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Music at Wesleyan

From Glee Club to Gamelan

Mark Slobin

Publication Year: 2011

This is the first account of the evolution of music at Wesleyan University, a campus known since the mid-nineteenth century for its musical life--first as the "Singing College of New England" and then, after 1960, as the home of a renowned undergraduate and graduate department that integrates world music studies with more traditional Western and experimental musical forms. Through excerpts from accounts in the campus newspaper over the earlier decades and eyewitness accounts by key figures in recent times, the book compactly surveys a wide range of musical formations, practices, repertoires, and events from the 1830s to the early 2000s. Vividly illustrated with both historical and contemporary images, Music at Wesleyan presents a portrait of the school that today blends educational innovation and cultural diversity with creative passion and intellectual rigor, and includes a foreword by Richard K. Winslow, the John Spencer Camp Professor of Music, Emeritus at Wesleyan University. A companion digital archive at http://wesscholar.wesleyan.edu/maw_audio/ features audio files of glee club, gamelan, jazz, experimental, African, Indian, and other performances.

Published by: Wesleyan University Press

Series: Garnet Books


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Table of Contents

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p. v

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p. vi

This book, through its materials and energy, unleashes a remarkable panorama, just as music itself has done throughout Wesleyan’s history. Prior to the unfolding of Indian and Javanese and Japanese and Ghanaian and Afro-American musics at Wesleyan in the 1960s, the..

Author’s Note

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pp. vi-vii

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Part I: The Early Decades of the “Singing College”

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pp. 1-4

What a scene! A mere thirty years after the founding of Wesleyan, the elegantly-clad Glee Club is seen wandering on foot to the White Mountains, before the construction of Interstate 91 or the production of automobiles. Everywhere the singers stopped, people were glad to offer them...

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The Glee Club World

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pp. 4-17

What were the boys singing, when not atop Mt. Washington but back in the Chapel? The program for November 19, 1869, illustrates three kinds of pieces: college songs, classical music favorites—often from opera—and light fare. In a wry Wesleyan way, the composer of “Viva la Wesleyan” is given—misspelled—as “unbekannt,” German for “anonymous,” just as Pat Molloy’s solo...

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Instrumental Music

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pp. 18-23

The “singing college” was also the strumming, bowing, and blowing college. Among the earliest data we have of music at Wesleyan is the 1838 music book of the Speirachordeon band. Marches were common at social events and dances, not just athletic contests in those days. While 1838 is a shade early for photographs, by 1870 we have a fi ne picture of the band, sporting a varied assortment...

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The Ceremonial Music World

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pp. 24-34

Old Wesleyan, with its small, homogeneous student body, favored a variety of ceremonial moments that have long gone out of fashion. Class Day, held around the time of commencement, was one of those, and both the ritual and musical moments it sparked seem far from today’s idea of campus life, as for...

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Part II: The World Music Era: 1960 and Beyond

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pp. 35-38

Something very surprising happened in the world of music at Wesleyan, beginning in the late 1940s, when David McAllester and Richard Winslow were hired (1947 and 1949 respectively). McAllester was the leading authority on the music of the Navajo people, and one of the four founders of...

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World Music Takes Root and Flourishes

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pp. 39-68

Cage’s appearance was not the only new departure for the emerging campus music scene. In the early 1960s, the legendary Indian musician, Ravi Shankar, stopped at Wesleyan on one of his earliest tours to the United States. His visit marked an important milestone on the road to Wesleyan’s future World...

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The Experimental Music Tradition Expands

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pp. 69-85

The Wesleyan music vision of the new era was not just about world music. As his 1966 report to the Trustees shows, Richard Winslow had made it clear that the new experimental music forms pioneered by John Cage and others had to have a significant presence on campus. In 1969, Alvin...

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Newer World Music Traditions

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pp. 86-90

With new waves of faculty and student interest, music at Wesleyan keeps expanding and morphing over time. For example, African music has expanded from West African drumming to include the string kora tradition under the guidance of Eric...

E-ISBN-13: 9780819570796
Print-ISBN-13: 9780819570789

Page Count: 104
Publication Year: 2011

Series Title: Garnet Books
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OCLC Number: 811963679
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Music at Wesleyan

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Subject Headings

  • Musical groups -- Connecticut -- Middletown -- History.
  • Wesleyan University (Middletown, Conn.) -- Musical groups.
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