Keywords: women in music, prehistory, sound studies, feminist musicology, female spirituality

Chaveux Cave, France

Chaveux Cave, France

Dissertation Abstract:

Situated within deep history, this study explores the auditory and spiritual lives of Paleolithic women. It considers their personal agency in mediating the spiritual power of sound and how doing so contributes to a multifaceted musicality. The theoretical framework involves a wide spectrum of topics, from ways of rethinking the writing of history and reckoning with time, to sound studies and the study of acoustics in ancient sites, to a critical examination through a feminist lens of normative disciplinary scholarship in anthropology and archaeology, religious studies, and musicology. I explore potential audio-visual-lithic relationships for their implications for deepening an understanding of the spiritual aspects of Paleolithic life. Drawing from this interdisciplinary literature, integrative discussions are constructed which when considered collectively, not only provide different types of role models and different criteria pertaining to women's experiences of music-making, but also facilitate the emergence of a more nuanced understanding of Paleolithic spiritual practices. In this women-centric narrative innumerable generations of women's participation as spiritual healers within the shamanic musical paradigm are acknowledged and valued, broadening the parameters of women's cultural heritage and spiritual experience. This expansion can help women today turn away from a compensatory music history perspective that is oriented toward figuring out how to fit into a prescribed androcentric narrative of Western art music and turn towards a more holistic narrative in which women can better consider their lineage(s) on their own terms. It fosters re-conceptualizations of women's musical and spiritual identities by reorienting the timeline, contexts, and definition of women's experiences of music-making as sound-producers and sound-interpreters. This project is intended to provide one possible starting point for new conversations about women in music regardless of one's positionality. From a more inclusive gynocentric vantage point, the toxic self-perpetuating loop which has affected how musicology has thus far been shaped, namely through the undervaluing of women’s musical experiences and the ways that they think and feel about music, is being contested. Ultimately, it is a matter of ownership.


Additional Abstract Excerpts

Paleolithic Spiritual Practices: An Audiovisual Perspective


Keywords: spirituality, Paleolithic, archaeoacoustics, sound studies, rock art, echoes, rituals


The notion that the sounds of an ancient place may have been part of its purpose and meaning is gaining momentum. In this paper, potential audio-visual-lithic relationships are explored for their implications for deepening our understanding of the spiritual aspects of Paleolithic life, which may also lead to our ability to render a more holistic depiction of prehistoric musicality.

Musicology Meets Queer Theory and Good Things Happen



Keywords: Musicology, Queer Theory, Feminist Critique, Music Pedagogy

 This paper provides an introductory overview of queer musicological scholarship in which I assess and describe the contributions of some prominent queer musicologists and their impact on musicological scholarship and music pedagogy in the wider musical academic discourse.


Musical Notation, Music Performance and Technology: A Long Term Synergistic Relationship


Keywords: Musical notation, technology, performance practices, music history

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In this paper I construct a historical narrative that demonstrates the dynamics of the coexistence of music performance and musical notation, how they have influenced and stimulated one another in Western music beginning in Greek and Jewish traditions known as antiquity, proceeding to contemporary situations. Musical notation has created both access and barriers to musicianship for people and musical identities/genres have been defined by the use (or not) of written music.