Musicological Musings with a smattering of Miscellanea

Saturday, November 12, 2011

AMS San Francisco 2011 Saturday, November 12

What a pleasure to attend an entire session and to enjoy all four papers! The Cage and Friends session was very engaging and I enjoyed the recollections of Gordon Mumma, who served as the session's co-chair. He requested that the questions be kept concise, that they should actually resemble questions, and that the answers should likewise be kept short. I'd love to see these rules printed on a banner and posted in every session. People observed these guidelines for the most part, and the net effect was that I rather enjoyed the Q and A portion of each paper. See my previous post for a list of the papers.

The session also worked well because there was a fair amount of cohesion, making for a rather lovely academic symphony. The outer movements, if you will, were papers by Brett Boutwell and Phil Gentry. What I enjoyed most about these two papers is how they addressed larger issues within musicology, using Feldman and Cage as examples. Boutwell explored the genesis of Feldman's Projections, and how Feldman transmitted and attributed a variety of influences on his work, and his ideas for graphic notation. Phil Gentry's paper on Cage's famous book Silence, adressed issues of autobiography and how we may be too quick to dismiss interpretations of these works with which their original authors might have disagreed. The paper looked at the "covert values" of Indeterminacy in Cage's "narrative" and most importantly, noted the lack of focus on 4'33" within the book. What writings Cage chose to include or not include is perhaps as much a part of the autobiographical narrative as the work itself.

The two inner movements were also very fascinating, and I appreciated the humble confession by You Nakai regarding his slight nervousness presenting in front of Gordon Mumma, who entertained with numerous yet relevant anecdotes about the creation of these pieces and Cage's life in general. Richard Brown's paper taught me much about Richard Lippold, a sculptor about whom I knew little. Most intriguing was his investigation of curatorial strategies and their impact on art, particularly the reception of the artist.

Friday, November 11, 2011

AMS 2011 San Francisco Introductory post

Well, it is that time of year again, when musicologists from North America and beyond converge in a city to hear papers on myriad topics, eat, drink, and generally be merry. I've always maintained that there are two best case scenarios for a conference: a boring conference in a fantastic city or a fantastic conference in a boring city. This year might be challenging because there are plenty of papers I'd like to see, is San Francisco! As a California native, I have very little excuse for not knowing this city better than I do.

I missed the one paper I really wanted to see yesterday due to less-than-stellar registration/maintenance issues at the hotel. However, I did dine at Gary Danko...thought to be, by many, the best restaurant in the city. I will write a detailed post about that dinner on my cooking blog, complete with photos. Suffice to say, it was an amazing meal, but I should have trained myself to eat such a large volume of food. More on that later. I am blessed to have AMS be an extension of my birthday celebration every year, and my annual dinner with my best friend is worth the trip across the country, even without AMS.

Today, I plan on attending an entire session. This is rare..usually I jump from paper to paper. From 9 to 12 I will be at the John Cage and Friends session listening to the following papers:

Brett Boutwell, "Morton Feldman's Projections Origins, Development, and Spin"
You Nakai, "To Imitate Their Manner of Operation: John Cage's use of Technological Media as Metaphorical Models in the 1950s and 60s"
Richard Brown, "Hearing Through, Seeing Through: John Cage, Richard Lippold, and Open Sculpture"
And then finally a paper by my friend and fantastic fellow blogger Phil Gentry, "Writing Silence

As I prepare my Cage seminar for next semester, I am excited to have the opportunity to hear some of the most recent research on Cage. A full report will follow.

Very happy to be here.

Apologies for the lack of italics... I'm still figuring out how to use my iPad. :)