Friday, September 9, 2016

Founding of Rome: An Interpretation

In Livy's writing, the founding story of Rome is a mixture of fragmented history, mythology, adopted Greek traditions and compounded imaginations. While confirming unreliable nature of his research/study resources , Livy constructs vividly his own narrative version addressing  religious, philosophical and psychological aspects, which not only brings out the lively characteristics of Romulus with his various virtues and faults, but of the entire Romans as well.   Through this narrative, he illustrates how and why Romulus becomes  the greatest founder and leader of  Rome as a new settlement, which echo with traditional Roman values, including prize of valor, thirst of power, condemnation of disloyalty and obsessions of honor of ancestry.  Further analysis of  these Roman values, therefore, not only helps us understand how Rome was able to become the greatest "world capital", but will shine light on the history and philosophy of the entire Roman influenced western world as well. 
I interpret Romulus' success story in three ways.  First of all,  his background involving mystical Royal birth, expatriation, unusual upbringing, as symbols of a dignified, or divine identity suggests his legitimacy as a ruler. Supported by god,  Romulus fought valiantly against his rough situation with the help of bonded brotherhood, and eventually redeemed his and his grandfather’s honor by defeating the traitor king Amulius. Notably, there are some recognizable narrative motifs  in the life story of Romulus,  that are often seen in other Greek and Roman tales of heroic figures or gods as well. For example, Romulus had a connection with Hercules and  Jupiter. Other examples of the narrative patterns are the prize of valor, the harsh condemnation of the traitor, and the belief in bonding with blood. These motifs tell us about many aspects of  the deep-rooted Roman values- worship of gods, bravery, hard-work, brotherhood and loyalty.  In this sense, Romulus, as the founder and leader of the city, both meets and fails the standards of a good Roman citizen.On the one hand, he is, beyond match, valiant, powerful and hardworking , which qualifies him to be a role-model for the entire city. On the other hand, he is by no means perfect: after all he betrayed his own brother. Romulus‘ paradox  drops us the world today a hint that as long as the power struggle exists, there will never be eternal loyalty and fidelity. The Romans, however are not so concerned about the morals, but about the victory as the ultimate pride. If Remus had killed Romulus instead, the story might not even change that much; all the greatness, pride and honor of Romulus could have be easily transplanted onto Remus. 
Secondly, not only does Romulus’ glorious godlike image win him the trust of Rome, but his series of leadership actions/decision making as well. For instance, he constantly contributes to building an elaborately organized society with laws, steady population, shelter for fugitives, social ranks and so on, which well address concerns on Roman's own well being. Simultaneously ,  he constructs an effective belief system based on Roman and greek mythologies with himself represented as the connector.  Romulus is not alone. Similar stories can be found in Constantine's ruling with the help of Christianity and the Emperors’ ruling of  Chinese Tang Dynasty’s with Buddhism. 
In addition, the constant war conflict between Rome and its neighboring states also in a way feed into Rome's development. The battle with the Sabine, for example, brought in population, as well as new resources. The incorporation/adoption of new culture by conquering or by warfare found in the later Roman world can be traced all the way back in this very battle of Rome and Sabine. 
  As a conclusion, Livy’s text tells us about Romulus’ story of founding rome, full of symbols of Roman values and ideologies. These symbols further explains Rome’s rising prosperity and power on its own terms foreshadowing  the entire Roman and Roman influenced history to follow. 

Analysis of Hadrian's Villa

Historical Background
The Hadrian’s villa, also called Villa Adriana in Italian, was constructed starting from 117 AD at Tivioli, as a retreat from Hadrian's place at Palatine Hill in Rome. During his later years, Hadrian actually ruled the empire from the villa. 
Publius Aeliues Hadrienus was born January of  76 CE. In his youth, he developed a fondness for hellenic culture that was to earn him the nickname “Graculus”(the Greekling). His villa, in this case, certainly reflects his love towards greek style architecture. Another influence in constructing his villa is, very possibly, Antinous. 
In the year 100 CE, two years after his guardian became Emperor, Hadrian was wed to the young great-niece of said guardian. The girl, Sabina, was approximately 13 and still fairly young even by Roman terms of marriage. There was never much fondness between Sabina and Hadrian, and indeed there was much hostility between the two, who were married for purely political reasons as Sabina was the Emperor's closest unmarried female relative.
Instead, Hadrian was in a very intimate relationship with Antinous, who unfortunately died in Nile when he was 17. After Antinous’ death, Hadrian remained in mourning for the next eight years, and had difficulty separating his private grief from his public self as the emperor. He built countless sculptures and temples for Antinous. When he returned again to Rome from Egypt where Antinous died in 136, suffering from poor health and depression. He retired to his villa where he dictated his memoirs from beneath a statue of Antinous. 

Archeological history
Hadrian’s villa lived until late antiquity. During the decline of the Roman Empire the villa fell into disuse and was partially ruined.  It was sacked by Barbarians of Totila, and then taken as building material by the city. Its identity was lost for a long time until 16th century when it was excavated and explored, in search of roman sculptures and mosaics. 
The first extensive excavations date back to the middle of the 16th century, and were ordered by Cardinal Ippolito II d’Este who was at the time the powerful Governor of Tivoli. he had much of the marble statues in Hadrian's villa removed to decorate his own Villa d'Este located nearby.
Over the years there were many excavations but they were not carried out  in a scientific way, most of them were simply treasure hunting. Therefore very little is left of the magnificent decoration of the villa and as we visit today, we will not see any of the glorious marble pavements and wall panels. The marble pavements, also called opus sectile is a distinctive mark of the emperor's presence, especially when reddish purple colored stones are used because reddish purple is the "imperial"color. Another symbol of the imperial power is the vermicu latum- which is the mosaic panels with tiny littles tesserae. Today Nothing is known about the finds, there is no information about the last phases of the villa's life and decay. We do not know the exact finding-spot of the greater part of its sculptures and mosaics. 

Architecture Style
Hadrian’s Villa is 17 miles(27 kilometers) east of Rome and 2 miles (3.2 kilometers) southwest of Tivoli. It is situated on a long low ridge bordered on the west by the level expanse of the Campagna and on the eat by a small valley which separates it from the foothills of the Apennines. Even in its present state, one could imagine its past splendor when the now ruined gardens, theaters, palaces, baths and other buildings are adorned with priceless treasures of art which the Emperor Hadrian had collected on his travels throughout his vast empire. 
The buildings materials used in building the villa are mainly Tufa and Pozzolana(a kind of volcanic ash). The villa has an interesting water supply system because the villa does not stand straight, it  leans  from south to north. The water come from the south; the difference of level gives the impulse to supply waterworks.
We have studied about the domus and we know that each room serves its own function and meaning.  And it turns out that  a big villa like this also correspond to this pattern. In a domus, the atrium, surrounded by a porch, has a water basin at its center, the impluvium.  On the atrium,  opened the tablinum, where all the family glories were exhibited. On the other end, the tablinum, opens onto an inner garden, the peristylium, which give access to other rooms of the houses, the bedrooms and the kitchen. 
  The floor plan attached in the bottom side of the handout shows the entire map of the villa area. The imperial residence is located in the center, on the west, there are theaters, temples and library, and on the east, there is temple of apollo, the accademia and so on. 
The drawing above the floor plan shows the layout of the Imperial Residential area of the Villa. Similar to a domus, the atrium of this residence  is the casino with semi circular arcades. 
On its left, we can see the porch, but on a really large scale in this case of course. The big fountain basin can be considered as the water basin in the center, the impluvium. The porch surrounding the impluvium, which usually is rectangular, here, it is curved instead because curved lines are one of the main features of Hadrian style architecture. The curving porches are surrounded by three semicircular gardens, decorated by smaller fountains. 
Both the garden and the garden stadium features the peristyle. The highest point of the villa is the winter palace, which has large windows and the best room temperature. Facing the casino, there is a triclinium/the dining room facing the casino, the atrium. Notably, all the room in the winter palace are decorated with precious marble walls reaching up to the ceiling, and have marble floor pavements. It even even has a winter heating plant.
There were several bathing establishments at the villa. The Small Bath is located on the east side, while the Large Bath on the southwest. The Women’s Bath on the north and the Barracks of the Praetorian Guard on the south. The Quadri porticus below the garden stadium is another closed garden surrounded by a porch. It is designed to link the small baths to the casino and the garden stadium. 
The Crytoporticus, on the other hand, serves as an alternative passway for people who want to reach the baths from the upper area in the winterpalace or in general. The Cryptoporticus leads you to the Praetorium Pavilion, while another corridor links it to another very important building, the vestibulum, that used to be the entrance of the villa.
The Praetorium Pavillion, connected from the cryptoporticus with a staircase has a great panoramic view of the entire villa. 
After all, this imperial residence part of the villa was a self-contained complex, located in the very heart of the Villa in a prominent position, featuring all the traditional elements of a roman domus, but enlarged to achieve an imperial and monumental scale, and reinvented in order to show the status and luxury of a royal palace.

“The Small Baths at Hadrian's Villa”
William L. MacDonald and Bernard M. Boyle
Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians , Vol. 39, No. 1 (Mar., 1980), pp. 5-27

“Hadrian's Villa”
Eleanor Clark
The Kenyon Review , Vol. 12, No. 3 (Summer, 1950), pp. 377-432
Published by: Kenyon College
Article Stable URL:

An Ethnography of Brown University Jazz Combo Groups: Gender Identity in jazz Education

The Jazz Combo performance, involving a group of college students enrolling in the Brown Jazz program, happens twice per semester,  at the University Grant Recital hall.  Tunes played at the performances range from songs in the fake book to adapted modern film music. The songs are often interpreted in various ways, very much depending on the performers’ improvisations. The performance is not only a review for the work of the combo groups, as well as an opportunity for people in or outside of the jazz community at Brown/local providence to hear some Jazz music for fun. The performers include music students at Brown who may or may not be music majors,  while audiences include Brown students(most of them are friends of the performers), Parents, and local jazz enthusiasts. Notably, men make up most of the performers and  audiences. 

The question that makes me curious and that I would like to address in my research study is: Why does the performers or audiences in the Jazz Combo performances all tend to be men? Is modern instrumental jazz music in college/academic settings dominated by men? Why?

Through observations/interviews/surveys during the course of a semester, I have found out the information below:

First, the performers(members of the Brown Jazz Combo groups) are exclusively Brown students who have registered for the semester-long, credit-bearing class.  They,  among all who auditioned for the class at the beginning of the school year, were selected by Professor Matt McGarrell, the director of the Jazz, Wind, Percussion programs at Brown. There are four combo groups. The formation of each is determined by time availability. For example, in order to join “Wednesday afternoon Combo”,  one needs to be available during that specific rehearsal time. Therefore, the groups are relatively randomly assigned/formed.  As a result, it sometimes happens that one combo has more than 9 people(the average is 6), and another only has 5 people.  The band leaders, usually hired jazz professionals, are also randomly assigned to each combo groups as well.  According an interview with Ron, who is the band leader/coach of a combo group that I studied, most of the students in  the combo groups are not music majors/professionals, and they play jazz for fun or as an extra curriculum activity. Ron directs the band, by giving advices on various aspects: rhythm, volume, techniques, timbre, order, feel, background counterpart, solo melody, ornamentation, form and tune selection. Despite his authority to coach the band, Ron tends to let the group flow on its own and play by ear at often times with almost no constraints of theories/rules.  In short, the combo group members are mostly college students who are proficient yet not necessarily professional jazz instrument players. They are organized in an academic course, yet loosely directed in a relatively non-rigorous casual setting.

Second,  almost 90 percent  of the performers in the Combo fall into category of white male. In fact, there are only three girls all together in the entire combo population of about 25 people. There is not a single girl instrumentalists.  All of the three girls, perhaps not by accident, are vocalists. These data are not unexpected given that Brown is an  Ivy league college in New England and Jazz has been historically dominated by men.  However, female jazz musicians, are often represented in jazz vocals. I think it has to do with several facts, one could be  that in a male-dominated jazz world, the men run the bands, the clubs, the record companies and they prefer to see a skirt.  Another could be that the “moon, love, heart...”sort of sentimental lyrics in a lot of popular jazz songs are hard for a man to sing; they were really written for women. This seems to be the case for Brown Jazz combo groups as well; most of the songs with vocals chosen are fairly soft and feminine. Notably,  Amos, the only male singer represented in all combo groups, sang “That’s all” and “The moon represents my heart”, both of which are slow-tempo, romantic ballads. This may not indicate a general pattern/trend of songs with vocals being performed at Brown, since the particular songs are chosen by the vocalists in each separate cases. However, it could be true that the feminine quality of a lot of  jazz vocal music(tempo&lyrics such) pushed away men from choosing to sing jazz, especially comparing to sing pop/rock music.  As a miniature of the big picture, Brown Jazz combo group represents a wider identity of modern jazz musicians in college settings. 

Third, the audiences of the Brown combo performances are made up mostly of middle class white males in their forties or older. A large per cent of the female audiences are almost exclusively either parents of the performers, or wives of the male audiences. From an observation of the audience group during the performance, most of the men are very engaged and focused.  70 percent of them tap their feet or slightly move their bodies with the rhythm. A number of them not only followed the beats intensely with their body movements, but also hummed the tune along the whole time. Much fewer women had done the same. In fact, a few women, I noticed, were not paying attention at all and looking at their surroundings/cellphones etc. One women fell asleep on her husband’s shoulder.  On the one hand, what I have observed sort of proved my pre-consumptions that men love jazz more than women do. On the other hand, I find this interesting and I am curious to find out why women in the modern time are much less enthusiastic about instrumental jazz. 

Previous Reviews
Looking back into the history of Jazz, there are certainly many scholars who have studied the gender issues in Jazz. They have also made statements to explain the male dominance. For example, writing on jazz history in the United States, Jane Hassinger states: ‘Commonly, brass, reeds, and percussion instruments are located in the male domain, while strings and flute are supposedly female in essence’ . Hassinger raised a point that certain instruments have  specific gender associations. How to determine with which gender the instrument is associated? Ideas and conventions about the female body have often been brought into male debates about female instrumental musicianship. A common idea has been that women lack the physiological strength to play a particular instrument: for example, women often has smaller lung capacity and smaller hands, which could be a hinder in playing brass, guitar and such. Another reason could be that certain instruments are seen as unsightly for women to play, either because their presence interferes with men's enjoyment of the female face or body, or because a playing position is judged to be indecorous. In Victorian Britain female cellists were expected to adopt awkward ‘side-saddle’ positions so as to avoid holding their instrument between opened legs.

There has been studies about general questions of  male dominance over instrumental musicianship, highlighting issues such as male exclusivity, gendered divisions of labour, gendered space, and male control over technology. Some typical female relationships with instruments are outlined, whereby certain instruments are deemed to be suitable or acceptable for women. In short, past studies have concluded that the male dominance over instrumental music is related to the issues of sexuality and gender-roles. 


In modern days, Jazz music has been widely incorporated in academic/college settings.
 jazz programs have been growing in the  American education system for the last 50 years. Schools offer extracurricular opportunities in jazz education that include contests, festivals, and concerts exposing young artists to listening and performing opportunities. Some schools offer jazz studies as part of the regular curriculum through ensembles, jazz improvisation classes, and/or jazz theory classes. Many colleges and universities now offer degrees in jazz studies and jazz pedagogyJazz education is more accessible than ever, yet male participation continues to surpass female participation. According to a research published by the National Association for Music Education, it is found in a survey of 628 college music majors that significantly more men participate in jazz programs than women, that men spend more time than women do in jazz programs before dis-continuing participation in the idiom, and that there is a dramatic attrition rate for women between high school and college jazz participation.  This research indicate a significant under representation of female jazz instrumentalists in college. Drawing upon my observations and  previous studies/theories about gender, instrument and jazz, there are three reasons for the high male-female ratio in college jazz programs:

First, it has to with how girls see themselves and how their male peers and society generally see a girl who attempts to enter this very male domain. It was made aware that Jazz is an odd interest for a girl. Teachers can be unsupportive, friends unenthused and boys turned off. Just to dare embark on the path to instrumental jazz, a girl must be the kind of young person who is willing to forego approval of others and press onward despite the odds. This is further complicated by the fact that jazz is a collaborative art form and cannot be practiced alone. Unless one is a solo pianist, it is not possible to become a jazz musician without the willingness of others to practice with you. A real jazz education begins when school is out and players get together to jam. This is where things get really tough for girls and they are likely to fall behind their male peers regardless of their abilities.
Second, college jazz education or college education in general often promotes equality in opportunities for both genders. However, according to my observation and experiences there is almost no sign of actual actions taken to solve the problem at Brown University. For example, I would suggest setting up an all-female group to provide comfort zone for girls who are under experienced in jazz to try and practice improvisation. 
Third, a lack of appreciation for instrumental jazz among women in college. Deep down, this is also due to the lack of experience in playing jazz. Since Jazz music is no longer a popular music genre, its audiences are largely made up of people in the older generation, and people who play jazz instruments themselves and people who has a jazz-playing family member or partner. Among these people, there are very few young female colleges students. 

To conclude,  I used methods of observation,  interview  and surveys to conduct a research of the Brown Jazz Combo groups. My analysis, together with theories I have gathered from previous scholarly works,  addresses the problem of under presentation of female college students in instrumental Jazz music performances, and proposed explanations in terms of gender-role and its complications in society.