Category Archives: Therapy

Instant Classics: RILM’s Top 13 Reviewed Texts, 2022–23

Amidst a summer break flying by all too quickly, RILM presents another installment of its Instant Classics series—posts comprising annotated bibliographies of books, indexed in RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, that have received the most reviews in academic literature across a given time span. The content of these books exemplifies RILM’s commitment to disseminating publications that are truly international in scope, with coverage that embraces a diversity of languages, nations, subject matter, and approaches to music research. This 2022—23 list contains a little something for everyone, and we hope it will inspire some welcomed additions to your summer reading list.

As always, this collection should be approached with a critical eye. As reviews continue to be written, the order of the books included here will continuously be in flux and, over time, some could be replaced by others. Further, access to resources, familiarity with conventions of proposal writing that are attractive to publishers, and innumerable other factors vary considerably across music research communities around the world. Indeed, closing the gap in such disparities, particularly regarding publications coming from the Global South, is an essential component of RILM’s mission. Despite the inherent limitations, collecting these texts in this way is valuable, as it generates an archive of the topics, methodologies, and perspectives that earned the attention of music scholars, writers, and journalists during a brief period in time. We can appreciate these texts’ contributions to musical knowledge while simultaneously being aware of the powers held and challenges faced by the publishing firms and university presses that sell them. As we zoom out, patterns may emerge that provide insight into the topical trends that have contributed to music discourse in the early decades of the 21st century.

And finally, do keep in mind that RILM can only disseminate the writings on music to which it has access. You are invited to help make RILM Abstracts be as complete as it can be by visiting our submissions page, making sure records of your publications appear there, and adding abstracts and reviews to them as necessary. We thank you in advance and wish you a happy summer of reading!

P.S.: Sympathies to Arnold Schoenberg, the book on whom, either predictably, eerily, coincidentally, or uncannily, placed at number 13, the one number he avoided more than any other while he was alive.

– Written, compiled, and edited by Michael Lupo, Assistant Editor/Marketing & Media, RILM


#13. Sachs, Harvey. Schoenberg: Why he matters (New York: Liveright, 2023). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2023-4761]

Abstract: In his time, Arnold Schoenberg (1874–1951) was an international icon. His twelve-tone system was considered the future of music itself. Today, however, leading orchestras rarely play his works, and his name is met with apathy, if not antipathy. Within the context of this interpretative account, Schoenberg’s reputation is restored to his rightful place in the canon, revealing him as one of the 20th century’s most influential composers and teachers. Schoenberg, a thorny character who composed thorny works, raged against the “Procrustean bed” of tradition. Defying his critics—among them the Nazis, who described his music as “degenerate”—he constantly battled the antisemitism that eventually precipitated his flight from Europe to Los Angeles. Yet Schoenberg, synthesizing Wagnerian excess with Brahmsian restraint, created a shock wave that never quite subsided, and his compositions must be confronted by anyone interested in the past, present, or future of Western music.

#12. Broad, Leah. Quartet: How four women changed the musical world (London: Faber & Faber, 2023). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2023-1400]

Abstract: A group biography of four women composers who changed the modern musical landscape: Ethel Smyth (1858–1944), famous for her operas, was a trailblazing queer Victorian composer and a larger-than-life socialite, intrepid traveller, and committed Suffragette. Rebecca Clarke (1886–1979) was a talented violist and Pre-Raphaelite beauty, and one of the first women ever hired by a professional orchestra, later celebrated for her modernist experimentation. Dorothy Howell (1898–1982) was a prodigy who shot to fame at the 1919 Proms. She earned a reputation as the “English Strauss”, and after retiring she tended Elgar’s grave alone. Doreen Carwithen (1922–2003) was one of Britain’s first woman film composers, who scored Elizabeth II’s coronation film; her success hid a 20-year affair with her married composition tutor. In their time, these women were celebrities. They composed some of the century’s most popular music and pioneered creative careers; but today, they are ghostly presences, surviving only as muses and footnotes to male contemporaries like Elgar, Vaughan Williams, and Britten.

#11. Proksch, Bryan. The golden age of American bands: A document history (1835–1935) (Chicago: GIA Publications, 2022). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2022-10133]

Abstract: The story of the American wind band, told chronologically by those who experienced it in real time from 1835 to 1935. The volume explores how bands became bands, how they rose in popularity, and which figures had insights and specific impacts on the development of the genre. Through source documents and articles, the volume surveys the ensemble’s history from the time of the first brass bands in the 1830s, through the Civil War and the golden ages of Patrick S. Gilmore and John Philip Sousa, to the cusp of the wind ensemble just before World War II. Musicians such as Frederick Fennell, Allessandro Liberati, Karl L. King, Patrick Conway, Fredrick Neil Innes, Jules Levy, Alan Dodworth, and Herbert L. Clarke are included. Numerous rare and unknown illustrations show the places where band history happened. Documents include rare periodical excerpts, handwritten letters, and other writings taken from archives throughout the United States.

#10. Bonnette-Bailey, Lakeyta Moninque and Adolphus G. Belk, Jr., eds. For the culture: Hip-hop and the fight for social justice. Music and social justice (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2022). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2022-4800]

Abstract: Documents and analyzes the ways in which hip hop music, artists, scholars, and activists have discussed, promoted, and supported social justice challenges worldwide. Drawing from diverse approaches and methods, the contributors in this volume demonstrate that rap music can positively influence political behavior and fight to change social injustices, and then zoom in on artists whose work has accomplished these ends. The volume explores topics including education and pedagogy; the Black Lives Matter movement; the politics of crime, punishment, and mass incarceration; electoral politics; gender and sexuality; and the global struggle for social justice. Ultimately, the book argues that hip hop is much more than a musical genre or cultural form: hip hop is a resistance mechanism.

#9. Vera Aguilera, Alejandro and David Andrés Fernández. Los cantorales de la Catedral de Lima: Estudio, reconstrucción, catálogo (Madrid: Sociedad Española de Musicología, 2022). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2022-1557]

Resumen: Los cantorales de la Catedral de Lima estudia, por primera vez, la colección de libros de coro de la Catedral Metropolitana de Lima, que está formada por cuarenta volúmenes manuscritos copiados en su mayor parte en el siglo XVII. En el estudio inicial, se aborda su historia, confección y escribas responsables. Seguidamente, se indaga sobre su forma de interpretación en la época colonial a través de la reconstrucción de un servicio litúrgico de suma importancia en su contexto. Finalmente, se ofrece un catálogo crítico de la colección que incluye sus contenidos íntegros en forma de índices analíticos y alfabéticos que facilitan su localización. En suma, este trabajo constituye un estudio integral sobre una colección de libros de canto llano conservada en Sudamérica. Además, representa una útil herramienta de investigación en la que se exhuman numerosos documentos históricos y se presentan transcripciones de repertorio tanto monódico como polifónico, razón por la que será de interés para musicólogos, historiadores e intérpretes, entre otros.

Abstract: Studies, for the first time, the collection of choir books of the Catedral Metropolitana de Lima, which consists of 40 manuscript volumes copied mostly in the 17th century. The history, physical features, and scribes who worked on the manuscripts are discussed. The way this collection was used in colonial times is examined through the reconstruction of a liturgical service from its context. An annotated catalogue of the collection is offered, which includes its complete contents in the form of analytical and alphabetical indexes that facilitate its location.

#8. Marissen, Michael. Bach against modernity (New York: Oxford University Press, 2023). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2023-3999]

Abstract: Many scholars and music lovers hold that Bach is a modern figure, as his music seems to speak directly to the aesthetic, spiritual, or emotional concerns of today’s listeners. But, by 18th-century standards, Bach and his music in fact reflected and forcefully promoted a premodern world and life view. A new look at Bach is presented that considers problems of inattentiveness to historical considerations in academic and popular writing about Bach’s relation to the present. Also put forward are interpretive reassessments of key individual works by Bach, examining problems in modern comprehension of the partly archaic German texts that Bach set to music. Lastly, Bach’s music is explored in relation to premodern versus enlightened attitudes toward Jews and Judaism, and the theological character of Bach’s secular instrumental music is examined. Overlooked or misunderstood evidence is provided of Bach’s private engagement with religious and social issues that he also addressed in his public vocal compositions. While we are free to make use of Bach and his music in whatever ways we find fitting, we ought also to guard against miscasting Bach in our own ideological image and proclaiming the authenticity of that image, and therefore its prestige value, in support of our own agendas.

#7. Goodman, Karen D., ed. Developing issues in world music therapy education and training: A plurality of views (Springfield: Charles C. Thomas, 2023). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2023-7332]

Abstract: Reflects on current or necessary changes in music therapy training that come about because of history, society, economy, generational shifts, and the workplace. The subject matter questions the nature of music therapy itself; examines challenges to education and training; suggests critical thinking (vs. repetition or repackaging of information) for students, educators, clinicians, researchers and supervisors in the field of music therapy; respects the past but looks to the future; and offers perspectives from others in the field through such vehicles as surveys, interviews, and reviews of literature.

#6. Mathew, Nicholas. The Haydn economy: Music, aesthetics, and commerce in the late eighteenth century. New material histories of music (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2022). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2022-10831]

Abstract: Reimagines the world of Joseph Haydn and his contemporaries, with its catastrophic upheavals and thrilling sense of potential. Critical questions are addressed, such as how we tell the history of the European Enlightenment and Romanticism; the relation of late 18th-century culture to incipient capitalism and European colonialism; and how the modern market and modern aesthetic values were—and remain—inextricably entwined. The study weaves a vibrant material history of Haydn’s career, extending from the sphere of the ancient Esterházy court to his frenetic years as an entrepreneur plying between London and Vienna to his final decade as a venerable musical celebrity, during which he witnessed the transformation of his legacy by a new generation of students and acolytes, Beethoven foremost among them. Ultimately, Haydn’s historical trajectory compels us to ask what we might retain from the cultural and political practices of European modernity—whether we can extract and preserve its moral promise from its moral failures. And it demands that we confront the deep histories of capitalism that continue to shape our beliefs about music, sound, and material culture.

#5. Dylan, Bob. The philosophy of modern song (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2022). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2022-9712]

Abstract: Comprises over 60 essays written by the Pulitzer Prize winning songwriter, focusing on songs by other artists spanning from Stephen Foster to Elvis Costello, from Hank Williams to Nina Simone. Among many other subjects, the trap of easy rhymes is analyzed, breaking down how the addition of a single syllable can diminish a song, while also explaining how bluegrass relates to heavy metal. Over 100 photos are included, as well as a series of dream-like riffs that, taken together, resemble an epic poem—characteristic of the author’s own work in the field of songwriting—adding to the work’s transcendence.

#4. Denk, Jeremy. Every good boy does fine: A love story, in music lessons (New York: Random House, 2022). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2022-954]

Abstract: Pianist Jeremy Denk traces an implausible journey. His life is already a little tough as a precocious, temperamental six-year-old piano prodigy in New Jersey, and then a family meltdown forces a move to New Mexico. There, Denk must please a new taskmaster, an embittered but devoted professor, while navigating junior high school. At 16 he escapes to college in Ohio, only to encounter a bewildering new cast of music teachers, both kind and cruel. After many humiliations and a few triumphs, he ultimately finds his way as a world-touring pianist, a MacArthur genius, and a frequent performer at Carnegie Hall. But under all this struggle is a love letter to the act of teaching. Denk dives deeply into the pieces and composers that have shaped him—Bach, Mozart, and Brahms, among others—and offers lessons on melody, harmony, and rhythm. How do melodies work? Why is harmony such a mystery to most people? Why are teachers so obsessed with the metronome? Denk shares the most meaningful lessons of his life, and tries to repay a debt to his teachers. He also reminds us that we must never stop asking questions about music and its purposes: consolation, an armor against disillusionment, pure pleasure, a diversion, a refuge, and a vehicle for empathy.

#3. Cypess, Rebecca. Women and musical salons in the Enlightenment (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2022). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2022-4905]

Abstract: A broad overview of musical salons between 1760 and 1800, placing the figure of the salonnière at its center. The author presents a series of in-depth case studies that meet the salonnière on her own terms. Women such as Anne-Louise Brillon de Jouy in Paris, Marianne von Martínez in Vienna, Sara Levy in Berlin, Angelica Kauffman in Rome, and Elizabeth Graeme in Philadelphia come to life in multidimensional ways. Crucially, the author uses performance as a tool for research, and her interpretations draw on her experience with the instruments and performance practices used in 18th-century salons. The book explores women’s agency and authorship, reason and sentiment, and the roles of performing, collecting, listening, and conversing in the formation of 18th-century musical life.

#2. Vela González, Marta. La jota, aragonesa y cosmopolita: De San Petersburgo a Nueva York (Zaragoza: Pregunta, 2022). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2022-14921]

Resumen: En este libro, la pianista, escritora y docente Marta Vela nos lleva tras los pasos de renombrados compositores (Liszt, Mahler, Debussy, Ravel, Satie?) que, a lo largo del siglo XIX, visitaron España, descubrieron la jota aragonesa y, fascinados, la integraron en sus obras, desde óperas hasta sinfonías, pasando por ballets y música de salón. Un libro lleno de curiosidades, erudición, anécdotas y hallazgos inéditos, narrado de forma amena y precisa.

Abstract: In this book, the pianist, writer, and teacher Marta Vela takes us in the footsteps of renowned composers (Liszt, Mahler, Debussy, Ravel, Satie?) who, throughout the 19th century, visited Spain, discovered the Aragonese jota and, fascinated, integrated it into their works, from operas to symphonies, including ballets and salon music. A book full of curiosities, erudition, anecdotes, and unpublished discoveries, narrated in a pleasant and precise way.

#1. Simon, Andrew. Media of the masses: Cassette culture in modern Egypt. Studies in Middle Eastern and Islamic societies and cultures (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2022). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2022-3929]

Abstract: Investigates the social life of an everyday technology—the cassette tape—to offer a multisensory history of modern Egypt. Over the 1970s and 1980s, cassettes became a ubiquitous presence in Egyptian homes and stores. Audiocassette technology gave an opening to ordinary individuals, from singers to smugglers, to challenge state-controlled Egyptian media. Enabling an unprecedented number of people to participate in the creation of culture and circulation of content, cassette players and tapes soon informed broader cultural, political, and economic developments and defined modern Egyptian households. Drawing on a wide array of audio, visual, and textual sources that exist outside the Egyptian national archives, it provides a new entry point into understanding everyday life and culture. Cassettes and cassette players did not simply join other 20th century mass media, like records and radio; they were the media of the masses. Comprised of little more than magnetic reels in plastic cases, cassettes empowered cultural consumers to become cultural producers long before the advent of the Internet. Positioned at the productive crossroads of social history, cultural anthropology, and media and sound studies, it ultimately shows how the most ordinary things may yield the most surprising insights.

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Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Africa, Baroque era, Musicology, North America, Pedagogy, Popular music, Romantic era, South America, Therapy

Instant Classics: RILM’s Top 10 Most Reviewed Texts, 2017–19

Reviews serve many valuable functions in music scholarship, from sparking critical discourse, to revealing topics of interest at a particular historical moment, to providing summaries and assessments for further inquiries, to shining a light on superlative (or, in some cases, substandard) research. Reviews collect and constitute interpretive communities, which arguably play a role in constructing the very meaning of a text.

In recognition of the importance of reviews, RILM inaugurates its Instant Classics series—a collection of the ten most-reviewed monographs indexed in the extensive international holdings of RILM Abstracts of Music Literature. The current list of books spans the two-year period from 2017 to 2019 and is ordered from least to most reviewed. Since it takes some time for texts to be assessed and reviews to be released, going back a few years provides a fuller and more accurate picture of a book in review.

This list is inherently limited, dynamic, and subject to continuous revision as more reviews potentially accrue for these and other texts. What we offer here is merely an inchoate snapshot, one that reflects the biases and areas of interest in music research at a specific time and place in history. With that in mind, it is also more than simply another “Top Ten” list, as it may hold a degree of historiographic value.

And finally, an important reminder: We need your help! RILM always welcomes your reviews or reviews of your publications. Notice an omission? Help us fill in our gaps by submitting your review.

– Compiled and edited by Michael Lupo, Assistant Editor and Marketing Coordinator, RILM


#10. Wheeler, Barbara L., Donna W. Polen, and Carol L. Shultis. Clinical training guide for the student music therapist (2nd ed., rev.; Dallas: Barcelona, 2017). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2017-43779]

Abstract: Covers planning, assessment, goals and objectives, improvisation, composing, listening, individual and group work, documentation, and self-assessment.

#9. Borge, Jason R. Tropical riffs: Latin America and the politics of jazz (Durham: Duke University Press, 2018). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2018-1970]

Abstract: This book traces how jazz helped forge modern identities and national imaginaries in Latin America during the mid-20th century. Across Latin America jazz functioned as a conduit through which debates about race, sexuality, nation, technology, and modernity raged in newspapers, magazines, literature, and film. For Latin American audiences, critics, and intellectuals—who often understood jazz to stem from social conditions similar to their own—the profound penetration into the fabric of everyday life of musicians like Duke Ellington, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Parker represented the promises of modernity while simultaneously posing a threat to local and national identities. Brazilian anti-jazz rhetoric branded jazz as a problematic challenge to samba and emblematic of Americanization. In Argentina, jazz catalyzed discussions about musical authenticity, race, and national culture, especially in relation to tango. And in Cuba, the widespread popularity of Chano Pozo and Dámaso Pérez Prado challenged the United States’s monopoly on jazz. Outlining these hemispheric flows of ideas, bodies, and music, this book elucidates how the art form was, and remains, a transnational project and a collective idea.

#8. Chua, Daniel K.L. Beethoven & freedom (New York: Oxford University Press, 2017) [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2017-28046]

Abstract: Over the last two centuries, Beethoven’s music has been synonymous with the idea of freedom, in particular a freedom embodied in the heroic figure of Prometheus. This image arises from a relatively small circle of heroic works from the composer’s middle period, most notably the Eroica symphony. However, the freedom associated with the Promethean hero has also come under considerable critique by philosophers, theologians, and political theorists; its promise of autonomy easily inverts into various forms of authoritarianism, and the sovereign will it champions is not merely a liberating force but a discriminatory one. Beethoven’s freedom, then, appears to be increasingly problematic; yet his music is still employed today to mark political events from the fall of the Berlin Wall to the attacks of 9/11. Even more problematic, perhaps, is the fact that this freedom has shaped the reception of Beethoven’s music to such an extent that we forget that there is another kind of music in his oeuvre that is not heroic, a music that opens the possibility of a freedom yet to be articulated or defined. By exploring the musical philosophy of Theodor W. Adorno through a wide range of the composer’s music, this book arrives at a markedly different vision of freedom. The author suggests that a more human and fragile concept of freedom can be found in the music that has less to do with the autonomy of the will and its stoical corollary than with questions of human relation, donation, and a yielding to radical alterity. This work makes a major and controversial statement by challenging the current image of Beethoven, and by suggesting an alterior freedom that can speak ethically to the 21st century.

#7. Talle, Andrew. Beyond Bach: Music and everyday life in the eighteenth century (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2017). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2017-24136]

Abstract: Reverence for J.S. Bach’s music and its towering presence in our cultural memory have long affected how people hear his works. In his own time, however, Bach stood as just another figure among a number of composers, many of them more popular with the music-loving public. Eschewing the great composer style of music history, the book takes us on a journey that looks at how ordinary people made music in Bach’s Germany. The author focuses in particular on the culture of keyboard playing as lived in public and private. Ranging through a wealth of documents, instruments, diaries, account ledgers, and works of art, he brings a fascinating cast of characters to life. These individuals—amateur and professional performers, patrons, instrument builders, and listeners—inhabited a lost world, and this book teases out the diverse roles music played in their lives and in their relationships with one another. At the same time, the author’s nuanced recreation of keyboard playing’s social milieu illuminates the era’s reception of Bach’s immortal works. An excerpt is abstracted as RILM 2018-7846.

#6. Watt, Paul. Ernest Newman: A critical biography. Music in Britain, 1600–2000 (Woodbridge: Boydell Press, 2017). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2017-24973]

Abstract: Ernest Newman (1868–1959) left an indelible mark on British musical criticism in a career spanning more than 70 years. His magisterial (a reprint of which is cited as RILM 1976-2951), published in four volumes between 1933 and 1946, is regarded as his crowning achievement, but Newman wrote many other influential books and essays on a variety of subjects ranging from early music to Schoenberg. In this book, the geneses of Newman’s major publications are examined in the context of prevailing intellectual trends in history, criticism, and biography. Newman’s career as a writer is traced across a wide range of subjects including English and French literature; evolutionary theory and biographical method; and French, German, and Russian music. Underpinning many of these works is Newman’s preoccupation with rationalism and historical method. By examining particular sets of writings such as composer-biographies and essays from leading newspapers such as the and the Manchester guardian and the Sunday times, this book illustrates the ways in which Newman’s work was grounded in late–19th-century intellectual paradigms that made him a unique and at times controversial figure.

#5. García, David F. Listening for Africa: Freedom, modernity, and the logic of Black music’s African origins (Durham: Duke University Press, 2017) [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2017-38670]

Abstract: Explores how a diverse group of musicians, dancers, academics, and activists engaged with the idea of Black music and dance’s African origins between the 1930s and 1950s. The author examines the work of figures ranging from Melville J. Herskovits, Katherine Dunham, and Asadata Dafora to Duke Ellington, Dámaso Pérez Prado, and others who believed that linking Black music and dance with Africa and nature would help realize modernity’s promises of freedom in the face of fascism and racism in Europe and the Americas, colonialism in Africa, and the nuclear threat at the start of the Cold War. In analyzing their work, the author traces how such attempts to link Black music and dance to Africa unintentionally reinforced the binary relationships between the West and Africa, white and black, the modern and the primitive, science and magic, and rural and urban. Counter to the movement’s goals, it was modernity’s determinations of unraced, heteronormative, and productive bodies, and of scientific truth, that helped defer the realization of individual and political freedom in the world.

#4. Tunbridge, Laura. Singing in the age of anxiety: Lieder performances in New York and London between the World Wars (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2018-4190]

Abstract: In New York and London during World War I, the performance of lieder was roundly prohibited, representing as they did the music and language of the enemy. But as German musicians returned to the transatlantic circuit in the 1920s, so too did the lieder of Schubert, Wolf, and Strauss. Lieder were encountered in a variety of venues and media—at luxury hotels and on ocean liners, in vaudeville productions and at Carnegie Hall, and on gramophone recordings, radio broadcasts, and films. The renewed vitality of this refugee musical form between the World Wars is examined here, offering a fresh perspective on a period that was pervaded by anxieties of displacement. Through richly varied case studies, it traces how lieder were circulated, presented, and consumed in metropolitan contexts, shedding new light on how music facilitated unlikely crossings of nationalist and internationalist ideologies during the interwar period.

#3. Eidsheim, Nina Sun. The race of sound: Listening, timbre, and vocality in African American music. Refiguring American music (Durham: Duke University Press, 2019). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2019-7187]

Abstract: Traces the ways in which sonic attributes that might seem natural, such as the voice and its qualities, are socially produced. The author illustrates how listeners measure race through sound and locate racial subjectivities in vocal timbre—the color or tone of a voice. The author examines singers Marian Anderson, Billie Holiday, and Jimmy Scott as well as the vocal synthesis technology Vocaloid to show how listeners carry a series of assumptions about the nature of the voice and to whom it belongs. Outlining how the voice is linked to ideas of racial essentialism and authenticity, the author untangles the relationship between race, gender, vocal technique, and timbre while addressing an under-theorized space of racial and ethnic performance. In so doing, she advances our knowledge of the cultural-historical formation of the timbral politics of difference and the ways that comprehending voice remains central to understanding human experience, all the while advocating for a form of listening that would allow us to hear singers in a self-reflexive, denaturalized way.

#2. Kreuzer, Gundula. Curtain, gong, steam: Wagnerian technologies of nineteenth-century opera (Oakland: University of California Press, 2018). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2018-5417]

Abstract: Argues for the foundational role of technologies in the conception, production, and study of 19th-century opera. The author shows how composers increasingly incorporated novel audiovisual effects in their works and how the uses and meanings of the required apparatuses changed through the 20th century, sometimes still resonating in stagings, performance art, and popular culture today. Focusing on devices (which she dubs “Wagnerian technologies”) intended to amalgamate opera’s various media while veiling their mechanics, the author offers a practical counternarrative to Wagner’s idealist theories of total illusionism. At the same time, the book’s multifaceted exploration of the three titular technologies repositions Wagner as catalyst more than inventor in the history of operatic production. With its broad chronological and geographical scope, this book deepens our understanding of the material and mechanical conditions of historical operatic practice as well as of individual works, both well known and obscure.

#1. Iverson, Jennifer. Electronic inspirations: Technologies of the Cold War musical avant-garde. New cultural history of music (New York: Oxford University Press, 2019). [RILM Abstracts of Music Literature, 2019-1204]

Abstract: For a decimated post-War West Germany, the electronic music studio at the WDR radio station in Cologne was a beacon of hope. This book traces the reclamation and repurposing of wartime machines, spaces, and discourses into the new sounds of the mid-century studio. In the 1950s, when technologies were plentiful and the need for reconstruction was great, West Germany began to rebuild its cultural prestige via aesthetic and technical advances. The studio’s composers, collaborating with scientists and technicians, coaxed music from sine-tone oscillators, noise generators, band-pass filters, and magnetic tape. Together, they applied core tenets from information theory and phonetics, reclaiming military communication technologies as well as fascist propaganda broadcasting spaces. The electronic studio nurtured a revolutionary synthesis of science, technology, politics, and aesthetics. Its esoteric sounds transformed mid-century music and continue to reverberate today. Electronic music—echoing both cultural anxiety and promise—is a quintessential Cold War innovation.


Filed under 20th- and 21st-century music, Acoustics, Africa, Analysis, Baroque era, Classic era, Jazz and blues, Musicology, Opera, Opera, Politics, Popular music, Romantic era, Therapy

King Saul’s music therapy

The course of King Saul’s music therapy with the young shepherd David, as told in 1 Samuel, 16 and 18, exactly corresponds to the current state of psychotherapeutical knowledge, which holds that the quality of the relationship ultimately determines whether therapy succeeds or fails.

On the assumption that Saul’s affliction was the manifestation of an early, preverbal trauma (in today’s psychopathological terminology, a depressive breakdown in the context of a personality structure with damaged self-esteem), the initial therapeutic success is attributed primarily to the positive transference between therapist and patient, and only secondarily to David’s music-making. It follows logically that this therapy takes a malign course at the point when Saul’s positive transference becomes negative.

This according to “Heilung durch Musik? Der biblische Mythos von David und Saul als klinische Fallstudie” by Dagmar Hoffmann-Axthelm, an essay included in Rhythmus und Heilung: Transzendierende Kräfte in Wort, Musik und Bewegung (Münster: Lit Verlag, 2005, pp. 83–92).

Above, Rembrant’s depiction of the episode; below, Händel imagines David’s therpeutic harp playing in Saul, HWV 53.

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Filed under Antiquity, Curiosities, Therapy

Tango and therapy


Recent research suggests that tango dancing may be an effective strategy for influencing symptoms related to mood disorders.

In one study, 41 participants were randomized to tango dancing for 1.5 hours, four times per week for two weeks, or to a wait-list control condition. Self-rated symptoms of depression, anxiety, stress, insomnia, self-efficacy, satisfaction with life, and mindfulness were assessed at pretest, posttest, and one month later. The tango group participants showed significant reductions in depression, anxiety, stress, and insomnia at posttest relative to the controls, whereas satisfaction with life and self-efficacy were significantly increased. At a one-month follow-up, depression, anxiety, and stress levels remained reduced relative to the wait-list controls.

In another study, 22 tango dancers were assessed within four conditions in which the presence of music and a dance partner while dancing were varied in a 2 x 2 design. Before each condition and five minutes thereafter, participants provided salivary samples for analysis of cortisol and testosterone concentrations and completed the Positive and Negative Affect Schedule. The data suggest that motion with a partner to music has more positive effects on emotional state than motion without music or without a partner. Moreover, decreases of cortisol concentrations were found with the presence of music, whereas increases of testosterone levels were associated with the presence of a partner.

This according to “Intensive tango dance program for people with self-referred affective symptoms” by Rosa Pinniger et al. (Music and medicine: An interdisciplinary journal V/I [January 2013] pp. 15–22) and “Emotional and neurohumoral responses to dancing tango argentino: The effects of music and partner” by Cynthia Quiroga Murcia (Music and medicine: An interdisciplinary journal I/1 [July 2009] pp. 14–21), respectively.

Below, Tina Frühauf provides a testimonial.

BONUS: A translation of lyrics of the song in the video:

Think it over
before taking that step
that perhaps tomorrow
you may not go back.

Think it over.
I have loved you so much
and you have sent me into the past
perhaps for another love.

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Wrocławska Muzykoterapia


In 2014 Akademia Muzyczna im. Karola Lipińskiego in Wrocław launched the series Wrocławska Muzykoterapia with Muzykoterapia: Stałość i zmiana (Music therapy: Stability and change), edited by Paweł Cylulko and Joanna Gładyszewska-Cylulko.

This inaugural volume presents papers read at the VII Międzynarodowe Forum Muzykoterapeutów (International Forum of Music Therapists), which was held from 23 to  25 April 2010 at the Akademia Muzyczna im. Karola Lipińskiego.

The series is addressed to music therapists, music therapy students, and professionals in other fields who want to expand the scope of their knowledge and skills. It hopes to inspire studies that would deepen and broaden the discipline as well as contribute to therapeutical practice in Poland.

Below, the Polish band Muzykoterapia may or may not figure in future books in the series.

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