Gurminder Kaur Bhogal
(781) 283-2063
B.Mus(Hons), Royal College of Music; M.Mus., King’s College, University of London; Ph.D., University of Chicago

Gurminder Kaur Bhogal

Catherine Mills Davis Associate Professor of Music

Interests include the music of Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, Erik Satie, Gabriel Fauré; the practice of ornament in French music and the visual arts during the early twentieth century; music and philosophy; music and orientalism; Sikh devotional music (Sikh Kirtan).

My research explores the practice and aesthetics of ornament in music composition and visual art of early twentieth-century Paris. I have written a variety of essays on this topic. Some of my writings examine Maurice Ravel’s experimentation with different expressions of musical ornament: “Not Just a Pretty Surface: Ornament and Metric Complexity in Ravel’s Piano Music,” in Unmasking Ravel: New Perspectives on the Music, ed. Peter Kaminsky (Rochester, NY: University of Rochester Press, 2011) [See in Library catalog]; and “Breaking the Frame: Arabesque and Metric Complexity in Ravel’s Sunrise Scene,” Zeitschrift der Gesellschaft für Musiktheorie 5/1, 2008. An article investigates the musical and cultural significance of a specific type of ornament that was popular at the fin de siècle, the arabesque: “Debussy’s Arabesque in Ravel’s Daphnis et Chloé (1912),” twentieth-century music 3/2, 2007. A book chapter explores cross disciplinary relations between music and art through a consideration of the formation and endurance of key metaphors in music criticism: “Visual Metaphors in Music Analysis and Criticism,” in The Routledge Companion to Music and Visual Culture, ed. Tim Shephard and Anne Leonard (Abingdon: Routledge, 2013). [Library catalog.] Another essay explains how the composer Léo Delibes relied on coloratura to challenge orientalist stereotypes of exotic women in his opera, Lakmé. This essay highlights how “we” (listeners whose approach to hearing music has been conditioned by Western aesthetics) must be wary of adopting an orientalist stance when engaging with ornament in its sonic and visual dimensions: “Lakmé’s Echoing Jewels,” in The Arts of the Prima Donna in the Long Nineteenth Century, ed. Rachel Cowgill and Hilary Poriss (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012). [Library catalog.]

My book continues to develop many of these themes while investigating the significant ways in which ornament participated in and shaped discussions on modernism, race, gender, identity, beauty, and taste between the years of 1880 and 1925 in Paris: Details of Consequence: Ornament, Music, and Art in Paris (AMS Studies in Music) (New York: Oxford University Press, 2013). [Library catalog.]

I am currently working on several projects: a book on Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune; the relationship between Debussy, Ravel, and visual practices of Japonisme; the idea and materialization of nothingness in French music and philosophy; the concept of sound in Sikh scripture.

I teach a variety of courses in music history, theory, and analysis. These include core courses for the music major and minor: A History of Western Music (MUS201-202) and Opera: Its History, Music, and Drama (MUS230). My electives focus on a range of topics: The Femme and Her Song; Being Modern in Paris; Virtuosity, Suspicion, Transcendence; Finding France in French Piano Music; Nothingness in Music, Poetry, and Art.