Performances & Events


“Piano Rewilded: The Mediated Natures of Taylor Swift,” Dr. Kate Galloway Lecture

Presented by the Department of Musicology

November 30, 2023 | 5:00 pm

Burton Memorial Tower
881 N University Ave
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
Room 506

Free - no tickets required

On May 20, 2023, during one of her Gillette Stadium stops on The Eras Tour, Taylor Swift swiftly removed her hands from the piano keyboard and exclaimed “I didn’t play that!” Swift’s piano appeared to start playing on its own as it came alive and expressed sonic vibrancy. This live playback through malfunction is reminiscent of sound artist and composer Annea Lockwood’s Piano Transplants (1968- ) series where the piano has the capacity to continue sounding without the presence of a human performer as the natural elements transform its materiality, functionality, and the physicality of its sound.

Visual and sonic references to idyllic nature, a cottagecore aesthetic, and representations of the mediated musicality of her sound are abundant across Taylor Swift’s folklore and evermore album releases, including the audiovisual settings for her music videos, the paramusical imagery of her official lyric videos, and the stagecraft of her live performances. This talk examines three audiovisual events as eco-sonic media to address the entangled ecological meanings encoded in Swift’s musical and paramusical expression in one of her most recent “eras”: The sound design of folklore and evermore, including Swift’s duet with Justin Vernon on “exile,” the woodland stagecraft and worldbuilding of the televised 63rd Grammys performance, and the rewilded moss-covered piano and gothic nature of The Eras Tour folklore and evermore sets. This talk takes Swift’s work as a cue to develop novel approaches to listening for and interpreting sonic environments in mediated spaces.


KATE GALLOWAY is Assistant Professor at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Her in-progress monograph Remix, Reuse, Recycle: Music, Media Technologies, and Remediating the Environment examines how and why contemporary artists remix and recycle sounds, music, and texts encoded with environmental knowledge. Her work is published in American Music, The Soundtrack, Ethnomusicology, MUSICultures, Tourist Studies, Sound Studies, Feminist Media Histories, Popular Music, and Twentieth-Century Music, among other venues. She has co-edited two special journal issues (American Music and Twentieth-Century Music) with K. E. Goldschmitt and Paula Harper that address the creative and social phenomena of internet music communities and practices of listening to the internet. Galloway is also co-editor of two forthcoming collections: Music and Sonic Environments in Video Games: Listening to and Playing Ludic Soundscapes with Elizabeth Hambleton and Taylor Swift: The Star, The Songs, The Fans with Christa Bentley and Paula Harper.

This program is organized by the Department of Musicology at the University of Michigan School of Music, Theatre & Dance.

Free Lecture Talk Research Scholarship Central Campus

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