"…they think these bodies can't…" – Otherism in Classical Music Composition

Anthony R. Green
"…they think these bodies can't…" – Otherism in Classical Music Composition

Online seminar, English, 2 SWS, 2 ECTS
Tuesdays, 14-16 h, weekly, starting 20.4.2021

When minority bodies have low quantities, they also have low visibility. As the elite typically are not concerned with universal comfort, equality, and justice, minority bodies are too often disregarded as insignificant, placing their social, mental, and physical status in crisis. For these bodies, justice is achieved mostly through individual agency to increase their visibility, collective action, activism from minority bodies who can “pass”, and empathy with action-driven allyship from moral members of the majority. In the world of classical music composition, such patterns have been observed within various minority groups. This course will briefly observe and analyze these patterns within Black, physically othered, female, queer, transgender, and non-binary creative artists bodies working in “classical composition”. By observing the constant institutional and systemic otherist practices perpetrated by the self-defined classical music elite, it becomes painfully clear that “they think these bodies can’t” create “indispensable” art worthy of the same spaces that support their “normal” counterparts. While infighting may stifle progress of the collective othered body within classical composition, current movements and conversations are slowly yielding justice, correcting the canon, and paving the way for a promising future. This is a lecture and discussion course, with required short readings, listenings, and viewings, concluding with short presentations.

The contemporary artists that will be highlighted in the course – including Molly Joyce, Amble Skuze, Pamela Z, Lisa E. Harris, Elaine Mitchener, Camille Norment, Renée C. Baker, Raven Chacon, and more – are all interdisciplinary artists. The course is not designed to unfold chronologically, therefore these artists are studied throughout the course rather than just towards the end. The students can select ANY artist they wish to examine, using the tools and the analytical methods highlighted throughout this course. In this vain, I will emphasize at the beginning of the course that, while there is a strong focus on composition, the methodology I incorporate can be applied to any field of art, including interdisciplinary practices.

Requirements for the ungraded Studium Generale credits: Active and regular participation in discussions and activities, small exercises (reading, listening, watching) and a short presentation.

Anthony R. Green is a composer and performer invested in social justice. His practice of continuous questioning is centered on hyperbole, the embodiment of injustice, and the metaphysics of the oppressed. His work has, among many other places, been presented at Tivoli Vredenburg (Utrecht), studio ilka theurich (Hannover), Cité de la musique et de la danse (Strasbourg), Symphony Space (New York), Spectrum (New York), LiteraturHaus (Copenhagen), The Shoe Factory (Nicosia), and The Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts (Omaha).