Dream songs

… in two movements — starting with a dream from April 21st as I described it to Ellen Kaisse (where her role as a talented amateur choral singer and friend of musicians was especially relevant). And then, having separately posted, on April 19th, about the newly appointed fellows of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, focused on Elizabeth Traugott and Hazel Simmons-McDonald (distinguished as academic administrators as well as scholars), I turned to EK in her long-time role as an academic administrator at the University of Washington (as chair of Linguistics and then as a dean) and was moved to muse about women in linguistics who have demonstrated real talent as academic administrators.

Movement 1. On 4/21, I e-mailed to Ellen Kaisse:

In my severely disordered sleep last night, I learned that you have been podcasting extensively on the analysis of classical music and have quite a considerable following. I had no idea; you are, apparently, an even more multifaceted and accomplished person that I had imagined. (Though in the dream I was a bit miffed that you hadn’t even mentioned the podcasts to me.)

The music that happened to be playing (on my Apple Music, formerly iTunes, that soothes my sleep) was Mozart’s compositions for the glass harmonica, in case that means anything.

When i awoke, the Morning Name inexplicably in my head was “South Hadley MA”

Strange times.

Side matter: the glass harmonica. From Wikipedia:

The glass harmonica … is a type of musical instrument that uses a series of glass bowls or goblets graduated in size to produce musical tones [AZ: often described as mournful, haunting, or ghostly in affect] by means of friction (instruments of this type are known as friction idiophones). It was invented in 1761 by Benjamin Franklin.

The name “glass harmonica” … refers today to any instrument played by rubbing glass or crystal goblets or bowls. The alternative instrument consisting of a set of wine glasses (usually tuned with water) is generally known in English as “musical glasses” or the “glass harp”.

… Composers including J. G. Naumann, Padre Martini, Johann Adolph Hasse, Baldassare Galuppi, and Niccolò Jommelli, and more than 100 others composed works for the glass harmonica; some pieces survive in the repertoire through transcriptions for more conventional instruments. European monarchs indulged in playing it, and even Marie Antoinette took lessons as a child from Franz Anton Mesmer.

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart wrote his 1791 K. 617 and K.356 (K.617a) for the glass harmonica.

You can listen here to one of Mozart’s last chamber works, K. 617a, as played by Christa and Gerald Schönfeldinger (with an informative accompanying slide show).

The instrument’s tones are not very loud, and don’t compete well against orchestral instruments. And then the instrument is composed of lots of easily breakable parts, so it doesn’t travel well. As a result, after its 18th-century heyday, it fell out of favor.

Side matter: South Hadley MA. South Hadley is a town in Hampshire County in western Massachusetts, home to Mount Holyoke College. It’s just north of Amherst, home to Amherst College, Hampshire College, and the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Classical Gabfest. No podcasts from EK. But, she wrote, there was an odd coincidence here, because her friend and conductor Will White created her favorite podcast, Classical Gabfest.

And she then went on to the weekly newsletter that succeeded the podcast, linking to

Will White’s website https://www.willcwhite.com Whereon one can subscribe to the Classical Gabfest Newsletter

(The newsletter is mainly by Will, with collaboration by Joseph Vaz.)

Movement 2. I wrote to EK:

… having posted about Elizabeth Traugott and Hazel Simmons-McDonald [in my 4/19/23 posting “Just elected to the American Academy”], I was moved to muse about women in linguistics who have demonstrated real talent as academic administrators: those two, Ilse Lehiste, Vicki Fromkin, and, of course, you. A more mixed group [in personal styles] it would be harder to find.

Distinguished phonologist EK is now Professor Emerita at the University of Washington, where she has been since 1976. She was president of the Linguistic Society of America in 2013-14. Meanwhile, at UW she served as department chair for some years, then as divisional dean for arts and humanities. The university sponsored a colloquium in her honor on 5/6/16, which was the occasion for this photo:

But wait, there’s more. Meanwhile, I’d been corresponding with Robin Queen (the subject of my 2/11/23 posting “Send in the border collies”), who was a sterling department chair but found the position uncongenial (as I did, on the (rather many) occasions when I was impressed into service) — noting to her that I thought that the academic world would be a better place with more dykes in positions of power. (A stance that both Robin and Ellen nodded in agreement with.)

Women, yes, but even better, dykes. They would, of course, vary a great deal in their styles, as straight women also do,  but many of them could offer the combination of empathy and tough-mindedness that, in my opinion, makes for a good academic administrator.



Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: