Music History and Theory Forum: Jennifer Iverson

Event Date: 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 - 3:30pm to 4:45pm

Event Location: 

  • Music Room 1145 (UCSB)

Event Price: 

Admission is free.

Speaker: Jennifer Iverson, Assistant Professor of Music Theory, University of Iowa
Talk Title: Invisible Collaboration: The Dawn of Electronic Music at the Westdeutscher Rundfunk 
This paper analyzes the earliest pieces of electronic music produced at the Westdeutscher Rundfunk (WDR) studio in Cologne in 1952 and 1953, focusing in particular upon the studio’s recently discovered “piece zero” Morgenröte [Dawn]. The aesthetic foundations of the studio as articulated by Meyer-Eppler, Eimert, and Beyer prized timbral innovation, but a host of technical collaborators were needed to help the composers work with the unfamiliar equipment. Thus, the WDR technology itself had profound and lasting effects on the works, as the evolution of high-art electronic music in the 1950s depended on engineer-driven solutions. Furthermore, composers were at pains to suppress and dispel the anxiety that their new high-art works were in fact just collections of Hörspiel [radio drama] sound-effects. This analysis shows that “to compose” electronic music is an inescapably collaborative process, by making visible and audible a network that enabled the creative work of the WDR studio.
Speaker Bio:
Jennifer Iverson is Assistant Professor of Music Theory at the University of Iowa, and for the 2015-16 academic year, an External Faculty Fellow in residence at the Stanford Humanities Center. She is at work on a book about how the WDR studio in Cologne served as the central locus for the so-called “Darmstadt” group of composers. The electronic music studio reclaimed wartime technology, and provided a laboratory to work out a shared conceptual framework that applied to both electronic and acoustic musical compositions. Jennifer’s second research area is disability studies, and she has written about Bjork, the disabled body, and electronica. Her work appears in print in the journals twentieth-century musicMusic AnalysisTempo, and Music Theory Online; in the edited collections Sounding Off and Oxford Handbook of Music and Disability Studies; and is forthcoming in the Journal of the American Musicological Society
Jennifer serves on the Faculty Senate at the University of Iowa and the editorial board of Music Theory Spectrum. She previously chaired the SMT Disability and Music (or DISMUS) Interest Group and served on SMT’s Accessibility Committee. She earned her Ph.D. at the University of Texas at Austin, and has since made multiple visits to European archives on research grants.
Sponsored by the Music History and Theory Forum at the Department of Music.


Courtesy photo.