Blog

  • (more) ruminations about Dave King's RATIONAL FUNK...

    "Space Is The Place"--a subsection of Ethnomusicology Review's Sounding Board blog--has put up a post of mine that develops an over-caffienated screed from a few months back. Basically, I'm suggesting that King's attitudes communicated in his instructional video series, RATIONAL FUNK, reflect some of those being developed in the New Jazz Studies. Also, Dave King is boss. 

    CHECK OUT THE BLOG POST "Dave King's RATIONAL FUNK: Pedagogy, Criticism, and Productive Absurdity"

     

  • Another conference, another hermeneutics-oriented paper

    I'm looking forward to presenting my paper, "Plurality in Experimental Music: Appropriation and Philosophical Hermeneutics" this next Friday, the 12th of August. The 11th International Conference on The Arts in Society is being held right here in my own backyard at UCLA. Here's my paper's abstract:

    The appropriation of musical practices, inequality of representation, and erasure of multicultural influences in experimental music practices are important topics in critical improvisation studies. A growing body of critical work shows instances of appropriation between experimental subjectivities have produced inequities of power and representation in the field of cultural production. A focus on music’s sociocultural function, though, may be complicit in dissembling music’s first-order significance: its capacity to broaden listeners’ world views and federate social structures. This paper offers a model of aesthetic experience from philosophical hermeneutics that casts encounters with music as pre-reflexive, pre-political ontological disclosure; experiences that can reshape social reality by transcending it from within. In this sense it is a process that offers opportunities to mediate socially-deleterious appropriation in a manner encouraging plurality. A theoretical position informed by philosophical hermeneutics offers a model for how the nature of appropriation—as a broadening of a subject’s horizon of understanding—may be understood as a tool to aid in critique and in practices that respond productively to the need for respect and plurality in experimental music communities. I support this schema with examples gleaned from ethnographic work at an experimental music venue in downtown Los Angeles.

    Interestingly, this marks the first time that my wife and I will present at the same conference, as she'll be presenting her paper, "The Threat of Placeless Spaces: Places and Non-Places in John Boorman's 'Point Blank' (1967." We'll be taking over humanities departments soon. Look out. 

  • London conference was Awesome!

    I had a fantastic time rolling around London for a few days this last weekend. Ostensively there to present a paper entitled The Contemporary DIY Experimental Music Scene in Los Angeles: Metamodernity and Philosophical Hermeneutics,” I also took the opportunity to get good and lost several times in my efforts as an urban flâneur. Having spent the last three years in Los Angeles, the urban density of London was a welcome reminder of my time in New York and, though to a lesser degree, even Chicago. The real standouts were, the pubs, of course—for their endless supply of inexpensive beer on cask at the perfect temperature—but also a concert organized by Music We’d Like To Hear. In their twelfth season, MWLTH programs mostly contemporary music, often with the composers in attendance at concerts. The program I caught featured works by Newton Armstrong, Carola Bauckholt, Bunita Marcus, and Linda Catlin Smith; it was rapturous. So, thanks to the organizers, especially John Lely, for the camaraderie at the pub afterward.

    (picture of James Currie stolen from the CTFMSG Twitter page)

    The conference, put together by an independent study group called the Critical Theory for Musicology Study Group and supported by the Royal Music Association, was held at University of London’s Senate House and organized around the theme of "Musicology after Postmodernism." Over the course of the day, papers from rather different methodological and critical positions along the continental philosophy spectrum were well represented by graduate students and early career PhDs. I’m happy to report that my paper was well received, though I wish there had been more time for formal discussion. Particularly as there was a lot in my presentation (as in all the presentations, really) that, I thought, at least, merited further discussion. Perhaps the high point of the day was, though, the keynote given by the fantastically erudite and witty Professor James Currie from SUNY Buffalo entitled “On the Uses and Abuses of Musicology For Life” [HELLO relevant Nietzsche reference]. As much as his remarks were a characteristically snarky calling out of musicology’s self-important position (and sometimes people) in the academy, it was a call for young musicologists to recognize the state of emergency in the academy surrounding critical considerations of cultural products (and the humanities in general). Furthermore, a call to recognize the positive work any critical thinking does for an informed body politic, as well as the personal pleasure to be had in struggling with difficult prose and the thought patterns it may engender. Currie’s remarks struck me as self-reflexive, funny, but important. What with recent moves toward political conservatism growing in the UK as well as the US, the training of a more critical body politic—one more aware of its ideological inscription—is timely and necessary.

    I left the conference feeling excited to move forward in my work; which is precisely what a good conference should foment, no? Here’s hoping Britain can productively move though the gaff of this Brexit mess and that the London I might visit next is in a better state even that the one I’ve just met. 

  • Wadada Leo Smith & Vijay Iyer @ Occidental College

    [amazing picture (and introduction) by Ganavya Doraiswamy] 

    I was so happy to meet the brilliant Wadada Leo Smith this last Friday evening! In Los Angeles to support his recent ECM release with Vijay Iyer, A Cosmic Rhythm With Each Stroke (2016), the duo played to a nearly capacity crowd at Occidental College’s Thorne Hall.

    Smith and Iyer (trumpet and piano/Fender Rhodes respectively) played a full set without stops, accompanied by an atmospheric third voice (a recorded track) that filled out a greater sonic landscape while informing the structure of the performance. The set was a varied, moving, sensitively textured work (Wadada’s sweat reminding us that it is indeed work) that, though exploring many seeming atonal sonic worlds, brought listeners to a tonal, reassuring finale. It was a beautiful performance and a receptive audience who responded with a standing ovation. 

    Wadada even signed my copy of Divine Love (ECM 1978). Such an inspiring night!