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Lamont Colloquium: May 14, 2021

Collin Felter

Collin Felter: The Myers-Briggs of Quoting: A Typology of Musical Borrowing in Jazz Improvisation

Abstract: While musical borrowing has been studied heavily and typologies have been proposed, the field has been primarily focused on compositional borrowing in the Western art tradition. This paper introduces a new typology of musical borrowing specific to the idiom of jazz improvisation through a Myers-Briggs inspired approach. Myers-Briggs is a personality identifying test that classifies a personality type through four sets of either-or criteria. By utilizing this either-or criteria approach, I analyze the use of quotation in jazz improvisation and categorize them in quote-types. The word, quoting, is most often mentioned as an overarching explanation of musical borrowing in jazz solos, but these quote-types seek to highlight the variations within the oft-used quoting. This typology allows for a more effective, efficient, and encompassing analysis and communication of musical borrowing in the idiom of jazz improvisation. The typology relies on four assessments of type (Autogenous/External, Traditional/Divergent, Familiar/Niche, and Composition/Improvisation) to accomplish this goal. While my paper focuses on the labeling of quotation types, I also touch on the outcomes (humor, homage, additional meaning, etc.) that are caused by certain combinations of the 16 variants afforded by combination of the four criteria sets.

Bio: Collin Felter has spent a majority of his musical career as a session trombonist and guitarist in Nashville recording for and performing with artists ranging from Sheryl Crow to a Sunday morning brunch brass band. With a career in commercial music under his belt, and continuing to grow, Collin is moving into the world of academia as he seeks to earn a PhD in Music Theory after completing his Masters in Jazz Studies at DU. As he enters the field of theory pedagogy, Collin is looking to bring his commercial and jazz music experience into his research and teaching. The paper he is presenting today, The Myers-Briggs of Quoting: A Typology of Musical Quoting in Jazz Improvisation, is an early addition towards the pursuit of his goal to diversify music theory through the inclusion of commercial music and its analytical and practical tools.


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Anna Mach

Anna Mach: Microformal Transformations to Create Macroform in Tristan Murail's C'est Un Jardin Secret

Abstract: Through computer-assisted technology at Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique (IRCAM), Tristan Murail developed a compositional aesthetic that explored the sonic universe and inner mechanisms of sound. Particularly, he was attentive to sonic micro-fluctuations, sound production, sound colors, unpitched sounds, and the relationship between sound and noise. Through the relationship between micro-fluctuations to music’s development and its overall relation to time, Murail connected both content and form as well as harmony and timbre. Murail believed that the structure of sound corresponds to musical form, and that music should be conceived of as a global approach with continuous, rather than discrete categories. These compositional aesthetics are captured in his solo viola work, C’est Un Jardin Secret. The question I pose is: how do microforms transition from one idea to the next to create a macroform in C’est Un Jardin Secret? While form cannot be constructed in a predefined way, structure can be conceived through latching onto the stark similarities between each microform and understanding the manipulation of each parameter to transition from one microform to the next. This microformal analysis will be presented through an annotated score, sections of a spectrogram analysis, and recordings of the piece. Understanding the varied compositional techniques Murail used to manipulate sound and rhythm in each microform informs the performer about how to interpret pacing and which parameters to bring out.

Bio: Anna Mach is a first-year master’s student at the University of Denver Lamont School of Music studying viola performance and music theory pedagogy and serving as a teaching assistant in music theory and a research assistant in ethnomusicology. She earned her bachelor’s in music with honors from Indiana University Jacobs School of Music in 2020. Anna has a passion for contemporary music performance and research. She is a current member of the Lamont Modern Music Ensemble and attended the Longy Digital Divergent Studio in 2020 and was featured in the Midwest Composers Symposium in 2019. In summer 2019, she studied contemporary music theory in Paris, France through a partnership with the Eastman School of Music and IRCAM. This summer, Anna will attend the Montreal Contemporary Music Lab, the SPLICE Institute, and the Orford Music Academy.

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Alec Larner

Alec Larner: The Revival of Scott Joplin’s Treemonisha in a Black Feminist Context

Abstract: Scott Joplin self-published his opera Treemonisha in 1911. Unique for its time, the opera is in English, set in the rural American South in the year 1884, and features an all-Black cast. The eponymous heroine, Treemonisha, is distinct from typical operatic leading ladies in that she is an educated woman with no romantic relationship and no tragic ending; at the conclusion of the opera, she is chosen to lead her community. Treemonisha had little success during Joplin’s lifetime, and lay mostly forgotten for over fifty years. It was revived in the 1970s with performances by Morehouse College and the Houston Grand Opera. Whereas most researchers have focused on the time period of the opera’s composition and setting, I have chosen to place it in conversation with notable Black feminists such as Alice Walker and bell hooks. A careful analysis of the revival of Treemonisha in the 1970s shows that the opera aligns with key elements of the contemporaneous Black feminist movement, especially the emphasis on community. This research helps create a framework through which to understand and encourage revivals of other forgotten works by marginalized composers.

Bio: Alec Larner is a classically trained percussionist and musicologist originally from Fort Collins, Colorado. He received a Bachelor’s Degree in Percussion Performance with a Music History Emphasis from Butler University in Indianapolis. He is currently pursuing Master’s Degrees in both Percussion Performance and Musicology at the University of Denver, studying with percussionist John Kinzie. Alec is passionate about performing contemporary music, with a particular focus on chamber music. His research interests include 20th- and 21st-century music, video game music, and issues surrounding gender and sexuality. 

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