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Grant number like: FT-265407-19

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Michael Benjamin Silvers
University of Illinois (Champaign, IL 61801-3620)
The Circulation and Aesthetics of Materials for Classical Bows and Brazilian Rabecas (Fiddles) in an Age of Ecological Change

Research and writing leading to a book-length study about the history, aesthetics, and cultural uses of musical instruments made from brazilwood, with a focus on Brazilian handmade fiddles (rabecas) and bows for Western string instruments.

Histories of musical instruments, the materials from which they are made, and the timbral aesthetics associated with them are entangled with colonial, capitalist, and environmental histories. My two case studies--pernambuco wood in bows for string instruments and Brazilian handmade fiddles (rabecas)--will uncover relationships between musical aesthetics and natural resources via multi-sited ethnographic and archival research in Brazil and the US. With this grant, I hope to spend two months in Juazeiro do Norte to study with luthiers as they select, obtain, and use materials (wood, gourds, and garbage) for creating new instruments, and to study their aesthetic and practical choices. I will also begin writing up the related chapter for my book project Timber and Timbre: From Brazil’s Atlantic Forest to the Concert Hall.

Project fields:
Ethnomusicology; Latin American Studies; Music History and Criticism

Summer Stipends

Research Programs

$6,000 (approved)
$6,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2019 – 7/31/2019