Posts Tagged ‘TAGS’

TAGS 2014 Roundtable

Anne Hyland, Julian Horton and the TAGS mascot

Facing the audience, with a bottle of wine and a mascot squirrel between them, SMA President Julian Horton and conference organizer Anne Hyland began a roundtable on the ‘future of music analysis’. This took place at Royal Holloway, on the very last session of TAGS 2014, on 3rd March. Continuing some of his arguments from the keynote address of the previous day, Professor Horton stated that he believes music theory and analysis should become core subjects in music studies in the UK, and that students should also be aware of the ethical dimensions of the discipline. The problem, of course, is how we go about achieving this. The ensuing discussion focused at first on the ethics of theory and analysis, but soon turned to the more urgent issue of the survival and growth of the discipline itself in academia. The lowering of technical proficiency requirements at A-level were identified as one central problem. However, Julian argued that (as he learned in a national meeting with teachers and civil servants) raising A-level standards would diminish the number of students studying music as an academic subject at secondary schools, and therefore the number of those applying for music courses at university. Damned if we do or if we don’t, it seems.

dscf1675So the question went back to how we may raise music literacy in primary and secondary schools. After playing a simple example of invertible counterpoint on the piano, Julian turned to us with this question: why do we not teach such basic counterpoint to 12-year-olds who are perfectly capable of absorbing mathematics at a comparable level? Well, insofar as we should, the question was rhetorical. But it was both sobering and depressing to mull over the non-academic reasons for this. A point was raised about a cultural-political agenda that unfortunately identifies technical proficiency with social elitism (somehow math is exempt from the same association). And David Bretherton has argued that Music is the only A-level subject where private instrumental-vocal tuition is built-in by default, which means that most music undergraduates almost invariably come these days from better-off families, reinforcing the image of elitism. In other words, there is an expectation that private tuition will fill the gap, and this certainly applies to counterpoint, harmony and musicianship in general. The only thing that may break this vicious circle of social elitism and educational deficiency is a fundamental change in the perception of what music skills are for, which music skills should and can be acquired, and at what age.

All we need to do now is convince the government. Good luck, everyone.

Perhaps we can try and change things in our own patch first. At present there are hardly any designated jobs for analysts, so most of us get into university positions by being able to do other things. This is fine as far as getting a foothold in academia, and as Anne reminded us (and I can concur), once one is part of an institution there is some scope to expand analysis in the curriculum, slowly but surely. But growth by stealth may not be enough. Towards the end of the discussion, Horton raised the prospect of adopting here the American model of institutionalized music theory. The argument for this is that the discipline will be protected, it will create jobs, produce students, raise the overall level, create its own prestige (which hopefully will trickle down to secondary and primary education)—and so on. Putting aside how this can be actually done in practical terms, there was some skepticism from the audience (as well as Horton himself) about this idea in principle. After all, some of our colleagues in the US routinely lament the level of undergraduate literacy. So irrespective of innovation at the highest levels, it seems that the trickling down is not working terribly well on the other side of the pond. Moreover, others have noted that institutional music theory results in more formalist and conformist work that often propagates central theories rather than critiques them.

So once again we were left with no clear answers and as much as I wished for a happy ending, the meeting and conference cadenced on a troubling note. If anyone has further thoughts about any of these issues please feel free to join the conversation and respond to this blog.

Shay Loya

Posted on 10th May 2014 by Shay Loya in Music Analysis, Reviews, SMA No comments » Tags:

Call for Papers: TAGS Conference 2014

Royal Holloway, University of London
Friday 2nd to Saturday 3rd May, 2014
Deadline for proposals: 21st March 2014
Keynote Speaker: Julian Horton (Durham University)
Student travel bursaries available

The SMA’s annual Theory and Analysis Graduate Students (TAGS) Conference will be hosted by the Department of Music, Royal Holloway, University of London (RHUL) on Friday 2nd and Saturday 3rd of May, 2014. The event provides a supportive and friendly environment in which postgraduates can gain experience in presenting their work and meet fellow researchers. Participants who do not wish to give a paper are also very welcome. Our keynote speaker will be the SMA’s new President, Professor Julian Horton (Durham University), who will give a paper entitled ‘In Defence of Musical Analysis’.

Proposals are invited from postgraduate students for 20-minute papers, themed sessions and lecture recitals addressing any analytical, critical or theoretical subject and in relation to any style of music. We also welcome submissions in the following areas:

• Analysing a-/microtonal Music;
• Analysing non-Western Musics;
• Performance as Analysis / Analysis as Performance;
• Analysis, Philosophy, and Critical Theory;
• Intersections between History, Theory, and Analysis;
• Analysing Popular Music and Improvisation;
• Music Perception and Cognition;
• Empirical Approaches to Music.

Themed sessions focusing on the analysis of a particular work(s), or on specific arrangements or transcriptions are also welcomed.

For 20-minute paper proposals, abstracts of no more than 250 words should be sent by email to Katie Cattell at Katie.Cattell.2008@live.rhul.ac.uk (email size limit = 5MB). Please include name, affiliation, postal address, email address, and AV requirements on a separate cover sheet (Ms Word or PDF). Organisers of themed sessions should submit a brief overview together with the individual abstracts. Proposals for lecture recitals should include full details of the proposed performance and any relevant requirements in their cover sheet.

The closing date for receipt of proposals is 21st March 2014. All those submitting proposals will be notified of the outcome by the end of March 2014. Delegates will be invited to register from lunchtime on Friday 2nd May, and the conference will run until Saturday afternoon, 3rd May. Royal Holloway is located just 20 miles West of Central London, and is easily accessed by train. Informal enquiries may be sent via email to Dr Anne Hyland at anne.hyland@rhul.ac.uk.

If you are presenting a paper you will be eligible to apply for an SMA Student Travel Bursary to help cover the costs of travel and accommodation (B&B accommodation will be available near campus). Further details can be found here; please note that the deadline for applications for bursaries is Wednesday, 2 April, 2014.

Posted on 8th February 2014 by Shay Loya in CFPs, SMA, Uncategorized No comments » Tags: