AMS Preview 2010

October 23, 2010 at 8:42 am

Well, it’s the most wonderful time of the year: the annual meeting of the American Musicological Society, this year in concert with the Society for Music Theory. It is near my old stomping grounds of Bloomington, so I’m sure I’ll feel right at home (or, at least, daydream about driving really fast up and down the ramps in the Indianapolis airport parking garage – you’ll know what I mean when you see them).

Anyway, I thought I would give a rundown of some of the excitement this year for me. Of course there is so much to do at an AMS conference that you can’t possibly fit everything worth doing in. So this is more of a map of my choose-your-own-adventure, rather than a recommendation for anyone else (unless you are my evil twin, in which case this way you’ll know where to find me).


Anyone coming in the night before like I am? Dinner? Happy hour? Tour the Indianapolis 500 racetrack? You know how to reach me.


My first and only real recommendation per se is for everyone is not to spend too much energy during Thursday, so that you are fresh for the Amusicology no-host reception in the evening. That being said, it is a tremendous opening salvo of papers. I’m planning on dividing my time between the American Experimentalism and Jazz sessions, but if there were more of me I would also check out Emily Richmond Pollock’s paper on Henze and the film music session, as well. And how awesome is it that Saariaho gets her own short session?

For those truly loyal readers, Thursday is a big day since Ryan is giving a talk in the afternoon. Don’t miss it. Also, make sure to stop by the Santa Fe Room to see the Music Informatics poster session, which looks to have lots of interesting projects.


Friday morning presents a tough choice because Noriko Manabe’s paper on producers in hip hop is directly opposite Michael Broyles’s paper on his ongoing “Beethoven was Black” research. On the other hand, two really interesting papers by Jeffrey Magee (on Irving Berlin’s ‘A Pretty Girl Is Like a Melody’) and Katherine Kaiser (on Gesang der Jünglinge) are scheduled back-to-back in the “special voices” session. I may need to call in my human clone to sit in on “The Significance of Terms” panel, where Bettina Varwig and J. Peter Burkholder are reading on Metaphors of Time in Bach (something on my mind w/r/t Carl Ruggles these days), and Musical Borrowing, respectively.

I wouldn’t be doing my job as a Harvard alum if I didn’t point out that Friday afternoon brings papers from several recent Harvard PhD’s: Emily Abrams Ansari on Ulysses Kay (whose paper at SAM Ottawa on Kay was fascinating); David Trippett on Wagner & Melodrama (he explained it to me earlier this year, it’s worth the trip for the G#, right David?) and Robert Hasegawa on Combination-Tone Harmony.

After the daytime sessions, there are any number of fascinating evening sessions on Friday: The AMS LGBTQ Study group (which had a sensational interview with David Del Tredici last year, this year with papers by Lauron Kehrer and William Cheng); as well as a trio of interesting professional development/commentary sessions: the AMS Committee on Career-Related Issues (Session II, on alternate career paths), and the Scholarship of Pedagogy, and a panel on Tenure.


Saturday morning brings with it a quartet of papers in the “Choreographies” session– I personally predict that dance is an emerging frontier for music historians, which will see lots of growth in scholarship in the coming years. With 12 concurrent sessions on Saturday morning, it is a little bit overwhelming! Saturday afternoon is slightly more manageable, with eight sessions; the paper by Daniel DiCenso looks fascinating. Then, of course, there is the business meeting, which amusicology always looks forward to covering, (we’ve freshly updated the twitter software on our phones to bring you a live feed).


Sunday morning I’ll be cramming in with everyone else, lugging their rollerboards, to get my last dose of musicological goodness before heading for the airport. Since editing and its sibling practice arrangement is always on my mind, it looks like the arrangements sessions will be very interesting. And, of course, what is Sunday morning without one final stroll through the book exhibit to by lots of books at a steep discount that put my bag over its weight limit, resulting in a fee at the airport, offsetting the savings of buying them at the conference? And yes, that was a run on sentence.

Looking through the program is frustrating because it only reminds me that it is nigh impossible to get to everything that one wants to see. BUT that doesn’t mean it isn’t worth the effort. See you all in Indianapolis, where we will be providing pseudo-live coverage throughout the conference.

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