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Paper Session
Nov 20, 2021 01:00 PM - 01:50 PM(America/Chicago)
20211120T1300 20211120T1350 America/Chicago The Politics of Sound in Postwar Jazz AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org
From "Solar Sound Instrument" to the Minimoog: Technology, Instrumentality, and Futurity in the Music of Sun Ra, 1967–1970
Individual Paper 01:00 PM - 01:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 19:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 19:50:00 UTC

The composer, philosopher, and technologist Sun Ra has long been celebrated for his innovative uses of novel musical instruments: from the late 1940s until his passing in 1993, Ra acquired, modified, and pushed numerous instruments to their limits, including the Solovox, the Clavioline, the Crumar Organ, and the Hohner Clavinet, among many others. These instruments featured prominently in Ra's live performances and his 1974 film _Space is the Place_, and have been cited by scholars in various disciplines as evidence of Ra's contribution to "Afrofuturism," a broad category that retroactively groups Ra together with other artists, filmmakers, and poets. Yet beyond Ra's enthusiasm for new technologies in general, and their prominence in his visual identity, Ra's musical use of new electric and electronic instruments has remained largely unexamined by music scholars. 

In this presentation, I follow Ra's encounters with two different types of instruments in the late 1960s: electric keyboards and modular electronic instruments. Electric keyboards largely retained the physical human-instrument dynamics of acoustic keyboards but produced novel timbres; contrastingly, modular electronic instruments afforded Ra new, complex circuits of musical information and automatic control of multiple musical parameters. First, I examine Ra's use of the electric "Solar Sound Instrument" in his 1967 composition _Atlantis_, premiered at the Olatunji Center for African Culture in New York, showing how this performance's timbral exploration models Ra's exploration of new cultural space; then, I follow Ra's earliest encounters with modular electronic Moog instruments in 1969/1970, showing how these performances produced not only novel timbres, but also radically new organizations for agency within musical performance. By comparing these two performances, I show how Ra's differing use of electric and electronic instruments relates to his complex-and at times paradoxical-social, political, and musical visions of potential futures. 

Drawing on archival recordings of performances and interviews, I argue that Sun Ra's new organizational visions of musical material, agency, and sound were not only aesthetic; they were fundamentally social and political. I show how Ra's sociotechnical imaginaries (Jasanoff & Kim, 2015) were developed through musical performance with difference-producing technological instruments, themselves embedded with diverging potential futurities. 

Presenters
TG
Theodore Gordon
Baruch College, City University Of New York
Hearing the American Civil Rights Movement in the Music of Max Roach
Individual Paper 01:00 PM - 01:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 19:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 19:50:00 UTC

Throughout a recording career that spanned 1943–2002 and engaged with diverse styles and instrumentations, jazz drummer Max Roach (1924–2007) transcended canonical compartmentalization. Readings of Roach fall into two camps, each demonstrating methodological issues that have muted his contributions: an "evolutionary" camp has focused too narrowly on drumming, overlooked cultural context, constructed a linear doctrine of progress, and restricted Roach's impact to bop; a "revolutionary" camp has focused too broadly on context and formed conclusions that lack musical substantiation. Ten extant Roach drum transcriptions stem from six albums released from 1954 to 1966, a sample sufficient to cover neither Roach's oeuvre nor a broader civil rights period. While arguments have relied on accepted assumptions linking Roach and civil rights issues, no study has thoroughly unpacked the material.


Roach confronted marginalization on two fronts: as a Black American, he faced discrimination within society and industry economics; as a drummer, he faced marginalization within performance practices and canonical construction. Proceeding from Ingrid Monson's argument that jazz and civil rights issues are linked through economics, symbolism, activism, and aesthetics, this paper substantiates connections between Roach's musical life and a civil rights impetus by tracking representations of self-determination in both his music and career. Applying his philosophy that music education and pedagogy are paths to self-determination, Roach drew upon sonata form in "Drum Conversation" (Contemporary C-7645) and upon rondo in both "The Drum Also Waltzes" and "For Big Sid" (Atlantic LP-1467), reframing drum solos from excursions in primitivist novelty to masterclasses in composition with an instantly recognizable voice. Through explorations in solo order, drum tuning, meter, and free jazz that shake the foundations of canonical narratives, Roach challenged both jazz's functionality as dance accompaniment and the drummer's conventional subservience. Declaring that musics of extensive synthesis, like jazz, are best analyzed though a blend of methodologies, this study employs archival research (including unprecedented incorporation of the Library of Congress's "Max Roach Papers" and Manhattan School of Music's Registrar archive), published interviews, original transcriptions, and comparative analysis to bridge the research gap between Roach's evolutionary impact and revolutionary engagement with civil rights.

Presenters Kevin McDonald
George Mason University
Tonal Double Consciousness: Sonic Genealogies of Hope and Despair on Andrew Hill?s ?Lift Every Voice?
Individual Paper 01:00 PM - 01:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 19:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 19:50:00 UTC

On November 17, 2016, A Tribe Called Quest released "The Space Program," a compelling and deeply disturbing critique of a dystopian future that suddenly seemed upon us.  Today, the track is something of a time capsule back to that tipping point moment between Obama-era hope and its Trump-era backlash.  Notably, a central hypertext in the nexus of meaning on "The Space Program" is a repeated line-"Move on to the stars"-from Andrew Hill's 1969 cut for Blue Note Records, "Lift Every Voice," an angularly experimental, yet hopefully funky Afrofuturist jazz piece.  The title of Hill's high-modernist composition about the spiritual inheritance and continuing mission of African Americans is, of course, an unmistakable reference to "Lift Every Voice and Sing," the 1905 Black National Anthem penned by James Weldon and John Rosamond Johnson, which tracks the path of transcendence "Out from the gloomy past / 'Til now we stand at last / Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast."

This paper presents new musical analytical findings based on interviews with Hill's collaborators and the composer's widow, Joanne Robinson Hill, as well as archival research with the Hill collections at the Rutgers Jazz Archive and Library of Congress.  As we detail, "Lift Every Voice" is a careful reworking of the intervallic content-the perfect fourth to major second movement, and later, minor second movement-of the Black National Anthem's chorus.  Indeed, Hill's piece is a motivic exploration of the trichords (025) and (015).  In writing "Lift Every Voice," Hill was exploring the Anthem's doubly-conscious tonal environment.  The whole piece is thus a meditation on this signal moment in the Black National Anthem-a moment we might call the crux of the difference between hope and despair described in those very lines.

It is our contention that this bifurcated and doubly-conscious sonic environment is at the heart of the play of optimisms and pessimisms in all three of the pieces under consideration here (1905, 1969, 2016).  Further, in presenting this analysis, we model how we might extend Philip Ewell's work on music theory's-and musicology's-white racial frame both methodologically and conceptually.


Presenters
JR
J. Griffith Rollefson
University College Cork, National University Of Ireland
MK
Mary J. King
University College Cork, National University Of Ireland
University College Cork, National University of Ireland
George Mason University
University College Cork, National University of Ireland
Baruch College, City University of New York
University of Michigan
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