IASPM-US 2016 Officer Election Ballot

by Victor Szabo on February 5, 2016

The ballot for this year’s IASPM-US election has gone out to all members. The deadline for voting is Wednesday, February 17th. If you are a member of the organization and expected to receive a ballot but did not, please contact Rebekah Farrugia at farrugia@oakland.edu.


IASPM-US Website CFP: 2016 Mixtape Series

by Victor Szabo on February 1, 2016

Text + image by schoolboy-ra, http://schoolboy-ra.tumblr.com


“My mixtape bring / All the boys to the yard”

-Nicki Minaj, “Playtime Is Over”

The IASPM-US website seeks digital mixtapes for the third run of our annual mixtape series. Mixtapes (aka mixes or podcasts) are phonographic anthologies capable of telling stories and expressing identity through ideas and emotions, coded in the selection and sequence of featured musical selections. This year, we are especially interested in featuring mixtapes that make unexpected connections between tracks from multiple different genres, geographical regions, production styles, and/or traditions, setting fire to the conventional means of categorization that commonly guide the art of mixtape curation. However, we are open to mixtapes of all kinds, including those that present music from a single genre, region, or moment in time.

The mixtape can feature any style of production, and should be accompanied by a short explanation that speaks to the motivation and vision behind its creation, and/or a critical reflection on the place of the music in a given social, political, or cultural context (250-500 words). For some ideas and inspiration, check out our featured mixtapes from 2014 and ’15, and also The Mixtape Museum blog, which includes a list of resources and bibliography on mixtape-related projects.

The audio mix itself can be submitted in AIFF, WAVE, FLAC, OGG, MP2, MP3, AAC, AMR or WMA formats, which will be uploaded to the IASPM-US MixCloud account. The accompanying material may include both text and multimedia (audio/video footage or YouTube clips, for example).

We are accepting submissions on a rolling basis until March 7, 2016. Please submit drafts and multimedia files as attachments to Victor Szabo and Greg Weinstein at iaspmus@gmail.com. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us at iaspmus@gmail.com.


In The Hip Hop and Obama Reader (Oxford UP, 2015), editors Travis L. Gosa and Erik Nielson examine the complicated and often tumultuous relationship between the Obama administration and hip hop culture. The collection brings together writings from some of the most notable scholars in the area of hip hop culture, and is the first hip hop book to center around contemporary politics, activism, and social change. It offers a look at the current relationship between hip hop culture and the 44th U.S. President, and also forecasts what the relationship between hip hop and politics will look like in the future. In this audio interview, Shane Colquhoun sits down with Travis L. Gosa and Erik Nielson to discuss the book.

IASPM-US Interview Series: Travis L. Gosa and Erik Nielson, eds., The Hip Hop & Obama Reader by Iaspm-Us on Mixcloud

Shane Colquhoun is an educator, producer, and arranger, and he currently serves as the Director of Bands at Loachapoka High School. He received his Bachelors of Arts from Bethune-Cookman University in Music Technology and Business, his MMEd from Auburn University, and has recently returned back to Auburn to pursue his Ph.D. in Music Education. His research interests include culturally relevant music ensembles, urban/suburban music education, and popular music pedagogy. He can be reached at colquhoun.shane@gmail.com.

Travis L. Gosa is Assistant Professor of Africana Studies at Cornell University. He holds faculty appointments in Education and American Studies, and is affiliated with the Cornell Center for the Study of Inequality. Since 2008, he has served on the advisory board of Cornell’s Hip Hop Collection, the largest archive on early hip hop culture in the United States. He teaches courses on hip hop culture, educational inequality, and African American families. His most recent work has been published with peer-reviewed journals Poetics, Journal of Popular Music Studies, Teacher’s College Record, Popular Music and Society, and the Journal of American Culture. He also writes regularly for popular outlets, including The Root, FoxNews, Ebony, and The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Erik Nielson is Assistant Professor of Liberal Arts at the University of Richmond, where he teaches courses on African American literature, hip hop culture, and advanced writing. He received his M.A. in English from University College London and his Ph.D., also in English, from the University of Sheffield. He has lectured on African American literature and hip hop culture at major conferences in the U.S., the U.K., and Canada, and he has published articles in several peer reviewed journals, including African American Review, MELUS, Race and Justice, International Journal of Cultural Studies, and Journal of Popular Music Studies. He also writes regularly for popular outlets, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The Atlantic, and NPR and has been interviewed by a wide range of national media organizations. He is currently at work on his manuscript, Under Surveillance: Policing the Resistance in Hip Hop, for Manchester University Press.


The Southern Folklife Collection is pleased to announce the Southern Folklife Research Fellowship Program. Created through support from The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the program seeks to broadly support humanities scholarship, disseminate content, encourage research, and increase exposure of the Southern Folklife Collection.

The program will provide travel funds of up to $1,500 per fellow, for three artists, graduate students, or scholars who plan to make use of the Southern Folklife Collection for a major project. Projects may include dissertations, theses, articles, monographs, composition, artistic work, and performance.  Travel to the Southern Folklife Collection must be completed before October 31, 2016.

[Read the full post…]


Popular Music Study Group of the American Musicological Society
Case Western Reserve University
2016 Junior Faculty Symposium

Location: Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, OH
June 14 – 16, 2016

Application Deadline: January 31, 2016

In response to many members’ call for more substantial career development programs, the Popular Music Study Group of the American Musicological Society, in collaboration with Center for Popular Music Studies at Case Western Reserve University, will host its 2nd biennial developmental symposium for early-career popular music scholars (widely defined) in June 2016.  We welcome applications from junior and part-time faculty, recent PhD graduates, and ABD candidates. [Read the full post…]


Call for 2015 End-of-Year Lists

by Victor Szabo on December 7, 2015

December: ‘Tis the season in pop music for retrospection, inventory taking, list making, and ranking. Care to join the commentariat? How does your year in music stack up?

The IASPM-US Web Editors invite members to share their 2015 end-of-year lists to be posted on the website. These lists may be fun or critical (or both), personal or political (or both), genre-specific or freeform, short or long, ranked or unranked—however you wish to compose it. We only ask that your list involve music! We especially welcome lists with written commentary and/or multimedia components (photos, audio, video, hyperlinks), though neither is necessary. Please submit your list(s) (up to 3) to iaspmus@gmail.com by December 28, 2015. We will post them as they arrive.

You may submit your list(s) as a Word document, or directly into the body of the email. Insert links directly into the text, or place URLs in brackets like so: [http://www.designweek.co.uk/the-best-record-sleeves-of-2015/]. If you have any questions, email us at iaspmus@gmail.com.


2016 IASPM-US Call for Nominations

by Victor Szabo on December 1, 2015

The International Association for the Study of Popular Music, US Branch (IASPM-US) seeks nominations and self-nominations to serve on the IASPM-US Board of Directors and Executive Committee. All members serve for two years, with the President serving an additional two-year term as “Past President” upon expiration of his/her term of office.

The following positions are open, and will be filled by an election to be held in February 2016. Terms of office will begin at the end of the national meeting in Calgary (May 2016).

SECRETARY: Secretary duties include taking minutes, maintain membership information, chairing nominations committees

TREASURER: Treasurer duties include general financial oversight of association funds and securities; financial reporting; banking and record keeping

AT-LARGE MEMBERS: Members of the Board consult with the President, Vice-President, and other officers; serve on committees, etc. Two at-large members will be elected this year.

See the IASPM-US Bylaws (on our website, iaspm-us.net) for detailed information on officers, terms, etc.

Nominees for service on the Board of IASPM-US must be members in good standing of the Branch at the time of election. (One can be put in nomination without being a member; but any nomination or election of a non-member will be invalid if the nominee is not a member of IASPM-US by the time of balloting.) Nominations will only be accepted from current members of the Branch. Members may be nominated without their explicit consent, but a member can decline nomination at any time.

Please send nominations, self-nominations, or questions about nominations to the Chair of the IASPM-US Nominating Committee, Rebekah Farrugia, at farrugia@oakland.edu. Nominations are due by February 1st, 2016. Elections will be held soon thereafter.

All Nominations should include:

– the Nominee’s full name
– the Nominee’s institutional affiliation, if any
– Email contact information for the Nominee
– a brief statement detailing the Nominee’s interest in running and any relevant qualifications/experience
– Full name of the nominator (for our records)


Mark Butler, President
on behalf of the Board of Directors
and the Nominating Committee


Mike D’Errico interviews Loren Kajikawa—Associate Professor of Musicology and Ethnomusicology at the University of Oregon—about his recent book, Sounding Race in Rap Songs, published by the University of California Press (2015). From the publisher’s website:

As one of the most influential and popular genres of the last three decades, rap has cultivated a mainstream audience and become a multimillion-dollar industry by promoting highly visible and often controversial representations of blackness. Sounding Race in Rap Songs argues that rap music allows us not only to see but also to hear how mass-mediated culture engenders new understandings of race. The book traces the changing sounds of race across some of the best-known rap songs of the past thirty-five years, combining song-level analysis with historical contextualization to show how these representations of identity depend on specific artistic decisions, such as those related to how producers make beats. Each chapter explores the process behind the production of hit songs by musicians including Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, The Sugarhill Gang, Run-D.M.C., Public Enemy, N.W.A., Dr. Dre, and Eminem. This series of case studies highlights stylistic differences in sound, lyrics, and imagery, with musical examples and illustrations that help answer the core question: can we hear race in rap songs? Integrating theory from interdisciplinary areas, this book will resonate with students and scholars of popular music, race relations, urban culture, ethnomusicology, sound studies, and beyond.


Michael J. Kramer, Visiting Assistant Professor of History and American Studies at Northwestern University, takes a novel approach to teaching Tin Pan Alley song for his US Popular Music History course. “This assignment,” he writes, “works well not because it asks students to get creative in their understanding of the past, but rather because it asks them to get uncreative.” Read about “Tunesmithing History, Tin Pan Alley imitation for historical inquiry” here, on Prof. Kramer’s blog.


Joanna DemersListening through the Noise









Synopsis and interview by John Melillo.

Listening through the Noise: The Aesthetics of Experimental Electronic Music (Oxford, 2010) by Joanna Demers argues for a sweeping aesthetic theory of electronic music. For Demers, electronic music foreshadows the end of Western art music as we know it: this music remakes the rules, rituals and expectations that structure listening and performance. By drawing together genres—from musique concrète to EDM to noise music—that are usually separated by different institutions, traditions, and histories, Demers weaves together a set of concerns about the function of meaning in relation to music. She takes up three conceptions of the meaningfulness of sound—as “sign,” “object,” and “situation”—in order to show the ways in which electronic music complicates the prescriptive and self-prescriptive strictures that bind its generic divisions. In place of a prescribed listening that defines “sound objects” outside of all causality or reference, or a readerly listening imagined as an extension utterance, Demers argues for a theory of “aesthetic listening” that renegotiates the frames by which we imagine and understand music. Aesthetic listening recognizes the status of organized sounds as different from everyday sounds and yet it also recognizes the intermittency, incongruency, and irrationality of our various ways of listening. Aesthetic listening revels in what Demers calls “the absence of the musical frame.” Listening through the noise, listening in the breach, suggests a listening bound not by structure and sign but by free play, a special kind of play conditioned by electronic music’s plurality of calls and responses.

John Melillo: What initially brought you to this project? What composers / musicians helped to spark it? Was there a moment of listening confusion or clarity that helped you to begin?

Joanna Demers: I came upon the record label 12k, which specializes in minimalist and (often) very quiet, elegant music. I also found some recent collaborations between Ryuichi Sakamoto and Alva Noto. It was easy to fall in love with this music. One recording led to another, and soon I had a whole galaxy of music that, for me, was beguiling and mysterious.

[Read the full post…]


IASPM-US Interview Series Book List Addition: The Hip Hop & Obama Reader (Oxford 2015)

October 6, 2015

We have added The Hip Hop & Obama Reader (Oxford 2015)—featuring chapters by several IASPM-US members!—to our Interview Series Book List. Would you like to interview editors Travis L. Gosa and Erik Nielson about this exciting new book? Or would you like to suggest an addition to our list? Please see the Book List for instructions on contributing to the Interview Series.

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Call for Proposals: IASPM-US and Canada 2016 Annual Conference

September 29, 2015

Call for Proposals (Abstracts due December 1, 2015) International Association for the Study of Popular Music, US and Canada Branches 2016 Annual Conference Calgary, Alberta (Canada) May 28-30, 2016 L’Appel en français Wanna Be Startin’ Something: Popular Music and Agency Making and listening to music are agentive processes, involving a network of actions and transactions: […]

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Popular Music Pedagogy Series: A Cultural History of U.S. Popular Music, by Stephanie Doktor

September 24, 2015

In the newest addition to our Popular Music Pedagogy Series, Stephanie Doktor explains how she conceptualized and taught A Cultural History of U.S. Popular Music at the University of Virginia. She includes here a valuable list of pedagogical resources, as well as her course syllabus. These can be viewed below, as well as on our Pedagogy page. In the spring of 2014, I taught a […]

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Additions to the IASPM-US Interview Series Book List

September 18, 2015

The IASPM-US Interview Series features conversations with popular music scholars of recently published books. We have recently added The James Bond Songs: Pop Anthems of Late Capitalism (Oxford 2015) by Adrian Daub and Charles Kronengold, and Real Men Don’t Sing: Crooning in American Culture (Duke 2015) by Allison McCracken, to our Interview Series Book List. Would you like to interview one of these […]

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Popular Music Pedagogy Series: Glam, by Gregory Weinstein

September 11, 2015

In the latest installment of our Popular Music Pedagogy Series, Gregory Weinstein shares his experience teaching a course called Glam at Davidson College. He has also shared the syllabus, which is included below, as well as on our Pedagogy page. Despite its name, this course focused not on a musical genre, but rather, on an analytical perspective that can be applied across musical forms and communities. […]

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