Lecture Series


Our lecture series for Winter semester 2021 are virtual, live streaming events, and held twice a month on alternating Wednesdays from 7-8 PM.  Links to join the live streams will be made available before each event. View videos of previous events here.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Deep Listening Across Distance with Stephanie Loveless

Deep Listening — which encompasses bodywork, sonic meditation, and performance — is a creative listening practice developed by pioneering composer, Pauline Oliveros. In this talk, Stephanie Loveless (sound artist and director of the Center for Deep Listening) will consider what Deep Listening offers as a mode of connecting across distance and across difference. In addition to an inquiry into notions of “telepresence” within the philosophy and practice of Deep Listening, Loveless will discuss some of her own listening-based artworks, and facilitate a series of participatory exercises — exploring how acts of listening can attune us to ourselves, each other, and our surroundings.

Stephanie Loveless is a sound and media artist whose research centers on listening and vocal embodiment. Her recent projects include a mobile web-app for geo-located listening, and sound works that channel the voices of plants, animals, and musical divas. She has studied with pioneering composers such as Pauline Oliveros (with whom she completed a Certification in Deep Listening), Hildegard Westerkamp (as a founding member of the Vancouver Soundwalk Collective) and Diamanda Galás. Currently, she teaches courses on Deep Listening and ecologically-oriented sound art at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in upstate New York, where she also serves as the Director of the Center for Deep Listening.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Physics of the Banjo with Dr. Joe Dickey

The American five-string banjo is unique among musical instruments in that many significant parameters that affect tone are easily adjusted. This is probably why so many banjo players fiddle with their banjo! The instrument is a combination of canonical vibrating systems (strings, and a circular membrane) and therefore more amenable to analysis and modeling than most other musical instruments (e.g., the violin). And yet, study of this quintessential part of American culture has been largely neglected. This talk should not only help fill this void but should also illustrate the procedure, utility and shortcomings of mathematical modeling. There will be only one equation, the wave equation. There will be illustrations of the dynamics and interaction of solutions to this equation in the strings and membrane. The banjo is also unique among musical instruments in that many of the parameters that affect tone are easily adjusted. The effects of a few of these parameters (head tension, bridge mass and where the string is plucked) on tone (brightness, decay and loudness) are calculated and generally corroborate the commonly held views in the banjo community.

Dr. Joe Dickey received a BS degree in physics from Drexel University in 1963, and a PhD in physics from The Catholic University of America in 1976. He worked in the Navy laboratory system from 1958 until 1996 and at Johns Hopkins University from 1996 until 2009. Most of this work was in structural dynamics and acoustic scattering. Dr. Dickey is a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, member of Sigma Xi, and was a Congressional Science Fellow in 1983 – 84. He has published about 80 peer reviewed papers, several book chapters, and about 40 other publications. He was a visiting professor at the Catholic University of America and the United States Naval Academy. 

Dr. Dickey is also an accomplished banjo player. He performed for almost 20 years with Crabgrass, an Annapolis-based bluegrass group, and is currently a member of old-timey group Shenandoah Run. He is also a woodturner and keeper of an American Chestnut restoration orchard.

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

It hurts when I play: Canadian validation of a musicians’ health assessment battery Dr. Christine Guptill

Christine Guptill, Assistant Professor in Occupational Therapy at University of Ottawa (formerly of U of A), will be presenting on a research project that she completed while at U of A. This study examined the feasibility of employing an assessment battery developed by colleagues in Germany, investigating mental and physical health of university music students in Canada. Using a cross sectional design, first-semester music students and non-music controls were recruited at two university campuses. Both groups completed questionnaires and physical testing, including range of motion, core strength and pressure pain threshold. Data for 19 music and 50 control students were analysed. Musician participants demonstrated tendencies towards poorer mental and physical health. This German protocol is feasible in a Canadian university setting. Canadian music students demonstrate similar mental and physical health outcomes to those in the literature and in the parent study. Challenges to conducting this type of work in the Canadian context, and other musicians’ health research in which Dr. Guptill is involved, will be discussed.

Saturday, February 20, 2021

Special Event: Winter Roots Roundup XII: Women of Folkways Online Concert

Presented by the Northern Lights Folk Club and the Sound Studies Institute

For 12 years, the Winter Roots Roundup has celebrated the best in folk, roots, and blues music in conjunction with the University of Alberta Sound Studies Institute and the Moses and Frances Asch Collection. Our mandate is to honour the work and philosophy of Folkways Records founder Moses Asch, whose life was shaped by an unshakeable belief in the power of “anything that is sound.”

A beloved tradition of the annual Winter Roots Roundup is the Women of Folkways concert, a celebration by women of women in the Folkways Records catalogue.

This year we are very excited to bring together Dana Wylie, Maria Dunn, Linda McRae, Terry Morrison and Rachel Eddy, who will each perform a song by one artist from the Folkways catalogue and one song of their own.

Shawna Caspi – https://shawnacaspi.com/music/
Maria Dunn – https://www.mariadunn.com/purchase/
Rachel Eddy – http://www.racheleddymusic.com/
Linda McRae – https://lindamcrae.com
Terry Morrison – terrymorrison.bandcamp.com
Dana Wylie – https://danawylie.net/music

Due to COVID 19 restrictions this year’s concert will be an online free event.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

The History of Women of Folkways

After twelve years of hosting the annual Women of Folkways Winter Roots concert, there are bound to be some stories to tell! Join us for a discussion of the history of Women of Folkways, from its origins with the University of Alberta’s Asch Collection and folkwaysAlive! to its current incarnation as hosted by the Sound Studies Institute and the Northern Lights Folk Club.

Joining us on the panel are former CKUA radio announcer and music director Peter North, who was one of the producers of the very first Women of Folkways concerts; Maria Dunn, who as a musician has “been involved with Women of Folkways longer than anyone”; and musician Dana Wylie, a long-time performer and organizer of the concert.

Wednesday, March 10, 2021

The Sound from Above and Below: Independent Artists in the Streaming Music Era with Dr. Brian Fauteux

Corporate streaming music services have brought forth few benefits for independent musicians. Meagre payouts, limited catalogues, and predictable algorithms combine to reward a shrinking number of bestselling popstars. Despite these issues, streaming services are often characterized by narratives of progress and superiority. This is an issue that has garnered attention from writers, journalists, and artists who have raised claims about the marginalization and inequality in the digital music industries. With this context in mind, this presentation will emphasize the perspectives of Canadian independent artists who are navigating the digital music industries and working to carve out a livelihood in the streaming music era. By considering the sound of the Canadian music industry from above (a macro-level political economy) and from below (the experiences of independent working musicians), this presentation will illustrate the precarious position of many musicians in the streaming era and provide a series of recommendations and ideas to foster a more equitable, community-based music culture. 

Brian Fauteux is Assistant Professor of Popular Music and Media Studies at the University of Alberta. He studies music industries and music radio, often from the interrelated perspectives of cultural studies, history, and policy. His book, Music in Range: The Culture of Canadian Campus Radio, explores the history of Canadian campus radio, highlighting the factors that have shaped its close relationship with local music and culture. He is currently a co-investigator on a SSHRC-funded research project that investigates copyright, cultural labour, and monetization in the digital music industries.

Wednesday, March 24, 2021

SingAbility: An Essential Service to the Soul with Dr. Ardelle Ries

In the midst of the COVID-19 global pandemic, along with many other such choirs across Canada and around the world, SingAble–the University of Alberta multigenerational inclusion choir–continues to offer choristers meaningful opportunities to express themselves through music, through singing and song. With sound health and wellness, diversity and inclusion at the heart of the SingAble concept, this session examines how this resilient community of singers has successfully been brought together to truly embody a philosophy that music is for everyone.

An Associate Professor and Director of Music at the University of Alberta (UofA) Augustana Faculty, Ardelle Ries was raised on the Alberta prairies surrounded by art, poetry, music, and nature. With a passion for singing, musical inclusion and multigenerational music education, Ardelle teaches musicianship, theory, conducting, choral literature courses, music education, applied voice, and music and wellness courses. A staunch advocate for Canadian choral music, Ardelle has commissioned and premiered choral works from established and emerging Canadian composers. She is the editor of the second edition of Reflections of Canada, a compilation of a cappella Canadian folk songs arranged for choirs.

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Bending Technology with composer Gordon Fitzell

Composer, improviser and sound artist Gordon Fitzell will discuss unorthodox approaches to incorporating technology into the creative process. He will present projects featuring his interdisciplinary student group the eXperimental Improv Ensemble (XIE), as well as his own compositions and installations. Gordon will address non-electrical acoustic works, such as his solo piano piece kamelyin, commissioned and premiered by pianist Roger Admiral; he will also address analog and digital electronic works, such as Techno Messiah: Zoom | Richter | Langsam | Pop, a multimedia piece for solo alto flute, large ensemble, video and audio electronics.

Gordon is a professor of composition at the University of Manitoba Desautels Faculty of Music in Winnipeg, where he also directs the XIE and co-directs the new music organization Groundswell. His music has been performed by leading international ensembles and is featured on various albums, including Grammy-winning, Opus Award-winning, Juno-nominated and West Coast Music Award-nominated recordings. In 2018 he was elected to the Royal Society of Canada’s College of New Scholars, Artists and Scientists.

Visit our Livestream page to check out this lecture on April 7, 2021!


Don’t miss the livestreamed concert featuring works by Gordon Fitzell and U of A faculty composers:

Quiet City: Friday, April 9, 2021 at 7:00 p.m. MST


Featuring solo piano works by Canadian composers and faculty of the University of Alberta and the University of Manitoba.

Scott Smallwood – Quiet City (2020)
Mark Hannesson – Constellation (2018)
Gordon Fitzell – kamelyin (2007)

Sponsored by U of A Department of Music and the Sound Studies Institute.