“A stage animal” – Agata Zubel – Polish soprano and composer

Katarzyna Bartos, Karol Lipinski Academy of Music in Wrocław

Agata Zubel (*1978) is a composer and vocalist. In primary and secondary music school she was learning to play percussion. That experience shaped her way of thinking of music – taking care of timbre, rhythm and emotions. During the time she was studying composition at Karol Lipiński Music Academy in Wrocław, Poland, she started performing her own pieces. Soon other students of composition saw how great her talent is asked her to sing their music. Then she decided to study also at the Vocal Faculty at her alma mater. Now she is said to be one of the best composers of young generation, as well as one of the best performers of contemporary music. Many of her compositions are first performed by her. Although she was trained to sing bel canto, she is performing pieces that require usage of extended vocal techniques and therefore she is called a Cathy Barberian of her generation. This contemporary way of singing is seen mostly in her own pieces (e.g. Parlando or Not I) as well as experiments of her duo Elettro Voce (with Cezary Duchnowski). She gave concerts all around the globe, in such countries as e.g. USA, UK, Russia, Germany or Korea and sang on numerous recording, mostly of contemporary music. Her great career is a proof of her amazing talents but also great management skills.

In my paper, I would like answer the questions: what makes her unique and which aspects helped her to become such a well known person. Therefore I will present her biography and achievements as a performer. I will analyze her personality, especially the stage one (seen by her way of performing and musical choices). I will also present the changes in Polish society that could have influenced her life and career. I will show her achievements from a wider perspective by talking on history of female composers at Karol Lipiński Music Academy in Wrocław, as she is the third generation of them. Lastly I will present some fragments of her performances and critics’ opinions.

My aim is to talk about Zubel, because I think she is truly unique personality in contemporary music and a great role-model for young women.


Specific projects or gender mainstreaming? Discourses within a Swedish culture organisation with an outspoken gender-equality ambition

Åsa Bergman & Cecilia Björck, University of Gothenburg,

The lack of female representation in various music practices has attracted attention in research since the 1970s (Bayton 1989, Whitely 2000, Leonard 2007). In this presentation, based on a study of a culture organisation with an outspoken gender-equality ambition, focus is directed towards what ideas on music, gender, feminism and equality are articulated by different actors within the organisation. The preliminary result shows a negotiation taking place regarding what activities should be organised in relation to the stated ambition. While some actors promote specific gender-equality projects, others advocate that all music activities be permeated by a gender-equality perspective, and while some actors propose that gender equality should be considered in relation to a broader diversity work, others point to the risk that gender issues might be neglected when several equality aspects are lumped together.

Bayton, Mavis (1998). Frock rock: women performing popular music, Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press.

Leonard, Marion (2007). Gender in the music industry: Rock, discourse and girl power, Aldershot: Ashgate.

Whiteley, Sheila (2000). Women and popular music: Sexuality, identity and subjectivity, London: Routledge.


The performing body, the place and the gaze – subject conception in vocal education

Carina Borgström Källén, Academy of Music and Drama, University of Gothenburg, Birgitta Sandström,  Stockholm University of the Arts

This presentation focuses on subject conception in music in relation to the performing body, the stage as a place for learning and the scrutinising gaze of the beholder. Specifically, vocal education in preparatory and in higher music education are problematised. Contexts that from a gender perspective have an unbalanced representation. Taking an intersectional point of departure, the objective is to highlight and discuss subject conception in relation to inclusion and exclusion in vocal teaching and learning. Parallels are drawn to dance education, since also dance has an unbalanced representation. A meta-analysis based on three completed studies in music and dance education is underpinning the presentation. The studies are produced in Swedish upper secondary schools and in higher music education.

The result verifies the body of previous research suggesting that subject conception in vocal and dance education is based on performing arts traditions, rather than on pedagogical/didactical traditions. Another finding is that the educational background of vocal and dance teachers is similar and essential for how subject conceptions are constructed. Knowledge is often produced based on a master-apprentice ideal, and discussion about tradition and quality risks stagnating. The result also indicates that in vocal training, as well as in dance classes, settings where the body is the instrument, the teachers’ gaze and bodily displayed multimodal language have a governing function. Further, the results indicate that an imaginary stage and the gaze of an imaginary audience are present and taken for granted in the classroom, and they are used as tools for learning. The interplay between the performing body, the classroom as a stage and the scrutinising gaze, from the teacher and from an audience, is thereby internalised and bodily displayed by the student, i.e. the body, the place and the gaze are understood as a hub for learning.


What does the ‘feminist eye’ in musicology have to say about “New music”?

Martina Bratic, University of Graz

Music is almost universally regarded as cultural agency that reflects, mediates and constructs social relations and social realities. Our internalized notions about gender, about identity and the self, as well as about sexuality and desire, were in the past 30 years thoroughly discussed within the field of feminist musicology.

However, even then were these issues mainly debated in connection to what could be called – pre-20th c. classical music, with its predetermined form and principles. And what about the more systematic scrutiny of the New-, contemporary classical music, in that sense? How is gender, identity, or the self, to be read and understood in the post-Schenkerian musical organisations; in those ‘organisms’ that do not operate with elements of the ‘ideal structure’? My presentation will focus precisely on those relations: relations between the ‘old’ and the ‘new’ sound, and between the ‘early’ and the ‘new’ procedure in the feminist musicology research.


Towards a gender conscious and norm creative opera performance – a singer’s perspective 

Tove Dahlberg, Luleå University of Technology

In my profession as an opera singer, gender practice in performance has affected my work aesthetically, how I have been positioned as a woman and what the preconceptions about performance are. I have performed the role of “Cherubino” in several productions of The Marriage of Figaro (W.A. Mozart, 1786)Using this experience as foundation and in dialogue with gender theory and norm criticism, I am currently conducting artist-led laborations together with a director and a pianist, singing and acting scenes from five roles, both male and female, from The Marriage of Figaro. Through these experiments, we detect tools and approaches for gender conscious and norm creative opera performance that could be of use for other opera singers. We also articulate unspoken codes regarding how singers are gendered by the repertoire and the expectations on performance. During the presentation, I will show examples of my own work towards an opera performance beyond the gender norms.


The (female) situated musical body

Cecilia Ferm-Almqvist,  Luleå University of Technology

Linn Hentschel, Umeå University

The starting point for the presentation is constituted by experiences of using Simone de Beauvoir’s philosophy aiming to describe and understand the becoming of musical women in Swedish schools. Earlier research conducted outside the area of music shows that Beauvoir’s theories can help to explain – and provide means of change for – situations where there is a risk that traditional gender roles will be conserved. A majority of gender studies in the field of music education are based on the performative theory of Judith Butler. In comparison, de Beauvoir states that repetitions and habits are stratified in the body as experiences, and that human beings are able to make choices in a situation. The presentation will be an opportunity to discuss and reflect upon girls’ experiences of sex and gender in music educational settings. Philosophical concepts and practical examples from finished and on-going research will be related to throughout the reflective discussion.


Musical “Quality” Over Gender Equality? When Culture Clashes with Law

Tami Gadir, University of Oslo

My proposed presentation addresses the disparities between the legal and the cultural: on the one hand, equality legislation enacted through formalised workplace policies; on the other, the everyday cultural and political attitudes inscribed into musical practices. I use the case of Musikkfest, Oslo, and a recent history of gender equality in Norway, to show how the rhetorics of postfeminism, individualism, and meritocracy affect musicians who are not male and not white. This aligns with current, global, populist backlashes against so-called political correctness. I further critique the profoundly gendered ideas of “talent” or “skill” in the discourses of music practitioners. Providing further examples of DJs from around the world, I show how such paradigms currently dominate music cultures as much as they do world politics. Overarchingly, I critique the ways that such paradigms are woven into musical aesthetic judgements that, in effect, validate discriminatory practices.


‘Genderfication’ and musical gentrification in higher music education

Siw Graabræk Nielsen, Norwegian Academy of Music

Music education has a long history of producing and reproducing gendered practices. However, it was not until the 1960s that an interest for this topic became noticeable within music education research, and from the end of the last century, there has been a rapidly growing interest in gender studies related to music education. The rationale for this development seems to be based on a growing awareness on emphasizing democracy in future music education and the importance of securing access to equal educational possibilities and resources for all students regardless of gender or social class. This paper explores genderfication and musical gentrification in higher music education. Based on an extensive survey of all master’s and PhD theses written in music academia in Norway, from the first thesis in 1912 and until 2012, the paper presents findings regarding how the uptake of popular music in Norwegian music academia is shown to be strongly gendered. In other words, it looks into the aspects of gender visible in the extensive survey mentioned above, or what can be termed the genderfication of popular music academisation in Norway. The empirical exploration is conducted against a theoretical backdrop building on Bourdieu’s theories of masculine domination, and in particular, on his ideas on how this phenomenon is manifested in the educational field. Within this world of ideas, social order is always considered as gendered and masculine domination is a normalised situation. Thus, the framework allows for looking at the Norwegian music academia as a particular social space in which gender relations and hierarchies are produced, and to describe how this genderfication is intertwined with processes of musical gentrification.


Gendered agendas and the presence of women in our Nordic music history

Camilla Hambro, Åbo Akademi University

When reading music history books at our schools and universities, the presentness of the past and the pastness of the present are striking in their recycling of yesteryears canons: Women composers seem like sleeping beauties noting their music with invisible ink. Even if our Nordic countries are model regions for equal rights and opportunities, several of our women composers and musicians lie in oblivion, rest and neglect. What do the actions and roles of our 19th century women composers have in common? Under what conditions did they compose and perform music? Aiming at addressing how the situation has arisen historically, the foci of the presentation are threefold: (1) Societal expectations towards women/composers and originality concepts. (2) Gender and genius, music criticism and historical gender roles as represented by music criticism. (3) Past and present attempts by musicologists and musicians at affirmative action on behalf of women in Nordic music history.


A Woman Leader on the Bandstand: Mrs Wilf Hamer and the Performance of Gender

Laura Hamer & Mike Brocken, Liverpool Hope University

From 1936, when she replaced her late husband (Wilf), through to the late 1950s, Mary Hamer led the house dance band at the Grafton Rooms, one of Liverpool’s most successful ballrooms. By concentrating upon both ‘sweet’ dance music and the sub-genre of ‘Old Time Dancing’ (re-popularising Victorian and Edwardian dances in the process), Mrs Wilf Hamer and her Boys – as the band was called – became one of the most popular dance bands in Liverpool. However, due to a complex web of issues, she is now little more than a footnote of popular music history. This paper interrogates how Mary Hamer, as a rare female leader of an otherwise all-male band, performed her gender upon the bandstand. We also critique the gender questions which we must pose for ourselves as we conduct this ongoing research project.


New Directions: (Re-)Articulating Gendered Identity Through Musical and Non-Musical Means

Kai Arne Hansen, University of Oslo

In pop music, gendered identities are performed and constructed through both musical and non-musical means. Gendered meanings are entrenched in our responses to musical codes, as well as in the sociocultural associations of particular styles and genres. Simultaneously, pop artists express “who they are” off-stage as much as on-stage, which is becoming an increasingly important point for investigation in our contemporary time of media convergence. I take these observations as points of entry for investigating the gendered prejudices and stereotypes related to the boy band format, which are largely based in gendered hierarchies of “high” and “low” popular culture and “valued” and “devalued” forms of musical labour. Through an interdisciplinary and multimedial approach, I look at how past boy band members reconstruct their identities in ways that intersect notions of gender, age, sexuality, and ethnicity. Ultimately, I attempt to elucidate how perceptions of gender influence the creation of pop texts as well as our experiences of them, which in turn should offer valuable insights into the structuring power of gender norms and how it operates in popular culture.


Explicit Content!! What did the PMRC do for us: Feminism’s Backlash and Sexual Violence in Heavy Metal

Rosemary Lucy Hill, University of Leeds, UK and Heather Savigny, De Montfort University, UK

“Cole Porter’s ‘the birds do it, the bees do it,’ can hardly be compared with WASP, ‘I f-u- c-k like a beast.’ There is a new element of vulgarity and violence toward women that is unprecedented.” (Mrs Baker, Record Labelling senate hearing)

The PMRC became a symbol of ‘moral outrage’ that was directed at the music industry; they are widely condemned as proponents of censorship and infringers of civil liberties. However, one of their key thrusts was that heavy metal promotes sexual violence against women. Their Parental Advisory stickers were intended to enable parents to help children choose ‘safe’ music and to reduce the spread of damaging musical content. However, this clearly has not happened: we still see the Parental Advisory stickers on ‘Explicit’ content and the stickers have become a badge of honour. Moreover, we still do not see outright bans on explicit sexual violence against women in lyrics and artwork.

Using critical discourse analysis of the hearing transcript and subsequent newspaper and magazine articles, we examine how the reaction to the members of the PMRC, and the discourses around violence and freedom of speech, served to shape an atmosphere in which critiquing violence against women in metal was derailed. We regard this as an opportunity missed. For, subsequently, metal studies has primarily been concerned with the PMRC in terms of Satanism and suicide, rather than examining the allegation of violence against women. We argue that the PMRC opened up a space where the cultural rejection of sexual violence towards women was possible. However, we also contend that cultural and media discourses at the time served to function as a ‘backlash’ against the perceived successes of women (and feminism); and one way that this was played out was through discursively legitimating sexual violence against women.


The Gatekeeper Gap: Crunching New Numbers and Searching for Solutions to the U.K.’s ongoing gender imbalance in Music Creation

Emma Hooper, Bath Spa University

A mere 14% of professional composers and songwriters in the UK are female (PRS, 2017b). This paper almagamates new data produced through partnerships with the Performing Rights Society (PRS), The World is Listening (women in music organisation), UK festivals, and dozens of interviews along with numerous secondary sources to cross-check demographic and economic details in an effort to shed light on the potential cause(s) of this ongoing imbalance in the face of notable social effort. It is concluded that, while female-focused initiatives such as the Women Make Music fund or Sweden’s new all-female festival do succeed in drawing in and up-skilling female music-makers, there is significant potential for impact at the gate-keeper level, specifically in breaking through ‘boys’ club’ networking patterns. “We need to stop thinking that women are automatically supportive of other women, and openly discuss how male directors and male heads of arts organisations can own opportunities to enact feminism.” (PRS, 2017a: 13)

PRS Foundation 2017. Women Make Music Evaluation 2011-2016. Available at: http://www.prsformusicfoundation.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/03/PRS-Foundation-Women-Make-Music-evaluation-report-2017-FINAL.pdf. Accessed: 27 August 2017.

PRS Foundation and The World is Listening 2017. New Data Report. Unpublished.


Gendered instrumentation in the Eurovision Song Contest. The Nordic Paradigm?

Bjarne Isaksen, University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway

The Eurovision Song Contest (ESC) is one of the world’s biggest television event, and has since its start been a show case for music, trends, ideas and styles. The competition can thus be an indicator for both how the different nations choose to market themselves, and how the European music industry in total sees itself.

According to World Economic Forum’s annual Global Gender Gap Report (2013) the Nordic European countries stand out as the best removing obstacles holding women back and overall be gender equal societies. Despite this equality in society in general, these countries by no means stand in front when dealing with gendered instrumentation in ESC. The Nordic countries’ use of female musicians are very limited in both numbers and possible instruments. Other European countries seems to be much more gender equal oriented in this field.

This paper will discuss the ESC in the Nordic region as a possible mirror of society regarding gender equality on and off stage through Giddens’ concept of discursive versus practical consciousness.


Musical Treatment of Superheroes: Male vs. Female

Maddi Krafve, University of Oregon

With an ever-increasing demand for equal gender representation in film, it has never been so necessary to expose damaging gender roles. The superhero genre, as one of the most popular and influential film genres, is especially apt for such investigation. Many studies have examined gender in film music; however, in the superhero genre, gender-related studies have been primarily confined to visual representation. Musical Treatment of Superheroes: Male vs. Female attempts to bridge this gap by analysing the themes of Batman and Wonder Woman. For each of these heroes, two television episodes and two movies were chosen with careful attention to the gender of the composers, and are the basis for a discussion on how film scores have evolved to better represent gender in the superhero genre. This essay therefore analyses the works of Danny Elfman, Angela Morley, Shirley Walker, and Rupert Gregson-Williams — timelines ranging from 1979-2017 — in an effort to identify exactly how audiovisual cues play into the gender of each superhero.


Sonic Values: Narratives of Masculinity in the Music Classroom

Ingeborg Lunde Vestad & Eirik Askerøi, Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences

Musical sound plays a major role in conveying narratives that represents not only generic or stylistic conventions as such, but is also associated with deep-seated socio cultural values. The main argument in this paper is that teaching children and youth about the relationship between sound and socio-cultural values can bring about a better understanding of the musical and social messages that music can convey. The article provides close readings of two contrasting musical examples where sound arguably contributes to forming narratives of “old” music, in this case, Alf Prøysen’s song ’Nøtteliten’ (1955), and social stereotyping in Promoe’s song ‘Svennebanan’ (2009). Questions of masculine representations will form an analytical framework for both readings.


Do male musicians really make better music? Gender bias and the concepts of ‘quality’ and ‘relevance’

Henrik Marstal, Rhythmic Music Conservatory Copenhagen

This presentation will reflect on the concepts of ‘quality’ and ‘relevance’ in relation to gender bias in popular music culture. It is usually assumpted that the curation of music among, for instance, A & R’s, festival arrangers and radio programmers, holds a neutral bias concerning these two concepts.

This view, however, needs to be challenged in order to create a more stable gender balance. This is due to the fact that both concepts indeed are gender biased, since the gender of the creating and performing musicians in question very often plays a specific although often unacknowledged role in the processes of curation.

Drawing on Marion Lenoard’s Gender in the Music Industry. Rock, Discourse and Girl Power (2007) and Mary Celeste Kearney’s Gender and Rock (2017), the presentation will present and discuss possible reasons for this gender bias and suggest some methods to make the curation of music more gender sensitive in the future.


Lett å være rebell i kjellerleiligheten din: The sexist in the basement of Norwegian hip hop

Kate Maxwell, University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway

Rap and hip hop are no strangers to the political, or of taking the side of – or being – the underdog. In Norway, the rise to popularity of Karpe Diem, a hip-hop duo who flout their Norwegianness against their perceived status as ‘outsiders’, has progressed hand in hand with the rise of immigration and the far-right party gaining political strength. Yet a multimodal analysis of hip hop songs by Karpe Diem and Lars Vaular shows that their societal and political criticism is charged with sexist undertones.

Using the concept of ‘flow’, understood in both the hip-hop and philosophical senses, this paper will investigate the extent to which these artists conform to the historically gendered nature of hip hop. What happens when these songs are regarded with the female gaze? Can ‘flow’ itself be re-gendered such that hip hop artists can continue to make a political stand without being (unwittingly) sexist?


Romantic Muses: Feminized Labor in Composition

Solveig Mebust, University of Minnesota 

Of all laborers contributing to musical cultures, least attention is paid to real-life muses, despite the ubiquity of mythological ones. Norwegian women Nina Grieg and Gjendine Slålien became muses for the composers Edvard Grieg and Julius Röntgen, producing so-called inspiration by providing creative materials freely. Drawing critically on Danish singer Julius Steenberg’s 1892 text Muser og Sirener, I interrogate the role of romance and sexuality in creative production; the ethics of musical quotation and corruption; and, most importantly, how “feminized labor” contributes to musical production. Labor is “feminized” when wages associated with women’s work are suppressed, when there is an expectation of freely provided domestic and sexual labor, and when labor markets are subject to gender-based discrimination and coercion. Both Slålien and Nina Grieg were accomplished musicians, but their labors have been eclipsed by the male composers who used them – in short, they are nineteenth century muses.


Do musical instruments have gender? Historical connotations in the preference of musical instruments

Lise Karin Meling, University of Stavanger

This paper will focus on the gendered connotations of musical instruments, with a special focus on the piano as a gendered instrument. Why is the piano considered the most appropriate instrument for women in the 19th century? The paper will be based on sources such as etiquette books as well as Norwegian literary sources and references from the 19th century. In addition to the historical conditions, this paper will also include other more practical or pragmatic reasons for the choice of keyboard instruments being the most appropriate for women, such as the cultural perspective, where the image of the piano playing young woman became a symbol of the whole 19th century’s ideas, such as the bourgeoisie, virtuous conduct, and cultural formation. The piano was significant for the female performer but had larger ramifications that the single performer: it was a cultural phenomenon in the domestic art and the domestic culture.


Defining and practising intersectionality in music festivals

Miranda Moen, Norwegian University of Science and Technology

My open discussion paper will address Norwegian intersectionality and diversity practice within music. People with disabilities are less visible in society – including music arenas such as festivals. Society lacks perspectives on disability, as they do in diversity and intersectional philosophies more generally.

How can diversity and intersectionality theory and policy translate into action? Linked to this, how can do we make disability as visible an issue as gender in Norway?

The Norwegian report to Stortinget “Culture, inclusion and participation” (2011-2012), highlights the democratic value of accessible culture as its opening statement. [1] It further states how participation in culture is a way of belonging in society, and defines inclusion as “removing barriers preventing access to culture” (Kulturdepartementet 2011-2012).

In the discussion, I will provide insight into contemporary activities aimed at making the Norwegian live music sector disability-accessible. An exemplary case is the Kongsberg Jazzfestival, where festival-goers in wheelchairs were removed for so-called security reasons. My analysis of the case deals with the aftermath, media coverage and arguments following the incident. The incident was reported by the festival attenders to the Equality and anti-discrimination ombudsman (LDO) in 2015. However, LDO and even Likestillingsnemda rejected the report, stating “security comes before discrimination” (Kvistum 2017).

As in the Stortingsmelding on culture and inclusion, participants in the Norwegian music industry mostly have good intentions – yet do not always enact such intentions. My paper analyses the actions of the players involved and implications of these actions, as well as how the involved majority players respond and react.

The discussion will offer some possible definitions of equality, diversity and intersectionality, and how cultural spaces can be at the forefront of diversity and intersectional practices in society.

[1] The report defines the meaning of culture in this context, as “the different activities within culture.”

Kvistum, Ivar (2017). Sikkerhet trumfet diskriminering. Handikapnytt.no. Hentet        19.01.2018 fra https://www.handikapnytt.no/sikkerhet-trumfet-diskriminering/

Kulturdepartementet (2011-2012). Kultur, inkludering og deltaking. Meld. St. 10 2011–2012. Oslo: Kulturdepartementet. Hentet 19.01.2018 fra https://www.regjeringen.no/no/dokumenter/meld-st-10-20112012/id666017/sec1


Mary Lou Williams at the Crossroads: Intersections of Race, Gender, Nation

Gayle M Murchinson, The College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, Virginia

Jazz pianist Mary Lou William’s career from 1946 to 1954 provides an instructive pedagogic paradigm regarding music and gendered jazz performance, canonicity, and negotiations of difference. Canonically and historiographically, jazz critics privilege virtuosity and discographical positivism. This ignores African American cultural aesthetics and values, which approach music as communal and experiential, and also excludes women from the jazz canon. My study focuses on Williams’s late 1940s Girl Stars recordings and those from the two years she spent in London and England. Using selected Girl Stars recordings, I show how   to assess jazz performance with contemporary criteria used by musicians (male and female) themselves. Recordings and Williams’s own experience provide information about music, (im)migration, and the reception of jazz post-W.W. II.  They illustrate how Williams negotiated race, gender, and power relations with respect to fellow musicians and white male power figures (managers, major booking agencies, immigration authorities, club owners, and critics).


The intersection of gender and class in secondary school music education in Sweden 

Mikael Persson, The Royal College of Music, Stockholm

In this presentation, I will discuss how different structural positions concerning gender and class may affect the students’ participation in musical activities in secondary school music education in Sweden. The research is part of my, soon to be finished, doctoral thesis in music pedagogy. The design could be described as a case study in which the cases represents differences regarding to social class. Each case has been analysed to find similarities and differences regarding what positions boys and girls accomplish in the classroom. My contribution to the discipline will primarily be to address the question of how differences in the students’ socioeconomic background, social class, intersects with gender, an intersection rarely addressed in music pedagogical research. I also hope to create a foundation to discussion differences created by the increasing segregation of the school system and the individual music teacher’s possibilities to compensate for the effects of this segregation.


Between ‘hypermasculinity’ and transgressive gender constructions: the recent balancing of gender in Scandinavian Extreme Metal music

Peter Pichler, Graz

Since 2014, there is an own peer-reviewed journal on ‘Metal Music Studies’, and cyclic conferences and publications prove the emergence of a new discourse in cultural studies of popular music. Yet, this discourse of research on Heavy Metal Music lacks contributions from the perspective of cultural history, especially on gender and its balancing in Metal culture. In my talk, I want to show how in recent times, most of all in Scandinavian Extreme Metal culture, a growing dynamic of gender roles has appeared. There is a growing number of bands and solo-artists (i.e. Arch Enemy, Myrkur) with women as aggressive and guttural-style singers in Death and Black Metal; on the other hand, still the myth of the ‘Northern Viking’ and his ‘hypermasculinity` is prevailing. I want to give a culture-historical interpretation of the recent trends of diversification and balancing of gender in Northern European Extreme Metal culture and how they matter to academia and culture in general.


The Voice beyond Gender Connotation-Vocal Compositions by Dieter Schnebel

Nadine Scharfetter, University of Music and Performing Arts Graz

At the point of time when singers start their vocal studies, they are assigned to vocal registers that include specific parameters such as vocal range, voice characteristics, etc. Gender studies in musicology have criticised the assignment to a vocal register, since it is based on the singer’s sex only and not on physiological properties of the voice. Therefore, for a singer, performing music inevitably includes performing gender. However, the German composer Dieter Schnebel wrote vocal compositions (e.g. ‘Maulwerke für Artikulationsorgane und Reproduktionsgeräte’, ‘dt 31,6 für 12 Vokalgruppen’) without assigning female and male singers to vocal registers that I am going to discuss in my presentation.

The purpose of my presentation is twofold: On the one hand, I want to raise society’s awareness for gender issues concerning vocal studies and vocal compositions. On the other hand, from a musicological perspective, I will discuss vocal compositions beyond gender specific vocal connotations.


I‘m not a woman – I‘m not a man – I am something that U never understand. Anti-normative desire and cross-dressing in music fandom

Carla Schriever, University of Oldenburg

When late music icon Prince appeared on TV, wearing high heels and make-up in the early 80s he started to influence a broad range of adolescent teenagers. Thirty years later mostly heterosexual men assemble in the fandom around Prince. Academics focusing on aspects of gender and society saw particular potential in this practice as the subversion of heteronormative dressing techniques. In my 2-year case study I focused on the cross-dressing potential of the artist compared to the gender self-identification of his fans. This can be visualised as a social practice and leads to questioning the implication the fandom in all its different aspects (e.g. non-normative desire) had on the participant’s identification with the social standardisation of masculine gender roles and their belonging to a male fandom object.


The Forgotten Female: Twentieth Century Irish Art Music and the Cultural Politics of Revival

Orla Shannon, Dublin City University

Women’s narratives in twentieth-century Irish art music have been perpetually neglected to the extent that their music is routinely labelled in discourse as ‘forgotten’.  Unlike their male counterparts, an all-female program is a rare anomaly in current concert-going practices. The 1916 Rising centenary concert series, ‘Composing the Island’ (National Concert Hall Dublin, 2016), provides a recent example of such gender disparity in Ireland. The project, which sought to promote all Irish composers from the era, was criticised for its insufficient inclusion of women composers in its program. Thus, it is clear that the unequal representation of male and female composers in the past has facilitated a culture which hinders the circulation of women’s works to this very day warranting the need for scholarly attention.

This paper will examine Irish composer Ina Boyle (1889–1967) in an effort to uncover why her musical identity remains marginalised from the canon of Western art music. By combining the methodologies of feminist musicologists Marcia J. Citron and Susan McClary, the paper will consist of three parts: an evaluation of Boyle’s biography in context of the socio-political upheavals of her time; the deconstruction of political ploys at work in ongoing revivalist processes; an evaluation of the composer’s creative contribution to vocal music from a performer’s perspective. In this way, the ultimate aim of the presentation is to rationalise Boyle’s status as a ‘forgotten female’ and to provide a case study on the rehabilitation of women in the canon of Irish art music.


Phulisa4Girls – Empowering South African middle school girls in at-risk areas through music and dance activities

Gareth Williams, Nelson Mandela University Port Elizabeth

Michael Strobelt, University of Tromsø – The Arctic University of Norway

Schools in the Missionvale District of Port Elizabeth face severe challenges with regard to student learning conditions. These are mainly due to health and nutrional problems and the socio-economic situation in the area. The target group in this project are girls, who, in addition to the structural challenges, more than boys seem to suffer under the disruptive learning environment in the classroom. Through staging the musical Phuhlisa (1985), based on traditional South African music, the participants aim at creating an arena where girls can assert themselves and experience a positive personal development. The project is a collaboration between UiT, Nelson Mandela University and schools in the region. It involves researchers from music education, health and educational technology. The theoretical background is critical and humanizing pedagogy (Freire 1970, Salazar 2013)
Results – among others participation, changes in motivation, health and school performance – will be monitored by a specially designed app.


Understanding the position of men in a gender unequal screen composition industry

Catherine Strong,  RMIT University Melbourne

Women film and television composers sit at the intersection of two industries – music and film – that are well recognised as being extremely imbalanced in terms of gender, with men being far more likely to participate and succeed in these areas. In Australia, only 13% of film and television composers who are members of the Australian Performing Rights Association (APRA) are women, compared with 21% of APRA members more broadly. This paper uses the results of research commissioned by APRA, to examine men and women’s perceptions of the industry, and to map their career trajectories.

It will be shown that men and women have very different perspectives on the significance of gender in this field, with women being acutely aware of the disadvantages their gender produces, while men are far more likely to see the industry as a meritocracy, or to see gender discrimination as minimal. The idea that women compose a different type of music to men (and that this is suited to film and television made by women) was expressed often, and reveals an essentialist approach to gender by those in this industry. Making men more aware of the hurdles faced by women in establishing their careers, and challenging the preconceived notions of the type of music women are capable of creating will be discussed as some of the possible ways forward suggested by this research.


The Female voice of the Garcia School. Research on opera vocal techniques from a gender perspective

Ingela Tägil, Linnaeus University

This three-year international post-doc project (2015–18) is founded by the Swedish Science Council. The purpose is analysing gender aspects in opera vocal technique and determine how the dominance of the male vocal aesthetic in opera may affect female voices. Despite his aim to improve male voices Manuel Garcia (1805–1906) and his successors had greater success with female singers. To find out why, and if his vocal techniques may be useful today I have conducted vocal experiments together with seven professional sopranos. Main research questions: How do Garcia’s techniques coup de la glotte (hard tone onset), lateral breathing support (high breathing) and voix blanche (high larynx position) affect female voice progression? How may female opera singers use these vanished techniques today? The theoretical frame-work is the ongoing gender discussion, aspects of female opera singing in a male defined world, conducted originally mainly by Susan McClary and Carolyn Abbate.


A Norwegian girl choir’s place in the life story of immigrant girls

Silje Valde Onsrud, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences

I’m collecting life stories of young immigrant girls in Norway, who have in common that they have been participating in a girl choir during their childhood. They have been singing Norwegian folk music, classical music, church music, songs from films and musicals. They have been learning song techniques, exercises, ways to behave, ways to move their body and ways to perform girlhood. Through a narrative inquiry, this paper will discuss:

How does the experience of singing in a girl choir fit into the girls’ life stories? How are the experiences made meaningful through the ways they describe them?

The discussion will explore how gender, ethnicity, religion and social position effects the girls’ experience of the girl choir. The study aims to give new insights into how music educational practises are experienced differently for different people. In a broader sense, it can give insights to how immigrant girls with different backgrounds experience leisure time activities offered in the Norwegian society.


Gender hierarchies and stereotypes in music education: Male adolescents’ narratives about their choral participation in Music Secondary Schools

Antonis Ververis, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki

The purpose of this study was to investigate the phenomenon of low boys’ participation in choirs of Music Secondary Schools in Greece.  The participants were 17 boys, high school students and alumni of two Music Secondary Schools, where the researcher worked as a teacher. The aim of the researcher was to explore the meanings that boys assign to their activities, such as participation in school music ensembles, which led to the adoption of qualitative research methods according to the interpretivist tradition.  Consequently, within a period of four years (two academic years at each school) with daily contact and interaction with children, as well as semi-structured interviews with each one separately, a large amount of qualitative data was collected.

A very consistent pattern observed among boys was the tendency to underestimate any music activity committed by girls (listening and musical taste, choice of instrument, singing activities), since, according to the boys, girls’ choices lack the element of agency.  Moreover, the boys seem to avoid choirs, since participating in an orchestra and playing a musical instrument are activities of higher social status, compared to participating in choirs and singing respectively.

These findings are consistent with the basic theoretical proposition of the study, according to which gender is an analytical category socially constructed, with evaluative and certainly not neutral character, which legitimises and reinforces existing hierarchies. Thus, any music activity performed by girls automatically acquires low status, and conversely, boys avoid low status activities which are considered as less masculine. The fact that these activities are chosen less from boys, results in their further feminisation and consequently degradation, perpetuating a vicious circle.


Music, politics and emotions in feminist activism

Ann Werner, Linnaeus University

Åsa Bergman & Cecilia Björck,  University of Gothenburg

This paper presents the theory and outlines for a study on how music is used, experienced and articulated as political and emotional by feminist activists. Focus is on feminist music activists involved with organizations working for feminist, queer and anti-racist equality and justice in and outside music. This paper is based on the application and is the first step of a larger research endeavor exploring music’s role in feminism and activism, aiming to look into how music is experienced as emotional and as political action (see also James 2015).

Starting points are taken in feminist theories of culture, emotion and political action (Ahmed 2004, 2010, Hemmings 2012), cultural studies of music and style (Whiteley 2000, Leonard 2007) and musicological understandings of music as resource for protest (DeNora 2001, Hennion 2015). Thus, symbolic, political and emotional dimensions of music’s importance for feminist activism can be analyzed to further our understanding of the connections between politics, emotion and music, in feminist music activism today in particular.

Ahmed, Sara (2004). The cultural politics of emotion, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.

Ahmed, Sara (2010): The promise of happiness, Durham: Duke University Press.

DeNora, Tia (2001): “Aesthetic agency and musical practice: New directions in the sociology of music and emotion”, In Patrik N. Juslin and John A. Sloboda (eds.), Music and emotion: Theory and research, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 161–180.

Hemmings, Clare (2012): “Affective Solidarity: Feminist Reflexivity and Political Transformation”, Feminist Theory, 13(2), 147-161.

Hennion, Antoine (2015): The Passion for Music: A Sociology of Mediation, Aldershot: Ashgate.

James, Robin (2015). Resilience & melancholy: Pop music, feminism, neoliberalism. Winchester, UK: Zero Books.

Leonard, Marion (2007): Gender in the music industry: Rock, discourse and girl power, Aldershot: Ashgate.

Whiteley, Sheila (2000): Women and popular music: Sexuality, identity and subjectivity, London: Routledge.


Past the Point of Representation: New Agendas in Research on Music and Gender

GeMus: Gender and Music Network Panel
Ann Werner, Linnaeus University, Sweden
Tami Gadir, University of Oslo, Norway
Sam de Boise, Örebro University, Sweden

Gender inequalities have long been documented within and across different music spaces. Yet whilst there has been an emphasis on equality as an issue of quantitative representation, or ‘more equal’ numbers of binary genders, inequalities still persist.

Furthermore, intersectional feminist critiques have indicated that quantitative, binary measures tend to privilege white, cisgendered bodies, whilst post- and de-colonial approaches have argued that radically reforming patriarchal and colonial institutions, including greater appreciation of geopolitics, mean thinking beyond issues of quantitative representation within institutions.

This panel aims to demonstrate how emerging work within cultural and gender studies can help to develop new questions around aesthetics and music practice, in tandem with analyses of intersectionally gendered inequalities. Through exploring the affective dimensions of gender, ontological questions of gendered subjectivity(/ies) and the gendered structuring of material music environments, it aims to offer affirmative strategies for studying, analysing and transforming gender inequalities in relation to music.



Is There a «Male Gaze» in Music?

Rebecka Ahvenniemi, University of Bergen, The Grieg Academy

Several artistic disciplines, such as visual arts and literature, have been subjected to a feminist critique in the 20th century. The concept of a «male gaze» was taken into use by the film critic Laura Mulvey 1975. Mulvey raised the question whether aesthetic ideals, for example the posture of a woman presented on a picture, were formed by males.

Music as an artistic expression is still considered to some degree autonomous with respect to its aesthetic standards, uninfluenced by the gender and social background of the composer. In this poster I wish to raise the question what kind of norms, or «gaze», that are present in musical composition. Today about 16% of the Norwegian composers are women. The question about «male gaze» is important both from the perspective of gender equality and democracy in a wider sense. Who is given access to music as an art form, and on what premises?


Collecting, researching, supporting and teaching in the field of music and gender. The Research Centre for Music and Gender in Hanover, Germany

Maren Bagge, Hanover University of Music, Drama and Media

For more than 10 years, the Research Centre for Music and Gender in Hanover (Germany) has been researching, supporting, promoting and teaching music-related gender issues, as well as collecting related material.

Key objectives include:

  • to build up a specialised library and an archive with source material on the interface between music and gender
  • to support innovative teaching in the field of gender studies in musicology
  • to initiate and support research projects and artistic-scholarly co-operations
  • to support young scientific researchers.

Thus, the Research Centre has grown into a centre of research, competence, networking and training that contributes to discussion and research around music and gender topics. Subsequently, it provides impulse for further research and conveys the relevance of a gender perspective in music, both theoretically and practically. The poster will present the Research Centre as well as selected current research projects and perspectives


Feminist stories of music

Rebecca D. Billström, Örebro University

My dissertation project explores and examines feminist-oriented music practices and perspectives across musical genres in a Swedish context. This poster presentation introduces and discusses some preliminary results from the interviews performed within the project. Whilst feminist (activist) stories have been widely told in other areas, music is surprisingly sparse. The exception is stories in and of music where there is no debate as to the political aspect of the very music as well as the artists themselves. What is more, previous research on gender and music tend to take as its starting point individual musical genres, exploring different aspects of obstacles, performances or practices related to gender in one genre at a time. Applying a theoretical framework of feminist storytelling (Hemmings 2005; 2011), one ambition with my research is to challenge and widen a storytelling where hegemonic feminist stories about music run the risk of marginalising others as well as the very understanding of what a feminist approach to music can be.

GeMus: Gender and Music Network Panel

Past the Point of Representation: New Agendas in Research on Music and Gender

Ann Werner (Linnaeus University, Sweden)
Tami Gadir (University of Oslo, Norway)
Sam de Boise (Örebro University, Sweden)

Gender inequalities have long been documented within and across different music spaces. Yet whilst there has been an emphasis on equality as an issue of quantitative representation, or ‘more equal’ numbers of binary genders, inequalities still persist.

Furthermore, intersectional feminist critiques have indicated that quantitative, binary measures tend to privilege white, cisgendered bodies, whilst post- and de-colonial approaches have argued that radically reforming patriarchal and colonial institutions, including greater appreciation of geopolitics, mean thinking beyond issues of quantitative representation within institutions.

This panel aims to demonstrate how emerging work within cultural and gender studies can help to develop new questions around aesthetics and music practice, in tandem with analyses of intersectionally gendered inequalities. Through exploring the affective dimensions of gender, ontological questions of gendered subjectivity(/ies) and the gendered structuring of material music environments, it aims to offer affirmative strategies for studying, analysing and transforming gender inequalities in relation to music.