“Music in Culture”

Thursday – April 12, 2018

Academic Panel: “Music in Culture”

10:00 a.m. – UO Collier House


“Harvey Weinstein and the Beautiful Miller Maid: Examining the Ways in Which Performing Male Fantasy in Romantic Repertoire Influences and Perpetuates Rape Culture in the Modern Day” 

Emma Rose Lynn

Based on the poetry of Wilhelm Müller, Franz Schubert’s cycle Die Schöne Müllerin explores the theme of unrequited love and its effects on the psyche of a young male protagonist. In this paper, I will demonstrate how Schubert’s exquisite musical settings of these poems use the archetype of the Müllerin as a foil to humanize the plight of the young male, thereby exalting a narrative that indulges male fantasy and delusion while normalizing the erasure of the autonomy, voice, and complex inner emotional life of the female. I will then question the emotional impact and related repercussions of performing a narrative today that reinforces these nineteenth century ideals.

The effects of this careless and often unquestioned narrative in today’s world abound: alleged serial harassers such as Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, and Roger Ailes do not question their right to create fantastical narratives that disregard, dehumanize, and silence the women they proposition. Furthermore, the ubiquity of the recent “#metoo” campaign casts new light on not only the pervasiveness of this type of harassment, but also on the negative social repercussions women face when they refuse to participate in a male fantasy. Given the consequences associated with this narrative, is the narrator of this cycle still a protagonist, or is he perhaps an antagonist in the eyes of the contemporary listener and performer? Knowing what we know about how cultural narratives influence behavior, is it ethical to perform this cycle without acknowledging its connection to a narrative that perpetuates rape culture?

Emma Rose Lynn holds a master’s degree in vocal performance from the University of Oregon. Described as an “eloquent and charming soprano” by the Seattle Times, this season she debuted at the Oregon Bach Festival as The Shepherdess in John Blow’s Venus and Adonis, portrayed Amore Celeste in the American premiere of G.B. Bononcini’s La Maddalena ai Piedi di Cristo, and brought to life the Oldest Daughter in the World premiere of Anise Thigpen’s Woman of Salt.


“Sacralization and Sanctification of Secular Musics: Four Sociological Perspectives”

Judah Matras

Music scholars of varying persuasions have noted that musical performance has been “sacralized” or has taken on ritual characteristics; and some have noted that music, non-liturgical and non-“sacred” in origin or expressed intent, has frequently incorporated some “aura of sanctity” by composition or borrowings of tunes, texts, or musical structure of traditional sacred or liturgical musics. Such connections are cited variously by Adorno, Attali, Chanan, Horowitz, Leppert, Levine, Locke, McCormick, Mellers, Small, Solomon, Taruskin, and Weber. In this paper, I show examples among post-Baroque composers who have i) introduced sanctifying idioms – ‘aura of sanctity’ – into their musics, and ii) rendered their audiences “believers” of sorts. Sociologists such as DeNora, DiMaggio, Bourdieu, and Martin have typically viewed “sacralization” and “ritualization” in terms of social stratification and status attainment, a view commonly adopted by music historians as well. In his Oxford History of Western Music, Richard Taruskin repeatedly stresses the elite locus of Western art music as of “high art” generally, but describes also bourgeoisie patronage and takeover of instruction, concert life and public performance. In this paper I review four sociological hypotheses advanced to account for ‘sacralization’ of musical events and ‘sanctification’ of secular music:
i) the hypothesis that “musicking” and musical events are inherently “ritual” celebrating individual and/or collective identity (Chanan, Small);
ii) the hypothesis that sacralization is a process invoked by upper or privileged social classes to attain cultural exclusivity and fortify their power, prestige, and influence (DiMaggio, Levine, Horowitz, Bourdieu);
iii) the hypothesis that, “sanctification” of secular musics reflects political statements (Ross) and has been central to various political and social “isms” as ‘alternative religion’ examples (analyzed by Eyerman and Jamison in their Music and Social Movements); and
iv) the hypothesis that sanctification of secular music is an example of artistic “seeking of the sacred” in the sense of French sociologist Émile Durkheim and students (and recently elaborated by contemporary cultural sociologists Sherwood, Alexander, and Riley)

Judah Matras is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, at Carleton University, Ottawa, and at the University of Haifa. He has degrees in Statistics (B.Sc.) and in Sociology (M.A. and Ph.D.) from the University of Chicago, has had Visiting Professor appointments at the University of Chicago, at University of Wisconsin, Madison, at University of Washington, Seattle, at Harvard University, and at Nuffield College, Oxford. Although most of his career research, publications, and teaching were devoted to social stratification and mobility, population studies, and social gerontology, in later teaching years at the University of Haifa he taught courses and seminars in the Sociology of Music. He has presented and published a number of research papers in this field.


“Musicking, Historical Performance Practice, and Postmodernism”

Charles Mueller

Although the concept of Musicking can be considered a product of postmodern thought (and of deconstruction in particular) the idea, in practice, is complicated when applied to our media-saturated culture. One wonders if musicking can fully occur when people live to the rhythm of consumer objects and understand themselves through media simulations. If musicking serves as a metaphor for how society functions as whole, how are we to understand historical performance practice in this hyperreal environment?

In her writings, Rosalynn Turek asked how authenticity in musical performance can be measured at a time when “the medium is the message,” but stopped short of exploring the topic. This paper follows Turek’s line of inquiry by examining the process of musicking with historical styles through the lens of Barthes and Baudrillard; two theorists who believed that media culture translates and drives emotions into signs, which are then managed and regulated by a system of commodities. The paper will investigate whether historically informed performances can really be considered simulations, and if the quest for authenticity in early music is really the same as the postmodern fetish for authenticity. Does historical performance practice have anything in common with postmodern ideas concerning the end of history, or with how art and antiques are described and classified in postmodern theory? The works of Barthes and Baudrillard invite performers to think critically about the context of their work, and what they are ultimately trying to accomplish.

Charles Mueller is an assistant adjunct professor of musicology at Western Oregon University. He received a PhD in historical musicology from Florida State University, and a Masters degree in music performance from Portland State University. His scholarship has been published in Popular Music, Symposium: The Journal of the College Music Society, The International Journal of Baudrillard Studies, and by Ashgate and Cambridge University Press.


*All Musicking Conference Events are Free and Open to the Public

**All events are subject to change

Skip to toolbar