Suzel Ana Reily, 5 March 2015

Title of the Talk: Folia Voices: A Tribute to Elizabeth Travassos

When? Thursday 5 March 2015 (17:00-18:30)

Where? Ertegun House, St Giles, University of Oxford

Speaker: Suzel Ana Reily (Reader, Anthropology and Ethnomusicology, Queen’s University Belfast and Universidade de Campinas)

Abstract: This paper draws its inspiration from Brazilian ethnomusicologist Elizabeth Travassos, who dedicated the final years of her life to constructing an interdisciplinary approach to the study of the voice. The paper begins by looking at how the voice has been addressed in ethnomusicology and anthropology, noting that each discipline has tended to focus either on the sung or the spoken voice. In many ritual settings, however, speech and song work together to construct an intricate ‘voicescape’ in which the very mode of articulation (speech or song) and vocal ‘grain’ employed in each vocal genre contributes to the aesthetic environment of the event; indeed, the very properties of the vocalisation articulate the ‘voice as sound’ to the ‘voice as agent’. Through an ethnography of the folia de reis, a popular Catholic ritual tradition of South Eastern Brazil, I aim to show how the interplay of vocal genres during folia performances evinces multiple and complex layers of signification, grounded within a moral economy of the voice.

Speaker Biography: Suzel Reily completed her doctoral degree in Social Anthropology in 1990 at the University of Sao Paulo. During her studies she spent a year working with the late Professor John Blacking at Queen’s University Belfast. Upon defending her PhD she returned to Belfast for a research fellowship which would later become a full-time permanent lectureship in 1991. She acted as Chair for the British Forum for Ethnomusicology (2000-2003) and for the Society for Ethnomusicology Council (2003 – 2005). She has just returned from the University of Chicago where she held a Tinker Visiting Professorship (2007). Dr Reily acted as co-editor of the British Journal for Ethnomusicology (1998-2001) and since 2003 she has been acting as website reviews editor for the Yearbook of Traditional Music. Between 2002 and 2003, she held an ESRC research grant and is currently completing a monograph based on this material, which addresses the musical life of a small former mining town in Minas Gerais, Brazil, from the colonial period to the present.


Event hosted as part of the Seminar in Ethnomusicology and Sound Studies Series, based at St John’s College, University of Oxford.

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