Travel to New Haven
Program & Abstracts
Thursday, February 14, 2013
Paper Session 1 (plenary session)
Constructive Theologies of Music
Chelle Stearns -Mars Hill Graduate School
Dissonance as Theological Category: The Triduum as a Place to Re-imagine Reconciliation
This paper will investigate how dissonance can help to open up new ways of discussing the concept of reconciliation: both musically and theologically.
This paper will begin with an exploration of the aesthetic turn in the 20th century toward dissonance. In particular, Arnold Schoenberg’s “transformation of musical language” (Haimo, 2006) helped to usher in compositional techniques that emancipated dissonance and suspended the “the unifying power of the tonic” (Schoenberg, “My Evolution,” 1949), thus changing the aesthetic tonal landscape of the 20th century. This paper will argue that this dissonant turn has the potential to help re-imagine the Christian narrative of the Cross, especially through the liturgical observance of the Triduum (the narrative gesture from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday). More specifically, Holy Saturday is latent with liturgical and ecclesial possibilities with regard to reinvigorating the place of lament in Christian worship and providing a renewed understanding of the believer’s reconciliation through the physical body of Jesus Christ. As Karl Barth puts this: “God’s beauty embraces death as well as life, fear as well as joy, what we might call the ugly as well as what we might call the beautiful” (Barth, Church Dogmatics, II:1).
This paper will end with an analysis of how composer James MacMillan has incorporated some of these aesthetic and theological elements in his “Seven Last Words from the Cross” (1993), using a dissonant beauty that embraces life and death in order to articulate the all encompassing love of God on the Cross through sound.
Awet Andemicael (Yale University)
The Music of God: Toward an Aesthetic Trinitarian Theology
In this paper, I sketch the outlines of a Trinitarian theology based around the idea of Christ as the “Music of God.” The potential contributions of such an approach include its effectiveness in joining the aesthetic to the ratio-intellectual dimensions of spiritual activity in divine self-revelation and creaturely knowledge of God, and its power to connect the active receptivity required of the listener to music to that found in creation’s relation to God.
I begin with Bonaventure’s Itinerarium mentis in Deum, contextualizing Bonaventure’s musical approach within prevailing medieval theories of music represented by Augustine and Boethius. Bonaventure’s concept of music and Christ as epistemological ladders to God suggests the central metaphor. With a nod to Irenaeus, I expand the metaphor to include both “hands of God,” i.e., both Christ and the Holy Spirit, with special attention to the economy of creation. Commenting on von Balthasar’s discussion of the theological importance of the sense of hearing, I position creatures in this schema, both as hearers in-formed by the Music of God, and variations echoing and eventually participating in the divine strains.
I present, then problematize, Christ as the “verbal” and the Spirit as the “sonic” dimensions of the music of God, then reflect on the implications of this approach for the apophatic “silence” of God. In conclusion, I challenge the possibility of tidiness in any effective metaphor relating to the sovereign and inherently mysterious God, even as I affirm the importance of such metaphors.
Paper session 2 (concurrent sessions)
a) Sonic and Visual Encounters
Jonathan Anderson (Biola University)
Singing Bodies: Musical Theology in the Work of Contemporary Artist Tim Hawkinson
Musical sound has played an increasingly significant role in contemporary visual art, particularly with respect to its capacity to investigate (1) human affectivity and its relation to the body, and (2) the sensorial, affective, and liturgical dimensions of cultural participation. This inclusion of music in contemporary art creates rich demands and possibilities at the interface between art and music theory, but, moreover, it has also often generates weighty theological implications, which have been largely ignored. This paper will investigate the theological significance of musical form in the work of one contemporary artist, Tim Hawkinson, focusing especially on his massive sculptural installation: Überorgan (2000).
Fashioned out of low-grade construction materials (the stuff of home improvement stores), Überorgan consists of twelve inflated bus-size “lung” contraptions, which blow loud notes through twelve 25-foot-long cardboard/aluminum foil trumpets, each (roughly) tuned so that together they cover an entire octave. By conflating the visual forms of internal organs with the functional structure of a musical organ, Hawkinson positions viewers within a single singing body whose diverse forms and soundings are unified into a single musical space.
Überorgan’s song is orchestrated by a homemade player-piano mechanism of photoelectric “eyes” that read and interpret a Mylar scroll of long sequences of black dots and dashes. The performance of this text produces a jumbled medley of strangely familiar musical fragments from Protestant hymns, advertising jingles, pop classics, Swan Lake, the Olympics theme, etc. Initially, any coherence to this disjointed medley seems derived solely from their common availability in postmodern North America, but in the singing body of Überorgan they are rendered as a single stream of hymnody—thus construing and questioning culture itself as intrinsically liturgical.
Joanna Smolko (University of Georgia)
“Nothing Free Except the Grace of God”: Music and Redemption-Haunted Landscapes in Coen Brothers Films
In the climactic moments of Joel and Ethan Coen’s film True Grit (2010), the cantankerous, drunken, and bloodthirsty Rooster Cogburn stumbles through the darkness carrying young, injured Mattie Ross, haloed by slow strains of the gospel hymn “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” (1887). The hymn sounds as an instrumental leitmotiv throughout the film, but here the sung text brings the music to the foreground, symbolizing Cogburn’s roles as redeemed and redeemer in the scene. Echoing the stories of Flannery O’Connor, whom they credit as an influence, Coen brothers films are peopled with eccentric and nearly mythological characters in settings that vacillate between stark realism and the fantastical. Their films mingle dark comedy with moments where individuals are confronted with spiritual realities of sin, death, and grace. In this paper, I examine how music facilitates these encounters with the numinous. I discuss the development of this musical-narrative language, especially through the Coen Brothers’ collaborations with sound archivist T. Bone Burnett. Finally, I survey musical settings of redemption in films such as Raising Arizona (1987), The Big Lebowksi (1998), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), The Ladykillers (2004), and True Grit. Christian hymns illuminate characters’ experiences through their theology. The music also reinforces the geography of the films, with gospel hymns sounding within Western-themed films and gospel and shape-note hymns employed in Southern settings. The music highlights the symbolic treatment of region within these films: the landscape is an allegorical setting for a character’s spiritual journey.
b) The ‘Sacred’ in Classical Repertoire
Nicholas J. Chong (Columbia University)
Beethoven’s Favorite Theologian? Johann Michael Sailer, the Missa Solemnis, and the Question of Beethoven’s Faith
Beethoven’s admiration for the Catholic theologian Johann Michael Sailer (1751-1832) is well documented in his letters and conversation books. Beethoven scholars have long acknowledged this connection between composer and theologian, especially in relation to the Missa Solemnis. Of Sailer’s theological views, however, they have shown only a superficial understanding, derived exclusively from Arnold Schmitz’s 1927 monograph Das romantische Beethovenbild. To identify just one problem with Schmitz’s account, his description of Sailer as a “Fideist” has been shown by more recent scholarship in church history to be overly simplistic, if not inaccurate.
My paper seeks to provide a more detailed and nuanced account of Sailer’s theological views by closely examining the contents of the three books by Sailer that Beethoven acquired during the period he was writing the Missa Solemnis: the Kleine Bibel für Kranke und Sterbende, Friedrich Christians Vermächtnis and Goldkörner der Weisheit und Tugend. I shall further demonstrate Sailer’s place within the fierce debates about the future of German Catholicism that were occurring during Beethoven’s lifetime—a cultural context that has been poorly understood by Beethoven scholars, and has until recently received little attention even from religious historians, at least in English-language scholarship.
I shall go on to suggest ways in which characteristics of Sailer’s theology, exemplified in the three books Beethoven owned, might explain particular features of the Missa Solemnis. My paper will conclude by proposing that a deeper knowledge of Sailer and his influence on Beethoven should encourage us to consider the possibility that the composer’s religious views, at least in his late period, might have been more oriented towards the institutional Church than is usually believed.
Helen M.Greenwald (New England Conservatory)
Verdi’s Attila as Festival Drama: Venice, Raphael, and the Rite of Christian Initiation
This paper is about the Act I finale of Verdi’s 1846 opera, Attila. The scene is based on Attila’s actual encounter with Pope Leo I in 452 A.D., regarding the Hun’s planned invasion of Rome, preempted by a vision of Saints Peter and Paul. The legendary meeting was realized by Raphael in his fresco in the Vatican, The Meeting between Leo the Great and Attila, which depicts Hun and Pope, against a distant Rome, with the apostles Peter and Paul, swords aflame, hovering overhead. Verdi’s operatic recreation of the scene is a tableau vivant, the origins of which lie in medieval liturgical dramas, frequently concerning the conversion of the infidel, the subject of all the frescoes in the Stanza di Eliodoro in the Vatican. I propose that Verdi’s finale relates specifically to several important historical and religious phenomena: Attila’s exploits on the Italian peninsula, Verdi’s tailoring of his opera for the Venetian audience at its premiere-- the founding of the City of Venice and its yearly festivals, and the climactic moment in the Rite of Christian Initiation, the Easter Vigil.Most important, Verdi’s tableau vivant, like its model in the Vatican, clearly communicates a warning to those who would occupy and terrorize a nation. The opera is based on Zacharias Werner’s 1808 play Attila, König der Hunnen, lauded by Madame de Staël, for its portrayal of Christian triumph. Important evidence of Verdi’s intentions in this scene lies in the ways he and his librettist, Temistocle Solera, altered Werner’s original choices of text and music.
Friday, February 15, 2013
Paper session 3 (concurrent sessions)
a) Sacred Music by Contemporary Composers
Jonathan Blumhofer (Clark University)
Christian Zeal and Activity: Themes of Faith and Doubt in the Music of John Adams
Though he recently described himself as “a sort of secular liberal living in Berkeley, California,” the composer John Adams has an extensive catalogue of music that deals directly with themes of Christian faith and doubt. One of the reasons for this is certainly cultural – Adams’s music embraces the polyglot American musical culture of the distant and recent past, including (in 1973’s eponymous Christian Zeal and Activity) hymnody – but this is only a partial explanation. A far more significant one is that, at least since the composition of El Nino in 1999-2000, Adams has been embarking on a journey of spiritual discovery. “I envy people with strong religious beliefs,” he said, “Mine are shaky and unformed. I don’t know what I’m saying and one reason for writing El Nino was to find out.” In fact, one might argue – as this paper does – that the musical roots of this voyage of spiritual ascertation go back a decade before El Nino, to Adams’s controversial 1991 opera The Death of Klinghoffer. In this brooding score – which marked a major stylistic departure from the strong Minimalist influence in his music of the 1970s and ‘80s – one finds not only the shadow of the Bach Passions looming large, but also a new, deeply expressive musicality, one that Adams has honed in his music to the present day. This paper also discusses Adams’s religious background in New England and examines the development of Christian themes as they appear with increasing frequency in his later scores, from Klinghoffer through his most recent large-scale work, The Gospel According to the Other Mary.
Nathan Burggraff (Eastman School of Music)
Postmodernism in Music and Theology: Analyzing Closure in Steve Reich’s The Cave as Case Study
While the use of sacred themes as entertainment in Western art music is not new, the highly diverse religious beliefs in contemporary culture has changed the way successful composers use sacred themes in their compositions. The increased use of spiritually-themed music, specifically themes that exhibit religious pluralism and eclecticism, in the concert hall in recent years can be viewed within the larger cultural trend labeled postmodernism.
Steve Reich’s The Cave (1993) contrasts differing ideas on fundamental religious beliefs by exploring the tension between Israelis and Palestinians over the sacred tomb (or cave) of the Old Testament patriarch Abraham. Its texts present a multi-angled view of the heated debate between these two people groups. The piece not only shows the religious diversity between the two groups, as well as their animosity for each other, but it also shows how the religious history of the Patriarch (Abraham) has been largely forgotten in contemporary America. This paper will focus on specific scenes in the piece in order to demonstrate how the concept of closure, both from a theological and musical standpoint, provides insight into the various religious responses in The Cave. The confirmation or denial of musical closure at the end of each of the three Acts, based on formal structure and large-scale tonal organization, mirrors the theological concept of closure based on the religious perspectives of the Israeli, Palestinian, and American interviewees.
Christina J. Carnes (Duke University)
James MacMillan’s Kiss on Wood: Avoiding Sentimentality Through the Triduum
Sonorous harmonies and crashing dissonances, brazing fortes and whispering pianos, churning sixteenth notes and held lines: such radical contrasts are masterfully woven together in James MacMillan’s Kiss on Wood () for violin and piano. As MacMillan explains in his composition notes, he employs these polemical musical gestures to capture the enigmatic binary of brutality and beauty in the Triduum – the three-days story of Christ’s crucifixion, death and resurrection. Christian artists, by allowing their imaginations to be formed by this central narrative, can thwart the subtle pathology of sentimentality, which Jeremy Begbie describes as “a deep, pernicious strand in contemporary culture and in the Church.”
Guided by Begbie’s observations, I consider how sentimentality in artworks might pose a threat to social and theological developments though the evasion or trivialization of evil, emotional self-indulgence, and the avoidance of appropriate costly action. Furthermore, the perception of sentimentality as beauty’s definitive corollary has generated much skepticism, if not complete dismissal, of beauty in certain religious, academic, and popular realms. Given the force of these critiques, is it possible to salvage beauty from the wreckage of sentimentality? In this paper, I argue that the Triduum provides the artist with the theological paradigm for successfully negotiating the relationship between good, evil and beauty. James MacMillan’s theological and musical methods in Kiss On Wood demonstrate how artifacts created from this paradigm can be stunningly beautiful while resisting sentimentality.
b) Sacred Music in the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
Katherine Kennedy Steiner (Princeton University)
Musical Flowers for Our Lady of all Seasons in Medieval Scotland
Marian devotion expanded dramatically during the High Middle ages, expressed in part in the liturgical celebration of the Lady Mass, a weekly or daily commemoration particularly popular in the British Isles up to the Reformation. The Marian feasts of the liturgical year already contained complete masses celebrating the Virgin, but the regular Lady Mass required new collections of the Marian mass music that would be appropriate for all liturgical seasons. This votive mass developed in the thirteenth century alongside the rapidly spreading new polyphonic repertory of organum and conductus, and itself received many new polyphonic works.
One of the earliest collections of Notre Dame organum, W1, also contains in it the earliest polyphonic collection of music for the Lady Mass. Though many scholars have studied the Notre Dame repertory in the main fascicles, none have examined the Marian collection as the creative labor of a musician to provide music for the new daily Lady mass. This paper examines the sources from which the musician borrowed, interpreting the theological significance of the musical and liturgical connections made therein, and analyses the rhetorical devices in the texts and music that emphasize these concepts. Rather than being "primitive" attempts at polyphonic settings for some Marian music, as some scholars have described the collection, I show that the creator carefully crafted his selections using musical and textual ornaments, often called flowers, to adorn the Lady Mass sung in the Cathedral of St Andrews throughout the liturgical year.
Jennifer Bloxam (Williams College)
Et incarnatus est: Annunciation Narrative and Incarnation Theology in the Missa Ecce ancilla Domini by Regis
Told only in the Gospel of Luke, the story of the angel Gabriel’s visit to the Virgin Mary culminates in the Incarnation, that miraculous instant when divine matter took human form in Mary’s womb. Here begins the story of mankind’s salvation: the Savior’s sojourn on earth, culminating in His sacrifice on the Cross and His resurrection. From the early medieval era to our own, artists and composers have grappled with the challenge of capturing the import of this central Christian mystery.
As Marian devotion intensified over the course of the Middle Ages, depictions of the Annunciation multiplied; gaudy-winged angels, bearded patriarchs in the sky, demure Virgins, and doves plummeting on rays of light froze the moment of Incarnation in a wide variety of media. Music too served to tell the story of the Annunciation. This paper will explore the extraordinary Missa Ecce ancilla Domini by the 15th-century composer Johannes Regis, a polytextual extravaganza that weaves into the Mass Ordinary seven plainsong melodies with their texts. By focusing on the Credo and Sanctus movements, I will show that Regis’s choice and treatment of his cantus firmi both dramatizes the Annunciation narrative within the framework of the Eucharistic celebration, and explicates the theology of the Incarnation in relation to that of the Transubstantiation. In conclusion, I will suggest that, in certain aspects of content and structure, Regis’s Mass is strikingly akin to contemporaneous Annunciation paintings also made to adorn the Mass ritual.
Melody Marchman Schade (University at Buffalo, SUNY)
Reading Ottaviano Petrucci’s Motteti A and Motetti Libro Quarto as Devotional Books
While much musicological work has considered the Venetian motet prints of Ottaviano Petrucci [1466-1539] mere repositories of musical works, this paper suggests that these prints should be considered as living objects that served devotional function in the faith life of their owners, readers and singers. These prints have been exhaustively studied by Howard Mayer Brown, Warren Drake and Stanley Boorman, among others, yet even in these seminal studies the Venetian motet prints have been considered static museum pieces rather than functional objects within the lives of their owners. While I do not disagree with these findings, such selective methodology yields an incomplete understanding of Petrucci’s Venetian motet prints, printing and late medieval devotional readership.
Building on the work of Brown, Drake and Boorman, I argue that an anthropological approach to these prints, as espoused by Peta Mouture and Michelle O’Malley, yields an understanding of the prints in which the modes of thought manifest in these objects paint a nuanced picture of late medieval reading practice. Engaging first withlate medieval silent reading practice, I demonstrate that the format, content and paratexts of two of Petrucci’s motet prints, Motetti A and Motetti Libro Quarto , encouraged a mode of reading that aligns with contemporaneous devotional reading practice. By analyzing these prints as books that were used alongside and in conjunction with non-musical books, I contribute to a fuller understanding of the interaction between late medieval singers and Petrucci’s Venetian motet prints.
Paper session 4 (concurrent sessions)
a) Reformation and Jesuit Reform
Samantha Arten (Duke University)
Catholic and Anglican Theologies in Tallis’s Cantiones Sacrae (1575) and Their English Contrafacta
The music of Thomas Tallis spans the English Reformation and offers a unique window into a complex world of religion and politics born of changing theological beliefs and practices. Tallis scholarship to date has largely focused on issues of musical style and text-setting while neglecting the deeper theological implications of the words Tallis selected. This project deals directly with Tallis’s Latin texts and their English contrafacta, seeking to understand how they were used to articulate disparate themes of Catholic, Anglican, and Puritan teachings following Henry VIII’s establishment of the Church of England.
Five of Tallis’s Latin motets published in the 1575 Cantiones Sacrae were converted into eleven English contrafacta by persons unknown: Salvator mundi (i) (Arise, O Lord, and hear; With all our hearts), Salvator mundi (ii) (When Jesus went into Simon the Pharisee’s house), Absterge Domine (Discomfort them, O Lord; Wipe away my sins; Forgive me, Lord, my sin; O God, be merciful), Mihi autem nimis (Blessed be thy name), and O sacrum convivium (I call and cry to thee; O sacred and holy banquet; Deliver us, O Lord our God). These acts of reworking brought these motets into line with the authorized liturgy of the Church of England and illustrated shifts in theological emphasis. The contrafacta fall roughly into two groups: quasi-literal translations, which nonetheless demonstrate subtle theological differences, and retextings with a more dramatic shift in content. Together, these motets and contrafacta engage such diverse concepts as Christology and soteriology; providence; Trinitarian doctrine; awareness of sins and penitence; devotion to saints; divine right and monarchial authority; and the Eucharistic doctrines of transubstantiation and consubstantiation.
Sarah Davies (Monash University)
Kirchen Cron or Baalsfeldzeichen? The Organ as a Sign of Confessional Identity, 1560-1660
This paper looks at the organ in worship from 1560 to 1660 during a period of intense confessional controversy, and its importance as a sign for Lutherans and Calvinists. The concept of the organ as a marker of orthodox Lutheran identity begins in the 1560s with plans for the re-building of the Ulm instrument (its destruction by a team of horses in 1531 cited repeatedly as a prime example of the Reformed position), and the first publication of organ tablatures in the 1570s which include motets cited in Kirchenordnungen.
A central issue of the "Anhalt Controversy" in the 1580s, which continued well into the 1600s, use of the instrument was debated at the "Colloquy of Mömpelgard" by Geneva's Theodore Beza and Tübingen's Jacob Andreae. No longer regarded as adiaphora, or "indifferent," the organ was defended and promoted by Wittenberg theologians in a Gutachten of 1597. In the same year, the ministerium of Reformed Schaffhausen sent a scathing Erinnerung to its City Council calling for the final destruction of the Cathedral's silent organs.
The study will also consider justifications of the instrument found in Lutheran organ sermons (Orgelpredigten) published between 1602 and 1660, and a selection of painted organ wings will underscore the Lutheran reliance on images of David and Old Testament references to instrumental music. Finally, Lutheran church and court chapel interiors will be examined where the organ becomes a focal point over the altar and /or pulpit (Orgelaltar, Kanzelaltar), assuming a symbolic function in the propagation of the Word.
Jane C. Gosine (Memorial University of Newfoundland)
“Let all the earth keep silence before him”: The Use of Silence in the Sacred Music of Marc-Antoine Charpentier (1643-1704)
References to silence and stillness – both literal and metaphorical – abound in biblical and liturgical texts representing a plethora of different meanings – from reverential devotion to debilitating fear, peace and stillness to abandon and loss. Through the temporal nature of music, the composer can use silence as a means of conveying both syntax and semantics: structurally, as a means of organizing the music into sections or representing punctuation and articulation; and rhetorically, as a device to convey meaning and emotion. The focus of this paper is on Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s use of silence in his settings of sacred texts – in particular, his use of silence as a rhetorical device in a range of different contexts. In keeping with Jesuit thinking that shaped his compositional practices, Charpentier used silence on various levels as a means “to delight, to move and to instruct” the worshipper – reinforcing the message of the text in much the same way as the Jesuit preachers renowned for their oratorical skills. While 17th-century French theorists did not codify rhetorical-musical figures in the manner of contemporary German theorists, French composers employed many of the rhetorical figures commonly found in treatises of the period to arouse the passions or affections through music using expressive means. This paper will demonstrate how rhetorical devices, such as abruptio, aposiopesis, pausa, suspiratio and tmesis are used effectively by Charpentier as a means of communicating the meaning of the text to the worshipper, reflecting 17th-century Jesuit spirituality.
b) Sacred Ecstasy and the Trace of the Divine
Robert Sholl (Royal Academy of Music and University of West London)
The Sublime, the Apocalyptic and Ecstasy in the Music of Charles Tournemire and Olivier Messiaen
This first part of this paper gives a brief historical overview of two tributaries: the sublime and pre-WWI French Catholic symbolism. It begins with a discussion of the Kantian view, that the pleasure of the apperception of God (and nature) are surpassed or overcome by reason, diremptively provoking a new mythic release of resolution and pleasure. This is followed by a brief discussion of the ways in which other critics have extended, challenged, and recontextualised this thought, notably Lyotard [1989, 1991 and 1994], Nancy , and most recently Kiene Brillenburg Wurth (2009) who promotes the musical sublime as a liminal experience that is indefinite, infinite and irresolvable. This overview is a preview to a discussion of salient features of the aesthetic search for the absolute in the Catholic symbolist worldview of Joséphin ‘Sâr’ Péladan and Joris-Karl Huysmans.
Stephen Schloesser (2008) has shown that there was a historical imperative for the eternal, especially in a traumatised post-war epoch defined by bereavement, mourning, and memorialisation. The fantasy of the apocalyptic and the sublime, sedimented in the fracturing of plainchant and mode, and the idea of the choral in Tournemire’s and Messiaen’s music is, however, a celebration of this music’s inability or unwillingness to mourn. This paper seeks to understand these composer’s unique diremption of the sublime and the apocalyptic into an ecstatic or mystical art as a figment of modernist renewal. This fantasy reconfiguration of the secular as the sacred will be shown to be a contingent, embodied, and liminal listening experience.
Jeff R. Warren (Trinity Western University)
Music and the Trace of God: Lévinas, Lévinas, and Messiaen
This presentation examines linkages between music and God in the thought of Olivier Messiaen, Emmanuel Lévinas, and Michaël Lévinas. A parallel exists in the work of Messiaen and Emmanuel Lévinas. Both believe that God is encountered through an overwhelming and irreducible experience. For Messiaen, that experience is the overwhelming of the senses through music. For Lévinas, the trace of God is present in the ethical encounter with the Other. Lévinas and Messiaen were contemporaries, but the occasion for them to come into contact was through Emmanuel’s son, Michaël. Michaël Lévinas – who had been a child prodigy pianist – studied composition with Messiaen in the late 1960s and early 1970s. During that period, father and son Lévinas discussed music and philosophy extensively, and Emmanuel and Messiaen met. However, since Emmanuel Lévinas rarely mentions music in his writings and Messiaen’s spirituality remains mystical, there is no direct interaction between their thought. It is the composition and ideas of Michaël Lévinas that seems to bridge the ideas of both of his mentors. Lévinas was a founder of spectralism, a compositional approach that extended some ideas of Messiaen and explored sound as a phenomenon rather than notes. He also extended his father’s notion of the ‘trace’, seeing sound as a ‘trace’ of the body. Since music contains a trace of a person, and a person contains a trace of God, it seems that music perhaps embodies a trace of God.
Graham Hair (Glasgow University)
The “Ecstasy and Enlightenment” Project: “Audacious Euphony”, Modernism and Sacred Music in the Postmodern Age
Two recent (2011/2012) music-theoretical books (Tymoczko's Geometry of Music, Cohn's Audacious Euphony) propose new models for particular tonal music repertoires beyond those from which long-established theories, such as Schenker's, arose. In particular, Cohn's redrafting of Riemannian theory clarifies with precision long-recognized but imprecisely-articulated differences between 18th-century "common-practice" diatonic tonality and 19th-century "extended-common-practice" chromatic tonality.
Cohn describes the expressive aspirations driving Audacious Euphony as deriving from "The Triad's Second Nature": ‘...such progressions are often explicitly affiliated with altered or heightened realities: Schubert’s magic harp, Wagner’s magic sleep, Rimsky-Korsakoff’s magic and exotic kingdoms, Liszt’s mountain-top meditations...’
In the E+E project, I attempted to explore a "Second Nature" for some familiar Modernist practices (eg those documented in the literature of 12-tone and atonal theory) by extending the concepts outlined in Audacious Euphony beyond 19th-century practice, eg to the place of consonance, dissonance, diatonicism and circular and teleological temporal structures in the context of the over-arching chromatic aggregate, and to the relationship of these issues to sacred music composition of the past and present. The purpose was to develop a postmodern sacred music responding to the "altered or heightened realities" which Cohn describes, as expressed in contemporary mystical traditions of poetry and hymn-writing. Illustrated by many recorded excerpts.
The project arose from papers by John Bell, James Macmillan and the present author at the 20th-century Day of the Sacred Music Symposium sponsored by Pluscarden Abbey (Scotland) in 2009 (proceedings in press). Funding from the UK's AHRC and Scottish Arts Council is acknowledged.
c) Performativity and Diversity
April Stace Vega (Catholic University of America)
The Dialogue of the Feast: The Interfaith Concert and Christian Identity
Interfaith concerts are one of the more visible manifestations of inter-religious dialogue in American culture, existing somewhere between official, doctrine-focused dialogues between religious organizations and the “dialogue of life” that happens every day between friends and neighbors of different faiths. It is precisely the in-between nature of the interfaith concert that allows people to come together to perform and listen to one another “be” their faith in music. Through my observations of the annual concerts of the Interfaith Conference of Metropolitan Washington, I explore notions of identity, testimony and feast (particularly in the work of Catherine Cornille and Marianne Moyaert) to understand the significance of interfaith concerts in the Christian life.
Paul Rumrill (Liberty University)
Bridging Musical Cultures in Multiracial Worship
In 2007, almost fifteen percent of evangelical churches in the United States consisted of multiracial congregations, with worshippers consisting of a minority culture of twenty percent or greater representation. (DeYmaz and Li, 2010) A number of these assemblies include gatherings of African-Americans and Caucasians; these black-white churches exhibit a number of charismatic practices in the services, regardless of denominational affiliation (Emerson and Woo, 2006). These trends include musical, administrative, and structural approaches that differ from their monoracial counterparts.
Some of these churches use a hybridized music language-family synthesizing elements of urban praise and CCLI-based praise and worship. Harmonic extensions beyond the seventh, secondary harmonic progressions, specific types of borrowed chords, reharmonizations, the use of the mixolydian mode in harmonic implications, and the incorporation of blues scales into the melodies, instrumental riffs, and vocal improvisations of the worship leader can all be found in the corporate worship of these multiracial churches. The presenter will highlight a number of these qualities at the piano and through brief audio examples.
Administrative approaches must increasingly embrace cross-cultural connections in such assemblies. Power-sharing during the services and rehearsals is necessitated by the demands of the congregation to engage in meaningful, dialogic interaction with God. Thus, liminal space between worship cultures is an area of calling for new worship leaders to find and build multiracial community.
As the former full-time music minister of a multiracial, black-white church of some 1,500 members for twelve years (1996-2008), the presenter will explore some of the ministerial dynamics of transitioning from monoracial to multiracial worship ministry within the context of his own congregation’s story.
Michael Marissen (Swarthmore College)
Religious Meaning and Bach Performance
Historically informed performance of J. S. Bach’s music has tended to focus on dance rhythms, ensemble size, organology, pitch standards, tempo, and the like, simply as factual problems. In some cases, however, these issues are more reliably explored when they are linked with investigation of the music’s probable religious meanings. This paper will consider four examples: 1) in Bach’s First Orchestral Suite, naturally balanced woodwind and string lines, as opposed to the more elegant foregrounding of dance melody from the oboes, would help project this music’s apparent eschatological concerns; 2) in the Leipzig version of Bach’s church cantata Himmelskönig, sei willkommen (no. 182), an arguably aesthetically disappointing but apparently correct assignment of the disputed obbligato instrument to the recorder in F would enhance this work’s meditation on the nature of Christ’s majesty and humility; 3) in the Augmentation Canon from Bach’s Musical Offering, proportional dotting, as opposed to French-stylishly synchronized overdotting, would appear to make good sense of this music’s otherwise puzzling marginal caption about worldly glory; and 4) in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion, one-on-a-part vocal scoring, as opposed to the larger choruses that are common in early music circles today, could inspire a significant “hermeneutic plus” for this oratorio’s at times mystifying sacramental messages. It appears, then, that in the course of investigating likely religious meanings in Bach, we may get more plausible answers to performance practice questions too, even if the conclusions regarding performance are corollaries--that is, not the point--of the argument.
Paper session 5 (concurrent sessions)
a) The early 20th Century: Ives and Davies
Emily Hope Kramer (Bowling Green State University)
Meaning and Coherence: An Analysis of Text and Music in Davies's God be in my Head
One of the most important distinctions between language and music is the difference between their sources of coherence. Linguistic coherence is derived from referential meaning; if the actions and entities to which the words of a text refer are connected in some meaningful way, the text is understood as coherent. Music, however, lacks the specific referentiality of language, so musical coherence relies instead on the sound itself, on patterns in the motivic, harmonic, and expressive content of the musical surface. When language and music are juxtaposed within the same work, such as in a piece of vocal music with lyrics, a skilled composer can construct patterned relationships in the music such that they reinforce or at times reinterpret the referential coherence of the text. Such is the case with Sir Henry Walford Davies's choral piece, “God Be in my Head.” The simple harmonic and motivic language of this succinct piece belie the rich network of meaningful connections between its text and music. Using a method of discourse coherence analysis derived from Jerry Hobbs (1990), Andrew Kehler (2002), and Florian Wolf and Edward Gibson (2005), I will analyze the referential coherence relationships in the text of the piece, and I will also analyze its patterned musical coherence using a method I have previously developed (Kramer, 2012). I will explore the ways in which motivic parallelism and the tension between cadential openness and closure reinforce themes in the text such as the pervasive presence of God and the nature of the afterlife.
John M.McCluskey (University of Kentucky)
“Being Nearer God or Being Nearer the Devil:” Charles Ives’s Compositional Years and Liberal Protestantism
Charles Ives’s (1874-1954) musical quotation of sacred tunes and his use of religious language in prose are frequent themes in the discourse surrounding the composer. However, many researchers fail to address the influence of organized religion in his life. Stuart Feder describes Ives as participating in “a kind of private religion,” a sentiment echoed by Jan Swafford, who asserts that Ives “pursued a life of Christ-like love and service.” Such commentary results in an image of a spiritual man who transcends denominations. In reality, Ives maintained ties to Congregationalist, Methodist and Presbyterian churches whose ministers, including Harry Emerson Fosdick (1878-1969) of First Presbyterian, New York City, were influenced by transcendental philosophy.
This paper establishes organized religion as one of the most important influences on Ives by tracing his church membership up to 1924, when evidence of his active denominational association ceases. Ives’s commentary in Essays Before a Sonata (1920) and Memos (1972) demonstrates the impact of specific religious leaders on Ives. Lastly, this investigation reveals that among the events surrounding the premature end of Ives’s compositional career in the 1920s (a family member’s suicide and increasing health complications) his home church, First Presbyterian experienced an upheaval that culminated in the resignation of Fosdick. The combination of these circumstances brought an end both to Ives’s active composition, and to his participation in organized religion.
b) Popular Music and Authenticity
Joshua Kalin Busman (UNC–Chapel Hill)
“Oh My God, I’m Coming Home”: Bluegrass Hipsters, Authenticity, and Gospel According to David Crowder
Despite its remarkable ascendancy in recent years, usage of evangelical “praise and worship” music has been marked by a series of bitter internecine quarrels known colloquially as the “worship wars.” Uncertainty surrounding the genre often drives its artists to draw on more established forms of worship music in order to demonstrate their “authenticity” as Christian performers. Southern gospel serves as a particularly potent marker of authentic religiosity, especially among the Southern evangelicals which are praise and worship’s primary demographic.
The David Crowder*Band has a special penchant for using elements of gospel, seen clearly on their two Collision records from 2005-06, as well as their final album as a band, Give Us Rest, from 2012. Drawing on artists like Roy Acuff, Hank Williams, Del McCoury, and Bill Gaither is a clear way for Crowder to establish his own religious identity as a life-long Baptist from east Texas. But while he uses staples of the gospel repertory to evoke a certain type of “authentic” religiosity, he often references these artists and songs in ways that align him with a community of record collectors and roots musicians who value the “authentic” material culture that bluegrass gospel represents. By closely examining his records, as well as a book on “the eschatology of bluegrass” which Crowder co-authored in 2006, I will demonstrate the ways that Southern gospel still functions as a powerful signifier of communities and subcommunities within evangelical Christian music-making.
Sharron Greaves (Nyack College)
Heaven and “the Hood:” A History of Holy Hip-Hop and its Role in Evangelism
The hip-hop revolution is widely recognized as having been born on the local urban streets of New York City. It has been both lauded and maligned for its counter-cultural arsenal of inner-city black expression, and was initially utilized as a means of distinguishing predominately black peoples from borough to borough as with the legendary 1980s “Bridge Wars,” referring to the bridges that separate New York City boroughs, becoming infrastructural turf boundary lines. This demographic sense of turf pride was followed by a national affront that pegged city against city when New York’s “enemy combatant” became the West Coast/Los Angeles area. The connotation of “the enemy” has significantly impacted the image of hip-hop throughout multiple cultural paradigms, considering that it is often depicted as a music and movement rooted in violence and overt sexuality. Yet, there has been a recent organized effort to reclaim hip-hop in its purest form as poetic expression via catchy beats and inspirational hooks, in which the enemy is not another person or territory, but is rather recognized as that entity of the devil described in the Bible.
Holy hip-hop has multiple synonyms from gospel rap to Christian rap, yet irrespective of what it is called it has emerged in the past twenty years alongside the evolution of rap music and hip hop culture in general, to be a genre of black gospel music in which the artists and musicians evangelize utilizing rap beats and bravado. In fact, perhaps the only notable distinction between the anatomy of Christian rap and other rap forms is found in its lyrics, which are used to promote Christianity. Holy hip-hop, nonetheless, occupies paradoxical territory in being viewed by some as antithetical to true Christian evangelism because of its very nature of being rap music, yet at the same time being the target of criticism as a watered- down version or weak form of rap by a number of secular hip-hop musicians and fans.
c) Colonial Encounters
Anna Swynford (Duke University)
Tukutendereza Yesu: Music in the East African Revival
The song “Tukutendereza Yesu” has come to define the East African Revival; the majority of revival accounts mention this hymn, sung at every gathering. Despite the prominence of this song as well as the role of singing in general, little scholarly research explores the music and worship of this movement.
The East African Revival is usually traced back to a meeting in 1929 between a young British medical doctor, Joe Church, and an African government worker, Simeoni Nsibambi. Beginning with their prayers, preaching, and evangelism, revival spread throughout East Africa and lasted three generations. It is significant that theirs was a partnership of black and white, since the revival itself relied on both cultures; the themes of the revival display an African enculturation of 19th century British and American revival theology.
In this paper I examine the music of the revival, exploring both the origins of musical texts as well as the African enculturation of “western music.” The songs, mostly translations of hymns from 19th century American and British revivals, quickly became indigenized, reflecting their African context more than their Western origins. Hymn singing informally became a primary vehicle for catechesis, spreading the doctrinal foci of the movement to a largely illiterate population. Vitally, this music not only reflected but also helped propagate the main themes of the revival, perhaps explaining the unique longevity and legacy of the East African Revival.
Yudha Thianto (Trinity Christian College)
Christe qui lux es et dies in Seventeenth-Century Malay
The Dutch fist came to the East Indies at the end of the sixteenth century. By early seventeenth century they established their monopoly of spice trading through the United Dutch East India Company. While establishing their power, the Dutch also introduced Reformed Protestantism to the indigenous people. They soon published catechetical materials and translated parts of the Bible into Malay, one lingua franca of the area. In 1638 the first Malay translation of the Gospels of Matthew and Mark was published, together with a small collection of the Genevan Psalms and other ecclesiastical songs translated into Malay in metrical form. Nestled in the collection was a text of Christe qui lux es et dies, translated into Malay, printed side-by-side with the Dutch text, and given the tune of Genevan Psalm 100.
This essay will analyze the way the hymn was translated into Malay. It will carefully look at how the translated text was made to fit the tune of Genevan Psalm 100. In so doing, it will try to trace the tradition of singing Christe qui lux es et dies from the Netherlands to its transport to the East Indies. The Dutch text of the hymn follows the tradition of the 15th century West German group of the hymn. The translation of this hymn, therefore, is unique, because it shows some effort to maintain continuity with the medieval tradition while combining it with the Reformed tradition.
Saturday, February 16, 2013
Paper session 6 (concurrent sessions)
a) Theologies of Music
Joshua Waggener (Durham University)
Friedrich Schleiermacher’s Theology and Felix Mendelssohn’s Musical Aesthetics: A Study of “Genuine” Feelings and Sublime Effects in Mendelssohn’s Psalm Introits for the Berlin Cathedral
Based on his early book On Religion: Speeches to Its Cultured Despisers (1799), the theologian and philosopher Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768-1834) understood the essence of religion as “intuition and feeling.” This religious feeling (Gefühl) could be stimulated through rhetorical acts such as preaching and music, leading to spiritual edification.
Based on his private correspondence and known compositional practices, Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847) considered “feeling” and “edification” as significant aesthetic values. However, Mendelssohn’s “Schleiermacherite” values could be misunderstood. As the mixed reception of Mendelssohn’s psalm introits for the Berlin Cathedral in 1843 and 1844 demonstrate, his musical settings of prescribed liturgical texts did not always edify, leading to conflicts with the clergy, the Prussian King Friedrich Wilhelm IV, and even within Mendelssohn’s own aesthetic priorities.
This paper will study these conflicts to explicate Mendelssohn’s late aesthetic values, including his desire to express “genuine feeling” while communicating clearly and producing the most moving effects, both musically and ethically. First, analogies will be explored between Schleiermacher’s theology and Mendelssohn’s aesthetics, including (1) the nature of Schleiermacher’s “theology of emotions” in relation to Mendelssohn’s view of musical feeling, (2) the goal of edification in both religion and art, and (3) the similarities in their rhetorical views of religious speech and musical expression. Secondly, comparisons of Mendelssohn’s psalm introits will reveal how the composer resolved conflicts in his aesthetic priorities and managed to communicate “genuine” feelings and achieve sublime effects through liturgical music, despite the stylistic constraints imposed by the clergy.
Martin Clarke (Durham University)
John Wesley’s “Thoughts on the Power of Music”: Music and Christian Scholarship in Practice
John Wesley’s essay ‘Thoughts on the Power of Music’ is his most significant foray into musical aesthetics and history. In it, he attempts to explore the relationship between music and the passions, and in so doing makes clear distinctions between ancient and modern music. Scholars such as Erik Routley have highlighted Wesley’s tenuous and selective use of both historical and contemporary sources to support his advocacy of the primacy of melody over harmony and it is clear that Wesley’s arguments are rather polemical. This paper attempts to situate Wesley’s essay in its musical and Christian context, examining both its relationship to contemporary ideas on musical aesthetics and Wesley’s Arminian theology and his efforts to shape and direct Methodist worshipping practices. In musical terms, it will demonstrate that Wesley is attuned to contemporary debates, even though his application of them is somewhat haphazard, while in terms of his guidance of the Methodist movement and its worship, his emphasis on the primacy of melody and its affective ability will be linked to his Arminian-inspired zeal for full congregational participation and the Methodist emphasis on the need for personal commitment and discipline as central to obtaining salvation. Overall, Wesley’s essay will be shown to be a typically pragmatic attempt to address aspects of music in the greater context of his attempts to influence Methodist thought and practice.
Bennett Zon (Durham University)
Science, Theology and the Simplicity of Chant: Victorian Musicology at War
According to the Rev. John Harrington Edwards, ‘The history of religion and the history of music are inseparable.’ (God and Music, 1903: 257) Indeed, for Edwards and many like-minded Victorians all music is sacred, embodying the very essence of the divine. For others, music is neither sacred nor secular; it simply ‘is’. Herbert Spencer epitomises this materialist view when he suggests that the function of music lies entirely within the human mind, to help develop its ‘language of the emotions.’ (‘Origin and Function of Music’, 1857: 71)
To all intents and purposes Edwards and Spencer’s disagreement represents the classically antithetical viewpoints of Victorian religion and science enshrined in books like Andrew Dickson White’s A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom (1896). While theology and science battled it out, music often got caught in the ideological crossfire, especially music pre-loaded with ancient theological values, like chant. Chant got stuck in the middle because it represented one thing to theologians and an entirely opposite thing to scientists. For Victorian scientists chant was undeveloped, primitive and religious; for theologians it was highly developed, transcendent and spiritual. What neither scientists nor theologians seemed to realize, however, was that they argued their positions using identical language – the language of ‘simplicity’.
This paper explores and explains the double meaning of simplicity through differing attitudes towards chant. It traces theories of simplicity in key nineteenth-century evolutionary and theological texts (Spencer, Darwin and Paley), and using chant as a case study locates them within two increasingly divergent musicological traditions – secular Musikwissenshaft and sacred Kunstreligion.
b) Liturgical Music beyond Church Walls
Stephanie Rocke (Monash University)
The Mass as Ideological Concert Piece
In 1954 Werner Jaegerhuber’s Messe sur les airs Vodouesques was deemed inappropriate because of the prevalence of both voodoo melodies and multiple repetitions of the voodoo expression ‘oh’. In 1974 David Fanshawe’s African Sanctus: A Mass for Love and Peace presented the music and texts of both Islam and pagan religions alongside the traditional texts of the Ordinary of the Roman Rite. Whereas the Haitian mass, although unsuccessful, was intended for liturgical use, African Sanctus, now a multi-media work of over one thousand performances, never was. This is a juncture worthy of exploration. Certainly, since at least the nineteenth century, masses intended to be liturgically suitable might receive their first performance in a concert hall; nevertheless, the choice of venue was a consequence of economic pragmatics not ideology. From the 1960s onwards, however, masses that challenged the praxis and autonomy of Christianity, or made other political statements began to be composed specifically for the concert hall. Arnold Van Wyk’s otherwise standard concert mass Missa in illo tempore was created as a subversive work protesting apartheid and colonialism. Paul Creston’s Missa cum jubilo protests the reforms of Vatican II. Bernstein’s Mass and Peter Maxwell Davies’s Missa super l’homme armé critique ritual, while the Electric Prunes’ psychedelic rock Mass in F Minor is a product of the transcendence-seeking hippy counter-culture. Through exploring both the historical and personal factors underlying the creation of such works, the process by which the mass became an ideologically-driven, politically self-conscious concert work is revealed.
Eftychia Papanikolaou (Bowling Green State University)
Uwe Scholz’s Choreographic Completion of Mozart’s Große Messe
Only years after his untimely death, German choreographer Uwe Scholz (1958-2004), former director of the Leipzig Ballet, has already been hailed as one of the most brilliant choreographic minds of our time. In 1998, Scholz created Die Große Messe (The Great Mass) for the Leipzig Ballet, set to the music of Mozart’s unfinished Mass in C minor (K. 427), which he interspersed with Gregorian chant, music by contemporary composers Kurtág, Jahn and Pärt, as well as Mozart’s own Adagio and Fugue and Ave verum corpus. It would not be an exaggeration to claim that in this massive work Scholz recreates a liturgical act. In fact, as one of his sketches for the choreography reveals, he conceived of the ballet as a “Liturgical function,” complete with events that correspond to the parts of the Mass he indicated as Ordinarium, Proprium, Gebete (Prayers) and Lesungen (Readings).
Using video excerpts of the ballet’s performance with the Leipzig Ballet accompanied by the Gewandhaus Orchestra and the chorus of the Leipzig Opera (recorded in 2005), I propose to address modes by which the “incompleteness” of Mozart’s score is made “complete” by the choreography of Die Große Messe. Nicholas Cook, among other scholars, has discussed the notion of “gapping” in relation to music and image. By drawing on similar concepts that attempt to theorize the bridges and interrelationships between music and other media, I will explore the musical and choreographic collaboration in Scholz’s Große Messe as the realization of a quasi-liturgical praxis.
Amber Broderick (Bowling Green State University)
Grande Messe des Morts: Hector Berlioz’s Romantic Interpretation
In 1836, Hector Berlioz (1803-1869) was commissioned by the French government to compose a requiem mass to return sacred music to a respected position. Berlioz conceived his Grande messe des morts (Requiem) as a “music drama,” in which the thirteenth-century Latin prose was used as secular poetry rather than an immutable sacred text. Berlioz’s Requiem is not religious in strict theological terms but relates closely to what Frank Heidlberger calls an artistic statement of “secular moral philosophy.” Berlioz devised a first-person physiological narrative representing a private emotional experience. He achieved this spiritual journey, in part, through a Romantic interpretation: textual alterations, programmatic orchestration, and the innovative use of antiphonal brass orchestras. The text was edited and rearranged to produce a libretto-type program, which Edward Cone deems a “dramatic portrayal of an imaginary progress through this world and the next.” Berlioz enhanced his interpretation by shifting from the traditional third-person perspective to the first-person, which required significant textual alterations. I present a textual analysis to determine how Berlioz’s complex relationship with the Church is reflected in the Requiem using the orchestration, scoring, structure, and literary connections. In what ways does Berlioz’s Requiem reveal connections to his religious and political views? To understand Berlioz’s conception of the text, I detail his experiences with the Church, childhood and adult life, and the political, social, and cultural influences of nineteenth-century France. This paper will utilize a textual analysis and agnostic reading of the narrative to argue a secular interpretation of the Requiem.
Paper session 7 (plenary session)
Transformations of Gospel and Spiritual
Mark Peters (Trinity Christian College)
Signifying (the?) Gospel: U2’s I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For
This paper engages the many recent studies of the Irish rock band U2 in Christian perspective by exploring ways in which Christian signifiers, both textual and musical, act in two of the band’s most popular albums, The Joshua Tree (1987) and Rattle and Hum (1988). The paper focuses on “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” one of U2’s best-known songs and one which appears on both albums. The song contains some of the most explicitly Christian language in U2’s repertory, including such phrases as “I believe in the Kingdom Come” and “You carried the cross and my shame.” But while the text clearly references Christian themes and is nearly identical in the song’s two manifestations, the presentation of Christian content in the two versions is very different.
The paper considers ways in which the subtle Christian signifiers of The Joshua Tree’s version are transformed on Rattle and Hum through musical gestures with more overt Christian associations, those of black Gospel music. While such transformation can be seen as making the song’s Christian message more explicit, I argue that the Gospel version on Rattle and Hum at the same time obscures this message by conveying a mood more distant and performative than the directly personal style of The Joshua Tree’s version. The paper concludes by exploring how the song and its Christian message are situated within each album, contrasting the intimate, personal, searching qualities of The Joshua Tree with the intense, performative, stylistically varied characteristics of Rattle and Hum.
Horace J. Maxile (Baylor University)
The Spiritual as Resource and Inspiration in the Works of African-American Composers
Composer and scholar Olly Wilson stresses the historical significance of Harry Burleigh's "solo art song spiritual," developed at the turn of the twentieth century, as "a model that consists of a clearly stylized spiritual endowed with new, carefully composed elements that shape the unique artistic reinterpretation of the original." The generations of African-American composers that followed Burleigh extended the tradition and continued to reinterpret the spiritual. Whereas some composers were conservative when handling the source material, others embraced the compositional aesthetics and techniques that were prevalent during the periods in which they composed. In most cases, however, the ethos of the spiritual remained. This paper explores various manifestations of the spiritual in orchestral, piano, and chamber works by African-American composers. Among the composers covered in this study are William Grant Still and Frederick Tillis. The idea of "the spiritual" is treated broadly as issues surrounding reinterpretation intersect with ideas that relate more to spiritual matters of an individual (beliefs, etc.). In conjunction with conventional analytical methods (harmonic analysis, reductive techniques, etc.), I will offer interpretations of the vernacular emblems that surface in the pieces, particularly those that point to the spiritual. Through the analyses I wish to move beyond descriptions of surface level events in works by African-American composers toward more thorough interpretations. This paper also seeks to better situate the spiritual as a trope comparable to the blues tropes that often garner more critical attention in discussions of black nationalist composers and composition in the United States.