Late breaking information



A New Source for 15th-Century Song

Colloquium Musicology
Prof. dr. David Burn, KU Leuven

Thursday 16 March 2017, 15:30 - 17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, Room 3.01

In December 2015 a musical source that had been purchased at auction by a private Belgian art-dealer was brought to the Alamire Foundation in Leuven for examination. The source, it turns out, is a previously unknown late fifteenth-century chansonnier, complete and in its original cloth binding. The discovery of such a new source counts as sensational: only a very small number of similar such sources survive, and the last time that anything equivalent appeared was in 1939. In my presentation, I will present this new songbook, discussing the methods involved in coming to terms with a new musical source, and the consequent remapping of known terrain that that entails.

Prof. dr. David Burn teaches in the musicology department of the University of Leuven, and is head of the Early Music research group. His research is focussed on the later 15th and 16th centuries, with particular interest for Heinrich Isaac and his contemporaries, interactions between chant and polyphony, source-studies, and early-music analysis. He is a member of the editorial board member of the book-series Analysis in Context: Leuven Studies in Musicology, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Alamire Foundation. Together with Sarah Long, he is General Editor of the Journal of the Alamire Foundation, a journal devoted to all aspects of research and performance of music in or connected with the Low Countries during the ancient régime.


Rumba and Semba; Musical Highlights in Times of Independence in Kongo and Angola

Dr. Ineke Phaf-Rheinberger, Independent Researcher and Research Associate RWTH Aachen

Dinsdag 7 maart, 11:30 - 12:30 uur.
Universiteitsbibliotheek, Singel 425, Belle van Zuylenzaal

In countries, in which most people could not read and write and also spoke different languages in de 1960s and 1970s, musicians succeeded to achieve some sense of cohesion. They had a quite important role to bring people together creating the perception of a shared political destiny. This was the case in Kongo and Angola, in which countries Papa Wendo and the Ngola Rhythms represented the expectations of a future postcolonial society. What kind of music did they play and sing? What was their impact after independence? And how is this period seen today?

Dr. Ineke Phaf-Rheinberger focuses her research on cultural and scientific history in the post-colonial context. Her main focus is Latin American and Caribbean literary criticism.
Dr. Ineke Phaf-Rheinberger teaches at the Humboldt University (Institute for Romance Languages) and was a lecturer at the University of Maryland (Spanish and Portuguese Department). 


Historisch geïnformeerde nieuwlichterij: het Orgelpark bouwt een 'hyper organ'

Colloquium Musicology
Prof. dr. Hans Fidom, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam en Orgelpark

Donderdag 16 februari, 15:30-17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, zaal 3.01

Het Orgelpark werkt aan een zowel historisch als kunstfilosofische saltus duriusculus: het bouwt een nieuw orgel waarvan het concept enerzijds zo serieus mogelijk gebaseerd is op historische informatie en anderzijds toch zodanig is gemodificeerd dat het ook met moderne middelen bespeelbaar is. De historische referenties verwijzen alle naar het musiceren op orgels in de tijd en de regio van Johann Sebastian Bach; het Orgelpark-orgel wordt gebouwd als had Zacharias Hildebrandt, een door Bach zeer gewaardeerde orgelmaker, het hebben kunnen bouwen - had hij vandaag geleefd. Daarbij gaat het niet om kopiëren van zijn werk, maar om het begrijpen ervan: het Orgelpark en de vier betrokken orgelbouwers passen ‘process reconstruction’ toe. Zoals de Duitsers het zo mooi zeggen: het gaat om ‘Kapieren statt Kopieren’. Het betekent onder meer dat het orgel er zal uitzien als een barokorgel dat Hildebrandt gebouwd zou kunnen hebben, en dat ook ’speelt’ als zijn orgels.

Tegelijk krijgt het instrument een laag die het tot ‘hyper organ’ maakt: het klankconcept wordt ook benaderbaar met een digitale klaviatuur, met computers, tablets, MIDI-interfaces etc. Dit verlangt niet alleen technologisch-historisch scherp beargumenteerde keuzes en dito werkwijzen bij de orgelmakers, maar ook herbezinning op de basisvraag van de muziekwetenschap: wat is musiceren eigenlijk? Wie zijn er daarbij aan zet? Welke rol speelt de luisteraar? En: gaat het nog wel alleen om muziek, of ook ‘gewoon’ om Sound? Dus: in welke mate speelt de jonge discipline Sound Studies een rol? Op 21 maart 2018 wordt het orgel in gebruik genomen - input van muziekwetenschapstudenten en -docenten wordt bij de slotfase van het ontwerp- en bouwproces bijzonder op prijs gesteld.

Prof. dr. Hans Fidom is bijzonder hoogleraar Orgelkunde aan de Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, leider van het Orgelpark Research Program, orgeladviseur en (wanneer er tijd overblijft) organist. Hij was hoofdredacteur van tijdschrift Het Orgel, eindredacteur van enkele delen van de encyclopedie Het Historische Orgel in Nederland, en is bestuurslid van de Koninklijke Vereniging voor Nederlandse Muziekgeschiedenis. Zwaartepunten in zijn activiteiten als onderzoeker zijn orgelhistorie, de actuele ontwikkeling van ‘hyper organs’, muziekfilosofie, sound studies en ‘artistic research’.


From Craft to Profession: The Case of the Conservatory

Colloquium Musicology
Michiel Schuijer, Conservatorium van Amsterdam

Thursday 15 December, 15:30-17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

The word ‘conservatory’ – or ‘conservatoire’ in BE – denotes an institution that offers (mostly) professional education in various musical disciplines. This type of institution – which originally operated under sacred authority, and served charitable causes – was newly defined within the culture of the Bourgeoisie, where it had to supply the demands of a rapidly growing secular musical life. With musical excellence being needed in ever-larger quantities, it aimed to establish general qualifications for musicians and imposed certified standards on teaching practices and examining procedures. Its model was the Conservatoire national de musique et de déclamation founded 1795 in Paris.

In this paper, I propose to view the conservatory from the perspective of the rise of professionalism in civil society in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, a process that has led to fundamental changes in the structure and status of occupations. This process has been studied extensively, not only in general but also with reference to specific occupations and/or specific countries. Music, too, has been the subject of such research, which naturally involved the role of conservatories.

However, the factors that have shaped conservatory curricula over time need more systematic and extensive exploration. From the very beginning, conservatory policies have been fraught with multiple tensions. These seem to have resulted from incongruities between the traditional foundations and practices of music education, the evolving general standards of professional education, and the volatile expectations in the market place. The paper will pinpoint these tensions and show how different conservatories have dealt with them.

Michiel Schuijer is head of research and study leader of the Department of Composition, Conducting and Music Theory at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam. He studied music theory at the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague and musicology at Utrecht University. In 1999 he co-founded the Society for Music Theory, and from 2007 through 2011 he was editor-in-chief of the Dutch Journal of Music Theory.

Schuijer focuses his own research at the juncture of music theory and historical musicology. His book Analyzing Atonal Music: Pitch-Class Set Theory and Its Contexts was published in 2008 by University of Rochester Press. Now he is working on a project that addresses the European conservatoire as a social and cultural phenomenon.


Listening to Architecture: The Concert Hall as a Medium of Musical Culture

Colloquium Musicology
Darryl Cressman, Maastricht University

Thursday 24 November, 15:30-17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

Concert halls are designed for attentively listening to music. To guarantee that the listening experience mediated by these buildings is acoustically correct, architects rely upon mathematical formulas to measure and predict how a building will sound. Armed with these formulas, they are able to experiment with unconventional concert hall designs without compromising sound.

The achievements of modern architectural acoustics are a valorization of the mathematical formulas used to predict acoustics. Indeed, the development of a predictive theory of architectural acoustics by Wallace Sabine in 1900 has been celebrated as the beginning of a new era of understanding sound and acoustic design. But, overlooked in this scientific triumphalism are the musical standards and expectations that shape the acoustic design of buildings for music. Sabine’s formula transformed our understanding of how music behaves in an enclosed space, but it did not change our understanding of how music should sound in these spaces.

Examining the history of Amsterdam’s Concertgebouw (opened in 1888) demonstrates how, in lieu of an acoustic formula, musical culture, especially ideas about listening, influenced ideas about acoustics and acoustic design. Exploring the designs for the Concertgebouw proposed by architects, patrons, and musicians reveals that prior to quantification, acoustics were more closely aligned with musical and aural discourses.

Darryl Cressman is an assistant professor in the Philosophy Department in the Faculty of Arts & Social Sciences at Maastricht University. He received his PhD from the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University in 2012. He is the author of Building Musical Culture in Nineteenth-Century Amsterdam: The Concertgebouw (University of Amsterdam Press) and has published research in the fields of sound studies, the philosophy of technology, science and technology studies, and media history.


Blowing Gabriel Out of the Clouds: Jazz and the Afterlife

Colloquium Musicology
Prof. dr. Walter van de Leur

Thursday 20 October, 15:30-17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

The afterlife is a site of many fantasies, and it figures in numerous jazz narratives. Biographies and documentaries unproblematically present the likes of Armstrong and Coltrane as saints or angels, who after fulfilling their mission on earth have rejoined their creator. Often the concept of immortality is played out in overt religious terms. Jazz in heaven—and sometimes in hell—is a trope that drives many jazz jokes, but it seriously is the hook of Howard E. Fischer’s documentary jazz film They Died Before 40: ‘The greatest jazz band in history has been playing in heaven for more than 50 years!,’ the promotional blurb trumpets. For the film, different iconic recordings of Stardust have been digitally spliced to produce a tune ‘recorded in heaven’ by a band ‘organized in heaven’; apparently real recordings from the Hereafter have not materialized so far.
     Jazz fans who are not sure they will get to see the heavenly band perform, can opt for a final resting place in the Jazz Corner at Woodlawn Cemetery (The Bronx, New York), where more than 2,000 mausoleum and burial plots went on sale in 2014, for ‘lovers of jazz who are anxious to spend eternity near to the legends they have loved in life.’ According to cemetery executive director David Ison, the plots sold out quickly: ‘It’s absolutely incredible ... we allotted several sites just behind Miles Davis and they’re almost all gone.’
     In this paper I will look at jazz and death, and the fantasies that the ‘most live music performed in the here and now’ calls up when jazz greats die. The narratives surrounding the passing of musicians reflect how fans, critics and historians have understood and understand jazz and its practitioners. Myths about either the triumphant successes of larger than life immortals or the lonely sufferings of tragic geniuses reveal various assumptions that feed into ideas about what sets jazz apart from other musics.

Jazz-musicologist Walter van de Leur received his Ph.D. from the University of Amsterdam (UvA), and teaches at the Conservatorium van Amsterdam (CvA), where he is Research Coordinator in the Jazz and Classical Master’s programs, Jazz historiography electives teacher in the Jazz Master’s program, and Music History teacher in the Jazz Bachelor’s program. On behalf of the CvA, he is Professor of Jazz and Improvised Music at the UvA. He has published in a variety of peer-reviewed academic journals and edited volumes as well as in non-academic journals. Two book manuscripts are currently in process, one on the reception of jazz in Europe, and one on jazz and death.


Reasoning through Art: The Articulation of Embodied Knowledge

Colloquium Musicology
Prof. dr. Henk Borgdorff

Thursday 22 September, 15:30-17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

My contribution will start with asking whether research by artists, so-called artistic research, is equivalent to academic research. Artists in their research often make use of insights, methods and techniques, which stem from social science, humanities or technological research, but it is not clear what artistic research itself has to offer to academia. In my talk I will develop a positive understanding of research in and through the arts, touching upon its epistemology and methodology, and addressing the form and relevance of its outcomes. I will point to four related issues that are pertinent to research in and through art: an advanced understanding of discursivity, of reasoning; the methodological relevance of material practices and things; innovative ways of publishing art in academia; and advanced forms of peer review. This will be illustrated by the workings of the Journal for Artistic Research and its associated Research Catalogue. Besides, it is key to the advancement of the artistic research field that we not only advertise and export our epistemological and methodological distinctiveness, but that we also join forces with others in our attempt to re-think academia.


Impresario in Cold Wartime: Nicolas Nabokov’s Music Festivals, 1951-1961

Colloquium Musicology
dr. Harm Langenkamp

Thursday 19 May, 15:30-17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

Around 1950, when the members of the anti-Nazi alliance found themselves locked into a political and ideological stalemate that none of them could afford to escalate into another ‘hot’ war, the Truman administration found itself facing a challenge for which it was ill-prepared: stemming the seemingly irreversible success of Moscow’s overtures to nonaligned intelligentsias the world over. Part of Washington’s answer was the facilitation of the Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF), a global coalition of men and women of arts, letters, and science that took it upon itself to counteract Soviet propaganda by promoting the value of freedom. Against all expectations, the post of the CCF’s secretary-general went to Nicolas Nabokov, an outspoken émigré composer of prominent Russian descent with a zest for anti-Stalinist rhetoric and politics. In this capacity, Nabokov organized a number of large-scale festivals and conferences which convened musicians, composers, music critics and (ethno)musicologists on an agenda of common interests and concerns.

This lecture assesses the strategies, ambitions, successes, and failures of Nabokov’s musical enterprises, in particular the 1961 East-West Music Encounter in Tokyo. Admirable for all the adversities Nabokov had overcome, at the height of the Vietnam War his projects were compromised by revelations about the CCF’s secret benefactor: the Central Intelligence Agency. For all the questions these revelations raise about the notions of cultural autonomy and apolitical cosmopolitanism that informed the CCF’s politics, this paper resists quick and easy condemnation, suggesting that the embrace of these notions as well as the resort to secrecy was at the time of the CCF’s foundation (June 1950) the only strategy through which a cultural counteroffensive of a serious scale could be mounted.


The Musical Imaginarium of Konishi Yasuharu, or How to make Western music Japanese

Colloquium Musicology
dr. Oliver Seibt

Thursday 21 April, 15:30-17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

“J-Pop” or “J-Rock”, the labels used to designate Japanese popular music, self-consciously claim the successful domestication of two Western music genres. But how were these Western musics made Japanese? How did Japanese musicians succeed to convince an international audience of the unique qualities that distinguish J-Pop and J-Rock from contemporary genres of Western popular music?

The work of Konishi Yasuharu, former head of the internationally acclaimed J-Pop duo Pizzicato 5, gives an idea of the general importance of a relevant dimension with regard to the production and consumption of music that is often neglected in the study of global popular music flows.


Resilience, precarity and counter publics in Beyoncé’s audiovisual oeuvre

Colloquium Musicology
dr. Kristin McGee (University of Groningen)

Thursday 17 March, 15:30-17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

In an age of self-fashioning, audiovisual music performances, as meta-texts, remain powerful vehicles for promoting neoliberalism’s resilience discourse. Currently, pop stars commandeer not only top down media, but more informal platforms to promote their celebrity status and consequently alter the terms of musical performativity. In her self-titled video-album Beyoncé (2013), super star Beyoncé challenges the conventions of both film and music genres to promote her resilient artistic voice while expanding her international celebrity status. Her recent work also elevates the status of music video as the essential facet of the new visual album genre. This presentation conceptualizes Beyoncé’s self-fashioning as both artistic engagement with the public sphere and as a continuation of the repetitive performance aesthetics of an increasingly dominate black music ideal. Ultimately Beyoncé exploits old and new media to perpetuate her mega star status; yet her multifaceted artistic oeuvre prompts non-essentialist corporeal negotiations of black culture, which productively contribute to recent debates about feminism and sexuality within the music industry.


Elvis has finally left the building? Boundary work, whiteness and the reception of rock music

Colloquium Musicology
dr. Pauwke Berkers

Thursday 18 February, 15:30-17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

Music genres are constitutive of social boundaries as they are often structured along ethno-racial lines. Since Elvis Presley in the 1950s, rock music has been appropriated by whites, edging out non-whites from this music genre – the so-called Elvis Effect. Drawing on two ongoing studies with Julian Schaap, this presentation focuses on how music critics as well as audiences draw ethno-racial boundaries in rock music.

First, using content analyses of professional and lay reviews, our analyses show evidence of social marking: (1) the presence of ethno-racial markers e.g., “Black singer”; (2) the extent to which such markers crowd out aesthetic classifications, e.g. focusing on ethno-racial similarities instead of aesthetic differences; and (3) the way in which ethno-racial markers affect the rating of the album, as unmarked artists are arguably rated as superior.

Second, making use of the innovative subjectivity-based visual Q-methodology and post-sorting interviews, we will demonstrate how (1) non-white musicians are habitually marked as opposed to the unmarked white (male) norm; (2) non-white artists are both seen as tokens and role-models, revealing how difference can function as a double-edged sword; (3) discourses of color-blindness, color-consciousness and ironic minimization are employed to discuss ethno-racial inequality.


Bass, Grain, Resonance: Vibrational Studies of Electronic Dance Music

Colloquium Musicology
Dr. L.M. Garcia

Friday 11 December, 14:00-15:30
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

This lecture sets out to explore the tactilization of sound in electronic dance music as well as significance of vibration and resonance in emic understandings of sonic affect. Sonic tactility offers an important sensory-affective bridge between touch, sonic experience, and an expansive sense of connection in dancing crowds. Electronic dance music events tend to engender spaces of heightened tactility and embodied intimacy, and so it no surprise that their musical aesthetics also highlight tactility. In track-titles, lyrics, and other text-based media surrounding this genre, “feeling” is often deployed in a polyvalent manner, highlighting the conceptual overlap between emotion, affective knowing, perception, and touch. This bleed between modes of feeling extends into the sound of recordings themselves, which use vibration to engage with tactile, haptic, and kinaesthetic senses in addition to hearing. 

This analysis of sonic tactility focuses on “house” and “techno” styles of electronic music, especially the “minimal” continuum of sub-styles that were in ascendancy during the first decade of the twenty-first century. These styles invoke tactility through a range of modalities, including percussive bass “beats” and highly "granular" sonic texture (à la P. Schaeffer). This sonic tactility leads to a further examination of the role of vibration and resonance in popular electronic music scenes. Drawing from ethnographic interviews as well as recent "EDMC" research, this lecture will show how emic notions of "vibe" and "sync" provide compelling accounts of sonic affect through phenomena such as sympathetic resonance, entrainment, and attunement.


Vitry in the Rhineland? A provisional report, and some methodological considerations

Colloquium Muziekwetenschap
prof. dr. Karl Kügle

19 November, 15:30-17:00
Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, zaal 3.01

The ontological status of Philippe de Vitry (1291-1361) escapes easy classification even more than that of his contemporary, ‘secretary-poet-musician’ (Leach 2011) Guillaume de Machaut (c. 1300-1377). Vitry personally might have seen himself first and foremost as a cleric, pursuing a career that led him from studies at Paris University into service to two noble houses within the extended French royal family (Bourbon and Valois), culminating in his appointment as bishop of Meaux (1351-61). Having fulfilled relatively straightforward functions for his aristocratic patrons at first, including legal counsel and notary, he acquired important posts within the Valois administration following Philip of Valois’s accession to the French throne (1328), at the same time serving as royal propagandist, diplomat, and tutor to Philip’s children. Hailing (probably) from Artois, his own family included several brothers also active in French politics. He befriended the likes of Petrarch and of Pierre Roger, archbishop of Rouen, later Pope Clement VI (1342-52), possibly one of Philippe’s student friends. He was a scholar of music, theology, and astronomy, an early humanist, a poet working in Latin and Old French, a singer, and – last but not least - a composer. His reputation extended far beyond France into England, Italy, Central Europe and Cyprus, and endured well into the fifteenth century. His fame was revived by musicologists who see him as one of the key instigators of the so-called ‘ars nova’.

Against such a background (‘data-poor’ but exceptionally rich in hermeneutic possibilities), any additional material coming to light acquires unusual importance. In my paper, I shall review the state of Vitry research today, then introduce a new source I discovered recently in the Middle Rhine region of Germany. I conclude with some methodological considerations: How to grasp the complexities of a past where even the word for music (musica) means something different from what it means to us?


MA Graduation Conference Friday 23 October

On Friday 23 October, the recent graduates from the MA Musicology UvA will present their research for their fellow students, family, friends, and anyone interested. After the presentations, students will receive the certificate for the MA Musicology. The location is room 1.01A at the University Theater, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, Amsterdam.

Full program:

9:45-10:15 Meagan Hughes  -  Music and Peacebuilding in Northern Ireland
10:15-10:45 Fabian Westzaan  -  Volharding in de Progressieve Muziekpraktijk. Over het activisme van Orkest de Volharding van 1972 tot 1983

10:45-11:00 break

11:00-11:30 Belle Edelman - Musical Recall: A Study on Transmission
11:30-12:00 Tim Ruijgrok - Dissonant Views on Consonance (presentation in Dutch)

12:00-13:30 break

13:30-14:00 Geraldine van Gelder  -  Lamentaties van Palestrina en Lasso
14:00-14:30 Rebecca Erickson - A Filmic Sound Atlas

14:30-14:45 break

14:45-15:15 Aart Appelhof  - Eduard Hanslick en programmatische muziek
15:15-15:45 Laura Jonker  -  Bang on a Can-ism. Postminimalism, totalism and the music by Michael Gordon, David Lang and Julia Wolfe (presentation in Dutch)

15:45-16:00 break

16:00-16:30 Marloes Schuurman - Gender, muziek en islam. Vier case studies over Marokkaanse zangeressen in Nederland
16:30-17:00 Jurre Thuijs - Pitch Anticipation: a study of glide tone perception


Music notation as technology and material culture in the performances of the ICP Orchestra

Colloquium Muziekwetenschap
Floris Schuiling

15 October, 15:30-17:00
Universiteitstheater, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, zaal 3.01

This talk presents some of the results of an ethnographic study of Amsterdam-based improvising collective the Instant Composers Pool Orchestra, taking their notated repertoire as inspiration for formulating a new approach to music notation after the performative turn in music scholarship. The ICP, founded in 1967 by Misha Mengelberg, Han Bennink and Willem Breuker and still performing, is one of the longest consistently performing groups in improvised music. Influenced by free jazz, experimental music and performance art, founding member Mengelberg composed a diverse repertoire of pieces that construct different possibilities for improvisation and creative interaction in performance.

In such an improvised context, it seems pointless to approach these pieces as ‘representations’ of the music they play. Rather than such a binary relation between text and performance, I draw on the work of anthropologist Alfred Gell (1992, 1998) to describe them as technologies, mediating social and creative agency of performers in a wider network of mediating relations between musicians and their instruments. While a critical attitude to the centrality of the work in musicology has been vital for the performative turn, this formulation of the role of notation in a model of distributed creativity is intended to develop a positive understanding of notation and its role in the construction of musical cultures and socialities.


The Perception and Computation of Music Similarity in Electronic Dance Music

Colloquium Muziekwetenschap
Dr Aline Honingh (researcher at the Institute for Logic, Language and Computation, UvA)

25 June, 15:30-17:00
Universiteitstheater, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, zaal 3.01

"I just love this song, do you know other songs like this?" "What do you mean? Songs with a similar rhythm, or being similar otherwise?"

When is a piece of music similar to another piece of music? And do people agree on this? These are important questions in research on music similarity. Music similarity is a popular topic in the field of computational musicology, but still not well understood.

Since music can be studied by looking at different aspects like melody, rhythm and timbre, music similarity might be studied by studying so-called `sub-similarities’ like rhythm similarity and timbre similarity. In this presentation we focus on rhythm and timbre similarity in the context of Electronic Dance Music (EDM). Since rhythm and timbre are the two most important musical dimensions in EDM, one can wonder whether, by modeling rhythm and timbre similarity, the concept of general music similarity can be modeled from this as well. In addition to these models, we will look at an experiment in which similarity scores were given by listeners. With these scores, the models can be evaluated, and we can learn more about how people rate (rhythm/timbre) similarity.

In a collaboration with company Elephantcandy, an app based on timbre and rhythm similarity was developed, and will be presented at the colloquium.


The Ever-Present Noise of Sound: On the Inevitability and Necessity of Noise in Recorded Sound and Music

Colloquium Muziekwetenschap
Melle Kromhout (PhD candidate at ASCA)

21 mei, 15:30-17:00
Universiteitstheater, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, zaal 3.01

In my PhD-project on the role of noise in recorded sound and music, I aim to provide an alternative to existing views on noise that continue to consider it in terms of its transgressive or subversive potential as the sonic “other.” Through a methodological approach largely influenced by media archaeology or, more broadly, so-called German Media Theory, I develop a theoretical framework that enables a thorough revaluation of the fundamental importance of noise for assessing the meaning of music and sound in the media age.

In this talk I will first provide a general overview of the main questions and aims of my ongoing research. Secondly, I will present two case studies of specific sound technologies that provided the foundation for my larger thesis: an analysis of noise reduction technologies in analogue recording practices makes the case for the inevitability of noise; next, the analysis of the practice of “dithering” in digital sound processing shows how noise can even be considered necessary. I will close my presentation with some preliminary thoughts on the further development of the project.


Staging and Negating Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron: Representing a Representation of the Unrepresentable

Colloquium Muziekwetenschap 
Dr. Mark Berry (Royal Holloway, University of London) 

16 april, 15:30-17:00
Universiteitstheater, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, zaal 3.01

In this lecture, I shall look at perhaps the most theological of all operas, Schoenberg’s Moses und Aron, with particular reference to its dramatic questioning of the very possibility of artistic, and specifically musical, representation. Schoenberg’s God is unimaginable in the very real sense of it being impossible to make Him into an image. Were the Israelites to succeed in seeing Him, He would no longer be their God. Schoenberg’s conversion to Lutheranism is as important here as his subsequent re-conversion to Judaism. The great Protestant and specifically Lutheran controversy over the Second Commandment, involving Luther’s claim that it applied only to pagans, not to Christians, and its subsequent ejection from the list of ten, its be of importance here. Reformation controversy over iconoclasm fed into the classical German concept of self-cultivation or Bildung, the very word incorporating Bild, or ‘image’. Where, however, does that leave the possibility of musico-dramatic expression?

How, moreover, does such extreme difficulty with respect to the work ‘itself’ translate into staging? Schoenberg’s own stage directions are notoriously unrealisable. Erwin Stein reported, apparently without irony, from the 1957 premiere: ‘In Zurich there was not enough space for displaying the processions of camels, wagons and asses which are supposed to bring offerings to the idol. These tasks as well as the slaughter of cattle and the roasting of meat, which are part of the offerings, will tax the resources of any opera house.’ That, of course, is a practical difficulty, but what of more theoretical concerns, especially in the light of debates concerning Werktreue and Regietheater? Consideration of some productions of Moses und Aron will ask what they have to tell us about representation and its impossibility, and likewise what the work’s confrontation with representation has to tell us about the possibilities, and otherwise, of staging.


“Eine dürftige Geschichte”; Arminius and the Failure of German Liberation Opera (1815-1848)

Colloquium Muziekwetenschap
Kasper van Kooten

12 maart, 15:30-17:00
Universiteitstheater, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, zaal 3.01


This lecture traces the little-known history of German-language operas based on the legendary German warrior Arminius that were composed in the years between 1815 and 1848. Considering the symbolic power of Arminius as a national liberation hero and his omnipresence in nearly all realms of German nineteenth-century culture, his apparent absence on the operatic stage is striking. This absence is even more remarkable when we take into account that liberation heroes were standard fare of many “national” operas elsewhere in Europe. But surprisingly, a closer look at historical sources reveals that during the nineteenth century, there were in fact quite some operas written about Arminius’s legendary battle, which were, however, all relatively unsuccessful or soon sunk into oblivion. Evidently there was something with this story and its operatic realizations that did not fit the mold of German opera or did not meet the expectations of German opera audiences. By formulating an answer to the question why Arminius did not conquer the early nineteenth-century German opera stage, I hope to provide a more profound insight into the nature and vicissitudes of German national opera and its discourse.


Thea Derks presenteert haar biografie Reinbert de Leeuw, mens of melodie

Colloquium Muziekwetenschap
Thea Derks

19 februari, 15:30-17:00
Universiteitstheater, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, zaal 3.01

In 2014 verscheen de biografie Reinbert de Leeuw, mens of melodie, waarin muziekpublicist Thea Derks het muziekspoor volgt van pianist, componist, dirigent en bestuurder Reinbert de Leeuw. Deze heeft veel betekend voor het Nederlandse muziekleven en stond mede aan de basis van de internationaal vermaarde ensemblecultuur. Derks zal haar lezing illustreren met muziekvoorbeelden. 

Reinbert de Leeuw studeerde twee jaar Nederlands aan de Universiteit van Amsterdam alvorens hij zich in 1958 inschreef voor een studie piano aan het Muzieklyceum aldaar. Vanaf 1962 volgde hij tevens compositieonderricht bij de modernist Kees van Baaren aan het Koninklijk Conservatorium in Den Haag. Daar raakte hij bevriend met Louis Andriessen, Mischa Mengelberg, Peter Schat en Jan van Vlijmen, met wie hij het Nederlandse muziekleven danig zou opschudden, bijvoorbeeld met de controversiële opera Reconstructie in 1969. 

Als bestuurder streed De Leeuw met succes voor financiële ondersteuning van componisten en voor structurele subsidiëring van gespecialiseerde ensembles. Hij zette als pianist de vroege werken van Erik Satie en de late muziek van Franz Liszt op de kaart en brak als programmeur een lans voor twaalftoonsmuziek en tegendraadse componisten als Charles Ives en György Ligeti.

Min of meer uit noodzaak gaat hij ook dirigeren en in 1974 wordt hij door studenten gevraagd hen te coachen voor een uitvoering van Schönbergs Pierrot lunaire. Hieruit ontstaat het Schönberg Ensemble, dat internationaal een grote reputatie opbouwt, mede dankzij de intensieve samenwerking met levende grootheden als Olivier Messiaen, Galina Oestvolskaja, Mauricio Kagel en Sofia Goebaidoelina. 

De biografie Reinbert de Leeuw, mens of melodie kreeg lovende kritieken en werd omschreven als een ‘standaardwerk voor de geschiedschrijving van de Nederlandse ensemblecultuur’. 

Na afloop van de lezing is er gelegenheid vragen te stellen en de biografie te laten signeren.


Richard Taruskin (15-18 december)

Van 15 tot 18 december zal prof. dr Richard Taruskin (University of California, Berkeley) deelnemen aan een serie lezingen en debatten in Amsterdam en Utrecht, georganiseerd in een samenwerking tussen de opleidingen Muziekwetenschap aan de Universiteit Utrecht en de Universiteit van Amsterdam, het Conservatorium van Amsterdam en het Orgelpark.

Op 15 december zal prof. dr Taruskin om 16:00 een lezing geven in het Universiteitstheater (Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16), zaal 3.01, getiteld:

Resisting the Rite

Everyone knows about the hostile audience reaction to the first performance of Le sacre du printemps, but resistance to the work and its original import has been constant over the course of the century since then, affecting its subject, its interpretation, and its performance practice. The chief resisters were Stravinsky, Diaghilev and Roerich, the ballet’s creators, and as a result of their resistance the meaning of the work and its cultural significance has been utterly transformed.

De lezing duurt ca. 45 minuten, gevolgd door 30 minuten discussie en een receptie.

Op 16 december volgt er om 14:30 een openbaar interview en discussie getiteld “Catching Up with Richard Taruskin” aan het Conservatorium van Amsterdam (Oosterdokskade 151) over historische uitvoeringspraktijk, volkselementen in hedendaagse muziek, gevolgd door een uitvoering van de Sacre du Printemps voor quatre-mains piano. Op 17 december is er om 15:00 in het Orgelpark (Gerard Brandstraat 26, Amsterdam) een paneldiscussie onder leiding van prof. dr. Hans Fidom over improvisatie en de uitvoeringspraktijk van nieuwe muziek met bijdragen van organist Willem Tanke en pianist Ralph van Raat. Tot slot geeft prof. Taruskin op 18 december om 16:15 een colloquium aan de Universiteit Utrecht, in de Sweelinckzaal van Drift 21, getiteld “Liszt and Bad Taste”. Studenten en medewerkers van de Universiteit van Amsterdam zijn van harte uitgenodigd voor alle bovenstaande evenementen. Masterstudenten en promovendi kunnen deze lezingen ook volgen in het kader van een masterclass van 2 ECTS bij het Huizinga Instituut, voor meer informatie en registratie zie Masterclass Richard Taruskin

Richard Taruskin is hoogleraar Muziekwetenschap aan de Universiteit van California, Berkeley, en is een van de meest toonaangevende en spraakmakende muziekwetenschappers van de afgelopen decennia. Hij is de auteur van de imposante Oxford History of Western Music (2005) en heeft vele invloedrijke publicaties over Russische muziek, nationalisme, modernisme en muzikale uitvoeringspraktijk op zijn naam staan, waaronder Text and Act (1995), Stravinsky and the Russian Traditions (1996) en Defining Russia Musically (1997). Met zijn regelmatige bijdragen in onder andere de New York Times en New Republic is hij bovendien een prominente stem in het publieke debat over klassieke muziek.


Tenganan Pegringsingan: Between Mirror and Make Up

Colloquium Muziekwetenschap 
Citra Aryandari 

November 13, 15:30-17:00
Universiteitstheater, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

Tenganan Pegringsingan is a desa adat (village of custom) located in the east of the Indonesian island Bali. Myth has it that the land of Tenganan Pegringsingan was bestowed by Dewa Indra (deities) to Wong Paneges (people) for their loyalty and intelligence. Records dating back to the 11th century note that these ancestors of the Tenganan people tended the village, its lands and natural resources with great care, securing continuity of life not only for themselves, but also for their descendants. Indeed, today, Tenganan’s situation is not significantly different from the one described in the legend.

However, since the tourist industry hit Bali in the 1960s, the Tenganan people have earned their living not only from the inherited natural resources, but also from the tourists from outside Tenganan. This paper, based on extensive fieldwork in Tenganan Pegrinsingan, explores the impact of this on the way in which the Tenganan people carry out their rituals, notably Usaba Sambah, the biggest ritual that lasts for a month, and Mekare-kare, or pandan war. Tenganan people are not particularly interested in the ideology or history behind their ceremonies. For them, the most important thing is that the ceremony is done. Still, for the tourists and other entertainment purposes, they ‘traditionalize’ themselves and beautify their rituals through excessive jewellery, thick make-up and theatricality, with the intention to impress the tourists and make them believe that Tenganan is a village of rich people passionate to preserve their tradition. By focusing on the present-day practice of rituals, the paper aims to provide insight into changes of Tenganan society at large.


MA Graduate Conference 2014

Friday 24 October, 14:00-17:00
Oudemanhuispoort, room F 0.02


14:00-14:30 Pieter van Vliet
14:30-15:00 Anneke van Woerden
15:00-15:15 Tom Wolfs
15:15-15:30 Break
15:30-16:00 Sybren Woudstra
16:00-16:30 Mira Withers
16:30-17:00 Erik Spronk


Pieter van Vliet
Everything is coming together: the interrelationship between repetitiveness, modern (recording) technology and music in 21st-century electronic dance music

This thesis focuses on the interrelation between repetitiveness, (recording) technology and the practice of music by closely looking at the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) Ableton Live 9. Live, as it is often called, is the most common software to produce electronic dance music. Ableton’s repetitive nature is extraordinary suitable for producing electronic dance music and offers the possibilities of producers performing their produced music in a live situation: the software ‘blends’ two separate spheres – the sphere of the music-producer and the sphere of the DJ – and gives the opportunity for computers to vividly participate in the live performance of music.

During the presentation certain aspects of the thesis will be further examined. First of all we’ll discuss the concept of electronic dance music (further referred to as EDM), recording technology and repetitiveness: the main subjects of this thesis. We will discuss the historical position of Ableton Live within the history of audio recording and technological/compositional innovations during the 20th century. Secondly we’ll have a closer look upon Ableton Live’s position within electronic dance music and how it shapes the musical practice of live-performance in the 21st century. We will do this by closely examining live performances of producers Pantha du Prince and Nicolas Jaar.

The first case, Pantha Du Prince’s performance of Elements of Light, will give us more insight in how technology offers the producer the opportunity to participate in a live performance as a vivid, improvisational musician, bringing the possibilities of a studio to the stage. Most important is the relationship between the DAW and the ‘conventional’ instruments during the performance.

The second case, focusing on Nicolas Jaar’s stance towards electronic music’s aesthetics, will relate to the problem of authenticity within EDM. Jaar, probably unintentionally, shows how the ‘upcoming new practice’ (meaning: the blurring of DJ and producer and the possibilities of live performance of electronic dance music) gave rise to a demarcation between the ‘honest authentic’ and the ‘dishonest inauthentic’ music.

Anneke van Woerden
Degrees of sampling sound: 3 case studies of Brazilian music

My master thesis, titled “Sampling Sound: How (Some) Brazilian Music Travels”, focuses on the question how sampling contributes to the travelling of Brazilian sounds. Through the focus on the concept of “sound” and the practice of “sampling sound”, I aim to look at what happens specifically on a musical level when sounds travel from one musical context into another.

In this presentation I want to demonstrate different degrees of sampling sound, using three different musical case studies. First of all, I will shortly illustrate the practice of sampling employed within the genre of hip-hop, tracing the sample of “Saudade Vem Correndo” by Stan Getz and Luiz Bonfa into “Runnin’”, a song by hip-hop formation the Pharcyde. Subsequently, I will zoom in on the practice of “sampling sound” and illustrate different degrees of sampling sound through two additional case studies, comparing music of Herbie Hancock to João Donato and Ivan Lins.

In order to explain why and how the music from these case studies show striking audible similarities, I use the framework of “memetics of music” by Steven Jan (Jan 2000, 2007). Taking from him the idea about the importance of separate musical parameters such as pitch and rhythm, I argue that the more, and the more accurate all present parameters are replicated, the closer a musical reference comes to the practice of sampling a sound.  Additionally, not only the sound within the sample, but also the way the sample is placed in its musical context is important. Thus, to truly sample a sound, not only all parameters should be replicated, but their importance and sonic influence should extend beyond their replicated context, matching the overall sound.

Tom Wolfs
Seeing Is Believing: The effect of musicians’ body movements on the valuation of a musical performance 

(Graduation ceremony, but without a presentation of the research.)

Sybren Woudstra
On Three

An important aspect of popular music is metre. The bar, as the underlying metrical concept, can indicate several different measure types. The two that I opposed are the binary and the ternary measure type. I did this to investigate the difference in musical meaning between quadruple and triple metre, because triple metre is, for some reason, much more scarce than quadruple metre. How do three and four relate to each other? And what can be expressed by deliberately choosing one or the other as the basis of musical rhythmical structure? Through interviews with several composers I tried to formulate answers to these questions.

Mira Withers
Possibilian theory of music: a rhizomatic approach to music as consciousness

“Music is perhaps the art presenting most philosophical puzzles”[1], “Is not music as much involved with what is not music as speech is with what is not speech?”[2], “We […] need to exercise ourselves in understanding music rather than robotically theorising it.”[3] We know a lot about music. But what harnesses our imagination is what we don’t know. Exploring the space of an unknown territory is where our questions and problem-posing take shape, actualizing their potential to become new hypotheses, new theories.

Possibilian theory of music is an assemblage of philosophical concepts, scientific ideas and music(ologic)al intuitions employed by a ‘what if’: it constructs a hypothesis of music as consciousness. The premise is to differentiate between ‘music’ created by and bound to our human umwelt, constrained by anatomy, perceptual capacity and culture, and ‘music’ that is a conscious thing on its own, with content, rules and evolution, hence the concept musika is introduced. The paper examines possible windows of understanding through which we could consider the (relative) independence of musika from the single mind, the distinction between musika and music and the basis of their relationship, the working mechanisms of an entity such as musika, its (free) will. In my talk I will focus on a couple of topics, namely Popper’s World3 object’s capacities and Deleuze’s topological map.

[1] Kania, Andrew, "The Philosophy of Music", The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Spring 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), 
[2] Seeger, Charles (1977). Toward a Unitary Field Theory for Musicology. In Studies in Musicology 1935-1975 (pp. 102-137). University of California Press. 
[3] Abels, Birgit (2014, January 24) Cultural Musicology? Paper presented at the Conference on Cultural Musicology at the University of Amsterdam, Netherlands.

Erik Spronk
Migrerende muziek (presentation in Dutch)

Muziek beweegt. Niet alleen beroert het mensen wanneer die naar muziek luisteren, maar muziek verplaatst zich ook in tijd en ruimte, zowel in actieve als in passieve zin: mensen nemen muziek mee op hun reizen over de wereld en via virtuele en imaginaire werelden kan muziek ook steeds sneller nieuw publiek bereiken. In de etnomusicologie is dit dynamische en ruimtelijke aspect tot op heden onderbelicht gebleven; de norm was om muziek “in de culturele context” te bestuderen en te analyseren. Diverse voorbeelden van kruisbestuivingen in de muziek tonen inmiddels aan dat deze visie op niet-westerse muziek niet altijd opgaat. Daarom moet de vraag worden gesteld hoe (niet-westerse) muziek dan wel kan worden bestudeerd, op een manier waarbij het bewegende aspect van muziek wordt meegenomen en dit tevens praktisch uitvoerbaar is. Om dit te kunnen bereiken zullen er ideeën die gerelateerd zijn aan het bewegen van culturen en muziek en afkomstig zijn van andere vakgebieden binnen de geesteswetenschappen worden geïntroduceerd en toegepast op de muziekwetenschap, waarbij er ook oog is voor de ontwikkelingen in de musicologie zelf. Deze theorie zal worden geïllustreerd aan de hand van enkele voorbeelden van hybride en dynamische muziekvormen die zich over de wereld bevinden, waarvoor een literatuurstudie zal worden uitgevoerd. Op deze wijze zal worden getracht een bijdrage te leveren aan de ontwikkeling van de culturele muziekwetenschap als vakgebied binnen de musicologie.


Voicing, Listening, and Public Feeling: from fado to canção de protesto in Lisbon, Portugal

Colloquium Muziekwetenschap
Lila Ellen Gray

October 16, 15:30-17:00
Universiteitstheater, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

For many participants in Lisbon’s fado worlds, the term fadista refers to both one who sings and one who knows how to listen; through listening one enters into the affective, poetic, and performative sound world of fado, mind, body and soul. In Lisbon’s fado scenes, speech and song, performances of the everyday (like telling a story), heightened performances (like getting up to sing a fado during an amateur fado session), and mediatized performances, interanimate one another. Listening can also be considered as a type of performance signaled on its own continuum of markedness, by its own rituals and repetitions.  This continuum of the voice sounding and its relationship to forms of public listening and public feeling as manifest in the Portuguese musical genres of fado and canção de protesto (or protest song), forms the focus of this presentation.  The first part of the presentation draws on ethnographic research I conducted on fado performance and reception in Lisbon, Portugal during the first decade of the 2000s, some of which is the basis for my book, Fado Resounding: Affective Politics and Urban Life (Duke University Press, 2013)This research spanned diverse and overlapping Lisbon sites and social worlds (museums and archives, professional fado venues, tourist restaurants and small amateur bars, fans of the late fado diva Amália Rodrigues) but it is primarily grounded in ethnographic work on amateur fado practice and sociality. The final section of the talk draws on a portion of my current research, which examines the musical and cultural responses to the financial crisis in Portugal, focusing on a re-emergent register of voicing (and participatory listening) through the highly politicized genre of canção de protesto. I position this in relation to the stereotypical complaint register of the fado voice, historicizing these registers, while asking questions about their labors and viabilities in the present.


A Tool of Remembrance: The Shofar in Modern Music, Literature and Art

Colloquium Muziekwetenschap
Kees van Hage

September 25, 15:30-17:00
Universiteitstheater, Nieuwe Doelenstraat 16, room 3.01

The shofar or ram’s horn, like the menorah and the Star of David, is a central symbol of Judaism. In the Hebrew Bible, it is the most mentioned instrument: it announces the revelation of the Ten Commandments, it calls for religious rituals, it is heard in the exhortations of prophets and it gives the signal for battle. In the Bible, however, the shofar is only rarely a musical instrument. In the prayer books for Rosh Ha-Shanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement), the shofar produces a wordless continuation of prayer, and therefore is considered a ritual instrument instead of a musical instrument.

By the end of the 19th century, writers, composers and artists changed their way of looking at the shofar and thanks to their work, the venerable ram’s horn was given a second youth; it made an artistic turn to music, literature and art, revealing its unexpected artistic abilities, without forgetting its religious past.

A Tool of Remembrance, the first scholarly monograph on the shofar, explores the use and meanings of the shofar as a traditional religious symbol in the new, secular context of modern music, literature and art, where the instrument is no longer subject to restrictions of place (the synagogue), time (the liturgical year) and authority (halakhah), and where it is directed to general, not exclusively Jewish audiences of listeners, readers or viewers, who are not aroused to action or repentance, but invited to experience the artists’ personal interpretations of Jewish traditions.