AMS Study Group Election

The AMS Music and Disability Study Group is pleased to introduce Benjamin Coghan as its candidate for Webmaster.

Benjamin Coghan is a PhD student in Historical Musicology at the University of Texas, Austin from Waldorf, MD. He completed a Bachelor of Music Education in Choral Studies and a Bachelor of Music in Music History at The Ohio State University before beginning graduate studies in musicology at Louisiana State University, and transferring to UT-Austin. His research interests include disability studies and music performance/reception, American popular music during the nineteenth century, and has tertiary interests in the music of Fluxus and American opera & art song. While at UT, he has served as both the Colloquium Representative and Co-President of the Association of Graduate Ethno/Musicology Students (AGEMS).

Benjamin has been a member of AMS, AMS-Midwest, AMS-South, AMS-Southwest, and the Society for American Music (SAM). He has presented papers at the annual meeting of SAM (2017), the Music & the Moving Image Conference (2019), and has participated in several regional graduate conferences. As a member of the Austin community he performs with the Capital City Men’s Chorus, enjoys Austin’s paths and parks with his dog Joplin, works with fused glass at the Helios Fused Glass studio, and has a large collection of cactuses and succulents.

Please cast your ballot by Thursday, November 14!

A Note From Cambridge Common Voices

 

Logo for Cambridge Common Voices. A blue C, a red C, and a white V interlocking.

Dr. Andrew Clark just relayed the AMS Study Group a message on behalf of Cambridge Common Voices:

We of the Cambridge Common Voices owe such a debt of gratitude to you and your colleagues for the opportunity perform in your Music & Disability Study Group panel last Thursday at the AMS meeting in Boston. At our rehearsal on Sunday, we took time to reflect on the experience – our singers had a blast. It also drove home an important and painful reminder for me that many of our musicians really have very few occasions to perform for others, much less for such an esteemed group like AMS. 

This experience, made possible by you and your colleagues, ultimately gave our singers an empowered opportunity to share their music and their spirits in meaningful way. It had to be about them. And bearing witness to their authentic joy and sense of abandon made it all worthwhile. I think, maybe, we all often approach these conference spaces with a desire to impress, when what we actually need — at the spiritual level —  is to be inspired.

The work of your study group extends beyond the important endeavor of generating knowledge, critique, and insight — I’m drawn to it because it’s rooted in justice, in raising our consciousness, and in stirring our soul. To make music for all of you, whose work I deeply admire, felt like the best way to give back and to say thank you. I hope we can continue to keep track of each other and that our paths cross soon.

SMT DisMus and Music Cognition Interest Group Joint Meeting, November 9

The SMT Music Cognition Group and the SMT Interest Group
on Music and Disability will co-host a session of lightening talks at the
Society for Music Theory’s 42nd Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio. The
meeting will take place from 12:30pm-2pm on Saturday, November 9 in
Nationwide A. Please join us!

The theme of our joint session will be “Intersections of Music, Disability,
and Cognition.” The lightening talks include:

-Leigh VanHandel, “Working Memory Burdens and Music Theory Pedagogy”

-Michael Vitalino, “Aural Skills Pedagogy for Deaf and Hard of Hearing
(DHH) Students”

-Justin London, “Music Instruments as Cognitive Extensions, Domain
Specificity in Motor Tasks, and the Implications for the Music Theory
Classroom” OR “Why is it that Very Good Musicians suck at Aural Skills?”

-Mark Saccomano, “Dangerous Music: Analysis, Criticism, and the Aesthetic
Object”

-Evan Jones, “Metric Disability in David Lang’s Stuttered Chang (2011)”

AMS Boston Business Meeting

Attached please find the draft agenda for our business meeting, which will be held on November 1 from 12:30-2:00 in Harbor III. Please note that our business meeting will feature a research presentation by Andrew Dell’Antonio, “UDL as a Resource for Decolonizing the Music History Syllabus.”
The details for our Thursday evening panel are posted on our website: https://musicdisabilitystudies.wordpress.com/2019/10/17/ams-boston-2019/. Additionally, the conference will feature several disability-themed papers, including:

Friday Morning, 10:45-12:15 Disabilities (Harbor II)
Jessica Holmes (University of California, Los Angeles), Chair
Barbara Eichner (Oxford Brookes University), “Infirm Singers and Dyslexic Nuns: Negotiating Disability in Late-Medieval and Early-Modern Monastic Institutions”
James Deaville (Carleton University), “Hearing the American Nightmare: Disability, Race, and Jazz in It’s a Wonderful Life”
 
Saturday Afternoon, 2:15 Educators and Students, 1680–1860 (Commonwealth C)
Mary Natvig (Bowling Green State University), Chair
Michael Accinno (Duke University), “Music, Literacy, and the Transatlantic Circulation of Braille”

We look forward to seeing many of you in Boston!

AMS Boston 2019

Dear AMS Colleagues,

I am writing to invite you to join us at the annual meeting in Boston for the Music & Disability Study Group’s Evening Panel Session, entitled “Musicology and Universal Design: Claiming the Consonant, the Dissonant, and the Resonant,” on Thursday October 31 from 8:00-10:00 p.m. in Grand Ballroom A. I am thrilled to report that the panel not only features live musical performance, but that live American Sign Language interpretation will be provided for the duration of the panel and question & answer period, courtesy of Harvard University!

The panel will begin with an interactive performance by the Cambridge Common Voices, under the creative leadership of conductor Andrew Clarke. The ensemble is a community chorus and creative partnership between Harvard College and the Threshold Program at Lesley University, a transition program for young adults with diverse learning challenges. Rooting its work in Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Cambridge Common Voices reimagines concepts of choral music through the lens of disability, creating new pathways that challenge established norms of musical value, expertise, taste, and social hierarchies by affirming the creative agency of each singer, and democratizing the creative process.

The second half of the panel will feature three paper presentations. Abby Anderton (CUNY, Baruch College) will discuss how the principles of UD can be used in tandem with those of Open Educational Resources (OER) to create a more inclusive, equitable music history curriculum.  Floris Schuiling (Utrecht University) and Pedro Garcia López de la Osa (UC Riverside) separately investigate the design and use of music notation for visually impaired musicians in the Netherlands and Spain, respectively. Both presentations reveal the extent to which standardization of blind musical notation has been fueled by nationalism at the expense of accessibility.

Note that the panel will be livestreamed on YouTube (link TBA). Official live tweets can also be followed using our Study Group Twitter handle: @amssmtdismus. For your convenience, the complete panel abstract is copied below. We look forward to seeing many of you at what promises to be a dynamic and enriching event!

On behalf of the Music & Disability Study Group, I wish to thank you for your ongoing support.

All my best,

Jessica Holmes
Study Group Chair

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Evening Panel Abstract

The concept of “Universal Design” (UD), coined by architect Ron Mace in 1996, figures prominently in current public discourse on disability as designers, architects, urban planners, and engineers aspire to create more inclusive spaces and objects that better accommodate the needs of all bodies. UD avoids stigmatizing and segregating bodies by striving for equity and flexibility of use, integrating accessibility into all stages of the design process, obviating the need for retrofits. Familiar examples include curb cuts, tactile paving, wheelchair ramps, and beeping crosswalk lights which render the built environment more accessible to those with physical and sensory disabilities, while Braille and closed-captioning facilitate greater access to visual and aural media. In higher education, the goals of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) “stand in direct contrast to the often nostalgic (and ultimately hierarchical) expression of normativity we see in the repeated calls to re-embrace physical books, pens, and paper,” writes disability scholar and advocate Rick Godden.

UD has its drawbacks, however. As designer-scholar Graham Pullin argues, the types of multimodal interfaces, spaces, and multifunctional platforms sometimes designed to “accommodate as broad a range of uses as possible” risk further excluding by virtue of their complexity. “Different people ultimately have different needs and desires irrespective of their abilities,” writes Pullin (2015). Others lament that UD often masquerades as a totalizing embrace of human diversity, overshadowing the ways accessibility is also race- and class-bound, and constructed along gendered lines as much as it is contingent upon ability. Godden contends, furthermore, that ultimately, “eccentric and extraordinary bodies have the potential to puncture the illusion of the universal that UD champions, disorienting and, more importantly, reorienting how we conceive of access and equality” (2016).

Like the built-environment, Western music encodes what Blake Howe has described as a “corporeal finitude” through everything from scores to instrument design in ways that “enable some bodies, while disabling others.” Our session probes the consonances, dissonances, and resonances of UD as it is mobilized aurally, visually, and through the multiple ways we feel and make sense of music.

Andrew Clark (Harvard) will lead an interactive performance and discussion by the Cambridge Common Voices, a newly launched neurodiverse vocal ensemble established through a partnership between the students of Harvard University’s “Music and Disability” course, and students from the Threshold College Inclusion Program for diverse learners at Lesley University. Rooting its work in UDL, Cambridge Common Voices reimagines concepts of choral music through the lens of disability, creating new pathways that challenge established norms of musical value, expertise, taste, and social hierarchies by affirming the creative agency of each singer, and democratizing the creative process.

Abby Anderton (CUNY, Baruch College) will discuss how the principles of UD can be used in tandem with those of Open Educational Resources (OER) to create a more inclusive, equitable music history curriculum. OER courses rely solely on materials provided at no cost to the student, thereby removing economic barriers to student learning, like expensive textbooks or costly online platforms. Floris Schuiling (Utrecht University) and Pedro Garcia López de la Osa (UC Riverside) separately investigate the design and use of music notation for visually impaired musicians in the Netherlands and Spain, respectively. Schuiling investigates the recent decline in Braille music literacy in the Netherlands as it corresponds to changes in educational policy, a decrease in library resources, and the rise of audio devices. Since the 1990s, Dutch libraries for the blind have been producing “spoken scores,” which have found some degree of popularity, especially amongst late-blind musicians, but have encountered other obstacles toward more widespread adaptation. Similarly, López de la Osa compares Gabriel Abreu’s 19th Century musicographic system for the blind as an alternative to Braille notation. In an effort to bring Spain into conformity with other countries, the Spanish National Organization of the Blind initiated a campaign to revert to Braille notation during the 1950s; yet Spanish blind musicians regard Abreu’s system as more accurate, precise, and convenient, both then and now. Both presentations reveal the extent to which standardization of blind musical notation has been fueled by nationalism at the expense of accessibility.

Disability and Music Cognition CFP

It is a pleasure to announce that the SMT Interest Groups on Music and Disability and Music Cognition Interest Group will be co-hosting a session of ten-minute lightning talks at the Society for Music Theory’s 42ndAnnual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio on November 7–10, 2019.

The SMT Music Cognition Group seeks to promote the study and scholarship of music cognition and its implications for music theory and analysis. The SMT Interest Group on Music and Disability seeks to foster conversation among musicians about music-historical and music-theoretical issues related to disability, drawing on recent developments in the new, interdisciplinary field of Disability Studies. The group also serves as an advocate for greater accessibility in all areas of music theory scholarship and pedagogy. We believe there is potential for many overlaps and connections between these two areas of scholarship. 

The theme of our joint session will be “Intersections of Music, Disability, and Cognition.” We welcome papers on any topic that connects themes of disability studies and cognitive studies, broadly defined. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Music therapy and its relationship to music theory and/or analysis
  • Music pedagogy
  • Ableism in music cognition research
  • Disabled hearings and/or hermeneutic readings
  • Embodied, extended, and situated cognition
  • Intellectual (dis)ability and analysis
  • Conceptual or Cognitive Metaphors of (dis)ability
  • Race, gender, sexuality as related to perception of bias and prejudice
  • “Ideal” participants in music cognition experiments (e.g. musician vs non-musician, etc.)

Guide for Submissions

The deadline to submit a proposal to present a ten-minute lightning talk is August 30th, 2019. Proposals should be limited to 350 words. To submit your abstract, please send by email to anabel-maler@uiowa.edu

Important Dates

Deadline for submission: August 30th, 2019

Notification of acceptance: September 30th, 2019

Organising committee:

Anabel Maler, Co-chair Music and Disability Interest Group

Chantal Lemire, Co-chair, Music and Disability Interest Group

Janet Bourne, Chair, Music Cognition Interest Group

For any enquiries regarding the programme, please contact: anabel-maler@uiowa.edu

For all general enquiries, please contact: anabel-maler@uiowa.edu

We look forward to seeing you at the Society for Music Theory’s 42ndAnnual Meeting.

Sincerely,

Anabel, Chantal, and Janet

CFP: AMS Music and Disability Study Group, Boston 2019

An embossed grand stave superimposed over Braille notation

The AMS Music & Disability Study Group invites proposals for a special evening panel session at AMS Boston 2019 on “Musicology and Universal Design: Claiming the Consonant, the Dissonant, and the Resonant.”

The concept of “Universal Design” (UD), first coined by architect Ron Mace in 1996, figures prominently in current public discourse on disability as designers, architects, urban planners, and engineers aspire to create more inclusive spaces and objects that better anticipate and accommodate the needs of all bodies. UD avoids stigmatizing and segregating bodies by striving for equity and flexibility of use, and integrates accessibility into all stages of the design process, thereby obviating the need for retrofits. Familiar examples include curb cuts, tactile paving, wheelchair ramps, and beeping crosswalk lights which render the built environment more accessible to those with physical  and sensory disabilities, while Braille and closed-captioning facilitate greater access to visual and aural media. In higher education, “the goals of universal design [sometimes called ‘universal design for learning’] stand in direct contrast to the often nostalgic (and ultimately hierarchical) expression of normativity we see in the repeated calls to re-embrace physical books, pens, and paper,” particularly when combined with the digital humanities, writes scholar and disability advocate Rick Godden.

The musical realm also benefits from the goals of UD. Indeed, Western music encodes what Blake Howe has described as a “corporeal finitude” through everything from scores to instrument design in ways that “enable some bodies, while disabling others.” As such, initiatives like the Adaptive Use Musical Instrument (AUMI), a software interface and iOS music App designed for people “with very limited control over voluntary movement to independently engage in music making” integrate the principles of UD to the benefit of musicians with disabilities. Furthermore, the central objective of “public musicology” to “engage general audiences in intellectually-oriented considerations of music… in a way that is approachable and understandable by non-specialists” arguably resonates with some of the objects of UD (Colorado College 2016), evident in resources like The Avid Listener blog, the Trax on the Trail project, or the Vox podcast series, Switched on Pop.

The Universal Design movement is not without its drawbacks, however. As designer-scholar Graham Pullin argues, the types of multimodal interfaces, spaces, and multifunctional platforms sometimes designed to “accommodate as broad a range of uses as possible” risk further excluding by virtue of their complexity. “Different people ultimately have different needs and desires irrespective of their abilities,” writes Pullin (2015). Others lament that UD often masquerades as a totalizing embrace of human diversity, overshadowing the ways accessibility is also race- and class-bound, and constructed along gendered lines as much as it is contingent upon ability. Godden contends, furthermore, that ultimately, “eccentric and extraordinary bodies have the potential to puncture the illusion of the universal that UD champions, disorienting and, more importantly, reorienting how we conceive of access and equality” (2016).

Our session will thus both probe the merits and limits of Universal Design in both theory and praxis at the level of our scholarship, pedagogy, professional outputs, and institutional structures. We invite proposals for presentations that engage with the consonances, dissonances, and resonances of the universal as it is mobilized aurally, visually, and through the multiple ways we feel music. Possible topics might include but are not limited to: instrument and venue design; institutional, pedagogical, and legal frameworks for UD; musical literacy and language (i.e. Braille notation, the Black vernacular, trans rights and gender neutral pronouns, etc.); and the future of publishing. Alternative, creative presentation formats are very welcome!

Abstracts of no more than 350 words should be submitted to disability.and.music@gmail.com by Friday, May 10 Friday, May 31. Please send your proposal as a .pdf with identifying information removed. In the body of the email, please include your name, contact information, and requests for A/V and musical equipment.