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Musical Discourse and the History of Ideas

Posted: November 5, 2018

Cultural Studies Ph.D. Salon Seminar - Michael Morse

Michael Morse with Bass
Michael Morse

Event Details

  • Thursday, December 6, 2018
    7:30 PM - 9:00 PM
    Traill College

With the rise of the notion of discourse, the history of ideas has gained a new means to formulate its questions. Like “paradigm,” “discourse” is a model that inherently conceives the order of things in equally particular and connected ways, historically. Unlike events, things, or people, ideas cannot be understood in isolation, nor studied in this way without serious distortions. Save alas for some fashionable, superficial, and pointlessly literal invocations of Michel Foucault, however, the discursive conception has yet to find its way into the consideration of non-verbal discourses, such as visual art and music; equally important, the intelligences of these discursive forms have yet to inform the history of ideas. The present essay argues for the discursive particularity of musical ideas, and its potential contributions to intellectual history.

Musician, composer, teacher, and social music theorist Michael Morse has taught composition, world music, musicianship, and music sociology at Trent for fifteen years, as well as giving private lessons in bass, harmony, composition, singing, and music theory in Montréal and Toronto. Michael has been prominent in the music scene as a bassist in these cities, and of late in Peterborough, where he has concentrated his creative activity on the recently completed music drama Penelope, developed in collaboration with poet/dramatist Ian McLachlan, and on Projections, a collaborative jazz ensemble with pianist Biff Hannon and drummer Curtis Cronkwright. Michael is in his second year as Music Director for Traill College, striving to bring together the many creative musical elements of Trent’s campus cultures, and has recently joined the Graduate Faculty in Cultural Studies. 

Samples of Michael’s music can be heard at