Research Blog

Here you’ll find informal reflections on the process of researching and creating music historical maps. The latest posts (since January 2017) were written by student researchers taking my Directed Undergraduate Research seminar, Music 396: Musical Geographies. Earlier posts were written by students participating in the summer-long Collaborative Undergraduate Research and Inquiry (CURI) program in June, July, and August 2016. Before that, posts were written by students in Music 345: Paris in the 1920s (click on the link for a full syllabus that includes blogging prompts), and even earlier posts (from May through August 2015) were written by the first cohort of CURI student researchers. Follow our path through this project as we encounter problems, pursue tangents, and work our way through mountains of information.

To find posts by specific contributors, please use the categories sidebar to your right. Or, click through the Tag Cloud. Otherwise, you can find all posts below, organized in reverse chronological order.

First Week of Research

Having a series of deja-vu during the first week of research can be quite an unique experience. Reading new chapters from known books is like a date with old acquaintances: old memories penetrate the new stories narrated in a familiar tone. I was reminded of the...

First Blog Post for 2016 CURI

Here is the second summer of the musical geography of 1920s Paris! With an emphasis on the musicological applications of digital maps and other interactive media, our project will continue to visualize and archive musical events of 1920s Paris. This year, we are...

A Second Year, A Second Team

Bonjour à tous! This summer, our research will continue to work toward the goal of creating a series of engaging, informative maps of Parisian musical life during the 1920s. The interactive features and embedded media in these maps will help students, teachers,...

CURI 2016 – The Beginning

This summer, our mission is to use a series of maps to represent the musical scene in 1920s Paris. Using spreadsheets, web forms, databases, and an array of mapping platforms, we will accumulate information about musical events throughout the decade and analyze it...

An Ending to Paris in the 1920s

Paris during the 1920s seems to be a most enigmatic and frivolous place. The music was different, the people were changing, norms were being challenged and sexualities were becoming more present in the social spectrum. Stereotypically, the 20s were a place in history...

Blog Post #6

I think that the idea of Frenchness, and of nationalism in general proved to be the most prominent theme. Considering that we're dealing with France between wars, this makes sense, that the political divide between France and Germany should play out through music as...

Class Conclusions

Amidst our conversations about a number of different topics in this course, I have found the topic of Nationalism most relevant to my papers. This was one of the first topics we considered during this class. The people of France were longing to find a unique musical...

Nationalism: A Problem then, and Now

I must be blunt and say that nationalism is the theme that has been most prevalent in my papers. This could be due to my own bias in favor of the topic, or it might be a combination of my bias and the actual prevalence of nationalism in 1920s Paris. Whether by luck or...

Tying it all together

Throughout this course, we have looked at numerous topics, some of them more concretely about music, others less so. It would be easy to try and pull these subjects together through common themes - most notably nationalism, sexuality, gender, and race, the four themes...

Semester Reflections

Last year in our survey class I struggled with how to react to the traditional telling of music history--one that too often focuses on, and thereby values, the output of a select group of mostly dead white male composers to the dismissal of the music of composers who...

Struggle for Identity: National and Individual Challenges

Paris in the 1920s has always seemed to be an exciting and rich time period to me, and I was thrilled with the chance to devote an entire semester to the study of its music.  Throughout our research and discussion of the compositions, composers, impresarios, and...

Reflection

This semester, my papers have been centered around what seems like a random collection of topics: female composer Germaine Tailleferre, the Concerts Colonne, and Francis Poulenc's Sonata for Clarinet and Bassoon (its premiere and how course themes relate). Some of...

Historical Lenses as a Means to Authenticity

The theme that has resonated with me most powerfully this semester is that of the different lenses through which we view history. We discussed a handful of lenses closely related to the topic of music in 1920s Paris (namely, class, race, nationality, sexuality, and...

Patronage

One of the most exciting parts about class was seeing that some topics that we discuss in class I had an in-depth knowledge of. I was genuinely excited to share my learning and knowledge and contribute to the discussion. The topics that seemed to interest me the most...

A Wider Lens.

Over the course of this semester I have learned not to take anything at face value. There always seems to be another way to look at something, which in turn tells us something new. This was hard to understand at first because in education and school we are taught time...

Reflections on Paris in the 20s

This class improved my research skills drastically in many ways. It taught me not to just search directly for the topic I am researching, but to find as much information as possible, even if it doesn’t directly pertain to my topic. Specifically, I wrote about...

Research: It’s Not as Bad as I Thought

As I think back to the beginning of the semester, one of the most valuable and powerful tools that has resonated with me is the importance of the process of doing research. I have learned about the intense experience it can sometimes be, and how to be patient and...

New Historical Lenses

One theme/trend we've been discussing in this class is the potential for alternate histories or stories. Rather than studying a single history in a survey course where you learn facts and “objective truths” about music, its creation and the historical time period it...

Nationalism’s Pervasiveness

Throughout our semester together, I have found that my independent research for papers has repeatedly enlightened the themes we discuss in class.   I continue to be surprised by these findings - not because they are unanticipated, but because they continue to defy my...

What I learned in boating school is…

Throughout this semester, we've encountered a lot of material. Some of it was easy to understand (Nationalism, Race) and some was harder to understand (Patronage, Sexuality/Sapphonics.) One of the techniques in discussing a piece/person was to look through multiple...

My Semester in Paris During the 1920’s

Paris in the 1920's was a time full of contradictions. It was a period full of experimentation, yet very restrained values. People explored sexuality and gender in music, and yet outside of the arts those endeavors were strictly taboo. Stigma's and stereotypes abound,...

Paris Across the Semester

At the beginning of this semester I had little idea of what was happening in Paris in the 1920s. I knew it is right after the first World War and it was the sweet spot before the second war started with a surge of nationalism happening all across Europe. I had some...

The Interconnectedness of 1920s Paris

The reason I elected to take this course was that I have always been fascinated by the environment of Paris during the early twentieth century. I have often said that if I had a time machine, one of my first stops (after visiting Jesus and John Calvin, respectively)...

A broad scope and lost information in our papers

When I look back on this class, trying to figure out what exactly I have accomplished, I am always drawn back to one of the first assigned readings, Gumbrecht's In 1926: Living at the Edge of Time. The book attempted to look at history as if through a microscope,...

Drawing interpretive lines

Dorf's and Moore's readings of Satie's Socrate and Poulenc's Les Biches and Aubade as works influenced by a queer aesthetic do seem justified to me. The blatant de-sexualization of the text that Satie set ("Great care [is] taken to eliminate any reference, even...

Queer Ideas in Compositions: Moore and Dorf

I think Moore makes his point fairly clear, that Poulenc used camp quite extensively in his works. His argument is well-thought out, could probably be more concise, but accurately depicts his point. What I had hoped he would comment on, and what I didn't really didn't...

Queer Perspectives: Moore and Dorf

The arguments by Dorf and Moore present interesting perspectives about the topic of homosexuality. In Dorf’s article,  he argues that the work Socrate, based on the life of Socrates by Satie was possibly affected greatly by Princess Polignac masking her personal life....

Samantha Noonan Blog Post No. 5

Dorf and Moore’s articles are interesting to say the least.  Their arguments surround the topic of how a person’s sexuality impacts the music he or she composes or performs.  I can’t help but look at their writings with very skeptical lenses.  I knew that Poulenc was...

Princesse Edmond de Polignac: A Difficult Case for Dorf

Both readings by Dorf on Princesse Edmond de Polignac and Satie's Socrate and Moore on Poulenc provide very interesting hypotheses and insights on sexuality in music. While I think that Moore clearly gives a more successful argument on his case, his topic of study on...

Queer Interpretations of Satie and Poulenc

I was very skeptical when we first read the Wood and Dorf articles for last Thursday's class. To me, they seemed to be an attempt to impose a relevant topic from today onto material that had nothing to do with it. I am often torn with how much of a composer's personal...

Dorf and Moore – Queer Readings of Music History

Both articles offer compelling analyses of two different composers, Erik Satie and Francis Poulenc, through queer perspectives. To me, the Dorf article is more of a stretch, in terms of attributing a lesbian aesthetic to Satie's music, but I think Dorf recognizes and...

Simultaneously Cryptic and Explicit

In light of biographical information pertaining to the sexual orientation of Poulenc and the Princesse de Polignac, I see no reason to exclude a queer reading of Les Biches, or Socrates. Although I would not have used a queer reading initially with these pieces, this...

Moore Does More

Both Moore and Dorf take on the subject of sexuality in a pretty serious manner. Both make their statements about their composer of choice’s sexuality and prove their point with evidence. Personally, I think Moore makes a more convincing argument in his article “Camp...

Dorf vs. Moore

The articles by Samuel Dorf and Christopher Moore both presented an account of the private and public sexuality of important musical figures in Paris in the 1920s. I gained depth in my knowledge of Francis Poulenc, Princess de Polignac and Satie. The Moore article...

Queer? Musicology

Upon first reaction to reading both the Dorf and the Moore articles, I was completely of the mindset that there is no way to find something gay in music. Much like the discussion we had in class about Germaine Tellefairre's music and how we could find nothing that...

Sexual Ambiguity of the Woman in Blue

The idea that one's sexuality could affect a composition is an interesting and notable concept that deserves some discussion.  In Dorf and Moore's articles about the homosexual undertones of the Princesse de Polignac's commissions and the music of Francis Poulenc, the...

Questioning the Queerness

Dorf and Moore are sure of their convictions in their writing, but they haven't fully convinced me. I understand how Dorf applied sapphonics to Satie's Socrate, but the Sapphonic concept itself that Wood writes about in "Queering the Pitch" is hard to buy into. She is...

A Tale of Two Articles

Both of the articles deal with the dual culture of public and private in the circle of homosexual composers and patrons. They also both dealt with the presence, or lack thereof, of sexual undertones in Poulenc and Satie's work. The Dorf article presented the argument...

Dorf/Moore Arguments

I thought that both the arguments made by Dorf and Moore were relatively convincing. I have never read any queer theory before, so I was overall pretty overwhelmed with the terminology. I had a much easier time understanding what Dorf was saying, Moore’s writing style...

Kitsch et étrange

It's interesting that two important people in the history of french music both identified as queer. The Princesse Edmond de Polignac, along with Francis Poulenc, were gay. The Princesse and her parlor concerts were known throughout France, and she commissioned many...

Dichotomy Within The Lives Of “Queer” Artists

Although the argument that purely musical elements of a piece can indicate sexuality, gender, race, or any other factor of the composer's identity seems insubstantial and virtually impossible to prove, however a few finer details within both Dorf and Moore's arguments...

Dorf’s argument for “hidden eroticism”

Both Dorf and Moore's queer readings of Satie and Poulenc find that their music was informed by the lives that were carefully hidden from the public eye, claiming that the music itself contains a kind of hidden sexuality as well. Dorf looks at Satie's Socrate and the...

Moore vs. Dorf

Overall, I found both the articles of Dorf and Moore to be as compelling as they were shocking in their unusual analyses of the queer erotic undertones of twentieth century French music. Their angles presented me with entirely new concepts, and while I do not embrace...

Société Nationale de Musique: what happened in the 20s?

As we came across it many times in class readings, my research subject Société Nationale de Musique seemed to be easy to approach. However, when I tried to look at the music society in the 20s exclusively, things started to get confusing. Société Nationale de Musique...

The Folies-Bergere

I have had a very interesting time researching The Folies-Bergere was a strange mix of things culturally. In some ways it was very scandalous and racy. The acts that were being put on seemed to be very edgy. But at the same time, many of the audience-members were...

The Character of a Place

Sometimes it is easy to forget that buildings and places have character. Buntrock has a radically different character or feel than Mellby or Thorson. In my research, it has become clear that the  character of a place can influence or be influenced by what happens...

Negrophilia in 1920s Paris: Origins and Legacy

I’m interested in engaging more deeply with the concept of Negrophilia, considering it alongside claims of 1920s Paris as being a less openly-racist environment than the United States, and learning more about how related assumptions, attitudes, and actions are...

Casino de Paris

The Casino de Paris is a beautiful music hall located in the northern half of Paris. The hall opened in 1890 and was extremely popular from the start. In fact, the hall is still open and is a major location for many big acts in Paris today (Of Monsters and Men and...

Salle Erard: Forging a Path

I'm researching the very famous Salle Erard recital hall. The hall has been incredibly active since mid-late 19th century. It has premiered pieces by Debussy, Ravel, and Messiaen plus many more famous composers. Performers from all across the world have graced its...

Research Ruminations

To be honest, I have not delved too deeply into researching about the Concerts Colonne...yet! However, I do have a plan for what I'm going to look into. I have already discovered some about what music the group typically performed and a bit about its musical...

Concerts Lamoureux

Currently, the aspect I find most surprising about the Concerts Lamoureux is that until the war ended, they played a lot of Wagner. In Paris, the Musical Kaleidoscope by Eleanor Brody, I found out that on March 23rd, 1894, nine Wagner excerpts appeared on a Lamoureaux...

Vincent d’Indy and the Schola Cantorum

My research topic for our second paper assignment is the Schola Cantorum, founded in Paris by Vincent d’Indy and two colleagues. Upon initial research, I – like many of my classmates – found that this assignment would prove to be a substantially more difficult one...

Grand Opera House in Paris, France (Palais Garnier)

When signing up for essay prompts I jumped to pick a subject of which I was interested.  As I am a vocal performance major and am interested in opera, I decided to write my second paper on the subject of the Grand Opera House in Paris, France in 1920s.  In a  more...

Triumphs and Trials in the Research Process

In my current research about the Théâtre du Châtelet I in Paris I have encountered documentation on a number of concerts and premieres taking place there in the 1920s, however specificities of these concerts are lacking. I began my research process using the St. Olaf...

Pas de Pasdeloup

My next research paper is focused on the Concerts Pasdeloup, a musical organization/orchestra that regularly gave performances throughout the concert season that were available to a wide audience. The group is of particular interest to me for three reasons. First,...

Researching the Ballet Russes

Researching a topic that has been done and redone has advantages and disadvantages. The amount of scholarship on the Ballet Russes can be a bit overwhelming, but the availability of information is convenient. I'm going to focus on a positive part of my research. As a...

A Word on Cinematic Liberties

I almost feel like it's a right of passage for the romantic at heart to see the 2001 film Moulin Rouge. My personal experience was sad to say the least. I started watching it, and about halfway through the movie, my mother came down and bluntly stated, "Oh, you're...

The good, the bad, the “Negrophilia”

The question here is not whether people enjoyed "Negro" culture. The essence of this post is whether there was a genuine enjoyment or a condescending one.   I'm going to argue that there was a condescending and racist overtone with the enjoyment of Black Culture,...

Je ne parle pas français

My current research revolves around the Société Musicale Indépendante (SMI), a progressive musical organization founded chiefly by Maurice Ravel in opposition to Vincent d’Indy’s reactionary leadership of the Société Nationale de Musique (SN). My most immediate...

Research

Researching for the person-paper was a fairly standard research procedure. I wrote about Coco Chanel, and one of my main motivators for choosing her was name recognition. I knew there would be lots of sources and information on her. What I found was less than I was...

Philia Does Not Imply Love

Racism is a kind of hatred that manifests itself in obvious and violent ways, and also in ways which are subtle and difficult to combat. The negrophilia of Parisians in the 1920s is one of the less obvious, but still pernicious occurrences of racism. But the question...

Negrophilia- Hahn

Upon reading Levinson’s critique and learning about “La Revue Negre” coming onto the scene in 1920’s Paris, I have decided that it is difficult to claim that Parisians had much of a sense of respect for African American cultures. Levinson calls black art “savage” and...

La revue nègre: An Unabashed Desire of the Exotic

The Parisian infatuation with the pulsing rhythms and gyrating movements of "Negro" dancing in the 1920s was an indication not of deep love and appreciation for the people of the "other" culture, but rather an overindulged fetish of the wild and exotic. "The savage is...

Negro”philia”?

“These blacks, who are grotesque caricatures, have rhythm not only in their legs, but in their skin, which shudders from their heels to the roots of their hair. They sing with a very sure sense of harmony, making us think that they remember their native forest...They...

Negrophilia: Orientalism and Lipstick Effect

Reading and studying about Negrophilia keep reminding me about the idea of Orientalism and that to what extent Parisian's Negrophilia bears similarities to Orientalism, another aesthetic wave of appreciating the Other happened some decades ago before 1920s. An idea...

Negrophilia: Misunderstanding Progress

Upon first reading about "Negrophilia", I didn't find it particularly problematic. If anything, it seemed to me that the French were embracing African culture, a refreshing idea given  the racism happening in US and other areas on Europe. However, Andre Levinson makes...

“Le nègre,” according to Levinson

André Levinson’s opinion on the influence of African art in Parisian society is generally favorable, but chock-full of patronizing back-handed compliments. Josephine Baker’s dancing is repeatedly referred to as primitive. In fact, in Levinson’s writing on “Negro...

Negrophilia

  Parisian audiences did not feel a true love for blackness, black music, or black culture. La revue negre was a very important piece of evidence for the evidence of this. First of all, Jordan, on page 41 of his "Le Jazz" states that when the revue arrived, the...

Negrophilia: The Art of Milhaud’s La Création du monde

The idea of Negrophilia originated way before the era of 1920s Paris. Jazz in Paris had evolved into a new cultural idea that was a fascination for the French people. It was brought by American Military bands in 1917. French society was enamored with what it brought...

Negrophilia – Noonan Blog Post No. 3

Negrophilia was the surrounding phenomenon in Paris during the twenties.  This fascination with Black culture swept the city and impacted nearly every aspect of social life for the average Parisian.  A large contributor to Negrophilia was Josephine Baker and her...

Quenching a Thirst: “Negrophilia” in 1920s Paris

The “Negrophila” that hit Paris during the 1920s is the same phenomenon that hit several western countries in the beginning of the 20th century. As slaves became freed new cultures and styles began to emerge, especially in the music world. These new styles of jazz and...

Negrophilia or Negrophobia?

Looking back at negrophilia in 1920's Paris makes me slightly sick. This so called "love" and "adoration" of black culture seems no less mocking than when upper class Parisians would go slumming just for the fun of it. They may be enjoying this new phenomena, they are...

Negrophilia: Not Love, an Obsession

1920s Parisians did not have a sincere love for African American artists, but rather were crazed by their primitivism. The Parisians did not love them; they were obsessed with them. The word love usually implies a certain level of respect. Parisians in the 1920s were...

Infatuation with the ‘Bizarre’

Throughout the 1920s, an exotic wave of culture swept through most of France. Jazz became a prevalent aspect of French life, and artists such as Josephine Baker become phenomena. Music Historians often refer to this so called obsession with African American culture...

Negrophilia – Love or Amusement?

In 20s Paris, there was a large demand for American negro culture. Josephine Baker became the poster child for these types of shows, as French audiences were fascinated by her dances, the likes of which they had never seen before. Many have termed this "negrophilia,"...

Negrophilia: Genuine Respect or a Passing Fad?

While I do believe several 1920s Parisians had a genuine love and respect for African American artists, this number of people was limited. It is separated between the people who celebrated African American artists for their uniqueness with respect and admiration and...

Negrophiliacs or Not?

There are almost as many cultural interpretations of negrophilia in the 1920s as there pieces of information available about Josephine Baker and performances of La Revue Nègre in particular. There were some positive responses, a few fence-riders, and clearly very...

Two-dimensional Views of History

  The great responsibility of a historian is to ask questions to which there are no correct answers. Did the 1920s Parisians love, respect and celebrate African Americans artists? Or did their racist view ultimately meant that what they experienced was something...

Negrophilia and the Cruciality of Context

Crucial to any discussion of a historical cultural phenomenon is an acute awareness of the myriad factors at play within the context in which the phenomenon occurred. While we may be shocked into a moment of rage upon our first read of such accounts of La Revue Negre...

Cultural respect, then and now

1920's Parisians loved African American culture in some way: a love called "Negrophilia." All of the readings focused on Josephine Baker's dancing and performance and the public's fascination with her. To them, she represented their perception of African-American...

Milhaud’s Importance of Tradition in his Musical Works

Darius Milhaud was a very intriguing composer of his time in Paris during the 1920s. He would later become part of Les Six including famous composers of his era in France such as Poulenc and Honegger. Milhaud utilizes sonorous textures to display his complex music...

Wanda Landowska: Master of the Harpsichord

Polish national, Wanda Landowska, brought the harpsichord revival to France and all of Europe in the early twentieth century. After beginning piano at age four she received a more formal music education beginning at the Warsaw Conservatory with Jan Kleczyńsky and...

Caryathis- A Feminist’s Perspective

The source that helped me to understand the contributions to “French” music that Caryathis made was found in Legacies of Twentieth Century Dance. Caryathis became a dancer against the wishes of her family and ran away from them to Monmartre and began her dance career....