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Paper Session
Nov 21, 2021 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM(America/Chicago)
20211121T1100 20211121T1150 America/Chicago Musical Notations: Instruments of Bodily and Archival Order

In recent years, musicology has turned to materialities as part of a broader attempt at renegotiating musical agency among people and things, building on paths laid by New Musicology to consider social and cultural practices beyond notationally reified musical works. Yet, by inquiring into the "things" involved in musicking, scholars have begun to confront notation once again from historical (van Orden 2015), cultural (Payne & Schuiling 2017, Schuiling 2019), and media-theoretical perspectives (Rehding et Al. 2017, Magnusson 2019). 

This panel builds on these recent trends by reconsidering the agency of musical notation in the history and historiography of music. Our papers unmask how historiographical ideologies have instrumentalized notation to forge boundaries of canonicity, race, and musical genre. In so doing, we begin to recover notational practices obscured by historiographical processes. Because notation has played a pivotal role in disciplining the boundaries between music history, theory and ethnomusicology, we present papers from each of these fields. 

The first paper examines the quest for origins of mensural notation in Arabic sources during the Congress of Arab Music (Cairo, 1932), and argues that notation contributed to the development of a racial framework on which a pan-Arab identity could be distinguished from the rest of the African continent, thus triangulating seemingly opposing historical, evolutionary and governmental interests. The second paper traces Irish dance notation within a lineage of oral transmission, contending that it was used as a tool for managing choreo-musical memory by examining contemporary markings made by living interlocutors and notebooks of past dancers whose not ...

AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org

In recent years, musicology has turned to materialities as part of a broader attempt at renegotiating musical agency among people and things, building on paths laid by New Musicology to consider social and cultural practices beyond notationally reified musical works. Yet, by inquiring into the "things" involved in musicking, scholars have begun to confront notation once again from historical (van Orden 2015), cultural (Payne & Schuiling 2017, Schuiling 2019), and media-theoretical perspectives (Rehding et Al. 2017, Magnusson 2019). 


This panel builds on these recent trends by reconsidering the agency of musical notation in the history and historiography of music. Our papers unmask how historiographical ideologies have instrumentalized notation to forge boundaries of canonicity, race, and musical genre. In so doing, we begin to recover notational practices obscured by historiographical processes. Because notation has played a pivotal role in disciplining the boundaries between music history, theory and ethnomusicology, we present papers from each of these fields. 


The first paper examines the quest for origins of mensural notation in Arabic sources during the Congress of Arab Music (Cairo, 1932), and argues that notation contributed to the development of a racial framework on which a pan-Arab identity could be distinguished from the rest of the African continent, thus triangulating seemingly opposing historical, evolutionary and governmental interests. The second paper traces Irish dance notation within a lineage of oral transmission, contending that it was used as a tool for managing choreo-musical memory by examining contemporary markings made by living interlocutors and notebooks of past dancers whose notations survive through family archival practices. The third paper considers musical notations in the unexpected site of 17th-century manuscript food and medicinal recipe books, arguing that the personalized, domestic usage of these inscriptions has relegated them to memorial archives where they have remained hidden from discussions of musicking in this period.


While the first paper shows how notation was entangled in colonial dynamics, the second and third papers focus on hyper-local notational practice. Throughout the panel, notation also emerges as a crucial technology in determining the ordering of bodies, be it through colonial psychiatry, movement practices, and household health management.

The Measure of Man: Locating the Origins of Mensural Notation at the Congress of Arab Music (Cairo, 1932)
Session 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 17:50:00 UTC

Ten years after gaining independence from the British protectorate, the Egyptian government organized the Cairo Congress (1932) to assess the state of "Arab music" and undertake reforms that would usher Egypt-the main advocate for a pan-Arab music identity-into (so-called) modernity. The European scholars invited to attend were roughly divided into two camps. The comparativists interpreted musical change as the result of racial evolution and aimed to preserve, from a relativist perspective, "authentic" indigenous music; the music historians focused on assessing the state of Arab music at its medieval zenith. The Egyptian government modernist perspective aligned with the latter: once the Congress had ascertained the sophistication that Arab culture had reached, reforms could effect "a new cycle of growth after decadence" (Racy 1991).

     Yet, this narrative obscures the presence of a common assumption that triangulated these seemingly opposed historical, evolutionary and governmental interests: the prejudice that one can discriminate between people or epochs on the basis of their ability to abstract mental impressions via a symbolic system. In musicological terms, this ability translated into notation, which had long served as the signifier of Western musical progress (Tomlinson 2001). 

      In this paper I show how this prejudice guided the alliance between the Egyptian government and European historians. Examining their work at the Congress, I show how they construed Al Kindi's and Al Farabi's medieval theorizations of rhythm as the first instances of the Western mensural musical system, thus providing a link that could unite "Oriental" and "Western" history in notational progress. But this alliance also allowed the Egyptian government to position the Arab people as closer to Europe according to the evolutionary perspective of the comparativists, at a time when the prejudice toward the "inability to symbolize" was used by French psychiatrists in North Africa to diagnose indigenous racial inferiority (Pandolfi 2000). In my paper, I thus demonstrate how that prejudice provided not only the geographical coordinates for Western historians searching for their origins in the Orient, but also a racial framework on which a pan-Arab identity could be assimilated or distinguished from the rest of the African continent.

Presenters
GA
Giulia Accornero
Harvard University
Notating Irish Dance: An Ethnography of Personal Archives and Choreo-Musical Transmission
Session 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 17:50:00 UTC

In musicology, the performative turn sought to reclaim musical experience from the restrictions of the score, while the reverse has occurred in dance studies. On the one hand, an "antinotational prejudice" (Franko 2011) persists among dance practitioners and scholars supported by the view that dance defies textualization by its inherent ephemerality (Louppe 1994); and on the other, preservationists encourage the use of notational systems to remedy the "grotesque" nature of oral transmission (Guest 1984). Yet, the focus on notational systems combined with the binary distinction between oral and written culture has obscured actual transmission behaviors among dancers. My research on Irish step dance transmission practices reveals that dancers routinely use personalized dance notation as a dynamic part of their dance experience to structure both choreographic and musical memory. When teaching, learning or recalling Irish dance, dancers sing their steps –– vocalizing a complex system of movement terminology, musical counts, and lilting vocables –– and subsequently notate their steps using text-based shorthands of movement patterns. 

This paper puts into conversation archival documents of dance notation with contemporary practices to illuminate the embodied knowledge cultivated by pairing performance and text. I situate both the content and form of a previously unexamined privately-owned manuscript of Irish dance steps compiled by the dance master James "Jim the Jigger" O'Mahony in Ireland (circa 1930-1940) within the multi-modal culture of Irish dance vocables. I contextualize this manuscript and its catalogue of repertoire against the personal dance notebooks of dancers living today to  demonstrate how a culture of transmission perceived as entirely oral simultaneously produces and is sustained by acts of textualization. The use of these texts in practice suggests that personal notations not only contain choreographic knowledge, but also musical knowledge. Closely examining of notation behaviors among dancers past and present reveals the intimate relationship between movement and musicality, particularly the way that musical knowledge and feeling is embodied in these personalized choreographic inscriptions.

Presenters
SJ
Samantha Jones
Harvard University
“A Prescription for Taking Action”: Notating Domestic Music in Seventeenth-Century English Recipe Books
Session 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/21 17:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/21 17:50:00 UTC

John Ridout's (b.1608) recipe book unexpectedly contains thirty-two intabulated cittern pieces alongside a note-value table and tuning guide. This notation, known to musicologists as a rare witness to mid-seventeenth-century English amateur cittern practice, can productively be considered in the context of the broader manuscript. Labelled a "commonplace book" (John Ward, 1983), Ridout's manuscript primarily contains instructions to make cures for a range of ailments, including plague, gout, and stomach pain. Ridout is hardly anomalous; there are several other examples of music gathered in manuscript recipe books, many compiled by women, from the second half of the seventeenth century. What place does music have among these practical remedies? Historian William Eamon provides a hint, perhaps, when he calls a recipe "a prescription for taking action" (1994), a statement that could aptly describe music notation. Examining the music and recipes in these books in tandem, I demonstrate that music participated in regimens of bodily care in seventeenth-century English households. These musical inscriptions-including songs, hymns, and psalms-are highly personalized, reflecting the private, domestic context in which they were used. The number of musical entries, their physical placement within the book, and even the presence or absence of conventional musical notation-specifying at the very least pitch and rhythm-all vary from book to book. Indeed, many of the musical items here are notated using only metered text, with no indication of melody, accompaniment, or performance practice, and instead rely upon the reader's "memorial archive" (Busse Berger 2005) to be functional.

Our music analysis tools, built on more legible canonical repertoires of the cathedral, court, and playhouse, have been inadequate to address these utility-driven, sparse musical notations that, in recruiting embodied memory, mirror inscriptions used for alimentary recipes. I suggest, then, that we have much to learn from the assemblage of music notations and recipes, both of which, I argue, constitute textual representations of experiential and dietetic practices in household economies. In recognizing the proximity and relationship of music and recipes in these books, I provide a hitherto unexplored view into everyday household musical practices and practitioners.

Presenters
SK
Sarah Koval
Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University
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