Professor Ingrid Monson visits the Con

23 October 2019
Quincy Jones Professor of African American Music

The Sydney Conservatorium of Music was proud to host renowned jazz scholar and ethnomusicologist Professor Ingrid Monson.

Portrait of Professor Ingrid Monson

During the week of October 7–11, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music was proud to host renown jazz scholar and ethnomusicologist Professor Ingrid Monson (Quincy Jones Professor of African American Music, Harvard University). Professor Monson is the award winning author of Saying Something: Jazz Improvisation and Interaction (University of Chicago Press, 1996) and Freedom Sounds: Civil Rights Call Out to Jazz and Africa (Oxford University Press, 2007). In 2015, Professor Monson served as an expert witness for musician Marvin Gaye’s family during the high profile Blurred Lines copyright infringement lawsuit. Over the course of the week, Professor Monson participated in three formal events and several informal events with Sydney Conservatorium staff and students.

On October 8, Professor Monson presented a lecture on her involvement in the Blurred Lines case at a Sydney Ideas event titled Drawing the lines: music copyright, cultures and creativity. Following her lecture, Professor Monson took part in a panel discussion on the topic of copyright law and competing notions of music ownership with Mr Rob Yezerski, barrister for the music group Men at Work during Australia’s own high profile copyright infringement lawsuit concerning the song Down Under. Professor Monson’s lecture and the following panel discussion were recorded for the Sydney Ideas podcast.

Professor Monson's talks reminded all of us how active musicology is in shaping the world around us. Her work as an expert witness on the Blurred Lines case aimed to level the playing field in terms of how musical labor is valued in our society and her Hook lecture opened up new pathways for sharing musical ideas across cultures. These exciting and important ideas clearly resonated with the wide range of music advocates that came to hear her speak.
Dr Christopher Coady, Senior Lecturer in Musicology

On October 10, Professor Monson served as an informal respondent for a symposium titled Narrating Musical and Social Change convened by Dr Christopher Coady and Dr Amanda Harris. This symposium brought together a diverse group of music scholars from across Australia and New Zealand to examine the scholarly currents we ride and resist when discussing musical phenomena and the cultural work our resultant narratives perform. Participants offered reflections on the narrative choices they have made over the course of their careers and the impact these choices have had on the reach of their scholarly work. 

As a capstone to the Narrating Musical and Social Change symposium, Professor Monson delivered the 2019 Alfred Hook Lecture – our school’s flagship public facing musicological event. The title of Professor Monson’s lecture was “Analyzing Music in the wake of Sound Studies and Affect Theory.” In this talk Professor Monson tackled serious theoretical challenges facing contemporary musicology while presenting a method of music analysis capable of engaging students and members of the public who cannot read music notation.

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