Writings

Selected Writings

2018 - A Study of the Los Angeles DIY Experimental Music Scene: Reflections on the Promise of the Possible (Doctoral Dissertation)

This dissertation comprises an ethnography and mixed methodological analysis of Los Angeles’ contemporary DIY experimental music scene. By means of information gathered through participant observation and interviews, I describe the scene in the context of its historical precedents and its present state. From these observations I discern a sensibility of alterity and openness as a primary characteristic of the scene. This manifests as an investment in musical experimentalism as a mode of research into the unknown, anticipating as-yet unrealized possibilities of the as if. This leads to further reflections regarding how the aesthetics and practices of musical experimentalism that eschew conventionally-musical sound terms are nonetheless capable of affecting their auditors. I note that the common lack of typical analytical handles (melody, harmony, etc.) can confound some of contemporary musicology’s methodological frameworks. Following clues about ontological openness and musical meaning suggested by the act of listening, I deploy an explanatory methodological intervention offered by philosophical hermeneutics to negotiate this problem. This theoretical scaffolding helps to make sense of connections between the silences, non-musical, and un-structured sounds deployed in Los Angeles’ DIY experimental music scene and connected testimonies of aesthetic experiences occasioned thereby to refigure listeners’ horizons of understanding. The dissertation culminates in chapters that consider implications of philosophical hermeneutics in terms of musical experimentalism as related to sociological theories of the judgment of taste, and a metamodern characterization of the Los Angeles DIY experimental music scene’s post-postmodern structure of feeling.

2018 - A Reply to Yee's: "The Psychodynamics of Chronic Depresison in Music: An Agentially-Enriched Narrative Reading of of Beethoven's Kreutzer Sonata, Op. 47, Movement I" - American Society for Aesthetics Graduate E-Journal, Vol 10 (1): np. 

This piece is one of a series of riposte's in this issue to an article by Thomas Benjamin Yee regarding an agentially-enriched narrative analytical hermeneutic as deployed in an analysis of the titular work. I admire Yee's work, though I take issue with what I perceive as several problematic theoretical imbibings, methodological glosses, and assumed conceptual givens.

2018 - The Problematic Role of "Thingliness" in Experimental Music Canon Formation: The New York School, Free Jazz, and Recombinan Teleology - The International Journal of New Media, Technology, and the Arts 13 (1): 1-6.

Abstract: The variety of compositional and performative practices associated with musical experimentalism and improvisation in the mid-20th century highlight problems of identity, thingliness, taxonomy, and canon formation of musical works. Canons of cultural products are valuable in that they work to perpetuate ideological values inscribed in the works they collect. But if there is no “real” body of works, how can a representative canon of experimental and improvised works be constructed? By exploring the idea of domains of conceptual possibility in experimental composition, authorial voice in free jazz, and embodied cognition theory, I arrive at the idea of a recombinant ontology of experimental musical works. While I concede that musical works are not “things,” I argue that a recombinant consideration of a work’s thingliness—to be deployed as is methodologically and theoretically convenient—recognizes the complexity of taxonomization and canon formation. This is an imperfect mediation of the problem, but contributes to the conversation by offering conceptual handholds for how we might talk about these otherwise slippery pseudo-objects.

2017 - Some Musical, Personal, and Theoretical Digressions Regarding "Music Without Handles" - In the American Society for Aesthetics Newsletter, 37.2.

This short piece appears in the summer 2017 edition of the American Society for Aesthetics’ newsletter. First and foremost, this edition celebrates the work of the remarkable Peter Kivy. However, my contribution—while not explicitly related to Kivy’s work—details some of my current research into experimental music in Los Angeles, a few persistent questions it presents, and the methodologies I’m deploying to deal with them. Many thanks to David Goldblatt for the invitation to contribute! 

2017 - Intertextuality and the Construction of Meaning in Jazz Worlds: A Case Study of Joe Farrell's "Moon Germs" - Journal of Jazz Studies Spring 2017 (in press).

In this article I invoke the concept of intertextuality and develop its role in meaning-making in musical worlds. This theoretical deployment of intertextuality, I argue, celebrates the virtuosic interpretive act of musical improvisation and aids in refutations of "great man" theories of history, canon formation, and essentialism - racial or otherwise. I offer historically- and musically-intertextual readings of Joe Farrell's "Moon Germs" (1972) as supporting examples.  

2016 - Dave King's RATIONAL FUNK: Pedagogy, Criticism, and Productive Absurdity - Ethnomusicology Review

This article develops the idea that Dave 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. 

2015 - Re-territorializing the Los Angeles John Zorn Marathon - Ethnomusicology Review

I offer here some analysis of the John Zorn Marathon (which occurred in Los Angeles in summer of 2015) through the lenses of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari’s notion of music as mode of territorialization, Postmodern theory, and of course my own artistic and theoretical proclivities.

2014a - Review | Experience and Meaning in Music Performance by Martin Clayton, Byron Dueck, and Laura Leante (eds.) - Ethnomusicology Review

A review of Clayton, Dueck,, and Leante's (eds.)  collected volume that features novel, interdisciplinary ethnomusicological approaches. 

2014b - Review | A Consideration of the Worlding Power of Music in Tigran Hamasyan's "Shadow Theater" - Ethnomusicology Review

I show Hamasyan's stylistically-inclusive approach to music making, especially with a focus on musical improvisation, as an example of music which can refigure the reality of those who listen. In the interest of exploring this capability, I consider Hans-Georg Gadamer’s description of “play” as related to aesthetic works and David Borgo’s characterization of improvising music as platform for change and celebration of difference.

2014c - Accounting for Meaning in Improvisation: Embracing New Research in Embodiment - Ethnomusicology Review

This article consists of an introduction and literature review of recent material on embodied situated cognition and mirror neuron research with an aim to suggest their relevance to music researchers.

2013 - Chris Potter on Standards: Ten Note-For-Note Transcriptions of Standards and Standard-Style Tunes, 2nd edition 

Originally published in 2007, this was the first volume of Chris Potter transcriptions available to the public. Available as hardcopy or .PDF download

2006 - Chris Potter's solo on Dave Douglas' tune, The Jones - Downbeat Magazine.

A transcription and analysis of Potter's solo on "The Jones" from Douglas' Strange Liberation (2004) - fantastic album.