About Our Colloquia Series

Music Colloquia take place on Tuesdays at 5:15 in Lerner Center, Room 102.  The Lerner Center is located at 201 S. 34th Street, Philadelphia Pa, 19104-6313

FALL 2019

September 17

Eric Wubbels

Composer/Performer, New York, NY


"Structural Uses of Microtonality and Just-Intonation in Recent Works for Strings and Piano" 

The increasing facility of new music string players with just-intonation (the tuning of intervals according to harmonic series relationships) offers access not only to vivid new worlds of sonority and harmonic complexity, but also to new possibilities in the integration or co-composition of harmony and timbre. When combined with the fixed, tempered intonation of the piano, just sonorities both maintain their internal timbral stability while creating strong acoustic beating at speeds precise enough that they can be used as rhythmic and temporal structures in the piece. This allows for a reimagining of consonance and dissonance as a fluid spectrum of speeds and intensities of acoustic beating. These concepts will be explored with reference to several recent works written for violinist Josh Modney and cellist Mariel Roberts, including if and only if (2019), gretchen am spinnrade (2016), being-time (2013-15), and "the children of fire come looking for fire" (2012). 

September 24 

K.E. Goldschmitt 

Assistant Professor of Music, Wellesley College

 "From Moonlight to Fado Bicha: The Transnational Queerness of 'Cucurrucucú Paloma' on Stage and Screen"


For at least 20 years, scholars, critics, and music fans have taken note of the affective power of Caetano Veloso's recording of "CucurrucucúPaloma" in international queer cinema. The creative choices that have gone into featuring the song in key moments of emotional gravitas on stage and screen latch onto fragments of the song’s extended meaning in audiovisual media, whether it be in homage or as a sendup of masculinity. Prior to Veloso’s performance of it, “Cucurrucucú Paloma” had an extended life incomédias rancheras, a style of musical film from the “Golden Age” of Mexican Cinema, where it was often performed by women. This presentation traces the meanings and affective content of the song’s prominence in queer screen media and performance, focusing in particular onMoonlight(2016) and the performed repertoire of Fado Bicha, an influential queer fado duo from Lisbon. It argues that when the song appears, the artists in question are latching onto fragments of the song’s extended meaning in audiovisual media, especially as regards Veloso’s vocal timbre and changes in the song’s arrangement. Contextualizing this musical choice allows us further insight into how a seemingly obscure musical cue can deepen the meaning of performance for knowledgeable publics.

October 22 

David Grubbs 

Professor of Music, Brooklyn College and the Graduate Center, CUNY 

 “Two Experiments in Music Writing” 

Following his investigation into experimental music and recorded sound in Records Ruin the Landscape: John Cage, the Sixties, and Sound Recording (Duke University Press, 2014), David Grubbs has produced two book-length experiments in music writing. Now that the audience is assembled (Duke, 2018) is a prose poem that describes a fictional musical performance during which an unnamed musician improvises the construction of a series of invented instruments before an audience that is alternately contemplative, participatory, disputatious, and asleep. Both a work of literature and a study of music, Now that the audience is assembled explores the categories of improvised music, solo performance, text scores, instrument building, aesthetic deskilling and reskilling, and the odd fate of the composer in experimental music. Grubbs’s forthcoming The Voice in the Headphones (Duke, 2020) centers on the culture of the recording studio, presenting in intricate, prismatic detail one marathon day in a recording studio over the course of which an unnamed musician struggles to complete a film soundtrack. The Voice in the Headphones arrives at a moment in which the commercial recording studio shades into oblivion and is replaced by digital work environments; it draws upon Grubbs’s own history of several decades as a recording artist, and its location could be described as every studio in which he has set foot. The experience of working in the recording studio is in large part the experience of the language that surrounds and infuses the world of the studio—and that language is the material of this poem.   


For this presentation, Grubbs will present excerpts from both of these new books together with a discussion of the nexus of music and literature, including reflections on his ongoing collaboration with the poet Susan Howe. 

November 12 

Ashley Fure 

Associate Professor of Music (Sonic Arts), Dartmouth College 

 "Where the Worldviews Are"

Ashley Fure’s sound art practice stems from a fundamental belief that the sonic is social and the aesthetic is political. Blurring false binaries between formalism and conceptualism, abstraction and identity, onto-aesthetics and social mediation, her work pursues a micropolitical materialism that manifests on multiple scales: from the casting of bodies, to the movement of audiences, to the internal structure of anarchic noise. This talk will track her interest in ritual acoustics, post-human kink, and the politics of abstraction through a range of projects and media. Linking practice and pedagogy, broader questions will be posed about disciplinary inheritance, educational ethics, and the problematic canons of the West. In times such as these, on an earth such as this, with these very resources in our hands, what do we do with our forebears – their babies and their bathwater? 


January 28

John Butt 

Professor of Music at the University of Glasgow

 "Bach and the dance of humankind"


John Butt is Gardiner Professor of Music at the University of Glasgow, musical director of Edinburgh's Dunedin Consort and a Principal Artist with the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. His career as both musician and scholar centres on music of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, but he is also concerned with the implications of the past in our present culture. Author of five monographs, Butt has written extensively on Bach, the baroque, the historical performance revival (Playing with History, 2002) and issues of modernity (Bach’s Dialogue with Modernity, 2010). His subsequent work has centred on listening cultures and embodied musical experience, frictions between Classical Music ideology and religious practice and music and sonic practice in the work of Alfred Hitchcock.   

February 11

Kate Soper 

Iva Dee Hiatt Professor of Music at Smith College and Co-director and vocalist for the Wet Ink Ensemble

 "Recent music of Kate Soper"


Kate Soper is a composer, performer, and writer whose work explores the integration of drama and rhetoric into musical structure, the slippery continuums of expressivity, intelligibility and sense, and the wonderfully treacherous landscape of the human voice. She has been hailed by The Boston Globe as "a composer of trenchant, sometimes discomfiting, power" and by The New Yorker for her "limpid, exacting vocalism, impetuous theatricality, and mastery of modernist style." A Pulitzer Prize finalist, Soper has received awards from the Guggenheim Foundation, the American Academy of Arts and Letters (The Virgil Thomson and Goddard Lieberson awards and the Charles Ives Scholarship), the Koussevitzky Foundation, Chamber Music America, the Lili Boulanger Memorial Fund, the Music Theory Society of New York State, and ASCAP, and has been commissioned by ensembles including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the American Composers Orchestra, and Yarn/Wire. She has received residencies and fellowships from the Civitella Raineri Foundation, the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, the Camargo Foundation, the Macdowell Colony, Tanglewood, Royaumont, and Domaine Forget, among others.

February 25 

Stefan Helmreich

Professor and Elting E. Morison Chair Head, Anthropology, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

"Radio Ocean"

March 3 

Richard Jankowsky

Department of Music Chair and Associate Professor of Ethnomusicology, Tufts University

"Ambient Sufism"

April 7 

Christina Baade

Department of Communication Studies and Multimedia, McMaster University

"Vera Lynn in Nashville(1977): White Working Class Femininity and Transatlantic Affinities”