Session/Séance 2a: CSTM Panel 1 Thursday/jeudi 25 May 2017. 2:00 – 3:00 pm, EJB 120. Devotional Musicking
Chair: KATI SZEGO (Memorial University of Newfoundland)
1. Post-Ritual? (Or is it the same old song?): Approaching the Non-Ritual Status of Baha'i Music
Daniel Stadnicki, University of Alberta
The religious teachings and arts-based devotional practices of the Baha’i faith offer a unique set of challenges for the study of music and ritual. This paper examines the “non-ritualistic” discourses of the faith (Momen 2013) and outlines how Baha’i conceptions of “uncritical” ritual activity (Hatcher and Martin 1998, 86) shape their musical aesthetics and (re)articulate modernist oppositions against “ineffective” ritual acts (Sax 2010, 4). I argue that the Baha’i case study raises important questions about how an ethnomusicological approach can address devotional musicking without reifying the trope of ritualization. Drawing from fieldwork interviews with Iranian Baha’i musicians from across North America, as well as incorporating hermeneutic analyses of Baha’i holy writings alongside select musical examples, this presentation reconsiders the intellectual tradition of ritual music study from within (and against) Baha’i theology and aesthetics.
2. Transcribing Modernity and the Rise of Egyptian Coptic Women’s Song Activism
Carolyn Ramzy, Carleton University
In this paper, I explore Egyptian Coptic music life through a gendered lens and look at how the repatriation of Western music transcriptions have facilitated women’s performances of a male dominated genre. Coptic liturgical alḥān, have long emerged as the community’s most “authentic” musical heritage, thanks to the attention they received by European and American missionaries in the nineteenth century. Despite the fact that the majority of Coptic clerics and male cantors cannot read the western music transcriptions missionaries produced, a number of women have emerged to read and use them in performance. Here I ask: How are women’s participation and performance entangled in the Church’s heritage-making projects? More importantly, how do women’s increased audibility, music activism, and use of Western music notation intersect with problematic and postcolonial discourses of a pious modernity? Drawing on Deniz Kandiyoti’s work on the role of gender as a both a product and a signifier of “modernity” (1991), and Timothy Mitchell’s understanding of modern forms of expertise (2002), I analyze how the renewed interest in Western music notation have allowed Coptic Orthodox women to craft expertise status as well as legitimate their performances of alḥān during a contemporary religious revival.