CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: Music and Diaspora

Call for Submissions:

The Spring/Summer issue of SEM Student News (Volume 10) will center on the theme of Music and Diaspora. As the term “diaspora” has been both problematized and defended, substituted and accepted, in Volume 10 we hope to engage in the issues and current trends of diaspora music studies, broadly defined. Please take the time to think about submitting or if you know a colleague another student who might be interested in this topic, encourage them to do so.

We are currently accepting submissions for Volume 10 in the following capacities:

– original photography related to topics of the issue

– student submissions (c.150-200 words) for our “State of the Field” column [discussing personal experience and research strategies on the topic]

– student articles/editorials (c. 500-750 words)

– professional submissions either for our “Dear SEM” column (c. 250 words) or individual editorials (c. 500-750 words)

Those planning on submitting a piece, please contact the editor at semstudentnews@gmail.com. We also welcome any other ideas, comments, and questions. Submissions should be formatted in Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition, in author-date style. Files should be submitted in .doc (text) or .jpg (photography) formats. Be sure to include your contact information and university affiliation in your email.

Submission due by March 20, 2015 to semstudentnews@gmail.com

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Categorizations of physical gesture in piano teaching: A preliminary enquiry

The following taken from Communicating musical knowledge through gesture: Piano teachers’ gestural behaviors across different levels of student proficiency. (Psychology of Music, SAGE Journals).

Abstract

The significance of the “physicality” involved in learning to play a musical instrument and the essential role of teachers are areas in need of research. This article explores the role of gesture within teacher–student communicative interaction in one-to-one piano lessons. Three teachers were required to teach a pre-selected repertoire of two contrasting pieces to three students studying piano grade 1. The data was collected by video recordings of piano lessons and analysis based on the type and frequency of gestures employed by teachers in association to teaching behaviours specifying where gestures fit under (or evade) predefined classifications. Spontaneous co-musical gestures were observed in the process of piano tuition emerging with similar general communicative purposes as spontaneous co-verbal gestures and were essential for the process of musical communication between teachers and students. Observed frequencies of categorized gestures varied significantly between different teaching behaviours and between the three teachers. Parallels established between co-verbal and co-musical spontaneous gestures lead to an argument for extension of McNeill’s (2005) ideas of imagery–language–dialectic to imagery–music–dialectic with relevant implications for piano pedagogy and fields of study invested in musical communication.

Conclusion

The findings of this study revealed that the instrumental teaching context not only makes use of spontaneous co-verbal gestures, but also avails from a set of gestures, that in analogy to co-verbal gestures have here been termed spontaneous co-musical gestures. Whilst McNeill’s (1992, 2005) spontaneous co-verbal gestures provide a relevant conceptual basis for theorizing the interactional communication between teacher and student, spontaneous co-musical gestures were ubiquitous and an essential element in the process of musical communication between teachers and students. Moreover, teachers were observed as employing both spontaneous co-verbal and co-musical gestures simultaneously and in some cases independently for the achievement of specific music instrumental pedagogical ends.

The strongly significant and moderate effect size of the correlation between teaching behaviour and gesture types suggests that there is a relationship between the didactic intention of the teacher and the forms of gesture they use to communicate information to the student. The nature and effectiveness of this relationship should be a subject of further investigation. Such a step might help in the development of teaching strategies alongside factors such as students’ ages and skill levels.

The communicative parallels established between co-verbal and co-musical spontaneous gestures can have important implications for piano pedagogy and fields of study invested in musical communication by instigating new lines of enquiry, promoting empirically based practical and useful knowledge for practitioners. These findings are specific to the context of the Western classical music tradition and considerations of other musical cultures in which music notation may be regarded differently demand their own specific contextual approaches.

 
Source: Lilian Simones, Franziska Schroeder, and Matthew Rodger

Categorizations of physical gesture in piano teaching: A preliminary enquiry

Psychology of Music. January 2015 43: 103121, first published on October 8, 2013 doi:10.1177/0305735613498918

UC MERCI Project Wins $300K Award for Music and Science Research

UC MERCI

Scott Makeig, research scientist and director of the Swartz Center for Computational Neuroscience at the Institute for Neural Computation of UC San Diego, has brought together a research group from four UC campuses who have won a $300,000 President’s Research Catalyst Award, one of five such awards across the UC system announced by President Janet Napolitano.

The group’s research, which uses music to understand the human brain, “brings together UC experts on music listening, performance, neuroscience, brain imaging, and data science to understand the transformative potential of music for health and cognition,” says Napolitano’s announcement.

Makeig and his colleagues are among the first to receive the new awards, which will channel $10 million over three years to fund research in areas of strategic importance, such as sustainability and climate, food and nutrition, equity and social justice, education innovation, and health care.

“It’s gratifying to know our work on the frontiers of music, systems neuroscience, and human experience has been recognized for its potential value,” said Makeig. “I’m especially pleased for my collaborators. This is a true team effort by scientists from different disciplines with common interests in musical experience and communication.”

His winning project proposes “an American center for the scientific study of musical experience, communication, and behavior.” The UC Music Experience Research Community Initiative (UC MERCI) will allow UC researchers to share cutting-edge resources and collaboratively develop methods to understand – and enhance – music’s ability to affect and even transform the human mind.

Working with Makeig on the project are John Iversen, Sarah Creel, and Gert Lanckriet of UC San Diego; Ramesh Balasubramaniam, UC Merced; Petr Janata, UC Davis; and Mark Tramo, UCLA. Under the initiative, a group of graduate students will work together across the four campuses. California music-industry groups may also be involved.

“The study of musical experience and communication is truly interdisciplinary,” said Makeig. “For centuries, humanists and scientists have studied music and language from different angles and for varied purposes at conservatories and universities around the globe. We now have an opportunity to gain new understanding by using new scientific tools including brain imaging and computation.”

“A thorough and systematic study of music cognition requires a truly multidisciplinary effort, bringing together neuroscience, psychology, cognitive science, linguistics, medicine and, of course, music. While the UC system has much invested in individuals, technologies, and methodologies for studying each of these separately, a systematic interdisciplinary effort to tackle music-cognition problems could enable UC to attain worldwide prominence in these research areas.”

 

Above information taken directly from full press release by Paul K. Mueller, which may be found here.

More information on MERCI may be found here.

The causal inference of cortical neural networks during music improvisations

12.09.2014
The causal inference of cortical neural networks during music improvisations

Wan X1, Crüts B2, Jensen HJ1 
1 Department of Mathematics and Centre for Complexity Science, Imperial College London, London, UK; 2 Brainmarker BV, Molenweg 15a, Gulpen, The Netherlands

“We present an EEG study of two music improvisation experiments. Professional musicians with high level of improvisation skills were asked to perform music either according to notes (composed music) or in improvisation. Each piece of music was performed in two different modes: strict mode and “let-go” mode. Synchronized EEG data was measured from both musicians and listeners. We used one of the most reliable causality measures: conditional Mutual Information from Mixed Embedding (MIME), to analyze directed correlations between different EEG channels, which was combined with network theory to construct both intra-brain and cross-brain networks. Differences were identified in intra-brain neural networks between composed music and improvisation and between strict mode and “let-go” mode. Particular brain regions such as frontal, parietal and temporal regions were found to play a key role in differentiating the brain activities between different playing conditions. By comparing the level of degree centralities in intra-brain neural networks, we found a difference between the response of musicians and the listeners when comparing the different playing conditions.”

For our Italian friends:

Gli Autori presentano uno studio EEG da due esperimenti di improvvisazione musicale. Ai musicisti professionisti, con un grande livello di capacità di improvvisazione, veniva chiesto di eseguire musica composta o di improvvisare. Ogni pezzo musicale veniva eseguito in due modalità differenti: “preciso” e “rilassato”. I dati di sincronizzazione EEG sono stati registrati sia sui musicisti sia sugli ascoltatori. Gli Autori utilizzano una delle più attendibili misure di causalità, l’Informazione reciproca da embedding misto (MIME) condizionale, per analizzare le correlazioni dirette tra differenti canali EEG, che sono stati combinati con la teoria dei network per costruire circuiti sia intra-cerebrali che cross-cerebrali. Sono state identificate differenze nei network intra-neurali tra la musica composta e l’improvvisazione e tra il modo “preciso” e il modo “rilassato”. Particolari regioni cerebrali come quella frontale, parietale e temporale sono state identificate come regioni chiave nella distinzione delle attività cerebrali tra le differenti condizioni di esecuzione. Comparando i diversi gradi di centralità nei network intra-cerebrali, si è riscontrata una differenza tra la risposta dei musicisti e quella degli ascoltatori quando si comparavano le differenti condizioni di esecuzione.

For full article, please visit Cornell University Library.

Hope through Community in Music: Introducing Superbands

Introducing Superbands, a non-profit movement dedicated to helping those who struggle with depression, self-harm, eating disorders, thoughts of suicide, and other mental illnesses. Through the shared love of music, Superbands aims to encourage hope and positivity, and to remind people that they are not alone.

I’d love to share with you the words of my friend and founder of Superbands Jessica Villa, whose similar vision has been a significant encouragement in my own journey in music and suicide prevention advocacy.

Even at twenty two years olda recent college graduateI still feel like life is so quickly whirling around that I can barely keep up. While things are constantly changing around me (which can be quite overwhelming) one thing that has never changed is my passion for music. From a young age, I learned that music can heal the broken and give people a means of escaping their troubles, realizing that they are not alone. As I learned to battle my own inner demons growing up, I developed a vision to create a community of people all over the world who believe in the power of music. A community of hope. Thats where Superbands was born: a nonprofit movement dedicated to helping those struggling with depression, self-harm, other mental illnesses, or simply feeling lost. Through the shared love for music, we aim to encourage hope and positivity, and to remind people that they are not alone.

If you looked time back to 2006, you would likely find fourteen-year old me screaming at the top of my lungs at a dimly-lit Jonas Brothers concert, wearing a tour t-shirt plastered with the faces of the three brothers. In the midst of being an awkward pre-teen with an obsession with music, I was struggling with being bullied at school; the taunts of my peers echoing through the halls on a daily basis. This verbal abuse led to depression, self-loathing, and downright disgust every morning when I saw myself in the mirror. Struggling with self-hate for years, there were multiple days where life got so difficult that I considered attempting suicide.

It was around this time that I spent all my free time listening to my favorite songs on a hand-me-down CD player, miserably held together with medical tape from my mom’s cabinet. I awaited the final bell to echo through the school hallways so I could drown out everything around me just by putting on my headphones. The stress of schoolwork, the taunts of bullies, the loneliness I felt after moving to a new town, the perils of growing upit all disappeared. Nothing else mattered except the music. I refused to take my own life and give up. I wanted to go to more concerts, listen to my favorite songs, and meet my musical idols. Because of this, I firmly believe that these songs and these bandsthough they did not know my name or my facesaved my life.

While most kids my age played sports or got involved in after-school clubs, the fear of being further tormented by my peers kept me at home everyday. Buried underneath the covers with my CD player, I felt alone, like no one understood me or my passion for music. Concerts were the only place where I truly felt happiness. Why did I feel so at home in these dark venues, surrounded by these complete strangers?

It was because we were united, connected by the music.

It was something that is nearly impossible to explain in words. Hundreds, thousands, of people singing along to songs that I sang along with in my bedroom alone. People’s eyes twinkled with hope as they sang, faces glimmering with amazement. We were in the same vicinity as our favorite musical artists, who jumped around on stage and played these songs just for us. Here we all were, people with the same passion for music, swaying to melodies that once only radiated from our headphones. It was like an island of misfit toys, with everyone finally finding a place where they belonged. We formed bonds, friendships that thrived on new albums and tour dates. We were a family of music loverssomething I had yearned to find for so long.

Today, there are so many ways to reach out to others thanks to social media. From Instagram to Twitter to Facebook to Tumblr, these different social media platforms allow us to interact with people worlds away, regardless of culture, religion, language, or sexual orientation. Barriers are breaking because of music. This is something that we could not do until now – sharing our favorite band photos on Twitter and Instagram, posting our most memorable concert experiences on Tumblr, talking to people about our favorite bands’ upcoming tour dates on Facebook. It’s surreal how much technology has grown in such a short amount of time.

Superbands was an idea that had been swirling around in my head for as long as I could remember. It wasn’t until I came back from college and saw my younger sister Jenna’s passion for music that I got flashbacks from my own awkward teenage years. My own passion for music never faded, but instead grew stronger. I wanted to create the network that I once longed for, somewhere that music lovers could find a place they belonged. Music inspires so many people to keep fighting to overcome obstacles, no matter how difficult their lives become. This passion for music is something that people shouldn’t be ashamed of; it should be something in which we we find comfort. It should be what breaks down those barriers to unite us.

And that’s what I wanted to do with Superbands. I want to connect us, so we can continue breaking down barriers.

For more information on Superbands, please visit http://www.superbands.org

Photo of band After Our Juliet 

The Paradox of Music-Evoked Sadness: A Survey of Personality and Reward

The paradox of music-evoked sadness: an online survey

Taruffi L, Koelsch S – Published October 20, 2014

Department of Educational Sciences & Psychology and Cluster of Excellence, “Languages of Emotion”, Freie Universität Berlin, Berlin, Germany

This study explores listeners’ experience of music-evoked sadness. Sadness is typically assumed to be undesirable and is therefore usually avoided in everyday life. Yet the question remains: Why do people seek and appreciate sadness in music? We present findings from an online survey with both Western and Eastern participants (N?=?772). The survey investigates the rewarding aspects of music-evoked sadness, as well as the relative contribution of listener characteristics and situational factors to the appreciation of sad music. The survey also examines the different principles through which sadness is evoked by music, and their interaction with personality traits.

Results show 4 different rewards of music-evoked sadness: reward of imagination, emotion regulation, empathy, and no “real-life” implications. Moreover, appreciation of sad music follows a mood-congruent fashion and is greater among individuals with high empathy and low emotional stability. Surprisingly, nostalgia rather than sadness is the most frequent emotion evoked by sad music. Correspondingly, memory was rated as the most important principle through which sadness is evoked. Finally, the trait empathy contributes to the evocation of sadness via contagion, appraisal, and by engaging social functions.

The present findings indicate that emotional responses to sad music are multifaceted, are modulated by empathy, and are linked with a multidimensional experience of pleasure. These results were corroborated by a follow-up survey on happy music, which indicated differences between the emotional experiences resulting from listening to sad versus happy music. This is the first comprehensive survey of music-evoked sadness, revealing that listening to sad music can lead to beneficial emotional effects such as regulation of negative emotion and mood as well as consolation. Such beneficial emotional effects constitute the prime motivations for engaging with sad music in everyday life.

TABLE 2: Summary of the situations in which participants engage with sad music, and functions of listening to sad music in those circumstances.

TABLE 2: Summary of the situations in which participants engage with sad music, and functions of listening to sad music in those circumstances.

TABLE 6: Summary of the situations in which participants engage with happy music and functions of listening to happy music in those circumstances.

TABLE 6: Summary of the situations in which participants engage with happy music and functions of listening to happy music in those circumstances.

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And for our Italian friends:

Questo studio esplora l’esperienza della tristezza indotta dall’ascolto della musica. La tristezza è comunemente considerata un’emozione negativa e pertanto evitata nella vita quotidiana. Rimane una questione aperta: perché quindi le persone apprezzano la musica triste? Gli Autori presentano i risultati di uno studio condotto online che ha coinvolto 722 partecipanti occidentali e orientali. Lo studio indaga gli effetti gratificanti delle emozioni tristi evocate dalla musica, nonché l’apporto relativo alle caratteristiche dell’ascoltatore e alle situazioni che contribuiscono all’apprezzamento della musica triste. Lo studio esamina inoltre i differenti principi attraverso i quali la tristezza viene evocata dalla musica e la sua interazione con i tratti della personalità.

I risultati mostrano quattro diversi aspetti gratificanti della musica triste: l’effetto dell’immaginazione, la regolazione delle emozioni, l’empatia e l’assenza di implicazioni nella vita reale. Inoltre, l’apprezzamento della musica triste segue una modalità congruente con l’umore ed è più grande tra gli individui con maggiore empatia e minore stabilità emotiva. Sorprendentemente la nostalgia piuttosto che la tristezza è l’emozione più frequente evocata dalla musica triste. Di conseguenza, la memoria è stata valutata come il principio più importante attraverso il quale l’emozione viene evocata dalla musica triste. Infine, il tratto di empatia contribuisce all’evocazione della tristezza attraverso il contagio, l’apprezzamento e il coinvolgimento delle funzioni sociali. I presenti risultati indicano che la risposta emotiva alla musica triste è sfaccettata, modulata dall’empatia e collegata a una esperienza multidimensionale del piacere.

Questi risultati sono stati corroborati da una ricerca successiva sulla musica allegra, che mostra differenze tra le esperienze emotive nell’ascolto di musica felice o triste. Questo è il primo studio comprensivo sulla tristezza evocata dalla musica, e rivela che l’ascolto della musica triste può portare benefici emotivi come la regolazione delle emozioni negative e dell’umore, oltre che della consolazione. Questi benefici emozionali costituiscono una ragione per ascoltare la musica triste durante la vita quotidiana.

Information provided by abstract – full study may be found here.

doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0110490.t002

(My favorite ‘sad’ video of all time below).

Call for Papers – Harvard Graduate Music Forum Conference 2015

poster-draft

 

Call for Proposals

 This interdisciplinary conference takes as its premise that  music is inseparable from the economic conditions of its production and consumption. Through presentations, lecture-recitals and composers’ colloquia,  we seek to explore the intersections of music and economics from a diverse array of perspectives including labor, practice, material culture, and capital.

Questions include but are not limited to:

  • How do musicians and their employers understand musical labor, and how does this  impinge on issues of amateurism, professionalism, and institutionalization?
  • How have shifting economic systems — for instance, from patronage to mass consumption, or from liberalism to neoliberalism — altered the place of music in society?
  • How have issues such as postcolonialism, the North-South economic divide, and globalization, intersected with various musical practices to forge divergent models of economies of music?
  • Where does music succeed and where does it fail in transforming economic relations?
  • What are the economic consequences of the material means of musics’ dissemination, such as manuscripts, published scores, phonograph recordings, streaming and live performance?
  • How do questions of cultural and economic capital combine in appraisals and contestations of musical value?
  • How has music symbolically represented economics and status? What is music’s role in this endeavour today?

Submissions

We welcome submissions from current graduate students on these and related topics. We seek proposals on all repertoires, musical practices and historical periods, and representing a broad set of methodologies. Formats for presentation include:

  • 20-minute papers, audiovisual presentations, or exploratory text works, with 10 minutes for discussion
    Please submit abstracts of a maximum of 350 words and, where appropriate, up to 4 additional pages for figures. Please add a short statement regarding AV requirements.
  • 30-minute composer colloquia, performances, or lecture-recitals, with 15 minutes for discussion
    Please submit details of the work to be presented in a maximum of 350 words and, where appropriate, links to relevant sound recordings and/or scores or supplementary documentation.

Deadline for proposals: 5 December 2014

Please e-mail submissions to: harvardgmf2015@gmail.com