While youth taste cultures, male composers and inventors continue to dominate the attention of electronic music, popular music and technology scholarship, very few studies have been devoted to women, musical interpreters and ageing. Using the Ondes Martenot (1928) as a window to study ageing, music and technology, this project undertakes an original feminist micro historiography of the musical interpreters of the Ondes Martenot (Ondes) by weaving together neglected aspects of the Ondes as a performing instrument.
I am struck by the dearth of information on the Ondes’ ondistes, most of whom are older women living in Québec, with international careers in music spanning 40 to 50 years. Drawing from ageing studies, sound studies, feminist media studies and research-creation, “Ageing Waves” will contribute to ACT’s Critical mediations: everyday life and cultures of ageing research axis by examining the everyday musical lives, histories and practices of Suzanne Binet-Audet, Marie Bernard and Genevieve Grenier. This study will analyze the following core questions: How can histories of older musical interpreters contribute to our understandings of ageing studies and music? How do musical interpreters, instruments and technologies grow old together? What are the trajectories of valuations of materials and technologies? And, how do relationships to musical gesturing, memory and technique change through the passage of time?
I will use the pilot project funding to invite Binet-Audet, Bernard and Grenier to spend three days at a recording studio (separately) at Concordia University with their instruments. While at the studio, I will ask them to play their instruments, including some of their own compositions and favourite musical works, and participate in a series of semi-structured interviews addressing the project’s core research questions.