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Pruett Lecture: Dr. Nina Eidsheim

January 24, 2020 @ 4:15 pm


“Not Composition, Nor Improvisation, but Ankhrasmation: Wadada Leo Smith’s Musical and Philosophical Contribution”

Over the past fifty years, Wadada Leo Smith (b. Mississippi, 1941) has developed an original musical-philosophical language he calls Ankhrasmation, which may be described as consisting of multidimensional visual symbols that are read as scores and considered works of art. His invention represents an original synthesis of graphic notation-based composition and ritual music in several traditions, European and American art music, and blues, and may usefully be discussed within these contexts—as opposed to a focus on the context of jazz or improvisation to which, as George Lewis has pointed out, the consideration of African American composers is often limited. My methodologies include archival, ethnographic, and practice-based approach and will build on and contribute to work in Black studies, American music, and sound studies. In this talk focusing on Ankhrasmation, I will discuss Smith’s contribution to American music and cultural landscape, and correctives to both what is considered improvisation and/or jazz and American classical music.

Dr. Nina Eidsheim, University of California at Los Angeles

Nina Sun Eidsheim studied vocal performance, composition, and philosophy at the University of Agder (Norway) and The Royal Academy of Music, Aarhus (Denmark) before pursing MFA in Music at the California Institute of the Arts. She completed her Ph.D. in critical studies/experimental practices program at the University of California, San Diego. Eidsheim is the author of Sensing Sound: Singing and Listening as Vibrational Practice (Duke University Press, 2015) and Measuring Race: the Micropolitics of Listening to Vocal Timbre and Vocality in African-American Popular Music (Duke University Press, 2019). She is also co-editing the Oxford Handbook of Voice Studies and a special issue on voice and materiality for the journal, Postmodern Culture (2014).


January 24, 2020
4:15 pm
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Person Hall
181 E Cameron Ave
Chapel Hill, NC 27514 United States