Subito 2022: Women Pioneers of Electronic Music

My biggest accomplishment of the last year was being the lead editor of the fifth edition of Subito, Portland State’s student-run music journal. I’m proud of my work for this issue, and I am happy with how the whole issue came out. Subito offers a great opportunity for students of music at Portland State to write and publish articles, gaining experience with academic journals and music journalism along with refining their writing skills. For readers, the issues include articles on many genres and eras of music, along with interviews with PSU faculty, album and book reviews and surveys. If you want to read the latest issue or peruse through the backlog, you can download them here from the PSU Music Department website.

I’ve been involved with Subito since its humble beginnings back in 2018. Back then I was a plucky undergrad who contributed a few paragraphs to that issue’s analysis article on David Ludwig’s Pangaea. Since then I have worked my way up to being the lead editor, which I will remain through next issue once I’ve graduated with my Master’s. I have also contributed a significant number of articles for each, including a bulk of the Central Theme for the 2020 issue on the New Polish School.

For every issue since the first I have taken the New Work section and focused on a local composer: I have looked at a collection of pieces by local composers for I Spat in the Eye of Hate and Lived; I previewed Damien Geter’s African-American Requiem; analyzed Ryan Francis’ Nightwalk. This issue includes an overview of The Pathless Woods by Kirsten Volness for violin, vibraphone and electronics. The Pathless Woods premiered online in video form, and as far as I know has not been performed in person.

One of my favorites among my contributions was a discussion of Laurie Spiegel’s Patchwork. I wrote this as a paper for one of my courses, as I enjoyed this piece the most out of a lot of the early electronic music we studied. I was especially drawn to her perspective on music and the the way Patchwork unites composition and improvisation, African and European musical traditions, and more.

I also wrote a review of the latest Dolphin Midwives album, Body of Water. The album review is fairly short and doesn’t go super in-depth into her work and her sound, but nonetheless I think she’s one of the most interesting artists working in Portland on the borders of experimental electronic music, modern classical, ambient and what we call “art pop.” Genre labels mean little when we dig deeper into them, but there isn’t (yet) a genre designation for someone doing live looping with harp, vocals and effects.

I also want to give a great thanks to Ikue Mori, who graciously offered to conduct an email interview with writer Michael Walters for his article on her work. I was genuinely surprised she accepted, and I often told Michael that doing an interview was excessive and not necessary (that’s on me). But it did offer some unique insights into her work, and I’m glad that someone who has been part of the New York experimental musical scene since the late 70s and has worked with the likes of John Zorn and Julianna Barwick would be so generous with her time.

I don’t want to give too much away for the 2023 issue, but if all goes to plan we will have lots of great stuff in this issue focused on a particular anniversary we will be celebrating in that year on a subject that has only recently garnered attention from music academia. Stay tuned.

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