Money and a Room of One’s Own?! A Feminist Deconstruction of the Situation of Female Jazz Musicians 1960–1980

  • Katharina Schmidt University of the Arts in Berlin


‘What does it take for a woman to be able to write a novel?' asks Virginia Woolf in A Room of One's Own. The answer is surprisingly mundane: She needs money and a room of her own. Although Woolf writes at length about passion and talent, she concludes that material preconditions are actually more crucial. Similarly, the present article argues that there has been no lack of interest in jazz among female musicians, but a lack of socially accepted possibilities for professionalisation. This article endeavours to deconstruct some of the socio-cultural contexts and frameworks of music-making in a feminist way. To this end, the most crucial findings from semi-structured interviews with Norma Winstone, Sidsel Endresen, Aki Takase and Uschi Brüning are presented and discussed. To contextualise the interviews, Bourdieu's analyses of the academic and literary fields will be referred to with relation to the institutionalisation of jazz, while questions of canonicity and historiography will be discussed, as well as questions surrounding performativity and corporeality. Linking up with research surrounding these issues in other musical styles, this article attempts to map and contextualise the debate about gender and the arts in its complex, sometimes controversial and even paradoxical dynamic.

Author Biography

Katharina Schmidt, University of the Arts in Berlin
Katharina Schmidt, b. 1989, is a musician, researcher and sound artist based in Berlin. She holds a Master's degree in Sound Studies from the University of the Arts in Berlin and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre Studies, Musicology and Comparative Literature from the Free University Berlin. She was awarded a scholarship by the Studienstiftung des Deutschen Volkes.
How to Cite
Schmidt, K. (2017). Money and a Room of One’s Own?! A Feminist Deconstruction of the Situation of Female Jazz Musicians 1960–1980. European Journal of Musicology, 16(1), 81–93.