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Non-Isochronous Meter in Music by the Carter Family

Ondrej Hochla ('10); Joti Rockwell

Instances of non-isochronous approaches to musical time pervade much of old-time country and bluegrass music recorded in the United States during the 1920s and 1930s. While the phenomenon has been noted as rhythmic/metrical asymmetry or irregularity by a number of scholars, its causes and interpretive consequences have not yet been studied in detail. This project works from an analytic standpoint grounded in current theories of musical meter that privilege perception and musical process over notational structure. An intensive study of 290 recordings by the Carter Family as well as 144 contemporaneous recordings leads to results regarding performers’ approaches regarding tempo, metrical structure, phrasing, improvisation, and rhythmic consistency. These results support the conclusion that metrical layers do not act recursively for the repertoire in question; furthermore, as opposed to musical traditions more strongly grounded in written notation, meter here is extremely dependent upon the specifics of musical performance.
Funding provided by: Pomona College SURP

Nineteenth-Century Choral Music

Mallory McLaren ('10); Donna M. Di Grazia

This summer I worked closely with Prof. Donna M. Di Grazia on a number of editorial aspects of the book she is editing. The book is on nineteenth-century choral music for the series Routledge Studies in Musical Genres and is to be published some time next year. She is both the editor of the book as well as a contributing author. The book is a collaborative effort with contributions from 25 different authors. My main tasks were to proofread and edit the essays that have been submitted to date and to prepare the index as best I could at the book’s current stage of completion.
Funding provided by: Pomona College National Endowment for the Humanities Grant

The Afro-Caribbean Religious Roots of Caribbean Pop and Folk Music

Leanne Welds ('10); Katherine Hagedorn

As research assistant for Professor Katherine Hagedorn, I was engaged in preliminary research for one of the professor’s book projects, The Sacred Roots of Afro-Caribbean Popular Music in Cuba and Beyond. The book’s function is to expose the Afro-Caribbean religious roots of many Caribbean pop and folk music traditions, with the specific aim of examining and comparing the scope of this influence cross- regionally under different Euro-colonial regimes. The project focuses on three Caribbean islands- Cuba, Trinidad and Haiti, and my research was categorized accordingly. Continuing the work of Professor Hagedorn’s former research assistant, I searched for and procured relevant sources which would facilitate the professor’s research, and also prepared an extensive bibliography of those chosen. While time only allowed for a mere overview of most of the sources, it was clear to me that Professor Hagedorn’s book would usefully fill a gap in the existing literature.
Funding provided by: Pomona College SURP

Research at Pomona