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Visiting speakers Anabel Maler (University of Iowa) and Joseph Straus (CUNY) will introduce the topic of music and disability, and present their recent research on music and old age (Straus) and music and deafness (Maler). Abstracts of their talks are below.

This event can be attended in person or via Zoom at https://rochester.zoom.us/j/98026157770. You can also meet and chat with Dr. Maler and Dr. Straus at the George Walker Center (Miller Center, 25 Gibbs St., 1st floor) from 10:00 and 11:00 on Friday 9/30.

Joe Straus, “Old Age as Disability.”
At the intersection of Age Studies and Disability Studies, I imagine old age as a disability, not in the pejorative, biomedical sense, but the in affirmative, cultural sense: an unjustly stigmatized bodily condition that deviates from normative standards for appearance and function—a difference, not a deficit.  I identify a number of cultural scripts for the performance of old age, including a survey of old roles in opera.  I then explore the ways that these scripts and roles inflect the lives, music, and reception of old composers, old performers, old listeners, and old scholars.
Anabel Maler, “Analyzing Sign Language Music.”
For Western music theory, which is so practiced at engaging with sound, songs created in signed languages (such as American Sign Language) pose considerable challenges to our assumptions about the definition of music. If music can exist without sound, then what is music? In answering this question, my talk places sign language music, and specifically deaf music, at the center of music-theoretical inquiry. In centering signed music, I engage with the following questions: what makes sign language music musical? What parameters of sign language music are available for analysts to discuss and interpret? How do these parameters interact to form a meaningful musical experience? And what can sign language music tell us about how Deaf and hearing people understand the musical aspects of physical gestures? My talk answers these questions through analyzing voice, rhythm, and melody in a variety of pieces of signed music, and through a detailed case study of Rosa Lee Timm’s “River Song.”

Co-sponsored by the Eastman Music Theory Department and the Eastman Departmental Diversity Initiative

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