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Ryan Gourley

I am a Ph.D. student in Ethnomusicology specializing in Russian and Soviet popular music. My dissertation project examines the development of jazz and rock in the Russian Far East from 1917 to the present. Complicating Eurocentric narratives of Russian music, my project critically examines the physical routes of circulation between the Russian Far East and East Asia. Focusing on social networks and exchange in the port city of Vladivostok, I aim to better understand how popular music practices have been affected by the region’s revolutionary history, decades of travel restrictions, and waves of mass emigration. Through a mix of archival and ethnographic methods, I analyze the evolution of musical ideas and materials as audible palimpsests.

Raised in sunny San Antonio, Texas, I completed my Bachelor’s degree in Music at Brown University in 2017.  My undergraduate capstone project, titled “Jazz Behind the Iron Curtain,” centered on the development of jazz scenes across the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc, highlighting the geographical range and pervasiveness of jazz activity. In particular, I examined the contributions of key jazz musicians working in St. Petersburg, Moscow, Tallinn, Warsaw, Baku, and Novosibirsk.  My research on Soviet jazz continued into my graduate studies at UC Berkeley and became the topic of my Master’s exam.

Since the Fall of 2018, I have worked as a volunteer phonograph specialist for the rare vinyl collection in the archive at the Museum of Russian Culture in San Francisco.  My current project involves cataloging, digitizing, and analyzing vinyl records from Tsarist-era Russia and the Russian diaspora following the revolution. The Institute for Slavic, Eastern European, and Eurasian Studies at UC Berkeley supported a research internship at the museum during the summer of 2019.

Research Interests
Russian popular music, Musical Palimpsests, Social Networks, Diaspora Studies, Soviet and Post-Soviet aesthetics

Conference Presentations & Posters
“Social Betweenness in the Soviet Jazz Network.” To be delivered at the Sixth Sibelius Academy Symposium on Music History: “Agents and Actors – Networks in Music History” at the University of Helsinki in Helsinki, Finland. June 3-5.

“Social Betweenness in the Soviet Jazz Festival Network.” To be delivered at “Music Festival Studies: Current Perspectives, Future Directions” at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston, USA. March 13-15.

“Echoes of the Tsar: Musical Narratives of the White Russian Diaspora in San Francisco.” To be delivered at “Symposium: Music and Politics in the 1930s” at the University of Melbourne in Melbourne, Australia. December 7-8.

“Betweenness and Musical Centrality in the Soviet Jazz Network.” Delivered at the Graduate Students in Music Conference at the Graduate Center of the City University of New York (CUNY), April 12-13, 2019.

“Social Network Analysis of the Leningrad Jazz Festival Series 1963 – 1993.” Poster at the Digital Humanities Faire at the University of California, Berkeley, April 2-9, 2018.

University of California, Berkeley
History of Western Art Music (Graduate Student Instructor, Spring 2020)
Music in American Cultures (Graduate Student Instructor, Fall 2019)

Brown University
Introduction to Tonal Harmony (Teaching Assistant, Fall 2016)
Seminar in Music Composition (Teaching Assistant, Spring 2016)
Music Religion and Politics (Course Assistant, Spring 2016)
The Digital World (Teaching Assistant, Fall 2014; Head Teaching Assistant, Fall 2015)