City Music Head of Department Laudan Nooshin is delighted to report that a book that she has contributed to has been awarded a major academic book prize.
Jazz Worlds/World Jazz (Chicago University Press, 2016), edited by Philip V. Bohlman and Goffrredo Plastino, has received the American Musicological Society Ruth A. Solie Award, given each year to a collection of musicological essays of exceptional merit.
Laudan’s chapter is entitled ‘Jazz and its Social Meanings in Iran: From Cultural Colonialism to the Universal’, and explores various aspects of jazz and its social meanings in Iran from the 1950s onwards, focusing in particular on the period of cultural liberalism that followed the election of reformist President Khatami in 1997. Whilst most forms of western popular music were branded as a form of cultural imperialism and banned after the 1979 Iranian Revolution, jazz managed to remain largely unproblematic, mainly because it was positioned as a form of “art” music and as a “universal” musical expression. Laudan discusses the changing meanings of jazz in Iran over the past 70 years.
Jazz Worlds/World Jazz includes 16 chapters which explore a range of jazz traditions around the world, from Ethiopian jazz and Indian fusion, to Balkan swing and South African jazz.
Autumn Reading Week found Alexander Lingas active on both sides of the Atlantic. He began by offering a public talk on ‘Russian Sacred Music between Byzantium and ‘the West’ at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, USA. Sponsored by the Reed College departments of Russian and Music, it considered the shifting cultural location of Russian Orthodox sacred music as rulers, clergy, and lay members of the church steered it from its Byzantine origins into the modern era. Repeated attempts through the centuries to re-engage with Byzantine traditions were contrasted with other movements emphasizing engagement with Western art music or Slavic exceptionalism. The next day he offered a lecture on Russian liturgy and its music to an undergraduate module on the history of Russian literature.
The morning after returning to the UK Dr Lingas travelled to the University of Winchester, where he demonstrated Byzantine chant at a Study Day sponsored by the Tavener Centre for Music and Spirituality. The day ended with Evensong at Winchester Cathedral, which included traditional Byzantine chanting alongside choral works by the late Sir John Tavener.
Muscle Memory is a new record by composer Tullis Rennie, featuring two recently composed sound pieces made in collaboration with Matthew Bourne and Graham South.
The new release was recently described by The Wire Magazine as “a piece of meta art; an album about listening to music”.
The record is part autobiographic docu-music, part jazz-inspired dreamscape. It is available as a limited numbered vinyl only release from November 2017.
Each recording begins on the sofa in the house of a collaborator. Tullis joins Matthew in his idyllic Yorkshire hilltop live-in studio, and Graham in his Manchester red-brick front room. From ‘listening-in’ to chat in these domestic spaces, we then float into abstract realms of electronic textures and improvised musical conversations between each pair.
The release was recently celebrated with a series of intimate listening parties held in living rooms in London, Hasting, Brighton and Manchester.
Dr Simon Waters, in a Contemporary Music Review article discussing the work, writing:
“Muscle Memory begins to answer questions about how one work can comment on and analyse or critique another through its own agency as music. It also demonstrates how a work can marshal autobiography and ethnography to illuminate the human capacity to manipulate and be manipulated by musical activity. It explicitly engages multiple modes of listening and points of view: documentary ‘field’ recordist; participant observer; soundscape composer; ‘amateur’ musicologist and music lover; DJ and remix artist; spectromorphological composer—and allows the listener to explore different modes of listening through these multiple and nested points of view such that this becomes the primary formal concern. The listening home (the point of view) is contingent and transitory as we move through the scant twelve and a half minutes of the piece, so the listener is constantly becoming re-involved with, and made conscious of, the act of listening”
Waters, S. (2015) ‘Tullis Rennie’s Muscle Memory : Listening to the Act of Listening’ Contemporary Music Review 34(1), pp.22–32.
Over the past few months, Dr Laudan Nooshin (Head of Department) has presented a number of keynote presentations and conference papers, including at the International Council for Traditional Music conference in Limerick, Ireland, in July and the European Seminar in Ethnomusicology Conference in Tbilisi, Georgia, in September. Laudan also presented an invited keynote paper at the conference ‘Tracking the Creative Process in Music’ at the University of Huddersfield in September. Her paper was entitled ‘The Elephant and the Blind Men: Myth-Making, Tracking and Musical Creativity’.
More recently, on October 21st, Laudan presented a joint paper with Professor Amanda Bayley from Bath Spa University, at the annual One-Day conference of the British Forum for Ethnomusicology, on the conference theme ‘”Listening to Difference”: Music and Multiculturalism’.
Their paper was entitled ‘Whose Difference? Whose “Multiculturalism?”’ and was a critique of some of the current discourses around music and multiculturalism. In particular, the paper argued that such discourses are founded on a view of culture as relatively stable and bounded, rather than as a fluid and ongoing process, and that culture should be understood as a verb – as something that people do – rather than a noun. Just as Christopher Small argued for the notion of ‘musicking’, we perhaps need to talk about ‘culturing’. The paper explored the power relations at play in such discourses and asked whether language of ‘multiculturalism’ reinforces or transcends difference. Since all cultures are ‘multi’, the prefix is arguably redundant. The paper asked who stands to gain and who to lose from the idea of distinct cultures as the starting point for a supposedly relatively new thing called ‘multiculturalism’.