MUSICALLY MISCELLANEOUS MAYHEM

Musicological Musings with a smattering of Miscellanea

Sunday, March 25, 2007

On Leadership

Not the most productive of weekends, I'm afraid. Saturday morning found me at a "leadership workshop" at church which was time well-spent, but time spent away from the big D. "Productivity" is very difficult when it is all based on one goal. However, I will reflect a bit on the workshop because I learned quite a bit.

There are supposedly five components to leadership (according to the global strategists Booz Allen Hamilton at a conference in 1996): 1) Challenging the Process, 2) Inspiring a Shared Vision, 3) Enabling Others to Act, 4) Modeling the Way and 5) Encouraging the Heart. Our facilitator, Joy Leach, asked us to examine these five components of leadership and think about our strengths and weaknesses accordingly.

I decided my weak areas were 1 and 2. Sometimes I don't challenge the process when I should, simply to avoid confrontation. I dislike conflict immensely, but have probably failed to realize its necessity in certain processes. However, although I may not like conflict, I do tend toward cynicism and this gets in the way of no. 2's "shared vision." I'm never pessimistic right off the bat, but I can get discouraged when there is a lack of enthusiasm (e.g. from my students). I'm wondering, as a leader (read: teacher) how MUCH of that responsibility is mine? After all, I can teach the same material, using the same text, etc., in two different institutions and have completely different experiences. Is there a point to where you simply cannot adjust your leadership to adapt to a given environment?

I thought my strengths were no. 3 and no. 5. Enabling others to act involves "fostering collaboration" and I love this. I love working together toward a common goal. Of course, sometimes there is conflict about just what that goal is. And here I could use a little work. One of the things I learned from the workshop is that it is imperative to constantly reassess one's goals. (That about sums up my entire dissertation experience). In a group setting, there must be a free and open flow of dialogue in order for this to occur. I think my mistake in the past has been fostering that dialogue without doing anything about it. I have witnessed this in the extreme as well.
Number Five: Encouraging the Heart. I appreciated Joy's explanation of this. It isn't as touchy-feely as it sounds. Leaders need to recognize how to FIND people's heart as some people express it though empathy, some through intellect and some through action. Personally, I think I do all three, although I tend to rely most on my empathy and intellect.

After all of this, I find myself wanting to "go back" and re-do so many things: Music 15 Associateship, Lead TA, etc. etc. But there is no going back. I can only hope that I will have other opportunities to lead (I've already got two instances presently to which I can apply what I've learned). But it has also made me conscious of something else--how to be a follower. One of the repeated mantras of yesterday's workshop was that it is the followers who determine the leaders. I'd add that this is a functional model, rather that a dysfunctional one. So here "leader" and "follower" are almost spiritual terms...at least inasmuch as there should be an empathy of spirit.

As for the Diss, I've started in on Chapter Five (Harrison Chapter). The holes here are quite large, but I think I've got everything I need (hopefully). I just re-read Harrison's Music Primer which was a wonderful way to re-engage with this chapter. If you aren't familiar with his fifty page little treatise on...eh, everything, I really do recommend it. It will take less than an hour to read and you will get such a wonderful glimpse of the composer and some generally wonderful musings. One of my favorites:

"Originality, personality, or style, can neither be encouraged nor prevented. Forget the matter."

Here's the most recent "map" for this next stretch:

WRITE Bernstein examples permission letter
WF: response from Korach at Boosey & Hawkes
WF: response from McCarthy at B & H!
Review sources on melodicles, chant, etc.
Bookmarked MUSA page in "Dissertation"
HARRISON'S CHRISTIAN WORKS:
Section on Melodicles/Chant? (WHERE?) See below (separate?)
Section on "Solemn Song" (Music Primer)? HERE?
1945 Alleluia (DK's edits)
Section on "Sanctus"
READ THROUGH ENTIRE CH. DRAFT
Rest of DK's comments
Decide on Music Examples
SCAN Music Examples
Permissions for Harrison Examples

(Cross-posted at LiveJournal)

Friday, March 23, 2007

Gould and Euro-Trash Opera, all in one quiz!

The following quiz is one from Matthew Guerrieri's blog and I've decided that this quiz is NOT a waste of time given the depth and musicological nature of the questions. If you aren't familiar with Matthew's blog, I say, "check it out!" Go to Soho the Dog!


1. Name an opera you love for the libretto, even though you don't particularly like the music.

Unfortunately, if the music didn't do it for me, I probably short-changed the libretto. Can't answer this one.

2. Name a piece you wish Glenn Gould had played.

Every piece he didn't? Well, if we can include the impossible, I'd love to hear Gould play Ligeti's Musica ricercata.


3. If you had to choose: Charles Ives or Carl Ruggles?

Unfair choice since I'm more familiar with Charles Ives. I'll go with Ives, but make a note to get my hands on some Ruggles.

4. Name a piece you're glad Glenn Gould never played.

I could dig into the list of piano pieces I don't like, but doing the research as to whether or not Gould played them seems like too arduous a task for this evening. What I love about Gould is that I'm glad for EVERY piece he ever played...even if it isn't my favorite performance, I always hear Gould in it (and I'm not talking about the muttering). I'm drawn to performers who have something individual to say.


5. What's your favorite unlikely solo passage in the repertoire?

Gould's repertoire? Opera repertoire? Piano repertoire?

6. What's a Euro-trash high-concept opera production you'd love to see? (No Mortier-haters get to duck this one, either—be creative.)

Peter Sellars doing Copland's The Tender Land. Only he could Euro-trashify that particular opera (and I mean that as a compliment, actually).

7. Name an instance of non-standard concert dress you wish you hadn't seen.

Flourescent pink dress with fru-fru bow for a performance of a Haydn mass at a little Pfarrkirche in Burgenland. I might mention it was part of a Mass service. Nothing says solemnity like day-glo.

8. What aging rock-and-roll star do you wish had tried composing large-scale chorus and orchestra works instead of Paul McCartney?

Eddie Van Halen. Does he qualify as "aging?"

9. If you had to choose: Carl Nielsen or Jean Sibelius?
How about throwing myself in the River Guden or Torne (respectively) instead?

10. If it was scientifically proven that Beethoven's 9th Symphony caused irreversible brain damage, would you still listen to it?

Damage is in the eye of the beholder? Answer is probably yes. Definitely yes if it was Mahler.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Four down, two to go.

Chapter drafts, that is. :-) (Not including the Intro and Conclusion).

I didn't even scream this time when the scanner did its weird loud clicking "refuse-to-scan" thing. I simply pulled out the power supply and reset it. I handled the whole "Word will now crash after running spell-check" thing pretty well too--especially since I think it actually COMPLETED the check this time. (When you have a bunch of Hebrew, German and Latin in your document, spell-checking takes on new meaning).

I even managed to eat three healthy meals today and pick up the dry-cleaning! Not bad. Now I will reward myself by watching LOST.

READ AEP's article for dance reference

FINISH Kaddish Symphony section

  • decide on examples
FINISH Chichester Psalms section
  • decide on examples
INCLUDE note about "Vat II" works
FILL IN gaps on Berrigan Bros.
  • READ The Anderson Papers
  • READ Generation on Fire
  • Include Gottlieb's reasoning (quotes in Agnus dei)
WRITE "Latin Works" section
INSERT "Gloria" as chant ex.
FINISH Mass Reception section
SCAN any remaining music exs.
INSERT any remaining music exs.
READ THROUGH/SPELL CHECK
WRITE permissions letters

(Cross-posted at LiveJournal)

Help the Oregon East Symphony!

If you're not already aware, a fire gutted the offices of the Oregon East Symphony in Pendleton, Oregon on Thursday. They're in a bad way, and if you have a few bucks or other stuff that might be useful, they've set up a fire recovery fund. They do a lot of educational outreach in areas that don't always get that kind of attention—they're the good guys, in other words.

(Reblogged from the New Music Reblog. I normally wouldn't make a habit of this, but I think it is a good cause and hopefully the blogworld will forgive me).

Original post can be found at Soho the Dog, another favorite blog.

We are on a tight budget preparing for our move across the country. My donation wasn't big, but I think it is important to support efforts in the arts, ESPECIALLY the small ones. I will also note that it is a tax-deductible donation.

Sunday, March 18, 2007

What We Know

Author's Note: I write this piece in partial penance for all the times I have held colleagues to my standard of pre-determined "must know" information. (E.g. "Surely, you must know Symphony No. XYZ of Joe Blow").

What We Know

A discussion with one of my advisers prompted me to consider a problem all scholars face: how much background?

What can we "assume" of our audience? Of course a conference paper and a pre-concert talk are going to be very different creatures in that regard. If I give a paper at an American Music conference can I assume a different basic set of knowledge than if I'm giving the paper at a larger American Musicological Society conference? The canon is always shifting depending on the context.

My adviser thought it was better to err of the safe side. Even if there are ten people in the audience who think you are an absolute idiot for "explaining the basics" the likelihood is there are more people who will be grateful (especially if their interest in your paper was only peripheral or limited to one aspect of your topic).

Of course, one must be careful about "the basics." If I'm giving a paper titled "A Schenkerian Analysis of Haydn's Symphony 104" (which, thankfully, I'm not!) I don't need to explain terms like "Urlinie," for example. However, as scholarship gets more and more interdisciplinary, we are likely to run into fields about which we have little knowledge. So the trick, especially in a 20-40 minute conference paper, is to treat it like an hors d'oeuvres sampler. The audience can enjoy just enough stuffed mushrooms and prosciutto-wrapped melon to fend off their hunger, even if they haven't indulged in an entrée.

That brings me to the dissertation. Who is my readership? Well, my committee, for starters. And then the handful of people (probably also writing their own dissertations) who will order it through ILL (interlibrary loan) as it pertains to their own topic in some way. My suspicion is that most of these people will a) be specialists in a similar field or b) interested in one particular chapter. Therefore, it may not be necessary to get into the nitty-gritty of Paul Tillich's fundamental aesthetic theories (which are somewhat important, but not crucial, to understanding my topic).

However, since we are all supposed to think about turning our dissertation into a book, that changes things substantially. My feeling about scholarly books, articles and conference papers is that they should draw you in even if you have little interest in the topic. I've read articles that I thought were "very good" even though I could have cared less about a little-known 15th-century Spanish composer's connection to Heinrich Isaac (this topic has been completely fabricated to protect the innocent). What I enjoyed about these articles was the sense that the author approached her topic with vigor, used sound research and reasoning, and came to an interesting conclusion. I guess I'm saying I enjoy scholarship in general.

So, my conclusion, friends, is to play it safe. There are ways of sharing information without being patronizing. Help those people who won't ever dare to raise their hand and say "What the heck are you talking about?" because they are surrounded by 65-year old scholars nodding their heads in that "knowing way." We don't have to give in to academic pretension. Let it be ok to say "For those of you who may not know..." Maybe it would be healthy for some people to realize that no, not EVERYONE is familiar with the basics of hermeneutics or Adorno's more obscure theories.

In written formats, we can be thankful for footnotes! In spoken formats, we've just got to adjust to our audience.

In the end, I think it really comes down to the idea of sharing knowledge, not simply demonstrating your own.

Copyright 2007 Rebcamuse's Musings

(Cross-posted at LiveJournal)

Thursday, March 15, 2007

OMG, It is working!

Two days of productivity in a row! I'm absolutely exhausted (given that I'm not enjoying 85% of the work), but I'm getting through it at a steady pace. Of course it would have been great to have this revelation oh, two years ago, or so, but I guess I just wasnt ready to discipline myself.

Speaking of revelations, I'll share another. When I started this project, @#$@ years ago, I really was not a big fan of Leonard Bernstein's Mass. I would explain that I was "dealing with it" simply because I felt I had to. I never imagined that I would come to really like the piece! I mean, REALLY like it. (I'm almost ready to say "love" but there are parts I could definitely do without). I've spent so much time with it, learned its ins and outs, that I feel an affinity I would have never guessed after my initial listening. Given this, I'm wondering how many works have thus suffered under my quick criticism? Isn't listening to a piece of music once the same as "judging a book by its cover?" How far past the cover can we get with just one listening? To carry the analogy further, I can think of a few books that did not appeal to me (in regard to their cover) but that I ended up really enjoying once I dug into them (Umberto Eco's Baudolino is NOT among these). However, most of the time, these particular books were mandatory reading. I tend not to pick up books off the shelf that carry no appeal at first glance.

So here's my question: Should we hold music to the same standard? Does there need to be some immediate aesthetic appeal for us to go home after the concert and buy the CD? Or is it fair to say that if a piece doesn't grab you right away it probably isn't worth the time? I hardly think that's fair. If "deep listening" isn't part and parcel of really understanding music, I don't know why we waste our time with it in Music Appreciation classes.


I know we don't have the time (or even the inclination) to give every piece of music the listening it might deserve. As a musicologist, sitting down with the score and reading up on the history only adds to the piece for me. But all this makes me wonder how many other pieces I've failed to appreciate simply because I figured my quick aesthetic judgement was enough.

At any rate, here's my documented progress on Chapter four (unfortunately with some items added!). Of course the page numbers have completely changed, but I know where they are!!!

p.1 double negative? (check)
p.2 Berrigan brothers section (see also p. 14)
check Sheppard
WF: Gottlieb article via ILL
WF: call back from Fordham (doubtful that this will happen)
p. 4 expand footnote on Paul Simon's contribution
p. 7 two examples of folk drama
p. 8 need example of "commentary on the liturgy"
p. 13 look at AEP's comments regarding liturgical dance
WF: Du Fay's Last Works (Journal of Musicology)
p. 14 clarify Jesuit bit (see also p. 2)
p. 15 year for Paul Liebold quote
p. 15 finesse Table 1 (Mass Liturgy Comparison Chart)
p. 20 clarify the "Amidah" and "Kedushah"
p. 25 section on Vatican II and Judaism
WF: research
p. 25 change icky subsection title and fill in the blanks in first sentence
p. 26 check on clothes of Celebrant
p.26 cite outside source regarding Vat II church music
p. 26 mi-sol...where does it go?
p. 27 footnote pun with examples from early literature
p. 29 Music Example (scan)
p. 30 need synonym for "chaos," cite Andre on Haydn (p. 34) and footnote about flute
WF: check Paukenmesse score at UCSB
p. 30 Music Example (scan)--Winchester Epistle v. Bernstein
p. 30 Footnote (n. 44) needs full citation
p. 31 Music Example (scan)
Finish Kaddish section
p. 31 Info on Chichester Psalms
p.32 Sections of Dybbuk, Jeremiah, Jubilee Games? (may cut)
p. 32 brief section on Latin works (Missa Brevis, Lark Choruses)
p. 33 Mass Reception & Conclusion
Example Permissions!!!
Gottlieb's reasoning for Berrigan bros.
UCSB: Haydn Paukenmesse, DuFay Article, Hold item at Main Libr, Anderson Papers

(Cross-posted at LJ)

Wednesday, March 14, 2007

GTD and Writing: Update

Not that this is of great interest to anyone else, but I feel like publishing it here will hold me somewhat more accountable. It might be reasonably helpful for those who feel stuck when they get to this point in the process.

I did map out my goals for Ch. 4, as I said I would. Of course I only got started at 1pm, but I put in three and half hours of focused work and accomplished a great deal. This part of the process is very painful. It is easier (in some respects) to create prose ad nauseum (I call it "vomiting my thoughts) and worry about tuning it later. Now I am in the "fill in the gap" stage which is not as creatively rewarding.

At any rate, my approach really did seem to work. I ended up with two and half pages of items (handwritten) and set the goal to get through the first page at the very least. I was reasonably successful and didn't feel overwhelmed like when I had all of it floating around in my head.

Of course some of these items take less than five minutes, and some could take the better part of an hour or two. "WF" means, in GTD language: "Waiting For." I tried to take things as far as I could and just left a note when I couldn't go any farther with what I had at my disposal.

So, for accountability purposes, here we have it:

p.1 double negative? (check)
p.2 Berrigan brothers section (see also p. 14)
check Sheppard
WF: Gottlieb article via ILL
WF: call back from Fordham
p. 4 expand footnote on Paul Simon's contribution
p. 7 two examples of folk drama
p. 8 need example of "commentary on the liturgy"
p. 13 look at AEP's comments regarding liturgical dance
WF: Du Fay's Last Works (Journal of Musicology)
p. 14 clarify Jesuit bit (see also p. 2)
p. 15 year for Paul Liebold quote
p. 15 finesse Table 1 (Mass Liturgy Comparison Chart)
p. 20 clarify the "Amidah" and "Kedushah"
p. 25 section on Vatican II and Judaism
WF: research
p. 25 change icky subsection title and fill in the blanks in first sentence
p. 26 check on clothes of Celebrant
p.26 cite outside source regarding Vat II church music
p. 26 mi-sol...where does it go?
p. 27 footnote pun with examples from early literature
p. 29 Music Example (scan)
p. 30 need synonym for "chaos," cite Andre on Haydn (p. 34) and footnote about flute
p. 30 Music Example (scan)--Beneventan Epistle v. Bernstein
p. 30 Footnote (n. 44) needs full citation
p. 31 Music Example (scan)
p. 31 Info on Chichester Psalms
p.32 Sections of Dybbuk, Jeremiah, Jubilee Games? (may cut)
p. 32 brief section on Latin works (Missa Brevis, Lark Choruses)
p. 33 Mass Reception & Conclusion
Example Permissions!!!

Betcha can't wait to read it, right? ;-)
(cross posted at LiveJournal)

#4: The Curtain by Milan Kundera

Review: The Curtain: An Essay in Seven Parts by Milan Kundera. Trans. from French by Linda Asher. (New York: Harper Collins, 2005) 168pp.

Milan Kundera's essay draws the curtain back to reveal the treasures of "die Weltliteratur" as he traces the threads of continuity in novels by Rabelais, Cervantes, Fielding, Dostoevsky, Kafka and many more. He eschews the cultural "isms" that weigh down our understanding of literature.
Although a work of non-fiction, The Curtain is a beautiful exposition on aesthetics as it is applied not only to literature, but to music as well. Kundera tells us to read and re-read with new eyes, unfettered by pre-imposed cultural and socio-economic distinctions.
As Kundera outlines the "fragility of human certainties" found is so much of the world's great literature and implores us to understand the true worth of the novel so that we can embrace both its history and its essence. This is a poetic work of literary criticism that will be a worthwhile read for anyone interested in literary art.


Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
4 / 50
(8.0%)

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

GTD and Writing

One of the things GTD has taught me to do is to write everything down so that it is out of my head. It is true that this has decreased my general level of anxiety quite dramatically.

I'm thinking I need to figure out how to apply this to my writing...bring it down to a more microcosmic level. As I was plowing through Chapter Four today, I was working on my Alvin Ailey section but my mind kept straying to all the other loose-ends that needed to be tied up. As a result, my Alvin Ailey section lacks focus and seems rather loosely strung together. I found myself getting bored/distracted and moving on to one of several other "blue sections" (I use blue font for missing sections or point for further investigation).

So, tomorrow, I think I will try a different approach. I will sit down with a piece of paper and map all the blue sections. Just like the "Processing" of my inbox, I will deal with the first one on the list. If I have the resources on hand, I'll finish it. If I need something further, it will go in a figurative "Pending" file. I'm hoping "Trash" doesn't apply in this case (although I did scrap quite a few paragraphs last week as I restructured the entire chapter).

Once more, I am forced to say "What they don't teach you in grad school..."

Well, I suppose I can rejoice in this journey of self-discovery.

(cross-posted at LiveJournal)

Friday, March 02, 2007

Pittsburgh, 3/2/07

Pittsburgh
Friday, March 2, 2007

NOTE: Unless you think I have some strange equilibrium problem wherein I take photos with the point of interest off to the far right, that is not the case.

I'm here at the joint conference of the Society for American Music and the Music Library Association and I'm having a great time. The highlight for today was a three hour tour of Oakland (an area of Pittsburgh where the U of Pitt is located) which included: The Carnegie Library, The Cathedral of Learning, The Stephen Foster Memorial and Heinz "Chapel" (you'll understand why I use the quotes when you see the photos below.

The Carnegie Library

The first thing I learned is that it is pronounced "car-NEG-gie" which is unfortunately a whole lot less elegant than the way most people pronounce it: "CAR-neg-gie." Despite the name, the edifice was impressive (NOT as aesthetically pleasing as the Boston Public Library) but impressive in its own right. We toured the Philadelphia room (home to genealogy records and local history resources) and the Music collection. One of the highlights was this tablecloth signed by such notables as Lorin Maazel, Koussevitsky, Bernstein, etc....the signatures were then embroidered (ingenious!). The music holdings of the library are very very impressive, especially when you consider it is a free library.


The Cathedral of Learning

If you want an impressive edifice, this tops the list. It is the second tallest educational building in the world (surpassed only by University of Moscow, I believe, which "cheated" by putting an antenna on top). In the 1930s, John Bowman, then Chancellor of U of Pitt, believed that the model for a university should be only a few buildings on a small amount of land, but built vertically (soaring and lofty educational aspirations and all....). It soon turned out not to be very practical (elevators between classes were nightmares), but is an absolute gem of neo-gothic architecture. Within the "cathedral" are classrooms known as the Nationality Classrooms. These rooms represent different ethnic and cultural groups from the Pittsburgh area and continue to be built today. We visited the Yugoslav, French, Norwegian, and Chinese Rooms. Most of the rooms are still used as actual classrooms, even though they are ill-equipped for any kind of media use. The new ones, currently proposed, will have A/V set ups (still in the style of the nationality). I've included some pictures, but be sure to check out the Wikipedia article that lists all the rooms.


Wall detail from the Yugoslav Room:


Ceiling detail from Chinese Room:


Stephen Foster Memorial

Pittsburgh is Stephen Foster Central. Right in front of the Cathedral of Learning is the Stephen Foster Memorial which is home to the Center for American Music. The memorial itself is small, but has an impressive display of sheet music, ephemera, and other wonderful items. The Stephen Foster Archive is host to an amazing collection.




Heinz Chapel

We ended our tour at the Heinz Memorial "Chapel." A gift from Mr. Ketchup himself, H.J. Heinz, to honor his mother in memoriam, the building far surpasses most ideas of "chapel." I'll let the photos speak for themselves, but I encourage an exploration of their website to read about the history. I will mention that one of the highlights of the experience was meeting "Digby" the senior docent of the chapel. We weren't able to take the tour due to a wedding rehearsal (I'm sure they were absolutely thrilled by our presence!) but we were able to walk down the side aisles and up into the choir loft. Digby entertained us in the narthex with several entertaining anecdotes and a personality that was more colorful than the stained glass windows!



It was a gorgeous, if windy, day for a tour. It only started to rain a bit when we reached Heinz Chapel. Mariana Whitmer, executive director of SAM, led the tour, which really made it all the more special (rather than some impersonal tour guide we didn't know). It was certainly the best tour I have experienced at a conference and I'm grateful that SAM set aside the time.