University of Rochester

Currents--University of Rochester newspaper

Bridging Fellows take musical journeys

Three faculty members have been selected by Provost Charles Phelps to take part in the Bridging Fellows program, a unique opportunity for scholars to step away from their area of expertise and try a new academic venture. Think of it as an interdisciplinary minivacation. This year's participants are jazz pianist Harold Danko, musicologist Patrick Macey, and cultural historian Joan Shelley Rubin. The three will take a closer look at the mystery and complexity of how music and language meet. Read more about their individual projects.

Harold Danko
Professor of Jazz Piano, Chair of the Department of Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media at the Eastman School

"I have often called myself a linguistics buff," says Danko. "I am fascinated with the rhythms and cadence of conversational speech, and the sounds made by the human speaking voice, without regard to any specific language." So when he met a linguist with a deep interest in jazz, Danko thought he could best study the expressive function of rhythm in language and music at the University's own Department of Linguistics.

He and Joyce McDonough (pictured above), associate professor and chair of the Department of Linguistics, will analyze jazz improvisation on their way to increased understanding of how intonation works. Danko will spend part time during the fall and spring semesters on this project, capping it off with a performance work he'll create for students of linguistics and jazz in April 2007.

Joan Shelley Rubin
Professor of History

Rubin's Bridging Fellows proposal raises abundant teaching and research possibilities that can grow from her goal of learning about the language and perspectives of musicologists and composers. "I want to know how to analyze in musical as well as social terms the performances that have resulted from certain collaborations between poet and composer: in other words, to understand the vocabulary and perspectives of the musicologist," says Rubin.

Her previous writings and expertise in literary and culture history attracted Rubin to a semester of study and research at Eastman, as well as her personal background in vocal performance. Professor of Musicology Ralph Locke supports Rubin's plans and is one of many writers and composers in the Eastman community with whom she will work.

Patrick Macey
Professor of Musicology at the Eastman School

The program of study described by Macey will extend his knowledge of 19th- century German politics and culture with coursework in the Department of History in the fall. "I will be able to enhance the quality of the courses that I teach on German and Austrian instrumental music and expand my scholarly research into the ordering and function of musical culture in Germany during that period," Macey says. Celia Applegate, professor of history who has published on the topic of German culture and music, will act as Macey's primary contact. She was a Bridging Fellow at the Eastman School in spring 2005 for a project on nationalism and Germany.

Maintained by Office of Communications
Please send your comments and suggestions to:
Office of Communications.