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Musicology Distinguished Lecture Series

Each year the Musicology Area of UT’s School of Music invites outstanding scholars and performers from around the country and abroad to participate in the Distinguished Lecture Series. Many of these lectures are cosponsored with other areas within the School of Music or other departments of the university. Participants are chosen to reflect the interests of our faculty and students, to foster interdisciplinary relationships within the university, and to enhance our campus offerings with diverse and innovative approaches to musical practice, philosophy and scholarship. Our guests present lectures and interactive workshops that demonstrate the best of their current music research. Past participants of the DLS include Dale Cockrell, Paul Berliner, Zim Ngqawana, Susan McClary, and Paul Théberge.

“Decolonial Noising”
Ana R. Alonso-Minutti, Associate Professor of Musicology, University of New Mexico

Noise, when used as a noun, is a word that commonly refers to an unwanted, unpleasant or disruptive sound. Noise, when used as a verb, alludes to the act of making noise, to cry out, or to report. Here I use the verb “to noise” to describe cultural expressive practices rooted in pensamientos fronterizos (border thinking) that embody turmoil toward social change. Noising is an epistemology of the body. It appeals to that which is felt, not just what is seen or heard. Noising is neither neutral nor passive. It adopts a personal and political position. In this presentation, I focus on the work of new Mexican women-identified creators who use noise both as a sonic medium and as a decolonial strategy to counteract discriminatory and oppressive norms. This event is free and open to the public.

  • Thursday, March 5, 3:40 p.m., Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, Room 68
  • This talk is made possible by the Haines Morris Endowment, The Shirley R. Ford Memorial Fund, and the School of Music. Part of a series of lectures on music, sound studies, and the environment: new perspectives in changing landscapes.

“The Race of Sound: The Acousmatic Question as Voice-Making”
Nina Sun Eidsheim, Professor of Musicology, UCLA

The foundational question raised in listening to a human voice is: Who is this? Who is speaking? This is an acousmatic question that asks what type of essence is sounding. This presentation asserts that we ask the acousmatic question because it is not actually possible to know voice, vocal identity, and meaning as such; we can only know them in their multidimensional processes, practices, and multiplicities. Further, this talk provides tools that help denaturalize the acousmatic listening process and the voices it names. This event is free and open to the public. 

  • Thursday, January 23, 2020, at 3:45 p.m., Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, Room 244
  • Sponsored by the School of Music, the Haines-Morris Endowment, and the Shirley R. Ford Memorial Music Fund.

'Penned against The Wall': Migration Narratives, Cultural Resonances, and Latinx Experiences in Appalachian Music.

Sophia Enriquez, The Ohio State University Ph.D. candidate

Sophia is an ABD PhD student at The Ohio State University, and a graduate fellow in ethnomusicology. Her dissertation project investigates Latinx music, identity, and migration in the Appalachian region of the United States. The event is free and open to the public.

  • Monday, November 11, 2019, at 3:30pm, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, Room 25
  • Sponsored by the School of Music and the Shirley R. Ford Memorial Music Endowment.

When the Borders Crossed Us: A Latinx Musicology for Trumpism

David Garcia, Associate Professor of Music at UNC Chapel HIll

An enchanted evening of Chinese music performed by Mei Han and musicians from the Center for Chinese Music and Culture at Middle Tennessee State University.

  • Monday March 4, 2019, 3:30 pm, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, Room 25.
  • Sponsored by the School of Music,  the Shirley R. Ford Memorial Music Endowment, and Latin American & Caribbean Studies

…But the Nazi’s Love(d) Music Too

William Cheng, Associate Professor of Music at Dartmouth University

An enchanted evening of Chinese music performed by Mei Han and musicians from the Center for Chinese Music and Culture at Middle Tennessee State University.

  • April 8, 2019, 3:30 pm, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, Room 22.
  • Sponsored by the School of Music and the Shirley R. Ford Memorial Music Endowment.

Presentations by Winners of the 2019 Student Music Research Contest

Monday, April 22, 2019, 3:30 pm, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, Room 2

  • Drew Borecky: Dungeons, Dragons, and Music: The Performativity of Voice and Sound in Dungeons and Dragons
  • Anna Helms: One Step Forward, One Step Back: Gender and Sexuality in the Knoxville Lindy Hop Community
  • Aaron L. Hunt: Multi-Narrativity in Music: An Analysis of John Corigliano’s Symphony No. 1, "Apologue: Of Rage and Remembrance” and Its Use of Intertextuality

Sponsored by the School of Music

Sound of China

Mei Han, Center for Chinese Music and Culture at Middle Tennessee State University

An enchanted evening of Chinese music performed by Mei Han and musicians from the Center for Chinese Music and Culture at Middle Tennessee State University.

  • Monday workshop 2:30 pm and concert 6:00 pm, August 27, 2018, Sandra Powell Recital Hall, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center.
  • MTSU Flyer

Change is Coming: Asian American Arts Activism and Engaged Ethnomusicology

Dr. Deborah Wong, Professor of Musicology, University of California Riverside

We are delighted to be sponsoring Dr. Deborah Wong (Professor of Ethnomusicology, UC Riverside) as a Visiting Scholar to the UT Humanities Center this October.

As part of her visit, Dr. Wong will be delivering a public lecture as follows:

Change is Coming: Asian American Arts Activism and Engaged Ethnomusicology
Monday, October 15, 2018, 3:30 PM
Lindsay Young Auditorium, Hodges Library
Please see the attached flyer for further details.

All are welcome.

On Ways of Knowing the Past:  The Case of the Genealogical Imagination in North Indian Music

Max Katz, Ph.D. Associate Professor, Music, College of William and Mary

Among hereditary musicians of North India, musical training begins early in life and encompasses many years of sina-ba-sina or “heart-to-heart” instruction; a musical lineage thus constitutes a chain of hearts linked through a continuous stream of musical technique and repertoire, but also through the affective structure of collective memory passed from father to son. Inspired by anthropologist Andrew Shryock’s concept of the “genealogical imagination” (1997), this paper explores conflicting visions of the musical past, and searches for new ways to negotiate between history and memory that respect the embodied connections to the past lived by hereditary musicians in India today.

Czech Bluegrass: Fieldwork, Media, and Americanness In Between

Lee Bidgood, Associate Professor, East Tennessee State University

No other place in the world has a romance with American bluegrass like the Czech Republic. Banjo Romantika introduces the musicians who play this unique bluegrass hybrid. Czechs first heard bluegrass during World War II when the Armed Forces Network broadcast American music for soldiers. The music represented freedom to dissatisfied Czechs living in a communist state. Czechs’ love for the music was solidified when Pete Seeger visited and performed in 1964. Inspired by classic American bluegrass sounds, an assortment of musicians from across the formerly communist Czech Republic have melded the past, the political and the present into a lively musical tradition entirely its own.

  • Tuesday 7 pm, November 14, 2017, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, Room 68, Film screening of Banjo Romantika: American Bluegrass Music and the Czech Imagination
  • Wednesday 4 pm, November 15, 2017, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, Room 25, Lecture presentation Czech Bluegrass: Fieldwork, Media, and Americanness In Between


A lecture-demonstration with renown Tuvan throat singing ensemble ALASH.

Presentation by Dr. Joan Titus, Title TBD

Dr. Joan Titus, Assoc. Professor of Music, University of North Carolina- Greensboro

Presentation by Dr. Joan Titus, Assoc. Professor of Music, University of North Carolina- Greensboro

“Acoustic Environment of National Parks”

Scott McFarland, Regional Resource Specialist and Biologist with the Natural Sounds and Night Skies Division of the National Park Service

This lecture will cover acoustic resource management and protection within National Park Service managed lands and beyond. Topics addressed include: methods and techniques for conducting acoustic monitoring, acoustic data analysis, protecting the acoustic environment, wildlife vocalizations and impacts to humans and wildlife from anthropogenic noise.

Lecture in conjunction with the graduate seminar, Music, Soundscapes, and the Environment (Sponsored by the Haines Morris Grant and the School of Music)

  • Friday, 2:30 pm, January 21, 2017, Room G22, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center
  • Flyer

“Queer as Trad: LGBTQ Musicians, Materiality, and Embodiment in Irish Traditional Music in the United States”

Tes Slominski, Beloit College

What are some of the social and performance practices that constitute “Irish Traditional Music,” and how do these practices intersect with questions of gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and race? Using queer and critical race theory as touchstones to frame ethnographic research, I demonstrate that tracing the experiences of LGBTQ Irish traditional musicians allow us to identify points of friction between understandings of embodied music-making and the bodies that make music. These tensions emerge in the materialities of both social and performance practice and exposes contradictions between discourses of fairness, tolerance, and equality on the one hand, and the normativities that shape participation on the other.

  • Friday, 4 pm, February 3, 2017, Room G22, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center
  • Flyer

“Going Over and Coming Back: Translating Cherokee Epistemologies of Space and Sound for Language Revitalization”

Sara Snyder, Western Carolina University

This talk explores Cherokee indigenous conceptualizations of space and sound through a close analysis of the Cherokee language of the 1846 Cherokee Singing Book. Cherokee terms in the Singing Book encode unique Cherokee epistemologies (or ways of knowing) despite the text being a product of broader social processes that attempted to separate the Cherokee language from traditional modes of knowledge. In this talk, I pair linguistic analysis of concepts from the Singing Book with historical and contemporary ethnographic data to explore how some Cherokee-language speakers conceptualize of music and sound. Using the concept of “commensuration,” I deconstruct some of the assumptions that underlie translation, which is a socio-cultural language process, and demonstrate how the fragments of meaning that persist where commensuration is incomplete allow us to decolonize the archival text and recover Cherokee ways of understanding the world that are not fully equivalent to their English- language source concepts. Finally, I discuss the methodological and conceptual challenges translation and (in)commensuration pose for Cherokee language revitalization efforts.

  • Friday, 2:30 pm, February 17, 2017, Room G22, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center

“Fandom, Violence, and Soccer Chants: The Sonic Potentials of Participatory Sounding-in-Synchrony”

Eduardo Herrera, Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology and Music History at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey

In local Argentine soccer matches one can find anywhere between two hundred to fifty thousand people chanting together, accompanied by large ensembles of percussion and brass instruments. Research has focused on the genealogies of the melodies and the discursive analysis of chant lyrics, but has left unexplored how these chants, as sign-vehicles, become meaningful beyond text and genealogy. Herrera explores the specific potentials that participatory moving and sounding-in-synchrony brings into experience, arguing that public mass participatory singing allows fans to actively partake in a performative social space that establishes a non-hegemonic shared system of meaning. This system, under a logic locally known as aguante [endurance], frames interpretations of heteronormative, patriarchal, homophobic, and sometimes violent values and actions in a positive manner.

  • Friday, 4:30 pm, March 8, 2017, Room G22, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center
  • Flyer

“Playing in the Dark: What We Can Learn from Girls’ Gamelans in Bali, Indonesia”

Sonja Lynn Downing, Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology at the Conservatory of Music at Lawrence University

The emergence and development of instrumental music groups in Bali just for girls in the last fifteen years is not only overturning long-held male dominance in realms of instrumental performance and ritual, but also illuminates the structures of social and musical collective action within these groups. Highlighting the words of young female musicians and their gamelan teachers, this talk will examine the current challenges the girls face, as well as the benefits they gain through their participation. A focus on the collectivity the girls experience raises important questions for how we can better take advantage of musical ensemble opportunities for social justice purposes.

  • Wednesday, 11:15 am, March 22, 2017, Room G22, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center
  • Flyer

Co-sponsored Event with Women, Gender, and Sexuality Interdisciplinary Program

“Being Otherwise, Being Grace Jones: Surface Aesthetics, Disco Commons, and Sensuous Acts of Knowing”

Uri McMillan, Associate Professor of English, UCLA

Uri McMillan is a cultural historian who researches and writes in the interstices between black cultural studies, performance studies, queer theory, and contemporary art. He is the author of Embodied Avatars: Genealogies of Black Feminist Art and Performance. He has published articles on performance art, digital media, hip-hop, photography, and nineteenth-century performance cultures in varied arenas. In addition, he has lectured at art museums, including MoMA PS1 and the Hammer Museum, and published numerous essays on black contemporary art for the studio museum of Harlem. His work has been supported by the Ford Foundation and the Woodrow Wilson Foundation.

  • Wednesday, 2:15 pm, April 12, 2017, Sandra G. Powell Recital Hall, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center
  • 3:30 pm, Reception in Lobby
  • Flyer

“The Sound of Politics: Music and the Struggle for Democracy in Myanmar”

Gavin Douglas, Associate Professor, Ethnomusicology, UNC Greensboro

The past two decades have witnessed tremendous political unrest in Burma/Myanmar. Minority separatist movements, economic stagnation, chronic detention of political prisoners and a multitude of other obstacles have plagued the history of this once prosperous nation. Focusing on a wide variety of cases, supplemented by numerous audio and video examples, this presentation questions what role music has played in this tumultuous history. Not simply reflective of society, the role of music in Myanmar’s politics is not neutral but has been tied to the policies of the oppressing dictatorship and the prodemocracy resistance movements. From national unity festivals to monastic revolutions and from education policy to prodemocracy Internet campaigns, music has been a tool to both justify oppression and demand liberation and has been an active force in Myanmar’s struggles. (See Gavin Douglas DLS Flyer [pdf] )

  • Monday, October 19, 2015, 12:20 PM, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, Room G68

“Learning Music in Paradise: Multicultural Encounters in Balinese Edutourism”

Elizabeth Clendinning, Assistant Professor of Music, Wake Forest University (See Elizabeth Clendinning DLS Flyer [pdf])

  • Tuesday, Febuary 2, 2016, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, Room 110

“‘Musical Mishaps’: The Transgressive Power of Film Music”

Kathryn Kalinak, Professor, Rhode Island College (See Kathryn Kalinak DLS Flyer [pdf] )

  • Friday, February 26, 2016, 1:30 PM, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, Room G25

The Winners of the 2016 Student Research Contest In Music

    Winners of the 2016 Student Research Contest In Music
  •  “Rímur: Defining the Sound of Sigur Ros,” Konstantine Vlasis
  • “‘Psychologically Witched: Women of the French Tragedie Lyrique,” Megan Whiteman

Monday, April 25, 3:30 PM, Room G9, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center

See 2016 Contest Winners DLS Flyer [pdf]

"Fast Girls, Fast Music: Kittitian and Nevisian Women, Wilders, and the Legacy of Coloniality”

Jessica Swanston Baker, University of Pennsylvania

Since its debut in the early 1990s as a locally produced genre of carnival music, wilders has been embraced by a younger, post- independence generation of Kittitians and Nevisians and rejected by an older group who considers the music’s tempo to be “too fast.”Positing an association between “fast” music and “fast” women, the musical and social merit of wilders is largely conceived of in terms of the genre’s correlation to women and their bodies. Commentary on how women’s bodies move to the music, with whom they dance, when, and what their bodies temporarily forgo in order to listen or dance to wilders serves as proxy critique of the music itself.The discursive auxiliary relationship between the criticism of wilders and that of Kittitian and Nevisian women illustrates how a local aversion to being “too fast” is indicative of the persistent and fraught relationship with colonial ideals.

Where wilders is ambivalently regarded as a representation of “national music” in St. Kitts-Nevis, women’s bodies vis-à-vis wilders function as gauges of the nation’s morality and progress. (See Jessica Swanston Baker DLS Flyer [pdf])

  • Friday, September 26, 2014, 3:30 PM, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, Room G025

Lecture-Demonstration by Slovenian Accordionist Marko Hatlak

Present on international stages since 2000, Slovenian accordionist Marko Hatlak has played as a soloist with symphony orchestras in Slovenia and abroad, including the Moscow Philharmonic, Jena Philharmonic, and RTV Slovenia Symphony Orchestra. He has played in chamber music ensembles with accordionist Stefan Hussong, soprano singer Irena Preda, cellist Karmen Pečar, clarinetist Mate Bekavac, harpist Mojca Zlobko, and pianist Miho Maegaito.After studying accordion at the Secondary Music and Ballet School in Ljubljana, Marko spent nine years studying in Germany, first at the Franz Liszt College of Music in Weimar, then at the Würzburg College of Music, gaining the expertise to establish himself as a classical concert accordionist of baroque and contemporary music. He won wide acclaim in Slovenia beginning in 2005 as a member of folk rock group Terrafolk. Hatlak has recently returned to solo performances; his repertoire includes a fusion of energetic melodies that draw upon tango, Balkan folk traditions, baroque music, and contemporary music. (See Marko Hatlak DLS Flyer [pdf])

  • Tuesday, October 21, 11:10am, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, Room 110

“What does early music notation (really) tell us?”

Karen Cook, Assistant Professor, Music History, The Hartt School

Dr. Cook’s research focuses primarily on medieval and Renaissance music theory and performance, specifically on the development of musical notation in both music manuscripts and theoretical treatises between the thirteenth and sixteenth centuries.She is currently working on a new critical edition of the treatise “De arte cantus” by Johannes Pipudi, as well as a monograph exploring the development of notation in the fourteenth and early fifteenth centuries.She also maintains active research interests in popular and contemporary music, especially on music as a means of creating identities in television, film, and video games; the history of the Sistine Chapel Choir; and the role of music in religious worship, particularly in medieval, early modern, and American Christian traditions. (See Karen Cook DLS Flyer [pdf])

  • Thursday, February 5, 2015, 4PM, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center, Room G9


The conference theme — “Peaks and Valleys” — signifies a wide range of scholarly and poetic meanings. It evokes the geographical specificity of the Appalachian region that surrounds Knoxville, and of other mountainous regions like the Andes and Himalayas. The theme also alludes to the visual representation of sound on an oscilloscope — the peaks and valleys of amplitude and frequency. As such, we seek creative interdisciplinary interpretations of the theme that draw together scholarly practices in ethnomusicology, historical musicology, sound studies, and other disciplines. (See SEMSEC Conference webpage, Peaks and Valleys Flyer [pdf], and Conference Program [pdf])

  • March 13-14, 2015, School of Music, University of Tennessee

Conference Featured Performer: “American Songster,” Dom Flemons

Dom Flemons is the “American Songster,” pulling from traditions of old-time folk music to create new sounds. A multi-instrumentalist, Dom plays banjo, guitar, harmonica, fife, bones, bass drum, snare drum and quills, in addition to singing. He incorporates his background in percussion into his banjo playing.

As a founding member of the Carolina Chocolate Drops, an African-American string band, Dom was able to explore his interest in bringing traditional music to new audiences. The band won a GRAMMY for its 2011 album Genuine Negro Jig and was nominated for its most recent album, Leaving Eden, in 2012.

Sponsored by the University of Tennessee Ready for the World Program, The School of Music, College of Arts & Sciences, and The Distinguished Lecture Series in Musicology.

  • Friday, March 13, 2015, 1:30 PM, Sandra G Powell Recital Hall, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center

Conference Keynote Address: “Deep Rivers, Vigilant Mountains: Sonic Geographies of War in the Andes,” Jonathan Ritter, Associate University of California, Riverside

Jonathan Ritter is an ethnomusicologist whose research focuses on the indigenous and Afro-Hispanic musical cultures of Andean South America. His work, as both a scholar and a teacher, addresses broad questions of how musical expressions are implicated in the work of cultural memory and political activism, particularly during times of political violence.

His book, We Bear Witness With Our Song: The Politics of Music and Violence in the Peruvian Andes (Oxford University Press, forthcoming) explores these themes as they emerged within the traditional and folkloric music of Ayacucho, Peru, in the context of the Shining Path guerrilla insurrection and ensuing conflict that took place in that country.

Sponsored by the University of Tennessee, School of Music, College of Arts & Sciences, and The Distinguished Lecture Series in Musicology.

  • Friday, March 13, 2015 at 5:15 PM, Sandra G. Powell Recital Hall, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center

“The Low Tech Ensemble” — The Western Carolina University Gamelan

  • Workshop & Concert
    Joy Shea, Director, and Will Peebles, Clinician

(See Low Tech Ensemble DLS Flyer [pdf])

  • Workshop — Monday, Mar. 30, 2015 at 11:15 AM, Sandra G. Powell Recital Hall, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center
  • Concert — Monday, Mar. 30, 2015 at 12:20 PM, Sandra G. Powell Recital Hall, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center


The Winners of the 2015 Student Research Contest In Music

    Winners of the 2015 Student Research Contest In Music
  • Old Harp Singing In Sevierville, Tennessee: Family Traditions And Rural Identity,” Corey Blake
  • “‘Let’s Hope We Are Singing To God’: Commemoration And Exploitation Of Verdi’s Requiem in Theresienstad,” Catherine Greer
  • “Finding A Blend: Contemporary Worship Music And Spiritual Hearing In An East Tennessee Methodist Church,” Nathan Reeves

Friday, April 17, 2015, 4:30 pm, Room 25, Natalie L. Haslam Music Center

See 2015 Contest Winners DLS Flyer [pdf]

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