2016 IASPM-US & Canada Annual Conference Program
Saturday, May 28
Saturday Session 1: 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Saturday Panel 1: Musicking in Place (Murray Fraser Hall Rm. 160)
Katherine Meizel, moderator
Solutionaries in Action: The cultural production of three daring, Detroit Emcees
Rebekah Farrugia, Kellie Hay
Music has been a force in social movements from abolitionism to Occupy Wall Street. Early Abolitionists sang, “Amazing Grace,” while they marched and chanted; much later, “John Brown’s Body” served as an anthem for the cause just as “Strange Fruit” became a standard for indicting lynching laws and practices. Musicians have mobilized their art to forge change as longs as they have been making sonic stories.
Today, music is not simply a force among many that activists use to advance social and political causes. In many cases, music is the movement. Rabaka’s (2012) work reveals that through jazz, blues, R & B and hip hop, artists have created movement discourse and networks of action. Advancing his lead, the authors examine the cultural production of three emcees that belong to a socially conscious, women-centered DIY hip hop collective in Detroit. Drawing on four years of ethnography, the authors scrutinize key tracks from three different albums as well as artists’ processes of production to highlight the counter-narratives and signifying practices emergent within their work. The artists all consider themselves community activists; their aim is to produce music that incite revolutionary thinking and actions. The analysis herein reveals the ways that savvy, resilient individuals use hip hop as protest discourse to empower under-resourced populations. Local grassroots artists have banned together to produce not only protest music, but also hopeful strategies for empowerment. The music advanced in this study tackles racism, systematically constructed poverty, and misogyny, while it sets a course for empowered, embodied resilience.
Rebekah Farrugia is a popular music scholar who is currently working on an ethnographic project about socially conscious hip hop in Detroit. She is the author of Beyond the Dance Floor: Female DJs, Technology and Electronic Dance Music Culture and is an associate professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at Oakland University.
Kellie Hay is a cultural studies scholar. She examines the cultural forms that marginalized communities mobilize to forge change. Analyzing nationalist poetry, ethnic dance, comics, and popular music, She has published in Music & Politics, The Journal of American Culture, International & Intercultural Annual and the Quarterly Journal of Speech. She is an associate professor in the Department of Communication and Journalism at Oakland University.
San Antonio’s Piñata Protest as Cultural Renegade: The (Self-Described) “Mojado-Punk” Convergence of Punk Rock and Texas-Mexican Accordion Music
Erin Bauer, Laramie County Community College
Throughout the twentieth century, Texas-Mexican accordion music, called conjunto, has formed a powerful symbol of cultural identity for the working-class border community. Yet, in recent years, local performers have stretched the stylistic boundaries of the traditional genre, creating a shifting sense of meaning for the music beyond more conventional cultural practices. In particular, a San Antonio group called Piñata Protest has created an unexpected mixture of conjunto, tejano, punk, and pop. This presentation will explore the creative results of the group’s unique- and often controversial- musical fusions, examining the band’s cultural intentions and public reactions to the stylistic mixtures both inside and outside of the traditional community. Young performers such as Piñata Protest hold on to the regional tradition, but twist the historic form to reflect their shifting sense of identity within the changing global culture. Ultimately, the group’s mixture of conjunto with punk speaks to a broader question of stylistic ownership within the increasing interconnectedness of the modern world. As musicians gain accessibility to a wide variety of creative forms, they frequently choose stylistic elements beyond their own familial heritage to express a particular artistic identity. In general, this case addresses the issue of artistic convergence in popular culture. In addition, Piñata Protest serves as only one representation of a common convergence between conjunto and punk. Beyond this single group, this paper will explore the modern combinations of the Texas-Mexican ethnic heritage with punk music.
Erin Bauer holds a Ph.D. in Musicology from Claremont Graduate University. Her research examines the recent worldwide spread of Texas-Mexican accordion music, called conjunto. Her writing appears in Rock Music Studies and is forthcoming from the Latin American Music Review. Bauer serves as Director of Instrumental Music at Laramie County Community College.
“Brighton Beach Has Long Been Odessan:” Musical and Cultural Negotiation Among “Third Wave” Soviet Jewish Immigrants in New York City
Natalie Oshukany, CUNY Graduate Center
Beginning in the 1970s an influx of Soviet Jewish émigrés came to America, with many of them settling in New York City. In contrast to previous generations of Eastern European Jews, this group was distinctly shaped by their experiences in the USSR: they largely spoke Russian, and under antireligious Communist rule, many formed a sense of Jewish identity defined by its representations in Russian art. As this group settled in Brooklyn’s Brighton Beach, this neighborhood became known as “Little Odessa”—a nod to the cultural parallels between Brighton and the cosmopolitan and Jewish Ukrainian port city. Amidst the new immigrant-owned restaurants and nightclubs, a thriving music scene emerged in “Little Odessa” during the 1970s and 1980s.
One prominent émigré figure in this scene was Willi Tokarev (b. 1934). Tokarev became famous for his depictions of immigrant life in the city, addressing the difficulties of assimilation with characteristic wit. Drawing on community theory, I analyze two of Tokarev’s songs—“New York Taxi Driver” and “Hello, Dear Emigrants”— focusing on the ways in which Tokarev modified Russian genres to reflect the various subsets of the multi-layered Brighton community. I argue that Tokarev created a musical product that negotiated the experiences of this collective under the Soviet regime within an American context. In doing so, he presented the community with a musical strategy—a way of understanding itself in a new, radically different social context. More broadly, I aim to contribute to the understanding of popular music’s role in cultural negotiation among immigrants.
Natalie Oshukany is a doctoral student in musicology at the CUNY Graduate Center. Her research interests cross the tenuous divide between musicology and ethnomusicology, and include popular music in the Soviet Union, music and politics, and Ukrainian nationalism. Previously, she has presented papers on Jewish identity and Russian “criminal songs.”
Sounding Subcultural Hawai’i: Song and Soundscape in Alexander Payne’s The Descendants
Eugenia Siegel Conte, Wesleyan University
The Descendants, Alexander Payne’s 2011 film adaptation of Kaui Hart Hemmings’ 2007 novel, is by no means the first or last film to depict the Hawaiian Islands. However, it tackles island issues largely ignored by box-office movies. Indigenous (kanaka) and local (kama‘aina) culture, mixed multicultural background, familial responsibility and stewardship of tradition are explored, subsumed and camouflaged in domestic tragicomedy.
The soundtrack of The Descendants offers an unusually perceptive glimpse of the crosscurrents between indigenous, local, tourist and popular culture in Hawai‘i. A jukebox compilation score made up entirely of preexisting local Hawaiian music fuses with thoughtful sound engineering to support a sense of place and cultural attachment. This paper discusses film scenery and sonic representation, noting the novel musical underscoring of island belonging and the agency of the people who live there. Central to this discussion is the representation of Hawaiian local artists’ songs, showcasing kama‘aina vocality as, itself, a representation of agency and collective consciousness in a tourism-driven commercial economy.
This paper will address three key issues: 1) How this approach uses music, sound and image in support of an ecological and cultural setting; 2) Why the filmmakers used a jukebox music approach to evoke locality, indigeneity and social complexity; and 3) What inherent meanings lie behind the use of local and native Hawaiian music in a major studio motion picture.
Eugenia Siegel Conte is a master’s student in ethnomusicology at Wesleyan University. Previously, she completed a MA in music research at Truman State University, focusing on gender and sexuality in Benjamin Britten’s opera The Turn of the Screw. She currently studies music of Hawai‘i, film music, and world vocal music.
Saturday Panel 2: Music and Labor (Professional Faculties Rm. 114)
Chris McDonald, moderator
Work Hard, Play Hard: Normalizing Neoliberal Ideology in Popular Music
Marco Accattatis, Rutgers University
In Liquidated: An Ethnography of Wall Street (2009) anthropologist Karen Ho illustrates how the endemic culture of hard work, short term profit, and employment insecurity among ivy-league-recruited, self-professed “best and brightest” Wall Street investment bankers, began to permeate US corporate culture starting in the 1980s and eventually coalesced into the currently dominant neoliberal ideology of reified markets and shareholder value. Ironically, still according to Ho, the self-serving nature of this ideology can be best seen in the increasing destructiveness of each recurring crises –1987, 1999, and 2007 – which ultimately end up undermining those very values that neoliberalism professes to uphold.
In this paper I will primarily focus on the instrumentality of certain corporate popular musics in normalizing Wall Street’s notions of individual agency, personal responsibility, and private property at the expense of a shared sense of collectivity, mutual solidarity and the commons. The radical nature of this neoliberal habitus and its masculinist representations within corporate music culture will be analyzed in two musical examples drawn from electronic dance music and hip-hop – David Guetta’s “Play Hard” (2011), and Wiz Khalifa’s “Work Hard, Play Hard” (2012). Specifically, I will show how the ethical collapse of the work-play dichotomy and the cultural appropriation of specific musical styles by investment bankers fit within Wall Street’s continued endeavor to construct and project an image of toughness, resilience, and machismo in order to legitimize its dominant role in the culture writ large.
Marco Accattatis is a New Jersey based musician, educator, and scholar. As a a Ph.D student in musicology at Rutgers University he is interested in the philosophical, psychological, and sociological imbrications of mass mediated musics with the public relations industry, technology, and violence in the contemporary United States.
“Thank You, New York, No One Cooks”: Social Justice and Undocumented Food Workers in the Hip Hop Musical Stuck Elevator
Eric Hung, Westminster Choir College, Rider University
On April 1, 2005, an undocumented Chinese immigrant named Ming Kuang Chen delivered food to a high-rise apartment in the Bronx. On his way down, the elevator suddenly dropped more than 30 floors and became stuck. Chen was unable to get out for 81 hours. In 2012-13, Byron Au Yong and Aaron Jafferis wrote an award-winning hip-hop musical entitled Stuck Elevator based on this event.
In this presentation, I examine how Stuck Elevator explores the intersection of widespread American fears/phobias and the unusual circumstance of an Asian American—especially one who does not fit the “model minority” stereotype—grabbing news headlines in a major American city. Through the use of contrasting styles traditionally associated with different non-Asian-American races and audiences—traditional musical theater songs and hip hop—Au Yong and Jafferis brought out such issues as the relationship between race and citizenship, the diversity within the Asian American community, the relationship between Asian Americans and Latinos, the history of Chinese labor in the United States, the reliance of Americans on undocumented immigrants, and the representation of racial minorities in American theater.
Ultimately, I argue that this work is both a form of public musicology and an alternate form of protest music—one that emphasizes history and context over immediate action. By getting the audience to sympathize with the plight of an undocumented Chinese immigrant in New York, Stuck Elevator asks audiences to reconsider common phobias and deeply held beliefs about the Asian American community.
Eric Hung is Associate Professor of Music History at Westminster Choir College of Rider University in Princeton, New Jersey. Current projects include a book on cultural trauma in Asian American music, and an edited volume on Public Musicology. Hung is also an active pianist, Balinese gamelan musician and conductor.
“Assurer la relève”: movements of workers in Québec’s music industries
Martin Lussier, UQAM
It is common sense to present the transformations of the popular music industries as the perfect example of the impact of the Internet. For some, the assumption that a digital “crisis” is reshaping the music industries as become central in the organization of the sector itself. Of course, the predominance of technological determinism was balanced by other researches that have shown that these transformations were not caused by digital technologies solely, but also by legal as well as political changes, for example. In this exploratory paper, I want to look at the transformations of the industries occurring specifically in Québec through another lens: one of the movements and circulation of workers in the local music industries. Drawing on local industry’s publications and awards, as well as the industries’ media coverage during the last two decades, the aim of this paper is twofold. First, it hopes to map the movements of artisans and entrepreneurs in the industries and suggests that the reshaping of Québec’s music industries is also one of the workers who run it. Second, it looks at the mechanisms—for example: education, repertoire, membership, regulations, etc.—to produce or to limit the possibilities for (good) “newcomers” to the local industries. Who runs the music industries, what are the movements of workers that organized them and how these movements are regulated and channelled? In answering these questions, I hope to shed a different light on the recent transformations of Québec’s popular music industries.
Martin Lussier is professor of communication studies at UQAM. His research focuses on the practices of local cultural organizations that articulate politics, industries, artistic practices, music genres, audiences and workers. He published “Les musiques émergentes. Le devenir-ensemble” (Éditions Nota-Bene), a book that focuses on emergent music in Montreal.
Saturday Panel 3: Aesthetics and Ideologies (Professional Faculties Rm. 110)
Esther Clinton, moderator
Québécois black metal: Developing intersections between musicology, social psychology and consumer culture in illuminating aesthetics and ideologies in a niche extreme metal music scene
Méi-Ra St. Laurent, Université Laval
The extreme metal musical artform known as black metal is characterized by a lo-fidelity production which was first revealed by the first wave of black metal bands such as Bathory and Venom in the late 1980s, and anti-communal ideologies with a sharp focus on anti-Christianity, neo-paganism, solipsism and to a certain extent, nationalism, which typifies the second wave of back metal from Norway created in the early 1990s and still growing in global popularity. In the Canadian province of Québec, we can find different layers of characteristics defining the third wave of black metal; some of these are derived from the Norwegian scene, but there are also particularities unique to Québec in relation to the specific heritage and nationalism that forms part of the history of the province. In this paper, the authors will use ethnographic methodologies and constructivist grounded theory to analyze and compare the convergences and divergences characterizing the third wave of Québécois black metal as compared to the first and second waves. Using frameworks of dystopian dark tourism (Podoshen et al., 2015), socio-psychological conceptions of individuality in music scenes (Venkatesh et al. 2015) and esthetic cosmopolitanism (Regev, 2013) the authors will develop theoretical assertions about how the third wave of black metal in scenes such as Québec adopt aesthetic and ideological qualities on both a global as well as a local level.
Méi-Ra St-Laurent is a Ph.D. candidate in musicology in Université Laval (Québec) and is a recipient of SSHRC grant. Her studies focus on the analysis of the discourse and phonographic narrative of Québec black metal scene.
Ambient Music’s Techno-Aesthetics
Victor Szabo, University of Virginia
In his essay introducing the genre, Brian Eno influentially called Ambient music “as ignorable as it is interesting.” Yet while Ambient persists as a genre of electronic music, Eno’s description seems outdated and elitist now that people use all sorts of “interesting” music as atmosphere, and appreciate all sorts of “functional” music as interesting (DeNora 2000; Kassabian 2013; Lanza 2004).
In light of this conundrum, I propose that a “techno-aesthetic” approach to recorded music commonly known as Ambient can better explain present-day uses of the genre term (Simondon 2012). Broadly speaking, techno-aesthetic analyses of recorded music illustrate how recordings coordinate aesthetic and functional elements—how recordings’ expected utility conditions their designs, which in turn afford their uses. Specifically, I will discuss Brian Eno’s On Land (1982), The KLF’s Chill Out (1990), and William Basinski’s The Disintegration Loops (2002) in order to illustrate how Ambient recordings aestheticize their own “atmospheric” instrumentality through musical techniques, themes, metaphors, and moods. I show how these records’ sonic, visual, conceptual, and promotional designs virtually furnish individual listeners’ isolation, introspection, physical disengagement, and departures from the everyday. Through these analyses, I argue that Ambient music’s techno-aesthetics encode an affective ambivalence about the passive agencies they afford listeners, and suggest that this expressive value is tied to Ambient music’s circulation within a hip high-middlebrow market. These analyses also demonstrate how the designs of Ambient recordings have created the terms by which the genre continues to be defined as both “ignorable” and “interesting.”
Victor Szabo is a Postdoctoral Teaching Resident at the University of Virginia’s Department of Music. He completed his PhD dissertation at UVa in 2015. The dissertation investigates Ambient music through histories and analyses of key recordings from 1969–94. His work also appears in the Journal of Popular Music Studies.
Matrix Recordings: The Role of Jamband Fans in Creating a Live Sound Aesthetic
During the 1980s, technically inclined fans of the Grateful Dead began making “matrix tapes” by using analog technology to create hybrids of soundboard recordings and their own amateur live recordings. In the 90s, fans began using digital technology and the Internet to develop increasingly sophisticated techniques for compressing and streaming high fidelity audio. These efforts helped spread the Dead’s influential tape trading culture and online fan community to an increasing number of “jambands,” who are now at the forefront of new transmission technologies like concert webcasts. In this paper, I explain the significance of amateur recording and engineering in terms of two areas increasingly relevant to popular music studies: the study of music from the perspective of the audience and the co-evolution of live performance technology and audio engineering. Re-engineering recordings allows fans to share, collaboratively develop, and integrate knowledge of musical and technological spheres. By comparing the techniques and aesthetics fans use to make matrix tapes to the ways that studio and live recording engineers use ambient microphones to index the live experience and to add dimension to modern multi-track mixes, I show how fans have influenced professional audio production. I also highlight important relationships between the aesthetics/practices/ideology of acoustic recording traditions and the production and reception of comparatively mediated improvised dance music.
Nick Reeder received his Ph.D in ethnomusicology from Brown University in May 2014. His dissertation is entitled The Co-Evolution of Improvised Rock and Live Sound: The Grateful Dead, Phish, and Jambands. Prior to becoming an academic, he worked in recording studios San Francisco, Reno, and Nashville with artists including Bucky Baxter, E-40, Steve Kimock, MC Hammer, and The San Jose Community Choir. Most recently, he recorded master drummer Martin Obeng’s new CD, Africa’s Moving Forward. His study of Ghanaian drumming with Martin also led him to study Afro-Brazilian percussion in Salvador, Bahia. He currently lives in Bangkok, Thailand with his wife and two toddlers.
Saturday Session 2: 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Saturday Panel 4: Production, Consumption, Prosumption (Professional Faculties Rm. 110)
10:45 a.m.-11:45 a.m.
Jeremy Morris, moderator
We Came to Blow Your System: Death Grips, Disobedience, and Changing Industries
Grant Hawkins, University of Western Ontario
The cutting edge hip-hop group Death Grips, formed in 2010, quickly rose to prominence and signed with the major label Epic Records in 2012. Their first Epic album, The Money Store (2012), did well and the band appeared to be settling into a profitable and productive relationship with the company. Epic Records seemed willing to try unprecedented steps in marketing the band, making a deal with a file-sharing service for the free distribution of some of Death Grips material. Yet in 2013 Death Grips stunned the record company and industry observers by releasing their second album, No Love Deep Web, online, for free, and without authorization from the label, months before its planned release. Despite this breach of contract, this radical disobedience, Epic Records did not seek to enforce their contract or sue for damages, what record companies have done for decades in the face of this kind of resistance. Instead, surprisingly, Death Grips were released from their contract and allowed ownership of their recordings. By offering an account of these events, and analyzing observers’ responses to them in trade journals, blogs, and interviews with the band, this paper frames the actions of both parties within the context of the ongoing digitalization-driven restructuring of the music industries. This paper argues that Epic’s willingness to experiment with new industry practices in order to develop Death Grips as artists, as well as Death Grips’ ability to violate their contract with no legal consequences, demonstrates tensions between old and new models in the changing industries. The paper examines these tensions by employing a four-way framework, distinguishing between the pre-internet and post-internet record industry as well as between independent and major label practices of both eras.
Grant Hawkins graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Music from Acadia University and is currently completing a Masters in Popular Music and Culture at the University of Western Ontario. His research involves cultural labour, disobedience, and intellectual property. Grant also has an interest in experimental music and has written and performed with his group “Duane!!!”
« Infâme destin » : La consommation ironique de la chanson country-western
Catherine Lefrançois, Université Laval
La chanson country-western québécoise soulève des enjeux culturels importants qui trouvent un écho dans d’autres pratiques dites vernaculaires, avec lesquelles elle partage un ensemble de traits : intersection entre tradition et modernité (Revill 2005), réappropriation et resignification d’éléments divers (Pickering et Green 1987), croisement entre l’oral et le médiatique (Hansen 1999). Comme d’autres pratiques vernaculaires, la chanson country-western fait l’objet d’une réception multiple et dont l’un des modes est la consommation ironique (Lefrançois 2014).
Cette communication retracera les sources historiques et culturelles de ce type de réception et en examinera les caractéristiques actuelles, dans une perspective d’analyse du discours. Elle sera alimentée par des données tirées d’une thèse sur l’histoire culturelle du country-western (Lefrançois 2011; articles de revues et de journaux, autobiographies) ainsi que sur des sources médiatiques récentes (sites internet, radios web, contenu et paratexte de compilations, entrevues).
La consommation ironique est un type de réappropriation (Klein 2000) qui mise sur la distanciation, l’entre-soi (Sontag 1964) et la distinction. On verra comment la réception de la chanson country-western, urbaine et prolétaire, rejetée depuis ses débuts hors de la culture légitime (Claudé 1993), est le théâtre de nombreux rapports de domination. D’une part, elle sert de repoussoir tant aux auditeurs ironiques qu’aux artistes légitimes qui en empruntent occasionnellement l’esthétique, servant alors à mettre en relief le « bon goût » et la maîtrise des codes culturels. D’autre part, le discours sur le country-western témoigne d’une certaine mise en scène des relations de classe, évidemment à l’avantage des classes dominantes d’où émane ce discours. Enfin, comme d’autres pratiques vernaculaires, celle des carnival bands en Grande-Bretagne notamment (Revill 2005), la chanson country-western, à l’origine une réappropriation folk d’une musique de grande consommation, se trouve souvent dépossédée de son pouvoir subversif à travers la consommation ironique.
Catherine Lefrançois effectue actuellement un stage postdoctoral à l’U. Laval sous la supervision de Sophie Stévance, dans le cadre duquel elle s’intéresse au lien entre la patrimonialisation des musiques vernaculaires et leur réactualisation. Elle est titulaire d’un doctorat en musicologie (U. Laval, 2011), qui porte sur la chanson country-western. Elle a également a effectué un premier stage postdoctoral à l’U. de Montréal (sup. Caroline Traube), où elle s’est intéressée aux styles vocaux dans la musique populaire enregistrée au Québec pendant la première moitié du 20e siècle.
Saturday Panel 5: Performing Social Justice (Professional Faculties Rm. 114)
Kimberly Mack, moderator
The Rosary and the Microphone: the drive for social justice expressed through the stage in U2’s iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE: Live from Paris
Nicholas Greco, Providence University College
U2 is a politically engaged band that sits at the intersection of a particular brand of Christianity and the band’s mediation in a global context and for a global audience. The band utilizes various strategies for negotiating its place in the world as a global band—and mediated brand—and as a manifestation of a kind of cosmopolitanism, or global care, and desire for far-reaching and inclusive social justice initiatives. U2’s brand is heavily informed by a Christianity embodied by Bono and his own personal religious formation. This brand is expressed by a global concern, or cosmopolitanism, that looks outward and seems to draw others to do the same.
This paper takes as its model the analysis by David Pattie in his book, Rock Music in Performance, in which the stage itself is a site of meaning-making. For U2, the stage is an important site of engagement with their fans: it is a sort of “global platform,” a site for display which literally travels the world. In particular, this global platform, and its particular drive for social justice, is on display in U2’s iNNOCENCE + eXPERIENCE: Live from Paris concert film, recorded live on December 7, 2015, and broadcast on HBO the same day. The concert is especially pertinent in that it acts as a politically charged site for global sentiments after the Paris terrorist attacks in November 2015, which included a mass shooting at the Bataclan concert hall. For instance, the promotional material in advance of the concert on the band’s internet web site describes the show as “Our best for Paris,” and promotes the Twitter hashtag, “#STRONGERTHANFEAR.” As such, the stage expresses the band’s global cosmopolitanism and drive for social justice in the face of global terrorism and local unrest.
Dr. Nicholas P. Greco is Associate Professor of Communications and Media at Providence University College in Otterburne, Manitoba. Dr. Greco’s research interests revolve around popular music, popular culture and the nature of celebrity. He has written extensively on the enigmatic star image of the British singer Morrissey, and on Joss Whedon’s television series’ Firefly and Dollhouse. His book on David Bowie’s later career was published by McFarland in 2015.
Inciting a Joyful Rebellion: Hip Hop and Solidarity in the Global South
Meghan Drury, George Washington University
“We are the South,” declares Chilean artist Ana Tijoux in “Somos Sur,” a 2014 track from her album Vengo featuring British Palestinian hip hop artist Shadia Mansour. Built on a polyrhythmic beat interwoven with Arabic semi-tones, the song is a breathless brass-driven paean to a revolutionary alliance uniting all who are “silenced, neglected, invisible.” The two women harness an infectious and disruptive energy, affirming cultural and political alliances between Latin America and the Middle East.
Summoning the powerful “buzz and rumble” Jayna Brown has detailed in 21st century Congolese and Angolan musics, Tijoux raps, “This is not utopia/ This is a joyful dancing rebellion.” As Brown writes, “The buzz and rumble is the sound of the new space the music creates, the space people create out of necessity for their sanity…[it] is the power that rides through these circumstances; improvising on the refuse of destruction, it is both of the moment and transcendent.” This paper contends that “Somos Sur” is produced out of a similar state of upheaval, speaking to political and economic oppression in the Global South at large and to Palestinian struggles for political and social equality more specifically. I argue that hip hop provides a vehicle for youth to enact a radical counter-narrative that disrupts the “clash of civilizations” discourse, and in this sense becomes an important occasion for self-determination.
Meghan Drury is a doctoral candidate in the Department of American Studies at the George Washington University. She received a master’s degree in ethnomusicology at the University of California, Riverside, and is currently completing a dissertation entitled Sonic Affinities: The Middle East in the American Popular Music Imaginary, 1950-2014. She is managing editor of the Journal of Popular Music Studies.
Saturday Panel 6: Legacy: Aging and Popular Music (Murray Fraser Hall Rm. 160)
10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Andrew Mall, moderator
Every Day A Pioneer: Aging Artists and Hip-Hop Legacies
This presentation focuses on aging hip-hop artists as they assess their status as pioneers and veterans in hip-hop culture. The paper’s key focus involves the processes by which legacies are established and what it means for elder artists to sustain a career and maintain important allegiances to hip-hop music and culture as they reach and surpass middle age. As Public Enemy front man Chuck D explains, “you know, that’s rarefied air. There’s no other stratosphere higher than us doing what we do.”
The presentation is based on personal interviews with some of hip-hop’s most celebrated artists, individuals whose status and legacy is well known and who are particular well-positioned to discuss the meanings and values associated with longevity in hip-hop (including DJ Grandwizzard Theodore, Chuck D, Grandmaster Caz, Ice-T, LL Cool J, Pepa, YoYo, and industry veteran Kevin Liles).
Theoretically grounded in critical age studies (A. Bennett, M. Gullette, S. Katz), I will engage the ways in which past exploits and achievements inform longtime artists’ contemporary identities and reputations while illuminating the intertwined dynamics of aging and ageism in hip-hop. This paper will further illuminate artists’ attitudes about legacy and tradition in hip-hop by exploring the views of artists such pioneering DJ Grandwizzard Theodore who explains, “this is our life…hip-hop was our life and hip-hop is still our life. And basically what we want is to be recognized for the contribution to this art form, this legacy that we have. We want to be recognized for it.”
Murray Forman’s research focuses on hip-hop culture and aging. His books include The ‘Hood Comes First: Race, Space and Place in Rap and Hip-Hop (2002), and (with co-editor Mark Anthony Neal) That’s the Joint!: The Hip-Hop Studies Reader (1st edition 2004; 2nd edition, 2012). He is an inaugural recipient of the Nasir Jones Hip-Hop Fellowship at the Hip-Hop Archive, Harvard University (2014-2015).
“You can add?” Exploring digital music-making by seniors
Line Grenier, Université de Montréal and Eric Craven, Atwater Library
Since September 2015, individuals aged 65 to 85 have gathered weekly to attend the second edition of the digital music club at the Digital Literacy Project of the Atwater Library in Montreal. The authors facilitate these workshops designed to offer participants with different music backgrounds and even more contrasting social locations and life trajectories, the basic knowledge of the equipment, software and technical skills necessary to undertake their own audio recording and editing project – be it vocal ensemble pieces of folk music, spoken word, poetry driven compositions, or field recording based soundscapes. Participants’ projects will be featured on the web and at a public event held during Montreal’s Nuit Blanche in February 2016.
The paper critically reflects on the workshops, the learning and creation pathways of the participants by engaging music and technology “with ageing as a potent theoretical tool” (Jennings & Gardner, 2012, p. 2). We consider age as it is conceptualized through notions of the life-course (Katz, 2009), as a process differently experienced according to gender, (dis)ability, race, ethnicity, class, and language (Cruikshank, 2009; Sawchuk & Crow, 2011). We discuss the workshops as moments of ‘music in action’ (DeNora, 2000) through which the ‘gear’ becomes a mediation (Hennion, 2007; Williams, 1985), the computer-as-machine is turned into a medium, and songs transform into collective hybrid productions. We explore how negotiating age and ageing in connection with music and technology involves navigating, challenging and rendering visible norms, expectations and prescriptions as (re)configured subjects and objects acquire new agencies.
Line Grenier is Associate Professor at the Département de communication at Université de Montréal in Montréal, Québec (Canada). Her current research explores various intersections of ageing, musics and musicians in Québec as part of a broader research program undertaken within the Ageing, Communication and Technology partnership (ACT).
A McGill graduate in Information Science, Eric Craven is Project Coordinator of the Digital Literacy Project at Atwater Library in Montreal. He is also a musician and composer who has been a central figure in the Montreal music scene for the past two decades.
The Oklahoma Senior Follies and the Narrative of Decline
Jake Johnson, University of California, Los Angeles
American musical theater occupies a unique space relative to other popular music genres. This is particularly true when considering the value offered aging performers. Whereas aging or aged voices in popular music are often revered as “authentic,” aging musical theater performers face an industry largely uninvested in positive representations of aging. Hence, musical theater sustains a presumed connection between aging and deterioration, what Margaret Morganroth Gullette describes as the “master narrative of decline.” Musical theater has a penchant for younger characters, exaggerated and unfair categorization of the aging as senile or decrepit, increased instances of older characters portrayed by young actors, and few meaningful roles on stage for aging performers. In such a setting, positive considerations of aging are rare. Indeed, within musical theater, as in other forms of entertainment, decline is implied as an absolute condition of aging.
The Senior Follies movement, on the other hand, counters this decline narrative by granting value and purpose to aging performers through a Ziegfeld-inspired musical variety show. In cities across America, the Senior Follies creates a musical and theatrical space where aging performers can regain a place within musical theater and challenge prevalent agist stereotypes. I use my background as musical director of the Oklahoma Senior Follies to examine the movement’s effects on Oklahoma City’s aging audiences and performers. As I argue, the Senior Follies movement not only engages the “master narrative of decline” but also undoes conventions of musical theater that have long coupled aging with disability or invisibility.
Jake Johnson is a cultural historian of American musical experiences. His work has been or will soon be published in TEMPO, Echo: A Music-Centered Journal, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, and Journal of the Society for American Music. Jake is completing his PhD in musicology at UCLA.
Saturday Workshop: 12:15-1:15 p.m.
Workshop (Murray Fraser Hall Rm. 160):
Public Scholarship as Social Justice: Dis/Ability and Accessible Writing
Alexandra Apolloni, University of California, Los Angeles
Felicia Miyakawa, The Avid Listener
As popular music scholars, we tackle vital social and political issues in our work. When we make our research more accessible by publishing in widely-read publications, we can play a more active role in advocating for social justice and speaking out about inequality. Additionally, for scholars who work at the margins of academia (including adjunct faculty, independent scholars, etc.) and who have limited institutional research and writing support, these publication opportunities can enable participation in intellectual discourse. Ultimately, such participation is about accessibility, which is a central concern of this publication workshop. Through this 90-minute workshop, we will encourage IASPM members to explore the activist potential of scholarship through accessible publication. We will challenge participants to question the institutional hierarchies that have historically limited participation in scholarly conversations about music, and empower participants to take action by producing public-facing scholarship that enables access and participation.
Alexandra Apolloni: “Pitching Research for a General Audience”
Many academics are interested in creating scholarship that reaches an audience beyond our disciplines and departments, but don’t know how or where to start. Popular music scholars have a unique advantage in approaching public-facing scholarship: we write about music that people love, and are interested in reading and thinking about. Furthermore, popular music scholars are well-positioned to make valuable contributions to the vital debates about popular music, politics, and social justice occurring in online and print media. In so doing, we can not only make our research more accessible, but also make space in scholarly conversations for voices from beyond academia.
Apolloni, who has written about music, race, and gender for a number of online publications (including The Toast and Hippo Reads), will discuss how to find publication opportunities and how to pitch story ideas to editors. Using examples of successful pitches, she will demonstrate how scholars can draw out stories from research projects that connect to current social concerns and political events. For this workshop, Apolloni will focus on how participants can use skills developed in academia — including researching and paper abstract writing — to their advantage in the pitching process. Workshop attendees will be encouraged to participate in a live sample pitch-drafting session that explores how to connect stories from our research to stories in the headlines.
Alexandra Apolloni is a freelance writer and musicologist. She earned her PhD at UCLA, where she teaches in the Music Industry Program and the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute. She is currently working on a book about girl singers in 1960s London.
Felicia M. Miyakawa: “Dis/ability, Accessibility, and The Avid Listener”
Scholars must not only consider how dis/ability and accessibility shape music and music-making, but also how these factors shape our scholarship, the availability of our work, and the impact of our work. Furthermore, some publishing opportunities beyond academia offer authors compensation for their work. To these ends, Miyakawa, co-editor of The Avid Listener (a publishing venue that compensates authors), will discuss how she works with authors to develop writing voices suitable for a general audience. The Avid Listener is dedicated to accessibility on a number of fronts, believing fully that providing access to intellectual conversations is useful for everyone, not just specialists. TAL is a free resource, and authors are encouraged to link to supporting literature that is freely available. More importantly for this workshop, TAL hosts scholarly discussions in prose accessible to experts and laypersons alike. Miyakawa (and co-editor Andrew Dell’Antonio) help authors simplify their prose (while not dumbing-down content); hone in on only the most important narrative thread(s); rely less on a heavy scholarly apparatus; and remain cognizant of the target audience. For this workshop, Miyakawa will walk participants through the developmental process with the use of essays already published on TAL, and will discuss best practices of writing for a general readership.
Felicia M. Miyakawa is co-editor of The Avid Listener, a music history blog hosted by W. W. Norton written for scholarly audiences in accessible, engaging prose. She left her tenured position in 2014 and now works as an independent scholar, freelance editor, and academic consultant. She blogs at FMMiyakawa.com.
Saturday Session 3: 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Saturday Panel 7: New Venues and Virtualities (Professional Faculties Rm. 110)
Rebekah Farrugia, moderator
“Miranda Sings (Badly)”
Mike Daley, York University, Toronto
Miranda Sings is a character created by trained soprano Colleen Evans in 2008 for a series of comedic YouTube videos. Evans’ Miranda videos have garnered 667 million views and 5 million subscribers as of November 2015. The Miranda Sings character is an arrogant, narcissistic and delusional teenager who sings and dances badly, gives out dubious advice and responds to hate mail. Her appearance is characterized by a man’s dress shirt buttoned to the top, red track pants, hair pinned back and sloppily applied, clown-like red lipstick. Her large and faithful fanbase of mostly girls in their early teens are dubbed “Mirfandas.”
Evans posts videos as both Miranda and herself on different YouTube channels. As Miranda she sings ludicrously flat or sharp, with idiosyncratic pronunciation and phrasing. As Colleen, her voice is professional and trained and she skillfully sings in tune with tasteful execution. During live appearances, Evans stages the transformation from Colleen to Miranda and back again in front of the audience, transforming mid-song. This heightens the sense of artifice, and arguably constitutes the climactic bookends of her live presentation.
By singing both well and badly, Evans plays with representations of the ‘authentic’ voice, tweaks assumptions about ‘natural’ versus disciplined singing, and obliquely echoes the awkwardly changing voices of her adolescent fans. Unlike other ‘bad’ singers like William Hung and Florence Foster Jenkins, Miranda is a deliberately created character, which suggests that she can be more aptly compared to the dialect specialists of the early days of recording, like Ada Jones and Len Spencer. The “Mirfandas” are in on the joke; they know that Colleen can sing well, and it is her transformation into deliberate ineptitude that excites them.
Mike Daley is an adjunct professor in the department of music at York University in Toronto. His work on Bob Dylan’s vocal style won the York Thesis Prize in 1998 and his articles on popular music have been published internationally. Mike has also toured the U.S. and Canada as a guitarist with the Jeff Healey Band, the Travellers, and others.
Music Re-Tuned: Streaming, Apps and Music’s “New” Controlling Formats
Jeremy Wade Morris, University of Wisconsin-Madison
On Sep. 9, 2014, U2 launched its new album, Songs of Innocence, at an Apple event for the iPhone 6. The band and company placed the album, for free, in the music libraries of over 500 million iTunes users – whether they wanted it or not. Despite being marketed as a generous gift, this intrusion into users’ libraries provoked widespread backlash; U2 issued a public apology and Apple built a “U2 removal tool” so users could delete the album from their account with one-click. Maybe this PR misstep was just a case of U2 and Apple being out of step with contemporary listening tastes. But I argue the episode speaks to a much deeper issue: the level of agency and control users have over their collections and the ways new streaming services and music formats complicate our notions of digital media objects.
Accordingly, this paper looks at how streaming services and other new formats (i.e. album apps for mobile devices) employ a user’s desire for greater control over their music – e.g. the order in which songs are played, the devices on which songs are accessed, the ability to modify files, etc. – as a primary means of commodification. While these new formats offer possibilities for novel musical experiences, they also blur the lines between what is owned and what is streamed, between what is permanent and what is temporary. As albums become software, they bring with them contingencies that threaten the integrity of a user’s musical library. If libraries are sources of identity formation, self-expression, and tools for communication, then these too become contingent. Using recent examples of marketing and distribution experiments (U2, Wu-Tang Clan, Bjork’s Biophilia, Mike Baggz’ The Beauty of Money), along with theories of digital objects and new music interfaces (e.g. Bogost 2014, Burkart 2014, Leyshon 2015) this paper explores why, in an era where we have ever-greater access to scores of musical content, the music we own is becoming less and less ours.
Jeremy Morris is Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research interests include the digitization of cultural goods and the current state of the popular music industries. His book, Selling Digital Music, Formatting Culture (2015) examines the transition from music on CDs to music on computers.
Escaping to Become Myself: Aural Constitution of Identity and Reality of K-Pop Fans in a Virtual Environment
Cody Black, University of Toronto
Cornel Sandvoss (2001) suggests that since an object of fandom is external to oneself, the fan must build an intense identification with that object in order to construct their self-identity in relation to that object. In this paper, I observe this consumptive relationship through the acts fans of Korean popular music (K-Pop) undertake in their striving to identify with K-Pop idols. Drawing from my ethnography of online K-Pop fan communities, I specifically highlight fans who play Mstar Online with the intention of becoming a virtual K-Pop idol. Mstar Online is a highly successful Korean MMORPG and rhythm/dance online game in which fans simulate the experience training towards becoming a K-Pop idol by advancing a self-created avatar through career stages built around “dancing” to K-Pop by rhythmically tapping their computer keyboard. By specifically concentrating on game sound interaction within the literary canon of the phenomenology of perception (Merleau-Ponty 2005) and environmental immersion (Csikszentmihalyi 1991), I argue that Mstar Online provides a systematic platform where immersive sound interaction helps construct a multi-sensory field where fan-based strivings can be experienced as fully real. I support this claim through analysis of two prominently cited music-related experiences gamers encounter in Mstar Online: 1) the virtual environment—aurally constructed solely through K-Pop—prominently frames participants’ experience by consistently orienting gamers toward their desired object of fandom; and 2) adopting the computer keyboard as an ingrained instrument for acting upon the non-diegetically aural in-game dance cues prompts an extended embodiment (Ihde 2012) of unmediated dancing their idol’s K-Pop choreography.
Cody Black recently completed his MA in Ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto, and is currently a research fellow in anthropology at the Academy of Korean Studies. His research primarily focuses on the intersection between K-Pop fandom, consumption, neoliberalism, and the techno-mediated modes of escape in everyday life.
Out of Sight, Out of Mind: Material Infrastructures, Listening Formations, and the Political Ecology of Music
Kyle Devine, University of Oslo
Online consumption seems utterly virtual. Reading a newspaper or magazine in the form of bytes and lights, for example, appears self-evidently less resource intensive than reading something made of ink and paper. Likewise, commonsense suggests that streaming music as a digital file represents an eco-friendly step forward, compared to the more tangible recording formats that have been made and trashed by the billion since 1900. Yet emerging research, in cultural studies as much as industrial ecology, confirms that the online media industries are substantial users and wasters of natural resources. Large data centres, for example, can use untold megawatts of electricity, raising what Cubitt and his colleagues call an “emerging energy crisis of information.” The massive throughput of personal electronics and fibre-optic cable networks, which necessarily undergirds online cultural consumption, raises its own environmental concerns. Popular music is complicit in all these developments—but we do not yet know the details or the extent of its complicity.
This presentation draws on interviews with employees at music streaming and subscription services in order to gauge awareness of the energy intensive character of such listening practices. Preliminary research suggests that, because contemporary streaming providers subcontract their storage and processing needs to companies such as Amazon, questions about the energy intensity of digital music’s infrastructures are also, in a way, “subcontracted.” If this is the shape of the industrial arrangement that facilitates an increasing portion of contemporary music consumption, what kinds of agency do music fans have to make responsible listening choices? The presentation concludes with a comparison between digital listening and recorded music’s other two main material forms since 1900 (shellac and plastic), suggesting that if the political economy of recorded music follows a path of abstraction, from the solidity of manufacturing to the airiness of rights agreements, the same perhaps cannot be said about what we might call the political ecology of music.
Kyle Devine is an associate professor in the Department of Musicology at the University of Oslo. His books include Decomposed: The Political Ecology of Music (MIT Press, forthcoming), Living Stereo: Histories and Cultures of Multichannel Sound (Bloomsbury 2015), and The Routledge Reader on the Sociology of Music (Routledge 2015).
Saturday Panel 8: Sounding Feminisms (Murray Fraser Hall Rm. 160)
Susan Fast, moderator
Versioning the “Gay Friendly, Feminist Global City”: (Trans)feminist and Queer Musical Performances and the Gentrification of Mexico City’s Historic Center
Gabriela Jiménez, University of Toronto
This paper considers the use of (trans)feminist and queer musical performances to version—that is, produce an alternative iteration of—the gentrification of Mexico City’s Historic Center. I focus on La Bruja y Sus Conjuros, a group that performs Mexican son and ranchera. Specifically, this paper treats La Bruja y Sus Conjuros’ musical performances as socio-musical spaces through which people collectively interact with gender, sexuality, and “el rescate”—“the rescue” of the Historic Center. The municipal government, developers, and financial institutions have been working on a project—which went into effect in 2006 and is still underway—to revitalize the Historic Center as a means to make Mexico City a “global city.” “El rescate” also coincides with the municipal government’s efforts to brand Mexico City as both “gay friendly” and “feminist.” The deployment and employment of gender and sexuality have been fundamental to the gentrification of the Historic Center and to the re-branding of Mexico City. To musically interact with the intersectionality informing and being informed by “el rescate,” La Bruja y Sus Conjuros use Mexican ranchera—a musical practice associated with Mexico City’s urbanization and with socio-musical spaces, like the cantina, where normative iterations of gender and sexuality have been typically challenged. La Bruja y Sus Conjuros’ (trans)feminist and queer musical performances provide a version of gentrification that attends to the inclusionary and exclusionary implications of cities using gender and sexuality “to attract transnational venture capital, or hi-tech geeks, or cosmopolitan tourists” (Bell and Binnie 2004, 1817).
Gabriela Jiménez is a doctoral candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto where she is writing a dissertation on the collective use of (trans)feminist and queer musical performances to produce contemporary Mexico City, Mexico. Gabriela holds a B.A. in art history and French, and an M.A. in Afro-American Studies, both from UCLA.
Female Agency in Mitch Miller’s Sing Along with Mitch
Emily Gale, University of California, Merced
In 1961, producer/performer Mitch Miller (1911-2010) retooled his popular sing along album format and introduced it to a televisual audience through weekly, hour-long variety show episodes on NBC. Miller, at this point, had already released eleven Sing Along with Mitch LPs of which Columbia Records had sold an astonishing 4.5 million units. As the A & R man for Columbia Records in the 1950s, Miller had raised the company’s profile, charting hit after hit for artists including Rosemary Clooney, Frankie Laine, Doris Day, and many others. On NBC’s Sing Along with Mitch, Miller, joined by his all-male backup chorus, plays host and invites his audience to sing along by way of subtitles while he, the sing along gang, and special guests perform old songs.
Miller’s show also featured important female soloists, including Diana Trask and Leslie Uggams. But when Miller’s female guests do get to sing, they sing their own subjugation through song repertory. This paper analyses questions of agency in Sing Along with Mitch by looking at performances of songs such as “A Guy is a Guy” and “There’s Yes Yes in Your Eyes.” I show that Miller used song selection as a means to reinforce traditional gender roles and the patriarchal establishment. Such performances contrast significantly with direct contemporaries, the girl groups. While some girl groups attempted to question gender roles and express sexual freedom in song, others, including performers on Sing Along with Mitch, reconstituted what were presented as family values through old popular song repertory.
Emily Gale is a lecturer at University of California, Merced, where she teaches courses on popular music. Her work explores intersections between American popular song and sentimentalism, specifically in nineteenth-century sentimental ballads; the National Barn Dance radio show; the 1960s TV show Sing Along with Mitch; and 1970s soft rock.
“Welcome to the Weird Part of the Internet”: Disrupting Mainstream Music’s Bodily Ideals in Leslie Hall’s “Tight Pants (Body Rolls)”
Kait LaPorte, University of Washington
This paper discusses how YouTube can provide musicians whose bodies fall outside the realm of mainstream beauty access to a fan base. Combining online research with music video analysis, I use Internet celebrity Leslie Hall as a case study. I utilize fat (Farrell 2011), gender (Halberstam 1998), and monstrosity studies (Thomson 1996) to analyze the visual and musical aesthetics of Hall’s music video “Tight Pants (Body Rolls),” showing the ways in which Hall’s work deliberately calls attention to her size and unconventional femininity. I posit that Hall challenges which bodies are permitted to take up musical space, calls attention to societal constructions of gender, and resists representing herself as fully “human.”
Further, I align fan studies with an examination of YouTube comments and fan videos to explore the online dissemination of Hall’s music videos on YouTube and its significance in the formation of Hall’s fan base. Showing that Hall’s Internet fan base eventually turned into a touring career, I posit that the Internet made Hall’s musical fame possible. Demonstrating how thin-centric heteronormative beauty ideals have historically interfered with the successes of artists with unconventional bodies, I contend that Hall’s career exemplifies YouTube’s potential for creating and circulating popular music that disrupts the mainstream music industry’s restrictive beauty ideals, and that Hall exploits the Internet’s attraction to strangeness in order to call attention to those ideals.
Kait LaPorte is a Ph.D. Candidate in Ethnomusicology at the University of Washington in Seattle. Her dissertation combines Internet ethnography with music video analysis in order to explore the relationship between queer femininity, size, human monstrosity, and Midwesternness in the work of Internet celebrity Leslie Hall.
Sonic Feminism in Local Space: Intentionality, Localized Feminist Education, and Youth Culture in Popular Music
Paula Propst, University of California, Riverside
Contemporary intersectional feminism claims that, as best said through the words of bell hooks, “feminism is for everybody.” Drawing on participant observation fieldwork in different Southern California rock camps for girls and queer youth, I argue that the spaces utilized during these camps present participants with a localized feminist education and provide an avenue for understanding feminist ideologies. Further, the connections between these feminist spaces provide a rhizomatic view where these contemporary grassroots social justice organizations prosper through practical applications of feminist theory. Camp leadership, organizers, and volunteers benefit from this feminist rhizome through continued connection with other rock camps, as many camps affiliate with an overarching, international organization known as the Girls Rock Camp Alliance. Specifically within the context of this research, Southern California camp organizers challenge normative non-profit models by creating non-hierarchal feminist leadership structures, adoption of not-for-profit identities rather than a non-profit status, and employ localized activism by connecting with other activist organizations outside the rock camp circuit. Young campers experience this type of feminist-oriented, activist learning through workshops and popular music performance in a space that promotes many different avenues of intersectionality- most notably ethnicity, sexuality, and socioeconomic status. The importance of localized rock camps for girls and queer youth provide an outlet for individuals to actively experience feminist knowledge through practice in their own communities. These camps enact applied feminist knowledge and embodiment, but also incorporate a sense of local identity housed within intentionally created, local feminist spaces.
Paula Propst is a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of California, Riverside. Her current research explores intersectional approaches to music education and popular music performance, and focuses on: the growing presence of camps devoted to popular music instruction for young girls, gender equality, and contemporary movements in feminism.
Saturday Panel 9: Engendering Music in the 1960s/1970s (Professional Faculties Rm. 114)
Eric Hung, moderator
“I am . . . the Chelsea Girl”: Nico’s Decadence
Elizabeth Lindau, Earlham College
Through Andy Warhol’s Factory, the German model and actress turned singer-songwriter Nico (née Christa Päffgen, 1938-1988) came to front the Velvet Underground alongside Lou Reed. According to Warhol’s associate Paul Morrissey, Nico’s presence was supposed to temper Reed’s debauched lyrical subjects: “a really beautiful girl standing in front of all this decadence was what was needed.” Decadence is a recurring theme in Velvets reception, invoked by such influential journalists as Ellen Willis and Caroline Coon (who declared Reed the “Prince of Decadence”). This discourse parallels discussions of the Velvets as avant-gardist. Both aesthetics assume dissatisfaction with a twilight present age, but avant-gardism futilely rails against decline, while decadence revels in it (Calinescu 1987, Downes 2010).
This presentation explores Nico’s decadence in the title track of her 1967 debut solo album Chelsea Girl (penned by Reed) and starring role in Warhol’s film of the same title. Moving among rooms in the famed Chelsea Hotel, each verse of Reed’s lyrics reveals a new tableau of drug abuse, ennui, or sexual degradation. Nico reimagined the song for a 1981 BBC documentary about the hotel. Cuts between Warhol’s original film and the mature Nico put her transformation from beautiful model to haggard addict into stark relief. Her persona in these intertextually linked films and songs illustrates decadence’s stylistic contradiction of “perennial decay”—her artistic vision of Reed’s song is fully realized only when her body has become ravaged by drug abuse. Contrary to Morrissey’s prediction, Nico does not soften, but enhances Reed’s decadence.
Elizabeth Lindau studies intersections between avant-gardism and popular music. Her work on Sonic Youth appears in Tomorrow is the Question: New Directions in Experimental Music Studies (Michigan, 2014). She served on the program committee for IASPM-US’s 2014 meeting, and is currently chairing the Woody Guthrie Book Prize committee for IASPM-US.
Camp Records, Gay Jukeboxes, and the Creation of a Musical Subculture in US Gay Bars in the 1960s.
Louis Niebur, University of Nevada, Reno
In the mid 1960s, Camp Records, a tiny record label out of Hollywood, California, released a series of recordings apparently aimed at a gay male audience. Over the course of 2 LPs and a series of 45rpm singles, Camp Records was nearly unique at that time in catering to a nascent “market,” by selling their products through gay mail-order catalogs and through jukebox vendors. In this paper, I will explore the function of such records as they relate to the idea of the “gay jukebox,” carefully-curated jukeboxes intended to cater to gay patrons within a gay bar in the years before Stonewall. In this context, Camp Records and gay jukeboxes filled a vital but little-explored function, as community builder, a way of expressing through music a perceived connection with other gay people.
Although to 21st-century audiences Camp Records’ output seems homophobic in its dependence on stereotypes, for the gay bar patron songs such as “Weekend of a Hairdresser,” and “A Bar is a Bar” provided their only aural legitimacy for a stigmatized subculture. Whereas all other music heard on gay jukeboxes of the mid-sixties was tacitly intended for straight listeners, repurposed for gay use in the gay bar, here, behind the safety of anonymously recorded and covertly distributed songs, was a music actually about gay men, dealing with a uniquely gay experience. In the years leading up to gay liberation, Camp Records articulated a growing desire for that voice to be heard directly, without proxy, and without apology.
Louis Niebur is Associate Professor at the University of Nevada, Reno. His research traces the use of music in gay-identified locations such as the bar, restaurant, and disco in the 20th century. Special Sound: The Creation and Legacy of the BBC Radiophonic Workshop was published in 2010 by OUP.
“Are You A Boy or Are You a Girl?” New York Queer Punk in the 1970s
Jarek Ervin, University of Virginia
Punk has an ambivalent relationship to queerness. Despite the lengthy presence of queer musicians and fans in the genre, punk has a doubled history of homophobia, exclusion, and forgetting. This has prompted Tavia N’yongo to remark that punk exists in a frozen dialectic with queerness. This dialectic has played a formative role in punk from its earliest moments. My paper looks at the often-overlooked queer punk scene that emerged in New York during the early 1970s. In this era, queer punk comprised an extensive network of bands, venues, and fans, and it fostered intense musical discourse about alternative conceptions of gender and sexuality. What’s more, later seventies punk was so intimately linked to this earlier queer punk, that New York punk became punk largely through its connections to New York’s queer social infrastructure.
If punk’s continuities with New York’s queer world were substantial, they were also anxious. Indeed, punk was defined as much by its queerness as its disavowal of questions relating to gender and sexuality. This doubled self-understanding links punk to a shift in the broader LGBTQ world. Punk was a battleground in a new moment of political and cultural recognition for queer people in postwar America. In order to make the aesthetic dimensions of this connection perspicuous, I conclude my paper by highlighting the work of Jayne County, a transgender musician who was at the center of New York’s punk scene through the 1970s. By thematizing the rift between queer and straight in punk, County’s work staged the ambivalences of our ongoing social experiment.
Jarek Ervin is a PhD candidate at University of Virginia and a 2015 Gladys Krieble Delmas Visiting Scholar at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. His dissertation focuses on New York punk in the 1970s.
Saturday Session 4: 3:45-5:15 p.m.
Saturday Panel 10: Performing Bodies (Murray Fraser Hall Rm. 160)
Viral Language, Viral Bodies: Sounding Politics in Laurie Anderson’s Language is a Virus (from Outer Space)
Maria Murphy, University of Pennsylvania
In 1959 American novelist and spoken-word performer William Burroughs published
Naked Lunch—a work that has been recognized for its uncanny prescience in predicting the AIDS crisis for its several sections of text that depict, often in graphic terms, the characteristics that would define the conditions caused by the virus now known as AIDS. In 1983, Laurie Anderson recorded “Language is a Virus (from Outer Space),” which used the well-known dictum often attributed to Burroughs. During the early years of the AIDS crisis, political resistance emerged and converged among several different communities of knowledge including social justice activist groups, municipal and federal governments, and pharmaceutical companies. Within this network of competing information, Anderson’s “Language is a Virus (from Outer Space)” is a smaller event that reveals a perspective not on the AIDS crisis in particular, but rather on the very types of apparatuses of verification and techniques of communication that are circulating in, around, and through the AIDS crisis in New York at this time. This paper examines how Anderson probes at the gap between science and aesthetics more generally by pointing toward the fallibility of language as a conduit for empirical observation. By performing her own body as a musical instrument, employing voice filters, and featuring video projections, Anderson demonstrates how performance methods can constitute political agency. I argue that Anderson’s song speaks to the translation between the language of biology and the language of politics, proposing that apparatuses of verification are always in dialogue with technologies of government.
Maria Murphy is a fourth year musicology student at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research considers how the work of Laurie Anderson, Yoko Ono, and Karen Finley articulate and index a diverse range of political and biological fears such as war, censorship, and an epidemic in New York City in the 1980s.
He’s Lost Control: Late Style, Epilepsy, and Ian Curtis
Tiffany Naiman, University of California, Los Angeles
Drawing upon the works of Edward Said and Theodor Adorno, musicological studies on late style typically examine artists within the canon of western art music who created well into their advanced years. I posit that young artists who are sick or disabled can perform late style. Expanding upon Said’s theory of late style, this paper examines the voice of post-punk singer Ian Curtis, an epileptic, on his final Joy Division recordings completed shortly before taking his own life at 23. Ian Curtis was a young man who had attempted suicide twice before he succeeded. Tortured by his illness, medications, home life, and the shame brought on by his increased seizures, the body that generated his voice became the location of a battle. Curtis’ path towards finitude affected his vocality; the catastrophic isolation caused by illness, medication, drink, and depression, seeped into Curtis’ works.
Curtis’ vocal output on these recordings is that of an artist oriented towards death, subject to the same conditions that produce late style in older artists. Given that it is a relationship with mortality constituted by physiological signals that constructs lateness, this paper asks what are the corporeal traces that linger in the artistic output; what does it mean; and how are vocals constructed when a performer is looking toward the abyss and singing? I examine the connections of Curtis’ epilepsy, depression, and his shift in vocal expression to expose a late style that one could say came too soon, but it is a late style none-the-less.
Tiffany Naiman is a Ph.D. candidate in UCLA’s Department of Musicology, Experimental Critical Theory, and Digital Humanities graduate certificate programs. She is a DJ, electronic musician, and documentary film producer. Her work on David Bowie is published in David Bowie: Critical Perspectives (Routledge, 2015) and Enchanting David Bowie (Bloomsbury, 2015).
Singing Dis/ability: A Phonostylistic Analysis of Sia’s (Troubled) Persona in “Breath Me” (2004), “Chandelier” (2014) and “Alive” (2015)
Serge Lacasse, Faculté de musique, Université Laval
In a television interview with Chris Connelly for Nightline on July 24, 2014, Sia talks about her condition of a few years ago. She was then “extremely depressed”, contemplated suicide and was “hooked on Xanax and OxyContin” in addition to alcohol, which lead her to follow a 12-step programme. Arguably, many of her songs, including her three biggest hits (“Breath Me”, “Chandelier” and “Alive”), seem to depict aspects of her troubled personality and, by the same token, to contribute to the artist’s public persona. For example, since her access to stardom in the early 2010s, Sia has adopted different strategies in order to avoid face-to-face interaction with cameras. In that context, how does Sia’s singing contribute to the representation of what we could call her “troubled persona”? What aspects of her voice might convey emotional states as felt by the characters she impersonates in her songs?
This paper will propose an analysis of Sia’s recorded singing style by taking into account two interrelated sets of sonic elements: 1) the singer’s performance characteristics (Poyatos 1993; Middleton 2000; Léon 2005; Lacasse 2010, 2011), and 2) the way her vocal performance is phonographically “staged” through recording technology (Lacasse 1995; 2000; Moylan 1995; Zak 2001; Doyle 2005). Rather than taking these two sets of parameters in isolation, the paper will argue for a conception of recorded singing as the intermingling of both performance and phonographic parameters, that is, as constituents of a singer’s “phonostyle.” It will thus illustrate how this combination of singing and recording strategies highly contribute to the construction of Sia’s troubled identity and agency.
Serge Lacasse is full Professor of Musicology, with a specialism in popular music, at the Faculty of Music, Université Laval in Quebec City, Canada. He heads both the Laval site of the Observatoire interdisciplinaire de création et de recherche en musique (oicrm.org) and the Laboratoire audionumérique de recherche et de création (larc.oicrm.org). Favouring an interdisciplinary approach his research projects mostly deal with the study and practice of recorded popular music. He recently co-authored (with Sophie Stévance) Les enjeux de la recherche-création en musique (Presses de l’Université Laval, 2013; English version to be published by Ashgate in 2016) and co-edited Quand la musique prend corps (PUM, 2014) with Monique Desroches and Sophie Stévance.
Saturday Panel 11: Translocal Pedagogies: Thinking, Living and Teaching Hip Hop (Professional Faculties Rm. 114)
Panel: For a generation of Hip Hop heads now teaching in classrooms or entering the academy, there exists the unique challenges of teaching through and about Hip Hop culture.
In this panel, participants explore what it means to bring into the classroom one’s life as a practitioner, one’s research and one’s global experiences with Hip Hop culture. Does doing so eclipse the necessary local foci of Hip Hop culture(s)?
Hip Hop heads thinking about the culture in intellectual terms face a number of critical questions and perhaps even obstacles, in and outside of the academy, particularly in Canada, where the field continues to be underdeveloped and lacking support. For example, on the question of authenticity, thinking and being Hip Hop, how does a head, as both academic and practitioner, remain true to the culture, while delivering authenticity to non-practitioners or those not familiar, and perhaps not necessarily invested in the culture? What challenges does institutional support pose to a grass roots cultural economy of artistic subversion? What happens to the culture when only a privileged few contribute to its institutionalized historical record? Furthermore, as universities continue to shift their institutional mandates towards service models premised on neo-liberal economics, what does it mean to be (and can one still be), Black/Brown and radical/critical through Hip Hop thinking and research?
Additionally, what can translocal Hip Hop studies contribute to the field, and in what ways can it decenter the American core of concentrated studies? Have deeper political notions of meaning making and epistemological interrogations of state craft vis-a-vis Hip Hop shifted to the global south, or pockets of marginalized communities in the (under) developed (Hip Hop) world?
In this panel, three Hip Hop heads, practitioners and thinkers, with global experience based in the city of Toronto, grapple with a series of questions facing Hip Hop heads in the academy, from an interdisciplinary approach spanning socio-anthropology, education and legal theory.
Doing the Knowledge: Archiving hiphop Beyond the Local
Dr. Mark V. Campbell, RTA School of Media, Faculty of Communication and Design
Despite hip hop’s clear local impacts and some would say hyperlocal foci, examinations of diverse hip hop cultures across Canada provide us with a unique lens to consider the impacts of hip hop cultures beyond their local environments. At stake in thinking about hip hop cultures in a national space, beyond their local environments are moments of critique and convergence that decentre both hyperlocal and nationalistic discourses in instructive ways. Further, archiving hip hop across vast geographic regions in Canada provide meaningful paths for public engagements that trouble dominant discourses that dismiss hip hop as problematic, temporary, marginal or pathological. This paper explores diverse hip hop cultures in Canada that disrupt the homogenity of the national space and when archived (re)present divergent forms of knowledge and praxis for hip hoppers today.
Mark is a former Banting Postdoctoral Fellow in the Fine Arts department at the University of Regina. Mark is a scholar, dj and advocate of the arts. His research interests include; Afrodiasporic theory and culture, Canadian hip-hop cultures, dj cultures, afrosonic innovations and youth community development projects. In 2010 Mark founded the online archive www.northsidehiphop.ca and and launched the T-Dot Pioneers Exhibition Series Trilogy.
Normativity and Legal Narrative in Rhyme Creation: A Legal Pluralist Analysis of Truth and “Law” in Rap Lyrics
Salman Rana, Institute of Comparative Law – Faculty of Law, McGill University
My paper analyzes norms of legal criticism and informal normativity among Hip Hop culture’s constitutive art forms. My presentation at the conference will look specifically at the representation of legal themes in rap music and the underlying norms that emcees follow in writing and rhyming about such themes. The norms produce a regulatory effect which constrain themes of state-law presented in rhymes, ultimately producing informal/unofficial subcultural laws of construction and composition. The artists are jurisgenerative, and through artistic interaction, produce law that sustains an intersubjective cultural narrative. This is a sustaining feature of the culture. What follows I argue, is a traditional narrative deemed to be true, regardless of personal experience. Here, the emcee follows a norm of legal criticism and representation in constructing her or his rhymes. The work is largely informed and draws on theoretical frames of interpretation developed by critical race theory and critical legal pluralism, among others – making my method inspired by the very chaotic bricolage that led to what we now refer to as Hip Hop culture.
Salman Rana (Ylook) is a founding member of the Circle along with Kardinal Offishall, Saukrates, et al. He’s a lawyer currently studying towards his doctorate at the Faculty of Law, McGill University. His research areas are legal theory and philosophy and subcultures.
Former member of the pioneering South African hip-hop group Prophets of Da City, Shaheen Ariefdien is now involved in a number of youth educational projects using hip-hop as a tool for social justice and has facilitated several youth programs in South Africa and abroad.
Saturday Panel 12: Music on the Dance Floor (Professional Faculties Rm. 110)
Mark Butler, moderator
The power in our feet: Dancing as a form of popular music analysis
Robin Attas, Elon University
Music theory has an uneasy power relationship with popular music practitioners. Despite historical criticism for specialist approaches to popular music (e.g. Middleton 2000), even today analysis of popular music remains the purview of experts. With the exception of a few analytical studies (Butler 2006 and 2014, Moorefield 2010), the informed opinions of musicians, songwriters, producers, and fans are excluded from professional discourse on the music in which they are experts.
One root cause of this power imbalance is education: most practitioners do not have the specialized musical training that music theory requires for the expression of analytical intuitions in prose or speech. This paper proposes one way of rectifying the problem, by using listeners’ improvised dances as a form of analytical communication that requires no formal education. I contrast videotaped improvised dances to Mother Mother’s “My Baby Don’t Dance” (a song which participants had never heard before but that uses many typical rock conventions) and Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” (which almost every participant knew well) in order to illuminate and explain what dancing bodies reveal about listeners’ understanding of music-theoretical structure and process. Then, I turn the conversation around and suggest ways that improvised dance can inform techniques and methods in the analysis of popular music. Such an analytical methodology thus returns power and agency to pop music’s practitioners, allowing them to regain their rightful status of musical experts in analysis regardless of formal education or training.
Robin Attas is Assistant Professor of Music and Coordinator of Music Theory at Elon University. Robin’s research interests include pop music meter and form, and music theory pedagogy. Robin oversees an innovative music theory curriculum that integrates analysis of both popular and art music. She received her Ph.D. from the University of British Columbia in 2011.
“You Make Me Feel (Mighty Real):” Cruising the Historical Dance Floor
Craig Jennex, McMaster University
Music participation engenders in us feelings of agency and a sense of closeness with others. In an era marked by widespread dismissal of collective politics, these functions of music become profound. In this paper, I explore contemporary participation in historical disco culture as a way of being outside of normative temporality. I analyze a recent visit to Fire Island and argue that participation in historical disco music enables us access to forms of political agency that were left behind in the wake of ostensible cultural and social progress for queer individuals. Disco, I argue, remains rife with political potential.
Disco’s articulation against progress comes from the way the music sounds and the way it is sounded. The genre’s prioritization of rhythm as the primary musical element (Fikentscher 82) links it with what Rob Bowman—drawing on Cynthia Rose’s work on “repetition” (120) and “circularity” (122) in African-influenced performance—calls the “re-Africanization” of popular music and a shift to “presentness” (261). As my interviews with Occupy the Disco (a queer DJ collective in NYC) elucidate, DJs also embrace presentness by building musical sets in the moment in response to dancers’ reactions.
Significantly, disco’s pastness is complicated each time it is sounded. For queer citizens—linked to notions of “progress” in increasingly conservative ways—returning to this past music offers alternative politics for a stultifying present. Listening closely to disco music reminds us that there continues to be revolutionary potential in bodies meeting—even briefly—on the dance floor.
Craig Jennex is a PhD Candidate in English & Cultural Studies and Gender Studies & Feminist Research at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. His work can be found in Popular Music & Society, GUTS: A Canadian Feminist Magazine, and TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies.
Locating Montreal’s Vulgar Dance Music
David Madden, Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture (ICSLAC), Carleton University (Ottawa, ON)
This paper advances claims about Montreal’s electronic dance music scene through mapping the career of one of the key actors who shaped the electroclash scene from the early 2000s onwards—music producer/DJ Mini (née Evelyne Drouin). By way of detailing the career of DJ Mini, this text attempts to add to the queer musical narratives currently emerging from music scene analyses. Counter to the experiences of many women DJs and musicians participating in heterosexual and male-dominated music scenes, Drouin received extensive mentoring and support from various informal queer social networks spread throughout the circuits of the city. Not only did she gain access to a local production network of equipment and skill sharing, Drouin was also given access to spaces where she was able to develop production skills on her own time and at her own pace. Drouin’s story offers a telling case for the ways in which the politics of access—institutional, social, technological—remain central to the vitality and inclusivity of local music scenes. The second motivation of this article is to challenge certain dominant understandings of electronic dance music by discussing some of the ways in which Montreal operates as a centre of electronic dance music production and consumption, beginning with disco in the 1970s and continuing through the 1980s and 1990s with the development of various local independent music scenes and the emergence of the Gay Village from the early 1980s onwards.
David Madden is a soundmaker and Fonds de Recherche du Québec – Société et Culture (FRQSC) Postdoctoral Fellow in Music and Sound Studies at the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture, Carleton University. He conducts research/creation in the areas of sound, electronic/popular music, media and gender, ageing studies, and mobilities. Currently he is undertaking a feminist micro history of the Ondes Martenot entitled, Les ondistes du Québec : une histoire des ondes Martenot par ses interprètes. Madden also collaborates with the Mobile Media Lab as an Associate Researcher and Ageing + Communication + Technologies at Concordia University, and with TSN 690 (The Sports Network) as an on-air contributor for the program, Game Night Montreal.
Saturday 7:30 p.m.
Conversation and Performance: Rae Spoon (MacEwen Hall 104A)
Shana Goldin-Pershbacher, Craig Jennex, Rae Spoon
NOW Toronto recently named Calgary native Rae Spoon “one of the most important voices in Canadian music.” This session will be a conversation and a performance — an interview with Spoon by Shana Goldin-Perschbacher and Craig Jennex, two scholars who have published on Spoon’s music, with opportunities for audience Q&A, and a performance by Spoon.
Doors open at 7:30 – Cash bar and finger food
Conversation begins at 8:00 pm, followed by performance.
Shana Goldin-Perschbacher is an assistant professor of music history at Temple University where she teaches popular music and feminist, queer, and transgender studies. Her essay, “TransAmericana: Gender, Genre, and Journey,” an ethnographic and analytical exploration of Spoon and other transgender and queerly gendered folk and country musicians and their work, was published in New Literary History in 2015 and is also the subject of her current book project.
Craig Jennex is a PhD candidate in English & Cultural Studies and Gender Studies & Feminist Research at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. His research explores queer time and temporality in contemporary music performance and encourages a minoritarian practice of “listening backwards:” a strategy through which individuals marked by negation can hear plurality and possibility in a culture increasingly marred by individualism. He is the coordinator of the music collections at the Canadian Lesbian & Gay Archives. His essay “Resoundingly Queer: Cover Song as Collective Return,” on Rae Spoon, Vivek Shraya, and Fluffy Soufflé’s cover of “Insensitive” is forthcoming in TOPIA: Canadian Journal of Cultural Studies.
Calgary’s Rae Spoon is a songwriter, film score composer, music producer, multi-instrumentalist and published author. Rae started out making folk music, and later added indie-rock, experimental and electronic elements to their sound. The result is strong songwriting with unique instrumentation. They have toured extensively in Canada, the USA, Europe and Australia. Rae has been nominated for the Polaris Music Prize in both 2009 and 2014, as well as for the CBC Radio 3 Bucky Awards. They won the Galaxy Rising Star Award in 2004.
Rae is the subject of the National Film Board musical-documentary My Prairie Home, with their 2013 album of the same name serving as the score and soundtrack to the film. Directed by Chelsea McMullan, this documentary about growing up and surviving in an evangelical Christian family premiered at the Vancouver International Film Festival and was released theatrically in Canada in 2014. The film was an official selection for Sundance 2014, won Best Documentary from the Vancouver Critics Circle and was nominated for a Canadian Screen Award for Best Feature Documentary.
Rae’s first book, First Spring Grass Fire, was published by Arsenal Pulp Press in September 2012. The book was a finalist for a Lambda Award in the Transgender Fiction category and was shortlisted for an Expozine Alternative Press Award. In the spring of 2014, Rae was awarded an Honour of Distinction by the Dayne Ogilvie Prize, presented by the Writers’ Trust of Canada. Rae’s second book, co-written with Ivan E. Coyote and titled Gender Failure, was published in April 2014. Their solo eighth album, Armour, was released in 2016.
Sunday, May 29
Sunday Session 1: 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Sunday Panel 1: Remembering the 1960s (Murray Fraser Hall Rm. 160)
Jake Johnson, moderator
Come and See the Show: Writing the Life of the Concert Promoter
Steve Waksman, Smith College
Live music remains a largely unstudied and neglected area of the music industry within popular music studies. Building on the important recent work of Simon Frith, Matt Brennan, Martin Cloonan and Emma Webster on the history of the British live music industry, this paper explores the figure of the concert promoter, and the business of concert promotion, as a fundamental but too often overlooked facet of the American music industry in the late 20th century. Specifically, I will examine a small but significant body of recent memoirs by concert promoters and offer a close, comparative reading of their contents, seeking to address a primary question: What does the narration of the life of the promoter have to tell us about the growth of the concert industry from the late 1950s and early 1960s forward? The texts to be consulted include works by Denver promoter Barry Fey, Pittsburgh promoter Pat DiCesare, Seattle promoter Pat O’Day, New York promoter Howard Stein, San Francisco promoter Bill Graham, and Los Angeles/New York promoter Jerry Weintraub. One of the crucial developments outlined by these various narratives is that of the evolution of the concert industry in these years from a regionally based business to a more fully nationalized corporate economy. Meanwhile, the fact that all these books are written by white male promoters suggests something integral about the concert business as well. These memoirs all tell the story of concert promotion as the story of a distinct form of white male engagement with competitive capitalist enterprise, putting them in a longer tradition of show business autobiography that can be traced back to P.T. Barnum’s landmark book, Struggles and Triumphs (1869).
Steve Waksman is Professor of Music and American Studies at Smith College. He is the author of Instruments of Desire: The Electric Guitar and the Shaping of Musical Experience and This Ain’t the Summer of Love: Conflict and Crossover in Heavy Metal and Punk. With Reebee Garofalo, he co-authored the sixth edition of Rockin’ Out: Popular Music in the U.S.A., and with Andy Bennett, he co-edited the Sage Handbook of Popular Music. He is currently working on a new book tentatively titled, “Live Music in America: A History, 1850 to 2000.”
Ending the James Jamerson / Carol Kaye Controversy
Brian F. Wright, Fairmont State University
Contrary to the popular myth of James Jamerson as Motown’s lone bass genius, session bassist Carol Kaye claims to have played on such well-known songs as “Stop! In the Name of Love,” “I Can’t Help Myself,” “Get Ready,” “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough,” “I Was Made to Love Her,” and more. Motown historians and critics fiercely dispute these claims, suggesting either that she played solely on re-recorded versions (never on any hits) or that she is simply lying altogether.
In this paper, I discuss the agency of narration in Motown historiography. Drawing upon never-before-seen session contracts, I document that Kaye played on over 160 songs for Motown, including at least five major hit singles. While these contracts demonstrate that Kaye’s place in Motown history is larger than her critics would have us believe, they also reveal the complications of many of Kaye’s claims. This paper thus grapples with the gray area between truth and mythology, exploring who gets to invent Motown history, why, and for what purposes. Building on the work of Allan Slutsky and Andrew Flory, I examine the mythology built up around James Jamerson and the consequences of that mythology on conflicting historical narratives. This paper ultimately attempts to not only settle the Jamerson/Kaye debate, but also to raise larger issues concerning the efficacy of myth-making in popular music.
Brian F. Wright is a Ph.D. student at Case Western Reserve University and is currently Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Fairmont State University. His research focuses on the cultural history of the electric bass from 1951-1976, exploring issues such as social stigma, amateur music-making, and popular music historiography.
“She Needs Me”: Marvin Gaye, Crooning, and Vocal Agency at Motown
Andrew Flory, Carleton College
When Marvin Gaye came to Detroit in late 1960 he wanted to be a balladeer. Seeking to continue the legacy of African-American “album artists” of the late 1950s, Gaye released four albums of standards between 1961 and 1965 and split his performances between chitlin’ circuit theaters and middle-class supper clubs. Although Gaye stopped releasing middle-of-the-road material after the mid-1960s, in the private realm of the recording studio he continued to work on ballads, focusing mostly on a set of standards arranged by Bobby Scott in 1966. He rerecorded his performances over these tracks countless times during the next decade, using his voice to recast and recompose the songs’ melodies and lyrics in numerous ways. This paper will follow the history of Gaye’s work with one of these songs, Arthur Hamilton’s “She Needs Me,” over a thirteen-year gestation, from its first recording session in 1966 to Gaye’s final work on the track in 1979. Extending Mark Burford’s work on Sam Cooke as “album artist” in the late 1950s and Keir Keightley’s writings about the “middlebrow” shift in the pop market during the mid-1960s, I will discuss Gaye’s method of “vocal composition” through two critical lenses: as a form of agency over the creative process at Motown after the decline of MOR pop, and as evidence of technological empowerment, which allowed Gaye to use improvisation, re-composition, and amalgamation to forge a forward-looking style of vocal-oriented writing and arranging that would come to fruition in R&B during the 1980s and 1990s.
Andrew Flory is assistant professor of music at Carleton College. His book I Hear A Symphony: Motown and Crossover R&B is forthcoming from the University of Michigan press. He is currently producing a boxed set of Marvin Gaye’s ballads material for Universal Music.
Nostalgia as Rebellion in the Kinks’ Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire)
Kathryn Cox, University of Michigan
The Kinks hold a reputation as a cult favorite band of the British Invasion who spent much of their career being charmingly displaced from time, particularly through their musical explorations of nostalgia. The Kinks’ second concept album, Arthur (Or the Decline and Fall of the British Empire) (1969) exudes nostalgia. After the first three quarters of the album take the listener through the course of aged protagonist Arthur’s memories of British life—spanning two world wars and the postwar era—the final quarter wallows in the stark contrast to reality that the process of engaging with nostalgic memory brings with it. The Kinks not only employ nostalgia as a means of evoking memories of an idealized past, but also come to understand nostalgia as a reflective process that serves to highlight the pitfalls of living in the past.
The Kinks wield nostalgia as a means of cultural criticism in order to challenge their national history and rebel against the middle-class confines of the postwar dream. By using theories on critical nostalgia from musicologist Lawrence Kramer, and by comparing Arthur to contemporary British satirical television, this presentation demonstrates how the Kinks incorporated the comedic tool of juxtaposition to challenge the contemporary British nostalgia for a mythologized war experience. The continual musical juxtaposition of sincerity with irony brings into relief the problem with relying on nostalgia as a source of pride: It is ultimately an exercise in personal historical fantasy.
Kathryn B. Cox is a doctoral candidate in musicology at the University of Michigan. Her dissertation, entitled “‘What Happened to the Post-War Dream?’: Nostalgia, Trauma, and Affect in 1960s and 1970s British Rock,” focuses on memory and identity in works by the Beatles, the Kinks, the Who, and Pink Floyd.
Sunday Panel 2: Dimensions of Jazz (Professional Faculties Rm. 110)
Swingin’ in the Ol’ Corral: Jazz meets Country Music
Alan Stanbridge, University of Toronto
On the evidence of the last couple of decades, one might be tempted to assume that jazz and country music had enjoyed a long and fruitful relationship: Bill Frisell’s collaborations with dobro player Jerry Douglas; the ‘country-jazz’ vocal stylings of Norah Jones; and the recordings featuring respective genre icons Wynton Marsalis and Willie Nelson. But such an assumption would simply ignore the fact that, throughout the 20th Century, meetings between jazz and country music were the exception rather than the rule. The spirit is captured in the liner notes to Sonny Rollins’s 1957 recording, Way Out West – the archetype for jazz meets country experiments – in which producer Lester Koenig can’t help but characterize Rollins’s repertoire choices of ‘I’m an Old Cowhand’ and ‘Wagon Wheels’ as “unlikely material.”
Jazz and country music are often hailed as two of America’s uniquely indigenous musical forms, and although the history of American popular music is one of cross-fertilization and hybridity, the claiming of jazz, by a few misguided observers, as “America’s classical music” perhaps indicates some of the reasons for the absence of any sustained interaction between the genres – as Richard Peterson has observed, the institutional trajectories of jazz and country music have been markedly different, with jazz adopting the mantle of ‘art’ while country has remained a resolutely ‘commercial’ music. Despite these tensions, in this paper I explore several examples that hint at the potentially productive relationship between these otherwise quite distinct musical styles, including work by Dave Pell (from whom I filched my title), Gary McFarland, Tin Hat, and Joel Harrison. These somewhat isolated examples suggest musical paths that, notwithstanding the more high-profile collaborations highlighted above, remain largely unexplored.
Alan Stanbridge is an Associate Professor in the Department of Arts, Culture and Media and the Master of Museum Studies Program at the University of Toronto. He has published numerous articles and book chapters on popular music and jazz history. Stanbridge previously pursued a 15-year career in arts management in the UK.
“The Black Blower of the Now:” Coltrane, King, and Crossing Rhetorical Borders
Barry Long, Bucknell University
When Martin Luther King, Jr. described the “fierce urgency of now” at 1963’s March on Washington, he at once drew upon a shared cultural memory and social consciousness. In a manner as much musical as rhetorical, Dr. King explicated his theme through a series of calls and responses on the riff, “now is the time.” When poet and activist Amiri Baraka cited John Coltrane as the “black blower of the now” in his 1979 poem “AM/TRAK,” he asserted the saxophonist’s contemporary cultural weight more than a decade after his passing. In ways similar to improvised performance, each example leverages the vitality and relevance of a forward-looking emphasis on “the now” against the blurred borders of jazz and spoken word.
Coltrane’s recording of “Alabama” less than three months after King’s legendary speech marked a seminal confluence of journalism, rhetoric, and improvisation. Described as “an accurate psychological portrait of a time,” the performance memorializes the tragic bombing at Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church through Coltrane’s incorporation of King’s famous eulogy for the young girls murdered by the blast. Similarities in their spoken cadences and melodic phrase lengths recall activist marriages of music and text dating back to the coded meanings of spirituals, yet the instrumental nature of the performance and the written word’s initial non-musical utility mark a significant departure. This paper will explore John Coltrane’s pivotal if involuntary role in shaping this changed dynamic in black activism and in particular his incorporation of text as both inspiration and musical device.
Barry Long is an Associate Professor of Music at Bucknell University where he currently directs the jazz ensemble and teaches coursework in jazz history, theory, and cultural studies. A recent fellow at Harvard’s DuBois Institute, Long’s research activities include publications for Oxford, Prentice Hall, and the University of Florida Press.
“Ain’t No City Like the One I’m From”: Second Lining and the Politics of Rhythm in Post-Katrina New Orleans
Benjamin Doleac, University of California, Los Angeles
A rich synthesis of the rhythms of European-style brass bands, Afro-Caribbean festival culture, and the black church, the beat of the New Orleans brass band parade known as the second line is arguably the wellspring of 20th century American music, from jazz to funk, rhythm and blues and beyond. Even as that beat continues to reverberate around the world, the black neighborhoods that provide its sustenance face grave challenges. Ten year after Hurricane Katrina tore up the economic and cultural fabric of New Orleans, these largely poor communities are plagued on one side by underfunded schools and internecine violence, and on the other by the rising tide of post-disaster gentrification and the covert redlining of neoliberal urban policy. At the same time, second lines are attracting broader crowds and greater media attention than ever before, with film crews, journalists, smartphone videographers and scholars (including this author) descending on the parade in droves every Sunday. Drawing from two and a half years of field and archival research and over thirty interviews with musicians, dancers, and educators, I explore herein how the key players in New Orleans second line culture utilize the parade and its rhythms to negotiate these contradictions, to historicize and reclaim neighborhood space, and ultimately to forge an expressive counter-narrative of resistance and pride against the threat of cultural erasure.
Ben Doleac holds a master’s degree in music from the University of Alberta and is currently a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He plans to complete his dissertation on second line rhythms, local tradition and cultural identity in New Orleans in 2016.
Sunday Panel 3: Pedagogies of Popular Music (Professional Faculties Rm. 114)
Alexa Woloshyn, moderator
“Good Music” and CKUA’s Cultural Network: Tracing an Educational Mandate in Music Programming
Brian Fauteux, University of Alberta
The first public broadcaster in Canada began as an educational radio station broadcasting from the University of Alberta (1927). A provincial grant enabled the University’s Extension Department to purchase a radio licence that would become CKUA. The station’s goal was to bring the University to rural communities. Over its long history the station would be owned by different entities, including the Canadian National Railway and Alberta Government Telephones, but certain elements have remained consistent: a commitment to programming local music and a contribution towards building a community of listeners.
This paper explores the significance of the station’s educational mandate in shaping its ongoing approach to programming popular music. A key aspect of this paper concerns the station’s need to refocus and legitimize its educational programming upon a licence renewal in 1974. At this time, it would use the “Foreground Format” for its music programming to distinguish itself from commercial AM format radio. The Foreground Format might include a lengthy exploration of a particular genre or it might feature a number of recordings by a certain musical group or a single composer. Such programming strategies challenge the consolidation and centralization of the radio industries by considering both radio and popular music to be a means of community building. Through the use of archival materials, this paper suggests that CKUA’s music programming complicates the strict divide between educational and entertainment programming, and reflects the station’s long history as an educational broadcaster.
Brian Fauteux is Assistant Professor of Popular Music and Media Studies at the University of Alberta. His recent book, Music in Range: The Culture of Canadian Campus Radio (WLU Press, 2015), explores the history of Canadian campus radio, highlighting the factors that have shaped its close relationship with local music.
Proud To Speak, Proud to Rap: Hip Hop Music and Language Learning Contexts
Liz Przybylski, University of California, Riverside
In minority cultural contexts, popular musicians and educators are experimenting with popular music as a tool for language learning and community empowerment. As rappers increasingly produce bilingual rap in majority and minority languages, teachers are contemporaneously incorporating this music into formal curricula. Notably in areas of the U.S. and Canada where French and Anishinaabemowin are spoken by linguistic and cultural minority communities, Anishinaabeg and Métis hip hop artists, including Tall Paul, employ Anishinaabemowin (Ojibwe) and French in their songs. Through text and other musical elements, rappers use their musical agency to teach lessons in language and culture to students of Métis, Anishinaabeg, and non-Indigenous heritage. This presentation analyzes the possibilities and challenges encountered in this kind of musical language learning, focusing particularly on Manitoba and Minnesota.
Extending the work of Teresa McCarty on language learning and decolonization, I suggest that hip hop not only provides opportunities for language mastery, but also for spreading cultural knowledge and expanding the contexts of use for minority languages. Drawing from interviews with musicians and teachers alongside an analysis of bilingual rap, the presentation outlines the kinds of lessons teachers design and evaluates learning objectives for students of French and Anishinaabemowin. Learning to be heard in majority Anglophone settings, students develop their individual abilities to sing, rap, and speak with pride. As teachers and musicians explore possibilities in text-rich hip hop, a careful analysis of strategies and pitfalls offers insight into popular music’s ongoing role in cultural change and community-based resurgence of minority languages.
Dr. Liz Przybylski is a hip hop scholar whose work investigates sampling heritage music in Indigenous hip hop and analyzes how the circulation of this music contributes to continuing dialogues about urban cultural change. Recent and forthcoming publications focus on both popular music pedagogy and hip hop, particularly in Canada.
Punk Pedagogies, Activistic Education, and Community Outreach in Los Angeles
Jessica Schwartz, University of California, Los Angeles
The convergences of punk subculture, of which music and musical performance are central components, with social justice movements have been well documented by its participants, media, and academic literature. Punks’ dynamic vernacular musical literacies and pedagogies are useful to understand the more frequently attended to broader systemic issues to which punks often respond. However, punk music and its potential for students to develop critical socio-cultural perspectives articulated to aural-analytic skills are under examined. This paper presents two contemporary case studies from Los Angeles, California that illustrate innovative ways in which the musical, ideological, and organizational aspects central to punk subculture are being utilized in cooperative, collaborative learning spaces within the sprawling city. Drawing from popular music education scholarship, it aims to unpack the function of “punk” in academic discourse, activistic education, and community outreach.
The first case focuses on the development of the “Engaging Punk” digital education platform at UCLA in conjunction with the university’s larger goals of advancing digital humanities, arts education, and service learning. The second case study surveys the summer rock camp for girls, Chicas Rockeras, in South East Los Angeles within the context of a region marked by environmental racism, class discrimination, and gendered violence. I describe both projects and then, through comparative analysis, explain the unique ways in which punk is employed to help students achieve sociopolitical awareness through learning musicianship. Using participant observation, I discuss the method, design, content, learning outcomes and objectives as well as anticipated stakes of the projects beyond the immediate classroom.
Jessica A. Schwartz explores sonic histories of creative dissent and has published on music, gender, politics, and diaspora. Her book, Radiation Sounds: Marshallese Music and Nuclear Silences, details Marshallese musical responses to U.S. nuclear weapons testing. She is also working on Engaging Punk, a multimodal educational project on punk in global perspective.
Towards a ‘Global Folk’ Drumming Pedagogy? Lessons from Scandinavia
Daniel Akira Stadnicki, University of Alberta
This paper explores the innovative drumming and percussion techniques found in Nordic ‘global folk’ music (Hill, 2007), emphasizing some of the pedagogical questions, issues, and opportunities that emerged in this research. Concentrating primarily on fiddle-based Swedish folk music and the work of drummer Petter Berndalen, this presentation expands upon some of the key features of Nordic folk drumming as potential resources for contemporary drum kit performance and instruction. These include: timbre as a vital component for collaboration in acoustic music settings; the development of the ‘Tollin’ tambourine; and one-on-one, ‘cross-domain’ lessons between drummers and non-drummers. This presentation will incorporate stylistic analyses, interviews with Swedish and Norwegian folk drummers and post-secondary folk music educators, and reflections on my own performance-practice (including brief demonstrations).
Drummers are often musical outliers in many established folk traditions, and drumming—particularly in trap/kit configurations—remains an overlooked topic in folk/roots music scholarship. However, Nordic drummers have crafted unique ways of accompanying folk musicians, generating a new percussive tradition. Two key factors can be attributed to this development: 1) sustaining the distinct ‘melodic texture’ (Kaminsky, 2012; 2014) of Nordic folk music, found in the rhythm of the Swedish polska, or Norwegian Hardanger fiddle repertoire (Goertzen, 1997); and 2) the unique culture of the Scandinavian post-secondary music system (jazz, popular music, and global folk) [Hill, 2007; 2009a; 2009b; and Kaminsky, 2012]. Through highlighting the work of Nordic folk drummers, this paper will contribute new research on folk musicianship, music pedagogy, and the ‘global folk’ advantage for career drummers.
Daniel Akira Stadnicki is a drummer, PhD Candidate in Ethnomusicology (University of Alberta), and Popular/World Music Instructor. His dissertation research, supported by a Vanier Canada Graduate Scholarship, will examine Iranian-Baha’i musicianship in the Canadian diaspora.
Sunday Session 2: 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Sunday Panel 4: “Pitched Battles: Media, Music and War” (Professional Faculties Rm. 114)
10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Felicia Miyakawa, moderator
Panel: Over the past century we have witnessed a shift from periodic large-scale world wars to a stream of conflicts that now position us in perpetual warfare (Shaw, 1996). Mass media outlets, once unidirectional feeds, also have been replaced by an “ambient environment” marked by widespread production and consumption (Hoskins, Richards and Seib, 2008). This panel explores how new media are used by three distinct groups to particular ends: by deployed Canadian soldiers entering into combat; by an American veteran producing music for military personnel and their supporters; and by ISIS for their propaganda videos. While the groups’ choice of musical genres differ, music is commonly exploited to shape not only how we experience war, but how we remember past battles and anticipate future conflicts.
Tracking the Enemy: Music/Sound, Hollywood, and ISIS Propaganda
James Deaville, Carleton University
On September 16, 2014, ISIS released what media sources have called a “Hollywood-style trailer” under the title Flames of War, produced by al-Hayat Media Centre, the organization’s English-language propaganda arm. The Guardian identified its high-production hallmarks: “super-slow motion footage of jihadis in combat, jump-cutting, and CGI explosions” (Weaver 2014). Weaver (like other commentators) overlooked the crucial roles of sound effects and music, which provide the background (the ISIS musical theme) and rhythm for the images. Three days later ISIS released a 55-minute documentary-style video entitled Flames of War: Fighting Has Just Begun.
The Western press indiscriminately described both trailer and documentary as “Hollywood style” and “slick,” and the visual editing of both does use the sophisticated techniques identified by Weaver. However, the soundtracks tell a different story about narrative purposes and target audiences. The trailer exploits sound practices associated with contemporary action/adventure trailers (Deaville/Malkinson 2014), here intended to frighten a Western audience: heightened sounds of warfare in dense concentration, music and dialogue as pacing for violent image montages, and even the absence of narration’s reassuring authority. In contrast, the documentary’s history of the movement relies upon sound techniques common to ISIS recruiting videos, including ongoing voice-over narration, a series of inspirational nasheeds, and the repetition of key chants (Pieslak 2009: 58-77), thereby aiming at a (young male) Islamic audience. Here is another case where the Western media urgently need to consider music and sound in assessing content and recipients of propaganda messages from terrorist groups: lives may depend on it.
James Deaville (School for Studies in Art & Culture: Music, Carleton University) has contributed to JAMS and JSAM, has published in books by Oxford, Cambridge, and Routledge, and has edited Music in Television: Channels of Listening (2011). He is currently co-editing the collection Music and the Broadcast Experience with Christina Baade for Oxford.
“Like a Superhero in Musician Form”: The Soldier Hard Phenomenon
Lisa Gilman, University of Oregon
In the aftermath of war, combat veterans face multiple physical, social, and emotional challenges. Away from their tight-knit combat units where members shared work, leisure, play, and trauma, they are often isolated and surrounded by people who have little comprehension of their war experience or understanding of their needs. As has been widely reported, resources to help war veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan for the United States military transition to civilian life have been largely inadequate. Using what is readily available to them, many have capitalized on music making and listening to process conflicting thoughts, manage emotions, and memorialize events and losses (Pieslak 2009, Pegley 2015). For U.S. Army veteran Jeff Barillaro, a.k.a. Soldier Hard, producing music while in Iraq was critical to his emotional survival. Struggling with post-traumatic-stress and isolation after returning home, Soldier Hard, along with a virtual community of veteran musicians called Redcon-1, made it his mission to help combat veterans and their families cope with their struggles. Soldier Hard produces music that explicitly addresses war, trauma, and suicide; and he is the driving force behind a very active social media site that brings together thousands of veterans and family members. This virtual network is explicitly about music, though it serves a much deeper role by providing fellowship, the safety of anonymity, and a space for combat veterans to share, be heard, and gain support from others who understand.
Lisa Gilman, Associate Professor of Folklore and English at the University of Oregon, authored The Dance of Politics: Performance, Gender, and Democratization in Malawi (2009) and My Music, My War: The Listening Habits of U.S. Troops in Iraq and Afghanistan (2016). She produced the documentary Grounds for Resistance: Stories of War, Sacrifice, and Good Coffee.
Soundscape of a Tank
Kip Pegley, Queen’s University
From video games to documentaries to recruitment videos, the music used to represent contemporary American military personnel—in particular, rap and metal–usually depicts them as aggressive warriors. Fortunately, recent scholarship based on ethnographies of actual soldiers (Gilman, 2010 and forthcoming) refutes this characterization and illustrates that the soldiers’ musical practices are in fact much more complex. But what about within the Canadian context? Since 2013 I have interviewed several dozen Canadian veterans who served in Afghanistan, and asked them about their relationship with music. How did they use it to prepare for combat? Help calm their nerves? Improve their focus? Soldiers provided many compelling stories, but one of the most revealing narratives revolved around the soundscape of a single “tank” (called a LAV or “light armored vehicle”) used in Afghanistan in 2008. This LAV transported a unit of ten artillery soldiers in several compartments, which allowed for at least two to three simultaneous musical playlists—including pop, gospel, and rock music–as the soldiers crossed dangerous terrain. In this paper I explore this tank’s soundtracks and how the music served different psychological functions. Between the thickness of the LAV walls and the use of headsets, soldiers often were not even aware of their colleagues’ music, or, by extension, their varying emotional states. While on the outside the tank’s sounds included loud rumbles and mechanical whining, on the inside, carefully-selected music was altering the soldiers’ states and, indeed, often unknowingly, shaping their futures.
Kip Pegley is an associate professor in the School of Drama and Music, Queen’s University. She is the author of Coming to You Wherever You Are: MuchMusic, MTV and Youth Identities (Wesleyan, 2008) and co-editor of Music, Politics and Violence (Wesleyan University Press, 2012).
Sunday Panel 5: Producing Pop (Professional Faculties Rm. 110)
10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Steve Waksman, moderator
Bain Capital Records: Private Equity and Venture Capital in the Music Industry
Andrew deWaard, University of California, Los Angeles
The story of how the recording industry experienced a dramatic decrease in revenues at the turn of the millennium due to ‘piracy’ ─ followed by the rise of digital music marketplaces and new streaming technologies ─ is a well-worn narrative that retains currency to this day. Less remarked upon elements of that narrative are the extenuating factors that contributed to that transformative period, as well as the current reality of that supposed story of early digital ‘disruption’: a new era of consolidation has arrived. As this paper will argue, the corporate oligopoly of Universal Music Group, Sony BMG Music Entertainment, and Warner Music Group is now reinforced by private equity firms, such as Bain Capital’s radio empire and temporary operation of Warner Music Group, as well as Terra Firma’s disastrous mismanagement of EMI. In conjunction with this entrance of private equity, the traditional big three labels have enacted strategies of financialization, monopolistically leveraging their back-catalogs for equity stakes in streaming music companies (Spotify, Soundcloud, Vevo, etc), banking on another massive payday like the $400 million that UMG earned from the sale of Beats to Apple. Finding great success in this investment-based strategy that requires no sharing of royalties with its artists, the big three labels now operate their own venture capital funds that aim to directly profit from Silicon Valley’s ‘irrational exuberance.’ Premised upon massive debt, short-term interests, and profit extraction, this new era of financialization and consolidation represents a dangerous transformation for an already unstable music industry. “Who Runs the (Music) World?” asks a subtheme of IASPM 2016. This paper suggests an unlikely answer: hedge fund managers and private equity firms.
Andrew deWaard is a PhD candidate at UCLA. He is the co-author of The Cinema of Steven Soderbergh (Columbia University Press, 2013) and his work has appeared in Fight the Power: The Spike Lee Reader, Habitus of the ’Hood, and The Philosophy of Steven Soderbergh, as well as Oxford Bibliographies, Cinephile and IASPM@Journal.
The Red-Bulling of the Music Industry: Co-Branding, Corporate Sponsorship, and Shifts in Musical Agency in Brazil
Kariann Goldschmitt, Wellesley College
In the post-CD musical economy, musicians and record labels contend with the increasing prominence of corporate branding and sponsorship for their financial survival. This presentation shows how the consequences of the changing music industries have transformed the independent music infrastructure in Brazil to a so-called “loss leader” that drives business for cosmetics, energy beverages, and alcohol. Like many countries, Brazil has a long history of corporate sponsorship by banks and energy firms for cultural events and media; however, in recent years, the most innovative new players are shifting their role from that of patronage to more direct roles in recording and production. Through the examples of Red Bull Studios in São Paulo and Natura Musical, a record label from the Brazilian cosmetics firm, I argue that the heightened power of these corporate players in the independent music sector relies on the increasingly precarious nature of musical labor. As a result, musicians often agree to conditions that decrease their agency, including limited ownership of master recordings and free speech. Based on an ethnography of the independent Brazilian music industry as well as recent writing on musical entrepreneurship and creative labor (Stahl; Hesmondhalgh and Baker), I explore how the changing conditions of musical production force musicians into deals that decrease their rights over the long term. By investigating the effects of new corporate players filling the vacuum left by shifting public support for musical production, we can consider the long-term effects of this new economic model on musical creativity.
Kariann Goldschmitt holds a PhD in musicology from UCLA and is an Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology at Wellesley College. She previous held teaching and research appointments at the University of Cambridge, New College of Florida, and Colby College. Her research focuses on Brazilian popular music and the global media industries.
“Renegades”: Automotive Branding and Influence in Recent Popular Music
Ken McLeod, University of Toronto
At least since “In My Merry Oldsmobile” (1905) popular music has been intimately connected with automotive branding. More recently artists have actively promoted automotive products, for instance Sting’s “Desert Rose” Jaguar commercial (1999) or Celine Dion’s “Drove All Night” Chrysler affiliation (2003). Though the use of mainstream artists may be unsurprising, the presence of non-commercial/indie groups in car advertising is increasingly prevalent. X Ambassador’s hit “Renegades” (2015), for example, was written as a conscious commercial tie-in with Jeep’s 2015 Renegade ad campaign. The band appears in the ads, cross-promoting the shared ‘Renegade’ values of the car, the company, the band, and their common audiences. Scion and Volkswagen have adopted similar relationships with Slash and John Mayer, among others.
Such cases highlight the increasing corporate co-option of critical and aesthetic approaches of musicians concerned with inverting power relationships and promoting populist political empowerment. Brands attempt to convince consumers that they have attributes of an ideal culture by emphasizing inclusivity, empowerment, and liberation. Simultaneously, alternative musical culture becomes a more valuable resource for the corporate accumulation of capital and increasingly conforms to the logic of commercial branding. Alternative musical culture’s very resistance to corporate branding—the cynicism and suspicion of corporate values—often becomes the very source of capital value. Employing examples from Jeep, Scion and Volkswagen and engaging theoretical perspectives from Pierre Bourdieu, Tia DeNora, and Timothy Taylor, among others, this paper posits that automotive branding increasingly co-opts alternative musical values and actively influences the content of recent popular music.
Ken McLeod is an Associate Professor of Music History at the University of Toronto. He publishes widely on identity politics in popular music including issues surrounding sports and health, gender, technology, hip hop, and popular appropriations of classical music. He is currently researching issues involving music and sound in automotive culture.
Sunday Forum: 12:15-1:15 p.m.
Forum: RILM and Popular Music (Murray Fraser Hall Rm. 160)
At the 2015 meeting of IASPM-US, RILM’s popular music area editor (RILM stands for Répertoire International de Littérature Musicale) polled attendees on non-traditional sources they find useful for research. A list of 20 websites/blogs/etc. was compiled by IASPM members. During the past year we have used this list to expand RILM’s coverage of writing on popular music. In addition, we initiated a new project in collaboration Arthur Fournier—one of the top fanzine collectors and dealers in the country—to add historically-significant popular music fanzines to our database. With the growing number of fanzine collections housed at academic institutions—Cornell, Duke, Barnard, University of Texas, University of Iowa, and so on—there is need for a database to collectively search this material. Given the ever-expanding coverage of popular music in academic literature, both in proliferating music journals and journals in other disciplines, and given the chaotic layout of the music information superhighway, it’s more crucial than ever to have an effective portal for discovering and filtering these resources. RILM seeks to fill this role as the most thorough and efficient portal for popular music scholars. This forum will be held to establish dialogue with IASPM members. We will discuss how best to select, catalogue, and share information on the growing range of traditional and non-traditional print and digitized sources available to the popular music researcher.
Sunday Session 3: 1:30-3:30 p.m.
Sunday Panel 6: Sound Opens Up: Gender, Race, and Sonic Agency in Hip Hop (Professional Faculties Rm. 114)
Kellie Hay, moderator
Panel: This panel considers black women’s gendered, racialized agency in hip hop. Alexander Weheliye and Gwendolyn Pough challenge us to de-center agency in our analyses of sound and popular music because the concept is intentionally not attuned to black feminist sonic practices. Listening for “agency” misses what’s actually going on, sonically, in black women’s pop performances. Studying Azaelia Banks, Beyoncé, Janet Jackson, Jean Grae, and Nicki Minaj, these three papers listen to black women rappers’ and singers’ musical performances to identify strategies of aesthetic and political action that run counter to popular discourses of agency. What do these strategies sound like? How do we even hear them?
Leaning into the Red: Black Feminist Responses to Post-Feminist Pop
Robin James, UNC Charlotte
In 2015, popular post-feminism evaluates women on the degree of agency they demonstrate. I consider three ways black women pop stars use sonic materiality to negotiate white popular post-feminism’s demands that women demonstrate agency and overcome the negative effects of misogyny. First I discuss how Nicki Minaj’s “Anaconda” and Beyoncé’s “Drunk In Love” use sonic materiality to critically address post-feminism’s demand for agency (the new respectability!) in sexual and aesthetic pleasure. In these songs, they make non-verbal sounds to experience bodily pleasure outside the confines of traditional genital sexuality. Second, I argue that Rihanna’s BBHMM uses music and diegetic sound to push dominant gender scripts and concepts of gendered agency into the red. Because Rih’s character butchers white patriarchal privilege rather than leaning into it, her performance is not legible as post-feminist agency. This rejection of the linear pre→ post overcoming narrative is audible both in the video’s diagetic sound, which scrambles the video’s beginning and ending scenes, and in the song’s use of rhythmic and metric tension. Finally, I argue that Janet Jackson’s “Unbreakable” reworks what the sonic markers of post-feminist resilience so that the “unbreakability” the lyrics discuss is something different than resilient post-feminist agency.
Robin James is associate professor of Philosophy and Women & Gender Studies at UNC Charlotte. She’s the author of Resilience & Melancholy: pop music, feminism, neoliberalism (Zero 2015), and has published in venues such as JPMS, Noisey, and The New Inquiry. She’ll be a regular contributor to Sounding Out! in 2016. Robin can’t decide if Stuart Price or Paula Temple is the bigger musical genius.
Sounding Out! A Blog About Sound Studies (email@example.com): Jean Grae’s Sonic Claims Onto the City
Liana Silva, Women In Higher Education; Sounding Out!
Although hip hop has been widely known as an “urban” genre, rapping about city spaces (hoods, streets, highways) often sounds like it comes from male rappers. Songs like Jay-Z’s “Empire State of Mind,” Mos Def’s “Brooklyn,” or Common’s “Southside,” for example, point to the prominence of men laying claim to cities in hip hop music. However, in my presentation I want to consider what role gender plays in the relationship of hip hop artists to the cities they shout out.
As a case study, I listen to Brooklyn, NY rapper Jean Grae’s catalog, which spans twenty years, and consider how she represents New York City in her music. In hip hop, cities are often represented as masculine–what with the number of male rappers dropping stories about how things go down on the street–and Jean Grae complicates that representation in her music. For instance, in Talib Kweli’s remix of Busta Rhymes’ “New York Shit,” she opens a door to thinking about female rappers and urban space. From this song, I move into other tracks of her catalog (she continues to produce music and release it independently on her Bandcamp page), and track how her relationship to New York City has changed over the years. Ultimately, I consider: does hip-hop provide a sonic language and context for female rappers to claim cities as homespaces?
Liana Silva is a writer, editor, and independent scholar. She is Editor in Chief of Women in Higher Education and Managing Editor of Sounding Out!. She is also a regular columnist for Chronicle Vitae. Silva is a Puerto Rican by way of New York, currently based in Houston, TX.
Sunday Panel 7: Popular Musics in South and Southeast Asia (Professional Faculties Rm. 110)
Susan Fast, moderator
The Sounds of Afro-South Asian (Anti-) Imperialism: Reimagining the Politics of South Asian Music in Post-9/11 Rap and R&B
Elliott H. Powell, University of Minnesota
Popular music studies scholars have recently argued that the twenty-first century appropriations of South Asian music in U.S.-based rap and R&B represent a sonic extension of the U.S.-led War on Terror. Indeed, noting the popularity of South Asian music and the ostensible mixing of South Asian and Middle Eastern style commodities in rap and R&B videos after 9/11, scholars have labeled black rap and R&B artists participating in such visual and musical endeavors as “cultural imperialists,” and have attacked them for dangerously reproducing the Orientalist conflations of South Asia and the Middle East within the post-9/11 U.S. racial imaginary. Yet, what does it mean to argue that these African American musicians, who come from a historically marginalized group and whose oppression was and is a necessity in fulfilling U.S. nation-building and imperial interests, are complicit subjects in U.S. empire? This paper responds to this question by examining one of Afro-South Asian hip-hop’s and R&B’s defining songs of the post-9/11 era: Truth Hurts’ “Addictive.” While not ignoring imperialist undertones of “Addictive,” this paper highlights moments that counter the logics of imperial discourse, moments where other forms of knowledge production, kinship relations, and anti-war sentiments are simultaneously expressed. I argue that these points of anti-imperialism provide us with alternative ways of imagining Afro-South Asian cultural exchanges and social justice in black popular music, reimagings that are politically significant in a post-9/11 era that consistently seeks to pit South Asian and African diasporic subjects against each other.
Elliott H. Powell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of American Studies at the University of Minnesota. His work examines the political implications of African American and South Asian collaborative music-making practices in U.S.-based jazz, funk, and hip-hop.
Interactions Between Burmese Popular Music Stars and the Censors
Heather MacLachlan, Dayton University
From 1962 through 2010, Burma (also known as Myanmar) was ruled by a military junta which censored the press, the film industry, and recorded music. The small literature on censorship in Burma claimed that government control of music recordings was total, and that musicians could not express themselves freely during this era. However, my ethnographic research (conducted 2007 – 2009) revealed a more complicated picture: government censors engaged in a negotiation of power with musicians, and musicians exercised considerable agency in some cases. The censors’ control was compromised in numerous ways: they worked for a government that was dependent on the popular music industry to some extent; they could only censor the material submitted to them; they could not read or understand the minority languages spoken in Burma, and they – like other fans – desired to have positive relationships with celebrity musicians. Musicians, for their part, used a variety of approaches as they interacted with the censors: they alternately submitted to, defied, subverted, or avoided entirely the Press Security Board and its many rules. In detailing the inner workings of the censorship system of one of the contemporary world’s most notoriously repressive regimes, this presentation underlines the theme of the conference, demonstrating that music-making is an agentive process even in contexts where a dominant group seemingly maintains a complete hold on power.
Heather MacLachlan (Ph.D. Cornell University, 2009) is associate professor of ethnomusicology at the University of Dayton. She has published a book, Burma’s Popular Music Industry: Creators, Distributors, Censors (University of Rochester Press, 2011) and journal articles on American country music, music-making among Burmese refugees, and music pedagogy.
“Jadilah Legenda” (Become a Legend): The Professionalization of a Local Music Scene
Rebekah Moore, Bersama Project (Indonesia)
In the years following Bali’s 2002 terrorist bombings an economic downturn, followed by accelerated tourism development and urbanization transformed the island’s social and environmental landscape. Several rock bands concurrently rose to national and international acclaim and, alongside other entertainment professionals, established a thriving independent music scene. This paper outlines the modern music industry practices, including paid performance and touring, album and merchandise production and distribution, and traditional and social media engagement that became benchmarks for professionalism and catalysts for the creative, professional, and social vitality of rock music in Bali. In addition to documenting a little-known music history within international popular music studies, this paper identifies core professional practices that sustain otherwise untenable music scenes. A distinction between “amateur” and “professional” is measured both by who gets paid and how industry peers, audiences, and the media identify musical masters. The professionalization and sustainability of a local music scene depends upon a “directing group,” in symbolic interactionist terms: prominent bands, producers, concert organizers, independent label owners, and music writers who possess the creative facility, financial freedom, and social cachet to pursue music careers, coerce fan loyalty, and inspire the next generation’s creative professionals. “Becoming a legend” is often not the terminal goal of industry heavyweights. In the case of Bali, a commitment to the creative, social, and environmental vitality of the island as “home” motivated music producers to excel in their craft and capitalize upon their creative prestige to defend disenfranchised local communities, in the wake of a paramount development crisis.
Ethnomusicologist Rebekah E. Moore received her PhD from Indiana University, has published articles in the Asian Journal of Communication, Asian Music, Collaborative Anthropologies, and Inside Indonesia, and is co-founder and project advisor for Bersama Project (The Together Project), an Indonesian foundation to confront violence against women through music and art.
Talking Metal: The Social Phenomenology of Hanging Out
Esther Clinton and Jeremy Wallach, Bowling Green State University
Hanging out and talking about music is a kind of co-performance. As such, it depends on what phenomenologist Alfred Schutz calls “a mutual tuning-in relationship” and, like music itself, can foster a deep (if sometimes ephemeral) sense of community among its participants. Heavy metal is one of the most documented genre-based music cultures as a result of the development of academic metal studies in the last decade. The rich ethnographic literature on metalhead sociality allows for some provisional hypotheses on hanging out to be made that we believe can be extended to other kinds of music, particularly those with passionate listeners.
“Hanging out and talking metal” is central to scenic cohesion and basic to the entire notion of heavy metal community, a notion that is taken seriously, at least as an ideal, throughout the global scene. Hangout sessions, which often take place between metalheads who have just met or don’t know one another well, are complex, multilayered social events that play crucial roles in scenes’ economies of desire at local, national, and global levels. Our paper explores the experiential dynamics of hanging out through the lens of social phenomenology. We view cultural reception (such as listening to metal) as a concrete, interactive social process that leads to a specific participatory conception of mediated community. Ultimately we argue that it is the hangout session itself, an affective, overdriven extension–a spillover, if you will–of the metal music performance, that makes the vision of a polyphonic, diverse, sometimes dissonant collectivity conceivable.
Esther Clinton is a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Popular Culture at Bowling Green State University. Her work has appeared in Asian Music, Journal of the National Medical Association, Proverbium, and in the book Archetypes and Motifs in Folk Literature.
Jeremy Wallach is Professor in the Department of Popular Culture at Bowling Green State University. He is the author of Modern Noise, Fluid Genres: Popular Music in Indonesia, 1997-2001 (2008) and co-editor of Metal Rules the Globe: Heavy Metal Music around the World (with Harris Berger and Paul Greene, 2011).
Sunday Panel 8: Hip Hop and Social Justice (Murray Fraser Hall Rm. 160)
Jessica Schwartz, moderator
From Black Power to HiiiPoWeR: “hipness” and the sound of the Black Freedom Movement
Maxwell Williams, Cornell University
This paper examines the relationship between music and Black liberation politics from the pre-Civil Rights Era to the contemporary Black Lives Matter movement. Looking beyond the musical forms usually foregrounded in such discussions, it considers three styles that share a political and aesthetic link through their relationship to historical constructions of “Black hipness”: 1940s bebop, what Adam Krims terms the “jazz/bohemian” rap of the 1990s, and the music of contemporary hip-hop group, Black Hippy. This shared aesthetic grants these musics access to unique modes of sonic Black resistance, while simultaneously threatening to undermine such expressions. Moreover, it serves as a framework for interrogating the relationship between these temporally disparate cultural and political expressions. This sheds new light on dominant narratives surrounding the history of the Black Freedom Movement and its relationship to contemporary liberation politics.
The paper first outlines the history of constructions of “Black hipness,” before exploring how this shared hip aesthetic relates to each of these Black protest musics. After positioning the crucially hip intellectualism of bebop as an early display of radical Black resistance, it examines how jazz/bohemian rappers and Black Hippy have drawn on this sound, redeploying it in different political contexts, from the peaceful “Afrocentric era” to contemporary Black liberation movements such as “HiiiPoWeR” and “Black Lives Matter.” In the process, it considers the limits placed on such expressions by the complicated racial history of “hipness,” and the problematics of deploying closely related aesthetics of resistance in political contexts existing seventy years apart.
Maxwell Williams is a PhD student in musicology at Cornell University. His research interests include hip-hop and eighteenth-century music. He has given conference papers on Mozart’s minuets and Amy Winehouse. His forthcoming chapter on sound and hipness in hip-hop will appear in The Oxford Handbook of Hip Hop Music Studies (2017).
99 Problems and Tidal is One: Jay-Z, the Class Wars, and Authentic Activism
Kimberly Mack, University of Toledo
Over the last couple of years, Spotify, the multi-billion dollar Swedish music streaming service, has stood at the nexus of heated debates about the company’s exploitation of music artists, particularly those who are young, emerging, and independent. At issue is Spotify’s royalty fee structure—estimated to be as low as $0.0011 per stream—that makes the prospect of earning a living wage an impossible dream for the average musician. In March 2015, rapper and businessman Jay-Z acquired Tidal as an alternative to Spotify, and reinvented it as an artist-centered and owned streaming service. At the Tidal press conference, Jay-Z was joined by several of his millionaire co-owners—Beyoncé, Madonna, Jack White, and Rihanna to name a few—who stood by awkwardly as Alicia Keys dramatically proclaimed the launch “a moment that will forever change the course of music history.” The internet backlash was swift and wide-ranging, with music critics, fans, and other musicians criticizing Jay-Z’s tone deaf, A-list-only press conference. Even though Jay-Z insists that the service will also benefit less established artists, critics view the Tidal owners as part of the greedy 1 percent who expect fans to pay more money for a Tidal subscription to help millionaires grow richer. In May 2015, Jay-Z performed a freestyle rap at a concert in which he railed at systemic racism and the internalized racism of African American consumers who will not support Tidal, but will buy “9 iPhones.” This presentation examines the ways in which class and race intersect in music activist spaces and impact a movement’s reception. I argue that rather than viewing Tidal’s critical backlash and slow corporate growth as a function of systemic racism and its internalization by African Americans, Tidal’s success is derailed by activism authenticity politics triggered by the United States’ always-just-below-the-surface class tensions.
Kimberly Mack is an Assistant Professor of African American literature at the University of Toledo and specializes in African American literature and culture and American popular music. She is the author of “‘There’s No Home for You Here’: Jack White and the Unsolvable Problem of Blues Authenticity” and articles and reviews in various international and national music publications.
“To Pimp a Butterfly:” Double Consciousness and the New Black Nationalism
Dhiren Panikker, University of California, Riverside
On his recent album To Pimp a Butterfly (2015), rapper Kendrick Lamar addresses the specter of the late Tupac Shakur with a metaphor of the caterpillar and butterfly that encapsulates the dichotomies of being black in America today. How does this narrative address structural racism while celebrating an empowered black identity? How does Lamar’s synthesis of black literary works and politicized musical styles enhance his message of social justice? Through a contemporary reading of W.E.B. Du Bois’s (1903) notion of double consciousness, dialogue with recent hip hop scholarship (Rose 1994, Keyes 2002, Perry 2004), and ethnographic reflections as a long-time rap fan, I argue that To Pimp a Butterfly enacts a new black nationalist identity built on solidarity and self-love in the wake of extreme racial violence. First, I outline the meteoric rise of Kendrick Lamar within the broader context of U.S. racial politics, and his connection to contemporary protest movements including Black Lives Matter. Next, I perform a critical reading of the song “Blacker the Berry,” whose stylistic diversity and connection to Harlem Renaissance literary figures addresses systemic racism and celebrates radical black agency. Ultimately, I aim to highlight the continued role that hip hop plays in the rallying cries for social justice and the ways in which black voices have come to matter through these musical narratives of resistance and transformation.
Dhiren Panikker is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in ethnomusicology at the University of California, Riverside, where his research examines interculturalism in contemporary jazz and hip hop. In addition to receiving numerous awards and scholarships, he is also an active composer, performer, and educator throughout the Los Angeles area.
Sounding Contemporary Justice: Black Boy’s Embodied Marginalized and Marginalizing Voices as an Agent for Change
Adrian Dunn, Roosevelt University
The voice of the MC is the key identifier of Hip-Hop, where artists express racial and social injustice through speech-focused expression. From its genesis, Hip-Hop has given voice to the unadulterated story of marginalized black Americans by speaking to the social-economic racial inequity and systematic execution of black bodies by the police in America. Along similar lines, regarding so-called “high-art” music, Opera has provided the primary voice of white universal expression from the 17th century onward. Opera’s song-focused voices, celebrated for refined expressions of virtuosity and sheer beauty, invoke their own socio-economic power: a racial-political narrative of exclusivity that keeps the marginalized out.
In this paper I examine how, despite their perceived diverse socio-cultural significations, both voices, when synthesized, produce a relevant contemporary sound of (in)justice, arguing that their hybrid grain mirrors the current multifaceted social climate exemplified by the friction between the emerging Black Lives Matter Movement within a so-called post-civil rights society. Listening to the song “Black Boy” performed by my company Hopera, where the marginalizing operatic voice and the marginalized one of the MC are produced by the same body—my body—I reveal how such a juxtaposed hybridity sounds new intersections of race, music, and devaluation of black bodies in the US, finding that Black Boy’s envoiced fusion provides more than a framework for understanding the necessity for social change but, rather, a musical agent for implementing it.
Sunday Session 4: 3:45-5:45 p.m.
Sunday Panel 9: Indigenous and Aboriginal Voices (Murray Fraser Hall Rm. 160)
Liz Przybylski, moderator
Queer Voices, Indigenous Articulations, Sámi Musical Performance
Thomas R. Hilder, Grieg Academy, University of Bergen
This paper explores the politics of gender and sexuality in popular music of the Sámi, the indigenous people of Northern Europe. Issues of gender and sexuality have shaped debates in Sámi mobilisations towards self-determination within and across the Nordic states, from the first pan-Sámi Assembly in Trondheim in 1917, through the emergence from the 1980s of Sámi women’s organisations, to the first Sámi pride parade in Karasjok in 2015. As part of a Sámi cultural revival in the post-WWII era, Sámi musical performance became an important arena for articulating Sámi identity, strengthening Sámi languages and proposing alternative indigenous futures. Often drawing on the formerly suppressed vocal tradition of joik, Sámi popular music has offered a productive space for addressing issues concerning Sámi women and LGBT* Sámi.
My paper focuses on the intersections of feminism, queer politics and indigeneity in musical activism by the Swedish Sámi pop singer Sofia Jannok. Based on multi-sited ethnographic fieldwork and media analysis, my presentation asks: How has Sofia Jannok voiced feminist and queer concerns within Sámi society? In what ways do feminist and queer politics intersect with her articulations of Sámi indigeneity? How does her gender and queer activism inform wider debates concerning Sámi cultural decolonisation, spiritual revival and climate change? Drawing on the literature of Sámi feminism (Kuokkanen 2007; Hirvonen 2008) and indigenous queer theory (Driskill 2011), I thus interrogate the complex contradictions and potentially productive exchange between mainstream feminisms, LGBT* politics and indigenous aspirations to sovereignty.
Thomas Hilder writes: I am currently postdoctoral fellow at the Grieg Academy, University of Bergen. I gained my MMus (2006) and PhD (2011) at Royal Holloway, University of London and worked as a research assistant at the University of Hildesheim (2011-2014). My research explores popular musics of Europe, drawing on postcolonial, gender and media theory.
Between Tradition and Innovation: Throat-boxing to Embody and Empower Social Change
Raj Singh, York University
The rise of Hip Hop culture amongst the Inuit in Nunavut suggests that it has become a medium in which youth can mediate between their past and current lives. Since Hip Hop culture “allows for a confluence of a multitude of national, regional, and cultural sensibilities” Inuit youth can critically engage with their cultural practices and experiences about life in the North (Marsh 2009, 119). Within Canada’s North, community organizations use Hip Hop to promote health and well-being and target vulnerable young people in order “to connect with, regulate, discipline, and empower Inuit youth” (Marsh 2009, 112). As a result, Hip Hop has become a tool for youth to discuss larger issues that plague their daily lived experiences such as intergenerational trauma as a result of residential schools and colonialism, substance abuse, depression and suicide. Hip Hop in Nunavut “enables a re-working of contemporary Inuit identity” and becomes a method for Inuit youth to address stereotypes and re-establish relationships and cultural practices from their past (Marsh 2009, 110). Katajjaq (pl. katajjait), a Nunavik Inuit term, refers to vocal games and the throat singing involved in its communal performance. Usually performed by women, katajjaq is an integral component of cultural heritage, however, in recent years, katajjaq has been reinvented by numerous Inuit musicians. Nelson Tagoona, one of the very few male Inuk throat singers, synthesizes katajjaq and beat-boxing to form a genre he calls “throat-boxing”.This paper will provide a case study of Nelson Tagoona and examine how he reconceptualizes katajjaq and beat-boxing to include lived experiences like depression and suicide in order to empower and inspire social change in Nunavut. I will examine how his music helps Inuit youth to mediate between a living cultural tradition and a contemporary popular practice as a way to combine, express and explore aspects of their lives and identity.
Raj Singh is a fourth year PhD student at York University. Her PhD research focuses on Indigenous Modernity and how Inuit musicians in Canada innovate and recontextualize traditional music by incorporating contemporary musical forms to include new realms of lived experiences.
“Welcome to the tundra”: Lessons in Aboriginal Digital Resistance through Tagaq’s Twitter Activism
Alexa Woloshyn, University of Toronto
Avant-garde Inuit vocalist Tanya Tagaq’s powerful performances and outspoken statements in interviews and on social media embed her in media coverage of Aboriginal issues in Canada. Tagaq uses Twitter to post frankly about her personal and professional lives—often explicitly through the lens of her experience as an Inuk woman—to her 9800 Twitter followers. This paper is part of a larger project on Aboriginal artists like Tagaq who use social media to communicate a modern Indigenous experience and how such mediating technologies can be sites of dissent and resistance. This paper considers a recent Twitter case study: in November 2015, Tagaq published harsh criticism against Quebecer Dominic Gagnon’s film of the North, which she claimed included her music without permission and presented racist, stereotyped portrayals of Inuit people.
I apply critical discourse analysis to intersecting self-selected and ambient affiliative networks on Twitter (Zappavigna 2012). This analysis is contextualized within a broader history of Aboriginal resistance (Coulthard 2013; Simpson 2008) and activism in digital culture (Hands 2011). This example points to four observations about Aboriginal artists and Twitter:
- Twitter circumvents traditional modes of media to which marginalized groups typically have limited access.
- Twitter’s real-time function engages participants in two-way communications with potentially unmanageable speed and reach.
- Twitter handles allows one to confront individuals and groups that are inaccessible in the “real” world.
- Twitter becomes a site of resistance that transcends geographic and socio-cultural boundaries in which Aboriginal artists can fight against the legacy of colonialism and appropriation.
Alexa Woloshyn holds a PhD from the University of Toronto, where she is currently a visiting scholar. Her research focuses on mediating technologies in contemporary art and popular musics. She has published articles in eContact!, Circuit: Musiques contemporaines, and the American Indian Culture and Research Journal.
Sunday Panel 10: Genre and Borders (Professional Faculties Rm. 110)
Alexandra Apolloni, moderator
Caught Between Folk and Popular Music: Panamanian Música Típica, and the Power and Paradoxes of “Middle” Categories
Sean Bellaviti, Ryerson University
Música típica counts among the most ubiquitous and arguably ambiguous musical categories in contemporary Latin America and Spanish Caribbean. Frequently pinned between a host of marginalizing discourses, the music identified with this category have long been a source of concern for cultural nationalists suspicious of its potential to corrupt or replace more representative folk practices. Conversely, the term has been regarded with a measure of suspicion by academics sceptical of its homogenizing tendencies and association with folklorismo (Hutchinson 2011, García Canclini 2001). Problematic ideological and discursive framing notwithstanding, genres falling within the “típica” category have emerged as some of the most powerful expressive forces and potent symbols of national cultural inclusivity in 21st-century Americas. Theorizing música típica as middle category within pan-Latin American vernacular musical paradigms, this paper examines the early development of this category and its attendant musical practice in mid-20th-century Panama. It argues that over the course if its history, música típica variously epitomized Panama’s Liberalist-identified national ethos of progressive modernity and cultural cosmopolitanism while at the same time maintaining alignments to specific territories and musical practices significant to Panamanian vernacular imaginaries. The emergent relationship is meaningfully problematic, ambiguous and oblique; often locating the practices of música típica practitioners at the interstice of two (seemingly) oppositional albeit historically tenable, nationalist ideologies. Furthermore, it is contended that the formative tensions so critical to música típica‘s development within Latin America may be responsible for the general absence of this significant category within Spanish- and especially English-language popular music scholarship.
Sean Bellaviti received his Ph.D. in ethnomusicology from the University of Toronto and is currently an instructor at Ryerson University. His research focuses on the conjunto music in Panama and extends to themes of nationalism, regionalism, political economy, and style and genre.
“Hip-hop, Got turned into hit pop”: How Crossover Radio Stations Influenced the Growth of Rap in the Late 1980s
Amy Coddington, University of Virginia
Throughout the late 1980s, rap exploded in popularity, transforming from an underground fad to a musical style so ubiquitous that in 1993, rapper LL Cool J performed at President Clinton’s inauguration. While most histories chronicling rap’s ascent focus on the progressive artists canonized by ardent rap fans, many Americans who began listening to rap during these years never heard these rappers. Instead, they heard whatever rap was played on their local radio station, rap that was often chosen because it was inoffensive and upbeat. Finding appropriate rap songs was difficult for program directors at Top 40 stations, and beginning in 1986, they began taking cues from a new type of radio station emerging out of big cities, “Crossover” stations which played a mix of songs from the Top 40 and Urban charts. This paper examines the rise of Crossover stations and the influence these stations had on the emerging genre of rap. By playing more rap than any other major format and inspiring other formats to incorporate rap songs into their playlists, Crossover stations substantially supported the growth of this genre. Hugely influential to mainstream Top 40 stations, Crossover stations acted as gatekeepers, controlling what styles of rap were heard by the general public. However, these gatekeepers were not ideal. Many of these stations were criticized for racist hiring practices and for their lack of commitment to the African-American community, and these stations rarely shared the musical and political concerns of the artists whose music they played.
Amy Coddington is a PhD candidate in Critical Comparative Studies in the Department of Music at the University of Virginia. A lifelong lover of Top 40 music, her dissertation focuses on the racial politics of mainstream music’s incorporation and co-optation of hip-hop in the 1990s.
Anthropology and the Avant-garde: Anthology of American Folk Music Reconsidered
Toshiyuki Ohwada, Keio University, Japan
The Anthology of American Folk Music (Folkways 1952) has been regarded as the main source of inspiration for the folk revivalists during the 1950s and 1960s. Music critic and Americanist Greil Marcus retitled his widely acclaimed book Invisible Republic: Bob Dylan’s Basement Tapes to The Old, Weird America, encapsulating the strangeness of the soundscape it produces. The structure and design of the Anthology has also been examined through 17th century mysticism and occultism—the image of the celestial monochord by Robert Fludd on the cover is often mentioned—of which the editor Harry Smith (1923-1991) was heavily acquainted. The three double-LP collection, however, has not been sufficiently connected with Smith’s earlier accomplishments. A bohemian and a mystic, Smith was already familiar with the Native American ceremonies in the Pacific Northwest as a child and had started his artistic career as an experimental filmmaker in San Francisco. This paper will position the Anthology at the intersection of these two realms—anthropology and the avant-garde. The surrealist movement in North America during and after the Second World War, as Martica Sawin has elaborately depicted in his groundbreaking work, Surrealism in Exile and the Beginning of the New York School, is crucial to the understanding of Smith’s works, and enables an interpretation of the Anthology in a transatlantic context. Juxtaposing the Anthology with the works of Andre Bréton and Claude Lévi-Strauss will not only allow us to reconsider the avant-garde in Harry Smith’s works, but also within the folk revival.
Toshiyuki Ohwada is Professor of American Studies at Keio University, Tokyo and author of On American Music: From Minstrel Show, Blues to Hip Hop (in Japanese 2011), awarded the Suntory Prize for Social Sciences and Humanities. He writes on both American and Japanese popular music.
Sunday Panel 11: Popular Music and Religion (Professional Faculties Rm. 114)
Nicholas Greco, moderator
“Clear Body, Clear Mind”: Scientology, Swing Music, and Social Justice in Britain and Abroad
Tom Wagner, Edinburgh University
The Jive Aces, “Britain’s hardest working swing band”, play around 300 gigs a year in the UK and abroad. While many are at the clubs, concert halls, and festivals one might expect, the Aces also routinely appear in support of the Church of Scientology’s “Say No to Drugs, Say Yes to Life” campaign. Like the church itself, the Drug-free campaign has met controversy: Supporters claim that it is a secular program that fills needs in areas where funding for social programmes have been cut; critics claim that the program is based on discredited pseudo-science or a tool for recruitment to the church.
This paper presents ethnographic material collected at “Say No to Drugs” events around Britain to consider the interplay of music, religion, the media and social justice in the context of David Cameroon’s “Big Society” discourse. As public funding for social programs in Britain is cut, large religious organizations such as Scientology, but also other New Religious Movements and megachurches of various denominations, have the human and financial capital to “pick up the slack”. Yet each organization’s theology will influence what aspects of social justice are addressed, and more importantly how. How does this play out in ‘secular’ society? Is it possible to balance religious ideology with public good? How – and to what effect – is music used by these organizations to communicate with target audiences? The case study focuses on Britain, yet the questions addressed also resonate in the American and Canadian contexts.
Tom Wagner holds a PhD in ethnomusicology from Royal Holloway University and an MMus in ethnomusicology from Goldsmiths College. Additionally, he holds a Master’s in Percussion Performance from Rutgers University and a Bachelor’s in Percussion Performance from the New England Conservatory of Music. Publications include chapters in Religion as Brands: New Perspectives on the Marketization of Religion and Spirituality (Ashgate 2014) and Religion and the Social Order vol. 24: Religion in Times of Crisis (Brill 2014).
Snoop Who?: Reggaes, Rastas and the Politics of Appropriation
Joshua Brown, Hall-Musco University
In 2012, the renowned rapper Snoop Dogg briefly reinvented himself as a reggae singer known as Snoop Lion. This metamorphosis was based on a pilgrimage to Jamaica that culminated in a religious conversion to Rastafarianism. While the resulting album Reincarnation was well received among critics and listeners at home in the United States, Bunny Wailer and the Rastafari Millennium Council both denounced Snoop’s actions as “fraudulent.” As an African-American man hailing from a low-income district in Long Beach, California, Snoop Dogg aligned himself symbolically with shantytown dwellers in Jamaica. During this time, Snoop adopted Rastafarian attire, imagery and performance practices, even feigning a Jamaican patois in several songs from the album. My research on this subject has led me to the following questions: How do accepted social movements (in this case, Rastafarianism) provide musical artists with new resources for cultural capital? For example, in what ways do these links, however tenuous, provide a veneer of insight and emotional depth? Moreover, in what ways do associations with movement cultures imbue popular musical artists with populist sensibilities and compassionate reputations? In this study, I will demonstrate how Snoop’s forays into reggae allowed him to advocate for gun control and celebrate marital fidelity–positions that would likely be attacked and ridiculed within gangsta rap culture. Surveying the quick rise and demise of Snoop Lion, I will attend to issues regarding market appeal and appropriative practice as well as both the rigidity and utility of genre constructions.
Joshua Brown is a lecturer in ethnomusicology and popular music at Chapman University. He earned his doctorate in ethnomusicology at the University of California, Riverside in 2014. Joshua’s dissertation research was funded by the University of California Office of the President and the Fulbright Institution for International Education.
Agency in Excess: Tony Melendez and the Intersecting Performance of Virtuosity, Disability, and Religiosity
David VanderHamm, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
In 1987, Tony Melendez—a guitarist born without arms who plays the instrument with his feet—played at a youth rally for Pope John Paul II. Immediately after his performance, the Pope kissed Melendez and instructed him to continue “giving hope.” This moment is constantly replayed in Melendez’s performances to this day, where his body becomes an explicit locus of value and the nexus for issues of virtuosity, disability, and religiosity. Though the guitar accompaniment of confessional, singer-songwriter music is rarely considered impressive, Melendez’s bodily difference makes his ability to sonically pass as what he calls a “common player” an impactful display of skill for his audiences. The overcoming narrative critiqued within disability studies is widely employed in Melendez’s performances and promotional materials, yet Melendez also seeks to exceed and subvert this narrative trope at key points within his performances. Through interviews and analysis of his performances and their media representations, I argue that the display of musical skill provides Melendez an opportunity to negotiate the meaning of his own bodily presence and complex identity. Unlike the representational practices that code disability as passivity or something lacking in the body, performance allows Melendez to project a public persona that models a sense of musical agency and religious subjectivity for himself and his audiences. Through this argument, I show how the complex subject positions of performers and audiences contribute to what counts as skill and how it comes to matter.
David VanderHamm is a PhD candidate in musicology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His dissertation on the social construction of virtuosity uses three case studies to describe how understandings of the laboring subject are articulated within discourses and displays of skill.
Sunday 6 p.m.
Business Meetings for IASPM-US (Murray Fraser Hall Rm. 160) and Canada (Professional Faculties Rm. 110) Branches
Sunday 7:30 p.m.
Keynote Address: David Brackett, McGill University
(Murray Fraser Hall, Rm. 160)
“Thar’s Gold in Them Hillbillies”: Old-Time Music in the 1920s and Its Relations
Discussions about genre in popular music tend to vacillate between two poles. At one extreme, genres are defined by the notion of consistent style traits. At the other extreme, in the quotidian discourse of musicians and fans, one often finds an insistence on the unique quality of individual texts, a stance that would seem to militate against the usefulness of genre as a conceptual tool. Yet both of these extremes encounter contradictions, the first in the inconsistency of formal features of the texts grouped within a single genre, and the second in the necessity of relying on genre labels in order to communicate about music. In response to this apparent conceptual impasse, I will argue for analyzing genre according to the following four properties: 1) that a genre becomes legible due to its relation to other genres at a particular moment in time, rather than because of internally consistent formal features; 2) that genre relations exist simultaneously on multiple levels corresponding to their social function and use; 3) that genre is iterative in that it works on the basis of its citation of conventions, or put differently, on the basis of repetition and difference, with each invocation of a generic model resulting in a modification of that model; and 4) the ability of genres to evoke connotations of group identities, an ability that is particularly pronounced in popular music genres.
The category of “old-time music” in the 1920s will be used as a case study to illustrate these four properties of genre. Confined as it is to the three years during which the old-time category emerged and stabilized, this study allows us to observe the music industry’s attempts to find an appropriate label, sound, and conception of the audience that occurred during the inchoate period of the genre’s formation. The ensuing analysis, drawing on primary historical documents and sound recordings, will reveal the interdependence of the musical/sonic properties of genre, its institutional status, and its discursive production.
David Brackett teaches in the Schulich School of Music of McGill University, where he specializes in the history of popular music, jazz, and contemporary classical music. In addition to over 40 single-authored journal articles, book chapters, and book reviews, he has published two books: Interpreting Popular Music (first published by Cambridge UP in 1995; reprint Univ. of Calif. press, 2000); and The Pop, Rock, and Soul Reader: Histories and Debates (first published by Oxford University Press in 2005 and currently in its third edition). His latest book, titled Categorizing Sound: Genre and Identity in Twentieth-Century Popular Music (University of California Press, forthcoming in July 2016), analyzes the conditions necessary for the emergence and perpetuation of the categories that are central to the classification of popular music. Prior to being categorized as a musicologist, Professor Brackett was active as a composer and a freelance guitarist, playing jazz, classical music, and rock and roll.
Monday, May 30
Monday Session 1: 8:30-10:30 a.m.
Monday Panel 1: Sounds Like Texas: Anti-Oppressive Resistance in Southern Music Communities (Professional Faculties Rm. 114)
Kim Mack, moderator
Panel: Texas cities consistently rank among the fastest-growing in the United States. This growth has brought new problems associated with gentrification while exacerbating traditional forms of segregation. Three performers and activists working in Texas’ urban popular music scenes share insights into shifting politics of identity and resistance.
Perspectives from queer hip-hop in Houston, Austin’s Middle Eastern music fusion scene, and drag king country explore how small music communities not only resist multiple layers of oppression, but thrive in the often-volatile political climate of Southern cities. This panel theorizes the counter-hegemonic potential of popular musics in Texas, identifying how musicians use the state’s political contradictions to their advantage to effect social change.
Existence Is Resistance: Politics of Authenticity in Austin’s Middle Eastern Fusion Scene
Brian Griffith, Texas Folklife
Austin’s Middle Eastern music fusion scene exists in a world of contradictions. The scene’s vitality and sustainability seem to contradict the harsh conditions under which it thrives: systemic racism, increasing anti-immigrant rhetoric, and rampant gentrification that threatens its musicians both as artists and as people of color. Musicians thus constantly struggle to make a living playing music to a gentrified Texas audience while simultaneously communicating their cultural and political messages to this audience. This is accomplished with a politics of anti-politics. Palestinian artists have often told me that existence is resistance – the performance of a traditional musical piece when that tradition is pressured to assimilate or die is, in itself, a political act. For Middle Eastern bands in Austin, that political act requires situating their performances between the cultural logics of the popular music industry and the folkloric music world. They have to be equally comfortable playing at a bar downtown or at a cultural center associated with universities or institutions. The blurring of two presentation styles, popular and folkloric, defies easy categorization, which forces audience members to be more aware and mindful of what they are experiencing. In addition to analyzing live performances and interviews, I will use footage from my upcoming collaborative documentary with these musicians, 1,001 Austin Nights, to examine the strengths and limitations of the “politics of anti-politics” approach to cultural performance.
Brian Griffith is the lead producer of Texas Folklife’s “Stories from Deep in the Heart” radio education program. He earned his Master’s degree in ethnomusicology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2014. In his spare time, he maintains a comedic mashup DJ persona known as DJ Grafyto.
Mixed Genre Majority: Insight Into The Houston DIY Scene And Fostering Growth Of Intersectional Diversity in Artists and Crowds
Brian Jay Eley, Austin, Texas
Founded on the accumulating successes of artists, collectives, venues, festivals, labels, and promoters, I will detail the inner workings of the Houston music scene and how inclusivity has propelled disparate artists to achieve notoriety and influence on local, regional, and national levels. Legendary artists from Archie Bell to disciples of DJ Screw and the national phenomenon of UGK and Swisha House artists who have become influential throughout popular music have been accepting, inviting, and helpful to new generations of Houston musicians and multimedia artists gaining national visibility including Travis Scott, The Suffers, The Ton Tons, Fat Tony, B L A C K I E (noted inspiration for the sonic qualities of Kanye West’s Yeezus), FLCON FCKER, Kirko Bangz, Wild Moccasins, and others. This will explain how the collaborative nature of artists regardless of sexuality, gender, race, or other “othering” characteristics has spawned an atmosphere of personal and professional exploration and growth. As a city that rarely gets widespread praise and a scene not commonly scouted by large record labels, the scene thrives because of unfettered experimentation, collaboration, and drives that are based in sincerity in the creation process rather than marketability and monetization. I will also perform songs from two of my projects including collaborations to display an example of atypical music being accepted in the scene.
Brian Jay Eley is a multi instrumentalist, rapper, producer, songwriter, and event organizer from Houston, TX. Performing under the names Biz Vicious (rap) and Queermo (production), Eley has quickly garnered local and regional attention as an artist currently affiliated with Prints not Prince, the Queer Agenda, and Dykon Fagatron (co-founder)
Save a Horse Ride a Cowboi: Building (trans)Masculinity Through Top 40 Country Music
Joel Zigman, Austin, Texas
Seldom does one attend queer drag theater in Texas without witnessing at least one scene where a masculine-of-center presenting AFAB (Assigned Female at Birth) individual dons a cowboy hat and boots and strips to suggestive phallic lyrics like “She Thinks My Tractor’s Sexy”. How can this apparently contradictory combination of simple white working class heteronormative sex appeal and celebratory political queer gender performance exist? When seeking out models of masculinity, what is so irresistible about the role of the country boy, particularly as romanticized by the likes of Kenny Chesney or Tim McGraw? To answer these questions I will draw from trans memoir (Thomas Page McBee’s Man Alive, Rae Spoon & Ivan Coyote’s Gender Failure), interviews with members of Texas drag troupes (the Houston based Gendermyn and the Austin based Kings N Things), and anti-urban, southern, working class queer theory (Nadine Hubbs’ Rednecks, Queers & Country Music, Scott Herring’s Another Country: Queer Anti-Urbanism). I will also draw from my personal experience coming out as transmasculine living in Texas when I seemingly inexplicably listened to nothing but Top 40 country music for three months, culminating in a road trip where I attempt to reach country nirvana driving in the desert with my femme girlfriend in a rented pickup truck, drinking sweet tea, wearing a cowboy hat, blasting George Strait.
Joel Zigman teaches Pre-Kindergarten music at Creative Action, is on the board of Girls Rock Austin, and leads the Austin Trans & Queer Community Book Club. In 2015 Joel earned a Master’s degree in Music and Human Learning from the University of Texas at Austin.
Monday Panel 2: Sensing/Listening/Seeing (Murray Fraser Hall Rm. 160)
Brad Osborn, moderator
The Neurotypicality of the Tonic Triad in Indie Rock
Monica Chieffo, University of California, Los Angeles
In this paper I analyze the work of Indie Rock artist, Zach Condon, better known by his stage name “Beirut,” as an example of an artist exploiting the tonic triad as an obsessive pattern of repetition that ultimately prescribes an unambiguously conformist mode of listening. My work seeks to challenge normative postures implicit in listener-to-music-object paradigms.
Phenomenological analysis offers one way of understanding the intentionality behind popular music production that anticipates its listeners as largely co-constitutive. Within music scholarship, the semiotic work of Philip Tagg at the level of the “museme” can be held up against Michel Chion’s reduced listening or Husserl’s noematic stream, all of which conspicuously frame the intentionality, and, implicitly, a degree of cognitive normativity, of the listener to hew her ear to certain musical qualities over others. At this level of analytical nuance, recent research in disability studies and embodied music cognition in neuroscience offer supplementary frameworks based in experiential data to understand how music can be viewed differently as an affordance (Gibson, 1977;1979; Menin and Schiavo, 2012).
Indeed, the limits to music’s ontology are not self-evident, if they exist. The listener is the most potent intermediary from which to sense and articulate music’s de facto limitations. Condon’s distinct production style, which features his vocals layered over field recordings with brass bands, culled from his travels in the Balkans, complicates further the bounds between the album track and the listener. Ultimately, Condon’s track enables the tonic triad in excess of its own functionality and the interpretive latitude of the listener.
Monica Chieffo is a Ph.D. student in UCLA’s Department of Musicology, Experimental Critical Theory, and Early Modern Studies graduate certificate programs. She is interested in the many ways sound defines and individuates space. Her research focuses on intersections of composed music, sound, listening, and architectural environments in early modern Italy.
The Gouldian Reach-Around: The Uninvited Guests Plumb ‘The Prospects of Recording’
Anthony Cushing, Western University
After Glenn Gould abandoned the concert stage in 1964, he devoted himself to a “love affair with the microphone.” Though largely aimed at his recording efforts, he committed to print his theories as a long-form essay ‘The Prospects of Recording.’ A later essay, “Radio as Music,” extended his theories to practical applications albeit in the realm of art music. Couched in the vernacular of 1960s analog audio production, Gould weaves a manifesto that outlines a democratic future of active listener participation in customizing the listening experience. The Gouldian ‘listener kit,’ collections of modular audio samples, empowers the listener to create their ideal recorded performance through direct tape manipulation. In essence, he presaged the remix and mashup culture that emerged decades later. The hip hop ensemble known as “The Uninvited Guests” took hold of Gould’s theories as the foundation for their creative output. They readily acknowledge the pianist’s influence and frequently incorporate video and audio samples of Gould’s CBC television performances. This paper traces the development of Gould’s theories of listener participation from initial essays, to listener kits, and to the Uninvited Guests’ application in the decidedly un-Gouldian popular music realm.
Anthony Cushing received his Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Western Ontario in 2013 where he is currently a visiting researcher. He is currently co-editing a volume about Glenn Gould’s Idea of North, and preparing a monograph on mashups titled Bach Meets a DJ.
Monday Session 2: 10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Monday Panel 3: Listening to EDM (Murray Fraser Hall Rm. 160)
10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Justin Burton, moderator
Netflix and Chill: Close Listening and Binge Watching in Electronic Dance Music Production
Edward Wright, University of Toronto
In October 2015 the British electronic dance music (EDM) producer Fold released an EP entitled “Netflix and Chill.” Like the Internet meme it referenced, Fold’s title addressed the ubiquitous role that streaming services like Netflix play in contemporary culture (Kassabian 2013, Matrix 2014). Beyond inspiring euphemisms, Netflix also facilitates EDM production, as producers regularly rely on the service to distract from the close repeated listening that production demands. An examination of how Netflix is integrated into production practice reveals the importance of repeated listening in EDM production while also highlighting the precarious position of the working producer.
Drawing on fieldwork conducted in the recording studios of producers in Berlin and Toronto, my paper begins by exploring the role of digital playback in EDM production. I argue that repeated listening functions as a means of inscribing and performing authorship, situating the producer inside discourses of artistic genius (Goehr 1992, Kivy 2001, Young 2011) and the experimental avant-garde (Gendron 2002, Demers 2010). Next, I address how Netflix and binge watching engender a means of consumption that diverges from the listening practices idealized by producers. I argue that EDM producers are uniquely qualified to negotiate antithetical consumption practices through their own experiences as DJs—as DJ performance entails destabilizing and rearticulating authorship (Herman 2006). Reflecting on the contemporary producer’s position as both composer and performer, I consider how the integration of Netflix into the production workflow maps onto the societal role of the working producer, an individual who is continuously producing through consuming.
Edward Wright is a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto. His dissertation, supported by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada, is entitled Making Hammers with Art: The Utility of Experimentalism in Techno Production. His research considers production practice and aesthetics in electronic dance music.
“Dude! It’s so much more complex!”: Modernist Aesthetics and the Electronic Dance Music Pedagogue/Producer/Consumer/Critic
Andre Mount, SUNY Potsdam
When dubstep producer Sonny Moore played music by Aphex Twin on his 2004 DJ setlists, his audience disapproved; they stopped dancing. Seven years later, Moore encountered similar confusion but for a very different reason when he posted a link on Facebook to more music by Aphex Twin, his “fav song of all time.” One befuddled fan commented, “I was waiting for a drop that never happnd [sic] lol.” A number of other followers were equally addled by the absence of a drop, an accentual climax featuring abrupt shifts in texture and characteristically complicated by a momentary but dramatic disruption in rhythmic/metric predictability. Whereas Moore’s earlier audience appears to have been turned off by “complex” music, his 2011 fans craved it.
Through a series of brief rhythmic/metric analyses, this paper explores how many electronic dance music (EDM) artists strike a delicate balance between perceived complexity and accessibility. This equilibrium stems from discursive networks between musicians and their publics; the popular reception of EDM is tied to the artist’s ability to appeal to a decidedly elitist connoisseurship while retaining a metric structure predictable enough to be recognized as highly danceable. Building on analytical models from Mark Butler (2006) as well as more culturally-oriented studies by Robert Fink (2005), Chris Atton (2010), and Vaughn Schmutz (2010), I situate the rhythmic unpredictability of dubstep and other related genres as stemming from the adoption of modernist aesthetics in communities where traditional roles of production, consumption, and criticism are becoming increasingly blurred.
Dr. Andre Mount is Assistant Professor of music theory at SUNY Potsdam, where he teaches core musicianship and analysis of contemporary and popular music. His research explores the interplay between art music and pop culture and includes articles in Music and the Moving Image and The Journal of Musicology.
Listening for “Fun” in Electronic Dance Music
Miriam Piilonen, Northwestern University
Registering the weakened opposition between work and play in late-capitalism, I demonstrate that mainstream electronic dance music (EDM) expresses a hyper-commoditized and laboriously playful aesthetic called “fun.” By participating in (and capitalizing on the appeal of) the tension between labor and leisure, EDM has become a super-effective viaduct for cultural, symbolic, and monetary capital. Located uncomfortably between Sianne Ngai’s aesthetic of the “zany” (an agitated performance of both artful play and affective labor) and cultural fantasies of jouissance (immersive pleasure), “fun” interpellates a particular kind of aesthetic subject, one situated at the edge of North America’s 21st century and nourished by internet culture and postmodern hyperactivity. By capitalizing on feelings of intense enjoyment, the formal features of EDM are, self-consciously or not, symbolically analogous to biopolitical programs that use pleasure to organize bodies.
Embedded within EDM’s affective promises of fun are traces of greater thematics impacting popular music scholarship: the encroachment of capitalism on art; the increasingly close collaboration between art works and commodities; the shift from artistic form to activity; the troubled relationship to “genius”; the treatment of aesthetic culture as a way of life; and the exercise of judgment and taste. Through close listenings of tracks like “Fun” (Pitbull), “Harder Better Faster Stronger” (Daft Punk), and “Born to Get Wild” (Steve Aoki ft. will.i.am), I examine mainstream EDM’s participation in the creation of a commodity aesthetic that imbricates economic and ideological activity and ultimately performs the complicated matter of becoming of a 21st century listening subject.
Miriam Piilonen holds a bachelor’s degree in composition (New England Conservatory) and a master’s degree in human development (Virginia Tech). At the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute fMRI lab, her team explored physiological indicators of autism using a musical paradigm. For her master’s project she developed and piloted an iPad application that measures beat entrainment accuracy in young children. Her current interests include 20th-21st century repertoires, critical posthumanism, and affect theory. She is a composer, writer, and artist in various media.
Monday Panel 4: Stars Negotiating Identities (Professional Faculties Rm. 110)
10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Brian Fauteux, moderator
Broadcasting from Down East: John Allan Cameron as Media Personality
Dr. Chris McDonald, Cape Breton University
Cape Breton singer and guitarist John Allan Cameron (1938-2006) never achieved the international fame of his fellow Singalong Jubilee star, Anne Murray, nor the rock star status of fiddler Ashley MacIsaac, but his career as a media personality between the late 1960s and early 1980s provides an important window on the “CanCon” era. During Pierre Trudeau’s governments, (1968-83) Canadian cultural and media policy favoured the broadcast of national and regional content on radio and television, though the content that resulted was, in Edwardson’s estimation, a strange mix of high culture and rustic stereotypes (2008: 122). Cameron’s music and television appearances did much to popularize Maritime Canadian music, and he worked hard to establish a niche in Canadian popular culture for Celtic-derived rural east coast music. Through his television shows on CTV (1975-76) and CBC (1979-1980), Cameron tried to establish a media personality around his welcoming demeanor and down-home/folksy humour, which framed his musical selections. Through his repertoire and musical guests, his shows aimed for a middle ground between regional flavour and national breadth, a balance not always successfully negotiated. His career flagged as Canadian cultural policy changed, and the government withdrew funding for media which highlighted Canada’s regional culture, and left content creation to commercial enterprises. This paper uses material from John Allan Cameron’s personal media collection to piece together the relationship between Cameron’s career and Canada’s cultural and media policies during the 1970s and early 1980s.
Chris McDonald is an assistant professor of music at Cape Breton University. He published Rush Rock Music and the Middle Class (Indiana UP) in 2009, and has recently been researching the unique piano accompaniment practices that developed in Cape Breton’s fiddle tradition.
“He’s the One That Makes Ya Feel Alright”: Tommy Lee, the Phallus, and Rock Drumming
Mandy Smith, Case Western Reserve University
Mötley Crüe’s Tommy Lee kicks off his autobiography with a conversation between himself and his penis, aptly named Dick. At one point, Dick asserts, “If your body were a band, I’d be the front man.” He later claims, “I have been behind every decision you’ve ever made,” including “[p]icking up a drumstick.” By assigning agency to the phallus, Tommy Lee humorously mediates different personas: musician, sex tape star, drummer, icon.
Scholars have studied the rock guitar as phallic instrument—particularly Steve Waksman with his term “technophallus”—but rock drumming scholarship remains scant. In this paper, I investigate drumming’s relationship to the phallus through the music and career of Tommy Lee. I compare the sexually charged beats on Mötley Crüe’s “Girls, Girls, Girls” and “Dr. Feelgood” to argue that the former has a thrusting, phallic quality, while the latter signifies a more complex sexuality, closer to the stereotypically female modes of pleasure. I play examples live on a drum kit to display the bodily nuances of the beats. Then, I analyze several Modern Drummer magazine ads featuring Tommy Lee to unpack the ways that drum equipment advertisers harness the phallic potential of drumming in general and Lee in particular to appeal to audiences and sell products.
By studying the relationship between rhythm, the body, and the phallus, scholars better understand musical meaning making. This paper spotlights rock drummers—musicians primarily responsible for the beat—to show how they create patterns of tension and release in rock texture to signify complex sexualities.
Mandy Smith is a PhD Candidate at Case Western Reserve University. Her dissertation investigates the virtuosic, the primitive, and the body in rock drumming. Mandy has presented research in various venues, most notably at the 2015 IASPM-US meeting, where she won the Sanjek Prize. She has been drumming for 22 years.
Pour une approche discursiviste de la chanson populaire : l’exemple de Miley Cyrus
Stéphane Girard, l’Université de Hearst
C’est un lieu commun d’affirmer que les artistes en chanson populaire sont constamment amené(e)s à se « réinventer » pour assurer la longévité de leur carrière, phénomène dont Bowie ou Madonna demeureraient probablement les prototypes. Stratégie commerciale, certes, le changement d’identité permet néanmoins aux artistes de se distinguer de leurs pairs au sein du champ culturel en investissant un espace (une « topie ») différent (« para », à côté) qui leur soit propre, ce dont le concept discursiviste de paratopie, donc, tiré de l’outillage notionnel développé par l’école française d’analyse du discours, permet de rendre compte. Depuis 2013, une artiste comme Miley Cyrus travaille explicitement à la réinvention de son identité et de son image, une transformation qui culmine avec la parution de l’album Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz (2015). En analysant la pièce « Dooo It! », nous verrons comment se déploie cette nouvelle paratopie identitaire chez Cyrus à la fois au niveau musical, linguistique et visuel. Aussi tâcherons-nous de présenter une approche inédite du phénomène, car plutôt que de concevoir la production artistique et le contexte de création comme deux registres séparés, la paratopie postule que l’artiste a besoin de cultiver la marginalité de sa personnalité publique pour légitimer ses œuvres, mais que ces œuvres ont besoin de représenter tout à la fois cette même marginalité, ce qui nous permettra du coup de témoigner de l’intrication entre subjectivité, textualité et institution au cœur du discours de la chanson.
Stéphane Girard est professeur de sémiologie à l’Université de Hearst. Auteur de l’ouvrage Plasticien, écrivain, suicidé. Ethos auctorial et paratopie suicidaire chez Édouard Levé (L’Harmattan, 2014), il effectue des recherches qui portent sur l’inscription de la subjectivité dans la littérature et la culture populaire contemporaines. Il s’intéresse plus particulièrement à la pratique du deejaying et à la représentation des genres.
Monday Panel 5: Fire Up: Music and Social Justice in Postcolonial Canada (Professional Faculties Rm. 114)
10:45 a.m.-12:15 p.m.
Katherine Meizel, moderator
Panel: This panel brings together three historians whose works focus on popular music’s ability to address matters of social inequality across time (1960s-1990s), space (both French and English Canada), and genres (free jazz, rap, and rock). First, Eric Fillion sheds light on the discursive strategies and social practice put forward by the Jazz libre to mobilize working class youths in post-Quiet Revolution Quebec. Francesca D’Amico then investigates the ways in which Canadian rappers appropriated bodily posturing to negotiate race, sexuality, and class identities in the 1980s and early 1990s. Finally, Paul Aikenhead explores how a hit rock song, Glass Tiger’s “Diamond Sun” (1988), supported white supremacy in the Canadian settler project. Together, the papers on this panel provide insights into the connections between music and social justice in postcolonial Canada.
Toward a Revolutionary Praxis: Free Jazz in Post-Quiet Revolution Quebec
Eric Fillion, Concordia University
Formed in 1967, the Jazz libre immediately set itself apart from other Montreal jazz groups with its uncompromising approach to collective improvisation and its commitment to revolutionary left-wing nationalism. During its eight years of existence, the group strove to establish a common front of political activists and cultural workers through the creation of an artistic colony, a socialist commune, and an experimental art venue. It championed individual and collective liberation using improvisation as a vector for social change. Its appropriation of free jazz constituted an effort to inscribe Quebec’s national project within the larger struggle of the decolonizing world. By conflating race with class, the members of the Jazz libre sided with Pierre Vallières who argued that French Canadian workers were colonized and oppressed under Anglo-Saxon capitalism; they were, in other words, “white niggers of America.” To them, free jazz was a revolutionary praxis, which they hoped could legitimize and invigorate the revolutionary fervour of the Quebec left. Most importantly, it was a liberating music that could be used to encourage audience members to become participants – through active listening and/or collective music making – in the creation of a genuine – anti-capitalist and anti-imperialist – national popular culture. Building on oral interviews and a wide range of primary sources (textual, pictorial, audio, and video), this presentation sheds light on the discursive strategies and social practice put forward by the Jazz libre to promote cultural democracy among the working class youths of Quebec.
Eric Fillion is completing doctoral studies in history at Montreal’s Concordia University. His research deals with the transformation of Canada’s musical diplomacy (1960s-1970s). This project is informed by his ongoing work on the Jazz libre. He is also the founder of Tenzier, a NPO dedicated to shedding light on Quebec’s musical avant-gardes.
“The Mic Is My Piece”: Toronto Rap Music, Racialization and Industry Regulation in the Canadian Music Scene
Francesca D’Amico, York University
Canadian Rap music, both a marginalized and wilfully marginal form of cultural expression, developed amid the strengthening of federally mandated multiculturalism policy and the development of large pockets of urban Caribbean-Canadian communities in many of Canada’s largest urban centers. As such, Rap became a site where inner city life and the black experience were conveyed to the mainstream. Across the 1980s and 1990s, Toronto rappers in particular appropriated American Rap music’s gendered posturing (labeled the ‘Cool Pose’) in order to confront their own sense of exclusion in Canadian society and create a narrative of belonging in a country and music industry that often replicated the same terror and economic exploitation characteristic of the white supremacist patriarchal capitalist system south of the forty-ninth parallel. Employing a discourse analysis of lyrics and music video imagery, this paper will explore the work of Maestro Fresh Wes, Michie Mee and Kardinal Offishall among others, in order to determine how they each appropriated the “cool pose” in order to negotiate race, perform a heterosexual, hyper-sexualized and class specific conception of underclass identity, and confront their own sense of belonging in a country that has long erased the black presence in Canada.
Francesca D’Amico is completing her doctoral degree in the History Department at York University in Toronto, Canada. Her dissertation, tentatively titled “Fear of a Black Planet: Black Urban Music on the Margins of Freedom and Containment in Post-Civil Rights America, 1968-1995,” examines how black urban music functioned in a socio-political capacity in the thirty years following the height of the Black Power Movement. Francesca is also the project curator for Performing Diaspora 2013, an archive project on the history of Toronto Hip Hop with academics and pioneering practitioners of the culture.
Shadows of Lonely Trees: Glass Tiger’s “Diamond Sun,” Relevant Rock, and White Supremacy in the Canadian Settler Project during the Late Twentieth Century
Paul Aikenhead, York University
When “Diamond Sun,” the title track that opens Glass Tiger’s sophomore album, started charting as a single in July 1988, the band from the settlement of Newmarket, Ontario, repeatedly stated that the increasingly popular song spoke to the injustices Indigenous peoples faced. That connection to Indigeneity was reinforced by an accompanying music video that featured several glossy shots of Indigenous-presenting people, both young and old, interspersed throughout. With a new mature sound and a recently discovered social conscience, Glass Tiger was trying to convey something of social importance with “Diamond Sun.” This thoughtfully crafted piece told a tragic tale from the perspective of someone whose nation ached to be free from colonial bondage. At a time when the most famous rock artists in the world were participating in politically charged protest songs and internationally broadcast concert events, Glass Tiger created relevant rock to garner the commercial success and critical acceptance they fervently desired. Using “Diamond Sun” as a vehicle for study, this paper argues that Glass Tiger’s hit single was a white male cultural production that drew upon a collection of Canadian settler discourses which emphasized Indigenous recognition and accommodation, but were invariably committed to the state’s continued domination. Despite the settler move to innocence made with “Diamond Sun,” Glass Tiger’s relevant rock ultimately supported white supremacy in the Canadian settler project during the late twentieth century.
Paul Aikenhead is finishing a doctorate in Canadian cultural history at York University in Toronto. His research explores the ways in which highly popular domestic rock music conserved, maintained, and enforced the social order of the Canadian settler project from 1984 to 1994.