Women and Music: A History / Edition 2

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Overview

This updated, expanded, and reorganized edition of Women and Music features even more women composers, performers, and patrons, even more musical contexts, and an expanded view of women in music outside Europe and North America. A popular university textbook, Women and Music is enlightening for scholars, a good source of programming ideas for performers, and a pleasure for other music lovers.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

American Music Teacher
. . . a thorough, insightful study of the rich musical heritage created by women.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253214225
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 2/28/2001
  • Edition description: 2nd ed.
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 528
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.33 (d)

Meet the Author

Contributors

Adrienne Fried Block is a musicologist who has long specialized in music by American women. She is author of Amy Beach, Passionate Victorian: The Life and Work of an American Composer.

Michael J. Budds is a musicologist on the faculty of the University of Missouri, Columbia. He is author of Jazz in the Sixties: The Expansion of Musical Resources and Techniques.

Marcia Citron, Professor of Musicology at Rice University, is author of the award-winning volume Gender and the Musical Canon and two other books on women in music, Letters of Fanny Hensel to Felix Mendelssohn and Cecile Chaminade: A Bio-bibliography. She also works on operas on film and has written Opera on the Screen.

J. Michele Edwards, conductor and musicologist, is Professor of Music and also teaches in the Women's and Gender Studies Program at Macalester College, St. Paul, Minnesota. Recent projects include a recording of Marta Ptaszynska's Holocaust Memorial Cantata, essays about Julia Perry and Frederique Petrides, articles for the Revised New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, and presentations about Japanese women composers. She is currently preparing a book about Ruth Crawford Seeger's String Quartet (1931).

S. Kay Hoke chairs the Division of Fine Arts at Brevard College in the mountains of North Carolina. Currently she serves as a national workshop leader for Music! World! Opera!, a program sponsored by Opera America, and is writing a book on Douglas Moore's opera The Ballad of Baby Doe.

Barbara Garvey Jackson is a professional violinist and Professor Emerita of Music at the University of Arkansas. She is founder and publisher of Clar-Nan Editions, a firm specializing in music by women of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

The late L. JaFran Jones, an ethnomusicologist, was head of the music department at the University of Toledo, Ohio.

Leslie Lassetter has published articles on Philip Glass and Meredith Monk. Her current research is in English country dance in America, with a focus on the work of Pat Shaw. She has graduate degrees from the University of Cincinnati and the Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

Renee Cox Lorraine teaches at the University of Tennessee in Chattanooga. Her articles on music aesthetics have been published in several journals.

Ann N. Michelini is Professor of Classics in the College of Arts and Sciences, University of Cincinnati.

Karin Pendle is Professor of Musicology at the College-Conservatory of Music, University of Cincinnati. Her publications include several studies on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century opera.

Nancy B. Reich is working on nineteenth-century topics and is preparing a new edition of her book Clara Schumann: The Artist and the Woman.

Catherine Roma is Associate Professor of Music at Wilmington (Ohio) College and the founding director of MUSE, Cincinnati's Women's Choir, and Ujima, a male chorus, at Lebanon State Prison (Ohio). Her DMA thesis for the University of Cincinnati concerned choral music by British women.

Robert Whitney Templeman is Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at the University of Cincinnati. His specializations include music of Latin America and the African diaspora. He has conducted extensive research among people of African ancestry in Bolivia and among Quechua and mestizo people of the highland Bolivian Andes.

Linda Whitesitt, Music Education Specialist, coordinates string programs for Miami-Dade County Public Schools. Her writings on women's support of music and the arts have appeared in several journals.

Robert Zierolf is Professor of Music Theory at the University of Cincinnati and heads the Division of Music Theory, History, and Composition there.

Indiana University Press

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Read an Excerpt

Women & Music

A History


By Karin Pendle

Indiana University Press

Copyright © 2001 Indiana University Press
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-253-33819-8



CHAPTER 1

Recovering Jouissance: Feminist Aesthetics and Music

* * *

Renée Cox Lorraine


Wa-oh-oh-oh ... —The Ronettes


Adherents of feminism seek to discover ways that women or the feminine are undermined in various cultures and to identify ways to raise the status of women. Broadly speaking, aesthetics is the philosophy of art. A feminist aesthetician, then, would philosophize about art in ways that would serve feminist ends. An aesthetic experience has traditionally been described as an intense concentration on formal or sensuous properties in art, nature, and beyond. Yet aestheticians have always been concerned to some extent, and are particularly concerned of late, with relationships of aesthetic properties or processes to those of life. In music there is a current interest in relating musical processes to personal, social, or political processes, including gender and sexual practices. These tendencies serve the interests of feminism. While there is at present relatively little work in philosophy that could qualify as feminist musical aesthetics, there is an increasing body of work on women or gender in musicology, music theory, or music criticism that is relevant to this area of study.

Much of this work has dealt with historical and cultural constructions of the masculine and feminine in music—that is, with the relation of aesthetic properties to socially constructed gender characteristics or the musical reflections of such gender characteristics. Such relationships can be discerned even in ancient Greece and in the early centuries of the common era. Authors such as Plato, Aristotle, Clement, Basil, and Boethius associated manly music with reason, restraint, and order, whereas music associated with women or effeminacy was thought to give rise to sensuality, excitement, passion, or madness. Socrates warned that music in the Mixolydian and "intense Lydian" modes, which were associated with women and goddess worship, would give rise to drunkenness, softness, and sloth. He preferred a harmony that "would fittingly imitate the utterances and the accents of a brave man who is engaged in warfare or in any enforced business." Aristotle claimed that professional musicians were vulgar, that performing music was unmanly, except when the performer was drunk or just having fun. He stated that the Phrygian mode, associated with the great goddess Cybele, should not be allowed, "for the Phrygian harmony has the same effect among harmonies as the aulos among instruments—both are violently exciting and emotional." And all agree, Aristotle continued, "that the Dorian harmony is more sedate and of a specially manly character." Boethius (ca. 600 C.E.) relates that the ancient Timotheus angered the Spartans by playing complex rhythms and harmonies and by using the chromatic genus, "which is more effeminate" than other genera. He tells of a youth excited by the Phrygian mode who locked himself in a room with a harlot and planned to burn down the house, and how this youth's fury was reduced to a perfect state of calm when Pythagoras played a melody in an orderly, spondaic rhythm.

These writings had an impact on the early medieval era and beyond. Leo Treitler has identified both ancient and more recent descriptions of Old Roman and Gregorian chants that relate the chants to characteristics of gender. Whereas Old Roman chant tends to be recursive, highly melismatic, and embellished (and is described as soft, charming, elegant, graceful, round, and voluptuous), the simpler and relatively stable Gregorian chant is reported to display a more manly strength, vigor, power, and reason. Linda Phyllis Austern has shown that in the English Renaissance music was often associated with women or the womanly; the "eternal attraction between men and music" was likened to the sacred bond of marriage, and music was often described as dangerously sensual. Both Suzanne B. Cusick and Susan McClary have shown that in the early baroque period, music associated with female characters or the feminine was likely to be more ornamented, exciting, and unstable than the more straightforward and orderly music associated with male characters or with masculinity.

In the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries, musical resolution within the tonal system often accompanied the defeat of a female character or of unacceptable feminine qualities. Some operatic music associated a sensual or powerful woman with tonal instability, an instability that was resolved only when the woman was killed or reconciled with social norms. In Mozart's Die Zauberflöte, for example, most of the music for the dark, powerful Queen of the Night is in minor mode and highly embellished, while the music of the wise and noble Sarastro (and Tamino and Pamina, when they are initiated in Sarastro's brotherhood) is diatonic, simple, and solemn. Catherine Clément has pointed out that in Wagner's Tristan und Isolde, chromaticism is associated with a seductive, deadly feminine sexuality. This association is also well exemplified in Wagner's Tannhäuser: the music of Venus, goddess of sensual pleasure and delight, is beautiful but unstable, chromatic, and unresolving, whereas that of Tannhäuser, the Pilgrims, and the saintly Elizabeth is predominantly diatonic and stable. Susan McClary has shown how in Bizet's Carmen the music of the slithery, slippery heroine is predominantly chromatic and rhythmically syncopated, whereas Don José and the pure, chaste Micaëla sing more diatonically. Because many of us have a conditioned tendency to want the music of these unacceptable women to resolve into clarity and order, we may subconsciously want them to be defeated, appropriated, to die. And it is precisely when the heroines are defeated at the ends of these operas that all the musical tension associated with them is resolved.

In the area of instrumental music, McClary suggests that in the first movement of Brahms's Third Symphony, the second, more "feminine" theme is more trivial and incidental to the work's central Oedipal struggle between the "Law of the Father" (conventional tonality) and the rebellious son Brahms (who seeks to defy conventional norms). Judith Tick and others have considered Ives's notorious comments on what he regarded as the feminine and the effeminate in music: to Ives, for example, Rachmaninoff became "Rachnotmanenough"; Haydn, Mozart, early Beethoven, and Brahms were "too much of the sugar plum for soft ears"; and various European composers were "pussies" or "cherries." Tick stresses that although these comments were extreme, they were not atypical of the times; Ives inherited a "social grammar of prejudice" and an ideology of gender differences in music. She suggests that Ives used his prejudicial statements, written during the time that also saw radical, modernist experiments in music, to effect a break from a European heritage he found overbearing. In any case, the music of the various works and styles discussed above have reinforced stereotypes about women, and can promote fear, hatred, and the subordination of women. Only by making these associations more conscious, by getting them out into the light, can we diminish their power to stigmatize.

The dramatic tendency to associate musical resolution with the defeat of the unacceptable feminine or female character is detectable in recent films, such as Fatal Attraction, The Crying Game (in which the unacceptable "woman" is actually a man), and in traditional Walt Disney films, such as Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, and The Little Mermaid. The antagonist in these more traditional animated films is almost always a woman and may represent the Oedipal mother. In more recent Disney films, such as Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Pocahontas, a male antagonist is accompanied by unstable music. But these eventually defeated antagonists are likely to have feminine or effeminate characteristics. In The Lion King, Scar is a gay stereotype; in Aladdin, Jafar might be Snow White's Wicked Queen in drag. In The Little Mermaid, Flotsam and Jetsam, the slimy eel sidekicks of the independent, sexual, and powerful Sea Witch, are evidently male—but gender-ambiguous and sometimes physically intertwined. In films in which the femmes fatales achieve their nefarious ambitions, such as Body Heat and Basic Instinct, the chromatic, open-ended, unstable music associated with the unacceptable female characters never resolves.

As Catherine Clément has pointed out, such associations can cause internal conflicts: we may love operas (or films or pieces) that we find ethically troublesome. Other authors have shown how female characters who are eventually defeated can usurp a good deal of power and authority expressly because of (or in spite of) music or musical accompaniment that defies conventional norms. Gretchen A. Wheelock shows that while the minor mode was generally described in the eighteenth century as representing such feminine qualities as melancholy, hesitation, and indecision, Mozart often uses the mode to destabilize the masculine-feminine dichotomy and the tonal order that contains it. Seventeen of Mozart's twenty-three minor-key arias are sung by women, and two are given to castrati. The minor mode, however, not only is used to express feminine weakness or indecision but also is associated with death and the supernatural or with fury and rage (as in the minor-key arias of Zaide, Electra, and the Queen of the Night). These characters' voices, then, can undermine conventional, gendered expression and represent what is out of control or beyond rational control. Although "out of control" has had (and continues to have) unfavorable connotations, in Mozart's music the "feminine" minor mode is powerful in its association with the inner world of passion, fear, and desire.

In her interpretation of Francesca Caccini's opera La Liberazione di Ruggiero dall'isola d'Alcina (1625), Suzanne Cusick suggests an example of a "secret victory" of an unacceptable female character. In this work the knight Ruggiero is rescued by the sorceress Melissa from the love spell of the sorceress Alcina. Melissa appears to Ruggiero as a man, Atlante, and Caccini composes characteristically masculine music, according to early seventeenth-century standards, for him/her: that is, diatonic, firmly tonal, with careful text declamation. Melissa's success in liberating Ruggerio may be interpreted as a warning to those who seek power that they must speak in a patriarchal language and repress what is regarded as feminine. In contrast to the music of Melissa/Atlante, the music of Alcina, with its feminine chromaticism and extraordinary tonal range and expressivity, is relatively unstable. Yet although Alcina is defeated, her captivating song lingers seductively, Cusick suggests, in the ear and imagination, subtly exposing the oppression of the political and gender systems that Melissa's triumph affirms. So Caccini, Cusick thinks, has succeeded where the unacceptable Alcina has failed. Seventeenth-century notions of the feminine are affirmed as long as Alcina's music continues to enchant. Cusick's important thesis might also be applied to powerful but doomed operatic characters created by men—the Queen of the Night, Venus, Carmen, Delilah. While some of the composers involved may have felt ambivalent at best toward their characters, they empowered or "envoiced" the characters, perhaps in spite of themselves, by granting them such beautiful or memorable music.

A similar point is made in Carolyn Abbate's recent interpretation of Richard Strauss's Salome in "Opera, or the Envoicing of Women" (a wordplay on Catherine Clément's Opera, or the Undoing of Women). Abbate suggests that even though Salome is eventually killed, the character manages, by means of her gender mobility, to usurp the authorial voice in the opera. Rather than being a passive object, she renders the audience passive through the sheer volume and force of her sound. It might be added that Salome's music is privileged as well, in that her final music, although accompanied by a repugnant act, is diatonic, ethereal, and beautiful, whereas the music accompanying her death is unstable and dissonant. From a purely musical point of view, the death of Salome is not a triumph but a tragedy, lending weight to the power of her voice. It could be argued here that Clément is well aware of the authority of certain powerful operatic women, that her very point is that the louder the powerful female characters sing, the harder they fall. But just how much authority these characters can establish, especially in eras when women were often regarded as largely voiceless, is important to highlight.

Similar tendencies can be found in film and instrumental music as well as music of popular culture. In some feminist films made and/or scored by women, the narrative and musical closure ordinarily associated with the death of a socially unacceptable female character is resisted or revised to the character's advantage. In the film Thelma and Louise, for example, two socially unacceptable women choose death over submission to an oppressive system. Yet the unresolved but appealing nature of the gospel music accompanying their deaths, as well as the increasing dynamism and unresolved quality of the music that accompanies the women's gradual liberation, helps to subvert the narrative closure represented by their destruction (a closure necessary for social norms to prevail). In the film The Piano (1993), the heroine Ada is rebellious; she refuses to speak, expressing herself instead through her haunting piano playing. When she eventually finds happiness in domestic life and is learning to speak, her musical accompaniment provides closure to the earlier nervous, unresolving music she has played throughout the film. Among the most memorable aspects of the film, even more than Ada's final, domesticated situation and the musical resolution, are the rebelliousness of Ada's silence and the music that represents her dissatisfaction with oppressive conditions. Here, again, the power of this music subverts the film's musical and narrative closure.

In an example of instrumental music, Cécile Chaminade's Piano Sonata presents an attempt to subvert the appropriation of the musical feminine to the masculine. In the nineteenth century, some theorists considered the first and second themes of a sonata-allegro form to be masculine and feminine, respectively. Musicologist Marcia Citron suggests that Chaminade, in the first movement of her Piano Sonata (1895), seems to avoid the objectification of the feminine by avoiding tonal Otherness. The "feminine" second theme in a sonata-allegro form generally appears in a key other than the tonic, and is eventually drawn back to the masculine tonic in the final section or recapitulation. But Chaminade does not definitively establish an Other key for the second theme area; she only hints at other keys. Although the feminine is a major presence in the movement, it is too slippery, dynamic, or shifting to be appropriated or conquered. Although some listeners might interpret Chaminade's sonata as not establishing a feminine presence at all (constructing a concrete being only for the masculine), the second theme is perhaps better heard as a dynamic feminine that defies set definition of boundaries.

Ethnomusicologist Carol Robinson suggests that the study of culture outside the West can empower those who seek to raise the status of women and affirm gender mobility—and can inform and transform music study in general. In two subcultures that Robinson has studied—the machi of the Mapuche of Chile and Argentina and the mahu of Hawaii—individuals who are different may move back and forth between margin and center, a condition that allows them a certain power within the culture. In both cases, difference is related to gender, spirituality, and music. The machi or "life givers" are either women or men who live as women. Although colonization has diminished their influence and they are sometimes subject to discrimination, they are nevertheless recognized as healers and spiritual guides. A machi, for example, may contemplate an herb or collection of herbs until a chant arises that reveals the herb's medicinal power. Chant is also believed to have the power to create and change individuals, to give birth to the spirit, and to bring the forces of the universe into open space. Approximately one tenth of (presumably indigenous) Hawaiians are mahu or mixed gender individuals. The mahu may be hermaphrodites, transsexuals, cross-dressers, men raised as women, gays and lesbians, or flashy dressers, but in all these forms the feminine is particularly valued. Noted as practitioners of the hula, the mahu are seen as spiritual, powerful, and having a capacity for healing. They bring a sense of hope and accomplishment in an atmosphere of cultural depression. Through the study of diverse musical practices, Robinson suggests, ethnomusicologists can help move the reality of gender fluidity from the periphery of Western society and consciousness to the center.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Women & Music by Karin Pendle. Copyright © 2001 Indiana University Press. Excerpted by permission of Indiana University Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Preliminary Table of Contents:

Contents

Preface
Abbreviations

Feminist Aesthetics
1. Recovering Jouissance: Feminist Aesthetics and Music / Renee Cox Lorraine

Ancient and Medieval Music
2. Women and Music in Greece and Rome / Ann N. Michelini
3. Women in Music to ca. 1450 / J. Michele Edwards

The Fifteenth through the Eighteenth Centuries
4. Musical Women in Early Modern Europe / Karin Pendle
5. Musical Women of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries / Barbara Garvey Jackson

The Nineteenth Century and the Great War
6. European Composers and Musicians, ca. 1800-1890 / Nancy B. Reich
7. European Composers and Musicians, 1880-1918 / Marcia Citron
8. Women in American Music, 1800-1918 / Adrienne Fried Block, assisted by Nancy Stewart

Modern Music around the Globe
9. Contemporary British Composers / Catherine Roma
10. Composers of Modern Europe, the Near East, Australia, and New Zealand / Karin Pendle and Robert Zierolf
11. North America since ca. 1920 / J. Michele Edwards, with contributions by Leslie Lassetter
12. American Popular Music in the Twentieth Century / S. Kay Hoke

Women in the World of Music: Three Approaches
Introduction / Robert Whitney Templeman
13. Women and Music around the Mediterranean / L. JaFran Jones
14. Women in the World of Music: Latin America / Robert Whitney Templeman
15. American Women in Blues and Jazz / Michael J. Budds

The Special Roles of Women
16. Women's Support and Encouragement of Music and Musicians / Linda Whitesitt

General Bibliography
Recordings
Contributors
Index

Indiana University Press

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