Ok this is short notice, but I am giving this fun talk on Wednesday the 11th of November at Homerton College, University of Cambridge. Huge thanks to Mark at Davidbowie.com /David Bowie Official for the cool flyer above and for plugging it on DB's official website (how cool is that?)
My talk will look in some detail at Bowie's representations and contributions to culture, and how these contributions are entangled with issues related to aesthetics, queerness, politics, authenticity and performance. I'll also talk about recurring sounds and themes within the catalogue, and together we'll analyse the imagery and sounds of 'Blackstar' for clues as to where he might go to next.
Admission is free, but if you are thinking of attending please RSVP here: firstname.lastname@example.org
During the first week of December I'll be hanging out in NYU Steinhardt's music technology/music education departments as a visiting scholar. I plan to give a few talks, sit in on some lectures and workshops, snoop around the library and archives and generally just try to soak up a bit of that NYU energy to take back with me to Kingston.
I was invited by Professor S. Alex Ruthmann, Chairperson of the Department of Education, previously of MIT. Alex is one of the most exciting researchers around in the field of music education, integrating technology, computer science and interdisciplinary approaches to musical learning. I met and became friends with Alex and his wife Anne during one of their visits to the Faculty of Education at Cambridge a few years ago. It will be great to see them again, and to take part in the exciting things the faculty and students are doing over there. I can't wait!
I will be attending and presenting a paper at this year's Art of Record Production conference at Drexel University, Philadelphia, from the 6th - 8th of November. I'm super excited about the keynotes from musical heavyweights and heroes such as Tony Maserati, Kenny Gamble (of Gamble and Huff songwriting legend) and the man who created the 'Philly Sound' and ran Sigma Sound Studios, Joseph Tarsia. I'm also keen to check out the city while I'm there, see the Liberty Bell and jog up those Rocky steps. I've been told that the original tapes for Bowie's Young Americans sessions are held in Drexel's archive, so you know I'll be trying by damnedest to get in the same room as those…
My paper is part of the Education track, and will explore ways in which music education can be more relevant, effectual and useful to students today. Abstract below.
Leah Kardos, Kingston University London, UK
Track: C - Education
Evolution (and Revolution) in Higher Music Education
Abstract: Music technologies can lead us to a transformation of perceptions, and the reinvention and refinement of our processes from the way we see, interact with and understand the materials of sound and music to the way we learn new skills, communicate and share with each other, represent ourselves to the world as music creators and professionals, and especially the way we teach. It has and is transforming our language (“I streamed a podcast of glitchcore mashups, and just reblogged it could you give it a ‘like’?”); it is creating musical and sonic possibilities that transcend the facilities of traditional music notation and analysis; it sometimes requires interdisciplinary and collaborative approaches to bring projects, artworks and products to fruition (recording and production technology does not reside in the field of music only, but also that of media, science technology and society (STS), electronics and computer science); it grants music creators agency and control of their works (Taylor 2014). These technologies have become intertwined with commercial and contemporary arts practices, shaping the formation of new aesthetics, giving rise to diverse new creativities and essential emerging literacies. This paper will consider examples of such practices to inform a strategy for developing better, more effective curricula for higher music education where (1) fluency in digital, analog and musical literacies is promoted through practiceled enquiry, (2) traditional music and technology streams are considered important parts of a larger whole, (3) technical learning is designed to be flexible and adaptable to future technologies, where (4) excellence of execution is upheld as a priority and (5) learners are encouraged to be active in and contribute knowledge to communities of knowledge and practice.
I haven't had the time to write this presentation up as a proper paper, all I have here are the slides, audio examples and my own notes. If you're interested in seeing/hearing the ideas from the first of my talks given at the Symposium on the Stardom and Celebrity of David Bowie, held in Melbourne last July, click the 'read more' link below.
Anyway, after the talk many people asked me if they could access the spreadsheet. So here it is. I added some 'sound-alikey' categories (Scott Walker/Frank Black/Anthony Newley-esque, etc) on the advice of one symposium delegate I chatted to after I gave the presentation.
It's a work in progress and certainly not meant to represent anything other than very general categorisations to illustrate a point I was trying to make in my talk (which I'll write up and post here shortly). I am well aware that many complexities in the music are ignored in these categories, and that Bowie's often oblique/abstract lyrical approaches are not well served by the simplistic themes I've listed here. I'm also aware that many might disagree on the categories I've chosen. By 'Modal Effect?' I'm referring to any significant modal or diatonic signature that is present, and am not suggesting that the entire song adheres to that tonal profile. That said, the data set can certainly be refined, and if you want to fiddle about with it and have some additions/amendments/objections by all means let me know (email@example.com) or adapt your own version to suit.
General Bowie Vocalisations vs Song Content (Excel) (Numbers)
For the visualisations, I used the free version of Tableaux Public. You can access the visualisations here (also embedded below, though it seems not all of the tabs are showing). Click the different tabs to see the visualisations I prepared for my talk 'Can You Hear Me? looking at the recurring sonic and musical gestures in the works of David Bowie'.
The Stardom and Celebrity of David Bowie is a two-day multi-discipline symposium that brings together artists, academics and cultural commentators to reflect upon the influences of and on David Bowie in rock, pop, film, art, fashion and performance. I will be delivering two talks at the symposium and a third on Sunday at the ACMI for the David Is… exhibition. I feel so lucky to be part of this - what a dream gig!
The talks I will be delivering are:
1. Can You Hear Me? - looking at the recurring sonic and musical gestures in the works of David Bowie
2. You Can't Hide Beat - talking about fan creativities in the context of a sample-based collaborative cover project I worked on in 2011
3. 5 Lessons: The creativities of David Bowie
Tickets are available here: https://www.acmi.net.au/live-events/talks-performances/the-stardom-and-celebrity-of-david-bowie/
Symposium programme guide is downloadable here
Update: Well that was the BOWIEST weekend of my life, and one of the more enjoyable academic gigs I've been to. Here's some pics…
On May the 10th (session P17) I will be presenting my paper "The Sonic Vernacular: Considering Communicative Timbral Gestures in Modern Music Production"
A snippet showing the abstract (for anyone who's interested!)
“Over the course of audio recording history, we have seen the activity of sound recording widen in scope “‘from a technical matter to a conceptual and artistic one”’ (Moorefield 2010) and the producer’s role evolving from technician to ‘auteur’. For recording practitioners engaged in artistic and commercial industry and discourse, fluency in contemporary and historic sound languages is advantageous. This paper seeks to find the best, most practically useful method to describe these characteristics in practice, and aims to identify a clear and suitable way to talk about and analyse these uses of communicative timbral gestures, as heard in modern music productions.”
***** Update: Some photos from my weekend in Warsaw because why not?
The title of my talk is "Exploring The Temporalities of a Musical Idea", and it's all about a particular philosophy related to generating new ideas, sounds and variations linked to a single composition. If you can stomach it, the abstract is included below:
"Drawing from personally situated knowledge derived from creative practice research, I will illustrate some approaches to the generation of compositional materials bound to a creative philosophy centred around technology, economy and derivation. This philosophy broadens the view of authored materials to include not only the final performance of the music, but also draft and incomplete or unedited versions, inaccurate versions played by sight, adapted versions that are played in sections during rehearsal, unused recording takes and mistakes, incidental sounds from around performance, rehearsal and recording environments, even the sounds generated from travelling to and from the recording session - all of the music and sound resulting from situations, actions and incidents that occur as a direct result of the composition existing can be captured and potentially used to make more music. This approach maximises the amount of materials generated from a single musical composition, providing both an economical approach to theme and creation of a sound world, and a diverse, yet finite framework within which to explore possibilities and experiment. In terms of music production, it also functions as a device for the creation of original and authentic sound worlds for musical ideas to inhabit. This philosophy also acknowledges the collaborative nature of performance, and I will share examples from practice of experiments in human filtering, where intuitive responses from individuals form, inform and reform the creation of musical materials. The score is seen as the starting point of a creative process, the raw materials that are activated by people. In such cases the final recorded production offers a version of the work and a document of this process."
The whole conference schedule can be found HERE.
Registrations/tickets can be ordered HERE.
Can't wait to meet the students and get stuck in!
In a few short weeks I'm off to visit the music department at Western Kentucky University. I was graciously invited by Dr. Michael Kallstrom, a composer/performer/artist and University Distinguished Professor of Music at WKU, to spend a week there with the pianists, composers and music education students to share my practice and explore some different (and hopefully interesting) approaches to creativity.
I'm hoping to use my time there to facilitate some interesting collaborative projects and get everyone thinking about the materials of music in a fresh way. Can't wait!
As part of the deal I'm flying in to Nashville 10 days earlier to spend some time soaking up the local culture. The plan is to hire a car and hit the road and explore: Memphis, Little Rock, Clarksdale, down the Mississippi Delta on Highway 61... I wonder if I'll meet the devil at the crossroads?
With help from friend and teaching colleague Mike Watkinson, who will be leading the creative workshop, I will be sharing and talking about some original music made by my students enrolled on level 3 and 4 vocational music technology courses at Bedford College. I'll be focussing on how technology can make sound and music worlds accessible to students whom have received little former musical training. I want to discuss various strategies in using technology to bridge the knowledge and confidence gaps that exist between composition students that are more and less experienced with music theory and performance.
Do you find that sort of thing interesting? Come along! I've been told the event is very much 'open'.
Click here for details on how to book your place.
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