Jake Jabs Event Center
11:00 AM: Registration opens
Opening Remarks: 11:45 AM – 12:15 PM
1. Black Women's Activism
12:20: Charity Lofthouse and Eliyah Roberts, "Oh, Maker: Formal Ambiguity and Intersectionality in the Music of Janelle Monáe"
12:40: Gayle Wald, “This is Rhythm: The Musical Life and Radical Vision of Ella Jenkins, the First Lady of Children’s Music”
1:00: Audrey Slote, “Nicole Mitchell’s Mandorla Awakening II and the Sounds of Black Utopian Social Theory”
1:20: Monica Hershberger, “Subverting ‘Mammy’: Soprano Dorothy Maynor at the Hampton Institute in the 1920s and 1930s”
1:40: Megan Lyons, “Reclaiming Narratives and Reinventing Sounds: Celisse Henderson's Empowering Rendition of Joni Mitchell's ‘Help Me’”
2:00: George Adams, “An Ecology of Forms in Janelle Monáe’s ‘Say Her Name (Hell You Talmbout)’”
2:20: Marc Hannaford, “The Music Theory of Undine Smith Moore”
2. Theorizing Jazz & Hip Hop
12:20: Jennifer Messelink, “Duke Ellington’s Theorizing of Blue(s) Moods”
12:40: Mark Lomanno, “‘The Water is Wide’: The Oceanic Consciousness of Charles Lloyd’s Global Jazz Kin Ships”
1:00: Peter McMurray, “Beatmaking as Music Theory: Marley Marl, Golden Age Hip Hop and Vernacular (Meta)theory”
1:20: Kjell Andreas Oddekalv, “The Norwegian Emcee/scholar-Theorising Rap Flow the Outside and Inside”
1:40: Varun Chandrasekhar, “Jazz Interactions: Groups in Fusion and Groups in Metastasis”
2:00: Jacob P. Cupps, “Form as Flow (Layering) and Rupture in Underground Hip-Hop”
2:20: Ashley Martin, “The Message is Living
A Sessions, continued
3. Innovations in Art Music
3:00: Maeve Nagel-Frazel, “Educating for Change: Washington Conservatory Alumni in Black American Musical Life”
3:20: Jennifer Salamone, “Then, Now, and How: Considering the Pathways of Three Spirituals”
3:40: Sam Falotico, “Cadence, Harmony, and the ‘Pentatonic Leading-Tone’ in Harry T. Burleigh’s Spiritual Arrangement”
4:00: Sasha Doster, “Wagner in Harlem: Afro-Wagnerism in Early Twentieth Century Black Thought and Black Opera”
4:20: Joseph Vaz, “Rhythmic Counterpoint in ‘Heat-Seeking Missile’ by Ed Bland”
4:40: Benjamin Dobbs, “The Signifyin(g) Scherzo: Allusive and Elusive Formal Processes in the Finale of Florence Price’s Piano Sonata in E Minor”
B Sessions, continued
4. Negotiating the Commercial Marketplace
3:00: Clifton Boyd, “Black Barbershop by Another Game: Gatekeeping and Genre in Close Harmony”
3:20: Emmalouise St. Amand, “‘A Gold Mine in Bobby Sox’: Annette Swinson and the Sonic Choreography of Black Girlhood”
3:40: Brad Osborn, “Black Audiovisual Expression in Three 1991 Music Videos”
4:00: Hannah Strong, “Megan Thee Stallion and Plan B: Weaponizing Birth Control in Support of Bodily Autonomy”
4:20: Jeremy Orosz, “‘Take It to the Bridge’: Formal Function and Terminology in R&B Practice”
4:40: Noah Kahrs, “One-Note Passages and Genre Signifiers in Ambrose Akinmusire’s ‘Americana’”
5:10 pm Keynote, Fredara Hadley
Fredara Mareva Hadley, Ph.D., is an ethnomusicology professor at The Juilliard School of Music in the Music History Department. Hadley teaches courses on jazz history, African American music, and ethnomusicology, and her research centers on the diverse musical legacies and impact of Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Her publications include the ICTM Yearbook and Journal of Popular Music Studies as well as outlets including The Washington Post and Billboard. She's presented her research at academic conferences both domestically and abroad. Hadley’s other area of research focuses on Shirley Graham DuBois and the influence of musical pan-Africanism in her opera Tom Tom and her ongoing political engagement. Hadley earned her undergraduate and Masters degrees from Florida A&M University and Clark-Atlanta University, respectively, and her Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from Indiana University. Her forthcoming book is a survey of the musics that HBCU campuses nurture and the broader cultural impact of those musics. (Sponsored by Oberlin Conservatory)
(Alphabetized by author last name)
In this paper, I conduct a formal analysis of Janelle Monáe’s 2021 single “Say Her Name (Hell You Talmbout).” The analysis begins with the song’s lengthy and repetitive musical form, but expands outward to encompass the many other social forms that surround the work and that have guided revisions of the song from 2013 to 2021. These other forms include: a network of musical artists, performers, scholars, and activists whose voices appear on the recording; Kimberlé Crenshaw’s “Say Her Name” awareness campaign after which the song is titled; the composition of time and space for public grief at the heart of Crenshaw’s project; the network of Black women whose lives were taken by police in the US, and whose names constitute a majority of the song’s text. Following the work of literary theorists Caroline Levine, Anna Kornbluh, and Devin Griffiths—in addition to Crenshaw’s notion of intersectionality—I take a relational approach to music analysis that holds these many forms not as external to the song, but rather as integral parts of the music and its performance. What’s more, intersectionality as an analytic focused on structure helps to reveal the ways in which power materializes in musical form, and how the power of musical form materializes in the social world. I suggest that this expanded view of form can open up opportunities in the analysis of popular and protest music to explore how music mediates and produces social organization, and how the many forms that exist around music can intersect and integrate to produce powerful musical forms.
George Adams is Assistant Professor of Music Theory in the School of Music at the University of Florida, where he teaches courses in theory and analysis, aural skills, and pedagogy. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago in 2019, where he was the Lindsay Family Postdoctoral Teaching Fellow; he has also advised research projects across the humanities and social sciences as part of the Mellon Mays Undergraduate Fellowship program in Chicago. His research interests include form, sound, and American experimental and popular music.
In 1949, amateur barbershop historian Deac Martin shared his opinion on the boundaries of the barbershop style: “I like the harmony of the Andrews Sisters, DiMarco Sisters, Mills Brothers, and the Ink Spots, but it is not ‘barbershop,’ even though it is ‘close harmony.’” While Martin may have believed that his opinion was based solely on the musical arrangements sung by these vocal quartets, gender and race certainly played a role—it is no coincidence that these ensembles deviated from the so-called “standard” make-up of four white men. Here, I am most concerned with the Mills Brothers and Ink Spots, African-American vocal quartets active in the mid-twentieth century with undeniable roots in the barbershop tradition (Averill 2003, Goosman 2005), though they are more often associated with pop, jazz, and doo-wop. In this paper I explore the complex social and institutional forces that pushed these Black quartets to the outskirts of the barbershop genre. After briefly reviewing the history of Black barbershop singing in the early twentieth century, I analyze works such as the Mills Brothers’ Famous Barber Shop Ballads (1946; 1949) to demonstrate that the output of these mid-century Black vocal quartets often did, in fact, lie within the stylistic constraints Martin professed. Nonetheless, some white barbershoppers perpetuated the idea that Black quartets were only capable of producing “Black musics.” I close by reflecting on how this stylistic gatekeeping ultimately did not impact the commercial success of these quartets, though it did shape the segregated historiography of the barbershop style.
Clifton Boyd is Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at New York University, where he will transition into his role as Assistant Professor of Music in 2024. His research explores themes of (racial) identity, politics, and social justice in twentieth- and twenty-first-century American popular music. His book project, Racial Dissonance: Echoes of Jim Crow in American Barbershop Harmony, demonstrates how nostalgia-fueled efforts toward musical and cultural preservation can perpetuate racial injustice. Combining critical race studies and music theory, this work furnishes new understandings of whiteness, barbershop as a racialized musical practice, and vernacular music theory.
In this paper, I argue that improvisational interactions in jazz are best explicated through Sartre’s (1984) existential critique of the Marxist teleology of history. Unlike Marx, who viewed communism as the unavoidable resolution to the contradictions contained in capitalism, Sartre believed liberation would only arrive through like-minded revolutionaries forming politically oriented collectives. Sartre’s existential theories unfold over two processes that are dialectically linked. First, Sartre argues that groups-in-fusion form over shared frustrations due to the current oppressive zeitgeist. During this period, singular “I”s merge into a collective “us,” that bond over parallel disillusionments. However, to Sartre, these collectives are still subject to the frustrations of interpersonal relationships that underpin Sartre’s theories of the Other. Due to these antagonisms, collectives become groups-in-metastasis where individuals rebel against the newly institutionalized systems that were supposed to bring liberation. This transformation catalyzes the formation of new groups-in-fusion, creating a “circular synthesis of disorder of order and order of disorder” (1984, 272).
I apply these terms to jazz improvisation through a reading of the interactions in Wes Montgomery and the Wynton Kelly Trio’s performance of “No Blues.” Specifically, I read Sartre’s dialectic into how individual members of the band will independently pick up gestures (groups-in-fusion) until certain members find the communal utterances stale (groups-in-metastasis) and begin new ideas (groups-in-fusion). Within my existential framing of these issues, I expand on Iyer’s (2019) critique of jazz studies' overly idealistic view of improvisation to capture the way jazz musicians explicate jazz’s frustrations with the difficulty of revolution.
Varun's research, building on his history as a guitarist, focuses on the existential condition of the jazz musician. Heeding Sartre's mantra that "existence precedes essence," Varun wonders how starting with the complex, racially marked, urban reality of the jazz musician can guide our understanding of the music. In simpler terms, how does the fact that the jazz musician is thrown into the world influence our musical intuitions, and are these properties then theoretically quantifiable? In his free time, Varun can often be found watching basketball or blundering pieces in online chess. Additionally, although not verifiable, Varun believes he has the most popular tweet about music theory of all time.
In this presentation, I observe an epistemology shared between the literature on hip-hop form and the new Formenlehre tradition. In both cases, the theorist acts as a partitioner, intaking fixed musical objects and parsing them based on simple, taxonomic models, then letting the outlier examples arise as sites of analytic intrigue. I contrast this with an epistemology of the hip-hop practitioner: how, by using Tricia Rose’s adaptive, culture-theoretic terminology of flow, layering, and rupture (1994), an analyst can re-contextualize hip-hop’s musical elements alongside its visual and embodied culture. I contend that because hip-hop is embedded in these Black cultural contexts, music theory should question partitioning as its epistemological default, especially when approaching formal analysis. I then turn to US hip-hop’s underground as a site that challenges traditional approaches to form and thus offers an entry point for considering Rose’s terminology. Conceptualizing flow, layering, and rupture as musical phenomena, I detail a recurring process in underground hip-hop: how—in all musical layers, along multiple time-spans—states of flow arise through musical continuity then give way to periods of rupture that alter and therefore disrupt this continuity. To demonstrate the viability of this flow-to-rupture formal process, I perform a comparative analysis of the track “where’ing those flowers” by the duo Nostrum Grocers. I show how, for instance, Ben Duinker’s song-formal categories (2020) force choices about where to partition the song’s form, thereby obscuring sample- and section-level processes of flow, layering, and rupture that inform the song’s construction.
Jacob P. Cupps is a second-year PhD Student in music theory at Washington University in St. Louis. Jacob researches underground cultural formations in contemporary US hip-hop with a particular emphasis on music production and aesthetics. Focusing on musicians associated with Backwoodz Studioz, Mello Music Group, and Ruby Yacht, their work blends ethnography and music theory to develop a vocabulary for the musical techniques rappers and producers use to construct underground identities.
Florence Price’s Piano Sonata in E Minor culminates in a rhapsodic finale of driving themes and playful misdirection. For the listener expecting late Romantic formal paradigms, the movement presents a paradox. As a third movement, “Scherzo”
suggests ternary form, but its placement as a finale suggests sonata, rondo, or sonata-rondo form. The opening ABA cycle fits both molds; however, the emergence of theme C begins to suggest sonata-rondo. Matters are further complicated when, rather
than returning to the opening theme following C, Price introduces another new theme. Through the remainder of the movement, the listener gradually realizes that it is both a ternary form and a subsequent seven-part rondo. This process of progressive
formal feinting plays a rhetorical prank upon the listener best understood through the Black literary-critical framework of Signifyin(g). Henry Louis Gates Jr. (1988) describes Signifyin(g) as the Black trope-of-tropes comprising rhetorical games
centered on trickery and indirection that create discursive undecidability. Samuel Floyd (1991), Horace Maxile (2002; 2008), Christopher Jenkins (2019), and Samantha Ege (2020) show that the framework of Signifyin(g) is central to many Black musics,
and that Signifyin(g) reveals a cultural and musical complexity that eludes “Euro/Western”-centric analytical tools. In this presentation, I analyze the mechanisms of Signifyin(g) that Price employs. Ultimately, I show that Price Signifies
on the listener through rhetorical games that necessitate continuous formal revision in which a seven-part rondo craftily emerges out of a ternary form, and a hidden fourth movement reveals itself to listeners conversant in the art of Signifyin(g).
Benjamin Dobbs is Assistant Professor of Music Theory and Coordinator of Music Theory and Composition at Furman University. His research explores the development of music and musical thought during the Protestant Reformation in Middle and North Germany and includes analytical methods for sixteenth- and seventeenth-century repertoires, the emergence of harmonic theory and its integration with contrapuntal practice and composition pedagogy, and the impact of the Thirty Years’ War on European musical cultures. Benjamin also studies the efficacy of teaching practices in music theory classes and the correlations among those practices and students’ perceptions of mindset, rapport, and belonging.
In the early twentieth century, the intelligentsia of the New Negro Movement developed an affinity for the German composer Richard Wagner. W.E.B. Du Bois, Alain Locke, and Langston Hughes saw an opportunity for racial legitimization and uplift through the arts looking specifically towards Wagner's musical politics. Additionally, in Black classical music circles, Wagner represented the highest standard of music. For highly educated and affluent Black Americans, the respectability associated with German art music was seen as a way to confront the racism of white people because it exemplified the qualities of poise, intelligence, and nationalism; German music demonstrated the ideals of good musical “taste.” Similarly, Wagner saw music as a vital force for the creation and unity of a nation. Black opera composer H. Lawrence Freeman sought to live up to this legacy. By incorporating Black musical idioms, a Black cast, and African-diasporic librettos, Freeman furthered his agenda by intertwining Wagner’s ideals with Black culture and aesthetics. In this paper, I explore Wagner’s idea of the Volk from Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft (1849), where ""the people are the original poet and artist, and they will resume that identity as the artist of the future” in the social and political conscious of the New Negro Movement. I unearth the connection between Wagner, the Volk, and the New Negro Movement. I reveal how the operatic world of H. Lawrence Freeman (the “Colored Wagner”) furthered these lines of thinking into the musical realm, forging a new aesthetic category which Samuel Dwinell terms “Afro-Wagnerism.” I combine these concepts to analyze the use of Wagner in African Americans' campaign for racial uplift as a strategy to solidify their new place in society.
Sasha Doster is a first-year PhD student in Historical Musicology from Columbia, South Carolina. Her primary research interest revolves around expressions of Blackness, specifically in classical music during the early 20th century, anthropology, historiography, Black literary thought, Womanism, public history, and museum curation. Her most recent research project focused on the Harlem Renaissance composer H. Lawrence Freeman, how his operatic universe and musical/historical philosophies fit into the larger picture of Black racial uplift during the early 20th century and respectability politics involved in early Black opera. Sasha hopes to branch outside of academia and extend her research into the public history sector through museum curation, and archival practices. Outside of musicology, she finds joy in traveling, anime and deems herself an ice cream expert.
Jeremy Day-O’Connell (2009) theorized the “plagal leading-tone,” where ^6 moves directly to ^1, as a favored cadential device of Claude Debussy. O’Connell describes it as “plagal” because of its harmonization in the context of a plagal cadence, and “leading tone” because of its upwards resolution to the tonic note. In my paper, I theorize the pentatonic leading-tone, as exemplified in Harry T. Burleigh’s Plantation Melodies Old and New and Negro Spirituals, Albums 1 and 2. Although conceptually similar to O’Connell’s plagal leading-tone, as ^6 moves up to ^1, my pentatonic leading-tone differs in that ^6–^1 is not necessarily harmonized with a plagal cadence. Like much of Debussy’s music, the melodies of Burleigh’s Plantation Melodies and Negro Spirituals are also dominated by pentatonicism. In these collections, Burleigh did not compose any of the melodies—as they are arrangements of African American spirituals—but he did harmonize them. While Burleigh typically harmonizes ^2–^1 and ^5–^1 melodies with dominant-tonic cadences, his harmonizations of the plagal leading-tone are flexible. Burleigh most commonly harmonizes it in one of three ways: 1) as a plagal cadence, 2) as a predominant harmony, and 3) as the ninth of a dominant V7 chord. As I shall show, the metric placement of ^6 in the original spiritual melody is significant to how it is harmonized. Through such means, I not only give insight into Burleigh’s compositional thought, but also discuss the relationship between cadence and meter more broadly.
Sam Falotico is a first-year Ph.D. student and Sproull Fellow in music theory at the Eastman School of Music. He has broad research interests centering around the theory and analysis of jazz, many of which overlap and interact with one another: form and structure; song and vocalese; the music of Hiromi; metaphor and musical meaning; transcription; and theories of rhythm, meter, and groove. He has secondary interests in chromatic harmony, the music of Harry T. Burleigh, jazz-classical hybridity, and music theory pedagogy. Sam has presented his research at numerous conferences, including most recently MTSNYS, MTSMA, and various graduate student conferences.
Undine Smith Moore’s work as a composer has only just begun to receive the scholarly attention it deserves, thanks in part to publications by David Baker, Lida M. Belt, and Herman C. Hudson (1978), Helen Walker-Hill (2002), Philip Brunelle (2004), and Tammy Kernodle (2020). Smith Moore also taught music theory for over fifty years, first in 1927 at Virginia State College (now Virginia State University) and continuing with positions at Virginia Union University, St Benedict’s College, and Carleton College in the 1970s. This paper draws on my extensive work in Smith Moore’s archive to share some of her evolving thoughts on the relationship between music theory, education, race, gender, and American social life and politics. Her writings consider theory in relation to music analysis, history, pedagogy, and performance, while also connecting these discussions to race, gender, and their intersection. Smith Moore’s most expansive reflections situate music theory within a politics of Black education that emerged out of emancipation and found contemporaneous expressions in the formation of Black Studies departments in the 1970s. I share how Smith Moore synthesized work by W. E. B. Du Bois, John W. Work, Amiri Baraka, Eileen Southern, among others, as well numerous contemporaneous texts on pedagogy and education, to fashion a view of music theory directed toward greater freedom and recognition for Black Americans. This research expands Smith Moore’s influence to provide a deeper historical portrait of her work and productively contribute to contemporary issues regarding diversity and equity in music studies."
Marc Hannaford is a music theorist who thinks about performance, identity, and improvisation. His publications appear or are forthcoming in Theory & Practice, Music Theory Spectrum, Music Theory Online, The Journal of the Society for American Music, The Oxford Handbook of Public Music Theory, Women & Music, and Sound American. He is also cofounder of the Engaged Music Theory Working Group, which works toward greater justice and equity in the field of music theory. He is an improvising pianist, composer, and electronic musician who has performed and/or recorded with Tim Berne, Ingrid Laubrock, Tom Rainey, Tony Malaby, and William Parker.
In 1953, soprano Dorothy Maynor (1910–1996) sang the National Anthem at the Inauguration of US President Dwight D. Eisenhower. At the next two inaugurations—of Eisenhower in 1957 and John F. Kennedy in 1961—Marian Anderson (1897–1993) sang the anthem. Thus for a decade in the middle of the twentieth century, the voices of Black women heralded one of the United States’s most venerated political institutions. In this talk, I show how Maynor, who studied at the Hampton Institute in Hampton, Virginia for nine years, learned to subvert the institute's longstanding mission, such that she could become the first Black person to sing the National Anthem at a presidential inauguration. Maynor began studying at Hampton in 1924. Her plan, in keeping with Hampton’s approach to the education of Black women, was to become a home economics teacher. Yet when Robert Nathaniel Dett (1882–1943), the famed director of the Hampton Choir, heard Maynor’s voice, he encouraged her to change her major from home economics to music. On May 21, 1933, Maynor gave her senior voice recital. Her program featured arias, art songs, and spirituals, including Dett’s “Sit Down, Servant, Sit Down,” in which Dett took on the pernicious stereotype of the “mammy.” Drawing on archival materials from Hampton and the R. Nathaniel Dett Collection at the Eastman School of Music, I highlight the significance of Maynor singing this song at Hampton, as she resisted becoming a “mammy” and instead, embarked on a career as professional singer.
Monica A. Hershberger earned her PhD in musicology from Harvard University in 2017. Her research interests include the history of opera in the US, women in opera, and the history of musical institutions in the US. Monica's first book, Women in American Operas of the 1950s: Undoing Gendered Archetypes, was published by the University of Rochester Press in 2023. Monica is currently Assistant Professor of Music at Lehigh University.
In trumpeter Ambrose Akinmusire’s 2018 Origami Harvest, every track straddles genre boundaries. Akinmusire combines his jazz quartet with both a rapper and a string quartet, the liner notes name the genres involved, and the album’s critical reception lauds his defiance of genres’ normal separations. This paper demonstrates how one track’s recurring motif—repeated single notes in “Americana / the garden waits for you to match her wilderness”—evokes passages by contemporaneous American composers from different stylistic contexts, constituting a microcosm of the album’s stylistic range. Surface features distinguish Akinmusire’s one-note moments as referencing different genres’ norms. Single notes repeated on their own evoke synth-based popular music, whereas instruments piling atop one another echo mid-century modernism and its new-music legacy. Some passages wedge outwards in atonal fashion, and others afford tonal harmonization. Within the track, some one-note passages point towards each other by recurring at E-flat 4, whereas others point away by returning transposed; likewise, each of these features occurs with different instrumentations. Across “Americana”’s 11 minutes, Akinmusire unifies the initially separate genres. Whereas the classical quartet’s unisons and jazz instruments’ non-unisons at first cue each other to fade out, the rapper’s entrance effects their stylistic unification in the piece’s latter third, demonstrated by the quartet’s adoption of diatonic harmony. As one-note passages can take on numerous stylistic and formal roles across 20th- and 21st-century musics, my analysis provides a way into Akinmusire’s thick web of stylistic affiliations, positioning him among contemporaries such as clipping., Julius Eastman, and Pamela Z.
Noah Kahrs is a PhD Student in Music Theory at the Eastman School of Music. His dissertation reconsiders the relationship of compositional and scientific theories of pitch organization in a wide range of experimental musics. He has published in Music Theory Online, Tempo, and Mitteilungen der Paul Sacher Stiftung.
This paper analyzes multiplicity and intersectionality through the lens of formal ambiguity in selected songs of Janelle Monae and explores the ways such ambiguity serves as a means of expressing her intersectionality as a queer Black female from a working-class background. Existent analytical work on Monae’s music chiefly engages the political and personal meaning of her visual imagery and song lyrics, leaving unexplored the ways formal design and structural function communicate her reimagining of boundaries. Building on work by DeClercq, Spicer, and Attas, examples from Monae’s works exhibit formal blending alongside polystylism centered in Black genres. “Dance Apocalyptic” features an aabbc verse design and harmonic progression that obscures the boundary between its pre-chorus and chorus/refrain sections. “Electric Lady,” more conventional at first glance, extends its rap-break bridge section with a preview of the song’s dance outro, a joyful interpolation that both precedes and follows the final chorus. “Cold War” begins with a tonally underdetermined verse, destabilizes its extended second chorus with the verse’s chord progression, then after an instrumental solo section, disassembles the song’s frenetic energy with a series of melodic fragments. “Django Jane” minimizes formal articulation even more dramatically, using a single, loosely functional three-chord groove progression for the entire accumulative-form song. Ultimately, Monae’s formal choices may be situated within her futuristic, aspirational ideology of Black liberation, diversity within Blackness, and Black female empowerment.
Charity Lofthouse is Associate Professor of Music at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She has published articles on Dmitri Shostakovich’s symphonies and the film scores of Clint Eastwood, and presented papers and lectures on Shostakovich, Russian music, film music, and women composers at regional and national conferences across North America and Europe. She has previously taught at Baruch and Hunter Colleges and at Oberlin Conservatory, is a past president of the Music Theory Society of New York State and serves as secretary of the Society for Music Theory. Currently she is co-authoring a manuscript titled, Hitting the Right Notes: Composers and Directors in Sync, with Lester Friedman.
Eliyah Roberts is a music and theatre double major at Hobart and William Smith Colleges. She has appeared in numerous performances in both departments and is currently working on an original musical theatre piece centering on themes of Afrofuturism, coming of age, and science fiction.
Saxophonist Charles Lloyd describes his Sangam project with drummer Eric Harland and percussionist Zakair Hussein as a musical expression of “our rivers flow[ing] into the sea.” Lloyd’s Sangam imagines aquacentric community-building that defies geography and stretches the limits of cartographic science, riffing on Indian intellectual and spiritual traditions, and performing a transcendence of the physical world that reflects his own intercultural identity and his career as a musician who collaborates with musicians around the world. Bodies of/in/around water are a central theme of Lloyd’s life, including on albums like Fish Out of Water (1990), Water is Wide (2000), Rabo de nube (2008), and Trios: Ocean (2022). This presentation outlines how water imagery in Lloyd’s life and career functions as a conceptual and physical space to shelter, cleanse, commune, but also to wash away and destroy. I contextualize Lloyd’s Oceanic Consciousness with recent scholarship at the intersections of Black Studies (Gumbs 2020 and Sharpe 2016), environmental humanities (Cervenak 2021 and DeLoughrey 2019), and diasporic belonging (Figueroa-Vásquez 2020 and Lethabo King 2019). Additional examples of jazz musicians from both in the U.S. (Clayton 2017, Sands 2020, Smith 2014) and in South Africa (Ibrahim 1986 and Makhathini 2020) will further support the presentation’s thesis that the Oceanic Consciousness that informs Lloyd’s musical world-making is but one iteration of Black, Afrodiasporic, and Afro-indigenous jazz collectivities that continually model sustainable, ecologically aware, posthumanist approaches to kinship as countercultural spaces of belonging in defiance of exploitative and exclusionary settler-colonialism.
Mark Lomanno is an ethnomusicologist, jazz pianist, and faculty member at the University of Miami's Frost School of Music. Based geographically in the Afro-Atlantic world (especially the Canary Islands), Lomanno's ethnographic, performance, and scholarly work revolves around embodied performance practice, critical improvisation studies, and intercultural collaboration. A long-time collaborator with the International Institute for Critical Studies in Improvisation and the E.U.-based Rhythm Changes project, Lomanno is co-founder of the Jazz Studies Collaborative, the former chair of the Society for Ethnomusicology's Improvisation Section, and a former Consortium for Faculty Diversity and Mellon Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow at Swarthmore College.
On June 10, 2023, Celisse Henderson performed a cover of Joni Mitchell’s biggest hit “Help Me” as part of the Joni Jam at The Gorge. The original version by Mitchell features simple strumming patterns on the guitar, simple melodic lines, and is reminiscent of a damsel in distress. Mitchell originally saw the song as a throwaway, with her record company promoting and praising the song more than she did. Celisse’s cover sounds the exact opposite to Mitchell’s version: a grooving ostinato guitar riff, purposeful inflection of lilting melodies, and full of confidence. As a queer, black woman, Celisse herself is the opposite of Joni Mitchell, a straight white woman. Drawing upon the contrasting musical interpretations of the two artists, this paper investigates the impact of personal experiences and cultural identity on the reinterpretation of lyrics and musical elements. Celisse changes who this song is addressing – or who is part of the conversation. Mitchell originally addresses “you” in the first verse, establishing a dichotomy and barrier between her and this lover. Celisse simply changes “you” to “we,” completely altering the meaning of the song. The accompanying musical features of melody, harmony, and rhythm/meter support Celisse’s new interpretation of the text. Repetition as a force for change and the intertextuality of cover songs has been explored extensively by scholars including Lori Burns (1997), Mark Butler (2003), and Rene Rusch (2013). This cover by Celisse offers not only a new interpretation of an old tune, but new insight into her musicality.
Megan Lyons is currently Assistant Professor of Music Theory at Furman University. Her research areas include music theory pedagogy, music encoding and its analysis, Joni Mitchell’s use of alternate guitar tunings, and the female singer-songwriter. She has presented her research at regional, national, and international conferences over the past few years. Megan currently serves as founder and co-editor of SMT-Pod, who designed an Open Collaborative Peer Review Process to give authority to authors and maximize productive collaboration amongst peers. In her free time, Megan enjoys going on long runs, completing sudoku puzzles, and doing escape rooms.
Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five’s 1982 anthem “The Message” signaled a paradigm shift in the burgeoning genre’s performance practices, shifting from party-friendly and DJ-centered to socially conscious and emcee-focused. “The Message” wove a localized narrative of the psychic effects of living in the ghetto, ultimately serving as a master template for the conscious rap of the 80s/90s. Though the influence of “The Message” is long-reaching and immediately heard in figures such as Public Enemy, KRS-One, and N.W.A, the song’s continued cultural status as ancestral sampling material positions “The Message” as haunting spectre in each song employing its instrumental. Drawing upon Derrida’s hauntology (1993) and Hartman’s iterability as redress (1997), this paper will explore how sampling “The Message” is both hauntological and remedial for the continued assault on Black life. Through analyses of works by Ice Cube, Puff Daddy and Mase, and Coi Leray, this paper will explore how the spectral nature of “The Message” presents itself in hip-hop’s timeline. A comparative analysis of each song, coupled with a discussion sampling as citationary practice will serve as the first half of the paper. An exploration will follow of “The Message” as a genre-specific act of redress for a people still subjected to an environment built upon sanctioned psychic and bodily assault on Black people. Though the redress can often take the form of adopting ruling-class values as a way out of poverty, the sampling of “The Message” points to a haunting un-exorcisable by a fixation on material acquisition as retribution.
Ashley Martin is a teacher, writer, and academic advisor from Tucson, AZ. She attended Spelman College, The University of Arizona, and Northern Arizona University, earning an undergraduate degree in Music Education, an M.M. in Vocal Performance and graduate certificate in Ethnic Studies. Ashley taught in Tucson Unified School District for nine years as a music educator before transitioning to advising. She enjoys writing about race, music, and culture, and has been published on Dead End Hip Hop and For Harriet blogs. She runs a blog, Ashe Elizabeth, and as a mezzo-soprano, she enjoys shining a spotlight on Black composers.
In 1984, legendary hip hop producer Marley Marl landed his first hit, “Roxanne’s Revenge,” featuring Roxanne Shanté. The same year, Houston Baker published his landmark study, Blues, Ideology, and Afro-American Literature: A Vernacular Theory, in which the blues function as a “matrix” for understanding American history generally, and African American history specifically, through music. In this paper, I consider hip hop beatmaking as a form of (vernacular) music theory, especially during hip hop’s “golden age” (mid-‘80s-early ‘90s) when the playback of existing music central to beatmaking/production. Sample-based beat production offered a particularly in-depth space for the analysis (whether explicit or tacit) of musical timbres, grooves, melodies, and harmonies, as well as a subsequent response or utterance, most commonly articulated through the creation of new beats. Marley Marl, as perhaps the preeminent hip hop producer of the mid/late ‘80s demonstrates a range of such articulations, from textualized arguments such as the 1983 track, “Sucker DJs,” featuring Dimples D, to his creation of musical form through harmonic progressions in “The Symphony” (1988). Baker’s formulation of the blues as “vernacular theory” is apt here in capturing the analytical insight of hip hop beats, as are recent notions from Western art music theory such as “hidden theory” (Christensen) or “public theory” (Jenkins). But I ultimately suggest that hip hop beatmaking might better be understood as a vernacular metatheory, not only theorizing music—again, analyzing musical features and then responding through some new utterance—but doing so with self-reflexive commentary about its own production.
Peter McMurray is a musicologist, saxophonist, and media artist. His research focuses primarily on the intersection of Islam and sound, especially in the Ottoman Empire and Turkey, including recitation, liturgy, theology, and architecture and he is currently completing a book and media project, Pathways to God: The Islamic Acoustics of Turkish Berlin. He is also co-editing a volume with Priyasha Mukhopadhyay, Acoustics of Empire, focusing on histories of sound, media, and power in the 19th century. Other research interests include global histories of music theory, histories of audiovisual media (e.g., especially magnetic audio media, 1890-1945) and intersections of race and listening. His media practice includes extensive non-fiction audio and video work.
Henry Lee Grant was a music educator of immense importance, directing the orchestra at Dunbar High School in Washington, DC for decades, co-founding the National Association of Negro Musicians, and giving private lessons to Billy Taylor and Duke Ellington in his spare time. Meanwhile, Wilhelmina B. Patterson directed choirs at prominent HBCUs including Prairie View A&M and Hampton Institute, and later gained notoriety as a children's community music educator in Washington, DC. As successful but little remembered musicians and pedagogues, Grant and Patterson’s careers provide a window into the legacies and impacts of early twentieth-century Black music educators. Both Grant and Patterson were graduates of the Washington Conservatory of Music, the first conservatory operated by and for Black musicians in the United States between 1903-60. Studying the first five graduating classes (1910-14), we reveal the significant, continuing impact of the Washington Conservatory of Music as exemplified by the richness of its graduates’ pursuits. Graduates of the Washington Conservatory rarely achieved fame as concert artists, but their lack of notoriety ultimately says less about the extent of their accomplishments than it says about the historiographical silences that surround Black classical musicians, particularly those who pursued primary careers in music education. Building on the work of Eileen Southern, Doris McGinty, and Tammy Kernodle, our work answers basic—but frustratingly elusive—questions about who did what in Black musical communities. Studying Washington Conservatory graduates reveals the vital and often overlooked role of music educators in nurturing and sustaining early twentieth-century Black musicians and musical institutions. "
Maeve Nagel-Frazel (she/her) is a graduate of the Lamont School of Music at the University of Denver. Maeve’s research interests center around using digital methodologies to explore nineteenth and twentieth-century American music history. Maeve is the recipient of the 2022 Mark Tucker Award from the Society for American Music for her work on the nineteenth-century violinist Camilla Urso. Since 2021, Maeve has been a lead researcher with the Musical Geography Project, a digital humanities musicology initiative based at St. Olaf College. Alongside Dr. Louis Epstein, Maeve’s research on the Washington Conservatory is forthcoming from The Journal of American Musicological Society. Maeve currently works at the Waltz Music Library at the University of Colorado Boulder.
In a sense, the glocalization of hip-hop into rural dialects of small languages like Norwegian is the ultimate appropriative act. You take a cultural expression far away from its roots, translate and interpret it in a language and cultural context inaccessible to those whose culture you are appropriating. This winding and improbable path is one many arrived into hip-hop – as naïve and uninvited guests of the culture. This paper does a sort of meta-theorizing – “theorizing theorizing rap” – discussing music analysis as a performative act, and the (central) role of the analyst. Using the author as an example, the paper discusses the potential benefits and challenges of various “outsider” and “insider” positions and raises questions analysts should reflect on when engaging with (or considering engaging with) rap music. What are the benefits of being a practicing emcee when analyzing rap? Are there any disadvantages? Which challenges/dilemmas associated with being White and European are most keenly felt? More importantly – which are we blind to? What are some ways to approach and tackle them? Are there any specific insights stemming from the outsider position(s)? Are any of us really capable of assessing our “insiderness”? What does the analyst and their background and identity contribute to the analysis itself? Via the example of one analyst’s overarching analytical approach this paper ultimately aims to invite discussion and reflection around how we can “heat up the analytical space” as Houston Baker urges, and best theorize rap (and other Black art).
Kjell Andreas Oddekalv is a researcher and hip-hop artist working at RITMO Centre for Interdisciplinary Studies in Rhythm, Time and Motion and the Department of Musicology at the University of Oslo (Norway). His research is primarily concerned with analyzing the structure, aesthetics, and production of rap vocals.
The prechorus section in pop-rock music has received significant analytical attention in recent years. It is now well established that this formal unit, regularly appearing in songs released since the mid-1960s, serves as a structural and expressive link from a song’s verse to its chorus. Despite the many elegant efforts to classify different types of prechorus in various genres, there remains little research into how the prechorus typically functions in R&B. This paper will demonstrate that a typical section that appears between the verses and choruses in R&B music since the early 1990s has a markedly different function from the corresponding section in pop-rock music. Tellingly, among R&B practitioners, this section is often referred to not as the “prechorus,” but as the “bridge.” I will argue that the use of the term “bridge” for this section within R&B practice is not only a terminological difference derived by chance by speakers in different musical communities; rather, the term “bridge” is wholly appropriate given the section’s typical formal function: to provide significant contrast from the surrounding formal units. In the music of some artists (Boyz II Men, Shai, and latter-day emulators like Bruno Mars), this section typically features a contrasting harmonic progression (usually more chromatic than other sections) and the most emphatic vocal melody; for others (Bel Biv DeVoe, TLC, etc.), contrast is instead provided through a change in textural density (adding or removing an instrumental layer) or vocal timbre—especially a shift between singing and rapping.
Jeremy Orosz is an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Memphis. He earned an M.A. and Ph.D. in Music Theory at the University of Minnesota, where he also pursued a master's degree in linguistics. His research interests include the study of musical borrowing, music for television, and form in popular music. He has read scholarly papers at academic conferences across North and South America, and published articles and essays in scholarly and public-facing venues.
Our recent article in Music and Science demonstrated how quantitative research methods derived from ethnomusicology and audiovisual studies could be applied to a corpus of music videos to reveal how race and ethnicity were portrayed on MTV in the 1990s. What was missing from that large study (288 music videos) were detailed analyses of individual videos. This presentation applies those tools to three music videos by Black artists from 1991: Living Colour’s “Love Rears its Ugly Head,” PM Dawn’s “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss,” and Monie Love’s “It’s a Shame.” Here’s why those videos are important. Our previous data showed 1991 to be the year in which MTV included the most Black music in their Buzz Clips series, a powerful promotion that boosted an artist’s album sales by around 75%. After 1991 MTV essentially “ghettoized” most Black music into specialty programming such as Yo! MTV Raps in order to maximize targeted advertising to Black consumers. Consequently, most post-1991 videos by Black artists fit the commercially successful “gangsta rap” genre. Comparatively, videos MTV promoted by Black artists in 1991 exhibit a wider range of musical expression: “Love Rears its Ugly Head” (hard rock); “Set Adrift on Memory Bliss” (psychedelic R&B); “It’s a Shame” (feminist hip-hop). My analysis of these videos adapts Loren Kajikawa’s concept of “sounding race.” I propose that by televising race, music videos, as audiovisual media, demand a wider range of tools derived from ethnomusicology and audiovisual studies, especially content analysis and correlational analysis.
Brad Osborn is Professor of Music theory and Affiliated Faculty in American Studies at the University of Kansas. He is the sole author of Everything in its Right Place: Analyzing Radiohead (Oxford, 2017) and Interpreting Music Videos: Popular Music in the Post-MTV Era (Routledge, 2021), and is co-author along with Larry Starr and Christopher Waterman for the 6th edition of American Popular Music (Oxford, 2021). Brad’s research on music videos is published in the journals Music and the Moving Image, Perspectives of New Music, and Music & Science. He also writes and records shoegazey post-rock as the artist D’Archipelago.
Sandra Jean Graham identifies spirituals as the “common ingredient” among the genres of Black music that emerged immediately post-Civil War. These religious folk songs formed a musical corpus integral to the Black entertainment industry. Yet the pathway from music of an oral tradition to the pieces we know today is a winding one. This paper explores three spirituals—“My Lord, What a Morning;” “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen;” and “In Bright Mansions Above”—from their first publications to contemporary versions as solo and choral works. Considerations regarding form, phrase, text-setting, and harmony reveal unique trajectories for each piece, with varying streams of continuity at each level. 1867’s /Slave Songs of the United States/ was the first published attempt to systematically commit the music of enslaved people to staff notation. Five years later, the Fisk Jubilee Singers’ first anthology of songs brings several of the single-line melodies from /Slave Songs/ into four-part harmony. While some melodic connections between these two versions are tenuous at best, text and rhythm stitch together the looser relationships. At the cusp of the twentieth century, /Cabin and Plantation Songs/ offers new versions, again with varying degrees of continuity to previous publications. Finally, we have contemporary concert pieces, arranged by composers such as Harry Burleigh and Roland Carter, whose obvious nods toward jazz and the blues imbue the established songs with new energy. Each of the three spirituals in this paper offers a unique and rich story spanning over 150 years.
Dr. Jennifer Salamone serves as Assistant Professor of Music Theory at Florida Gulf Coast University, where her pedagogy centers upon providing her students with diverse repertoires and unique lenses for analysis. Dr. Salamone’s current research considers the phrase, rhythmic, and melodic developments of spirituals through their various representations in the repertoire. Now in her third year at FGCU, Dr. Salamone spends her free time trying to befriend her backyard alligators, an endeavor as quintessentially “Florida” as it is ill-advised.
Afrofuturist art envisions emancipatory Black futures. In music, such envisioning often happens through texts like album liner notes whose fantasies are vivified through sound. Nicole Mitchell’s 2017 album Mandorla Awakening II: Emerging Worlds demonstrates this dynamic relationship between text and music in a way that enacts utopian social theory. Weaving together narrative episodes with philosophical musings, Mitchell’s writing imagines a society on the island Mandorla–a vision she brings to life in the heterogeneous sound-world of the electroacoustic Black Earth Ensemble. My analysis examines the relationship between how Mitchell theorizes utopia and how the music manifests it, focusing on the album’s penultimate track, “Mandorla Island.” My analysis of “Mandorla Island” moves through three conceptual elements that undergird Mitchell’s utopian vision and its musical realization: narrative, symbolism, and temporality. I first trace how the written narrative manifests formally in a structure of accumulating layers. Then, I examine Mitchell’s engagement with the mandorla–which symbolizes the divine feminine and the peaceful coexistence of opposites–as a lens through which to understand the music’s textural and timbral oppositions. Finally, I turn to the sense of futurity that animates Mitchell’s text, interpreting the propulsive ostinati of “Mandorla Island” as imbued with literal and symbolic futurity. Ultimately, my paper demonstrates what analysis can look like when it prioritizes a composer’s own theorizing as its main guide for exploration rather than adhering to techniques derived from the overwhelmingly white and male canon--an approach with implications for a wide range of repertoires.
Audrey Slote is a PhD candidate in music theory and a Neubauer Fellow in the Humanities at The University of Chicago who studies music and politics from an analytical perspective. Her dissertation develops a conceptual framework for thinking about ideology in and through musical analysis with the goal of reexamining and expanding analysis so that it can more meaningfully interface with questions of power. She holds a Bachelor of Music in cello performance from St. Olaf College, as well as a Master of Music in performance and a Master of Arts in music theory from the University of Minnesota.
Twelve-year-old Annette Swinson burst onto New York’s Black music scene in 1953. A darling of the local Black press, Swinson worked as a soloist throughout her adolescence before replacing Arlene Smith as lead singer of the Chantels. During her career, Swinson’s girlhood evoked connotations of malleability and naïveté that were attractive to music industry men searching for saleable sounds. Swinson exploited these assumptions using her extraordinary ability to transform her vocal timbre, but this strategy also complicated the record of her career. Her flexible sound and girlish body generated a sonic and documentary archive riddled with inconsistencies that obscures Swinson’s place in conventional histories of popular music. In this paper, I consider journalistic coverage of Swinson’s career alongside her recorded performances to explore the possibilities afforded by vocal shapeshifting. Beginning with her early period as a child singer, I argue that Swinson’s legibility as a child highlights legal minority as a status that denies Black girls’ capacity for rational consent, prevents them from representing their own work, and leaves them vulnerable to abuse (Field 2014, Hartman 1997, Ibrahim 2021). I also analyze Swinson’s recorded voice to demonstrate that girls like Swinson used their unstable vocal identity as a choreographic technique (Cox 2015, Gaunt 2006, Halliday 2020) to work around legal disempowerment and gain access to professional opportunities. Ultimately, I suggest that listening to vocal timbre in this way presents a method by which scholars might recognize Black girls’ agency within archival silences and obfuscations.
Emmalouise St. Amand is a Ph. D. candidate at Eastman School of Music. Her research interests include issues of embodiment, voice, and popular music, and her dissertation explores amateur and semi-professional girl groups in the 1950s and '60s. Emmalouise also maintains an applied voice studio at the Eastman Community Music School, where she works with many great girl singers.
Released on the heels of the Dobbs decision, “Plan B” (2022) by Megan Thee Stallion unabashedly brags that she is “Poppin’ Plan B’s ‘cause [she] ain’t planned to be stuck with ya,” weaponizing birth control as a method for maintaining personal and bodily independence. In short succession of the overturning of Roe, a burgeoning group of women rappers used music as a platform for establishing dominance in a male-centered field by invoking “Plan B.” The “morning after pill” is more than contraception, representing freedom of choice in family planning when other methods fail. This paper will situate “Plan B” in concert with “F.N.F.” by GloRilla, and “Broke Boy Pt. 2” by Gloss Up, providing a lyrical intervention to gender standards within rap. Without an established fanbase to alienate, I argue that this new wave of women rappers are uniquely situated to respond to the Dobbs decision. I will contextualize these songs released in 2022 as part of a sonic microburst of cultural resistance against the Dobbs decision, which I theorize as a subgenre “Slay Rap.” Its tenets rely on self-asserted autonomy, independent of cis-males as was rap's historical precedent. Imbued with the unabashed resistance of the word “slay,” rooted in the 1970s-80s Ballroom scene in New York, Slay Rap is born of resistance against heteropatriarchal power structures and bodily autonomy. I will combine these historical roots with the scholarship of the Crunk Feminist Collective, Kevin Holt, and Audre Lorde to address the countervailing influence of “Slay Rap” on the genre.
Hannah Strong is a fifth-year Ph.D. candidate in Musicology at the University of Pittsburgh. Her research interests focus on intersections between rap and hip hop, social movements, and feminism. Her scholarship Black Lives Matter and taxonomies of musical protest was published by Music & Politics in the Moment, and her research on Beyoncé and the #metoo movement is forthcoming in a 2023 edited volume by Bloomsbury Academic. Strong completed a certificate in Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. She earned a master’s degree in music history from Temple University and completed her undergraduate study in voice performance at Westminster Choir College.
Edward O. Bland (1926–2013) was an African American composer, arranger, and producer whose dual musical roots in jazz and atonal European music led to an eclectic career in film, popular, and concert music (Batten 2020). He is most well known today for his musical-political documentary film The Cry of Jazz, despite a large oeuvre of music spanning different genres and musical media. Much of his concert music remains under-performed and no analytical literature tackles it. In his 5-volume, 31-piece set for solo piano entitled Urban Counterpoint, he consciously layered complex, unpredictable polymetric and polyrhythmic structures onto the form and harmony of African American musics, with the stated goal of forcing the listener “to think about vernacular musical relationships” (Bland 2009). Throughout these piano works, Bland developed an idiosyncratic syncopated style by using polymetric grouping between the two hands. Drawing from the analytical work of Laurent Cugny on polyrhythm in jazz, I analyze the 21st piece of Urban Counterpoint, “Heat-Seeking Missile,” for its far-reaching use of three-against-four (“3:4”) polymetric grouping (Cugny 2019). This piece generates a variety of 3:4 from the simple syncopation of the head motive, structurally relating polymeter to syncopation. The rhythmic-motivic coherence of the 3:4 groupings in turn unifies the piece. In this way, syncopation, a building block of jazz and African-American musics, becomes the engine for this polymetrical composition. Described as the “most important temporal structure in modern jazz” (Wilson 2000), polymeter is a particularly effective mechanism for Bland’s evocation of “vernacular musical relationships.
Pianist and scholar Joseph Vaz has performed as a soloist, collaborative artist and chamber musician in the United States and Europe, in venues from Weill Recital Hall in New York to the Arnold Schönberg Center in Vienna. He is a laureate of national competitions and recent festival appearances include the Aspen Music Festival and the Internationale Sommerakademie in Reichenau. His recent scholarly work focuses on the piano music of eclectic composer Ed Bland. With degrees from Indiana University and the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music, Joseph now is pursuing his D.M.A. at the CUNY Graduate Center with Julian Martin.
Gayle Wald is Professor of American Studies at the George Washington University. She is the author of three books, including Shout, Sister, Shout!: The Untold Story of Rock-and-Roll Trailblazer Sister Rosetta Tharpe (updated 2nd edition, Beacon Press, 2023) and It’s Been Beautiful: Soul! and Black Power TV (Duke University Press, 2015). Shout, Sister, Shout! has been the basis of a documentary film and a musical with book by Cheryl West. Gayle’s current project is the biography This Is Rhythm: The Musical Life and Radical Vision of Ella Jenkins, The First Lady of Children’s Music, forthcoming from University of Chicago Press.
My paper will give a brief overview of the life and career of the pioneering children’s musician Ella Jenkins (b. 1924). Jenkins began recording music for young audiences on Folkways in 1957, and by the late 1960s was the label’s best-selling artist, keeping it afloat in the lean years after the folk revival. A self-taught hand percussionist and ukulele player, she grew up on the South Side of Chicago and began her professional career in the early 1950s as a sui generis “rhythm specialist” who used Afro-Caribbean songs and chants to teach Black teens about African diasporic culture. Through a method she called “call-and-response rhythmic group singing,” Jenkins pioneered a radically participatory and community-centered approach to children’s music; it went on to profoundly affect the ways teachers, especially non-music specialists, approached the use of music in preschool and elementary classrooms. For my presentation, I want to home in on the ways that Jenkins drew upon her experience as a child of the Great Migration, a devotee of Afro-Cuban music, and a student of diverse music traditions (especially Jewish diasporic music) to radially re-imagine children’s music as a practice of egalitarian community. Briefly, I will discuss trends in children’s music before Ella began recording, and illustrate (with a few musical examples) her “call-and-response” approach. I will also situate Jenkins’ work as a pioneer of musical “multiculturalism” in the context of long civil rights movement, showing how she used repertoire to enacting Black freedom.