Queering Freedom: Music, Identity and Spirituality

(Anthology with perspectives from over ten countries)

by Karin Hendricks (Volume editor) June Boyce-Tillman (Volume editor)
©2018 Edited Collection XX, 376 Pages
Series: Music and Spirituality, Volume 7


This book is intended to challenge the status quo of music learning and experience by intersecting various musical topics with discussions of spirituality and queer studies. Spanning from the theoretical to the personal, the authors utilize a variety of approaches to query how music makers might blend spirituality’s healing and wholeness with queer theory’s radical liberation.
Queering Freedom: Music, Identity and Spirituality represents an eclectic mix of historical, ethnomusicological, case study, narrative, ethnodramatic, philosophical, theological, and theoretical contributions. The book reaches an international audience, with invited authors from around the world who represent the voices and perspectives of over ten countries. The authors engage with policy, practice, and performance to critically address contemporary and historical music practices. Through its broad and varied writing styles and representations, the collection aims to shift perspectives of possibility and invite readers to envision a fresh, organic, and more holistic musical experience.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Invocation: Queering Freedom (Karin S. Hendricks / June Boyce-Tillman)
  • References
  • Acknowledgements
  • List of Figures
  • List of Tables
  • PART I: Historical Perspectives
  • 1 The Myths We Live By (June Boyce-Tillman)
  • Prelude
  • Movement One – The One-Sex Myth
  • Movement Two – The Celibacy Myth
  • Movement Three – The Marriage Myth
  • Movement Four – The Equality Myth
  • Movement Five – The Diversity Myth
  • Movement Six – The No-gender Myth
  • Postlude – In Christ
  • Bibliography
  • Websites
  • 2 The Body We Sing: Reclaiming of the Queer Materiality of Vocal Bodies (Bertram J. Schirr)
  • Recovering the Dematerialized Acoustic Body of Christ
  • Disciplining Voices in Sonic Orders
  • Tuning to Experience – Training Away the Material Queerness of Voice
  • Mixing the Mixed – Unpacking the Queer/Queering Aspects of Singing
  • Reclaiming Voices – Singing as Disidentification
  • Summary
  • Bibliography
  • 3 En Route to Inclusive Language Use in the Afrikaans Church Hymn: The Heterosexual White Man as God (Ockie Vermeulen)
  • Research Design
  • Theological Account and Comparison
  • The Ingroup
  • Women in the Dutch Reformed Church
  • Non-White Persons
  • The LGBTIQ Community
  • Conclusion
  • Epilogue
  • Bibliography
  • 4 Schubert and Ambiguity: The Art of Embracing Death (Karin S. Hendricks)
  • Death as a Feared Friend
  • A Society Longing for Death
  • Death in German Literature
  • Family Struggles
  • Failing Health and a Desire to Die
  • Ambiguity and Death in “Der Tod und das Mädchen”
  • Dactylic rhythm and Death’s musical grasp on the Maiden
  • Death and Key Symbolism
  • Passus Duriusculus and Saltus Duriusculus
  • Chromatic Modulations
  • Complexity in Schubert’s Personality and Sexuality
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • 5 Nothing to Say: Anarchy and the Subversive Potential of Silence in the Music of John Cage (Jerry Pergolesi)
  • Other People Think and the First (de-) Construction of the Composer
  • Imaginary Landscapes and the Absence of Silence
  • Bibliography
  • PART II: Community and Culture
  • 6 Overcoming Masculine Spirituality: Critical Analysis of Japanese Music Practice (Koji Matsunobu)
  • Gender Demarcations in Japanese Music
  • Spirituality of Shakuhachi Practice
  • Alternative Contexts of Shakuhachi Practice
  • Spirituality of Taiko Practice
  • Implications for Teaching and Learning
  • Bibliography
  • 7 Gender and Sexual Diversity in Santería (J. Mike Kohfeld)
  • A Brief Description of Santería
  • Gender, Sexuality, and Roles in Santería
  • Challenging Duality: Queer Interpretation of the Orishas
  • Cross-Gender Phenomena in Ritual Possession
  • Open Secrets and Nueva Familia: Similarities of Experience
  • Valorizing Femininity
  • Challenges to Interpretation
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • 8 Queering the Space: Community Music Work with LGBTQ Groups (Catherine Pestano)
  • Background
  • Spirituality
  • Sexuality – Noun, Verb or Other?
  • Community Music
  • The LGBTQ Projects
  • Emergent Rather Than Curriculum Based Practice
  • Resilience
  • Social Capital
  • Spiritual Intelligence and Capital
  • The LGBTQ Youth Music Project
  • Discussion
  • Conclusions
  • Endnotes
  • Ethical considerations
  • Acknowledgements
  • Bibliography
  • 9 Cor Flammae and Queering Choral Music: A Mixed-Voice Canadian Perspective (Amelia Pitt-Brooke / Hussein Janmohamed)
  • From Ivory Tower to Rehearsal Hall
  • Setting the Context
  • What is Cor Flammae?
  • Queer
  • A Whole View of History
  • Listening with a Queer Ear
  • Sacred and Profane
  • Conductors and the Replication of Authority
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • 10 Nurturing Vulnerability in Imprisoned Manhood: A Spirit Journey (André de Quadros)
  • Bibliography
  • PART III: Questions for Music Education
  • 11 What’s a Music Teacher to Do? An Exploration of Opportunities and Obstacles to Personhood and Music Within and Towards the Muslim World (André de Quadros)
  • Bibliography
  • 12 “Every Person’s Voice Matters”: The Lived Theology of a Teacher of Transgender Singers (Danielle M. Cozart Steele / Amanda M. Rice)
  • Strong, Loud and Proud
  • To Conduct is to be a Prism
  • Sensitivity to Exclusion
  • Programming for “The One”
  • Fully Integrated – or Close
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • 13 Gaga Spirituality (Karin S. Hendricks)
  • Setting the Stage
  • Gaga Feminism
  • Music Education, Religion, and Spirituality
  • Religion and Spirituality
  • Music Education and “Musicianship”
  • Gaga Feminism, Gaga Spirituality
  • Gaga Principle #1: Wisdom Lies in the Unexpected
  • Gaga Principle #2: Transformation is Inevitable
  • Gaga Principle #3: Think and Act Counterintuitively
  • Gaga Principle #4: Practice Creative Nonbelieving
  • Gaga Principle #5: Be Outrageous
  • Bibliography
  • PART IV: Emerging Identities
  • 14 Belonging in Moments: A “Becoming-Out” Ethnodrama As Told Through Spiritual, Social, and Musical Reflections (Tawnya D. Smith)
  • Part I: Ethnodrama
  • Cast
  • Prelude
  • Scene One: Innocent and in Denial
  • Scene Two: Becoming Out
  • Scene Three: Collecting my Pieces
  • Part II: Discussion
  • Bibliography
  • 15 Thrice Blessed: Jewish, Gay, and a cantor (Evan Kent)
  • The Role of the cantor
  • The Cantor as Music Educator
  • The Cantor as a Host and Guest
  • Judaism and Homosexuality
  • Life in Seminary
  • Three Blessings – Thrice Blessed
  • My Philosophical and Theological Compass
  • Liturgical Changes
  • Finding the Voices of our Ancestral Mothers
  • Changing the Musical Vocabulary of Worship
  • Finding My Spoken Voice
  • Thrice Blessed?
  • Bibliography
  • 16 Throbbing Dissonance: An Ethnodrama on Identity, Experienced Through Cello “Wolf Tone Theory” (Tawnya D. Smith / Karin S. Hendricks / Kerr Mesner)
  • Scene 1
  • Scene 2
  • Scene 3
  • Bibliography
  • 17 Tempered Bodies, Tempered Voices: Giving Voice to Queer Creation (Stephanie A. Budwey / Sean R. Glenn)
  • Elisabeth’s Story: “Das ist Schnee von Gestern”
  • Divine Foolishness: Salvation in Quire
  • Conclusion
  • Bibliography
  • 18 Passagio: Learning to Sing an Unfinished Song (Kerr Mesner)
  • Prelude: But I Thought The Song Was Already Written …
  • Overture: Learning to Sing with Defiant Joy
  • Modulation: The Musical Score Has Changed …
  • Email: From Kerr to June and Karin
  • Email: From Karin to Kerr and June
  • Email: From June to Kerr and Karin
  • Passagio: Learning to Sing An Unfinished Song
  • Outro: The Call of an Unfinished Song
  • Bibliography
  • Notes on Contributors
  • Index
  • Series index

| ix →


Invocation: Queering Freedom

Topics of spirituality and queer theory have a long history as uneasy bedfellows, due in part to the role of various religious traditions in appropriating the former and suppressing the latter. This relationship becomes even more complex when we add the discourse of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, asexual, intersex, pansexual, questioning, and queer (LGBTAAIPQQ)1 musicians and their allies, who – while making up a substantial portion of musical artists throughout history – have traditionally been subjugated in religious circles as well as mainstream society.

Music scholars have recently become more open to discussions of spirituality in music and education, as pedagogical and societal attention has turned to the socio-emotional wellbeing of children, and as spiritual experience has been recognized as distinct in its own right from any particular religious influence. Meanwhile, the recent liberation of queer identity from a place of condemnation (religious and otherwise) has led to a similar emergence of topics in music scholarship.

Through queer inquiry, we have an opportunity to see spirituality and music anew: As we deconstruct dualisms and culturally-assumed labels, we come to embrace musics and pedagogical methods previously judged as nontraditional, incorrect, mysterious, or strange. We further envision a liberating wholeness in which fragmented or formerly rejected parts of musical experience are balanced, integrated, and even celebrated. In this book we bridge the healing and wholeness of spirituality with the radical liberation of queer inquiry to shift our perspective of possibility, allowing us to envision a fresh, organic, and holistic musical experience that may stimulate the soul of music and education. ← ix | x →

This book represents an eclectic mix of historical, ethnomusicological, case study, narrative, ethnodramatic, philosophical, theological, and theoret-ical contributions that engage with policy, practice, and performance. Spanning from the theoretical to the personal, the chapters critically address contemporary and historical music practices to answer the following questions:

What roles do spirituality and queer theory play in the teaching and learning of music?

What does history teach us about the relationship between spirituality and queer identity and how might this inform our current practice?

In what ways do LGBTAAIPQQ issues and spirituality intersect to evoke a more balanced approach to musicking?

How can the traditional disharmony between sexuality and queer identity be reconciled in studies of music?

What roles do spirituality and queer identity play in contexts that have a particular religious affiliation?

Can the spiritual in music be uncoupled from issues around religious indoctrination, control, or censorship?

How do matters concerning the intersection of LGBTAAIPQQ issues, spirituality, music, and education sit in various cultural contexts, bearing in mind issues of identity construction, both personal and cultural?

How do political, historical, and ideological considerations or matters of race, class, and gender come into play around notions of the sexual and/or spiritual?

How are notions of the spiritual inclusive or exclusive in music, especially in areas such as sexual orientation, gender, race, and/or religious affiliation?

In what ways does a discourse of inclusion extend between individuals, musics, spiritual traditions, and/or educational practices?

How might intersections of LGBTAAIPQQ identity and spirituality invite us to embrace musics and musical approaches that have previously been judged as inferior, foreign, incorrect, and/or strange?

What are the possible connections between spirituality and human flourishing, such as moral or personal development or social cohesion, integrity, and transformation? ← x | xi →

What values underpin queer and spiritual approaches to pedagogy? In what ways are they compatible?

Do intersections of spirituality and queer identity help or hinder the study of other aspects of music?

What may feminist and queer critical approaches have to contribute to discussions regarding spirituality and music?

The resulting anthology has a wide-ranging approach to these topics. When June was re-reading it, she was reminded of having to write in her first school: “A clear mind and clear writing go together.” Some readers may think that this collection is not clear; indeed, it challenges the notion of clarity in a number of contexts and reveals its dangers. Its writing style explores discourses other than the traditional within academia; two chapters are dramatic scripts and others contain song texts and poems.

This book provides a place for authors and readers alike to wrestle with challenging realities that may or may not be easily resolved, often creating more questions than answers. The process of thinking is not always linear. Instead, it sometimes weaves and twists like a spiral, or – much like an elided cadence of Bach – simultaneously connects the act of closure with that of regeneration. As Kerr Mesner suggests in the volume’s final chapter, “the process of writing (or reading) … may have more to teach us than the final product itself.”

The volume further challenges the notion of the binary divisions that characterize so many areas of Western culture – male/female, gay/straight, right/wrong, sacred/secular – and calls us to embrace diversity, particularly in the Chapter, “Tempered Bodies, Tempered Voices: Giving Voice to Queer Creation” by Stephanie Budwey and Sean Glenn. The collection invites us to embrace paradox rather than collapse it into a false and exclusive unity, as articulated in the Chapter, “Schubert and Ambiguity: The Art of Embracing Death” by Karin Hendricks.

Many of the chapters set out how a Christianity, which has at its heart the paradox of a God who is both many and one (the Trinity), has through much of its history embraced the unity and pathologized the diversity. Bertram Schirr has shown how the search for a good unison sound from a church congregation has denied the brokenness of the body of Christ; Stephanie Budwey and Sean Glenn have shown how the oft-cited unity ← xi | xii → underpinning the tonality of Western music contains the dilemma of the Pythagorean comma and the several solutions created to deal with it; the harmony at the heart of the universe is not as certain as many theorists have asked us to believe. Chapters such as these call us to embrace an apophatic view of the Divine – a way of uncertainty, a contentment with not knowing. Time and time again the dangers of clear theologies are set out in the narratives of the lives of people who could not fit within the clear outlines of a faith tradition. Many of the chapters explore a “spiritual but not religious” position.

In the literature on music and religion, music is often used as a metaphor for the Divine; in this book music is both a metaphor for and an experience or expression of the spiritual. In the Chapter, “Throbbing Dissonance: An Ethnodrama on Identity, Experienced Through Cello ‘Wolf Tone Theory’,” the two are intertwined very intricately. “Nothing to Say: Anarchy and the Subversive Potential of Silence in the Music of John Cage” sees the possibility of his piece 4’ 33” as an expression of Cage’s hidden sexuality.

This book does not embrace a single definition of spirituality (Boyce-Tillman, 2016, pp. 25–79). Many of the chapters are concerned with its Intrapersonal dimension, a sense of empowerment, self-realization – a union of being and doing experienced as a new sense of aliveness (Bateson, 1972). This often leads to such virtues as hope and confidence. There is a sense of coming home – a realization of a true identity (Jorgensen, 2008, p. 280). Open-mindedness and curiosity replace fundamentalisms of all kinds, leading to creativity. Paradox is celebrated within the self and the wider society (Clarke, 2008). Transformation and change occurs (Boyce-Tillman, 2007, 2009). Evan Kent and Kerr Mesner describe this powerfully in their own stories; and in “‘Every Person’s Voice Matters’: The Lived Theology of a Teacher of Transgender Singers,” Amanda Rice explores the story of Danielle Steele. Transformation is often related to the Interpersonal dimension, especially in belongingness; this is very clear in the two chapters on Queer singing groups by Catherine Pestano and Amelia Pitt-Brooke and Hussein Janmohamed; Tawnya Smith’s “Belonging in Moments: A ‘Becoming-Out’ Ethnodrama As Told Through Spiritual, Social, and Musical Reflections”; and in André de Quadros’s work in prisons in “Nurturing Vulnerability in Imprisoned Manhood: A Spirit Journey.” ← xii | xiii →

The Extrapersonal/Ethical dimension is apparent in the cultural examin-ation of various cultures such as “Overcoming Masculine Spirituality: Critical Analysis of Japanese Music Practice” by Koji Matsunobu and Mike Kohfeld’s analysis of the Santería tradition in Latin America. Ockie Vermeulen’s chapter on the dilemmas of “En Route to Inclusive Language Use in the Afrikaans Church Hymn: The Heterosexual White Man as God” ends with a powerful critique of hegemonic heteropatriarchy. In “Gaga Spirituality” Karin Hendricks envisions an alternative way.

The Metaphysical dimension – a sense of the transcendent – appears both in connection with the Intrapersonal and Interpersonal but also in a challenging of traditional views of the Divine as set out in the teachings of a faith tradition. The role of a religious Tradition features highly in many chapters. June Boyce-Tillman identifies what the Christian church has embraced and what it finds difficult or impossible. Personal relations with a faith tradition and all the dilemmas encountered feature highly in “Queering the Space: Community Music Work with LGBTQ Groups,” “Cor Flammae and Queering Choral Music: A Mixed-Voice Canadian Perspective,” “Belonging in Moments: A ‘Becoming-Out’ Ethnodrama As Told Through Spiritual, Social, and Musical Reflections,” and “Thrice Blessed: Jewish, Gay, and a cantor.” The Christian Narrative – often reworked – appears in many quotations from the Scriptures. June Boyce-Tillman bases her thinking on Galatians 3:14 and many biblical quotations reworked appear in the ethnodrama by Tawnya Smith, while indigenous, Jewish, Buddhist, and Muslim narratives are explored in other chapters. The place of these in educational contexts is explored, particularly in André de Quadros’s “What’s a Music Teacher to Do? An Exploration of Opportunities and Obstacles to Personhood and Music Within and Towards the Muslim World.”

This is a book that calls all of us in a variety of ways to explore the stories in which we have been enculturated both religiously and culturally. The struggles of many of the people who have been honest enough to offer their stories to this volume are at present seen to be at the margins. But they call the dominant culture to explore a wider freedom for every-one – to embrace and celebrate diversity in spiritualities, politics, and musics, culturally and personally. They call us to queer our own freedom and widen our horizons. ← xiii | xiv →


Bateson, G. (1972). Steps to an ecology of mind. New York, NY: Ballantine.

Boyce-Tillman, J. (2007). The wounds that sing: Music as transformation. In J. Baxter, (ed.), Wounds that heal: Theology, imagination and health (pp. 229–250). London, UK: SPCK.

Boyce-Tillman, J. (2009). The transformative qualities of a liminal space created by musicking. Philosophy of Music Education Review, 17(2),184–202.

Boyce-Tillman, J. (2016). Experiencing music – restoring the spiritual: Music as wellbeing. Oxford, UK: Peter Lang.

Clarke, I. (2008). Madness, mystery and the survival of God. Ropley, UK: O Books.

Jorgensen, Estelle J. (2008), The art of teaching music. Bloomington and Indianapolis, IN: Indiana University Press.

1 See Chapter 1, footnote 22.

| xv →


We wish to thank the chapter authors for their thoughtful and heartfelt contributions to this volume. Your inspirational insights and stories of courage and determination have compelled us to bring this volume forward. We also thank the international review panel (Jane Erricker, Christo Lombaard, Jeananne Nichols, and Liesl van der Merwe) for their generosity of time and intellect; your diverse perspectives have been invaluable to the project.

The Boston University Department of Music Education provided support for this publication, both financially and through the personal encouragement of many remarkable and inspirational colleagues. Karin wishes to thank Chad Putka and Yank’l Garcia for their assistance with various aspects of this project, from exhaustive online research to final editing. She also expresses appreciation to her life partner and soul companion Tawnya Smith, a sounding board and constant support from start to finish.

Karin is grateful for the scholarly and theological advisors throughout her life who have both nurtured and challenged her thinking; she considers each of these disparate voices to be critical to her own professional and personal development. Finally, Karin expresses gratitude to June, who birthed the idea for this book and who has been a priceless mentor and friend over the past two years. Our in-person conversations and Skype chats have been life-changing for Karin; she has witnessed how June’s remarkable gifts with words have the power to shift perspective, causing one to re-envision the profound as simple, and the simple profound.

June would like to thank Professor Elizabeth Stuart, for all of her writing in this area and Elizabeth and Stanley Baxter at Holy Rood House, Centre for Health and Pastoral Care, Thirsk, Yorkshire where many of the initial ideas were interrogated. The University of Winchester provided research support especially Professor Joy Carter, Professor Inga Bryden, Dr David Walters and Professor Simon Jobson. She is also grateful to Petra Griffiths of the Living Spirituality Network for the forming of the ← xv | xvi → group Spirituality of Music. In South Africa, she is grateful to Liesl van der Merwe from at North West University, alongside Christo Lombaard from UNISA for their continued encouragement and opportunities to share her work. Many friends have helped and encouraged her along the way, especially Jane Erricker, the Rev David Page and Sue Lawes. She is very grateful to Lucy Melville at Peter Lang for her encouragement in setting up the series Music and Spirituality. This is a wonderful and challenging contribution to the series.

June is also grateful to her two sons – Matthew and Richard – and her granddaughter, Scarlett for their continued encouragement of her creative enterprises. Above all, it has been wonderful to have the friendship of Karin and the wonderful Skype conversations on a Sunday evening. Her digitally mediated presence in June’s living room in London was a source of great inspiration and encouragement.

Karin S. Hendricks
June Boyce-Tillman

| xvii →


Figure 4.1. Schubert, “Der Tod und das Mädchen,” D531, bars 8–14.

Figure 4.2. Schubert, “Der Tod und das Mädchen,” D531, bars 16–19.

Figure 4.3. Schubert, “Death and the Maiden” Quartet, D810, second movement, bars 129–136.

Figure 4.4. Schubert, “Death and the Maiden” Quartet, D810, second movement, bars 137–144.

Figure 5.1. 4’33”. Copyright © 1960 by Henmar Press, Inc. Used by permission of C. F. Peters Corporation. All rights Reserved.

Figure 5.2. Excerpt from “Music of Changes.” Copyright © 1960 by Henmar Press, Inc. Used by permission of C. F. Peters Corporation. All rights Reserved.

Figure 5.3. “Fontana Mix.” Copyright © 1960 by Henmar Press, Inc. Reprinted by permission of C. F. Peters Corporation. All Rights Reserved.

Figure 10.1. Greg’s representation of “remember me.”

Figure 11.1. Muslim choral ensemble from Sri Lanka.

Figure 17.1. The harmonic series, first 15 partials.

| xix →


Table 3.1. History of Women in the Offices Within the DRC (adapted from Du Pisani, 1996, p. 261)

| 1 →



XX, 376
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2018 (November)
Music Spirituality Queer Studies
Oxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, New York, Wien, 2018. XX, 376 pp., 10 fig. b/w, 1 table

Biographical notes

Karin Hendricks (Volume editor) June Boyce-Tillman (Volume editor)

Karin S. Hendricks is Co-Director of Undergraduate Studies in Music and Assistant Professor of Music, Music Education at Boston University. A regular presenter of research papers and research-to-practice workshops, Karin has served as an orchestra clinician and adjudicator throughout the United States and abroad. She has served in a variety of local, national, and international leadership positions. She conducts research in social psychology and social justice, with a particular focus on student motivation and musical engagement. She has published dozens of papers in peer-reviewed and professional journals and books, and is author of the books Performance Anxiety Strategies and Compassionate Music Teaching. June Boyce-Tillman read music at Oxford University and is Professor of Applied Music at the University of Winchester and Extra-ordinary Professor at North West University, Potchefstroom, South Africa. She has published widely in the area of music and education and spirituality, most recently Experiencing Music and Spirituality and Music Education. Her doctoral research into children’s musical development has been translated into five languages. She has written about and organized events in the area of interfaith dialogue using music. She is a composer and conductor concerned with radically inclusive musical events and an international performer, especially on the work of Hildegard of Bingen. She is a hymn writer and an ordained Anglican priest. She is artistic convenor of the Winchester Centre for the Arts as Wellbeing and Convenor of the Tavener Centre for Music and Spirituality.


Title: Queering Freedom: Music, Identity and Spirituality