponds with a different musical track. Drawing on the trauma-informed analytical frameworks developed by Maria Cizmic and Judith Herman, I contend that Animal Crossing’s easy-listening soundtrack provides an aesthetic rhetoric through which players perform the pandemic’s traumatic effects. The repetitive soundtrack offers a psychological space for players to grieve while also enacting a sense of temporal regularity. Looped background music creates a Muzak-like affective environment that contributes to workplace nostalgia as players complete menial tasks. Further, music-centric events in the game’s narrative dictate the speed at which game is played, and the popular “time travel” cheat disrupts its aesthetic conventions, embodying the nonlinear temporal experience often attributed to the effects of trauma.
Natalie Farrell is a PhD student in Music History/Theory at the University of Chicago. She has been published in Music and Letters, The Journal of Popular Music Studies, and The Flutist Quarterly. Her research on neoliberal trauma and musicians’ unions has been funded by grants from the Mellon Foundation and the Eastman School of Music’s Paul R. Judy Center for Innovation and Research. Her other research interests include Northern Irish prison music, affect theory, and popular music. In her free time, she likes to knit and spend time with her dog (who is named after Leonard Bernstein).
James Deaville (Carleton University, Canada)
De-Traumatizing the Pandemic: Music, Media, and the Neoliberal Economy
The traumatic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are well documented by the media and in academic research (among others, Vaughan, 2020; Qui, Shen et al, 2020; Sun, Lin & Operario, 2020). Yet at the same time the media have been conveying a different message, in what amounts to a concerted effort to calm a traumatized public. While newscasts portray ICU health-care workers as battling hard to save lives, corporate (North) America and governments at all levels counter those disturbing sights and sounds with a targeted approach to de-traumatize the media consumer, “to pacify global panic” (Das, Nileswar et al., 2020)—their solution has been to flood commercial television and the Internet with audiovisual spots to foster positive attitudes and appropriate pandemic behavior among the public. The sponsors range from the CDC to grocery and big-box stores and chain restaurants.
A preliminary study of 50 such public service announcements and commercials from the months of lockdown (March-May) reveals the details of attempts to realize the goal of panic reduction, especially in terms of music. They congruently deploy “soothing” music and pastel animation to fortify the message that we should be calm and take measures to remain healthy (CDC, 2020; Memphis, 2020; MacDonald’s, 2020). In other words, it becomes a citizen’s civic duty to stay safe and well (Mehdizadeh & Kamkar, 2020), and music is complicit helping to establish a mindset that is vulnerable to this manipulation (Tagg, 1999). Soft dynamics, solo instruments, and cheerful, repetitive melodic material all conspire to create an affect of “chill,” like Muzak tracks (Lanza, 1994). Yet trauma reduction serves a greater purpose than the well-being of citizens—it can prop up the endangered neoliberal economic system, which could only thrive in a healthy market, where there are workers to exploit (Suther, 2020).
James Deaville teaches Music in the School for Studies in Art and Culture at Carleton University, Ottawa, and is currently co-editing The Oxford Handbook on Music and Advertising (in proofs, 2021). He edited Music in Television (Routledge, 2010) and with Christina Baade co-edited Music and the Broadcast Experience (Oxford, 2016) and is. His publications have appeared in the Journal of the American Musicological Society, Journal of the Society for American Music, American Music, Sound and the Moving Image, and Music and Politics, and he has contributed to books published by Oxford, Cambridge, Routledge, Chicago and Yale, among others.
Paper Session: Trauma-Informed Pedagogy and Performance in the College Classroom
Gretchen Horlacher (University of Maryland, College Park, US)
The Compassionate Music Theory Classroom: Reverent Acknowledgement
In this season of multiple traumas, freshman music majors face an additional hurdle: their chosen field carries meaning beyond the start of a degree program. In the face of the pandemic most cannot participate fully in life-giving activities: they play with one another, or participate in the public rituals of recital and performance. At the same time they may be taking on the study of music theory for the first time. With its abstract, jargon-heavy activities and a heavy reliance on music from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe (a repertory at best a subset of their own), introductory music theory can feel artificially unrelated to music itself.
Drawing from my training in interfaith chaplaincy (also known as spiritual care), I introduce a spiritual tool. In practicing “reverent acknowledgement,” chaplains compassionately honor both the difficulties and strengths of hospital patients in crisis, encouraging them discover and reinforce their own spiritual beliefs as they seek relief. Like teachers, chaplains guide those in their charge to adjust to new events by incorporating their values and beliefs into these challenging environments.
Incorporating the spiritual into music theory study may seem counter-intuitive, but my students and I share a love for music that reaches beyond the nuts and bolts of musical grammar and of learning to play. Most of us are drawn to music for the meaningful experiences it offers, and especially those that connect us with the larger world, in all its beauty and in all its disaster. Reverent acknowledgement teaches me to recognize the unique and meaningful experiences my students bring to class, and I hope it also encourages them to acknowledge and value the new kinds of musical meaning I offer.
One example I describe in this paper is teaching music fundamentals through our engagement with Negro spirituals. We learn to use the tools of music theory to recognize the beauty and pain these songs lay out, and we discover that spirituals shaped many forms of American music. Most importantly, we acknowledge the deep trauma in which these songs originate, and the kinds of responses their composers made. In the midst of current trauma, I hope students will feel connected more deeply to their vocations as they affirm how music can express the deepest sorts of human experience.
Gretchen Horlacher earned her Ph.D. in music theory from Yale University in 1990 and taught at Indiana University for twenty-five years. She studies the music of Igor Stravinsky, theories of rhythm and meter, and more recently, how musical and dance analysis relate. Her book Building Blocks: Repetition and Continuity in the Music of Igor Stravinsky was published in 2011 by Oxford University Press, and she is co-editor of The Rite of Spring at 100 (Indiana University Press, 2017) which received the Ruth A. Solie Award from the American Musicological Society. She serves as Vice President of the Society for Music Theory.
John Perkins (Butler University, US)
Facilitating Critical Music Pedagogy through Trauma-Informed Interventions: A Qualitative Study
Critical music pedagogues in tertiary education expose students to knowledge which is often new and difficult to accept. Musical goals and content (“repertoire”) are commonly narrowed to the “canon,” and yet, musicking often produces positive emotions. Students emotions widely vary when that paradigm is questioned. Psychology and morality often operate differently due to the brain’s amygdalic (bodily) responses which may impair the brain’s processing (frontal cortex) area (van der Kolk, 1994). Amygdalic responses often occur when individuals newly confront critical subject matter, such as racial violence (Menakem, 2017). Through critical music pedagogy, traumatized students may become (re)traumatized or develop PTSD (Gibbs & Papoi, 2020). Privileged students may experience vicarious trauma, or, demonstrate traumatic symptoms due to learning about their possible complicity in oppression (Perkins, under review).
This qualitative case study involves predominantly white, tertiary, choral singers and a state-run Brazilian “youth” (ages 12-25) choir with singers from favelas (impoverished communities). I ask two questions: 1) “Which trauma-informed practices best prepare choral students for learning critical information?” and 2) “To what extent can singing and relationship-building alleviate traumatic responses during a cross-cultural and socio-economically diverse dialogue?” Qualitative interviews, focus groups, and written assignments comprise the data. By focusing the constant comparative method (Strauss, 1987; Glaser, 1992), I employ Boieje’s (2002) more purposeful approach. This approach increases variation by comparing data across groups—in this case across intersectional social positions (i.e. race, ethnicity, gender, etc…).
Interventions combine trauma-informed pedagogy (Carello & Butler, 2014), body awareness, or “mindfulness” (Menakem, 2017), and identity destabilization (Butin, 2014) with singing, dialogue and co-composing songs based on critical dialogues. The course is ongoing this semester (Fall, 2020). Regardless of the course’s success, results will contribute to a nuanced discussion of trauma-informed music practices.
At Butler University, John Perkins’s teaching and research activities focus on decolonizing choral spaces and tertiary music curricula, critical dialogue (“musical dialoguing”), and trauma-informed music pedagogy. Experiences with Arab, Malaysian and African-American colleagues helped him de-center his performative training and work toward sustaining students’ agency through dialogical, relational and social domains of music education. While teaching at the American University of Sharjah (2008-2014) John founded the Nassim Al Saba Choir and initiated the first college choral program in the United Arab Emirates. https://directory.butler.edu/?&_ga=2.88614936.2080043895.1599011620-2092358644.1578260191#/users/jdperkin
Mirna Lekic and Steven Dahlke (Queensborough Community College, City University of New York, US)
Traumatic Musical Narratives in Pedagogical Context
In this paper presentation Dahlke and Lekić offer a collective reflection and practical suggestions on including traumatic musical narratives in the college music curriculum. They offer examples of specific learning activities and assignments they have implemented in both academic and performance music courses, discuss learning efficacy through Backward Course Design, and review the positive impact that the inclusion of traumatic topics has on student learning outcomes. Student performances and written artifacts demonstrate that exploring trauma through music allows for empathy expansion via kinesthetic and sound expression, offers effective coping mechanisms, allows for deep listening and mediation between the self and ‘the other’, and creates a place for healing and reflection for all involved. Additionally, students develop an understanding of music not only as means of creative self-expression, but as a historical and social document,as an art that illuminates both propaganda narratives as well as forgotten and suppressed voices, and as a medium that informs and moves people to consider and reconsider their obligations as global citizens.
Steven Dahlke received his DMA from the University of Southern California, is Associate Professor of Music at Queensborough Community College, City University of New York, and conducts research on affective education. He has published in the American Choral Directors Association’sChoral JournalandChorteach. Dr. Dahlke is the 2014-2015 co-recipient of an NEH Challenge Grant at QCC’s Kupferberg Holocaust Center for a multi-disciplinary project on student testimony on oppression and genocide. Dahlke has sung with the Oregon Symphony Orchestra, Seattle Symphony Pops, Portland Youth Philharmonic, Portland Baroque Orchestra, Portland Opera Players, Oregon Repertory Singers, and the Aspen Music Festival.
Mirna Lekić, D.M.A., is an assistant professor of music at Queensborough Community College, CUNY. A pianist, she is active as a recitalist, chamber musician, and educator. Her recent publications include two critically acclaimed recordings: a debut solo album titled Masks (Centaur Records), and Eastern Currents (Romeo Records), a disc of contemporary chamber music. In 2016-17, Lekić served as the co-coordinator of a year-long colloquium on displacement, exile and the refugee, a program sponsored by the NEH and the Kupferberg Holocaust Center. www.mirnalekic.com
Roundtable: Nineteenth-Century Music Review Special Issue Participants on Historicizing Traumas of the Musical Past
Investigations of how people have used music to represent, perform, enact, and cope with trauma have proliferated in the last decade, although these have often focused on post-World War II musicians and musical phenomena. Scholars have drawn on myriad theories of trauma to examine relationships between music and trauma for Holocaust survivors, Cold War- and glasnost-era Eastern European musicians, and civilians and soldiers in Iraq. However, despite the growing interest in trauma within music scholarship, there has been scant attention paid to relationships between musical phenomena and trauma prior to World War II. And yet, the wars, revolutions, forced displacement, slavery, and imperialism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries make these years some of the most violent in the histories of modern Europe and the Americas, and thus some of the most important to address when asking questions regarding relationships between music and trauma.
This panel addresses this gap in scholarship by investigating how the cultures of imperial Britain and France, the Mexican-American War, and the US Civil War engaged with music to articulate and cope with trauma. Although scholars have often considered Freud a central figure within trauma studies, this panel’s participants challenge his centrality by relying upon pre- and post-Freudian conceptions of trauma, and investigating musical practices through socio-historically specific understandings of what was variously understood by psychologists, philosophers, medical professionals and the public as hysteria, melancholy, shell shock, or commotion. Following each panelist’s overview of her research, there will be a roundtable discussion focusing on the question of how music scholars might engage with theoretical conceptions of trauma in addressing musical phenomena that predates many of the most lasting understandings of trauma. This panel sheds new light on the meaning of music and musical practices in the contexts of war in the long nineteenth century, while also articulating the importance of and significant possibilities for new frameworks by which trauma theory might be employed in historical studies of music.
Erin Brooks is Assistant Professor of Musicology at the State University of New York–Potsdam. While research interests include opera, film, gender and sexuality, disability, and urban geography, her current work on trauma focuses on historical sound studies. At AMS national meetings, she co-organized a panel on trauma studies in 2017 and presented on sonic trauma in 2018; she has also shared this research at Durham University and the Royal Musical Association. In addition to forthcoming work on sonic trauma during France’s l’année terrible, Erin is currently engaged in a project on sound, trauma, and the polio epidemic.
Sarah Gerk is Assistant Professor of Musicology at Binghamton University (SUNY). An expert on Irish immigration and nineteenth-century US music, she has examined Irish cultural trauma associated with the Great Famine in US musical life, particularly during the Civil War. She has published in the Journal of the Society for American Music and American Music, as well as several edited volumes.
Erin Johnson-Williams is a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow in the Department of Music at Durham University. Her research focuses on decolonisation, the imperial legacies of music education, trauma studies, gender and maternity, and soundscapes of colonial violence. Erin’s current Leverhulme project, entitled ‘Audible Incarceration: Singing Communal Religion in Colonial Concentration Camps’, examines the role of singing, religious experience and trauma in spaces of colonial incarceration, with particular focus on the concentration camps of the Boer War in South Africa.
Michelle Meinhart (Trinity Laban Conservatoire, UK) is a senior lecturer at Trinity Laban Conservatoire in London, UK and holds a Senior Fellowship of the UK Higher Education Academy. Her research focuses on sound, memory, narrative and trauma in Britain from the 19th- century to today, including the edited volume A Great Divide? Music, Britain and the First World War (Routledge 2021) and the monograph-in-progress Music, Healing, and Memory in the English Country House, 1914-1919. Her work has been published or forthcoming in the Journal of the Royal Musical Association, Nineteenth-Century Music Review, the Journal of Musicological Research, and several edited collections. Her research has been funded by the US-UK Fulbright Commission, NEH, AAUW, and Music and Letters Trust. She is also the editor of NABMSA Reviews and is one of the co-organisers of this conference.
Elizabeth Morgan (St. Joseph’s University, US) is an Associate Professor of Music at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia. Her research focuses on domestic music making in the United States and Great Britain in the nineteenth-century, with special interest in embodiment, gender, and trauma studies. She has published articles in 19th-century Music and the Journal of the Society for American Music and in several edited collections. A graduate of Juilliard in piano performance, she also maintains a career as a pianist.
Dr. Jillian C. Rogers is Assistant Professor of Musicology at Indiana University. Jill’s research centers on music and sound as embodied phenomena, and especially on relationships between music/ sound and how people have experienced and coped with trauma. Her interests in French modernism, affect and psychoanalytic theory, sound studies, and trauma and performance studies coalesce in her book, Resonant Recoveries: French Music and Trauma Between the World Wars. With Michelle Meinhart, Jill is currently editing a special issue of Nineteenth-Century Music Review on music, war, and trauma in the long nineteenth century. Jill’s interests in French culture, gender and sexuality, and disability studies are apparent in two special issues she is developing with colleagues: one with Kimberly Francis on Lili Boulanger, and one with Fanny Gribenski on intersections between sound, music, and power in France’s long nineteenth century. Finally, Jill is a founding researcher for the Sonic Histories of Cork City Project – a digital humanities public history project that investigates what Cork, Ireland may have sounded like in the city’s rich, historical past.
Panel: Music in Detention: Sound, Violence, Trauma
This panel is proposed by the Study Group ‘Music and Violence’ of the International Musicological Society (IMS). It explores the multifaceted use of music and sound in detention as a means to inflict pain on imprisoned bodies, terrorize, as well as manipulate or “re-educate” detainees and prisoners. It also carefully attends to the ways in which music and sound can reinforce agency and communities, even in the same setting in which they are weaponized. Its comparative approach testifies to the integral use of music and sound in detention, its damaging potential but also social role, depending on whether it is exercised from above or from below. It specifically examines music in the detention centres and prisons in Spain under Franco’s dictatorship, and in Greece under the military dictatorship (1967–1974). It also investigates the ways in which music and sound can violate and wound the bodies of prisoners through the use of headphones in torture, focusing on the so-called ‘War on Terror’.
Jacob Kingsbury Downs (University of Sheffield, UK)
At the Edge of the Violated Body: Touch, Embodiment, and Technology in Headphone Torture
Scholars of sonic torture and warfare often foreground the multimodal experience of loud sound, examining how the sheer power of vibrational energy can force victims’ bodies into inexorable sympathy with sounds produced by violent perpetrators. In this paper, I extend the remit of such work by widening the focus of inquiry to consider the materiality of sound technologies, namely how headphones have been used to intensify torture victims’ traumatic experiences of captivity through their attachment to the edges of the body. Using phenomenological and sound studies literatures to form a theoretical lens, I examine testimonies that make reference to the materiality of headphone technologies as part of brutal capture and interrogation measures, especially those resulting from twenty-first-century US intelligence practices during the so-called ‘War on Terror’. Examples are drawn from a range of sources, including published testimonies taken from state, legal, and activist documents, as well as new primary evidence collected through interviews with ex-military personnel and Guantánamo Bay defence lawyers. I show that one reason for some victims making specific reference to having headphones forcibly appended to their bodies during sonic torture (in tandem with loud sound being directed into the ears in sensory overload techniques, and/or with the total negation of extraneous sonic cues in sensory deprivation) is that being unable to remove the technologies may in some cases intensify the torturous experience and result in lasting multisensory trauma. This is because, when instrumentalized in violent ways, headphones become akin to a physical parasite, clinging to the bodies of victims who are unable to shift them. In turn, individuals’ experiences of their own embodiment may become fragmented, as the boundaries that are forcibly constructed at the edges of their bodies can cause them to feel trapped inside an embodied technological nexus and excised from the wider environment.
Jacob Kingsbury Downs is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Music at the University of Sheffield. His project, funded by the UK’s Arts and Humanities Research Council via WRoCAH, considers headphone listening through a phenomenological lens, with emphasis on individuals’ experiences of embodied space, mediated social relations, and the materiality of technology. He holds BA and MSt degrees from the University of Oxford.
Elsa Calero-Carramolino (University of Granada, Spain)
Portraits of the Musical National Identity in the Francoist Penitentiary System (1938-1975)
In Franco’s Spain music practice as an element of punishment and re-education appeared with a fixed structure in 1938. This intense activity always appeared framed by the concept of “discipline, educate and delight in the individual and in the whole”. For this reason, through the Directorate-General of Prisons, the Regime developed an administrative apparatus through which to manage the musical practice. The aim of this paper is on the one hand, to analyse the presence of folklore in the official prison’s repertoire during the Franco’s regime and the use of this as a contributor to the national identity imposed by the dictatorship. On the other hand, I will compare the purposes of the dictatorship’s use of folksongs with the role that they played for the prisoners in clandestinity. In light of this, I will highlight such issues as, for instance, the fact that repertories linked to the rural tradition were re-signified by Francoism inside prisons as elements of re-education through the nostalgic element of the land as motherland, according to the spreading of new behavioural paradigms. The use of rural and traditional music was especially useful in the re-education programmes developed by the regime’s prisons politics. This communication is based on a diversity of documents related to the prisoners’ musical daily life. This includes official documents from the Government, such as laws and regulations, the General Office of Prisons, such as Memoranda and Bulletins, as well as judicial proceedings, press cuttings, inmates’ files, photographs, diaries, correspondence, or even a limited number of songbooks and scores. Also considered are auto-memories, most of them published during the ’80s after Franco’s death.
Elsa Calero-Carramolino holds a degree in Musicology from the Autonomous University of Madrid (2014) and a MRes in Musical Heritage from the International University of Andalucía (2015), both with distinction. She is currently a PhD candidate at the Music Department of the University of Granada, supervised by Professor Gemma Pérez-Zalduondo, where she was awarded a research fellowship for teaching staff. Her research interests are music, punishment, repression, detention and re-education during the 20th Century in Spain.
Anna Papaeti (University of Athens, Greece)
Singing out Terror: Music Communities in Detention during Military Dictatorship in Greece (1967-1974)
This paper examines the complexities of interviewing trauma survivors about the use of music in detention, posing the question of how one listens to trauma testimony. Drawing on testimonies of political prisoners of the military dictatorship in Greece (1967–1974), it focuses on the nexus of traumatic memory, language, and music, as well as the challenges posed by discrepancies, silences, contradictions, and lapses of memory. Bearing witness to such moments presents us with the tension of historical fact and psychoanalytic truth. It calls for a more symptomatic reading in the psychoanalytic sense, and points to the problem of understanding what the survivor is actually avowing to. Taking into account the psychic structures of acute trauma and its manifestations in language, it considers these moments as keys to the coded messages they carry. In analyzing them, the paper shows how music and sound can become a way of reclaiming agency in the midst of isolation, incarceration and loss of political subjectivity, even in the same setting in which they are weaponized, countering terror and repression. The communicative ramifications of music making (i.e. singing, humming, whistling) and the very act of listening turn those who listen into witnesses of the experience of detention and abuse. It is a communicative process that forges and reinforces (imaginary) communities inside and outside prison walls.
Anna Papaeti (PhD, King’s College London) writes about opera as well as the intersections of music and violence. She held two Marie Curie Fellowships exploring music as a means of terror in cold-war Greece (1946–1974). Her research has been supported by the European Commission (FP7, Horizon 2020), Onassis Foundation, Research Centre for the Humanities, Athens, and DAAD. She has co-edited two special issues and has published widely in journals and edited volumes on music and detention. She also created two installations (2016, 2019; with Nektarios Pappas) and the podcast The Undoing of Music (Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid, 2019).
Lucy Dhegrae (National Sawdust, Brooklyn, US) and Kevin Becker, (Clinical psychologist, US)
The Body Writes the Score—Processing Trauma through Music and Performance
Over the past 30 years the understanding of psychological trauma has grown exponentially in scientific and academic circles, as well as among the general population. Post-traumatic stress disorder, PTSD, has become a ubiquitous term across the globe. As scientific and therapeutic advances have contributed to our knowledge base, there is increasing evidence of the biopsychosocial correlates central to establishing, maintaining, and reducing the impacts of traumatic events. Indeed, trauma can infiltrate every aspect of a victim/survivor’s life: biological, psychological, and social functioning are all at risk. However, equally important is the knowledge that each of these domains can also serve as pathways to recovery.
In recent years numerous artistic mediums have been increasingly examined for their therapeutic role in trauma recovery. However music, one of humanity’s most vital mechanisms for affect regulation, storytelling, and social connection, has yet to be appreciably explored. Advances in neuroscience have elucidated our understanding of where and how traumatic events are experienced and processed in the brain. Some of those advances have pointed to neural networks that also play key roles in how humans engage with music. While this field of study is in its early stages there are important avenues to pursue.
This workshop will provide a brief review of the physiological, psychological and social consequences of traumatic events and examine how one professional vocalist came to utilize her understanding of music, performance, and the biopsychosocial effects of trauma to help her address the paralyzing effects of her own traumatic experience. Implications for storytelling, performance, music, and trauma recovery will be discussed.
Lucy Dhegrae is a singer committed to changing and challenging how vocal music is perceived, performed and programmed. Hailed as an “adventurous mezzo-soprano” and “raconteur” (The New Yorker) known for her “vocal versatility and an omnivorous curiosity” (The New York Times), she moves easily between a broad variety of styles, and can be found “everywhere new music is being sung” (New York Classical Review). Since 2013 she has been an advocate and public speaker for the organization RAINN, and recently presented a multi-concert project entitled The Processing Series, exploring trauma’s relationship to the voice, at National Sawdust (Brooklyn) as an Artist-in-Residence.
Dr. Kevin Becker is a licensed clinical psychologist who has specialized in the study and treatment of trauma for 30 years. He served for 10 years as Director of the country’s first comprehensive research, training, and treatment facility for psychological trauma. He’s worked extensively with individuals, governments, organizations, and communities following tragedies across the globe. Much of his interest recently has been in assisting storytellers to employ trauma-informed, restorative narrative practices when composing accounts of traumatic events. He regularly teaches on issues of trauma and vicarious trauma. He is senior partner with the crisis consulting firm Organizational Resilience International www.oriconsulting.com
Paper Session: Gendered Trauma and Operatic Women
Hilary Poriss (Northeastern University, US)
Critical Abuse and the Death of Maria Malibran (1808-1836)
In Opera, or the Undoing of Women, Catherine Clément excoriates the violence committed to the female body on stage, both real (performers) and imagined (characters). Folded into her narrative is the story of the death of Maria Malibran (1808-1836). As the story goes, Malibran died from injuries sustained in a horse-riding accident in which she was thrown and dragged behind. Despite the severity of her injuries, she hid her pain from her husband and audiences and continued to sing, succumbing months later after a performance in Manchester, England. This tale of Malibran’s death has long been unquestioned, but key elements ring false: the horse-riding story, for instance, surfaced four years following the prima donna’s death, and it is hard to imagine how her husband, the violinist Charles de Bériot, could have remained blind to contusions covering her face and body.
In this paper, I reevaluate Malibran’s death, asking first whether her injuries were actually sustained as the result of domestic abuse. The case against De Bériot is circumstantial and I can only raise questions about her treatment at his hands. While domestic abuse is impossible to determine for certain, a second and more widespread form of trauma was unquestionably partly to blame for her death: the ferocious pressure that the British press placed on Malibran, as well as on her peers, to appear on stage regardless of physical wellbeing. While Malibran’s case is extreme, she was not alone in feeling compelled to choose between health and the good graces of the British tabloids. Indeed, up to the present day, these publications hold fierce sway over women in the public eye (Megan Markle represents a recent and poignant example). This essay situates Malibran’s death as an early example in the long tradition of critical brutality that remains commonplace and influential today.
Hilary Poriss is Associate Professor of Music in the College of Arts, Media and Design at Northeastern University. Her primary research interests are in the areas of 19th-century Italian and French opera, performance practice, diva culture, and the aesthetics of 19th-century musical culture. She is the author of Changing the Score: Arias, Prima Donnas, and the Authority of Performance (Oxford, 2009), and co-editor of Fashions and Legacies of Nineteenth-Century Italian Opera (Cambridge, 2010) and The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century (Oxford, 2012). She is currently completing a book on Rossini’s Il barbiere di Siviglia.
Molly Doran (Indiana University, US)
Performing Ophelia’s Trauma in the 21st-Century Opera House
Although Ophelia appears only sporadically in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, her suffering and madness have fascinated countless artists, composers, performers, and even medical doctors from the sixteenth century to the present day. I analyze 21st-century presentations of two operatic adaptations of Ophelia’s madness to consider how distinct sounds and performances engage historical and current ideas about women’s trauma. In the first adaptation I discuss, Ambroise Thomas’s opera Hamlet (1868), Ophelia’s lengthy and vocally explosive mad scene resonates with nineteenth-century understandings of hysteria, presenting an idealized, feminine, and palatable madness that dominated the work’s reception in the years after its premiere. But some recent productions of Thomas’s opera, such as the 2010 version by Patrice Caurier and Moshe Leiser, have turned the flowery mad scene into a dark exploration of Ophelia’s inability to process her trauma, treating the character’s pain seriously even as the beauty of nineteenth-century French music reverberates throughout the scene.
The second adaptation I discuss is Brett Dean’s 2017 Hamlet, which presents an extreme contrast to Thomas’s. Dean’s Ophelia, premiered by Barbara Hannigan, sounds her suffering through angular, atonal vocalizations and obsessive text repetitions that demonstrate her inability to escape traumatic memories. But her manic sexual exhibitions and deranged behavior transform the scene into a spectacle that encourages voyeurism. I analyze Hannigan’s performance and Dean’s music to argue that, although the composer has access to a musical style suited to expressing trauma, the scene turns Ophelia’s pain into a disturbing display evocative of nineteenth-century perceptions of female madness. By considering presentations of both Thomas’s and Dean’s adaptations, I show that music and performance can play key roles in whether operatic renditions of trauma create space for empathy and witness-bearing or resort to voyeurism, suggesting that ethics surrounding the staging of pain are at stake even in performances based on fiction.
Molly C. Doran is a PhD candidate in musicology at Indiana University Bloomington. Her dissertation, “Representing Trauma and Suffering on the Late-Nineteenth-Century Operatic Stage: Gender, Hysteria, Maternity, and Culture in France,” examines representations of women’s trauma and suffering in French opera. Combining critical analytical approaches from musicology, performance studies, and trauma studies, her work demonstrates how operatic performance, both historical and contemporary, can signify forms of witness-bearing. Recent awards include the IU musicology department’s 2020–2021 Dissertation Year Fellowship, a Chateaubriand Fellowship to support research in Paris during spring 2020, and a David Henry Jacobs International Overseas Musicology Fellowship.
Kate Hamori (Indiana University, US)
Modern American Madwoman: Tracing the Development of Complex Trauma in Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah
Carlisle Floyd’s Susannah chronicles the sharp decline of young, innocent Susannah Polk into a world of shame, betrayal, isolation, and brokenness. Although scholars have discussed the gendered rhetoric surrounding Susannah as well as the opera’s themes of victim-blaming, slut-shaming, and sexual assault, Susannah’s emotional deterioration has yet to be connected with the ideas of madness and hysteria that were prevalent in nineteenth-century opera. Whereas the hysteric madwomen of the nineteenth century were created to delight and disturb an audience, Floyd intended for Susannah to inspire sympathy in the context of rampant McCarthyism during the Second Red Scare. In doing so, Floyd set aside the delectable tropes that accompany hysteria, instead imbuing Susannah with a “gender-neutral” madness that closely aligns with the symptoms of constriction and dissociation defined by Judith Herman.
In this paper, I demonstrate that Susannah’s madness is unique amongst operatic madwomen because Floyd designed her to be a real woman, rather than a fluorescent caricature of the female psyche—her madness does not conform to the ideas of sexual excess and hysteria that have historically dominated operatic representations. By analyzing Susannah’s descent into post-traumatic stress through the lens of modern trauma theory, I place her psychological deterioration in the context of the operatic madwoman in order to demonstrate how Floyd’s treatment of her psyche compares to previous composers’ treatments of the hysteric soprano. I then present Susannah’s aria “The Trees on the Mountains” as a modified mad scene in which musical representations of hysteria (as defined by Susan McClary) are replaced with musical representations of constriction and dissociation (as defined by Judith Herman). This paper seeks to bridge the gap between the role of hysteria in pre-twentieth century opera and the role of trauma in post-twentieth century opera to show how representations of madness and hysteria might develop into more ethical representations of trauma in modern day opera.
Kate Hamori is currently pursuing an MA in musicology at IU Jacobs School of Music. A graduate of the University of Indianapolis, her recent musicological work focuses on the cultural impact of children’s music and dolls as representations of gender in ballet and opera. Kate is currently the Student Representative for the College Music Society Great Lakes Chapter. In addition to her musicological studies, Kate is a pianist and professional chorister. Given current restrictions to choral singing, she has spent the majority of 2020 creating educational content in her role as a choral scholar at Second Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis.
Paper Session: Hearing Traumatic Presents through Traumatic Pasts
Remi Chiu (Loyola University Maryland, US)
Peals of Fear and Hope: The Multivalence of Bells Across Two Pandemics
The French have a proverb about empty rhetoric—c’est comme le son des cloches, auxquelles on fait dire tout ce qu’on veut (it is like the sound of bells, which we can make say whatever we want)—that suggests that sounds of bells are likewise empty signs onto which one can project a variety of meanings. This is particularly evident in times of great crisis.
This paper examines the functions and effects of bell-ringing (primarily church bells, but also handbells) during the second pandemic of plague (1340-1800) and the COVID-19 pandemic today. Undoubtedly, bells generate fear: Italians under COVID lockdown in Bergamo lamented that all they heard were the disconcerting sounds of church bells and ambulance sirens; during the epidemic of plague in 1348, the ringing of bells was banned in Pistoia because it was frightening the sick. But bells also usefully regulate a community, and they bring hope and invite communal solidarity: during the 1576 Milanese plague outbreak, citizens under quarantine were called to their windows to sing to each other; just as French bishops this year rang their church bells, exceptionally, to call the faithful to celebrate the Annunciation from their homes (but not before news outlets released statements to allay possible panic); and just as neighbors across the world gather to sing and ring bells today. Bells can invoke personal and communal memory: one bell-ringer today is reminded of WWII, and the Liberty Bell was invoked for the “Bells Across Pennsylvania Day” in May. We also see new meaning accrue to church bells in the middle of the current crisis: in the United States, bells began to ring for 8’46” to represent—to re-enact—the length of time that George Floyd was knelt on. The similarities and differences that emerge from this trans-historical comparison can illuminate the process by which the sounds of bells can gain meaning and how they can affect communities coping with trauma.
Remi Chiu is associate professor of musicology at Loyola University Maryland. He specializes in the historical intersections between music and medicine. He is the author of Plague and Music in the Renaissance, published by Cambridge University Press (2017), and the editor of a companion volume of Renaissance plague polyphony entitled “Songs in Times of Plague.” In addition to epidemic disease, he also studies the use of music in medical and scientific entertainments at the end of the nineteenth century.
Kathryn Cox (Liverpool Hope University, UK)
“Mother, Should I Trust the Government?”: Pink Floyd’s The Wall, Socio-Political Movements, and Shared Trauma in the 21 Century
After four decades of performances of The Wall (1979)by Pink Floyd and as a solo act by bassist Roger Waters, this rock opera has operated as a dynamic artwork, metamorphosing to suit new times and new audiences. With each new audience, The Wall gains a new interpretive facet that reflects contemporary social movements. As The Wall—as an album, a concert experience, and a film—moves into the public sphere, this work takes on the dimension of what literary critic Shoshana Felman calls “the listening community.” This community gives significance to The Wall’s traumatic narrative and also imposes its own political significance onto the performance, whether that be in the context of Thatcherism and postwar Britain for original album’s release, the context of Germany during the fall of the Berlin Wall for the 1990 Pink Floyd live performance, or the context of Occupy Wall Street for the 2011-2013 Roger Waters live performances, or more recently, the contexts of Waters’ proposed performances of The Wall as a means of political protest regarding both the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict and U.S. President Donald Trump’s insistence on building a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border. By drawing from theories on trauma by musicologist Maria Cizmic, comparative literature scholars Cathy Caruth and Shoshana Felman, and psychiatrist Judith Herman, this presentation explores how The Wall, as a musical work that primarily engages with the impact of trauma, provides a challenging performance space for the communication of shared trauma amongst differing political backdrops.
Kathryn B. Cox is a lecturer in music at Lake Forest College. In 2018, she earned her doctorate in musicology from the University of Michigan, and her dissertation is entitled “‘What Happened to the Post-War Dream?’: Nostalgia, Trauma, and Affect in British Rock of the 1960s and 1970s.” She is a contributing author in New Critical Perspectives on the Beatles: Things We Said Today (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016) and The Beatles in Context (Cambridge University Press, 2020), and she is co-editor of the essay collection The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper, and the Summer of Love (Lexington, 2017).
Alison DeSimone (University of Missouri-Kansas City, US)
The Absence of Trauma in Eighteenth-Century Music and Why It Matters
In the summer of 1764, Johanna Stradiotti filed a lawsuit was filed in a London court against her son-in-law, Étienne Chazell, alleging physical abuse against her and her daughter, Elisabetta de Gambarini. Gambarini was an accomplished performer and composer, who had published two books of harpsichord music and who routinely organized public concerts. Before the lawsuit could proceed, Chazell fled England, and the case was dropped. Yet questions remain: how did Gambarini reconcile her professional success with her private trauma? As an early music historian, is it ethical to read into her music as evidence of contending with the trauma she experienced privately? In a period before the emergence of mental health therapy and the study of psychology, is it unjust to analyze Gambarini’s traumatic experience in the context of her musical creation and performances?
This paper argues that in early music, the absence of trauma in musical compositions and song lyrics sheds more light on both personal experiences of trauma and on how traumatic experiences—in these cases, spousal abuse and sexual assault—played out in both public and private. This paper uses two perspectives from eighteenth-century England. First, I discuss how rape and sexual assault were depicted in popular songs that circulated throughout the middling and upper classes. The cavalier attitudes of both texts and music illustrate that rape and sexual assault were considered alluring fantasy rather than a way of grappling with a traumatic episode. Next, I turn to Gambarini’s private trauma to illustrate how music and trauma were not always intimately linked or intertwined, especially in early modern history. The purpose of this paper is to work out an ethical methodology for discussing trauma in early music that avoids anachronisms and prioritizes historical values.
Alison DeSimone is Assistant Professor of Musicology at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. She has a forthcoming monograph entitled The Power of Pastiche: Musical Miscellany and Cultural Identity in Early Eighteenth-Century England (Clemson University Press). With Matthew Gardner, she edited Music and the Benefit Performance in Eighteenth-Century Britain (Cambridge University Press). She has published in the Journal of Musicological Research, A-R Online Anthology, Händel-Jahrbuch, and Early Modern Women. In 2018, her article, “Equally Charming, Equally Too Great: Female Rivalry, Politics, and Opera in Early Eighteenth-Century London,” won the Ruth Solie Prize from the North American British Music Studies Association.
Paper Session: Music, Trauma, and Civil Wars
Maria Athanasiou (Northumbria University, UK)
To traghoúdhi tou nekroú aderfoú: Theodorakis’ Narrative Composition on the Greek Civil War (1946-1949)
To traghoúdhi tou nekroú aderfoú is a song cycle, written and composed by Mikis Theodorakis, between 1960 and 1961 in Paris, where he used to live. In 1960, he wrote the first song entitled ‘Ena deilino’ [‘At Sunset’], being psychologically influenced by the unbearable sufferings caused by the Greek Civil War (1946-1949). The composer played an active role as a leftist, especially in the underground resistance movement, where his political involvement had led him to get arrested and exiled once to the island of Ikaria and twice to the island of Makronissos. It was by virtue of these facts that for him, the myth of contemporary Greece took shape and identity around the Greek Civil War, which was ‘the greatest tragedy in the history of Hellenism’, as he described it (Logothetis, 2004:62). In To traghoúdhi tou nekroú aderfoú, all the atrocities that had taken place during those three dreadful years are recounted, as witnessed by the composer. This paper, thus, examines how Theodorakis’ lived experience addresses nuances of trauma-informed pedagogy in composition and why this particular song cycle provides an illustrative testimony of that feud, as a means of autoethnographic evidence. Touching upon their social impact and cultural influences also helps the reader trace an interesting transition within the art-folk genre, which moves from the form of a song cycle to a (modern) form of tragedy and heralds the later form of the laikó oratorio through lament, where the Greek people, and even whole nations, can become the chorus of the past (Theodorakis, 2003:80-81), leading a wider healing process with worldwide repercussions (Athanasiou, 2019).
Maria Athanasiou holds a BA (Hons) in Applied Music Studies (Distinction) from the Department of Music Science and Art at the University of Macedonia (Greece), a Master’s degree in Art, Law and Economy (Distinction) from the International Hellenic University and a Ph.D. by research in Musicology from the International Centre for Music Studies at Newcastle University. She is currently a Senior Research Assistant at Northumbria University and a Music Language Tutor at the Centre for Advanced Training at Sage Gateshead. She is an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy and holds diplomas in Piano, Advanced Harmony, Counterpoint and Fugue.
Emily Abrams Ansari (Western University, Canada)
Decolonizing Trauma Studies in Music: Historical Memory and Civil War El Salvador
This presentation describes my involvement in a multidisciplinary historical memory project, “Surviving Memory in Post War El Salvador,” and the challenges I have confronted applying trauma scholarship in the Humanities to analysis of my findings. Our team strives for a decolonial, collaborative, and horizontal methodology that recognizes the interconnectedness of historical memory with contemporary social issues and neocolonial challenges. We work alongside Salvadoran campesinos and campesinas (subsistence farmers) who were made refugees during the Salvadoran civil war (1980-92) to document their experiences of the conflict. In the music project, I am creating an archive of revolutionary songs, and exploring and documenting, through historical memory workshops, the political, social, and psychological function of music-making in the Honduran refugee camps to which many campesinos and campesinas fled.
As I began gathering songs, many of which document brutal massacres and the hardships of the refugee experience, I turned to theories of trauma to better understand their social, political, and psychological functions. I began to realize, however, that trauma scholarship from the global North offers surprisingly little to help us understand music that seeks to bolster psychological resilience and political resistance simultaneously—despite the fact that this combination of features is also evident in some global North musics. This talk describes my intellectual journey in this research process, my gradual realisation of this fact, and the theories I ultimately turned to, which offer significant promise to trauma scholarship. I seek to encourage conversation about decolonizing one’s research practice, in the field and during analysis, and about the challenges and opportunities of adapting Participatory Action Research to the study of music and trauma.
Emily Abrams Ansari is Assistant Dean of Research and an Associate Professor of Music History at Western University, Canada. Her research examines music’s political usages and engagements across the Americas. Her first book, The Sound of a Superpower: Musical Americanism and the Cold War (OUP), explored the effects of this ideological conflict on musical nationalism in the United States. Her current projects include a SSHRC-funded interdisciplinary collective history of the musical experiences of refugees from El Salvador’s Civil War and a study of the equity-seeking strategies of late 20th– and 21st-century classical musicians in the North American opera scene.
Thomas Kernan (Roosevelt University, US)
Mourning and Maneuvering: Musical Practice and the New Traumas of Reconstruction
The U.S. Civil War often garners attention in studies of large-scale death and mourning. Questions surrounding the experience and processing of trauma during the two decades that followed—the period of Reconstruction—frequently cast a retrospective glance on the war itself. The summary goes that if antebellum slavery and wartime death created trauma, then Reconstruction, even if faulty, was an attempt at healing wounds and moving forward.
In this paper, I examine the ways in which the postwar musical practices of Reconstruction were not merely examples of mourning but also, themselves, acts of political, social, and cultural maneuvering. These multiple potential functions of compositions, publications, and performances allowed music to serve as simultaneous sites of mourning for some audiences and trauma for others. Not only did Reconstruction fail in healing all wounds, but it also contributed new trauma.
I conclude by assessing how Reconstruction musical practices exhibit the active pushing aside of what David W. Blight has called the war’s emancipation narrative in favor of its reconciliation narrative, and thereafter, segregation narrative. Ultimately, the acceptance of many and varied Reconstruction musical practices as part of the nation’s postwar mourning served to normalize a relativism in memorialization. The resulting memorials eventually ceded their early identification with grief and grew increasingly connected to the Lost Cause Mythology and the new traumas inflicted thereby.
To document the ways in which mourning practices begot new trauma, I draw together a complex network of African American Decoration Day activities, printed sheet music invoking bloody-shirt politics, the efforts of former Union and Confederate wartime publishers to repurpose their brands in Reconstruction, and the large-scale national peace jubilee experiences.
Thomas J. Kernan, Associate Professor of Music History at Roosevelt University’s Chicago College of Performing Arts, has published articles and essays in the American Musical Instrument Society Newsletter, Grove Dictionary of American Music, and the edited collections The Modern Percussion Revolution (Routledge, 2014), Music and Tyranny (Rowman & Littlefield, 2018), and Music and War in the United States (Routledge, 2019). His PhD dissertation, “Sounding ‘The Mystic Chords of Memory’: Musical Memorials for Abraham Lincoln, 1865–2009,” earned the 2016 Hay-Nicolay Prize for its contribution to the national understanding of Lincoln and his legacy.
Paper Session: Addressing Trauma in Educational and Non-Profit Institutions
Rebecca DeWan (Michigan State University, US)
Music Teachers’ Perceptions of Professional Development on Trauma-Informed Pedagogy
School districts commonly start the academic year with professional development (PD) sessions for teachers and staff. As awareness grows about the impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs)–potentially traumatic events that occur before a child’s eighteenth birthday–and the effects of toxic stress on learning readiness, school districts are beginning to offer professional development on trauma and trauma-informed pedagogy. There is an urgent need for teachers to receive training on trauma-informed pedagogy. Exposure to ACEs are linked to chronic health problems and mental illness in adulthood, and can negatively impact education opportunities (Preventing Adverse Childhood Experiences |Violence Prevention|Injury Center|CDC, 2020). Bethell et al. (2014) reported that children with ACEs had lower rates of school engagement and higher rates of chronic disease.
This in-progress ethnographic case study investigates music teachers’ perceptions of district-provided professional development on trauma and examines how teachers will incorporate those strategies into their teaching this year. Through individual interviews with music teachers conducted over zoom, I aim to explore these four research questions:
- What information was delivered to teachers on trauma-informed pedagogy through professional development?
- What are music teachers’ perceptions of the professional development?
- In what ways do music teachers intend to incorporate these trauma-informed practices into their teaching?
- What support did the school districts provide to facilitate implementation?
After collecting the data and coding the interview transcripts, I will synthesize the information to draw conclusions about music teachers’ perceptions of district-provided professional development on trauma-informed pedagogy. This research project will be completed by December 2020. I hope that this project is the first in a trajectory of research that aims to examine the impact of ACEs on student learning in the music classroom and ways that teachers can best engage these students utilizing trauma-informed practices.
Rebecca DeWan is a Ph.D. student in music education at Michigan State University. Previously, she taught music in Maine for thirteen years. At Noble HS in North Berwick, ME, she directed four choruses and served as the Visual & Performing Arts Subject Area Coordinator. She earned a Master’s in Choral Conducting at the University of Southern Maine and conducted honors festivals in Maine and New Hampshire. Her research interests include trauma-informed pedagogy, pre-service music teacher development, and effective professional development. She was named the Maine ACDA 2018 Outstanding Choral Director of the Year.
Marissa Silverman (Montclair State University, US)
Music and Trauma Studies, Music Education, and the Praxis of Music Teaching and Learning
For more than 25 years, music education scholars have examined music, music education, and social justice. However, only more recently have scholars considered “music and trauma studies” and therefore “activism” as a vehicle for moving the music education profession forward (e.g., Elliott, 2012; Elliott, Silverman, & Bowman, 2016; Hess, 2019). This paper contributes to the conversation by connecting “music and trauma studies” and “activism” with “music education” and “music teacher preparation.” Music teacher education is focused, primarily, on the skills public school music teachers will need to teach music to their students. However, music and trauma studies investigate issues—e.g., social, cultural, political, emotional, psychological ramifications of trauma—that must be considered by music teachers given the weight of what it means to be an “educator.” If music education can meet the needs of public stakeholders—largely conceived—then the mission of public school music teacher education should be charged with the activistic dispositions, understandings, and habits of mind needed to engage in “music education as artistic citizenship.”
Given the above, after a brief survey of pressing philosophical issues and concepts examined in “music and trauma studies,” this paper provides an auto-ethnography of my work as a Teaching Artist and Board Member of a non-profit organization, Crossing Point Arts, which is dedicated to bringing the arts to survivors of human trafficking (primarily, young women; age 12-24). This probing is then related to policy and practice implications for music teacher education and, therefore, assisting future teachers gain experience in order to be engaged as activists and artistic citizens for, not only their communities and the students they serve but, more broadly, the world beyond the confines of their immediate locals.
Marissa Silverman is Associate Professor and Undergraduate Coordinator at the John J. Cali School of Music, Montclair State University, NJ. A Fulbright Scholar, she is author of Gregory Haimovsky: A Pianist’s Odyssey to Freedom (University of Rochester Press, 2018) and co-author of the 2nd edition of Music Matters: A Philosophy of Music Education (Oxford University Press, 2015). She is co-editor of Eudaimonia: Perspectives for Music Teaching and Learning (Routledge, 2020), The Oxford Handbook of Philosophical and Qualitative Assessment in Music Education (Oxford University Press, 2019), Artistic Citizenship: Artistry, Social Responsibility, and Ethical Praxis (Oxford University Press, 2016), and Community Music Today (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013).
Abimbola Cole Kai-Lewis (New York City Department of Education, Brooklyn, NY, US)
Touching the Sun: Music, Trauma, and Youth in New York City
In the early phases of concretizing his career as a hip-hop emcee in New York City, Chosan worked as an advocate at Covenant House, a residential center for homeless youth. During his time as a staff member there, Chosan advised and counseled young people between the ages of 16 and 24 to ensure that they were offered a safe, stable environment. The facility relied on trauma-centered practices designed to support young people grappling with a range of psychiatric and psychological issues. Chosan’s work at Covenant House was complemented by his ongoing performances and recordings as an independent hip-hop artist. His songs have continually addressed themes such as transcending recurring challenges, rising above difficult circumstances, and successfully overcoming adversity.
This paper examines the interconnection of Chosan’s roles as an emcee and an advocate at Covenant House. I will explore his song “Till I Touch the Sun” and use lyrical analyses to illustrate how it promotes positive strategies for living. Moreover, I will investigate how Chosan’s professional experiences at Covenant House are reflected in the message and thematic content of the song. I will incorporate excerpts from formal interviews as well as informal conversations held with Chosan between 2014 and 2020. By these means, I will demonstrate how Chosan’s music represents the unique intersection of hip-hop culture, trauma, and youth.
Dr. Abimbola Cole Kai-Lewis is a New York City-based educator and ethnomusicologist. She currently teaches at a community school. Dr. Kai-Lewis has served on citywide education advisory councils and professional development teams. She is a member of the Apollo Theater’s School Program Advisory Committee and The Metropolitan Museum’s Professional Learning Community. Dr. Kai-Lewis earned her doctorate in Ethnomusicology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Her dissertation explored the music of South African hip-hop collective Cashless Society. Dr. Kai-Lewis presently collaborates with emcee Chosan to facilitate workshops and examine messages about Sierra Leonean identity, justice, and nationalism in his music.
Joseph Toltz (University of Sydney, Australia) & Anna Hirsch (Archivist, Jewish Holocaust Centre and Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia)
“Memory in Musical Material Culture: Mapping Narratives of Trauma and Migration in the Music Archive of the Jewish Holocaust Centre, Melbourne”
In the aftermath of the Holocaust, a large-scale outward migration of European Jews stretched across the globe. While this human emigration has been well documented by historians and social scientists, less is known about the stories around migration of personal musical material: notation, texts and knowledge that were brought to new places by Jewish refugees. One of these objects is the earliest compiled collection of Holocaust songs, published in Bucharest in June 1945. As well as including twelve songs that have entered the repertoire for Holocaust remembrance, the book contains eight songs that almost completely disappeared from memory. The book found its way into the YIVO archive, with incomplete fragments at the National Library in Jerusalem and at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. One copy made its way to Australia, where it was secreted away, accidentally preserving it in the best condition. Since its rediscovery, research has been initiated on the migration and personal stories of the contributors to the song book. A new history now informs the origins of the project, the migration of the songbook to Australia, and the post-trauma histories of the contributors in Bucharest. Soon to be donated to the original to the Jewish Holocaust Centre in Melbourne, Victoria, the book presents a case study on the ability of music-based material objects to sing and tell complex stories around trauma and migration in the present as well as the past. This project brings together experts in ethnomusicology, migration studies, archival studies and human geography who will chart individual stories with the broader quantum of immigration patterns, to present situated narratives of human movement through the musical materiality. In doing so we aim to reveal the full worth of microhistories of trauma and memory to understand events at different scales in a simultaneous and non-hierarchical fashion.
Dr Joseph Toltz is a researcher and administrator at the University of Sydney. Co-Investigator on “Performing the Jewish Archive”, a UK Arts & Humanities Council large grant, he directed the 2017 festival “Out of the Shadows: rediscovering Jewish music and theatre” in Sydney. A former fellow at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, he is co-authoring a book on the first collection of Holocaust songs, working with the ExilArte Zentrum on the Austrian-Jewish refugee composer, Wilhelm Grosz, and in 2021 will bring a child survivor of the Łódź Ghetto back to the city of her birth to share musical memories of that time.
Dr Anna Hirsh is the Senior Archivist at the Jewish Holocaust Centre in Melbourne, where she manages the documentation, digitization, and research of the historical and art collections. She also holds the positions of Honorary Fellow at Deakin University, and the AAJS Vice President (Victoria). Her research focuses on museums as sites of memory storage, Jewish history and culture, art as witness testimony, artefact mapping, and the spatiality of memorialization.
Saturday 7-8:30: Keynote Performance & Talk-Back
Pacifica Quartet (Indiana University, US)
Shulamit Ran (University of Chicago, US)
Shulamit Ran music has been praised as “gloriously human”; “compelling not only for its white-hot emotional content but for its intelligence and compositional clarity”; and “she has written with the same sense of humanity found in Mozart’s most profound opera arias or Mahler’s searching symphonies.”
Shulamit began composing songs to Hebrew poetry at the age of seven in her native Israel. By nine she was studying composition and piano with some of Israel’s most noted musicians, and within several years was having her early works performed by professional musicians, as well as orchestras. She continued her studies in the U.S., on scholarships form the Mannes College of Music and the America Israel Cultural Foundation, and has been awarded most major honors given to composers in the U.S., including the 1991 Pulitzer Prize for her Symphony.Her music has been performed worldwide by leading ensembles including the Chicago Symphony, the Philadelphia Orchestra, the Cleveland Orchestra, the Israel Philharmonic, the New York Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra, the Mendelssohn, Brentano, Pacifica, Spektral, and Juilliard Quartets, Chanticleer, and many others. Maestros Daniel Barenboim, Pierre Boulez, Christoph Von Dohnanyi, Gustavo Dudamel, Zubin Mehta, Yehudi Menhuin, and others, have conducted her works. She was Composer-in-Residence with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra between 1990 and 1997, and with the Lyric Opera of Chicago in 1994-1997 where her residency culminated in the premiere of her first opera Between Two Worlds (the Dybbuk).
The recipient of five honorary degrees, she is an elected member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Shulamit, who is the Andrew MacLeish Distinguished Service Professor Emerita in the University of Chicago Department of Music, where she has taught since 1973, is currently composing Anne Frank, a full-scale opera on a libretto by Charles Kondek.
Recognized for its virtuosity, exuberant performance style, and often-daring repertory choices, over the past twenty-six years the Pacifica Quartet has achieved international recognition as one of the finest chamber ensembles performing today. Named the quartet-in-residence at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music in March 2012, the Pacifica was previously the quartet-in-residence at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and received a Grammy Award for Best Chamber Music Performance. In 2017, the Pacifica Quartet was appointed to lead the Center for Advanced Quartet Studies at the Aspen Music Festival and School. Their most recent CD “Contemporary Voices” features works written for the quartet by Pulitzer Prize-winning composers Jennifer Higdon, Shulamit Ran, and Ellen Taaffe Zwilich, and was nominated for a GRAMMY award this year for Best Chamber Music Album.
Formed in 1994, the Pacifica Quartet quickly won chamber music’s top competitions, including the 1998 Naumburg Chamber Music Award. In 2002 the ensemble was honored with Chamber Music America’s Cleveland Quartet Award and the appointment to Lincoln Center’s The Bowers Program (formerly CMS Two), and in 2006 was awarded a prestigious Avery Fisher Career Grant. With its powerful energy and captivating, cohesive sound, the Pacifica has established itself as the embodiment of the senior American quartet sound.
The Pacifica Quartet has proven itself the preeminent interpreter of string quartet cycles, harnessing the group’s singular focus and incredible stamina to portray each composer’s evolution, often over the course of just a few days. Having given highly acclaimed performances of the complete Carter cycle in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Houston; the Mendelssohn cycle in Napa, Australia, New York, and Pittsburgh; and the Beethoven cycle in New York, Denver, St. Paul, Chicago, Napa, and Tokyo (in an unprecedented presentation of five concerts in three days at Suntory Hall), the Quartet presented the monumental Shostakovich cycle in Chicago, New York, Montreal and at London’s Wigmore Hall. The Quartet has been widely praised for these cycles, with critics calling the concerts “brilliant,” “astonishing,” “gripping,” and “breathtaking.”
Recent season highlights include defining performances at Shriver Hall with Marc-André Hamelin and for the Montreal International String Quartet Academy, as well as appearances on North America’s major chamber-music series, including concerts in Charlottesville, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Kansas City, and Vancouver.
An ardent advocate of contemporary music, the Pacifica Quartet commissions and performs many new works including those by Keeril Makan, Julia Wolfe, and Shulamit Ran, the latter in partnership with the Music Accord consortium, London’s Wigmore Hall, and Tokyo’s Suntory Hall. The work – entitled Glitter, Doom, Shards, Memory – had its New York debut as part of the Chamber Music Society at Lincoln Center series.
In 2008 the Quartet released its Grammy Award-winning recording of Carter’s quartets Nos. 1 and 5 on the Naxos label; the 2009 release of quartets Nos. 2, 3, and 4 completed the two-CD set. Cedille Records released the group’s four-CD recording of the entire Shostakovich cycle, paired with other contemporary Soviet works, to rave reviews: “The playing is nothing short of phenomenal.” (Daily Telegraph, London) Other recent recording projects include Leo Ornstein’s rarely-heard piano quintet with Marc-André Hamelin with an accompanying tour, the Brahms piano quintet with the legendary pianist Menahem Pressler, and the Brahms and Mozart clarinet quintets with the New York Philharmonic’s principal clarinetist, Anthony McGill.
The members of the Pacifica Quartet live in Bloomington, IN, where they serve as quartet-in-residence and full-time faculty members at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music. Prior to their appointment, the Quartet was on the faculty of the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana from 2003 to 2012, and also served as resident performing artist at the University of Chicago for seventeen years.