Joy H. Calico
This chapter considers three trends evident in recent research on opera in the period 1900–1945. Scholars tend to situate the genre, as well as individual works and composers, in relation to Wagner’s influence; they challenge and expand received wisdom about modernism, either admitting previously marginalized repertoire to that canon or proposing multiple modernisms; and they pursue nuanced analyses of the relationship between opera and Nazi/Fascist regimes. Precisely how one might define opera in a period of such great experimentation is also discussed. Kurt Weill and Bertolt Brecht’s Aufstieg und Fall der Stadt Mahagonny is presented as a case study in which all of these approaches are fruitful.
This chapter examines the issue of censorship in the British Broadcasting Corporation’s controversial decision to ban the final track, “A Day in the Life,” from the Beatles’ album, Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in 1967 due to its oblique reference to drug use. More specifically, it analyzes the factors underlying the BBC ban within the context of the cultural environment in which company executives interpreted the recording. The chapter also discusses the BBC mission and its “Green Book,” the BBC Variety Programmes Policy Guide for Writers and Producers, which establishes Britain’s standards for taste in broadcasting.
This chapter examines the musical practices and procedures of choruses such as the famous Gay Men’s Chorus within the LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) communities of the United States and Europe, and more specifically the discourse in and around them. It focuses on choral pedagogy as it is found in such ensembles and communities, drawing on the literature and first-hand accounts from singers, conductors and audience members, and examines what they uniquely value in their singing. Specific questions include: what is a good sound for an early MTF (male to female) transgender singer? Is it good to have female tenors in your ensemble, and if so, how many? How does the meaning of a song change for singers and audience when sung by a group of 250 gay men? How does that inflect the way in which that song should be taught to the singers? In short, is there a queer choral pedagogy?
Elizabeth Titrington Craft
This chapter looks at the musical biopic Yankee Doodle Dandy. George M. Cohan was still alive when the movie about his life was made and his influence is seen on how it depicts aspects of his life to suit his own account of it. But the chapter also explores how the movie is a self-reflexive backstage musical and how its attention to theatrical authenticity served to deflect scrutiny from the lack of veracity in Cohan’s biography. Examples include the changing of details in scenes from the stage musicals George Washington, Jr and I’d Rather Be Right to serve the movie’s hagiographic depiction of Cohan’s life, as memorably played by James Cagney. But on the whole, the chapter reveals that fidelity was the byword in the treatment of Cohan’s musical oeuvre and the staging of musical numbers. James Cagney also took great care to capture Cohan’s renowned, distinctive dancing style; his instructor Johnny Boyle had even performed in Cohan shows and staged dances for Cohan.
This chapter deals with sexuality in the much-maligned film adaptation of Lerner and Loewe’s Paint Your Wagon, the least popular of the team’s three 1960s film adaptations (My Fair Lady and Camelot are the others). Situating the movie in the sexual revolution and second-wave feminism of the 1960s, the chapter examines the characterization of Elizabeth and her only song, ‘A Million Miles Away Behind the Door,’ as well as her polyandrous marriage to Ben and Pardner. The chapter also reflects on not only how adaptations change the source but—due to changing social conventions and expectations—why they must. In the case of Paint Your Wagon, the film matches Lerner’s depiction of triangular relationships in My Fair Lady and Camelot, deletes Jennifer and Julio, the principal romantic couple of the stage version, omits the Mexican American perspective represented by Julio, adds the new character Pardner, and places Ben Rumson into a polyandrous relationship with Pardner and Elizabeth. Thanks to the shift from the Production Code to the Ratings System in 1968, Paint Your Wagon could portray a more liberal sexual situation than would have been the case over a decade earlier when the stage version appeared, and the screenplay exploits this possibility in a variety of ways, thereby reflecting its time.
Many of the societal injustices historically perpetrated against persons with disabilities are well known: educational segregation, inaccessible public buildings and programs, and lack of employment opportunities. Less obvious and rarely acknowledged are issues related to the social integration of persons with disabilities and the resulting educational implications. Students with disabilities who are socially accepted and well assimilated into their school and are more likely to graduate and to secure employment. Indicators of social inequities are often subtle and overlooked, thus making teachers powerless to facilitate classroom interactions that contribute to the well-being and educational success of students with disabilities. The ability to embrace diversity in all its facets and to advance social justice requires that educators (1) understand disability culture and its place within the majority culture, (2) recognize stereotypic and stigmatizing views of persons with disability, and (3) create socially and musically inclusive environments for students with disabilities.
Above and Beyond the Battle: Virtuosity and Collectivity within Televised Street Dance Crew Competitions
This chapter explores competitive street dance crew choreography in relation to interdisciplinary theoretical frameworks regarding virtuosity and excess. Through a close analysis of five performances featured on the British television talent shows of Britain’s Got Talent and Got to Dance, this chapter examines the concept of virtuosity as transcendence in relation to the continued emphasis on technology and the street dance body. Through the choreographic application of animation techniques, synchronicity, the construction of “meta-bodies,” and the narrative of ordinary versus extraordinary, this chapter reveals that crews create the illusion of transgression through their affinity with technology, while also competing with their cinematic counterparts. Through this analysis, this chapter further reveals the negotiation between the individualistic nature of the virtuoso and the crew collective within the neoliberal capitalist framework of the competition.
This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media edited by Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog, and John Richardson. This essay discusses the separation between image and sound inaugurated with the introduction of sound recording technology in the late nineteenth century. Two areas are explored in depth: the development of sound-based art maximally divorced from the image and postrecording technology art forms that recombine sound and image in new ways. The latter part of the essay focuses on artistic sound/image relationships inherent in digital media.
This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media edited by Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog, and John Richardson. This essay argues that contemporary digital media present forms of space, time, and rhythm that we haven’t seen. These new forms bear some similarities to contemporary experiences like work speedup, multitasking, and just-in-time labor. One can only guess why this is happening and its causes and effects. A Frankfurt School perspective might note that forms of entertainment replicate labor so we can better toil under oppressive conditions. Marshall McLuhan might claim that the digital has infiltrated entertainment, finance, and labor; hence, there’s a homology between them. This essay suggests that both perspectives grasp something: becoming more aware of the patterns of space, time, and rhythm in media and in work speedup might help us to adapt to social change. We might even work to train our forms of attention so that we can handle the shocks of contemporary society with more grace, care, and awareness.
This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media edited by Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog, and John Richardson. This chapter develops a poetic perspective to analyze the unusual sound, image, and narrational structures of Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006). A poetic perspective examines how a film is made (rather than trying to work out what it means). This chapter examines the decision-making process that has gone into the construction of the film’s complex aural and visual narrative world: specifically, the issue of how shots and scenes are joined in Inland Empire to create a complex ambiguous world of multiple intersecting layers.
Many online video games nowadays feature voice-chat capabilities that enable players to speak with one another through microphones connected to computers and gaming consoles. Players who speak out via voice-chat telegraph ambiguous bodies and often end up participating (willingly or not) in instances of identity assimilation, repression, deception, and revelation. This chapter examines how voice technologies in online games compel players to negotiate practices of domination, masquerade, and passing through acts of speech and silence. Attempts here to put pressure on voice-body relations speak to a broader effort to reassess conventional theories of the voice as a site of authentic and agentic expression. The chapter will conclude by considering the sexual politics of voice-chat in the audibly male-dominated communities of online first-person-shooter games.
This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media edited by Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog, and John Richardson. This essay examines a growing number of filmmakers who construct personal sound aesthetics that rework the rules of sound and image relations. This trend has emerged over the past decade, and it finds global filmmakers engaged in a revitalization of the affective powers of film sound in a digitally converged world. Under consideration are issues of sound authorship, acoustic markers of cultural identity, how sound tropes circulate transnationally, and whether the rules governing sound and image are culturally determined.
Kerim Yasar provides a consideration of the acoustic imagination in literary works from the Sinosphere (China, Japan, and Korea). Yasar explores the development and use of sound symbolism in these countries’ writing systems, arguing that, even with such sound symbol–rich systems to hand, the Sinosphere’s authors depended and still depend on the active imaginative participation of their readers in order to cocreate the acoustic depictions found in their work. Spreading his survey of the literary traditions of the Sinosphere across three-thousand-year-old Chinese literature to modern Japanese manga, Yasar further demonstrates that the conceptualization of sound within the Sinosphere cultures helps shape the imagination and representation of sound within that culture’s language and literature.
Jan Paul Herzer
The chapter discusses the use of interactive audio concepts and sound installations in built environments such as museums, exhibitions, trade fairs, and points of sale. It collects fundamental design approaches as well as technological basics und tries to describe the advantages of the use of nonlinear audio in architectural space. The chapter delivers a practical view on design processes that include the use of interactive audio, generative sound design, and procedural music. It describes diverse applications in the fields of architecture, interior design, and acoustic scenography. While highlighting the general need for the thought-through design of acoustic environments, it tries to encourage professionals to implement interactive audio concepts in the process of creating and shaping the aural architecture of a built environment.
Nina Sun Eidsheim
Over the last decades, much has been said and written about urban renewal and gentrification in Los Angeles. However, the issues addressed have been associated with the types of sounds present or created and musics played. This chapter examines the process of opera in relation to downtown Los Angeles’ gentrification. More specifically, drawing on Tim Choy’s and Ben Anderson’s notion of the “atmospheric” and “air politics,” this chapter addresses the ways in which considering the very acoustic part of the soundscape can offer entry into understanding of the process of gentrification. The listening into the acoustic realization of sound and the reverberation of distinct space can give evidence into broader and deeper shifts in the space’s value, otherwise often difficult to discern. The author does so by considering director Yuval Sharon’s and sound designer Martin Gimenez’s setting of Invisible Cities (composed by Christopher Cerrone) within Union Station’s waiting hall and courtyard. While each singer sang within the everyday soundscape and acoustics of the station, their voices were treated with a thorough sound design and offered up to audiences via wireless headphones. This partial interaction and selectively available product marks a project of “upgrading” the Los Angeles downtown acoustic soundscape—a process, the author proposes, that can be understood as an indicator of the late stage of gentrification.
One of the defining thematic preoccupations in the fiction filmmaking of Philippe Grandrieux, one of the leading figures in French Art Cinema, is that of the politics of property. In Sombre, La Vie Nouvelle, and Un Lac, the relationship dynamics between a woman and a variety of agents competing to claim her are mapped out in the overlap between different registers of space. This overlap opens up complex dynamics between differing spatial practices that are evident within Grandrieux’s narratives and the stylistics with which he shapes them, breaking down conventional understanding of the distance between screen and audience. This chapter argues that one cannot account for the richness of spatial practice in these films without attention to the representation of acoustic space. Drawing on recent concepts in sound studies and critical geography, and expanding upon the literature on Grandrieux’s work, the author focuses on instances of spatial delineation that defines elements of owned property in each of these films.
This chapter reviews several studies of singing in different styles. The studies reveal that the differences concern all the main dimensions of phonation: pitch, loudness, phonation type, and formant frequencies. Most vocal styles differ substantially from normal speech, though in quite different ways. A difficulty in describing the characteristics of the styles of singing, which are typical of different musical genres, is that the same term does not always mean the same to all experts. Some diverging results in voice research on styles of singing emerge from such terminological issues. The author suggests that descriptions of different styles of singing should be related to objective findings on the overall phonatory and articulatory potentials of the voice.
Acting and singing have often been considered incompatible activities, but most successful operatic performances depend in part on successful acting. Acting in opera is, however, different from acting in spoken drama. Realistic characterization is often difficult to achieve when acting with music, and often the formal gestures of a more rhetorical representation are more appropriate. A more vivid style of acting was initiated with the bel canto opera early in the nineteenth century, and later verismo opera required acting that brought out the unconscious motivation of characters. Wagner, Stanislavski, and Felsenstein all developed a style of acting that reflected the psychology of the character and encouraged ensemble. Modern operatic performance incorporates a variety of styles, but a combination of realism and minimalism may be most effective on stage. Callas’s performance in Act 2 of Tosca and Nicholas Lehnhoff’s production of Parsifal are analyzed.
John M. Clum
The article points out various aspects of acting in a musical theater. The acting was not always a primary concern in the history of musical theater. Stars of musical comedy were either singers or comedians who could sing competently or who couldn't sing at all. Traditional musical comedy was a hybrid performed by specialists. The chorus was split into singers and dancers. Serious actors usually avoided the musical entirely since there was enough serious drama on Broadway to keep them busy. Operetta, extremely popular in the 1920s, was built on stock characters that include the exotic romantic leading soprano and baritone, the comic mezzo and bass, the wistful tenor, and the perky soubrette. These same characters appeared again and again in different settings and costumes. Acting was definitely secondary to quasi-operatic singing. A singing star such as Ethel Merman was expected to sing and wisecrack with the comics, which she did in a succession of musicals in the 1930s and early 1940s.
While computational models of human music making are a hot research topic, the human side of computer-based music making has been largely neglected. What are our cognitive processes like when we create musical algorithms, and when we compose and perform with them? Musical human–algorithm interaction involves embodied action, perception and interaction, and some kind of internalization of the algorithms in the performer’s mind. How does the cognitive relate to the physical here? Departing from the age-old mind–body problem, this chapter tries to answer these questions and review relevant research, drawing from a number of related fields, such as musical cognition, cognition and psychology of programming, embodied performance, and neurological research, as well as from the author’s personal experience as an artist working in the field.