IASPM-US 2013 Conference: Presenter Bios and Abstracts
Ethnological Forgery on the Autobahn: Can, Kraftwerk and National Identity
Dr. Ulrich Adelt—University of Wyoming
Krautrock is a catch-all term for the music of various white German rock groups of the 1970s which created liminal spaces by blending influences of African American and Anglo-American music with the experimental and electronic music of European composers. Groups like Amon Düül, Neu! and Faust arose out of the German student movement of 1968 and connected leftist political activism with experimental rock music and electronic sounds. Krautrock and its offshoots have had a tremendous impact on musical production and reception in Britain and the U.S. since the 1970s. Genres such as indie, post-rock, techno and hip hop have drawn heavily on krautrock and have –ironically –connected a music that initially disavowed its European American and African American origins with the lived experience of whites and blacks in the U.S. and Europe.
By examining the music of major Krautrock groups Can and Kraftwerk, I argue that these bands, in many ways exemplary for the genre, created a new, postwar German identity that both engaged with and set itself apart from the Nazi past and the influx of Anglo-American music into West Germany. For both bands, a new German identity was connected to playing around with technological inventions and blending “man-made” and “machine-made” music, as well as diverting from rock music’s guitar-heavy approach. While Can were still a traditional rock formation and looked beyond Germany’s borders for musical influences, Kraftwerk gradually became an all-electronic outfit and deliberately emphasized technological innovation and their distinct German heritage in a semi-ironic fashion.
Panel Session 7
Ulrich Adelt is Assistant Professor for American Studies and African American and Diaspora Studies at the University of Wyoming. He received his M.A. from the University of Hamburg, Germany and his Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. He has published in numerous journals and is the author of the book Blues Music in the Sixties: A Story in Black and White, which came out with Rutgers University Press in 2010. Currently he is working on a book-length manuscript about Krautrock, German electronic music and rock from the 1970s.
Glitz, Glamour, Gender: Is Lady Gaga Performing Glam Rock?
Allison Elizabeth Adrian—St. Catherine University
Lady Gaga’s image is as important as her music. As a female pop star, however, she need not call attention to her image. The masculine thrust of rock history already stipulates that women performers are primarily to be looked at (Frith & McRobbie, 1978). Consequently, much of what has been written about Lady Gaga is framed from the standpoint of whether she invites or rejects the male gaze. This is the most familiar trope with which to determine whether a female rock star is legitimate or a sell-out; a binary that Gaga calls into question by embodying several positions.
However significant the question of how oppositional or co-optive her performances are with respect to a variety of dichotomies, the historical and social context of one of her most significant stylistic influences – glam rock – is missing from many analyses, perhaps because 1970s glam artists were predominantly male. Philip Auslander writes, “Glam rock’s central social innovation was to open a safe cultural space in which to experiment with versions of masculinity that clearly flouted social norms” (228). How are Lady Gaga’s music and image-driven performances indebted to glam rock in terms of the way they arbitrate tension between resistance and subservience to social norms concerning gender? How does she adopt the codes and signs of glam rock, not typically associated with women, and use them to navigate the heteronormative waters of rock convention?
Panel Session 5
Allison Elizabeth Adrian is an assistant professor of Music at St. Catherine University. She received her PhD in musicology/ethnomusicology from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities in 2008. She received her MA in ethnomusicology from UCLA in 2003.
Cutting Edge Cumbia: A Colombian Rhythm as Transnational Musical Idiom
Juan C. Agudelo—University of Texas at Austin
Cumbia is a popular music and dance genre that originated in the north coast of Colombia, but which became ubiquitous throughout much of Latin America beginning in the 1940s. Hector Fernandez-L’Hoeste argues that cumbia’s loose associations with Colombian national identity facilitated the genre’s spread, especially to parts of Mexico where cumbia production and consumption eclipsed that of Colombia. Most recently, cumbia has become a key element in music produced by a network of DJs in many Latin American and US cities.
This paper positions cumbia as a transnational musical idiom, and explores how various definitions of cumbia as – as genre, rhythm, dance style, and concept –allow for dialogue across boundaries. To do so, I look closely at the musical practices of Peligrosa All-Stars, an Austin-based DJ collective that mixes Latin dance music with/in electronic dance music. Despite Peligrosa’s use of many different Latin dance music styles, they emphasize cumbia as an organizing principle. The group’s collaborations with DJs from elsewhere in the US and Colombia also present a unique opportunity to look closely at how cumbia affords this technologically mediated conversation. I argue that Peligrosa’s music articulates a Latino identity at home in the interstices of established boundaries, both drawing on and seeking to transcend tensions between Latino and American, between traditional and modern practices, and between live and recorded aesthetics.
Panel Session 3
Juan Camilo Agudelo is a PhD student in ethnomusicology at the University of Texas at Austin. His research focuses on cumbia music from Colombia’s Caribbean coast and its popularization throughout the rest of the country and Latin America. In his M.M. thesis he explored how the conjunto de gaita, a folkloric cumbia ensemble, reflects a nationalist investment in fixed notions of tradition, and how artists today are challenging such notions. Prior to graduate school, Agudelo was a researcher for the PBS documentary series Latin Music USA.
“Listen here, Nina, who did you belong to?”: Relocating and Repurposing Nina Simone’s Protest Music and Piano Playing
Heather Buffington Anderson—University of Texas at Austin
Promptly following her death in 2003 there has been a sharp increase in the visibility of Nina Simone’s music within the mainstream from various hip-hop artists sampling her most well-know songs, to dance and house remixes, appearances on recent television and film soundtracks, as well as an array of tribute concerts in her honor. This surge of attention on Simone highlights her noticeable absence within music scholarship. In attempting to bring Nina Simone’s music within the discipline, our initial struggle is how to put her in dialogue with similar musicians. Is she a jazz, popular, folk, blues, classical, soul, or R&B musician? Is she all of these at differentor even simultaneous moments? Within the last few years, scholars who have examined Nina Simone have focused their attention on her protest music written and performed during the Civil Rights Movement. Placing her music within the context of broader discussions of the Civil Rights Movement seems to mediate the struggle to classify her music allowing scholars to locate her as a protest singer. However, these efforts primarily focus on her vocality and lyrical content in association with her activism, which obscures Nina Simone’s instrumentality as a pianist, as well as her non-political recordings and performances. This essay focuses on Meshell Ndegeocello’s 2012 tribute album dedicated to Nina Simone as well as Esperanza Spalding’s cover of “Wild is the Wind.” By observing the ways in which musicians who also straddle multiple genres rearticulate Simone’s instrumentality and underline her musical ambiguity, I suggest that we may begin to initiate new dialogues on Nina Simone’s activism and perhaps relocate her forgotten identities.
Panel Session 4
Heather Buffington Anderson is currently pursuing a PhD in musicology at the University of Texas at Austin. She holds a B.M. in music performance from the University of Northern Colorado (2008), and an M.M. in musicology from King’s College London (2010). Heather’s research interests center on Black popular music, particularly jazz, and protest music associated with the Civil Rights Movement. In 2011, in collaboration with the Nina Simone Foundation and Bemba Entertainment, Heather directed a tribute concert in the artist’s honor. Heather has presented her research on Nina Simone’s music at Boston University and Stony Brook University.
The Ballad of Marianne and Lulu: Youth and Voice in the 1960s
Alexandra Apolloni—University of California, Los Angeles
In the 1967 film Smashing Time, Lynn Redgrave plays Yvonne, an aspiring star who goes to London and records a song with a chorus that proudly proclaims, “I can’t sing, but I’m young!” Despite Yvonne’s shrill vocals, the song is a hit, youth outweighing all other mitigating factors. The film lampoons mid-1960s British pop music culture, and, in particular, London scene’s emphasis on youth.
This paper explores how such discourses of youth influenced the vocal self-presentation of young women singers in mid-1960s England. I argue that, for young women in the public eye, adhering to then-emerging models of femininity meant occupying a liminal space between childhood and adulthood. Representations of young women on television programs like Ready Steady Go! and in popular publications like Honey and Jackie portrayed them as young and whimsical, but also sophisticated and independent; at turns innocent and sexually precocious. I focus on Marianne Faithfull and Lulu, and show how their vocal performances in the 1960s envoiced this tension. I also argue that these same discourses of age still resonate in their performances after the 1960s and up to the present, through their attempts to negotiate the shift from being seen as girl singers to being accepted as women singers.
I place my readings of performances and archival sources in conversation with clinical and pedagogical literature on voice, vocal technique, and aging, to show that age is a social and physical phenomenon that can be both performed and embodied; and that age intersects with gender identity in complicated ways.
Panel Session 2
Alexandra Apolloni is a Ph.D. candidate in Musicology at UCLA. Her dissertation explores questions of whiteness and femininity in vocal performances by Lulu, Marianne Faithfull, Dusty Springfield, Sandie Shaw, and other British pop singers in the 1960s. Her research has been supported by awards from the UC Center for New Racial Studies, the UCLA Center for the Study of Women, and by an AMS-50 Fellowship from the American Musicological Society. Alexandra is currently the co-editor of Echo: a music-centered journal (www.echo.ucla.edu). In her spare time, she collects and writes about vintage cookbooks, and practices the ukulele.
“Wherever I May Roam” Heavy Metal – A Case Study of Pakistan
Hassan Asif—Northwestern University in Qatar
This paper focuses on the manner in which non-Western countries have adopted heavy metal music with a particular emphasis on the reception of this genre in Pakistan. Central argument of the paper is that during this move from the West to the rest the non-Western cult followers on the global periphery adopt heavy metal. These followers usually belong to the top five percent of the social strata in non-Western societies. Case study of heavy metal in Pakistan reveals that founders of local heavy metal acts and followers of Western heavy metal bands are often those who also possess the means to conveniently travel to Western countries to attend performances of their cult heroes. Consequently, formation of local bands is also by this class, which treats heavy metal as a labor of love, with no possible economic, or even cultural, gain. The analysis in the paper is based on interviews with band members of several heavy metal acts in the Pakistani underground heavy metal scene, particularly in Lahore and Islamabad. In addition the paper also analyses multiple heavy metal performances as texts, hence shedding light on the self-perception of youth in the Pakistani elite. The analysis is significant by understanding the “foreign-ness” of a genre as the key element in the basis of its adoption. In case of heavy metal, “foreign-ness” first restricts the access to the genre to a particular social class on the one hand, and re-contextualizes and transforms it during reproduction in an alien land on the other hand. The paper concludes by identifying avenues for future research on globalization, culture and society.
Panel Session 4
Hassan Asif is an undergraduate student studying at the School of Communication at Northwestern University in Qatar. He is interested in studying music subcultures in non-Western societies. More specifically, his work examines the formation of heavy metal subculture in Pakistan and the performance practices adopted by the youth engaged in this subculture.
Everybody Knows There is Here: Surveying the Indexi-local in CBC Radio 3
Michael Audette-Longo—Carleton University
This presentation examines the use of local regions in CBC Radio 3, an online radio station specializing in the broadcast of independent (indie) Canadian music. Local regions play a structural role within this service, organizing and indexing the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s (CBC’s) digital holdings of independent Canadian music. This produces the semblance of local immediacy and participation on this website: a ‘reformatting’ of the local I call the indexi-local.
Three features of the service are examined as a means to demonstrate the indexi-local: the foregrounding of local institutions and geographical locations in the website’s display of band and musician pages; the website’s production of an interactive experience of music online, which is evident in the ability for users to produce playlists, discover new bands online, and watch live shows; and the centrality of space and place aligned keyword searches that aid users’ engagements with CBC Radio 3’s content. The reformatting of locality suggests a broader ideology of independence-as-immediate participation that connects local music scenes, user interactions with this particular service, and the database structure of new media. Will Straw’s work on scenes is woven together with Lev Manovich’s research on database aesthetics and Henri Lefebvre’s work on spatial representation and experience to explain this reconfiguration. It is concluded that this analysis of the indexi-local opens up a fruitful and suggestive topography of Canadian indie music’s circulation in-between local scenes and online sites.
Panel Session 2
Michael Audette-Longo is a PhD Candidate in the Cultural Mediations program, housed in the Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art and Culture at Carleton University. He has published articles in Critical Arts and The Journal of African Cinemas, is a member of Carleton University’s Sound Studies research group, and is currently completing a dissertation about Canadian indie music.
Pop Music’s Poetics: Jessica Hagedorn & the West Coast Gangster Choir
Christine Bacareza Balance—University of California, Irvine
On October 30, 1975, young writer Jessica Tarahata Hagedorn introduced San Francisco State University’s Poetry Center to her newly formed band, the West Coast Gangster Choir. Conducted by jazz trombonist Julian Priester, this “poet’s band” included the talents of Makoto Hiruichi (guitar), Bob Marshall (drums), and its vocal trio The Gangsterettes—Ota Pierce, Norman Jayo, and Linda Tillery. Immigrating from the Philippines in 1961, Hagedorn’s teenage years consisted of a self-made artistic training derived from various sources: her mentor, Kenneth Rexroth; local rock and jazz shows; close study of other poets and listening to American pop music. Inspired by Sun Ra’s Arkestra and the Art Ensemble of Chicago, the young poet envisioned “something weird and ambitious,” a collaborative act that would bring together words, music, and theatre onstage. Emerging at the forefront of two 1970s literary movements—Third World and Asian American, Hagedorn’s “authorial voice” retains traces of her poetic commitment to popular music and her kinship to other like-minded writers.
In this presentation, I return to these early recordings in order to consider the poetry reading as rock concert. Paying close attention to Hagedorn’s poetic and performance voices, I aim to map her artistic development in collaboration with this multiracial, multi-genre band. This focus on the medium of poetry offers a starting point for meditating upon “the voice” as both a performative and political category and, in turn, troubling the disciplinary borders between literary and popular music studies.
Panel Session 5
Christine Bacareza Balance is Assistant Professor in Asian American Studies (UC Irvine). Her writing—on Asian American YouTube artists, Bruno Mars, former First Lady Imelda Marcos, Glee’s karaoke aesthetics, and spree killer Andrew Cunanan—has been published in Women’s Studies Quarterly (WSQ), Journal of Popular Music Studies (JPMS), Women & Performance:a feminist journal, the Journal of Asian American Studies (JAAS), Theatre Journal, as well as online at In Media Res. One-ninth of the Polynesian-influenced new wave/indie band The Jack Lords Orchestra, Balance is currently completing a book on popular music in post-World War II Filipino America.
‘Fly’: Levitation, Liminality, and Caribbean Romance”
Lia T. Bascomb—University of California, Berkeley
“‘Fly’: Levitation, Liminality, and Caribbean Romance” troubles the relationship between national representation, gendered performance, and individual celebrity. I use both literary and historic definitions of “romance” in a visual analysis of the video “Fly” by Nicki Minaj featuring Rihanna. Coming from a larger project that focuses on Rihanna’s relationship with her home nation of Barbados, this paper uses her 2011 collaboration with Nicki Minaj to argue that these women employ specifically Caribbean uses of mimicry as a site of creation, and imitation as a form of reinvention to further their rise to stardom. Historic ideals of the Caribbean rely on romantic narratives of leisure and exoticism that are often presented in the form of women’s bodies. These two Caribbean-born women present themselves to an international audience in ways that are both innovative and unoriginal, ways that are in conversation with both representations of the Caribbean region and representations of black women in the pop culture market. These artists inhabit a liminal space of transnationalism, and in Rihanna’s case in particular, serve as a representation of the Barbadian nation and a generation of young women. While many Caribbean musical artists have made names for themselves outside of the regional market, Rihanna is the first Caribbean woman to make an unquestionably memorable mark outside of Caribbean shores. How does such individual celebrity shape images of a nation, of women? Ultimately I argue that the “Fly” collaboration offers a vision of the possibilities and potential dangers of celebrity.
Panel Session 1
Lia T. Bascomb is currently completing her doctoral studies in African Diaspora Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. Her dissertation, “In Plenty and In Time of Need: Popular Culture and the Remapping of Barbadian Identity,” focuses on the production and circulation of the visual images and cultural personae of popular performers in the Caribbean region. She is more broadly interested in representations and performances of nation, gender, and sexuality across the African diaspora.
18 Again? Bollywood’s Mediation of Latin and Flamenco Musical Styles
Jayson Beaster-Jones—Texas A&M University
The Indian television advertisement 18 Again begins with a domestic scene, a young 20-something wife bringing her husband the metal lunch tiffin that he will be taking to the office. In a courtyard populated by several generations of her joint family, she brushes softly by her husband singing “Ohh, I feel like a virgin.” As the courtyard reacts in various ways to this statement, an acoustic guitar plays a flamenco-inspired melody and the couple begins to perform an amalgam of Spanish and Latin American dances. As they literally dance back to the bedroom, some of the family seem shocked, others inspired by the miracle wrought through this “vaginal tightening and rejuvenating gel.”
A heavily critiqued advertisement, 18 Again is a recent example of the long history of the musical representation of Spanish and Latin American-inflections in Indian popular musics. While several contemporary films have taken what might be called a “Latin turn” in their visual and musical representations, these styles have long been present in Bollywood films dating back to the 1940s. Yet these musical-stylistic representations and the modes of sexuality they index have changed in a variety of ways over the intervening years. In this paper, I discuss this phenomenon in terms of “musical mediation,” or the representation of one genre or style in the terms of another genre or style. I will suggest that these mediations have come to be associated with different cultural-historical conceptions of Indian youth and sexuality, conceptions that this advertisement draws from.
Panel Session 7
Jayson Beaster-Jones is an Assistant Professor of Music in the Department of Performance of Studies at Texas A&M University. His research focuses on the production of value in Indian music industry and the music of Bollywood films.
“You feel like you’re sitting right next to her”: Carole King’s Live Albums and Demo Recordings
Christa Bentley—University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
“Welcome to my living room,” Carole King invites in the opening track to The Living Room Tour, a live album released in 2005 from King’s major tour. The album contains many sonic signifiers of liveness—audience applause and chorus sing-alongs. The stage set to look like a living room, and coupled with the personable feel of the marketing, it is no surprise that the album was received as comfortable, intimate, and homey.
In May of 2012, King released an album of her demo recordings, The Legendary Demos, containing tracks ranging from compositions with Gerry Goffin in the Brill Building to Tapestry hits written with lyricist Toni Stern. In contrast to the “live” sound of The Living Room Tour, the demo recordings are obvious products of the studio, full of overdubbing and reverb. Yet, the reviews from critics still understand the product as inviting, personal, and emotive.
This paper evaluates the role of recordings in constructing the musical style and identity of the singer-songwriter. Existing between the tense boundaries of commercial recordings and a performance rhetoric of authenticity, singer-songwriters negotiate these boundaries to recreate the same “personal” quality of their performances on their recordings. Carole King’s live albums and demo recordings demonstrate a space where these notions of authenticity are contested and affirmed. I investigate two albums, The Legendary Demos and The Living Room Tour, including critic’s reviews and comparative analysis of the albums to examine the ways that these recordings mediate the singer-songwriters identity within mainstream popular music.
Panel Session 3
Christa Anne Bentley is a third year musicology student at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her preliminary dissertation research focuses on female singer-songwriters in the 1970s. She also holds a great interest in the American musical landscape of the 1930s with her thesis on The Lost Colony (1937) and the Federal Theater Project in North Carolina.
“The Point Was Simply to Make Some Noise”: Embodied Musical Experience and Riot Grrrl
Lindsay Bernhagen—Ohio State University
Riot Grrrl, the feminist punk movement that reached its apex of popularity in the mid-1990s has been referenced frequently in feminist and popular music scholarship, even warranting a fair amount of scholarly analysis. However, rather than focus on lyrical or formal analysis of Riot Grrrl songs, or on re-telling the history of the movement and its ideological inspirations as other scholars have done, I focus on the role of embodiment in the specifically musical experiences of Riot Grrrl participants. The first line of Emily White’s LA Weekly article, “Revolution Girl Style Now” (the only media representation of Riot Grrrl that the participants largely agreed was fair and nonpatronizing), reads “Maybe the girl revolution won’t take shape in the public world, the world of men—it won’t happen out on the street, where girls’ aren’t safe.” With this in mind, I argue that, in the context of Riot Grrl, musical intimacy occurs primarily on the basis of an assumed bodily safety among more or less unacquainted adults sharing a liminal, highly-staged, gendered experience. I draw from archival research to explore how firsthand accounts of Riot Grrrl construct experiences of pleasure, safety, and intersubjective intimacy (delineated with respect to gender, sexuality, and race), and how this aligns with a political objective of disavowing notions of fixed, centered feminine subjectivity.
Panel Session 4
Lindsay Bernhagen is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Comparative Studies at The Ohio State University. Her dissertation, which gestures toward an expanded theory of musical subjectivity, explores the popularity of gendered musical contexts in terms of the shared musical experiences that are had therein.
“Look to the East!”: Remapping the Borders of Central American Whiteness and Caribbean Blackness in Costa Rican Reggae
Eric Bindler—Indiana University
Though miles of sea serve as the physical boundary between the Central American nation of Costa Rica and the islands of the Caribbean, the cultural border that divides them is far more difficult to locate conclusively; several waves of British West Indian migration to Costa Rica’s Atlantic coast have introduced numerous Afro-Caribbean cultural—and especially musical—forms into the nation, with reggae in particular gaining a large and diverse following since the 1980s. Paradoxically, however, Costa Rica has historically been defined as an exclusively ‘white’/Hispanic nation, and the full citizenship of its black inhabitants is still frequently challenged in social and cultural—if no longer expressly legal or political—terms today. In this paper, I will present an ethnographic investigation of the differing means by which three white or mixed-race Costa Rican musical collectives employ reggae and other Afro-Jamaican musical styles to contest these exclusionary demarcations of Costa Rican national identity, and thus to remove or remap, in their own distinctive ways, the cultural boundaries typically held to separate the interior from the coast, Central America from the Caribbean, and whiteness from blackness. Specifically, I will argue that the Afrocentric musical structures, stylistic accoutrements, and ideological tenets of reggae and its related forms are flexible enough to accommodate the incorporation of a range of other sounds, styles, and ideologies, thus permitting individual musicians with divergent backgrounds and agendas to locate the politicized blackness and subalternity they seek to embrace in either Jamaica, Africa, Costa Rica, or Latin America more generally.
Panel Session 2
Eric Bindler is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana, as well as an adjunct professor in the Hamilton Holt School at Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida. His current Ph.D. research centers on race, globalization, and technology in the Costa Rican reggae scene, while his earlier M.A. research examined the dynamics of reggae performance in the Jamaican tourism industry. He is also a jazz, rock, and reggae guitarist and an aspiring steel pannist.
Turn on, Tune in, Drop in: Negotiating Music and Masculinity in Playboy’s TV Parties
Monique Bourdage—University of Michigan
Every 1969 issue of Playboy ran a full-page, full-color advertisement for Playboy After Dark (1968-1970), many of which implore Playboy readers to turn on, tune in, and drop in. The use of these phrases and the promotion of the “ear-stretching sounds” of performances by bands such as Canned Heat, Steppenwolf, and “the Iron Butterfly,” seem to indicate that Playboy’s jazz-fueled lifestyle had crossed the border into the territory of rock counterculture. However, the use of the phrase, “Drop in!” in these ads is both party invitation and an inversion of the counterculture’s message to drop out. In other words, Playboy opted to both acknowledge the parts of its philosophy commonly held by the counterculture and to distance itself from those aspects of which it disapproved. While supporting the counterculture’s progressive views on racial and sexual relations, Playboy had formed its alternative to the hegemonic masculinity of the Organization Man through hard work and tasteful consumption, and therefore, could not embrace the counterculture’s disavowal of the material.
At the same time, these appearances by major rock bands remind us of the complexity of the counterculture’s allegedly progressive sexual politics. Keightley’s (2001) discussion of how rock came to function as a subdominant culture (i.e., “something that was simultaneously marginal and mainstream, anti-mass and mass, subordinate and dominant” p. 141) applies equally to the role Playboy occupied in the negotiation of postwar masculinities. The performance of rock on Playboy TV demonstrates the affinities and tensions between these “alternative” masculinities, contending with fraught relationships to television alongside changing musical and gender formations.
Panel Session 1
Monique Bourdage is a doctoral student in Communication Studies at the University of Michigan. She holds a Master’s of Social Sciences from the University of Colorado Denver, where she completed her thesis on the electric guitar and the social construction of gender. Her main research interests include the intersections of gender with musical performance and technologies, domestic cultures and technologies, and audience reception. She is particularly interested in media from or representing America during the late nineteenth through mid-twentieth centuries. She is also the founder and co-director of Girls Rock Denver, a nonprofit rock ‘n’ roll camp for girls.
Where’s the Kiki?: Music, Technology, and Queerness in the Scissor Sisters’ “Let’s Have A Kiki”
Christopher Bowen—University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Due in part to its myriad references to queer cultures, the Scissor Sisters’ song, “Let’s Have a Kiki,” took on an anthemic quality for gay men across the country in the summer of 2012. Not least of these references is the “kiki” of the title, a term that first arose in urban minority gay communities in the 1970s and ‘80s and was popularized by the 1990 documentary Paris is Burning, which here is used to mean “a party for calming all your nerves.” Musical references to disco and house, soundtracks of gay liberation since the 1970s, figure prominently as well.
This paper explores how “Let’s Have A Kiki” engages and conflates these references, and in doing so raises and complicates issues of race and sexuality, erasure, and appropriation. I focus in particular on the song’s uses of technology and technologically mediated musical gestures to refine and color its queer affect. The answering machine effect in the song’s introduction and the manipulation of multiple singing voices create a sense of spatiality within the song itself and help define the safe space of the kiki. I argue that “Let’s Have a Kiki” enacts a historicized, communalized queer identity through the use of vocal manipulation, electronic dance music tropes, and linguistic markers that reveal the historical importance and legacy of dance music and disco in gay culture.
Panel Session 8
Christopher Bowen is a second-year graduate student at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He completed his B.A. in Music with a focus in conducting at Stanford University in 2009 and M.M. in Orchestral Conducting at The Catholic University of America in Washington, DC in 2011. His current research interests include the music of Antonín Dvořák as well as the intersections of music, sexuality, and gender. He is currently working on a master’s thesis provisionally titled “‘What a Wonderful Kiki’: Dance Music and Queerness at Mixtape, a Washington DC Dance Party.”
What Does It Mean to Study Popular Music?
A Cross-Disciplinary Conversation featuring Daphne Brooks, Alice Echols, Mark Katz, and Roberto Avant-Mier, moderated by Devon Powers
Scholars of popular music often find themselves in curious, even solitary, positions. Rarely is our home a devoted department in popular music studies; instead, almost all of us are housed in other disciplines, whether it be sociology, media studies, anthropology, musicology or ethnomusicology, history, or English. Moreover, while an interest in popular music often draws us to others who share our passion, the enormity and diversity of that category ensures that we may not always have so much in common with them in terms of object, method, or perspective. In keeping with our 2013 conference theme Liminality & Borderlands, IASPM has invited four panelists, representing four different disciplines, to consider both the challenges and the opportunities of the inherent interdisciplinarity of popular music studies.
Friday Afternoon Plenary (3:30-5:00)
Don’t Worry Kyōko: Interpreting the Gendered Borderspaces of Yoko Ono’s Experimental Vocal Performance
Shelina Brown—University of California, Los Angeles
The strident, screaming ululations that rise and fall throughout Yoko Ono’s performance of “Don’t Worry Kyōko (Mummy’s Only Looking for Her Hand in the Snow)”(1969) exemplify what later came to be referred to as her famed ‘16-track voice’. The uncanny, cyborgian vocal powers implied by this epithet conjure a musical experience of radical differentiation and heterogeneity — a schizophrenic collage of fragmentary vocalities co-existing within one performance. As the title of this song suggests, the contesting vocalities in “Don’t Worry Kyōko” can be interpreted as a musical evocation of the emotional turmoil Yoko Ono experienced in the wake of the abduction of her young daughter, Kyōko. As a feminist cultural work, however, “Don’t Worry Kyōko” functions not only as a vehicle for the expression of female trauma, but also as an attempt to express said trauma by means of restructuring patriarchal modes of musical symbolization.
Tracing the plural, polysemous border-spaces that open up within Yoko Ono’s fragmentary vocalizations, in this presentation I will aim to demonstrate a feminist listening practice that takes into account heterogeneous expressions of difference within a subversive vocal performance. Following contemporary feminist psychoanalyst, Bracha L. Ettinger, I will argue that the move away from binaristic models of difference marks a meaningful subversion of extant psycho-sexual structures and symbolic orders that privilege the masculine and the heteronormative. In the spirit of Ettinger’s move to acknowledge border-spaces in the place of binaristic divisions, I will aim to develop a mode of listening that actively resists the tendency to understand a musical performance as a composite of discrete elements; instead, I will propose a listening practice that actively interprets the emergent possibilities of meaning formation that tend to arise in the border-spaces between multiple, heterogeneous aural loci.
Panel Session 3
Shelina Brown is a Musicology PhD candidate at UCLA. Her article, “Scream from the Heart: Yoko Ono’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Revolution” is forthcoming from Ashgate, as part of the collection, Music and Countercultures, edited by Sheila Whiteley. Shelina’s dissertation research involves a feminist historical exploration of transnational women’s punk and underground vocal practices from the late 1960s to the present day. Shelina is currently active in Los Angeles DIY music scenes, as part of all-female minimalist post-punk group, Cool Moms, as well as her new garage-punk project, Kat Kong. Raised in Kyoto, Japan, Shelina is an avid collector of early 1980s Japanese punk/experimental and psych rock records.
“But Isn’t She Straight?” Feminine Lesbian Identity through Mainstream Vocalists
Katie Buckley—Bowling Green State University
In popular media, the feminine lesbian exists almost exclusively in fantasy. Historically, academic explorations of queer identity have focused on aspects of masculinity. Femininity, especially where queer women are the subject, has been ignored until recently. This omission of queer femininity poses multiple problems to female adolescents and the popular notion of lesbianism. Feminine lesbians often hide under a cloak of invisibility—they exist as a minority that is virtually unrecognizable by sight. The lack of mainstream musicians further hinders their visibility and does not offer queer, feminine girls the important identity role models they require.
The research analyzes four recent “gay anthems” along with their music videos, each performed by a straight or bisexual female musician—Lady Gaga, Pink, Katy Perry, and Kesha. While diva-allies have a historically strong relationship with gay men, their adoration is problematized by the inclusion of queer girls to the fan base. The sexual identity of these vocalists creates difficulties in seeing them as strong role models from the viewpoint of queer girls even though their performed gender may translate. By looking into online communities, the research addresses the uninhibited world of anonymous commenters as they post to videos, blogs, and articles representing these musicians. I propose that these vocalists exist in two other roles—that of a mother figure and a supportive friend, both personalities vital in the formation of a strong personal identity.
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Katie Buckley, a Saint Louis native, holds a Bachelor of Arts from Southeast Missouri State University and is currently an ethnomusicology student at Bowling Green State University in Ohio. Her main interests lie in American popular music, particularly mainstream chart-pop and punk. Some of her academic pursuits are in online communities, adolescent identity, queer theory, and Irish American music. Her master’s thesis, in progress, studies the queer identities in Fox’s television show Glee.
Big Southern Rap Impresarios: “Big Pimpin” and the Rise of the Dirty South
Justin D Burton—Rider University
Southern musicians have dominated hip hop and R&B charts for well over a decade with signature sounds incorporating woozy synth lines, futuristic highs, and thumping low ends that resonate down the block, across the country, and around the globe. The 90s featured several credits for Southern producers, including Pharell and Timbaland, as well as vibrant local scenes in cities across the region where artists cooked and cut the sounds that would flow through the next decade’s mainstream. By the turn of the millennium, what was underground bubbled up and over, flooding US and global consciousness and drenching listeners’ identities with a bevy of Southernisms.
In this paper, I explore one piece of this story, 1999’s “Big Pimpin,” a Jay-Z track produced by Timbaland and featuring Bun B and Pimp C, the duo who comprise Houston’s UGK. “Big Pimpin” pulls together New York, Virginia, Texas, and, via Timbaland’s primary instrumental sample, Egypt. Perhaps because of the heft of all involved, “Big Pimpin” has become an iconic track from late 90s hip hop, and it sits historically at the beginning of the rise of the Dirty South. Here, I explore “Big Pimpin” in order to consider the overlap of American North and South, the politics of authorship and authenticity in rap, and the relationships forged in the (mis?) appropriation of global sounds in the production of hip hop.
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Justin D Burton is Assistant Professor of Music at Rider University where he works in the Popular Music Culture program. He also serves as the web editor for IASPM-US.
Worship Under Erasure: David Crowder*Band and the Problem of Evangelical “Performance”
Joshua Busman—University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Pop- and rock-styled worship music is one of the most heavily contested markers of evangelicalism in the United States. Over the past three decades, believers have bitter argued over whether “traditional” or “contemporary” musical styles best facilitate “worship,” or unmediated encounter with God. If worship is the ideal for both sides of the debate, the scapegoat for both sides is “performance” which instantly carries connotations of pretense or artifice, potentially obscuring the purity of worship. Because of the concern with preserving worship as a neutral musical space, any strong markers of personal identity in music are instantly coded as performance, and the tension between these two categories is used to police boundaries between authentic and inauthentic expressions of evangelical piety. This has led ethnomusicologist Monique Ingalls––following Derrida––to describe evangelical music-making as “performance under erasure.”
In this paper, I examine the David Crowder*Band as a group that self-consciously challenges these boundaries within Christian popular music by deploying notions of “worship” and “performance” strategically and in tandem. The band’s releases can be placed into four distinct categories which I have identified as “studio,” “remix,” “worship live,” and “concert live,” and which each contain differently-coded and eclectically-styled performances of the same songs. My analysis will demonstrate the ways in which these “self-covers” exploit the liminal spaces between “performance” and “worship” as well as examining the multiple discourses of authenticity which give these categories (and their musical transgressors) power in evangelical communities.
Panel Session 1
Joshua Busman is a Ph.D. candidate in musicology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is currently ABD and working on a dissertation which deals with contemporary evangelical Christian worship music in the United States. In addition to working on his dissertation, Joshua also serves as musical director for Gamelan Nyai Saraswati, a central Javanese ensemble based at UNC-CH. He has recently presented research at national meetings of the Forum on Music and Christian Scholarship, the Society for American Music, and the Society for Ethnomusicology.
Sounding Transgender: Antony Hegarty, Popular Music, and (Trans)Gender Performance
Elliott Scott Cairns—Columbia University
This paper extends Judith Butler’s seminal theory of gender performativity into the realm of popular music, a realm replete with what Philip Auslander has termed “musical personae,” or in other words, performers’ public identities that are caught somewhere in between the fictional and the “real.” Specifically, I argue that Antony Hegarty, who self-identifies as transgender, presents a conscious and bounded transgender performance in the context of his persona as the lead singer and songwriter for Antony and the Johnsons. His persona is a carefully constructed “I,” deeply rooted in the politics of gender; and by examining Antony-as-persona as opposed to Hegarty-as-self, I am able to consider Antony’s presentation of transgenderness as a performance of a specific (trans)gender, politically charged by its very design.
Focusing on his music and specifically his vocal production, I argue that with his singing voice, Antony renders his transgendered self externally audible and recognizable as such, overcoming and transcending the heteronormative implications of the gender binary through sound. I draw from criticism, commentary, interviews with Antony, and scholarship by gender, performance, and vocal theorists, ultimately claiming that in song, and only in song, can he truly overcome the either/or logic of the gender binary, and thus perform a gender of both/and. In the domain of music, Antony’s sounding voice can achieve what his words cannot: his voice embodies his transgender.
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Elliott S. Cairns is a Ph.D. candidate in Historical Musicology at Columbia University where he also serves on the editorial board for Current Musicology. He is an accomplished pianist and a member of Ghostlight, a New York City-based choir recently featured on stage with the Rolling Stones during their “50 Years and Counting” tour. His research interests include critical theory, performance theory, and aesthetics.
Hey Girlfriend: Zines, Gender and Radical Musical Pedagogy
Jessica Calvanico—State University of New York, Stony Brook
For the past eleven years, it is the ladies who have been teaching the next generation of girls to rock. In Portland, Oregon, the first rock camp for girls began with the agenda of fostering young girls’ self-esteem through the creation and performance of rock music. In the years that followed, similar camps began to spring up throughout the US and Europe, and in 2005, Chicago began their very own: Girls Rock! Chicago. True to the D.I.Y. aesthetic and philosophy of punk rock, Girls Rock! Chicago recruited thousands of volunteers at local rock, punk, noise and metal shows. And, in 2009 a collection of Girls Rock! volunteers came together to create a cohesive curriculum for the camp. As a nod to the camp’s riot grrrl roots, the committee created a zine-based curriculum, consisting of five instrument instruction zines (guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, DJ). These zines continue to serve as reference texts for both girls and ladies participating in the camps. Designed for anyone from the most novice to advanced player, and written specifically for and by female musicians, these zines include everything from lists of famous female musicians to amp tone indices to instructions on using a double kick pedal. Compiled from my three years of ethnographic fieldwork as Curriculum Coordinator for Girls Rock! Chicago, I propose this curriculum challenges classical modes of instrument instruction and music theory through a phenomenologically-informed and gender-based pedagogy. Girls Rock! Chicago’s curriculum forces a re-evaluation of the possibilities of a radical musical pedagogy allowing us to map an alternative route of music instruction through social and gendered ways of experiential learning.
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Jessica Calvanico studied the social sciences at the University of Chicago, focusing on linguistic anthropology, music and narrative. She has conducted fieldwork in Washington D.C., Chicago, and the Mississippi Delta. For the past three years, she held the position of Curriculum Coordinator at Girls Rock! Chicago. She recently published a collection of short ethnographic plays entitled Avalon that accompany her performative lecture series. She has performed at the Art Institute of Chicago as well as MoMa PS1. Currently, she teaches in the Theater Arts department at SUNY Stony Brook.
Time to Pretend: The Emerging Adulthood of Indie Rock
Theo Cateforis—Syracus University
While indie rock is a genre that has been notoriously difficult to define, from a sociological perspective it is fair to say that the majority of those involved with the music have been white, middle class twenty-somethings. In many ways indie’s chief demographic—hovering in the post-collegiate years, and engaged in creative, exploratory activities before the onset of full adult and career responsibilities—appears to match what psychologist Jeffrey Jensen Arnett has termed the life stage of “emerging adulthood.” As Arnett shows, the number of Americans dwelling in this inherently liminal space has risen dramatically since the late 1970s, effectively mirroring the ascent of indie rock itself.
This paper examines contemporary indie music through the lens of recent research on emerging adulthood, focusing on two specific manifestations. On the one hand, in songs like MGMT’s 2008 single “Time to Pretend,” one encounters an ambivalence toward the adult and career roles one must assume (in this case the rock star lifestyle); the band highlights this even further in the song’s video, incorporating playful and surrealistic tribal imagery that emphasizes their liminal status. On the other hand, musicians like Ernest Greene of Washed Out and Adam Young of Owl City have written and recorded albums while living at home with their parents, embracing retro 80s electronic and synthesizer styles that offer a certain nostalgic security in a period of life marked by its instability. Taken as a whole, these examples reveal the multifarious nature of both emerging adulthood and indie itself.
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Theo Cateforis is an Associate Professor of Music History and Cultures in the Department of Art & Music Histories at Syracuse University. He is the author of Are We Not New Wave? Modern Pop at the Turn of the 1980s (University of Michigan Press, 2011) and editor of The Rock History Reader (Routledge, Second Edition 2012). His articles have appeared in such journals as the American Music, Current Musicology and the Journal of Popular Music Studies. He is a longtime contributor to The Big Takeover and former member of the indie rock bands Bunsen Honeydew and Four Volts.
Rock Music in the Movie of Cape No.7: Postcolonialism Effect in Taiwanese Musical Culture
Chia Jui Chiang—University of Florida
The role of the rock ‘n’ roll music in a Taiwanese movie, Cape No.7, is not just “music”, but as a bridge that connects the modern Taiwanese ideology of “localization” with the postcolonialism effect of “Japanization” and of Western globalization. The director, Wei, explores this issue by using rock music along with scenes of historical stories within Taiwanese society. The questions are that whether Japanese music counts as part of Taiwanese identity and could rock ‘n’ roll music be a “proper” way to represent the “local?”An elderly character, Mao, singing Japanese songs embodies the fact that people who lived in the late Japanese colonization considered that Japan is part of their identity. Wei combines the scenes of connections of Taiwanese and Japanese, whether political or emotional. And the music in those scenes, from Mao’s solo singing transits to the main character, Ga, with his rock band plays the same piece, serves as a sign to symbolize the inevitability of link between these two countries, even it is a modern form of rock ‘n’ roll. This rock music also reveals the Western hegemony within Taiwanese society.
The Western popular music crossed the sea to Asian and affects the younger generation in the late 20th century. Could Ga enable to get riddle of that, no. The mayor asked them to perform “rock music” as the “local” performing group, but ironically, ruan, the only Taiwanese instrument, cannot be performed because it is not “popular.” Mao has compromised, which also imply the Taiwanese society struggle under the postcolonialism effect of Western domination. In this essay, my intension is to examine the role of rock music in Taiwanese society and to display the fact that Taiwanese music identity actually can’t exclude Japanese and Western effects, but fused together as a whole of formation of Taiwanese music.
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Chia Jui, Chiang, is a Taiwanese who is very interested in the presentation of interdisciplinary performance and the study of the Asian music with its social context that links to national and cultural identity. He holds his Bachelor from National Tainan University of the Arts in Taiwan, majored in Chinese bowed instrument- Erhu and his Master of Ethnomusicology from Universityof Florida. Chiang is also an actively erhuist, performing in Taiwan, American, and around world. Beside the music, he also attended many other types of performance, such as dance and film.
“Good, old fashioned “fun.”: looking to the past for the secret of the band’s success“
Jane Piper Clendinning—Florida State University
The relatively obscure indie pop band fun. rocketed to the top of the charts twice in 2012 with the singles “We are Young” (February/March) and “Some Nights” (September). For an “indie band” they have rapidly attracted an unusually broad, international, and age-diverse fan base, in part through media exposure: for example, their song “We are Young” was featured in an episode of Glee in December 2011, a Chevrolet advertisement during the 2012 Super Bowl, and in a National Public Radio interview. The band’s signature sound combines youthful energy and drive, wordy lyrics engaging current young adult themes, and a dose of good, old fashioned fun: sing-along choruses, catchy anthem-like refrains, doo-wop vocals, African-infused choral harmonies, chord progressions straight out of the 1950s, hip-hop beats (their producer is Jeff Bhasker), and other sounds reminiscent of older hit songs. The combination of elements is infectious and immediately engaging, causing listeners who have only heard excerpts of the songs once or twice in media contexts to seek out the track. Using analytical tools of the music theorist, this paper explores intertextual connections between specific sonic elements of these recent songs and older genres of classic rock and pop songs, then considers the role of memory and nostalgia in the band’s appeal.
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Jane Piper Clendinning is Professor of Music Theory at Florida State University College of Music in Tallahassee, Florida, where she teaches popular music analysis classes to both undergraduate and graduate music majors. She holds degrees in music theory from Samford University (B.S. and B.M.), North Texas State University (M.M.) and Yale University (M.Phil. and Ph.D.). Her textbooks The Musician’s Guide to Theory and Analysis (W. W. Norton, 2nd ed., 2011) and The Musician’s Guide to Fundamentals (W. W. Norton, 2012) were co-authored with Elizabeth West Marvin (Eastman School of Music) and Joel Phillips (Westminster Choir College of Rider University).
Music of In-Between Spaces: Classical Music in the Club
KC Commander—University of Georgia
The National Endowment for the Arts’ 2008 Survey of Public Participation found that audiences are increasingly participating in a variety of arts genres via newer formats of media that include “the internet, recordings, photography, videography, and filmmaking.” As a result, the music industry of the 21st century has provided new formats of experiencing music that include musical spaces. These ‘multi-genre venues’ provide a place where the audience can not only experience different genres night to night but also, during the same performance, exist in between genres where aspects of multiple genres coexist symbiotically.
Through ethnographic research in observation and interview I paint a picture of what these spaces look like and how audience and performer behave with in them as they traverse the musical landscape. In order to do this I am focusing on one specific space: a New York music venue called (Le) Poisson Rouge whose reputation largely surrounds its programming of a wide range of the arts, from classical, rock, punk and the avant-garde. Specifically, I will examine how LPR, a venue largely with the aesthetics of rock and punk, presents classical music to its audiences and form a comparison with traditional experiences in the concert hall setting. In looking at a specific genre among a multitude of others – and a genre whose consumption trends are a point of contention among recent public participation surveys – I will be able to profile audience and performer as they exist in the in-between spaces of genre.
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KC Commander is currently pursuing a Master of Arts in Musicology at the University of Georgia. She is a former intern at both Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (2010) and Wolf Trap Foundation for the Performing Arts (2008). She earned a Bachelor of Music in Music Theory in 2007.
Frank Zappa and the collapse of borderlines
Jacopo Conti–Università degli Studi di Torino
Frank Zappa built all of his career and his image on “in-betweenness”: making fun of conventions and unwritten rules of the rock world (and business), but at the same time, presenting his “serious” compositions, showing a strong criticism about the world of “art” music, he claimed to be part of both worlds, without belonging to them – they belonged to him.
After the research for a PhD thesis on the influences of popular music on art music, this paper has two parallel purposes:
1. Analyzing how Zappa– though photographs, interviews, writings, proxemics on stage and by narrating himself his musical training – created his image of both cultured-rocker and rock-serious composer, with particular attention on the role he gave in this operation to written music (which won’t be analyzed in a “classical” way, but considered as a symbol – to rock audiences – for “musical knowledge”).
2. Considering how “traditional” musicology (Paddison 1982; Ashby 1999) tried to “dignify” Zappa’s music by reading it through Adorno’s theories, using his early performances and his statements to juxtapose him to modernism (particularly, the Second Viennese School); and how, before and after his death, he has been “sanctified” in the name of Edgard Varèse.
Aim of this paper is not stating whether Zappa wa sa serious composer or a rock musician, neither saying that he was both: it is showing how he played with borderlines (he knew them very well, despite what he always said) and demonstrating that he should be studied with both traditional and “popular” methodologies.
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Jacopo Conti earned his Ph.D. in popular music (Influences of popular music on art music. Three cases: Fausto Romitelli, Heiner Goebbels and Frank Zappa) with prof. Franco Fabbri, his M.A. in Contemporary Music with an analysis of Fausto Romitelli’s compositions and his B.A. in Modern Music with a work about King Crimson from Università degli Studi di Torino (Italy). He’s a musician, composer, and teaches modern guitar performing techniques and music theory. He translated the Italian edition of Philip Tagg’s Everyday Tonality and wrote the chapter about the Italian songwriter Lucio Battisti for the book Made in Italy (Routledge, 2013).
“Hoping to Take You Away”: Nostalgia in The Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour
Kathryn Cox—University of Michigan
The Beatles released Magical Mystery Tour in December 1967, at the height of their psychedelic era. There is no denying the impact of drugs and psychedelia on the Beatles in 1967, but the resulting act of using these influences to turn to the inner self deserves more discussion. 1967 was the year after they stopped touring and the year their manager Brian Epstein died: both drastic changes to the everyday reality they had known for the past several years. Remnants of the past, such as childhood memories and markers of British heritage, came to the forefront of the Beatles’ creative minds as a source of stability, and this is especially perceptible in Magical Mystery Tour, both in the soundtrack and in the film.
The Beatles’ works from this year are typically framed as experiments in psychedelia, but by drawing on theories on memory and nostalgia from Maurice Halbwachs, Pierre Nora, and Svetlana Boym, I show how in Magical Mystery Tour, the Beatles constructed a world not only of modernizing psychedelia, but also a world deeply rooted in nostalgia. The Beatles, symbols of a new Britain, demonstrate a historical consciousness that rewrites the reality of the post-war world to move into a created world that revels in the mythology and memory of World War II and the post-war dream. In Magical Mystery Tour, the Beatles reference the past to try to come to terms with, and find stability in, the longer national history of which they are a part.
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Kathryn B. Cox is a doctoral candidate in historical musicology at the University of Michigan, and her research focuses on memory and identity in 1960’s-1970’s British rock groups (particularly the Beatles, the Kinks, the Who, and Pink Floyd). Her dissertation, entitled “‘What Happened to the Post-War Dream?’: Nostalgia, Trauma, and Affect in 1960s and 1970s British Rock,” is supported this year by the Rackham Humanities Research Fellowship. Her research and teaching interests include popular music; late-19th/early 20th-century Austro-Hungarian music; music and globalization; and music, text, and language. She earned her B.A. in music from the University of Chicago in 2007.
No-place Like Utopia: Queering the American Dream in Musical Theatre
Christopher Culp–University at Buffalo, SUNY
As an ideological apparatus, the Musical prescribes optimism through the acceptance of an individual into society en route to the American Dream. A character’s failure to complete this journey is often a comedic trope, e.g. “Somewhere That’s Green” from Little Shop of Horrors and “Sal Tlay Ka Siti” from The Book of Mormon. But hope remains, however traumatized the characters become. More curiously, Musicals have remained a powerful locus of queer subjectivity despite the Musical’s ideology of the (heternormative) American Dream. How does queer sensibility deal with this contradiction of interests? The answer lies in the aforementioned performance of failed hope. By employing what Judith Halberstam and Heather Love call the queer art of failure, these ‘failed’ characters perform alternate realities to hegemonic discourse akin to the ways queers have created alternative worlds within heteronormative society. While taking comedic pleasure in recognizing the relationship between trauma and hope, a critical distance is felt between the American Dream and oppressed subjectivity. The audience feels the discrepancy ideological conflict. The gap between the two is further amplified by Musical Theatre’s ability to dialectically situate reality and utopia through the “break” into song. By rupturing the narrative’s metaphysics with the pseudo-utopia of musical expression, musical numbers have the ability to critique the American Dream and gesture towards a somewhere else, a not-place with utopian potentiality. Little Shop and Mormon productively combine failure and the break into song to create not-places of queer subjectivity that queer subjects have been feeling throughout the Musical’s history.
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Christopher M. Culp has a Masters of Music in Clarinet Performance and a Masters of Arts in Philosophy. A clarinetist of both classical and contemporary styles, he performs solo and with chamber ensembles. He is currently a PhD student in Musicology at University at Buffalo writing his dissertation on Serial Television Musical Episodes (like Buffy the Vampire Slayer) and researching issues of Sincerity in Modernist/Postmodernist discourse, Queer Studies, Philosophy of Music, and the Metaphysics of Musical Drama. As a philosopher, Chris works to bring all of these elements of performance, research, and history into his daily life and work.
Ghost in the Shell: A Study of the Dynamic Relationship Between Audio Engineers and Audio Engineering Apparatus
Christopher James Dahlie—University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
As the music industry wades through a technological crossroads, audio engineers, traditionally the prime technological inscribers of popular music onto media, have a large but largely unseen role in what we listen to every day. What I wish to explore in this paper is the experience of a sample of audio engineers regarding the shift from analog to digital craft production techniques. In framing the Heideggerian notion of circumspection, a function of tools ready-to-hand-becoming present-to-hand, I want to create a richer account of a shift in production technology than the hyperbolic digital/analog debates sometimes found in popular, professional, and academic discourse. Using this as an example case, I wish to propose and support the notion that shifts in technology, even in craft communities, are not experienced catastrophically, yet nor do they go unnoticed. Experience as shaped by the tools ready-to-hand does not make a hard break from the past when said tools change; rather, the tools are set into larger context of equipment and practices that form an immanent and overdetermined totality. More specifically, I wish to complicate popular and even academic imaginaries regarding the binary of analog and digital media. To quote Derrida, “if things were simple, word would have gotten around.” This study attempts to enter the field of sensory ethnography through multiple methods including cross-compared interviews, autoethnography, participant observation, and audio/video.
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Christopher Dahlie is a doctoral student in Communication Studies at UNC Chapel Hill, whose area of interest is the intersection of media, technology, and labor. His project sheds light on the often overlooked role of audio engineers in the live concert industry, and their role in shaping audience experience. This project gathers data through participant observation, technological history, and ethnographic interviews. Theories influencing Chris’ reading of the data include political economy, phenomenology, cultural studies, and media theory. Chris teaches courses on Popular Music and Youth Culture and Intermediate Media Production. He also serves in the summer as Head Audio Engineer for Chautauqua Institution.
The Limits of Digitalism, or When Software Becomes Hardware
Michael D’Errico—University of California, Los Angeles
“Analog” instruments are often valued over their “digital” counterparts for their perceived technical limitations. For many DJs and producers alike, being limited to two turntables and vinyl records still represents a certain technical simplicity and comfort, imbuing their music with a sonic “warmth” thought to be lacking in digital productions. Indeed, entire subcultures within electronic dance music culture have constructed this minimalist, analog aesthetic as a guiding force in creating tracks for both the studio record and the dance floor. However, recent trends in electronic dance music production counter the limitations of analog tools with the “freedom” of digital software to create “any sound you can imagine” (Theberge), resulting in a flashy and deliberately bombastic sound often decried as “Digital Maximalism.” Yet, even as these producers attempt to push the processing limits of digital software—a virtual medium imagined as free of constraints—they confront a new generation of conceptual and technical limitations.
Through an examination of the technical capabilities of two popular digital audio tools, iZotope’s StutterEdit and Native Instruments’s Massive, as well as close reading of musical tracks that utilize these devices, I will demonstrate the ways in which virtual evocations of the physical gestures of “analog” instruments—the turntable “cut” and the twiddling of synthesizer modulation knobs—become affective tools in the production of digital electronic dance music. Massive allows dubstep producers to automate the manipulation of oscillator frequencies, thus turning the physical manipulation of knobs and faders into rhythmic gesture; StutterEdit allows for a fine-tuned live manipulation of the human voice, thus transporting the logic of turntablism to real-time sonic input. In either case, as producers increasingly embrace the “maximalist” ethos encouraged by emerging digital tools, the limits of digitalism are revealed to be not necessarily limits of the technology itself, but rather the interface between the body and the computer interface, the hardware and the software.
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Mike D’Errico is a PhD student in the UCLA Department of Musicology and the Digital Humanities Graduate Certificate Program. His research interests and performance activities include hip-hop and electronic dance music, video games and generative media, and sound studies. He is currently a graduate student representative of IASPM-US, as well as the technical editor for two UCLA music journals, Echo: a music-centered journal and Ethnomusicology Review.
Wobble Wobble Get Back: Elements of Space in the Sissy Bounce Diaspora
Jessica Dilday—University of North Carolina, Charlotte
The spectacle of live sissy bounce music – a high-energy genre known for its repetitive call and response chanting over a rapid beat – has grown from a local phenomenon specific to queer-friendly clubs in New Orleans into an international sensation. Bounce is gaining mainstream press as a form of radical self-expression through its adoption and popularization by college-town queers and big-city hipsters alike. Live sissy bounce shows allow a safe, judgment free space for anyone – despite their geographic or sexual orientation – to connect with their body in ways that are highly sexualized in most other contexts. Bounce performances breaks down the hidden boundaries and the Victorian-esque shame many of us have surrounding the public display of masturbatory movement. Any movement involving the hips tends to be hypersexualized in Western culture, largely performed by women for the male gaze. Sissy bounce artists, however, create safe spaces for audience members of all gender expressions to express themselves without being objectified. Bounce movement – centered on the uninhibited movement of ass and thighs – also demands physical space. The reevaluation of gender performativity and promotion of personal space makes sissy bounce performance appealing to queers globally. I draw from my experience as a DJ and promoter of queer college-town bounce parties in NC to examine the dynamics of sissy bounce performance, including sissy bounce’s challenge to the heteropolitics of ass-shaking and the ways in which this genre struggles to keep itself queer across contexts.
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Jessica Dilday is a MA student in Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte whose interests include local music scenes, dance floor dynamics, queer theory, and musical activism. She is also a DJ, planner and promoter of queer-friendly dance parties in North Carolina. Jessica’s current research focuses on the growing popularity of New Orleans sissy bounce as a form of radical self-expression.
The HooDoo Chasers: George Clinton, Mumbo Jumbo and the Elusive “Text of Blackness”
Benjamin G. Doleac—The University of California, Los Angeles
In 1985, author Rickey Vincent asked George Clinton about the origins of the mythological universe he had conceived with his Parliament-Funkadelic collective. In response, Clinton asked, “Have you ever read Mumbo Jumbo?”A farcical, fabulist account of the controversy and hysteria surrounding early jazz and the ragtime craze in American cities during the 1920s, Ishmael Reed’s 1972 novel proved to be a formative influence on Clinton’s work. The book’s plot centers around the emergence of the “Jes Grew,” an “anti-plague” which emerges in 1920 and sets about freeing the minds and bodies of young people both black and white from New Orleans to Manhattan.
In Clinton’s P-Funk cosmology, Reed’s Jes Grew becomes “the Funk,” an uncontainable, self-multiplying force that spreads throughout the universe. Like the Jes Grew, the Funk is a text in search of a medium. And like the Jes Grew, the Funk is viewed by its vectors and protectors as the life principle itself and condemned by its enemies as a plague and a threat. Both are iterations of what Henry Louis Gates calls the “text of blackness.” In this paper I examine the ways both Clinton and Reed employ the elusive “text of blackness” as a trope in order to comment upon notions of authenticity in black music, embodying the epistemological indeterminacy and ideological ambiguity which Paul Gilroy, in his influential book The Black Atlantic, calls “anti-anti-essentialism.”
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A Ph.D student in Ethnomusicology at UCLA, Ben Doleac’s current research interests include the roots of funk music in New Orleans. His master’s thesis, “‘Ready to Spread’: P-Funk and the Politics of Signifyin(g),” addresses rhetorical play and mystical utopianism in the music and mythology of George Clinton and Parliament-Funkadelic.
“A Girl’s Work is Never Done”: Girls on the Edges of Rebellion
Sarah Dougher—Portland State University
Before the hey-day of girl groups in the late 1950s, there were a number of groups – the Chordettes, the McGuire Sisters, the Poni-Tales – that had a brief flurry of popularity at a transitional moment for popular music. More Lawrence Welk than Alan Freed, these acts were white, and often from small towns or suburbs in the Midwestern U.S., reflecting in their performance styles and appearances a link to female musical aesthetic that showed up most plainly in sister acts of the 1940s. The sound would remain popular through the 1950s, as such groups found their way to popularity in part through the television program Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts. Warwick (2008), Stras (2010) and Stos (2012) all explore the ways that later girl groups reflect ideals and anxieties about girlhood, race and class, as well as teen girls’ identity formation through the creation and consumption of this music. These groups, I argue, reflect a different, but related set of concerns. Although they predate the girl group phenomenon and are generally characterized as “vocal groups” or “girl singers” they prefigure the rise of music specifically targeted at teens, and reflect an image that bears a close resemblence to young, white middle- and working- class wives following World War II (many of whom were, in fact, teenagers). Their lack of overt rebellion has rendered them invisible to both music and feminist critics, yet their music and performance styles reflect an important transitional moment for women (and girls) engaging in the public sphere of popular music.
Panel Session 2
Sarah Dougher is an adjunct professor in the Department of Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Portland State University. She has been teaching courses about American popular music and gender since 2002, and is currently working on a book about tweens and music with Dr. Diane Pecknold. An active composer, she is currently working on a large, collaborative choir piece with choirs in Orange County, CA, which will be performed in January, 2014.
“Where’s the Orchestra?”: Billy Joel Beyond (the) Piano Man
Joshua S Duchan—Wayne State University
Upon its release, The Nylon Curtain (1982) represented the most ambitious work yet for singer-songwriter Billy Joel. His earlier records, which comprised mostly singable pop tunes and love songs, established an identity firmly within the world of pop and easy listening. But with The Nylon Curtain, Joel endeavored to mediate his image artistically, blurring genre boundaries by offering a sophisticated song cycle that engaged national and global politics as well as currents of change in the American social landscape.
This study considers the motivation for and methods of such boundary crossing by examining the album’s finale, “Where’s the Orchestra?” Here, meanings are layered musically and lyrically to cultivate a sense of distanced confusion, disappointment, and resignation as both a commentary on and a response to the album’s broader themes: frustration with American deindustrialization and economic hardship, involvement in overseas conflicts, and changing social norms (especially with regard to gender). Beyond considering the song’s lyrics, whose protagonist takes in a night at the theater yet is perplexed by its complete lack of musical accompaniment, this analysis considers the contributions of musical factors (including melodic/harmonic construction, orchestration, recording techniques) to the song’s poignant mood, investigating how Joel stylistically references the worlds of theater and chamber music to suggest a persona vastly different from the one he previously projected. Thus, this paper adds to the scant scholarship on Joel by shedding new light on historical sensitivities and musical subtlety that reveal this popularAmerican singer-songwriter as more than simply the “piano man.”
Panel Session 3
Joshua S. Duchan, Ph.D. studies American popular music, with a particular interest in vocal music. His recent book, Powerful Voices: The Musical and Social World of Collegiate A Cappella (University of Michigan Press, 2012), focuses on student singing culture at American colleges and universities from both ethnographic and historical perspectives. He is currently conducting a study of the life and works of Billy Joel. Dr. Duchan teaches courses in music history and ethnomusicology at Wayne State University, where he is Assistant Professor of Music.
Truck Drivin’ Men
Jason T. Eastman—Coastal Carolina University
Douglas Schrock—Florida State University
For as long as there have been highways, folk music has depicted truck drivers as blue-collar icons of masculinity; as modern-day pioneers who answer the call of the open road with 18 wheels. As trucking remains one of the most common (and dangerous) occupations in the rapidly declining blue-collar labor market, the long haul trucker has arguably become the iconic working-class man of song. Our analysis of over eight-hundred songs about truck driving men reveals how the songs: (1) valorize the occupation by celebrating trucking’s centrality to the larger economy and truckers’ unique human capital; (2) glorify the bravery and skill truckers use to navigate the risks of the road, including corrupt authority figures; and (3) reinforce heteornomativity by framing truckers as either hypersexual adventurers or committed breadwinners who sacrifice for their wives and children. We argue these gendered representations in popular music emphasize masculine pride in a dangerous, unpleasant, and stigmatized occupation, which may help the industry recruit new drivers and keep experienced drivers committed.
Panel Session 1
Jason Eastman received his PhD in sociology from Florida State University. Currently he is an Assistant Professor at Coastal Carolina University and the editor-in-chief of the blog Sociology Sounds. As a symbolic interactionist, Jason researches how racial, class and gender inequalities are reproduced through identity and culture, often by drawing upon his experiences as a former musician in his studies on music.
Doug Schrock examines the reproduction and challenging of inequalities from an interactionist perspective. Much of his work focuses on gender, with a focus on culture and identity, emotion and embodiment, and personal and social change. He is an Associate Professor in the department of sociology at Florida State University.
Taxidermy and Turntables: Music at the American Museum of Natural History, 1939–1954
Craig Eley – The University of Iowa
This presentation analyzes the use of recorded sound at the American Museum of Natural History as a way to question the boundaries between music and sound, humans and animals, and “originals” and “copies.” Faced with the challenges of a rapidly changing media landscape and the ever-present problem of “museum fatigue,” the museum installed a sound system in 1939 in order to attract new patrons and hold the interest of the ones already there. These first “experiments in music” were daily programs including a combination of classical compositions, popular songs, ethnographic recordings, field recordings, and live commentary by members of the museum staff. Over the next decade, this program expanded, culminating with an exhibit on the Peruvian rainforest featuring sounds from Peru, Columbia, the Bronx Zoo, and a Manhattan bathtub. It would go on to be the longest-running special exhibit in the museum’s history.
By placing turntables among the taxidermy, the museum and its staff made explicit some of the long-standing connections between sound recording, death, and preservation. At the same time, by choosing to “bring the displays to life” through sound, they made arguments—often imperfect and inaccurate ones—about the ability of sound and music to construct meaning and create awareness about native peoples and the non-built environment. This presentation uses these narratives to complicate the dominant historical belief that natural history museums were primarily visual experiences, and to situate elements of popular music history within the frameworks of environmental sound practices and natural history.
Panel Session 7
Craig Eley is a Ph.D. Candidate in American Studies at the University of Iowa. For the 2012-2013 academic year he is also a Smithsonian Predoctoral Fellow, an Obermann Graduate Fellow and a HASTAC Scholar. His research interests include the history of recorded sound, American environmental history, and the history of science and technology. His dissertation project, “Making Silence Audible: Sound, Nature, Technology, 1890-1970” is a cultural history of nature records. He currently lives in Austin, TX.
Becoming Mediterranean: Aris San and the Greek Heterotopias of Israel in the 1960s
Oded Erez—University of California, Los Angeles
During the 1960s, Israel saw the rise of “The Greek Wave.” Urban nightlife and the musical entertainment scene in Tel Aviv and other cities developed a growing taste for Greek music and culture. This trend was primarily indebted to the charismatic presence of musician-entrepreneur Aris San, a Christian Greek who came to Israel in 1957. An electric guitar virtuoso, he adapted the Greek Bouzouki style and technique to the guitar, recording dozens of albums throughout the 1960s and developing a cult following around his signature sound.
Neither a jew nor an Arab, San was in a unique position to violate the taboo on Arabness is Israeli culture. My paper explores the performance spaces he created as what Michael Foucault calls heterotopias: places simultaneously inside and outside the political order and social topography. As musical spaces, they also form what Josh Kun has termed audiotopias: “contact zones” providing the lived and imagined terrain by which disparate cultures and geographies are allowed to interact in relationships whose consequences are never predetermined.
I show how the peculiar history of the Greek popular music and Greece’s Ottoman past feed into this transposition of Greekness, a cultural borderland of the East and West, into the Israeli context. Via this transposition a space was created where the military and political Ashkenazi (European-Jewish) elite could indulge in all that was charming and forbidden about the Levantine Other, while non-European Jews found a potent semiotic resource for articulating Mizrahi (Eastern) identity.
Panel Session 4
Oded Erez is a doctoral student in the Department of Musicology at UCLA. His research brings together critical theory and the study of popular music. Recent work includes papers on the politics of quotation, music in film, and the construction of masculinity in singer-songwriter music. His dissertation explores transnational aspects in the emergence of musiqah Mizrahit (Oriental music), a popular genre in Israel.
Justice, Culture and Music – The Anthropology of Intellectual Property Law in Post-Apartheid South Africa
Veit Erlmann – University of Texas, Austin
Saturday Lunchtime Plenary
Veit Erlmann is an anthropologist/ethnomusicologist and the Endowed Chair of Music History at the University of Texas at Austin. He held previous appointments at the University of Chicago, the University of Natal, the University of the Witwatersrand and the Free University of Berlin. He has won numerous prizes, including the Alan P.Merriam award for the best English monograph in ethnomusicology, the Arnold Rubin Outstanding Publication Award of the Arts Council of the African Studies Association and the Mercator Prize of the German Research Foundation DFG. He has published widely on music and popular culture in South Africa, including African Stars. Studies in Black South African Performance; Nightsong. Performance, Power and Practice in South Africa; and Music, Modernity and the Global Imagination. South Africa and the West. His most recent publication is Reason and Resonance. A History of Modern Aurality (Zone Books, 2010). Currently he is working on a book on intellectual property in the South African music industry that will be published by Duke University Press.
Edge of Insanity: Tony MacAlpine and Virtuosity as Transcendence
Kevin Fellezs—Columbia University
In 1986, African American guitarist Tony MacAlpine released his debut recording, Edge of Insanity, on Shrapnel Records. A blistering example of so-called shred guitar, MacAlpine soon established himself as one of the premiere examples of an emerging subgenre of heavy metal music called neoclassical fusion. Unlike many of his peers, however, MacAlpine was also a virtuoso on keyboards, performing Chopin’s Prelude 16, Opus 28 on the piano for Edge of Insanity. His exemplary guitar and keyboard work are displayed on largely instrumental recordings though he has flirted with vocals and mainstream rock recordings. Moreover, MacAlpine was featured in French pop singer Michel Polnareff’s 2007 comeback tour. His core repertoire, however, remains virtuosic instrumental rock that incorporates his classical training and love of “shred metal” that undermines stereotypic notions of the connections between race, genre, and virtuosity. Additionally, I hope to re-examine the notion of virtuosity as a liberatory strategy. Indeed, I mean to extend scholarship on heavy metal guitar virtuosity by arguing that MacAlpine does not merely seek the discursive legitimacy that classical music can give a heavy metal musician but, as an African American guitarist, he uses the kind of virtuosity that is linked to the European concert tradition as a means for transcending the stereotypes of black musicians as primitivist talents who draw on reserves of emotional excess rather than as schooled musicians whose abilities have been trained and crafted by diligent study and practice.
Panel Session 2
Kevin Fellezs is an Assistant Professor of Music at Columbia University, where he shares a joint appointment in the Institute for Research in African-American Studies. His book titled Birds of Fire: Jazz, Rock, Funk and the Creation of Fusion (Duke University Press, 2011) is a study of fusion (jazz-rock-funk) music of the 1970s framed by insights drawn from ethnic studies, jazz studies, and popular music studies. Fellezs has also published articles on African American musicians in heavy metal and enka (Japanese popular music genre), Asian American jazz musicians, and Hawaiian slack key guitar.
Contesting the Love Song in the 1980s: Madonna Sings “Like a Virgin”
Ross Fenimore—Davidson College
At the time of its release, music critics derided Madonna’s song “Like a Virgin” (1984) as emblematic of a bubble-gum aesthetic. People magazine declared it a “tolerable bit of fluff” while the year-end review in Rolling Stone relished the song’s “whipped cream tastiness” only to dismiss the song as spectacle. However, this pop-fluff aesthetic—shaped predominantly by Madonna’s carefully affected voice—foregrounded a powerful challenge to growing reactionary political movements in the U.S. Political figures like the Reverend Jerry Falwell, who sought to heal perceived “decay” of the nation’s morality, and Phyllis Schlafly, who staunchly opposed the Equal Rights Amendment believing that it would dissolve the “natural” institution of marriage, fought for seemingly authentic gender roles of the 1950s that had been disrupted by the political turmoil of the 60s and 70s. The boundaries of sexual mores became increasingly fraught in the public sphere.
In this paper, I argue that Madonna’s singing exposes the artificial borders that frame the social construction of virginity. Furthermore, her performances critiqued the political motives of marriage’s naturalization. This paper considers the girl group sound Madonna cultivated in her sophomore album. I look retrospectively to 60s politics through the love songs of African-American girl groups whose sonic optimism masked underlying social inequalities; furthermore, I consider Madonna’s turn to the genre as a means to contest the love song in a new period of turmoil. How did Madonna’s performances undermine cultural nostalgia and the impossible demands it placed on sexual propriety in the 1980s?
Panel Session 2
Ross Fenimore is Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Davidson College. He received his PhD from UCLA and is presently working on a book that examines subjectivity, sexuality, and narrative in the songs of Madonna as they are recorded, filmed as videos, and performed live on stage over time. He also has an interest in the singing divas of the Hollywood Studio System and has published on music and sound design in Psycho.
Clave is the key… to what?: The use of clave in Mexican rock
Adriana Martinez Figueroa
Since the late 1980s, a significant portion of Mexican rock has been involved in a self-conscious search for a distinctively “Mexican” sound through the use of folk elements in music, lyrics, and visual promotional materials. Among the elements that Mexican rock musicians draw on to create this distinctive sound appear many materials that have a hybrid origin outside of Mexican folk music, such as elements of Afro-Caribbean musics like cumbia, danzón, and salsa. In songs by Caifanes, Maná, Café Tacuba, Maldita Vecindad and others, musical references to indigenous and mestizo musics function within the rhythmic framework of clave, a rhythmic pattern of Cuban origin which has its own set of theoretical and cultural ambiguities.
This paper explores issues of ethnicity, class, political resistance and authenticity raised by the use of clave in Mexican rock. That such a hybrid musical element should be chosen by these artists as a musical signifier of Mexicanness reflects the multivalent nature of such musical signifiers, which may point to more than one semiotic meaning. Moreover, such use ultimately reflects the capacity of Mexican culture to absorb seemingly disparate elements and transform them, a quality that pervades Mexican cultural practices and which throws into question traditional views of authenticity, folk culture, and cultural identity. The hybridity and syncretism of these popular musics enhances their value, by successfully articulating the many ethnic, social, and cultural ambiguities of Mexican national identity.
Panel Session 7
Born in Mexico City, Mexico, Adriana Martínez received PhD in Musicology from the Eastman School of Music of the University of Rochester in 2009. Her research interests include twentieth century music, American music, popular music, and gender studies, among others. She has presented her research at national and international conferences, including those held by AMS, SAM, IMS and IASPM. Her dissertation explored the musical nationalisms (art and popular) of Mexico and the United States in the context of the binational relationship. Adriana is also an active singer as a soloist and as a member of choral and theater groups. She currently lives in Tucson, AZ.
Bass 101: Miami, Rio, and the Global Music South
David Font-Navarrete—Duke University
Since the 1980s, electronic percussion and synthesizers in the very low frequency spectrum—in a range of sound that lies at the edge or below hearing—have come to characterize a number of musical genres and sub-genres. The sounds of the Roland TR-808 drum machine are one manifestation of this phenomenon: the pure, percussive sine waves of its bass drum—as heard and (more to the point) felt through subwoofers—are synonymous with Miami Bass and (more recently and much more generally) the Dirty South. Miami Bass was arguably the most notable genre to fetishize the low end. Aside from a pervasive, if sometimes latent influence on Rap and Hip-Hop, Miami Bass has also transmitted its sonic DNA to a variety of other genres.
This paper examines Miami Bass as a pivotal sonic marker of the North American and Global South. Tracing movements of its distinct sounds and rhythmic figures—from marching bands to Miami Bass to Brazilian Baile Funk and beyond—I offer a historical, technological, and cultural introduction to the genre’s sound and influence. In particular, I draw connections between Miami Bass and Baile Funk (also known as Funk Carioca) in Rio de Janeiro, two genres whose shared history has remained somewhat obscure despite an obvious musical kinship. The paper will also consider Miami Bass as a case study in the circulation of musical sounds after they are detached from their historical and cultural points of origin.
Panel Session 5
David Font-Navarrete, PhD is an artist, musician, and ethnomusicologist. He is currently a Lecturing Fellow at the Duke University Thompson Writing Program.
Amidst and Among: The Permanance of Liminality in the Expression of Identity within the Guatemalan Marimba Orquesta Scene
Jack W Forbes—University of Florida
The sound of marimba orquesta is the sound of escapism. Fans save their money for months to dance their troubles away for several hours and musicians strive to make that particular night one to be remembered. In Guatemala, however, one can never escape the politics of identity, so embedded within every aspect of the country’s history and present via social class, ethnicity, and gender, among other demographic descriptors. In my research with marimba orquesta musicians, I am always struck by not only the tenacity of identity politics within the musical genre, but also by the musicians’ active manipulation of the discourses surrounding various identity categories/labels for their own performative purposes. In partial response to Timothy Rice’s (2007) call for more theoretical work on identity within the field of ethnomusicology, this paper presents a model for viewing the expression of identity that follows the musician off-stage and into daily life. Indeed, the purposeful use of identity politics in musical expression does not stop when the show is over. Combining an expansion of Turner’s multi-faceted concept of liminality and Foucault’s tripartite model of discursive practice, I propose a theory of identity tailored specifically for ethnomusicological study. Drawing from my field research with Guatemalan marimba orquestas in 2007 and 2009, I hope to provoke further discussion among ethnomusicologists, questioning not just how we study identity but why and to what extent.
Panel Session 8
Jack W. Forbes is a Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of Florida, where he was a University Alumni fellow, Fulbright-Hays fellow, and director of Marimba Ayin. He is currently working on his dissertation, titled “Que siga la fiesta: A Social History and Ethnography of Guatemalan Marimbas Orquestas.” Mr. Forbes has taught for UF’s School of Music and Center for Latin American Studies, as well as the Anthropology Department of the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala. His research interests include music and politics, performance theory, and popular music of the Americas.
“Five Feet High and Rising”: Nashville Flood Relief and Country Music Fandom as an Act of Philanthropy
Robert Fry—Vanderbilt University
On May first, 2010, much of Nashville was devastated as the Cumberland River crested at twelve feet above flood stage. While residential and commercial areas throughout the city were underwater, it was Nashville’s places of performance, production, and preservation that received the most media attention. The Grand Ole Opry and the Country Music Hall of Fame became the center of Nashville’s disaster relief as musical artists associated with these landmarks stepped forward to raise money for Nashville and to mobilize their fan bases. Through a plea from city officials and country music artists, fans were appointed the responsibility of saving and bringing normalcy back to Nashville.
This newly allocated role in the preservation and continuance of Nashville and its country music legacy transferred the fan experience from a touristic act of escapism to a performance of philanthropy. Through such a performance, fans claimed ownership of Nashville and the responsibility for its safeguarding and continuance. However, this activism was not meant to save Nashville alone, but also what the city and its musical identity represented to the fans. In this paper, I suggest that the appointed role as activist blurred clear distinctions between host and guest communities, providing fans with the unique and perceivably “authentic” opportunity to intimately interact with the country music tradition, country music artists, and Music City. By saving Nashville, fans were saving their musical home and ensuring their place in both the country music legacy and Nashville’s continuing country music identity.
Panel Session 7
The Cosmopolitan and the Indigenous in Janka Nabay’s ‘Bubu’ Music
Michael Gallope—University of Chicago
Sierra Leonean musician Janka Nabay’s infectious style of “bubu” electronic dance music became known to westerners this past year, when a group of musicians associated with the indie and experimental music scenes in Brooklyn formed a new backing band for Nabay’s music. In a frequently recounted narrative in the American press, Nabay describes how, in the 1990s, he modernized Islamic bubu processional music (that was originally played on bamboo flutes and exhaust pipes) into a highly kinetic style of electronica that echoes elements of Afro-beat, house music, and the juke/footwork scene from Chicago’s south side. While Nabay maintains his modernization of bubu was inspired both by international pop icons like Bob Marley and Michael Jackson and his syncretic religious faith (“80% Muslim, 20% Christian, and 100% African”, which is typical for Sierra Leoneans), he also claims that what makes it “#1 music” is its ability to powerfully represent a truly indigenous cultural tradition. Drawing on field notes, interviews, and some musical analysis, I will argue that the indigenous and the cosmopolitan exist in agonistic conflict in Nabay’s music; his latest album in particular, En Yay Sah (2012), is structured by complex networks of ownership and financial compensation just as it is subject to a wide range of aesthetic translations among urban audiences in the United States. As such, bubu music presents us with a highly problematic instance of Wayne Marshall has classified as “World Music 2.0,” a movement marked by artists who openly assimilate the free exchange of intellectual property set in motion by twenty-first century digital culture.
Panel Session 7
Michael Gallope is musicologist and teaches as a Harper-Schmidt Fellow at the University of Chicago. His primary research explores the philosophy and intellectual history of music, with a particular focus on literate and vernacular modernisms of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. He is presently at work on his first book, “Deep Refrains: Music, Modernism, and Speculative Practice Beyond the Linguistic Turn” that narrates an intellectual history of five themes in twentieth-century musical thought: 1) the metaphysical tone, 2) speculative historicism, 3) ineffability, 4) rhythm and life, and 5) suffering and ecstasy. His work is published or forthcoming in issues of The Journal of the American Musicological Society, The Journal of Musicology, The Journal of Music Theory, Perspectives of New Music, Contemporary Music Review, and three edited volumes.
Between the Circus and the Marching Band: Alternative Street Bands Rejuvenate a Time-Honored Tradition
Reebee Garofalo—University of Massachusetts, Boston
At the 2006 Grammy Awards, Kanye West crossed borders when he performed a mash-up of “Gold Digger” and “I Got a Woman” with Jamie Foxx, accompanied by two marching bands. During the same time frame, Josh Kun opined in the New York Times that “Awareness of international brass styles has blossomed in recent years in the United States. . . . Listen to enough brass band music and you start to hear the history of the world handed back to you in a horn section.” Kun had his finger on the pulse of a resurgence of brass street bands that was just beginning to find its way into the popular imagination. These bands recall a time-honored tradition when there were community marching bands in every town in the country. But they now draw on border-crossing musical influences as diverse as Balkan, Klezmer, Romani, punk, reggae, salsa, banda, cumbia, and the New Orleans Second Line Tradition, and visual practices that range from updated steam punk images and grand scale puppetry to Carnivale and the circus. Acoustic and mobile, these bands most often ply their craft in ephemeral public performances at street level. They are community-based, and civically engaged—often performing for social and political causes—but seldom tied to any institution. As such, they are only just becoming a recognisable category of musical practice. In this presentation, I will explore this burgeoning movement as it relates to conceptions of community, the reclamation of public space, and the practice of activist politics.
Panel Session 1
Reebee Garofalo is a professor at UMass Boston, where he is affiliated with the College of Public and Community Service and the American Studies Program. He is the founding director of the CPCS program in Community Media and Technology and serves as the Principal Investigator for the Transmission Project’s Digital Arts Service Corps grant. Garofalo has written several books and numerous articles on the history and politics of popular music, copyright and digital downloading, racism, censorship, and the globalization of the music industry. His most recent book is Rockin’ Out: Popular Music in the USA. He is a member of the Executive Committee and past Chairperson of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music-US, and an editor for several popular music journals, including the Journal of Popular Music Studies. His presentations and consultancies have included Farm Aid, the Experience Music Project, and the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, as well as numerous academic and community-based conferences and organizations.
Throwing the Book Away: Participatory and Experimental Learning in the Hip Hop Classroom
Travis L. Gosa—Cornell University
The study of rap music and hip-hop culture, or “hip-hop studies,” is becoming a mainstay in the American academy. Currently, there are more than 300 hip-hop courses being taught at the college level, and at least 800 academic books on the subject. Student learning—and the legitimacy of hip-hop studies as a serious intellectual project–is typically predicated on “text.” Students read books and journal articles, listen to lectures, and are tested on comprehension. However, what would happen if all academic texts, lectures, and exams were eliminated from the hip-hop studies classroom? This paper examines participatory and experimental learning in the college classroom. Based on the experience of teaching text-less, interdisciplinary courses on hip-hop, I recount the advantages and limits to this approach. Of special concern is how the elimination of text may transform the hierarchical professor-student relationship into an organic “cypher” that privileges group learning and experimentation over expertise. In addition, complaints about (black) cultural theft and the objectification of hip hop/black people appear to be minimalized. Sans texts, I recount alternative student assignments including hip hop blogging, oral history interviews with artists, archival research, and creative poetry assignments. The paper concludes with recommendations for best practices, which may help other professors eliminate books from the classroom.
Panel Session 5
Travis L. Gosa is Assistant Professor of Social Science at Cornell University. He holds faculty appointments in the graduate fields of Africana Studies and Education, and is affiliated with the Cornell Center for the Study of Inequality. Since 2008, he has served on the advisory board of Cornell’s Kugelberg Hip Hop Collection, the largest archive on early hip hop culture in the United States. His most recent work has appeared in Poetics, Journal of Popular Music Studies, Teacher’s College Record, Popular Music and Society, and the Journal of American Culture. He is coeditor of the forthcoming book, Remixing Change: Hip Hop & Obama, A Critical Reader (Wesleyan University Press).
Gangs and Gangsta Rap in Chicago: A Microscenes Perspective
Geoff Harkness—Northwestern University, Qatar
A microscene is a distinct component of a music scene, located in a delimited space of mutual social activity, where certain clusters of scene members assemble and generate socio-cultural cohesion through collective ideologies, attitudes, preferences, practices, customs, and memories that distinguish them from the larger scene. This article explores the relationship between active gang members and the gangsta-rap microscene in Chicago, Illinois. While gangs and gangsta rappers have been considered separately, this research examines cultural practices at the intersection of these two groups. The participants of this study – gang members who rap – utilize gang affiliation as a resource, employing it strategically to advance their music careers. The relationship is symbiotic: The rappers use gang membership to generate revenue, promote and market their music, recruit band members, and provide security at live concerts. The gangs rely on the rappers as a source of income, for promotion and marketing, as recruitment tools, and as a means by which to wage rivalries and settle disputes. The article examines the physical, social, and economic ramifications for those at the intersection of street gangs and gangsta rap, and offers an account of risk-management strategies designed to moderate potential violence, career limitations, and other challenges.
Panel Session 6
Geoff Harkness is an assistant professor of sociology at Northwestern University in Qatar, with a joint faculty appointment at Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar. His research focuses on the interactive practices of youth cultures, and the role of context in shaping the content and character of youth culture and identity. His scholarly work has been published in Cultural Sociology, American Behavioral Scientist, the International Journal of the History of Sport, Journal of Workplace Rights, Soccer & Society, and Contexts. He received a PhD in sociology from Northwestern University in 2010.
Performing the Archive: In-between Sounds and Stratified Histories in the Sun Ra/El Saturn Collection
Brian Harnetty—Ohio University
Stemming from my own experiences with the Sun Ra/El Saturn Collection in Chicago, this paper begins with the premise that creating new works from archival material allows a specific archive to become large-scale sound object, an instrument to be embodied and performed. A new space of sonic engagement is created that is not limited to music: one can move across the archive, across disciplines, and across time and space, as an active “performance of history” (Jackson 2000:32). Special attention is focused on in-between and interstitial moments related to Sun Ra: home recordings, rehearsals, answering machine tapes, and so on. Removed from commercial recordings, they are now treated as recontextualized primary material. In this way, performing the archive allows for an expressive pastiche rooted in its already stratified histories, while simultaneously revealing a constellation of additional futures. A difficult relationship is formed between the creators of the archival material and those remixing it, a sonic historiography that opens new ways of exchange, dialogue, respect, conflict, and multiple meanings. Finally, while there has already been much discussion on sampling, mash-ups, and remixing, my focus is to explore how working within specific archivesyields further insight into and expansion of these practices. This provides a means for navigating the many ethical concerns with appropriation, and allows for both a strong juxtaposition of material and a larger cohesion holding the work together. Performing the archive, then, points to an emergent performance process, and the multi-layered histories present within.
Panel Session 5
Brian Harnetty is a composer and artist from Ohio, and his work involves overlooked elements of sound. Many of his pieces transform found material––including field recordings, transcriptions, and historic recordings––into personal sound worlds. Harnetty received degrees in music composition from the Royal Academy of Music, London (M.Mus.) and The Ohio State University (B.Mus.). He is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts at Ohio University, where his dissertation research is focused on listening to the energy soundscapes of Appalachian Ohio. Harnetty’s music is released by Chicago’s Atavistic Records.
Jay Electronica’s From the South?!?: Issues of Identity, Hip hop Prejudice, and Perceptions of Lyricism
Brea M. Heidelberg—Rider University
The South has been an important place for multiple genres of music. However, negative perceptions about their speech patterns and intelligence have plagued Southerners and, by extension, Southern rappers. These stereotypes have been proven wrong in various contexts and Southern rappers have prospered as their music has become popular both nation-wide and internationally. Nonetheless, hip hop prejudice against Southern rappers has had an impact on the careers of many. The negative stereotypes associated with Southern rappers and Southern rap shape, for better or worse, artists’ identities and public personas.
In this paper, I explore perceptions about Southern lyricism and song content through the identity choices of Jay Electronica. Throughout his career Jay Electronica has struggled with perceptions of the South, Southern rappers, and Southern rap music. While Jay Electronica has never disowned the South, he employed words and actions to rhetorically distance himself from his hometown of New Orleans, Louisiana. Instead, Jay Electronica has created a cosmopolitan self, collecting pieces of his identity from different cities and regions. His rhetorical choices indicate an inner-struggle with how he perceived himself and how he wanted to be perceived by fans. This particular case is a microcosm of issues that emerge from the regionality of rap in the United States, and raises questions about the way lyricism is stereotyped geographically.
Panel Session 5
Industrial’s Hidden Hard-On for Queer Sexuality
Yetta Howard—San Diego State University
This paper explores the liminal space between industrial music and queer sexuality. Despite its roots in transgressive performance art and the experimentation of seminal groups such as Throbbing Gristle, industrial’s noisy subversion has been maintained via a hetero-masculinist lens. Indeed, industrial’s anti-aesthetic auditory and visual practices may be thought of as some of the least-inviting spaces for queer sexuality’s presence. While sexually charged lyrics are certainly not an anomaly in the genre—KMFDM’s “Spit or Swallow” and Controlled Bleeding’s “In Penetration” may immediately come to mind—such examples display sexual aggressiveness without recourse to non-traditional critiques of heteronormativity. Intervening in such perceptions of industrial, I suggest that there is a hidden—yet obvious—protrusion visible through the pants of industrial’s history. What I call industrial’s “hidden hard-on” describes the simultaneous affinity for and disavowal of queerness whose soundscape operates somewhere in between retention and rejection of queer sexual culture. Investigating tracks such as My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult’s “Waiting for Mommie,” which incorporates as it undoes its disco loop, and Revolting Cocks’ “Beers, Steers, and Queers,” which samples a male-on-male rape scene, this paper will demonstrate what this hidden hard-on looks and sounds like. Rather than claim a complementary mixture of auditory elements, these examples instead exhibit a productive tension of sorts that translates as a miscommunication between industrial music and queer sexuality. This miscommunication can be heard in terms of antagonistic rather than complementary sonic qualities, and, ultimately, puts pressure on the dominant approaches we may bring to some of the most flexible categories of sexuality and music.
Panel Session 8
Yetta Howard is Assistant Professor of English and Comparative Literature at San Diego State University. Howard is currently finishing a book manuscript on the anti-aesthetics of sexuality.
The Sound of Racial Melancholia: Listening to and Performing Independent Rock Music in Asian America
Wendy Hsu—Occidental College
This paper makes audible the sound of “racial melancholia”—a state in which a minority subject struggles with a loss of feeling integrated into a society, while holding on to the democratic ideal of equality—in Asian America. This structure of feeling underlies the musical productions ofa handful of American rock musicians of Asian descent whom I encountered during my field research. With distorted guitar tone, strident harmony, and terse but subtle lyrics, the musicians confront their ambivalence toward their social position as a silenced ethnic minority within music scenes that are allegedly progressive and multicultural.
I offer two case studies that illustrate distinct registers of how Asian American musicians mediate racial melancholia. First, I focus on hidden track entitled “Oriental American” by Filipino-American indie rock band Versus. This close reading makes visible the ghostly presence of the Asian American melancholic subjectivity. Secondly, an auto-ethnographic narrative highlights my own performative engagement with heritage and ethnic belonging. I examine how my reinterpreting of vintage Taiwanese pop sounds has generated personal and collective reparation. Through these case studies, I argue for a transnational approach that challenges the geographical binary between “Asia” and “America.” And methodologically, by insisting on an analytic continuum between critical listening and performing, I gesture toward an intersection between public scholarship and activism.
Panel Session 5
Wendy Hsu is a Mellon Digital Scholarship Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Digital Learning and Research at Occidental College. She recently completed a Ph.D. in the Critical and Comparative Studies program in the McIntire Department of Music at the University of Virginia. She wrote a dissertation about the Asian American experiences of playing independent rock music. Her research deploys the methods of ethnomusicology and digital humanities to explore the complex interrelationships between popular music and geography in transnational contexts. And she performs with her vintage Asian revivalist rock band Dzian!
“Add a Klopse Beat”: Mimicry and the Negotiation of “Colouredness” Amongst Cape Town’s Minstrel Troupe Participants
Francesca Inglese—Brown University
Cape Town, South Africa has a long history of cover acts and is sometimes derogatorily referred to as having a culture of “carbon copies” (Ballantine 1999; Muller 2002). In the post-war period, singers marketed as “Cape Town’s own” Mario Lanza, Doris Day, or Bing Crosby brought these foreign stars to life with local talent (Muller 2002). Today, young emcees often begin their careers by copying American rappers word for word, while current-day minstrel troupes (referred to as klopse in Afrikaans) hire local singers to perform songs by Al Jolson, Josh Grobin, and Beyoncé. Drawing on recent ethnographic fieldwork with klopse participants in Cape Town, I address the role of mimicry in negotiations of coloured identity. While processes of sonic and embodied imitation and appropriation are central to musical practices throughout the world, they hold particular weight in relation both to discourses of coloured identity-–historically marginalized as an aberrant and inauthentic “mixed race” category-–and to American blackface minstrelsy. While minstrel troupes’ names, costumes, music, and props celebrate ties to American culture, members frequently debate the use of American pop songs, British choral styles, music technologies, and brass instruments imported from China. Through a close examination of these debates, I aim to show how in-group discourses of musical aesthetics and their significations serve to cohere and contest participants’ notions of coloured identity as they relate to anxieties over perceptions of a valorization of whiteness, Americanness, and a mimetic impulse that supposedly haunts coloured identity.
Panel Session 2
Francesca Inglese is a Ph.D. candidate in Ethnomusicology at Brown University. Her interests include the global circulation of black popular music, blackface minstrelsy, the body in musical performance and dance, and music education. She plays violin, viola, and some mandolin. Her current ethnographic dissertation research explores the music and embodied practices, public parades, and youth development projects of minstrel troupes in Cape Town, South Africa.
Immediate Media: Lo-fi Ideals in Early Alternative Rock Discourse
Brian Jones—University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
“TDK: So Real.” Thus reads an image of a scissor-cut logo, seemingly slapped atop a 1989 advertisement in SPIN magazine. Next to the logo, a life-size cassette tape seems to hover, off-kilter, above the surface of the ad. This layout departs from the usual cassette-tape ads of the 1980s; instead of merely touting audio fidelity, TDK foregrounds the physicality of the media, attempting to convey an immediate experience of an inherently mediated culture.
In this paper, I consider media-centric sensibilities in the alternative music press of the late 1980s and early ‘90s. My discussion revolves around a central paradox of lo-fi aesthetics: that by foregrounding a recording’s mediation through rough-cut, low-fidelity transmission, one can evoke a sense of higher fidelity to the actual processes of artistic and cultural production. After considering visual and written discourse, I will discuss select examples from the early albums of Beck (Mellow Gold, Stereopathetic Soulmanure, and One Foot in the Grave, all released in 1994) to investigate these ideals in the music. Through an aural foregrounding of technological mediation, Beck aestheticizes and exploits listeners’ conceptions of recording and production processes. Beck’s sudden commercial success—while working in collaboration with lo-fi artists and producers like Calvin Johnson, Rob Schnapf, and Tom Rothrock—can be seen as a cultural flashpoint in which lo-fi ideals bled into mainstream aesthetic consciousness.
This discussion, beyond helping us better understand lo-fi aesthetic sensibilities, sheds light on specific ways that conceptions of music technology can engage with and influence popular music aesthetics.
Panel Session 5
Brian Jones is a Ph.D. candidate in musicology at UNC-Chapel Hill. His current dissertation research explores DIY, lo-fi, and experimental aesthetics in 1990s alternative rock. Previous research has examined aesthetic crossover between folk revivalists and avant-garde artists in 1950s New York. He has published work in American Music, has co-authored the forthcoming “Music Technology” entry for Oxford Bibliographies Online, and presented papers at IASPM-US, the Society for American Music, and various regional conferences. Brian is also a long-time bass player and currently works as a college radio DJ at WXYC, Chapel Hill.
“Rapper’s Delight”: From Genre-less to the Birth of a Genre
Loren Yukio Kajikawa—University of Oregon
“Rapper’s Delight,” the fifteen-minute single whose party rhymes and disco beat propelled hip hop music into the national spotlight in the closing months of 1979, was by far the most successful early rap recording. Selling millions of copies around the globe, it became a model that other producers attempted to emulate. For those at the center of New York’s club scene, however, the sudden rise of The Sugarhill Gang—a group that had never performed together live until after they had a hit record—came as a shock. Indeed, the group’s many critics emphasize The Sugarhill Gang’s lack of credibility as live performers, their biting of other MCs rhymes, and the way their hit song contributed to the ascendency of the MC over the DJ.
This focus on the inauthenticity of “Rapper’s Delight,” however, has helped to conceal a profound shift in form that accompanied hip hop’s translation from live performance to recorded rap. Addressing this gap in the literature, I explore a number of bootleg audio recordings made at live events prior to the release of “Rapper’s Delight.” Relying on close listening and oral history accounts of hip hop’s early years, I describe some of the performance practices of hip hop’s first DJs and MCs. Centering my analysis on the way that hip hop DJs worked with and manipulated breakbeats, I highlight the vast differences between these practices and the new approach to songwriting that “Rapper’s Delight” producer Sylvia Robinson pioneered in 1979.
Panel Session 6
Loren Kajikawa received his Ph.D. in Musicology from UCLA and currently serves as Assistant Professor of Ethnomusicology and Musicology at the University of Oregon. Through teaching and research he examines the role of race and identity in the production and reception of music. His writings have appeared in American Music, Black Music Research Journal, JSAM, and ECHO, a music-centered journal. His chapter on the Asian American jazz movement was recently published in Jazz/Not Jazz: The Music and its Boundaries (University of California). His current project explores the relationship between stylistic change and racial formation in rap music.
Zombie Love: Differently Imagining Gender and Sexuality in Psychobilly
Kim Kattari—Texas A&M University
Washington Post writer Carrie Donovan summed up psychobilly as follows: “Take an average rockabilly song about falling in love and add a verse about how that same girlfriend happens to be undead. That’s psychobilly.” This stylistic blend of rockabilly, punk, and horror is saturated with zombie references in band names, song lyrics, and music videos, and many promoters host events during which psychobilly musicians and fans dress up as zombies. By representing the zombie apocalypse as an ideal alternative to their subjugated, impoverished, liminal experience today, psychobillies subvert the mainstream “human survival narrative” that pervades popular culture (the one in which humans are supposed to fend off zombies to prevent the total apocalypse). Instead, psychobillies use music to imagine a better future for themselves, one in which they live on as rockin’ and rollin’ zombies. In this paper, I specifically analyze the ways psychobillies assert their idealized codes of gender and sexuality through representations of sex and love with and as zombies. Their depiction of zombie love unashamedly, and intentionally, disrupts traditional norms of bodily discipline, further evoking psychobillies’ displacement from mainstream society and accepted modes of conduct. Drawing on ideas of the Bahktinian carnaval and Lacanian jouissance, I view psychobillies’ construction of zombie love and sex as a way of hedonistically escaping from a disillusioned reality as they relish in a momentary fantasy of releasefrom all social prescriptions.
Panel Session 7
Kim Kattari received her doctorate in ethnomusicology from the University of Texas at Austin. She currently lectures at Texas A&M University and UT Austin. Her research is focused on the rockabilly and psychobilly subcultures, with theoretical interests in nostalgia, working-class musics, Latino identity politics, gender and sexuality, and zombies.
Between Music and Noise: Assessing the Organ Grinder’s Liminality
Keir Keightley—University of Western Ontario
This paper looks at the first form of mechanically-reproduced sound to reach mass audiences in the nineteenth century: organ grinding. Debates about the border between music and noise frequently swirled around the liminal figure of the organ grinder. A regular topic of newspaper discussion, the organ grinder was either attacked as a noisy annoyance or celebrated as nostalgic relief from the ever-accelerating pace of modern, city life. The positive views emphasized the organ grinder as entertainer, as someone who transformed public spaces into musical utopias where children would dance and laugh. The negative views, however, denied organ grinders the status of musicians and instead insisted their output was nothing but noise. Moreover, the economics of organ grinding were at times invoked as evidence of its corrupted, abject status—many felt organ grinders were either vagrant blackmailers, playing under windows in order to be paid to stop their sonic harassment, or else over-loud street vendors, bribed by music publishers to promote worthless songs. That we still, to this day, use phrases from these debates (“grinding out songs,” “cranking out music”) to critique popular music underscores the need for a genealogy of evaluations of this forgotten form of popular musical dissemination.
Frequently a recent immigrant from southern Europe, the organ grinder’s national status was also ambiguous, at once a disdained ethnic Other and a cherished icon of urban Americana. In the teeming, polyglot bustle of the turn of the century metropolis, the organ grinder loudly purveyed popular music in public, amplifying concerns about urban modernity, including “noise pollution,” street life, immigration, popular leisure, commercialism and the repetitions of industrialized music (Frith 1987). Furthermore, the repeated attempts by municipal authorities to regulate or ban organ grinders remind us of longstanding anxieties about the place of popular music in the public sphere, and of the power dynamics that play out along the moving boundary between music and noise.
Panel Session 6
Keir Keightley is Associate Professor in the Faculty of Information & Media Studies at the University of Western Ontario, where he teaches in the M.A. in Popular Music and Culture jointly offered with the Faculty of Music. His work has appeared in The Journal of Popular Music Studies, Media Culture and Society, Popular Music, and The Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock. Recent articles have examined L.A. studio rock, Brazilian bossa nova, and the advent of monographs about popular music in the 1920s. His latest publication, “Tin Pan Allegory,” appears in Modernism/Modernity (November 2012) and is part of a book project on the naming and shaming of the U.S. popular music industry.
It’s not that black and white: Transvocality and the music of Kelly Moe
Elias Krell—Northwestern University
This essay considers the ways in which DIY transgender musician Kelly Moe performs transvocality through his voice. I outline a theory of transvocality, drawing from theories in musicology, voice, gender, critical race and performance, wherein voice performs the borders of the body. My trenchant case study interweaves trans-, queer, feminist and critical race theory, examining the gaps, overlaps, and slippages that inhere when vocal popular music is asked to speak back to political theoretical discourses. I draw inspiration from performance theorists who have argued for using performance as both object and mode of analysis. Thus, music performance functions as a space in which to consider material everyday realities of trans persons, and interweave theoretical discourses of gender, race, sexual, and classed identities with my interlocutors’ own self-theorizing. I position transvocality as an invocation to listen to performances of identity that fall outside normative identitarian narratives, drawing heavily from the work of Donna Haraway in her (in)famous and prescient “Cyborg Manifesto.” (1991) Listening to voice through a transvocal lens proffers an opportunity to literally and figuratively hear the spaces within, between and betwixt dominant trans narratives that situate the trans body either “between” two genders or along a linear progressive continuum. The analytic through which I conjoin postmodern theories of subjectivity with the everyday, material aspects of trans- embodiment is music performance. I consider the song “Black and White” (released August 2011), and theorize the electronic manipulation of voice through Haraway’s figuration of the postmodern cyborg. Methodologically, this paper enacts Dwight Conquergood’s praxis of critical performance ethnography, through which I contextualize my own positionality as a trans musician. Finally, this paper performatively enacts an imperative to open more “breathing room” for trans experiences that move through, around, and across dominant narratives.
Panel Session 3
Elias Krell is a musician, scholar, performer, creative writer, and actor. A doctoral candidate in Performance Studies at Northwestern University, they received their Bachelors degrees from Oberlin College and Conservatory and a Masters in Music from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Before moving to Chicago, Eli sang opera professionally for three years. Their current dissertation project, “Singing Strange: Transvocality in American Music Performance,” explores the ways in which gender nonconforming musicians unhinge normative trans* narratives and affects through the voice in music performance. Active in the Chicago music scene, Eli’s band, Eli and the No Good, is releasing their third record of original music in Spring 2013.
Reinventing the Indie Artist – Performance and Promotion on Google Plus and Kickstarter
J. Meryl Krieger—Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis
Performers jumped on the possibilities of social media sites for promotion, audience development and creative exploration since the first sites opened to the public. Then Google+ launched In June, 2011. Almost immediately it became the latest in a series of social media spaces where performers and producers explore modes of performance and collaboration, production and promotion that evade the control of the mainstream popular recording industry. This paper explores the role social media sites like Google+, Facebook and Kickstarter play in defining the professional identity of popular music performers using tropes of authenticity and liveness to generate relationships between performers and their audiences. I further consider how the social spaces of the internet are participating in the transformation both of recording practice and the economic structures of the international recording music industries. Social media and digital spaces function as flexible, liminal spaces where relationships between performers and audiences are defined and redefined, and performer identities are continually reinvented. This project draws on live and mediated ethnographic fieldwork based in ethnomusicological and performance studies practices. My research began in 2002 with four years of ethnographic participant-observation, content analysis, and triangulation of related studies into new media and production culture in face to face, professional recording studios. Beginning in 2006 it has evolved into participant-observational research using interactive social media sites as platforms for participant-observation and direct interviews.
Panel Session 6
J. Meryl Krieger received her Ph.D. in Folklore & Ethnomusicology at Indiana University Bloomington in 2009. Her research into digital technologies and music production came about as a complete accident. Nevertheless, she currently teaches sociology, regional culture, and gender/race/ethnicity issues part-time at Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis in the sociology department and performs on the side. Her research focuses on the culture of music production, specifically the relationship between the music industry and new media technologies as a nexus to understand how performance is created.
Austin City Limits Panel
Friday Lunch Plenary Session
Terry Lickona: Since 1978, Terry Lickona has been the producer of Austin City Limits.
Now celebrating 35 years on public television, ACL is the longest-running popular music series in American television history. In 2003, ACL was awarded the National Medal of Arts, the nation’s highest honor for artistic excellence, by the President of the United States. In 2009, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum honored both the studio where ACL is produced and the series itself as a “historic rock and roll landmark.” In addition to ACL, Terry has produced many other specials and series for public television, cable, domestic and foreign syndication, home video, and DVD – approximately 1,000 programs, with artists ranging from legends like Ray Charles and Johnny Cash to Juanes, Coldplay and Neil Young to Dave Matthews Band, Dixie Chicks, Pearl Jam and Foo Fighters. October 2009 marked the 8th anniversary of the Austin City Limits Music Festival, featuring over 150 bands and attracting a sold-out crowd of over 200,000 fans, making it one of the most successful festivals of its kind in the country.
Terry served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences from 2005-2007, Chair Emeritus from 2007-2009, was a founding member of the Texas Chapter of The Recording Academy and continues to serve as co-chair of the Television Committee overseeing the Grammy Awards Show on CBS-TV. He is also Vice Chairman of the Latin Recording Academy, based in Miami, Florida. A native of Poughkeepsie, New York, Terry has lived in Austin, Texas since 1974.
Lauren Onkey: As Vice President of Education and Public Programs, Dr. Lauren Onkey is responsible for developing educational programs and materials in the Museum’s award-winning pre-K, K-12, university and adult programs, on site and through distance learning. These programs reach more than 30,000 people annually. She also oversees the Museum’s Library and Archives, located on the Metro Campus of Cuyahoga Community College. She also oversees the Museum’s Community Outreach program and Community festivals. Onkey is executive producer of the Museum’s American Music Masters series, conducts interviews for the Museum’s many public programs and teaches rock and roll history courses at Case Western Reserve University.
Onkey joined the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum in 2008 after fourteen years as an English professor at Ball State University in Indiana. Her research and teaching explores the intersection of popular music with cultural studies, literature, and women’s studies. She has published essays and book chapters on Van Morrison, Jimi Hendrix, U2, and Bruce Springsteen, and has presented numerous papers at national and international literature, cultural studies, and pedagogy conferences. Her book, Blackness and Transatlantic Irish Identity: Celtic Soul Brothers, was published by Routledge Press in 2009. Lauren received her master’s and doctoral degrees in English from the University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign, and her B.A. in English and Government from the College of William and Mary.
Your Artist *is* a Brand: Now Manage its Meanings!
Kristin Lieb—Emerson College
Popular musicians blur the line between the personal and the professional for attention, but increasingly, they also obscure the line between the “content” side of the entertainment business (e.g., music), and the business side of the business (e.g., marketing), out of a market necessity to stay nimble and relevant. As such boundaries collapse, audiences can no longer distinguish a private person from her public representation. We feel like we know her – especially if she is on Twitter and Facebook, just like us. But what we really know is her constructed, advertised, celebrity brand. This brand is often the end product of myriad professional authors, all struggling to select the brand meanings that will help an artist build a meaningful, lasting, and revenue-generating relationship with fans (Fournier et al, 2008). Selecting the right meanings and leaving the wrong ones behind is a difficult task – any one of us has hundreds of possible meanings, and celebrities have even more than that. But achieving resonance is all about selecting the right meanings for the right customer at the right time (McCracken, 1986; 1989). Therein lies the “art” – and the messiness – of managing a pop star brand, especially as it is extended into non-music realms to gain additional profits. This grounded theory study, based on interviews with music industry executives who brand artists in various ways, looks at how music industry dynamics and gatekeepers have changed in recent decades and the impact these changes have had on artist branding in popular music.
Panel Session 6
Kristin Lieb, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor of Marketing Communication at Emerson College in Boston, MA. Her research interests include entertainment branding and person branding in contemporary popular music. Her first book, Gender, Branding, and the Modern Music Industry: The Social Construction of Female Popular Music Stars is due out on Routledge on Jan 20, 2013.
“Boring Things”: Drone and Repetition in The Velvet Underground: A Symphony of Sound
Elizabeth Ann Lindau–Gettysburg College
In January 1966, Andy Warhol recorded the Velvet Underground and Nico rehearsing in the Factory, titling the resulting seventy-minute film The Velvet Underground: A Symphony of Sound. The film’s 2004 DVD release disappointed fans hoping for a long-lost gem. Instead of “Heroin,” “Venus in Furs,” or some other classic song, the Velvets perform a 50-minute, harmonically static jam that band chronicler Richie Unterberger describes as “endless, wordless, [and] cacophonous.” Warhol’s interminable long shots are no help. The film opens with a three-and-a-half minute close-up of Nico’s face, despite the fact that she never sings a note. Symphony thus recalls Warhol’s avowal: “I like boring things.”
Created by extremes of stasis or repetition, boredom has been a deliberately cultivated state for avant-garde musicians from Erik Satie to the Theater of Eternal Music (TEM), of which Velvets multi-instrumentalist John Cale was a member. By voluntarily enduring a long, tedious sonic event, one might eventually achieve a heightened state of awareness that writer Kenneth Goldsmith calls “unboring boring.” The apparent monad or repeated figure reveals its differences, complexity, and interest. My paper uses Symphony to illustrate this phenomenon. Paradoxically, its jam may be experienced at once as unflinching drone and varied improvisation. While attending to the band’s pop art and TEM lineage, I argue that Symphony’s radical monotony comes as much from rock as “legitimate” avant-garde minimalism. As my analysis (itself a product of repetitious listening) shows, Symphony is a compendium of repetitious popular music techniques, from riffs to surf rock-style tremolo picking.
Panel Session 5
Elizabeth Lindau is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Music at Gettysburg College. She completed her Ph.D. in Critical and Comparative Studies in Music at the University of Virginia in 2012 with a dissertation titled “Art is Dead. Long Live Rock! Avant-Gardism and Popular Music, 1967-99.” Her work on Sonic Youth will appear in a volume of essays on experimental music this year, and she is currently preparing a second publication on Brian Eno and David Byrne’s 1981 “world beat” album My Life in the Bush of Ghosts. This will be her fifth presentation at IASPM-US.
The Third Gender: “Technologized” Representations of Women in Technopop
Aaron Liu-Rosenbaum—Laval University
It has been a quarter of a century since Donna Haraway first posited the notion of the cyborg as a technological “post-gender” creature that could not only help us escape our dualistic understanding of gender, but could also enable us to challenge the “informatics of domination,” by which she meant the hierarchical social relations inherent in the Information Age. The spirit of the cyborg has permeated popular music as well, albeit to different degrees and, I argue, in different modalities. In some cases it is overt, such as when a protagonist is visibly part robot, yet bears human characteristics; at other times, and in a given context, it can be understood as a more subtle representation of “non-humanness,” expressed through the sound of a technologized voice combined with the pallid image of an emotionless face. The act of technologizing women transforms them into an “other,” which raises many questions, among them, “What is gained and what is lost in this transformation, both within the song’s narrative and in terms of its possible interpretations by the listener?” Taking as my launching point the cyborg as part human, part machine, and limiting my exploration to the subgenre of female technopop music videos, I will first trace how these representations of women are manifest both visually and sonically in several video excerpts. I will then contextualize them both musically and culturally, referring to the central question of how these technologized figures relate to Haraway’s initial conception of the cyborg as a cultural liberator.
Panel Session 4
Composer and specialist in music technology, Aaron Liu-Rosenbaum is Director of the Certificate Program in Digital Audio at Laval University, where he teaches courses in recording, digital audio production, sound design, and electro-acoustic music. His studies were in French Comparative Literature (BA, Columbia University), Classical Composition (BMus, New England Conservatory), Music Theory (MA, Columbia University), and Composition (Ph.D, CUNY Graduate Center). His interests lie in the areas of technology and pedagogy as well as popular musicology, and his current project is an interactive sound installation (« filtres ») opening in Feruary 2013 in Quebec, Canada.
Assertive Submission: The Soundtrack of Austin Powers’ Fembots
Rebekha Lobosco—University of Toronto
Robotic women, embodying a heteronormative image of female perfection, have appeared consistently in film for over seventy years. What do these “perfect women” signify? Why does the spectacle of such characters intrigue us as an audience, and how do we relate to them through their soundtracks and voices? To begin to answer these questions, I focus on the Fembots from the 1997 film Austin Powers, arguing that it is the satirical reincarnation of these robotic women that provide the foundation for the representation of femininity throughout the film. Beginning with a discussion of the function of the Fembots, I call upon the writings of Andreas Huyssen, Donna Haraway, and Kathleen Hayles.
Moving into a close reading of the combination of the popular music tunes and the mechanical sounds that comprise the soundtrack of these characters, I posit that the presentation and use of the Fembots provide insight into Western culture’s wider heteronormative views of and anxieties about “femaleness” and technology. Through the use of Michel Chion’s theories of the voice, sound, and image through film media, and Judith Halberstam’s writings on queer theory, I argue that this film, specifically through the comedy of the Fembots, recreates a world for its characters where femininity is pointedly not recognized as normal or natural. Furthermore, the use of such characters in the parodying context of the film highlights intense heteronormative insecurities about the construction of both heterosexual femininity and masculinity.
Panel Session 4
Rebekah Lobosco received her Master’s of Arts in Music at Tufts University, where she presented at the 2010 Tufts’ Women’s Center Symposium on Lady Gaga, presenting on the use and appropriation of the pop song “Poker Face” in the first season of Glee. Her Master’s thesis, entitled “Konstanze Acting Out in Mozart’s Die Entführung aus dem Serail,” traces the development of the opera’s main female persona. A close reading of the character’s double-aria in Act II gives insight into an emotional complexity unlike any other Singspiel heroine. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Musicology at the University of Toronto.
Mimicry Meets Identity: Inka Zemánková and the Voice of Czech Swing, 1938-44
Brian Locke—Western Illinois University
The identity of the vocalist has perennially been granted high status in the discourse of popular song: from early twentieth-century reception to more recent academic studies, listeners embrace what Roland Barthes termed the Grain of the Voice: the ineffable “encounter between a language and a voice,” an “individual thrill” that resists traditional musical analysis. This paradigm would seem to resonate strongly in jazz, where a musician’s improvisatory skills are heralded as a marker of individuality. By the height of the Swing era, however, the abilities of the jazz vocalist also needed to conform to aprofessional lineage of iconic American performers such as Holiday or Fitzgerald: the emergent artist was challenged to find a personal voice among many others. As the career of Czech swing vocalist Inka Zemánková (1915-2000) demonstrates, the duality of mimicry and identity was often imprinted upon the careers of the singers themselves, caught between the forces of belonging and exclusion within jazz.
Zemánková also faced the basic dichotomy of early jazz as an American import, within which Europeans are seen as mere imitators, and never creators. In jazz historiography, their attempts at mimicking American models have been considered either wrong or too correct: slavish imitations with no identity of their own. As a Czech singer, however, she succeeded in translating an American vocal idiom to her native language as the expressive basis for her career. As this paper will show, the crux of Zemánková’s identity lies precisely in the “encounter between a language and a voice.”
Panel Session 8
Brian Locke is Associate Professor of Musicology at Western Illinois University in Macomb, Illinois. He received his Honours B. Mus. from Wilfrid Laurier University in 1995 and the M.A. in Musicology from the University of Western Ontario in 1997. He received the PhD in Musicology from Stony Brook University in 2002. His research interests include music in early twentieth-century Prague. In 2006, his book Opera and Ideology in Prague: Polemics and Practice at the National Theatre, 1900-1938 was published by the University of Rochester Press. His present work includes a book project on jazz in the Czech Lands to 1948.
“Mitch Miller and ‘The Sweet Surprise’: Hearing the Harpsichord in Popular Music of the 1950s”
Alexander Raymond Ludwig—Boston College
In 1951, the Rosemary Clooney hit “Come On-A My House” held the number one spot for eight weeks on the Billboard charts. The song’s most memorable feature is a wonderfully anachronistic boogie-woogie harpsichord, and the spate of novelty songs that followed in the wake of “Come On-A My House” speaks to the unusual nature of this accompaniment. Mitch Miller, the head of A&R at Columbia Records during the 1950s, was mostly responsible for these songs: his classical training and idiosyncratic instrumental choices produced a harpsichord accompaniment that provided the listening audience with what Miller called “the sweet surprise” of the unexpected.
In this paper, I will examine Mitch Miller’s use of the harpsichord as a byproduct of the rapidly evolving record industry. Conventions of genre, style and taste underwent a dizzying change in the 1950s, eventually resulting in what became known as Rock ‘n’ Roll. The contextualization of the harpsichord in “Come On-A My House” will help to illuminate that winding road. Whether it was a gimmick, a novelty or just plain idiosyncratic, Miller’s juxtaposition of the harpsichord and popular music is an unlikely entry in the rich history of the Rock ‘n’ Roll.
Panel Session 6
Alexander Raymond Ludwig holds a Ph.D. in Musicology from Brandeis University and a B.M. in String Performance from Boston University. His primary area of expertise is Joseph Haydn’s musical structures, and he is also interested in the evolution of popular music in the 1950s. He has read papers at the Canadian Society of Eighteenth-Century Studies, the Historical Keyboard Societies and the New England chapter of the American Musicological Society. He has taught at a number of schools in the New England area, and currently serves as the Secretary of the Haydn Society of North America.
Being In Total Control of Herself: Realness and Lip-synching in RuPaul’s Drag Race
Alex MacIntyre—University of Pittsburgh
The “reality” television program RuPaul’s Drag Race is formatted as a competition between drag queens, each episode having a theme around which contestants construct a drag performance. At the end of each episode, two queens are judged to be eligible for elimination, at which point those two contestants engage in a “lip-synch for your life” battle, after which one is chosen to stay while the other is eliminated. Skillful lip-synch performances can save a contestant from elimination and create the illusion that the disembodied, lip-synched voice is coming from the mouth of the drag queen. The illusion of embodied vocality and other performative elements of drag are termed “realness” by host RuPaul and the contestants and judges on the show. By framing drag performances as “realness,” participants in RuPaul’s Drag Race highlight and queer social norms around gender, embodiment, and reality.
Scholars of performativity like Judith Butler, Kate Bornstein, and Jack Halberstam have explored the social commentary in the visual and spatial aspects of drag, though vocality has not figured prominently in their analyses. Using these authors’ ideas and my training as an ethnomusicologist, I analyze “lip-synch for your life” battles as instances of performative vocality, focusing on the role of the disembodied, lip-synched voice in creating “realness.” I examine the ways in which performers queer and enact gendered identities through lip-synching and speak to broader social constructs in relation to the performance of “reality” through body movement, physical adornment, and other elements of gender expression.
Panel Session 4
Alec MacIntyre recently received his MM in ethnomusicology from the University of Texas. His thesis, entitled ‘Negro y Macho: The Son Narrative and Orquesta Anacaona’, is a Black Feminist reading of Cuban popular music in the 1930s. Alec is continuing with doctoral studies at University of Pittsburgh and was awarded the Provost’s Humanities Fellowship in recognition of his accomplishments to date. He plans to write his dissertation on the role of singing and lip-synching in the gender presentations of drag and transgender communities. Alec is also an accomplished jazz guitarist, which informs his secondary interest in Django Reinhardt.
Liminality Through Liquor: The Performative Risks of Alcohol in Popular Music
Marion MacLeod—Memorial University Newfoundland
Alcohol often accompanies popular music performances. Venues sell liquor, performers variously drink during a performance, lyrics and stage banter make reference to alcohol and audiences, who are often drinking too, express appreciation by raised glasses and round-buying. But while the presence of alcohol in a performance brings some audiences closer, it risks excluding others. It adds an element of indirection to the already inherently uncertain world of live performance and functions as irony does— thriving on the in-between and untranslatable.
This highlights a key aspect of performance practice: in gradations, some participants see a performance in terms of musical execution, while others see the communication of philosophical and social material as well as musical material. Through alcohol and irony, every musical gesture can be seen as intended and not, either and both. Chances are taken regarding attentional energy and cultural competence, making assumptions about audience perception, creating insider/ outsider effects and sending signals out that are variously received and sent back.
Drinking and irony have long associative histories with the dissenting genres of country, blues and jazz. The association lingers in contemporary indie scenes, but is refashioned in light of irony’s place as a cliché of contemporary culture. This paper asks whether or not there are historically-situated, genre-specific strategies that performers and audiences use to assess the musical effects of irony and alcohol. Is there an alcoholic equivalent of Linda Hutcheon’s statement, “Irony means never having to say you’re sorry” (1994).
Panel Session 1
Marion MacLeod is a PhD candidate in the Ethnomusicology department at Memorial University Newfoundland. Her dissertation examines the reciprocal relationship between music and alcohol in performance and considers it technically, spiritually and performatively. It also explores an interest in musical diasporas, particularly Acadian and Cajun music, to see why and how similarly rooted musics change (or don’t) when they are relocated. She holds an MA in Music History from the University of Ottawa and two degrees from the University of Windsor: one in education and one in piano performance. She has played, sung, toured and recorded with a variety of ensembles ranging from classical chamber choir to Cape Breton fiddle music, musical theatre to rock, country, soul and folk.
Virtuosity and the Expanded Limits of the Vernacular in Popular Music Performance and in the Market
Daniel Margolies—Virginia Wesleyan College
This paper addresses liminalities in artistic expression, performance, and commerce manifest in the forefronted embrace of virtuosity in popular music based upon vernacular or self-consciously folk idioms. This paper builds on diverse but largely unorganized theories of virtuosity coming from fields such as philosophy, social theory, anthropology, and ethnomusicology to describe some of the ways virtuosity recenters, if not supercedes, the demands of folk idioms to seek dominance in the marketplace. It examines the conjunctures of musical skill, identity politics, and commercial utility which sit within the culture of professional musicianship built upon evocations of tradition. This paper then winds between, and builds upon, the ontological connections apparent within the commercialized articulation of identities in three major hybridized “folk” categories in popular music: Americana, Texas-Mexican Conjunto, and Cajun music. The case studies focus on virtuosic recapitulations of vernacular music and enactment of fungible identity in the following major artists: David Rawlings (guitar partner to Gillian Welch), Max Baca, of Smithsonian-annointed Conjunto representatives Los Texmaniacs, and Dirk Powell, a Cajun and Old Time music multi-instrumentalist in Balfa Toujours and other bands. Each case study is founded upon analysis of virtuosic performances on commercial and presentational grounds rather than in terms of musicological analysis.
Panel Session 2
Daniel Margolies (Ph.D., University of Wisconsin-Madison) is professor of History at Virginia Wesleyan College. His research examines legal spatiality, migrant music, and sustainability issues in Conjunto music and Mongolian morin khuur. He has been a Fulbright Senior Scholar/Lecturer at Sogang University in Korea, a Visiting Scholar at the Center for the Study of Law and Society at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Faculty Fellow at the American Center for Mongolian Studies in Ulaanbaatar. His latest book is Spaces of Law in American Foreign Relations: Extradition and Extraterritoriality in the Borderlands and Beyond, 1877-1898 (University of Georgia Press, 2011).
Borrowings from Bach in Popular Music Genres
Joseph R. Matson—Illinois State University
During the second half of the twentieth century, the compositional techniques of collage, quotation, and pastiche grew to unprecedented levels. In otherwise original musical compositions, composers freely borrowed from a wide variety of sources. This use of borrowing sharply departed from earlier romantic and modernist practices of crafting highly original, independent compositions. Ranging from reverent to mocking, this paper analyzes three songs that deploy the music of Johann Sebastian Bach to represent sophistication, persistence, and creativity.
Tenacious D, a hard-rock comedic duo, parodies a Bach melody (Suite in E Minor, BWV 996) in their 2001 song “Rock Your Socks” in order to farcically demonstrate their high level of musical achievement. Stuart Davis, an independent singer/songwriter, borrows a Bach melody (Partita in C Minor, BWV 997) in his 2002 song “Inventions” as homage both to creativity and also to diligence. Finally, the contemporary bluegrass band Nickel Creek—whose mandolinist has described their music as “boundaryless”—quotes Bach (Partita in E Major, BWV 1006) in their live version of “The Fox,” recorded in 2000. The first two examples overtly refer to Bach in their lyrics, while the third example does not. Instead, it quotes Bach’s music in a long, improvisatory instrumental passage, along with several other borrowed tunes, and the audience may or may not recognize the allusions.
The three examples in this paper use Bach’s music to represent a boundary, a learned style that is acquired only through years of practice and specialized training. However, in doing so, they simultaneously break that boundary by demonstrating that Bach’s learned style can be fused into multiple genres of popular music.
Panel Session 2
Joe Matson is Instructional Assistant Professor at Illinois State University and a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota. Matson holds an MA in musicology from the University of Iowa and a BA in music from Iowa State University. In 2013, he has three publications forthcoming: in American Music Research Center Journal; in Notes: The Quarterly Journal of the Music Library Association; and in the new edition of the Grove Dictionary of American Music. Matson’s research interests include recent American popular music and nineteenth-century German lieder.
This case study addresses media coverage of Phish (1983-present) that links the band to the Grateful Dead (1965-1995). The frequent and creative Phish/Grateful Dead connections (i.e., some reference to the Grateful Dead in coverage of Phish) that often appear in media coverage of Phish can tell us much about media conventions and the workings of music journalism. By deeply exploring coverage of one band in depth, we can begin to understand the reasons why cumulative stories form and take certain shapes that are greater than the sum of all parts. This helps enhance our understanding of what inspires and motivates media framing (D’Angelo, 2002; Entman, 1993; Reese, 2003), a theoretical framework that informs this case study. To understand such issues, interviews were conducted about why Phish/Grateful Dead media connections exist. The interviewees were eight journalists who have written content about Phish for Rolling Stone, a publication whose coverage of Phish has been extensive and significant.
Findings discuss a few key issues. First, that Phish/Grateful Dead media connections do not exist as a result of Phish promoting themselves as analogous to the Grateful Dead. The band did not do this, apparently. Further, interviewees noted that understanding and writing about Phish can be challenging, particularly for audiences unfamiliar with Phish because the band typically has been perceived as very different from mainstream acts. Thus, a solution to the challenge of understanding and writing about Phish has been to link them to the Grateful Dead. Finally, interviewees also discussed why Phish/Grateful Dead media connections exist in relation to the broader context of general media conventions. Points explored here included the idea of Phish/Grateful Dead media connections being among other things a shorthand, an oversimplification, a reference point, a box, or a tool.
Panel Session 6
Jordan McClain, PhD, is Assistant Teaching Professor of Communication at Drexel University in Philadelphia, PA. His research interests include media framing, music journalism, music and television, brand positioning, and American popular culture. He is also the co-chair of the Music area for the Mid-Atlantic Popular and American Culture Association.
Bronzing Intimacy: Theorizing an Vibrating Acoustic Ontology of Chet Atkins and Aleksandar Nikolov
Ryan McCormack—University of Tennessee
American country guitarist Chet Atkins and Bulgarian jazz violinist Aleksandar Nikolov, both popular musicians in their respective time and place, shared little in common while alive. In death however, they share bodily enshrinement as bronze statues in Nashville, TN and Plovdiv, BG respectively. More than objects of memory and loss, these statues give the living a rare opportunity: to commune with deceased icons and watch them sit as if they were alive. And perhaps hear them as well. This paper seeks to theorize an ontology of intimacy between vibrating statue and living person, one in which vibration is “heard” as the singing of the dead. Drawing from the conceptual histories of subjectivity as vibration, animated statuary, and recent scholarship on the late capitalist relationship between sounding living and dead through technologies of mediation (Stanyek and Piekut 2010), I will argue the possibility that a wholly magical experience takes place when people visit both Atkins and Nikolov, where the vibrating body of the bronze is intimately heard and felt as the dead “speaking” to them. Moreover, because this “voice” is resistant to being mechanically reproduced as a voice, it conceivably maintains a piece the aura of its original living incarnation, whilst isolating said voice from ethical issues of posthumous ownership and deployment. The public implications of this ontological framework are in the auratic development of a new field of popular acoustic tourism: visiting the facsimiled bodies of the liminal, remembered dead and listening to them intimately “sing” from beyond the grave.
Panel Session 7
Ryan McCormack holds degrees from West Virginia University and Ohio University, and recieved a Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Texas at Austin. He is currently a Lecturer in Musicology at the University of Tennesse. His primary research focuses on jazz and popular music in Communist and post-Communist Bulgaria. This work has also explored philosophical concepts of subjectivity, and the historical relationship between “fascination” and “boredom” within musical practice and Western modernity, as well as the ontology of vibration in bronze statues of musicians.. His doctoral research was funded by a 2008-09 Fulbright IIE Research Grant.
The Color Line and the Product Line: Consumer Culture, Race and Popular Music in the Postwar Era
Charles F. McGovern—College of William and Mary
The decade after World War II witnessed the resurgence of the Depression-era U.S economy on an indisputable mass consumer basis. American popular music flourished in these same years across a wide variety of genres, markets, regions and practices. This essay explores the mutual constitutions of post-war popular music and consumer culture, which took place, I argue in the articulations and social spaces marked by race.
Karl Miller has argued that by 1930 the pop music business had installed false and pernicious dividing lines of white and black in musical practices and signification. Instantiated most prominently in genres of race and hillbilly (aka blues and country), those barriers grafted imagined racially distinct and divided markets onto style descriptions that in turn rested on spatially and racially segregated peoples. The postwar era saw those barriers inexorably erode, undone less by political reform than by the reach of consumer culture.
I will briefly trace three valences of consumer culture’s articulations of race in pop: racial ambiguity and aural passing through such artists as Kay Starr, Savannah Churchill, Frankie Laine and Ivory Joe Hunter; material modernity – au courant abundance and style – in postwar performers; and middlebrow inscriptions of race in marketing new record formats of the era – the 45 and the LP. Consumer behavior – spending and accumulation -enabled different groups to to remake racial boundaries, against even as musical performances were doing the same. The product line continually broke the color line.
Panel Session 1
Charlie McGovern teaches American Studies and History at William and Mary. Before that he worked at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, where he curated numerous exhibitions and collections on American music and popular culture. He is the author of Sold American: Consumption and Citizenship, 1890-1945 (University of North Carolina Press) along with numerous articles; his most recent public culture project is the NEH’s From Bluegrass to Broadway. He is writing a book on civics and popular music in the mid twentieth century, as well as a short project on Nat Cole.
From Valentino to Viagra: Representations of a Transnational Tango by the U.S. Film Industry
Emily McManus—Texas A&M University
Since Rudolf Valentino’s iconic performance of the tango in the 1921 film, Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, the Argentine tango has been translated to a North American audience vis-à-vis a complex intermingling of Latin American and European cultural stereotypes. Such multifaceted representations are undoubtedly a result of the tango’s transnational heritage, which emerged from late-nineteenth century European immigration to Argentina and the process of exportation, stylization, and importation that occurred between Argentina and Paris during the first half of the twentieth century. By ultimately referencing highly racialized and gendered cultural stereotypes, however, translations of the Argentine tango by the U.S. media represent an attempt to capitalize on the exotic appeal of the tango while simultaneously positioning the genre within the safe familiarity of European whiteness. This paper utilizes Farzaneh Farahzad’s theory of “translation as intertextual practice” to analyze how early twentieth-century racial and gendered stereotypes are re-articulated in the context of contemporary films and television advertisements. With examples ranging from Evita (1996) to the 2009 Viva Viagra advertisement campaign, I argue that contemporary media representations of the Argentine tango sexualize the genre through explicit incorporate of Latinized signifiers (including the physical darkening of hair color or eye pigmentation) while legitimizing the performers and/or product by positioning the tango within a context evocative of European social and/or economic prestige and privilege.
Panel Session 7
Emily McManus (firstname.lastname@example.org) received her doctorate in ethnomusicology/musicology at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She is currently an Assistant Lecturer at Texas A&M University. Her research focuses on performances of the Argentine tango in the United States, and in particular on the ways in which early twentieth-century Argentine ideas about race, gender, and sexuality are translated or adapted by twenty-first century U.S. tanguera/os.
Education and artifact: Interpreting music through museum exhibition
Kathryn Metz—Rock & Roll Hall of Fame
Whether museums are organized geographically, chronologically or otherwise, they challenge us to interpret the past through the presentation of (mostly) static artifacts. In this paper, I will explore the pedagogical possibilities and challenges of museum exhibition within the framework of understanding music, music analysis and performance. Art theorist André Malraux describes the museum effect in which an object’s strategic placement in exhibition denotes importance and relevance. By housing artifacts that illustrate contemporary performative art, institutions such as the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum offer unique spaces to investigate reception and interpretation of those objects. Here, I will unpack the politically charged selection and exhibition of artifacts at the Rock Hall. I will then consider how students engage with these artifacts, analyzing their significance, placement and import. Displaying music, its instruments and related paraphernalia poses special challenges because of music’s dynamic role as culture: it is meant to be played, listened to, danced to, or performed, among other actions. How can we as teachers use museum objects (especially musical objects) to interpret aural experiences? How can contemporary cultural expressions be captured in museum settings? Most importantly, how can students understand, experience and decode music and its contexts through museum display?
Panel Session 5
Kathryn Metz is the Education Instructor at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum where she teaches K-12 students (on-site and through videoconferencing), adults and teacher. She also coordinates public programs and concerts. Kathryn adjuncts at Kent State University and holds her Ph.D. in Ethnomusicology from the University of Texas at Austin.
Dance Play and Gender Work in Dance Central
Kiri Miller—Brown University
The Dance Central digital game series teaches players full-body choreography routines set to popular club music, offering real-time feedback driven by a motion-sensing camera device. These games accomplish the feat of transmitting a dance repertoire from body to body without having both bodies in the room at the same time. Dance Central offers a new channel for the transmission of embodied knowledge, and for indexing that knowledge through popular music. Game choreographers translate song into dance; players learn to feel out music with their bodies as choreographers do. Many players post videos of their performances online, as well as engaging in vigorous debates about the choreography for each song and how well it suits the music. This discourse often revolves around gender, sexuality, and race. Dance Central’s choreographers and designers draw on dance repertoires with preexisting associations in these domains, as well as forging such associations by linking certain moves to music and lyrics that come with their own baggage. As a result, Dance Central players are often required to dance in a manner that doesn’t match their own perceived identity traits. Some players experience this possibility as liberating; others express intense discomfort, particularly when the games compel them to transgress gender norms. This paper explores the implications of such “mismatched” performances in Dance Central, with a focus on cross-gender performance. Drawing on interviews and analysis of online discourse, I investigate what happens when players are asked to imagine dancing in someone else’s body.
Panel Session 7
Kiri Miller is Associate Professor of Music at Brown University. She completed the Ph.D. in Music (Ethnomusicology) at Harvard and was a Killam Memorial Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Alberta before joining the Brown faculty. Miller is the author of Traveling Home: Sacred Harp Singing and American Pluralism (Illinois, 2008) and Playing Along: Digital Games, YouTube, and Virtual Performance (Oxford, 2012). She has published articles in Ethnomusicology, American Music, 19th-Century Music, the Journal of American Folklore, Game Studies, Oral Tradition, and the Journal of the Society for American Music.
Amateurism and Liminality in Colombian Yage Rituals
Andrés Garcia Molina—University of California, Berkeley
Yagé rituals in Colombia are liminal performance spaces that bring together a wide range of performers from diverse backgrounds, spanning the rural and the urban, the local and the global, the professional and the amateur. Yagé – or more generally, ayahuasca – is a psychoactive brew prepared from the Amazonian vine, Banisteriopsis caapi. After millennia of traditional use in the Amazon, the past decades have seen the ritual drinking of yagé increasingly circulating in towns and cities of South America, eventually reaching urban centers of the West. Participants usually report synesthesia, or the blurring of boundaries between senses. Their experience also fits with the Turnerian definition of liminality — all sense of previous status, position, and convention is lost. A striking characteristic of Colombian yagé rituals is the almost invariable presence of the harmonica as the single instrument of choice of both the shamans and the rest of the participants, regardless of their proficiency. There is no set rule as far as performance is concerned: anyone can play the harmonica at any point of the ritual. This paper will explore some of the questions the harmonica in yagé ritual raises about borders and performance. Are the sounds played by participants merely what Gilbert Rouget calls “socializing trance?” What can we call performance? With each yagé experience being starkly individual, and performance happening at personal discretion, what can the collective and individual sounds of liminality in yagé rituals tell us? More broadly, what are the borders between amateurism, professional performance, ritual, and popular music?
Panel Session 1
After having spent several years traveling and working in South America, Andrés is now a graduate student at the Latin American Studies program at the University of California, Berkeley. Andrés is interested in a critical and committed engagement with the arts in Latin America, both as a researcher and a performer, particularly focusing on music of the Amazon. Broadly, he is interested in ethnomusicology, anthropology, ritual studies, literature, cultural studies, film, and photography.
Prince Was A Fag
Madison Moore—Yale University
I have always loved Prince. As a black queer boy who got made fun of at school for wearing feather boas and high heels to the cafeteria, seeing Prince on television was like a beacon of hope for me. The paradox, however, is that I was called a faggot for my adventures, but Prince was Prince. What was the difference? In a 1985 videotaped performance of “Darling Nikki,” Prince appears on stage shirtless and dressed in an array of culturally feminine clothes: high heels, panties, sequined chaps with the ass exposed, and several pearl necklaces. Yet even as he pursues this kind of cross-dressed performance, throughout he thrusts, humps, and otherwise draws attention to his genitals, reminding us of his potent masculinity. In this particular performance, Prince taps into the visual power of the black dandy, a figure who has historically used fashion and style to create alternative representational possibilities. But what is most compelling about this performance is the audience response – the way that the women in the audience are shown to desire Prince as a famed, erotic object. But how can a male wearing lace panties and high heels be read as unquestionably heterosexual? I conduct a close analysis of this performance text to reveal the ways that Prince’s radical, queer black style opens questions pertaining to race, performance, and fashion, and how the divo/a in particular is uniquely positioned to create transgressive identificatory possibilities because he or she is largely immune to critique.
Panel Session 6
Madison Moore is a pop scholar and doctoral candidate in American Studies at Yale University. His writing has appeared in Art in America and the Journal of Popular Music Studies, and he is a contributor to Interview magazine. This year, Madison is a Post-Doctoral Fellow in the Department of Theater and Dance at the University of Richmond in Richmond, VA.
Métisses, mais pas martyres: Expressions of Femininity and Frenchness in the Music of Amel Bent
Jake Nelson—Yale University
In a multicultural France, expressions of popular culture serve as a medium through which marginalized youth can define and redefine their multifaceted identities. In adopting the musical styles of African-American popular music, beur R&B and rap performers have claimed their place in a transnational population of marginalized global youth. French female Muslim popular singers in particular have seized upon the opportunity to add their voices to the musical and social discourses on gender and citizenship through music. This paper analyses themes of Frenchness and femininity in banlieusarde popular music by focusing on France’s most popular female beur pop singer, Amel Bent. From her first single, Ma Philosophie, which was certified diamond and propelled her to win the best newcomer award at the 2006 Victoires de la Musique, she has raised issues of cultural métissage and Muslim women’s subjection to the male gaze. In her eight-year career, and in the context of incessant public debates on what it means to be French and how Muslims should fit into French society, she has continued to push and redefine boundaries of femininity and Frenchness by playing off French society’s simultaneous Islamophobia and Orientalism. Despite the multi-layered relegation beur women face in French urban society and Arab popular musics, this paper argues that Bent’s music and public persona serve as means of forging identity and liberating banlieusarde women’s experiences from the gendered and Islamophobic gazes targeting the banlieues and the broader transnational Franco-Maghrebi space.
Panel Session 1
Jake R. Nelson is currently pursuing an MA in European and Russian Studies at Yale University, with a focus on diaspora issues and minority integration in contemporary France. He was most recently a foreign affairs specialist at the U.S. Department of State, where he served as the European regional advisor to the successful U.S. re-election campaign to the UN Human Rights Council and advised U.S. embassies and European governments on policies to monitor and combat human trafficking and human rights violations. He received his BA in music and French and Francophone studies from the College of William & Mary.
Ego Trips and Fast Yachts: The Global “Dirty South” Mobilizes the Transatlantic Hip-Hop Aesthetic
Ali Colleen Neff—University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
With a heavy diamond stud anchoring each ear lobe, hip-hop hustler Akon disembarks from his helicopter, spreads his arms to the sky, and sings his solvency from the bow of a high seas luxury yacht. For all its exuberance, the gesture is a stereotypical one for any Atlanta rapper. Here, the imaginary surrounding hip-hop’s Southern “Third Coast”–one represented by Akon’s formidable pop presence–is crisscrossed by classic cars, fast motorcycles, and sprawling liners. With Akon and his peers at its helm, the last decade has witnessed the dominance of Southern hip-hop in international commercial markets and neighborhood undergrounds alike. This music travels in unlikely vehicles, including the body of Akon, the Senegalese-American singer whose voice both represents the American South’s most marketable presence in the global music industry–and Africa’s most audible presence in American hip-hop.
Hip-hop from the US “Dirty South” is often dismissed by the critical establishment for its conspicuous consumption and high technological relief, but few recognize the global practitioners and audiences that attend to the geopolitical floes at play under its spectacular surfaces. Even as Southern hip-hop patches together a legacy of regional sounds and styles, it is contoured by growing African and Diasporic communities that line the contemporary American South. This paper draws from three years’ ethnographic work with new communities of Senegalese migrants to the US who, in the wake of economic collapse in the past decade, have come to join a transnational musical circuit we might think of as a Global “Dirty” South.
Panel Session 5
As a Communication Studies Ph.D student at UNC, Ali Colleen Neff is committed to documenting, amplifying and celebrating the musical creativity of young people throughout the Black Atlantic. Her work in Mississippi and Senegal is manifest in her book, Let the World Listen Right: The Mississippi Delta Hip-Hop Story and her website, www.ethnolyrical.org.
Booty Popping and Pre-pubescent Puberty Rite: Children’s Sexualized Hip Hop Musicking
Fernando Orejuela—Indiana University
Children’s folk singing traditions are playfully subversive, sex-related, and often on the borderline of appropriate behavior. We have heard jump-rope songs that celebrate the allure and prowess of the female form. Some songs have drawn on parody, transforming the patriotic “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” into a brutal attack on the elementary school system. Others, more often than not, have redefined popular television jingles (“Comet, it makes your teeth turn green…”). Some of the very songs performed by children have origins in popular culture comedian routines such as the blue nursery rhymes of Ma Mabley and Andrew Dice Clay that are given new life on the playground. The risqué ditties confirm an approaching deadline to childhood and incorporation into adulthood. Yet, in this new millennium, the pop cultural trend targets young children as voluntary creators of song or dance that mime x-rated, adult behavior with claims of independent invention. This paper interrogates the aesthetic of adult sexuality as child’s creation in the performance of 6-year-old rapper Albert Roundtree Jr’s song viral video “Booty Pop.” The approach I take is multilayered and attempts to open discussion of several issues, including stereotypes of deviance, misogyny, signifying, and humor, to reconstruct a masculine ideal realized by a pre-pubescent boy. The director might remind viewers that it is a joke, but it subtext reveals a legitimizing concern—need—to confirm a hyper-heteronormative world order.
Panel Session 3
Fernando Orejuela is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Folklore and Ethnomusicology at Indiana University.
Song Spoofs and Instrumental Puns: The Soundplay of Composer and Humorist Christopher Cerf
Kathryn Ostrofsky—University of Pennsylvania
Song spoofs cross boundaries of time, genre, and audience. They form a category of their own while also residing in the genre and medium that they parody. They satirize musical styles and artists while also paying homage to them and giving them renewed cultural relevance. Spoofs live between audiences, creating humor by reworking adult songs with children’s lyrics (or vice versa), or giving old standards new meanings and new listeners. They evoke the songs and artists that inspired them, yet they also bear the mark of the humorists who compose them.
Christopher Cerf, a prolific spoof composer, himself defies categorization. His fifty-year career has straddled television, recording, and publishing; his audiences include adults and children; and his sendups have targeted literature, journalism, and film, in addition to popular musicians and songs of many genres and eras. From National Lampoon to Sesame Street, Cerf has employed verbal and instrumental puns to spoof songbook standards, Motown backup vocals, answer songs, MTV, and more.
This paper uses archival documents and an interview with Cerf to inform close analysis of the structure, instrumentation, performance style, and visual imagery of Cerf’s sound recordings, music videos, and literary humor. Cerf’s work illuminates an important role of musical humor: that by parodying sound, spoofs reveal and reinforce the elements that make certain music memorable. Cerf’s stylistic coherence across genres and media is instructive. Examining the elements of a spoof and the process of composing one demonstrates the underlying structures that literature, humor, education, and popular music share.
Panel Session 3
Kathryn A. Ostrofsky is a Ph.D. candidate in History at the University of Pennsylvania. Her dissertation, entitled “Everybody’s Song: Constructing America’s Culture through the Sounds of Sesame Street, 1969-1993,” explores cultural politics, media engagement, and the re-purposing of musical forms and styles, through the contested and evolving sounds of a program that was born of the struggles and idealism of the 1960s, and became the first common cultural experience of Generation X. Her presentation “Taking Sesame to the Streets” won the 2012 David J. Sanjek Memorial Graduate Student Paper Prize from IASPM-US and appears in the JPMS.
Hopping the Bus to Trinidad: Constructing Identity Through Musical Re-presentation in Van Dyke Parks’ Discover America
Joshua J Ottum—Ohio University
In 1972, American arranger/singer-songwriter/producer Van Dyke Parks released Discover America, an album made up almost entirely of calypso standards from the first half of the 20th century. While Reprise label mates Jackson Browne and Joni Mitchell were busy exploring the complexities of interpersonal relationships, Van Dyke Parks set sail on a musical voyage spurred by the 1969 Santa Barbara oil spill and a goal to reintroduce the music of Trinidad and Tobago to America. Through the embodiment of calypsonian lyrical traditions, Parks historicizes re- presentations of American culture, thereby mirroring cross-fertilized pictures of America to itself.
This paper will explore Discover America as a space of intersectionality at the margins. Using the idea of race as an interpretive lens, notions of cultural exchange and stylistic hybridity will be examined in light of the formation of Parks’ own American identity. Where do we position Van Dyke Parks as he engages with American traditions of exotic musical tourism? What are the building blocks of Parks’ materializing identity that emerges from his use of narratives constructed outside U.S. borderlines? With steel drums coating the sonic foundation of Discover America, Parks locates a harmonic space rich in paradoxical overtones. As resonating sounds of empty oil barrels and slippery double entendre mix with early-70‘s LA studio aesthetics, an image of an America begins to appear. It is an America positioned beyond borders; an image reflected in a mirror where narrative, cyclical spaces of cohabitation are closer than they appear.
Panel Session 1
Josh Ottum is a PhD student at Ohio University in the department of Interdisciplinary Arts. He holds degrees in psychology and music from Seattle Pacific University and an MFA in Integrated Composition Improvisation and Technology from UC Irvine. His research interests include Southern California, Van Dyke Parks, library music, record production, and sound synthesis. As a singer-songwriter, composer, and producer, Josh has released multiple records on various labels, completed numerous international tours, and has had music appear on MTV, AMC’s Mad Men, and NPR.
“The Day The Sun Stood Still”: Civil War Country Music Videos
Elizabeth Whittenburg Ozment—The University of Georgia
A country ballad performed by Travis Tritt accompanies thousands of battling U.S. Civil War re-enactors in “North vs. South,” an online music video with 400,000+ views. War reenactment music videos are blossoming on YouTube. Positing that user-generated YouTube music videos are an emerging form of digitally-mediated war re-enactment, my investigation applies musicological methods to New Media technology. As a digitally disseminated archive of cultural products reflecting Twenty-First Century sensibilities, YouTube is a valuable resource for understanding music, memory and representation. This paper examines online music videos that manipulate contemporary country music to speak about the U.S. Civil War. My reading of these videos is informed by Michael Wesch’s theory of aesthetic inversion, described in his 2008 YouTube study as the process of expressing “individualism, independence and commercialization while desiring community, relationships, and authenticity.” Wesch’s concept will be applied and expanded in this paper as a frame for understanding country music videos, and U.S. Civil War memory. This paper will demonstrate how country music sounds are being interpreted by some as markers of a white southern heritage that derived from the Civil War. Country music is heard in many Civil War re-enactment videos partly because the genre is believed to mirror military history reenactment enthusiasts’ authenticity quests. Popularity of these videos impacts live battle reenactment events where costumed reenactors increasingly sing these songs for audiences. This paper will consider the politics of representation and reception while following the recontextualization of Travis Tritt’s recording of “The Day The Sun Stood Still” across these performance contexts.
Panel Session 1
Elizabeth Whittenburg Ozment is a doctoral candidate in Musicology/Ethnomusicology at The University of Georgia with graduate certificates in Women’s Studies and Interdisciplinary University Teaching. Her dissertation, The Politics of Musical Reenactment: Civil War Commemoration in American Culture, explores music as a mode of Civil War memory, and suggests that Americans compose and re-contextualize music to negotiate the legacy of this war in relationship to contemporary social and political identities.
Lena Horne “Day In, Day Out” in America
Deborah Paredez—University of Texas-Austin
On 13 October 1963, Lena Horne appeared as the headlining act on the short-lived but now legendary The Judy Garland Show. By this time, Horne had established herself as a satin-voiced supper club chanteuse in the cabaret circuit and as a pillar singer in a range of films. At first glance, Horne’s appearance on The Judy Garland Show is representative of her secured status as a palatable exotic with mainstream appeal. But by the early 1960s, Horne was also known for expressing strident critiques of the representational constraints that framed her roles on film and on stage within the Jim Crow era. In her opening duet with Garland on the Johnny Mercer and Rube Bloom standard, “Day In, Day Out,” Horne resists the racial liberalist framing of their staged act and its constructions of racialized femininity. Her rendition of “Day In, Day Out” instead embodies a searing enactment of everyday life for Black subjects seeking citizenship rights in the closing years of the Jim Crow era. Horne’s performance provides a kinesthetic model for the ways Black bodies used the television medium to engage—day in, day out—in direct action protest campaigns. I conduct a close analysis of Horne’s use of gesture, voice, comportment, tempo, reserve, and tenor, to reveal the ways her performance signals the disciplining of the civil rights era body for the cameras while simultaneously baring its affective underseam of loosely fastened rage.
Panel Session 6
Deborah Paredez is an Associate Professor of English and Theatre at the University of Texas-Austin and the author of Selenidad: Selena, Latinos, and the Performance of Memory (Duke UP 2009). She is currently working on a book about Black and Latina divas called Turn it Out: Divas in America.
Crossing into the Country: The Romney Campaign, Country Music and Political Boundaries
Justin Patch—Vassar College
The slippery political boundaries of ideology, affiliation and electoral demographic often defy traditional lines of space, place, history, class, race and gender. Because of this, the modern political campaign seeks to re-make and re-present candidates in ways that transcend and erase these imagined dividing lines. Campaigns rearrange history, personal narratives, and ideological rhetoric to appeal to large and diverse national audiences. The invisible lines between political ideals, social beliefs and perceptions necessitate a multi-faceted campaign that constantly delivers polyglot, contradictory messages and meanings, stokes emotions and builds affective associations. Popular music has become necessary to meet the demands of political connection, communication, ideological reinforcement and affect. The Romney campaign has turned to country music, using Kid Rock’s ‘Born Free’ and Toby Keith’s American Ride’ to frame Romney’s public appearances. These two songs and the artistic personas that they reference provide completely different affective states and rhetorical resonances for the campaign.
The first is an upbeat anthem to freedom – a vital political buzz word – and the second a rant against secularism, litigious culture, and immigration. Both songs reference conservative views and rhetoric and express political-affective positions. The songs geographically reference the rust-belt and South, playing on affective cultural similarities and distancing Romney from Massachusetts. This particular example illuminates the ways in which popular music is utilized in attempts to smooth over political contradictions and ideological lines and enable geographical, demographic and political boundaries to be crossed and rendered invisible. The question is: how and why and to whom is it effective?
Panel Session 1
Tween Pop’s Long Revolution
Diane Pecknold—University of Louisville
Over the past decade, the mainstream visibility and viability of tween pop has contributed to moral panics about the down-aging of adult sexuality and consumerism to child audiences and aesthetic panics about the up-aging of child tastes and desires into adult musical culture. Implying that this circulation of music across age boundaries is both a recent and troubling phenomenon, such formulations ignore the longer history of exchange between adult and children’s music and reproduce enduring anxieties about how to manage the distinction between them.
This paper traces the history of the fraught relationship between adult and children’s music, beginning with the “kidisk” industry of the late 1940s and early 1950s, when record companies sought to cultivate a child pop audience even as they worried that the economy of children’s music might threaten the more profitable adult market. While these efforts failed to establish a stable market for children’s pop, they led directly to the rise of Beatlemania and bubblegum pop in the 1960s, phenomena that both signaled the incorporation of children into the mainstream pop audience and prompted a struggle, especially among radio broadcasters, to contain their influence on adult tastes. Comparing these early struggles over the boundaries between adult and child markets with the current discourse surrounding tween music, the paper concludes by suggesting that, in transforming the contact zone between adult and child musics from indistinct borderland to delimited empire, tween pop functions to define rather than blur the line between them.
Panel Session 3
Diane Pecknold teaches Women’s & Gender Studies at the University of Louisville. She is the author of The Selling Sound: The Rise of the Country Music Industry, co-editor of A Boy Named Sue: Gender and Country Music, and editor of the forthcoming collection Hidden in the Mix: The African American Presence in Country Music. She is currently at work, with co-author Sarah Dougher, on a book about tween music.
Ecomusicology: Lessons from Mexico
Mark Pedelty—University of Minnesota
The relatively new subfield of ecomusicology has focused mostly on Anglophone musics (Ingram 2010, Pedelty 2012). Yet, some of the most striking examples of environmentally inflected music hail from Africa, Asia, and Latin America. This paper compares three musical acts from Mexico: Café Tacuba, Maná, and Belinda. Café Tacuba articulates Mexico City’s environmental challenges in a global rock idiom. Maná has integrated regional symbols and histories into environmentally themed music. They also founded the Selva Negra Foundation, a successful movement for biodiversity and environmental justice throughout Latin America. Meanwhile, Belinda makes a virtue of pop’s heightened contradictions, embracing and performing the genre’s ecological conundrums on a global stage. Meanwhile, rock and pop performers in the United States have struggled to integrate sustainable practices, ecological themes, and environmental advocacy into pop and rock, genre traditions known more for conspicuous consumption and excess than environmentalist aesthetics and ethics. After analyzing each case in detail, the paper applies “lessons from Mexico” to musical performance in the United States. The movement toward environmentally inflected pop and rock is an emergent phenomenon, forming in the borderlands between genres, generations, nations, and eras (e.g., peak vs. post-peak oil). Musicians are taking up an existential effort to re-articulate sound, sustainability, and place, a creative task made all the more challenging in a world where Victor Turner’s “liminal” time-space has become the cultural norm, rather than the transitory moment he imagined (1977).
Panel Session 7
Mark Pedelty is associate professor of Communication Studies and Anthropology at the University of Minnesota. He received his Ph.D. in Anthropology from UC, Berkeley in 1993. He is the author of Musical Ritual in Mexico City: From the Aztec to NAFTA (University of Texas 2004), Ecomusicology: Rock, Folk and the Environment (Temple University Press 2012), and a number of journal articles dealing with the politics of popular music. Dr. Pedelty is currently researching environmentalist musicians and the role of music in environmental movements. He teaches courses in music as communication, ethnographic methods, and environmental communication.
Energy Soundscapes of Appalachian Ohio
Marina Peterson—Ohio University
Sounds of trains carrying coal from Glouster en route to China echo off the hills. Children laugh and splash water as they collect tadpoles in Monday Creek, which, cleaned of acid mine drainage, glints in the sunlight. Jack Wright sings “Which Side Are You On” with new lyrics written to protest fracking. These sounds, and others, are all part of the energy soundscape of Appalachian Ohio. A research and pedagogical project that incorporates field recording, sonic ethnography, and oral histories, “Energy Soundscapes of Appalachian Ohio” considers how listening to sounds of energy might provide new ways of understanding regional and transnational dimensions of energy. The region has a long history of mineral extraction and energy production that includes coal, natural gas, oil, and nuclear. Today it is the site of new modes of energy production and extraction, from hydropower and solar energy to hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”). Sounds include energy proper, its modes of extraction, transformation, and transportation, and related social processes of labor, civic engagement, and migration.
Panel Session 7
Marina Peterson is Associate Professor of Performance Studies in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts at Ohio University. An anthropologist, her work focuses on the contemporary city, spatial processes, and emergent social formations in the context of late liberalism. Much of her research has taken up these concerns through the investigation of sound and performance, urban space, and global processes. She is the author of Sound, Space, and the City: Civic Performance in Downtown Los Angeles (UPenn Press 2010) and co-editor of Global Downtowns (UPenn Press 2012).
Sampling Belly Dance: Exotic Sounds and Imagery in U.S. Popular Music of the Early 2000s
Leah Pogwizd—University of Washington
From roughly 2000-2006, many popular music artists, such as Shakira and Beyonce, utilized belly dance imagery in their music videos. These performances were viewed as either an exotic/erotic spectacle or as part of American fascination with and anxiety about the Middle East, particularly in the aftermath of 9/11 and beginning of the War on Terror. This paper offers an alternative reading of this trend and positions it in relationship to three streams of historical/cultural influence: 1) the complex history of belly dance in the United States, which dates back to the 19th century and has since produced a variety of images and practitioners; 2) the practices of world music sampling, which have raised ethical issues regarding appropriation and global power structures; and 3) the drastic shifts in the American music industry that took place during the first few years after 9/11, in which the political climate greatly affected the production and consumption of popular musics. The popularization of belly dance cannot be attributed to one single factor. Rather, it was part of an ongoing process of negotiating U.S. national identity – through notions of race, ethnicity, gender, and sexuality – via popular music. By examining these issues, it is possible to theorize a model for understanding the complexities of popular music that includes a consideration of the relationships between: 1) historical and contemporary practices; 2) sonic and non-sonic elements (e.g. dance, industry); and 3) popular music as product and as a site of identity formation that both reflects and impacts society.
Panel Session 7
Leah Pogwizd is a Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of Washington. Her research interests include popular music and culture in the U.S., jazz, gender studies, and notions of authenticity in music. Her dissertation research examines the experiences of female instrumentalists in post-secondary music education and popular music communities. She has taught undergraduate courses in U.S. popular music, U.S. folk music, world music, global popular music, and jazz. She is also a bassist who works in a variety of musical genres –particularly jazz.
Hip Hop’s South Asian Disembodied Voice: Sampling, Temporality, and the Career of Raje Shwari
Elliott H. Powell—New York University
For rap scholars, U.S. hip hop’s engagements with South Asian culture during the twenty-first century can be divided into two categories. The first division concerns the prevalence of sampling South Asian music in mainstream hip hop, but also eliding the presence and participation of actual South Asian (diasporic) artists in hip hop. Conversely, the second camp encompasses South Asian artists involved in the independent rap market. According to these scholars, the former group extends post-9/11 U.S. nationalist projects that mainstream the commodification of South Asian cultural styles while simultaneously participating in the state-led disappearance of South Asian bodies in the U.S.; the latter group, on the other hand, constitutes an ostensibly more politically progressive interaction with South Asian culture centered on visible cross-cultural exchanges. Yet, this binary, like all binaries, fails to fully capture the complexity of South Asian sound in U.S. hip hop. Take, for example, the formally-underground South Asian American hip hop vocalist, Raje Shwari, who garnered mainstream fame between 2001 and 2003 by manipulating her voice to make it sound as if it were sampled. Thus, while an actual South Asian American hip hop singer, Raje was also a sample. Moreover, due to the fact that she sounded like a sample, most audiences never knew that Raje was a real-life person. What does it mean to simultaneously be a human and a sound, to be an independent and commercial artist, to be a part of the present (as a real-life singer) and the past (as samples are sounds extracted from older recordings), or to occupy neither categories? Drawing on personal interviews and close sonic analysis, this paper explores the short-lived career of Raje Shwari and her musical liminality. It argues that Raje’s work not only exposes the limits of scholarly explorations of South Asian sound in hip hop, but also the normative and normalizing logics of time and the body. Therefore, this paper seeks to highlight the sophisticated approaches to South Asian cultural productions in hip hop, and the musical and political possibilities of alternative temporalities and corporealities.
Panel Session 8
Elliott H. Powell is a PhD Candidate in American Studies at New York University. He is currently a Visiting Dissertation Fellow at the University of Rochester in Department of Music, where he is completing his dissertation, “Kindred Sounds: Afro-South Asian Musical Intersections in Jazz and Hip Hop.” The project investigates African American and South Asian diasporic sonic bonds in postwar jazz and post-9/11 hip hop as sites of comparative racialization, transformative gender and queer politics, and anti-imperial political alliances. Other research interests include: African American and Asian American Studies, Queer Studies, World Music, and the Politics and Aesthetics of Sampling.
Power, Pastiche, and Politics
Liz Przybylski—Northwestern University
In March 2012, rapper Samian released a single critiquing Quebec’s energy policy. The piece samples both intertribal powwow and peyote ceremony musics. Samian even collaborated with a throat singer, bringing the characteristic sound of the Inuit practice to his hip hop musical pastiche. Samian is at the same time Canadian and Québecois, Métis and Algonquian, French- English- and Algonquian-speaking; he plays with overlapping identities in his compositions as well as in crafting his public persona. Taking advantage of the opportunities that layering affords, Samian’s music both typifies the postmodern characteristics of hip hop and stretches the limits of the practice by incorporating a unique blend of Indigenous sounds and sources. This presentation interrogates the use of musical pastiche to comment on political policy, using Samian as a trenchant case study.
Expanding upon Tara Rodgers’ analysis of sampling techniques, I investigate how hip hop’s structure provides an opportunity for artists to alter the compositional power dynamic. Samian and his collaborators draw from multifaceted musical identities, layering samples from multiple genres with environmental sounds in order to create a sonic environment that strives to represent Québec’s North in all of its complexity. Unpacking the contradictions within this musical collage, the study combines a musical analysis of sampling, form, and language with Samian’s reflections on his own work, theorized through the concept of relocated indigeneity. In this case, hip hop offers a way to voice contemporary political concerns of multivocal groups, but it cannot escape the questions of appropriation that pastiche invites.
Panel Session 7
Currently a Ph.D. Candidate in musicology at Northwestern University, Liz Przybylski has a combination background in performance, research, and teaching. At Bard College, she earned her BA in music and French and then worked professionally as a singer. At Northwestern, Liz participates in the Ethnic Studies Graduate Student Colloquium. Her current research investigates mediation in Indigenous hip hop. She has designed and taught the undergraduate courses “Gender, Sexuality, and Popular Music” and “Music and Contemporary Politics.” In Chicago, she has also worked with GirlsRock! Chicago and taught music technology at the American Indian Center.
Death of the Zombie: Re-inscribing Production in Cameroon’s Migrant Ghost Songs
Dennis M. Rathnaw—Bowling Green State University
This paper examines the notion of re-inscribing modes of local production and representation in trans-state migrations of Cameroonian cultural and musical processes.Recent scholarship has stressed the connection between African migrants and narrativesof zombification–displacement and disconnection from production, home, wealth and will. Similar critiques have formerly been leveled against Cameroonian, as well as otherAfrican popular music during the heyday of global world beat. Using examples such as the independent music cooperative Culture Mboa Collectif, I argue that it is possible togive body to the current generation of Cameroonian popular music. Mboa locally controls every aspect of recording, design, marketing and distribution, making transparent the local referents that render labor, production and specific meaning to formerly spectral signifiers of global production. Opposed to current narratives of the zombie, work such as Mboa’s provide what Jean and John Comaroff have labeled “estranged recognition” to the imaginings of the marketplace. Current localized music production in Cameroon demonstrates a specific trans-locality that no longer relies on factual belonging to state or ideology, or continual deferral to market demand. Concurrently, it helps weaken the trope of disoriented and aimless wandering so prevalent in African migrant, labor and cultural flows.
Panel Session 7
Mediating Value: Team Clermont’s Strategic Approach to Fostering Artist-Audience Connections
Mary Beth Ray—Temple University
As digital technology continues to evolve, the public is offered new and varied ways to interact with musical media, which has implications for both artists and audiences (Shuker, 2008; Baym, 2010). Indeed, digital technology has led to major structural and promotional reconsiderations for artists and new challenges to nurturing sustainable music communities (Kot, 2009; Wikstrom, 2009). To better understand contemporary strategies mediators use to navigate the in between spaces of production and consumption digital technology engenders, this paper examines publicity and promotion firm Team Clermont. This case study consists of in-depth interviews with Team Clermont team members and textual analysis of teamclermont.com. For the past 15 years Team Clermont has worked to connect artists and audiences through radio (terrestrial and digital), as well as press outlets (print and digital). Their goal is maximum exposure to audiences customized for each artist. Team Clermont’s holistic approach to media focuses on providing buildable content to create strong artist-audience communities. Taken as a whole, artist and audience’s musical lives are fragmented as they occur in multiple online and offline places, at multiple times, and are continuous. Audiences create, download, stream, listen, share, burn, and build upon content while engaging in multiple personal and social practices. As such, Team Clermont’s strategy aims to foster impactful and meaning interactions, while acknowledging that the importance of building good will and establishing positive word-of-mouth far outreaches selling a physical album. Their strategy recognizes that what traditionally constitutes value has been redefined and that artists much speak to their audiences appropriately and “situationally” to give and get value.
Panel Session 6
Mary Beth Ray, Ph.D., is an Adjunct Professor of Communication at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. Her research interests include emerging technology, creative industries, co-production, and popular music culture. Her dissertation examined how the rise of widely available digital communication technology impacts the way music is produced, distributed, promoted and consumed, with a focus on the changing nature of the relationship between artists and audiences.
The Death of (Insurgent) Country Music: Bloodshot Records and Negotiated Genre and Scene Identities
Nancy P. Riley—University of Georgia
Bloodshot Records released their first album, For a Life of Sin: A Compilation of Insurgent Chicago Country in 1994. Described by co-founder Nan Warshaw as “a snapshot of a scene at the time,” the album features local bands and artists performing various styles of country music influenced by punk rock. In their eighteenth year, Bloodshot remains strongly associated with its early albums of “insurgent country” and alt.country, despite nearly two hundred releases and an eclectic stylistic roster that has expanded beyond the label’s early albums. In light of the record label’s history, this paper explores the ways in which Bloodshot has worked to negotiate its identity as it attempted to move beyond a limited generic scope, while still adhering to a punk and alternative aesthetic. Although the record label’s beginnings were local to Chicago, by the late 1990s, Bloodshot had become an important contributor nationally to the broadly defined sub-genre referred to as “alt.country,” with many key alt.country artists and bands associating with the record label. Based upon interviews and archival materials, this paper examines the identity formation of an independent record label within a local and national context, and how such an identity is negotiated over time. Just as scene participants derive meaning from the local scene, exert agency in comprising the scene, and form and negotiate individual and collective identity within it (Bennett 2000; Bennett and Peterson 2004; Stimeling 2011), I argue that Bloodshot Records underwent similar processes in the local Chicago country and alt.country music scene.
Panel Session 6
Ms. Riley is a PhD candidate studying musicology and ethnomusicology at the University of Georgia in Athens, with a graduate certificate in women’s studies. Her dissertation project examines connections between local music scenes and alternative country music of the 1990s, with a focus on Bloodshot Records and country music in Chicago. She has presented dissertation research, as well as work on the intersection of punk and country music in 1990s alt.country, cowpunk bands and musical style, and has written related articles for the American Grove forthcoming. She has also published research on the scholarship of teaching and learning.
Enter the Hurbans: Race, Reggaetón, and Latino Identities
Petra R. Rivera-Rideau—Virginia Tech
Reggaetón is a rap-reggae musical hybrid that incorporates diverse musical influences from the Caribbean, Latin America, and the United States, especially Jamaican dancehall and U.S.- based hip hop. Although many debates about the origins of reggaetón exist, its most popular iteration is often associated with Puerto Rico. On the island, reggaetón involved a racial politics that embraced blackness and African diasporic connections with other black-identified communities, especially in the Americas. However, once reggaetón artists received contracts from major record labels, the music became marketed as “Latino.” This paper argues that reggaetón’s entrance into the “Latin” music category reinforced distinctions between Latino and black identities in the United States despite reggaetón’s African diasporic orientation. In particular, the creation of a unique “Hurban” market tied to urban Latino communities attempted to distance reggaetón from blackness. At the same time, the construction of the “Hurban” furthered stereotypes of Puerto Rican and African American urban populations as violent, deviant, and ensnared in the culture of poverty. I analyze the publicity surrounding Daddy Yankee and N.O.R.E., two artists often credited with making reggaetón popular in the United States, to demonstrate the ways in which the marketing of “Hurban” reggaetón contradictorily reinforced racial stereotypes that linked Latinos and African Americans together while maintaining strict distinctions between blackness and Latinidad.
Panel Session 2
Petra R. Rivera-Rideau is assistant professor of Africana Studies at Virginia Tech. Dr. Rivera-Rideau completed her B.A. in African American Studies at Harvard University, and her Ph.D. in African Diaspora Studies at UC Berkeley. She has received funding for her research from the Social Science Research Council, the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, and the Ford Foundation Predoctoral Fellowship. Dr. Rivera-Rideau is currently completing her first book manuscript, ¡Todo Puerto Rico!: Race and Diaspora in Puerto Rican Reggaetón, which examines the entanglements of race, class, gender, and Puerto Rican identities in the popular music, reggaetón.
“He’s Callin’ His Flock Now”: Sefyu’s Postcolonial Critique and the Sound of Double Consciousness
J. Griffith Rollefson—University of California, Berkeley
On the 2006 track “En Noir et Blanc” the Parisian rapper Sefyu (Youssef Soukouna) makes the case that “black and white” thinking is a form of colonial nostalgia for supposed purer times. Notably, to make his case that “mixité” is nothing tragic, the track traverses the Black Atlantic from Paris via Senegal to New Orleans, indexing the sonic contours of black American music and articulating them to the global experience of postcoloniality. Sefyu’s track establishes the transatlantic intertextual link by sampling Nina Simone performing Ellington/Strayhorn’s “Hey, Buddy Bolden” from the 1956 musical allegory A Drum is a Woman. The sample is a splintered and echoing phoneme from the line: “When Buddy Bolden tuned up you could hear him clean across the river.” Indeed, Simone’s track about Bolden, the New Orleans trumpeter who Ted Gioia calls “the elusive father of jazz” ends with the lines “He’s callin’ his flock now. Here they come….” In this paper, I embed a deep reading of Sefyu’s track in the context of my fieldwork experiences with hip hop communities in Paris to underscore Sefyu’s underlying assertion that “double consciousness” is the particularly American form of the global postcolonial condition. In so doing, I introduce Edward Said’s dialectical or “polyphonic” model of “contrapuntal analysis” from his 1993 Culture and Imperialism as a frame to argue that we can hear the interdependence of colonizer and colonized resonating in hip hop’s production of a paradoxically commercial authenticity and conclude that hip hop is a constitutively postcolonial art form.
Panel Session 4
J. Griffith Rollefson is ACLS New Faculty Fellow and Visiting Assistant Professor of Musicology and Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Berkeley where he teaches courses on global hip hop, jazz, and American musics. His work has appeared in Black Music Research Journal and Popular Music and Society and in the collections Native Tongues: An African Hip Hop Reader and Crosscurrents: American and European Music in Interaction, 1900-2000. He was recently named UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Public Scholar for his community research project Hip Hop as Postcolonial Studies in the Bay Area and is currently preparing his book European Hip Hop and the Politics of Postcoloniality for publication.
The Construction of the Feminine in Korean Popular Music: A Performance Analysis of “I AM: SMTown Live” and Multi-Artist Musical Variety Shows
CedarBough T. Saeji—University of California, Los Angeles
Over the past decade reports in the Korean media about the “moral slide” of Korean women often mention the influence of popular culture, including the scantily clad pop stars visible on a daily basis on every major TV channel. Conversely many overseas fans of Korean pop artists list their demure sexuality, the absence of suggestive dance moves and the lyrics absent of profanity as a draw of Korean pop. This paper is based on analysis of the film “I am: SMTown Live at Madison Square Garden,” and viewing of musical variety shows Music Bank and Inkigayo. Through these viewings I deconstruct the manner in which these performances are framed and consumed to highlight the construction of Korean femininity in K-pop. The musical semiotics of gender have been examined by scholars such as Susan McClary; beyond the music, the public forum of these performances is promoting gender organization by providing ever-present examples of femininity. Here I perform a close examination of how this music is presented, considering in particular camera angles, and dance and non-dance movement of stars and back- up dancers, and the narration of emcees. I use multi-artist shows to highlight how male and female artists are presented differently by the same production teams. In the staging of Korean pop, inarguably a calculated and often male-controlled process, twenty-first century Korean femininity is being constructed, marketed, and consumed.
Panel Session 1
CedarBough Saeji, 2012 Ph.D. in Culture and Performance (UCLA) occupies the nexus of theory and practice. CedarBough’s research addresses cultural preservation efforts for traditional performance in the Republic of Korea, Korean popular music, and martial arts. CedarBough is a photographer, a martial artist, performs several Korean traditional arts.
And The Beat Goes On: Disco Demolition and Black Sonic Retrenchment in Chicago’s Nascent House Scene
Micah Salkind—Brown University
Historians of American dance music have described the 1979 Disco Demolition Night, a joint promotion produced by WLUP radio disc jockey Steve Dahl and Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck, as a decisive turning point in the story of disco’s demise. While scholars like Alice Echols and Tim Lawrence have cited homophobia as a major factor in album-oriented rock radio’s backlash against disco, as well as major label disinvestment in the genre, racism and Chicago’s specific history of spatial segregation have not been as widely considered in terms of how they help make sense of both the demolition night, and the efflorescence of house music that it anticipated.
If the destruction of Black music at Comiskey Park was a response to a cataclysmic wave threatening the purity of white sonic space, then the gradual emergence of house at the beginning of the 1980s looks like a diffuse but consistent stream. Building on the work of cultural historians Chad Heap and Kevin Mumford, both of whom expertly historicize the queer character of Chicago’s racially and sexually liminal vice districts, this paper will look at the ways that house emerged through bottom-up dissemination in the spaces of Chicago’s physical and sonic interzones. Understanding that house music entrepreneurs engaged in Black sonic retrenchment in spite of, rather than as a reaction to, the disco backlash can help scholars connect the house sound the City to its post-war legacies of Black sonic self-affirmation and political dissent without framing house as an instrumental cultural production.
Panel Session 7
Micah Salkind is a Providence, Rhode Island-based curator, DJ and Ph.D. candidate in American Studies at Brown University interested in the impacts Afro-diasporic cultural production on local, national and transnational economies. His scholarly research on Chicago house music complements his activism on behalf of local artists and arts institutions.
It Ain’t Got That Twang, but It’s Yer Thang
James Schneider—South Puget Sound Community College
Just ask any aspiring rocker, “What type of music does your band play?” and you will see the degree to which modern musicians consciously negotiate boundaries and define themselves in liminal terms: “We’re hard to define, kind of a cross between Alice Cooper, Alice in Chains and Al Lester.” These descriptions not only provide insight into musicians’ negotiations of boundaries, but they also highlight the simulated nature of authenticity in modern musical expressions. Despite this simulated nature of authenticity, one needs look no further than modern country rock stars who attended Northeastern prep schools speaking in thick Southern accents in interviews to see that “authenticity” still remains a core value of many genres. Authenticity is more complex than just appropriating forms and codes of the past though. Individuals seeking to present genre authenticity also project a sense of authenticity of self as well—musical choices are expressions of identity and positioning. This second notion of authenticity is particularly relevant in modern musical formations, as young musicians project their sense of identity through performances of genre “authenticity,” creating a kind of ideological hybridization. This paper explores the inherent tensions between the two notions of authenticity by examining the Pacific Northwest’s urban roots music scenes and how musicians simulate authenticity of genre and signify authenticity of self. What emerges is an intertextuality, where “authentic” genre codes are performed with modern signifiers, generating unique and multi-layered meanings situated between traditional forms and more mainstream contemporary expressions.
Panel Session 8
James Schneider began playing music in 6th grade when he realized writing a song for a class project was much more fun than writing a paper. Since then, he has performed professionally in about as many bands as he has digits. Most recently, his recordings have charted on CMJ Jazz and Americana and been heard on NPR’s All Things Considered. He is currently a Humanities Professor at South Puget Sound Community College in Olympia, WA teaching courses on American music, folklore and oral culture, music theory, and guitar.
If You Can’t Hear Us Then You’re Too Far Away: The Perpetual Independence of College Radio
Laura Schnitker—University of Maryland
In April 1979, the University of Maryland’s campus radio station WMUC acquired an FM license. Once a carrier-current station limited to the boundaries of campus, WMUC-FM now occupied a legitimate, albeit tiny, notch on the public airwaves. With this shift, a band of triumphant DJs and station staff members held a card-burning party, a onetime ritual signaling the rejection of pre-programmed AM Top Forty playlists in favor of an autonomous freeform format. Meanwhile, in that same year, the College Media Journal introduced college radio charts, bringing increased industry attention to these eclectic student-run stations. The term “college radio” subsequently earned cultural relevance as an experimental outlet that held the promise of uncovering the next big thing. However, despite their emergence onto the mainstream’s periphery, many college stations such as WMUC have continued to resist inclusion in the corporatized industry. Rather, they are staunchly committed to remaining musical undergrounds where individuals who feel both defined and marginalized by their eccentric musical tastes construct shows that are as much about performing a public service as they are about creating a personal statement. In this paper, I will discuss how college radio participants negotiate a unique social and musical space on the fringes of the music industry. Using both personal experience as a college radio DJ, as well as archival and ethnographic research, I will outline the original ideologies of freeform radio, and discuss the ways in which college stations retain a fundamental identity both within and outside of America’s popular music culture.
Panel Session 2
Laura Schnitker is an ethnomusicologist at the University of Maryland, where she completed her PhD in 2011. She works as the sound archivist in Special Collections in Mass Media & Culture, teaches an undergraduate course on world popular musics and hosts a weekly radio show called “The Bohemian Challenge” on WMUC-FM. She has written articles on college radio and independent labels for the forthcoming 2nd edition of The New Grove Dictionary of American Music, and presented research on independence in popular music, radio history, women in jazz and Gullah musical heritage at numerous conferences including IASPM, ARSC, SEM and MACSEM.
The Liminality of the Post-Soviet Music Industry in the Republic of Georgia
Brigita Sebald—University of California, Los Angeles
This paper examines the current state of popular music in the Republic of Georgia and postulates upon its future. The long period of transition after the collapse of the Soviet Union has been a kind of liminal phase for the local music industry; it has left behind its former status as part of a single socialist bureaucracy and is slowing transforming into something else. It is not clear, though, whether this next status will be inclusion into the international music conglomerates or not. Thus far, the liminal phase can be divided into three separate periods: (1) the chaotic phase in the first few years after Georgia declared its independence, when the country was essentially non-functional; (2) a tentative move towards a free market in the late 1990s and early 2000s, when musicians could develop an audience in proportion to their popularity from selling cassettes at the bazaars, having their music played on the mass media, and performing with somewhat regularity; and (3) a current shift back towards a more authoritarian system as record labels, the media, and live performance opportunities are all controlled by political parties. As it stands now, most popular musicians in Georgia cannot support themselves and local popular music activity has died down, so clearly the music industry has not moved from a liminal phase into maturity. It remains to be seen what its next period will look like.
Panel Session 7
Brigita Sebald is receiving her Ph.D. from the UCLA Department of Ethnomusicology in 2013. Her dissertation, based on two years’ fieldwork in Tbilisi, Georgia, concerns the ways in which popular musicians circulate their music, in particular using social media.
“I Can’t Believe You’re a Female Producer”: Female Hip-Hop Producers, Technological Opportunities, and Gender Stereotypes
Amanda Sewell—Indiana University
Female hip-hop producers occupy a liminal space between the possibilities of technology and the challenges of sexism. In conversations with producers including Queen JuJu, Jane Doe, Quiet Girl, and DJ Jazzy Joyce, I explore how female producers navigate this space between technological opportunities and gender obstacles.
Since the earliest days of hip-hop, female producers have found it difficult to enter the male-dominated hip-hop scene. The availability of online technology and remote collaboration initially seems like an ideal way to bridge the gender gap. Now, producers learn their craft by exploring web forums and watching YouTube tutorials, they promote themselves through social media such as Facebook and Twitter, and they display their music on online distribution platforms such as SoundCloud and ReverbNation. Thanks to Skype and Dropbox, producers do not need to share physical space with their collaborators.
Even with these favorable technological circumstances, female hip-hop producers remain constrained by their gender. Equal access to music creation and distribution platforms does not automatically translate to acceptance by their male peers. Many female producers still confront disbelief, discrimination, and harassment. In fact, they continue to face many of the same issues that have dogged female musicians for centuries: they must be protected by or associated with a male musician, their abilities are met with skepticism, they must perch between beauty and sexuality, and they lack female mentors or role models. Women’s access to music production programs and online promotion opportunities do not negate their female identities.
Panel Session 4
Amanda Sewell is a Ph.D. candidate at Indiana University, and she currently teaches at the University of Redlands. She plans to defend her dissertation, “A Typology of Sampling in Hip-Hop,” this spring. Her dissertation research focuses on how hip-hop producers sample, emphasizing the specific types of samples producers use. Amanda has previously presented papers at IASPM-US, the Midwest chapter of the SEM, and graduate student conferences at UCLA and CCM. Her chapter on nerdcore hip-hop will appear in the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Hip-Hop.
Clining in the Aural Imaginary
Barry Shank—Ohio State University
In Darker than Blue, Paul Gilroy again celebrates and worries about the role that global black music has played in the political construction of the modern. Critical of the vapidly sentimental assumption of equality based on shared pleasure, Gilroy still suggests that the experience of sentimental attachment can initiate the drive for an interrogative listening, one that recognizes the adamant responsibility incumbent upon a shared polis. Interrogative listening demands a level of political recognition that is the foundation of a shared political community. Yet the possibility of this recognition brings with it the nearly inevitable experience of misrecognition. Misrecognition is not simply the most common consequence of sentimental listening but also distorts initial efforts to listen critically and carefully. This is the problematic that Roshanak Kheshti identifies as the “aural imaginary,” where experiences of musical pleasure are inescapably structured by relations of dominance. This paper works through the recent collaboration between Tinariwen and TV on the Radio in order to rethink the musical construction of new political communities across geographies of difference, with the full awareness of the inescapability of misrecognition. In the video for “Tenere Taqqim Tossam,” these musicians stage an encounter wherein the articulation of musical difference becomes the performance of a community of difference. Misrecognition is shown to enable not prevent political community.
Panel Session 1
Barry Shank currently serves as Chair of the Department of Comparative Studies at the Ohio State University, where he also teaches American studies, popular music studies and cultural theory. He is the author of Dissonant Identities: The Rock’n’Roll Scene in Austin, Texas and one of the co-editors of The Popular Music Studies Reader. He is completing a manuscript for Duke University Press entitled The Political Force of Musical Beauty and has just finished a term as President of IASPM-US branch.
“Y’All Gonna Make Me Lose My Mind”: Problems for Nigeria’s Hip Hop Generation
Stephanie Shonekan—University of Missouri
Scholars have consistently pointed out the hybridity of the many variants of African hip hop. Indeed, over the decades since the radio brought the sound of African American music to young Nigerians, local artists have usually found a way to embrace each African American musical genre while still folding in characteristics from their specific ethnic cultures. Hence, afrobeat, juju, fuji, and highlife all emerged as examples of this important process of cultural mixing. Nigerians’ utilization of hip hop is no different in this respect. Artists like Flavour and Olu Maintain are quite successful in customizing hip hop to arrive at sonic mixtures that include influences from highlife and juju respectively. However, when one considers the construction of artist personae, visual representations in music videos, and cultural behaviors of both Nigerian artists and audiences, one is struck by the insidious takeover of Nigerian youth identity by hip hop. Using analyses of interviews and music videos, this paper will raise new questions about the impact of African American hip hop on the psyche and identity of young Nigerians. It will argue that young Nigerians are finding themselves in a complicated liminal space where they are neither fully Nigerian nor African American. Their true understanding of African American identity is minimal, yet their consumption of what they see as the tropes of that identity is voracious.
Panel Session 3
Dr. Stephanie Shonekan is assistant professor of ethnomusicology and black studies at the University of Missouri. Her doctorate in Ethnomusicology is from Indiana University Bloomington. She has published articles on afrobeat, Nigerian hip-hop, and Fela Kuti. Her book The Life of Camilla Williams, African American Classical Singer and Opera Diva was published in 2011. She has a chapter in a book that was published by Indiana University Press in 2012 titled Hip Hop Africa and Other New African Music in a Globalized World. In 2008, inspired by the music and revolution of the Nigerian market women’s revolution of the 1940s, Stephanie wrote and produced a short live action film titled Lioness of Lisabi. The film was awarded first prize at the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival. Her current research is an exploration of American race, identity and culture through the lens of soul and country music. Her classes at Mizzou include Introduction to Ethnomusicology, World Music, Soul & Country Music, Black Women in Music, and Global Hip Hop.
“Bengali Baboo”: Black Minstrels in North India, Middle 1800s
Bradley Shope—Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi
In the middle 19th century, local and foreign black minstrel troupes toured North India. Music stores sold sheet music and black minstrel paraphernalia such as banjos, the bones, and tambourines, which supported and popularized this blackface circuit. Perhaps the most well-known performer was Dave Carson, an American who brought the San Francisco Minstrels to urban centers throughout India in 1861. His group performed farces of Bengali businessmen, Parsi socialites, and the colonial elite, and he often mocked stereotyped socio-religious manners of the Hindu and Muslim communities. Carson achieved proficiency in Hindustani, a prevalent language in North India, and successfully designed shows that referenced local events, people, and places, thus crossing over into the Indian entertainment market. He reached large audiences of Europeans and non-Europeans alike, and performed for years in large and small towns and cities. This paper will identify Dave Carson’s strategy of appealing to Indian audiences, and comment on his use of black minstrel themes of slavery and plantation life to appeal to universal sentiments of love and separation. By discussing Dave Carson’s strategy of embodying divergent personas, this essay will further suggest that typical minstrel characters, especially the trickster, appealed to local Indian audiences through references to Hindu texts.
Panel Session 7
Bradley Shope is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Music at Texas A & M in Corpus Christi. His research focuses on the history of western popular music in colonial North India. His co-edited volume titled “Popular Music in India” (OUP) will be printed in early 2013.
Ghosts of the Fillmore: Jazz and Urban Redevelopment in San Francisco
Nate Sloan—Stanford University
Efforts to understand the relationship between music and urban geography abound in recent scholarship. Often, such efforts focus on music’s role in representing place, rather than music’s role in mediating space, but the latter can illuminate how music shapes urban environments. As cities become centers of cultural consumption rather than industrial production, artistic ventures begin to elide with civic and private urban development. The trend is illustrated by San Francisco’s Fillmore Jazz Preservation District (FJPD). Initiated in 1995 and abandoned last year, the FJPD aimed to revitalize a neighborhood moribund since the 1960s, when a massive urban renewal project razed sixty blocks to the ground, taking with it the city’s densest African American population and a thriving jazz scene known as “the Harlem of the West.”
The most significant relic of the endeavor is the Fillmore Heritage Center — a block-wide, postmodern building containing Yoshi’s jazz club and eighty condo units. For all its heft, actual jazz is hard to find on Fillmore street. Only six of the twenty-six shows booked for October 2012 at Yoshi’s are jazz acts, indicating that jazz proved unsustainable as a economic engine for the neighborhood. I argue this is because the hyper-planned FJPD was inimical to musical innovation and experimentation, trying to recreate instead a nostalgic notion of jazz. The FJDP precluded the present-day Fillmore from becoming an authentic musical site, instead erecting a simulacrum of authentic expression — a living museum of jazz past, playing to empty Fillmore streets.
Panel Session 7
Nate Sloan is a PhD candidate in musicology at Stanford University, beginning a dissertation on the Cotton Club. His research interests include jazz, Jewish music, and music and urban geography. He is also a composer of musical theatre and film scores.
Musical Signifyin(g) and a Percussive Aesthetic in the Music of Charley Patton and His Immediate Circle
Mandy Smith—Case Western Reserve University
Meaning in the Delta blues is fundamentally intertextual, and although scholars have discussed the lyrical characteristics of this intertextuality, they have neglected some of its musical aspects, specifically the subtext and semiotic significance of its rhythmic complexity. This paper investigates the musical Signifyin(g) of Charley Patton and his inner circle, concentrating on a percussive aesthetic in the music. This aesthetic inquiry considers the connections between all rhythmic and timbral elements of music, including beat, pulse, meter, vocality, dynamics, accent, syncopation, tempo, and the relationship of the vocal and instrumental lines. I offer close readings of Patton tunes to uncover the inner workings of this percussive aesthetic. Then, I compare one tune each from Patton and two of his closest contemporaries, Son House and Willie Brown, to reveal how these artists Signified on one another musically. These close readings reveal multiple levels of the call and response master trope, as posited by Floyd. By creating multiple voices and employing call and response on several levels, Patton and his circle bring the communal and participatory feelings of a live performance to their records. I suggest that this music held broad and nuanced implications in its time. Through the application of percussive effects, these musicians incorporate the body to create a wide range of affects, including violent, playful, and pleasurable ones. This scholarship highlights the intertextual nature of blues music, demonstrating how both the audience and performers negotiated the differences between live and recorded performance.
Panel Session 3
Mandy Smith is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Musicology at Case Western Reserve University where she specializes in rock drumming. She earned a B.A. in Rock History from Indiana University and an M.A. in Musicology from California State University, Long Beach. Her thesis explored socio-cultural issues in early Beach Boys music, and she has presented research on genre, place, and gender in Rage Against the Machine, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Michael Jackson and Farinelli at local and national conferences. Mandy is a member of the AMS Popular Music Study Group Planning Committee and the AMS Committee on Cultural Diversity.
Crossover and Blues Authenticity in Mississippi Today: Black and White Artists and Their Fans at the University of Mississippi
John Sonnett—University of Mississippi
No U.S. state is more symbolic of the oppression of African Americans than Mississippi. Much of this image comes from the well-documented history of Civil Rights abuses and struggles in the state. In contrast to this, a mythology has grown about Mississippi as the “birthplace of the blues,” and this has helped romanticize the music and the place. The blues is now promoted by state officials and the Mississippi tourism industry, and the genre has been transformed in its globalization. Although there have been many studies of African American blues artists from Mississippi, there are relatively few on race and blues fans in contemporary Mississippi. This study uses a mixed-methods approach to link blues artists to blues fans, and examines how racial and genre crossovers relate to blues authenticity. Students at the University of Mississippi (n=662) were surveyed about their musical preferences, including favorite and least favorite artists, and situations they listen to music in. Forty five blues artists were named. Black students named mostly black artists they listen to with their parents, such as Johnnie Taylor, and white students named mostly rock-oriented white artists, such as The Black Keys. A few popular artists, including B.B. King and John Mayer, crossed racial boundaries in the survey. I compare the careers of the four artists named above and show how they correspond to different rhetorics of authenticity based on race, place, expressivity, and social situation. I draw implications for studies at the intersection of music and social inequalities.
Panel Session 8
John Sonnett is an Associate Professor of Sociology at the University of Mississippi. His PhD and MA are from the University of Arizona, BA from the University of Virginia. He is interested in how people use music to create social bridges and boundaries. Based on a survey of Mississippi students, he is developing three new projects on this theme: how race, gender, and class shape listening situations; the role of ambivalence in symbolic boundaries around music; and how rhetorics of authenticity articulate with the race and crossover status of blues artists.
Hey, what’s that song: An analysis of how and what popular music is being used in video advertising
Kristin Stewart—University of Texas at Austin
Ben Wyeth—University of Texas at Austin
The use of popular music in advertising continues to complicate the crossroads between popular music and the marketplace. Advertisers view popular music as being useful because of its ubiquity, cultural significance, and functionality. The purpose of this study is to profile the current state of popular music utilization in television advertisements that may represent a liminal space. We build on prior research that investigated music (jingles, popular, needle drop) in advertising. This content analysis provides a view of the landscape over the last seven years of popular music, as defined by Phillip Tagg, (1984), and its placement, type and use relative to advertising message elements. This time period chronicles a noticeable increase in the utilization of popular music in advertising (Klein 2008). This study utilizes content analysis methodology for studying the content of communication in the form of words (nonverbal-taglines and verbal-lyrics), images, symbols, and sounds. Content analysis is a summarizing technique relying on both inductive and deductive approaches. No restriction is placed on the types of variables measured or the context in which the messages are created or presented. This research focuses on examining patterns surrounding the inclusion of popular music as both context (framing the narrative) and content (being the narrative). Furthermore, we analyze structural elements of popular music as described by the musically untrained consumer audience (eg: volume rather than pitch, feeling rather than major/minor or timbre), in order to identify themes of popular music use and functionality.
Panel Session 1
Kristin is a second-year doctoral student from Atlanta, GA. She received both graduate and undergraduate degrees from Auburn University, where she was a Division-I student athlete. In 2007 Kristin graduated with an M.B.A. and began a career as the marketing manager for Workforce Technology Partners, an Atlanta based IT consulting firm. She joined the doctoral program in Advertising at the University of Texas in 2011. Her current research interests involve exploring the relationship between Consumer Behavior, Advertising and Popular Music Studies. These interests encompass a variety of topics pertaining to consumer culture, message and brand congruency, information processing and music utilization in advertising. Currently, Kristin works as the graduate research assistant on a inter-agency grant with the UT Center for Transportation Research and the Department of Advertising.
Ben is a second-year doctoral student from Gilbert, AZ. He has a bachelor’s degree in Communication from BYU-Idaho and a master’s of Professional Communication from Southern Utah University. Before returning to school to pursue a Ph.D., he spent 4 years as a full-time lecturer teaching Advertising, Public Relations, Graphic Design and Social Media courses. His research interests include the exploration of advertising creativity and the creative process. He also likes to ponder about how creative ideas are born and where they come from. He is a free-lance graphic designer, is happily married and is the father of four beautiful but energetic children.
Arabic Pop Dialects Across Ambiguous Borders
Corinne A Stokes—University of Texas, Austin
Many pop singers in the Arab world sing in regional dialects distinct from their own, including such famous stars as Nancy Ajram, Elissa, Shab Khaled, Ragheb Alama, and Diana Haddad. This flexibility of sung dialect is commonplace despite deeply held associations of dialect with local and national identity, and the rarity with which Arabic speakers speak dialects of other countries. Historically singers have most commonly shifted to the Egyptian dialect, but a recent boom in popular music production in the Gulf has spurred performances in Gulf dialects by singers from other Arab countries. Recording in the music production capitals of the Arab world often stimulates this shift and creates incentives for the performer to connect to a new audience. Meanwhile, singers who choose to switch their sung dialect risk complicating their relationship with a fan base at home. In this paper, I analyze language use and projection of identity in songs and interviews from a diverse group of popular Arab artists, as well as their reception among different audiences in the Arab world. I suggest that dialect-switching pop singers in the Arab world benefit from occupying an intermediate space that borders both their home and host countries, but does not tie them fully to either.
Panel Session 8
Corinne Stokes is a PhD student and assistant instructor in the Department of Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin under the supervision of Dr. Kristen Brustad. Corinne earned her BA in Religious Studies and Music at the University of Miami in Florida and studied contemporary music at Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA. Her research interests include speech play, verbal arts, and dialects of performance in Arabic and Persian. She is also involved in projects that incorporate pop culture and media into the Arabic/Persian language classroom.
Fire Bun Dem! Exploring the inter-mediated identities through lyrics and performance of Caribbean Fusion Music
Meagan Sylvester—Trinidad and Tobago, West Indies
This paper will explore the use of the “Fire Bun Dem” theme in Bunji Garlin’s Ragga Soca Music over the period 2004 -2011. Ragga Soca Music is fusion music! It is one of the popular musics of Trinidad and Tobago which moves seamlessly amongst many different genre and sub-genre distinctions without fully possessing the qualities of any one. Strictly speaking this fusion music indigenous to Trinidad and Tobago utilizes the “free-style” posturing of the hip-hop lyricist, the “spitting into the mike” of the rap genre, the political and social questioning and commentary of the Calypso artform and the spontaneous delivery of “biting” lyrics of the Extempo artist which both emanate out of Calypso, its mother music, and the “chant down Babylon” demeanour and stagecraft of the Reggae and Dancehall performer.
As Bunji Garlin, the most popular performer moves between genres and sub-genres, he takes on different personalities and identities. The aim of this investigation will be to identify the extent to which Bunji’s “Fire Bun Dem” lyrics and performance style are borne out of a desire to adopt a specific identifiable persona in order to address each of the following social issues: (i) social and economic imbalance in society brought about policies of the successive political regimes; (ii) the growing disquiet amongst today’s youth as they fall prey to delusions of “bling” grandeur and; (iii) the decline of moral compass as social crimes are perpetuated in even larger numbers against fellow citizens.
Panel Session 5
“You Are Now Going to Sit in Space”: Drifting through Music for (Real?) Airports
Victor Szabo—University of Virginia
In 2010, UK electronic music duo The Black Dog released Music for Real Airports, explicitly referencing Brian Eno’s landmark Ambient 1: Music for Airports (1978) in both the title and promotional material. According to TBD, MfRA repudiates the “false utopia” and “fake idealism of air travel” that Eno’s music evokes: “Unlike Eno’s Music for Airports, this is not a record to be used by airport authorities to lull their customers.” Yet while TBD’s sleep-deprived sonic trudge through a crowded, harshly lit airport sounds tenser than Eno’s original, MfA was hardly the pacifying balm they describe. Indeed, when MfA was played in real airports following its release, patrons complained that it made them feel uneasy, and asked that the regular background music be restored. Moreover, like TBD, Eno distinguished his music by arguing it retains a sense of doubt that conventional background music tends to eliminate.
This paper reads Eno’s and TBD’s unsettling recordings jointly as illustrative of a style of popular electronic music production commonly referred to by practitioners and fans as ambient. Whereas recorded music often suffuses public spaces with a “warm familiarity” in order to produce docile consumers (Kassabian 2002; DeNora 2000; Sterne 1997), ambient music confounds this techno-social practice by forgoing the consolations background music normally affords. Both Eno’s and TBD’s pieces elicit what Schaberg (2012) calls a feeling of “being in between” characteristic of airport life, affectively positioning the listener as an anonymous, solitary subject drifting through the indifferent service environments that flourish under global capitalism.
Panel Session 5
Victor Szabo is a Ph.D. candidate in the Critical & Comparative Studies program at the University of Virginia’s McIntire Department of Music. He holds a B.M. in Music Theory and a B.A. in Philosophy from the University of Michigan, and has presented papers at IASPM-US and the Society for Music Theory. His dissertation-in-progress proposes to trace and theorize the development of ambient music as a popular genre of electronic music through various cultural analyses of key recordings from the late 1960s to the present.
Human, Dead or Divine? Performing Tupac on the 2012 Coachella Festival
Anna Szemere—Washington State University
Taryn Kearns—Lewis and Clark College
Ilana Winchester—Lewis and Clark College
Pop music icons represent liminality as cultural and commercial constructions beyond or betwixt the binaries of life and death, real and imaginary, human and divine (Marcus 1990, Barfoot Christian and Givens-Carroll 2011). Their biological death—typically, untimely or violent—is recreated, elaborated, and challenged in the narratives of urban folklore, which in turn is often exploited by the music business (Kamberelis and Dimiatridis 2005, Potter 2012). But what happens when the legend of immortality, even if momentarily, appear dazzlingly and hauntingly “real”? What happens when the mythical image of invincibility is metamorphosed into a “live performance” with the help of advanced technology? In this paper we will take a close-up look at Tupac Shakur’s hologram-like# “reincarnation” in the 201 the motives, meanings, and effects of the performance. Drawing on the concepts of the hyperreal (Baudrillard 1994), spectacle (Debord 1977) and hyperculture (Bertman 1998), and having reviewed a wide range of press reactions, we will argue that the “hologram” addressed many different needs including those of close relatives and copyright holders, fellow gangsta rappers, the hip hop community, the music business, and a multigenerational and racially diverse fandom (McCormick 2012, Mayoras 2012, Lipshutz 2012). Addressing these needs resulted in contradictory and multi-layered meanings. Playing on Tupac’s mythic status, the “hologram” spectacle reinforced the superhero legend so persistent among African American youth (Kamberelis and Dimitriadis 2005). In doing so, it served to canonize a much-lambasted antihero’s legacy and, with the same gesture, endowed hip hop with the cultural capital that its white cousin, rock has been enjoying for decades. On the negative side, this literal approach to Tupac’s immortality “branded” him as a thug obliterating the rich complexity of his persona, including his lyricism, intelligence, and self-proclaimed readiness “to graduate from gangsta life”#.
Panel Session 8
Anna Szemere received her Ph D in Sociology from University of California San Diego and currently teaches media and cultural sociology at Washington State University, Vancouver. She served as International Editor for the journal Popular Music (1986-96) and is the author of the book Up from the underground: The Culture of Rock Music in Postsocialist Hungary (2001) and numerous articles and book chapters on the politics of rock in East-Central Europe. Recently, her main focus has been Romani and Black musical subcultures.
Ilana Winchester is a junior at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, OR, where she is studying Sociology and German. She has been working as a research assistant to Prof. Anna Szmere since May 2012. Her assistance has included researching and writing for the project “Human, Dead or Divine? Performing Tupac on the 2012 Coachella Festival”. She is currently doing a year abroad studying in Munich, Germany.
Taryn Kearns: I’m a Junior at Lewis & Clark College. My major is Sociology/Anthropology, and I am excited to contribute to the sociological world for the first time through this conference. I am currently studying abroad with Lewis & Clark in Morocco, where I’m studying the local Arabic dialect as well as taking other SOAN-related courses. I plan to focus my future studies on Indigenous language preservation.
Promoting “Serious” Music with Beatles Songs: 1966–1977
Jennifer Trowbridge—Independent Scholar
Between 1966 and 1977, four prominent composers Luciano Berio, Louis Andriessen, Peter Maxwell Davies, and Tōru Takemitsu arranged Beatles songs for classically trained performers in a variety of historical styles from the sixteenth through the twentieth centuries, thus appropriating the Beatles’ music to Western art music. Although these arrangements are marginal in the overall output of each composer, this repertoire constitutes an overlooked yet significant chapter in twentieth-century music, that is, the way the Beatles figured into the debate over tonality as well as the shifting border between high and low art. I present new research, based on interviews and correspondence with performers, composers, and family members, about the genesis, performance history, and publication of these arrangements of Beatles songs, most of which were composed as “occasional music” for specific concerts and recordings. Paradoxically, while certain Beatles songs captured the attention of avant-garde composers and performers, musical conservatives such as Deryck Cooke, Ned Rorem, and Leonard Bernstein championed the same songs in essays in which they likened Lennon and McCartney to the great composers of the Western art music tradition, arguing against the avant-garde to validate a tonal harmonic language. I couple my analyses of these arrangements with an examination of contemporaneous commentary to provide evidence about an intersection between popular and “serious” music, specifically, how composers from opposite extremes of the stylistic spectrum, avant-garde and conservative, both used Beatles songs to legitimize and promote “serious” music.
Panel Session 4
Jennifer Trowbridge received her bachelor’s degree in music from the University of Chicago and her doctorate in guitar performance from Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music. She has enjoyed a 20-year career in guitar performance spanning classical music, jazz, world music, and a range of popular styles which has put her on stages in Chicago, New York, Jerusalem, Istanbul, and elsewhere. She composed music for the award-winning documentary film, The Pantanal: Brazil’s Forgotten Wilderness. She founded The Trowbridge Guitar Studio in 1996 and also teaches guitar history and jazz improvisation at the Chicago High School for the Arts.
Jenni Rivera: “La malandrina”
Deborah Vargas—University of California, Riverside
Linda Viera Caballero was born in Rio Piedras, Puerto Rico, raised in the South Bronx, and gained the nickname “La India” from her young friends because of her dark features and long straight dark hair. La India arrived to the music scene through freestyle and hip-hop, collaborating with producers and DJs including John “Jellybean” Benitez. In 1992, La India arrived to the arena of salsa music via Eddie Palimieri on the album appropriately titled, “Llegó La India via Eddie Palmieri.” She has been so successful in salsa recording that Celia Cruz gave her the nickname, “The Princess of Salsa.”
La India’s performance repertoire is noted for its regular inclusion of and references to Yoruba deities and chants. For example, her hit single “Love & Happiness (Yemaya y Ochun)” begins with a Yoruba chant for Yemaya: “ecuo, yale, yarun mawo, yale, omi ache aya mano mi o, ecuo, yale, yarun mawo, yale, omi ache aya mano mi o, for Ochun.” By analyzing various video clips, with a particular focus on “Love & Happiness,” this paper explores the racialized femininity and performative strategies of La India in relation to the term “arrival” and its history as a colonialist metaphor of the Américas. I am especially interested in considering how “La India’s arrival” in Latino music opens up possibilities for reconfiguring the racialized and gendered colonialist project of arrival in the Americas, especially for the ways arrival has consistently relied on the racist representations of indigenous femininity.
Panel Session 6
Deborah Vargas is an Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies at the University of California-Riverside. Her research and teaching areas include Chicano/Latino cultural studies, critical race feminisms, queer of color critique, and oral history methods. She is the author of Dissonant Divas in Chicana Music: The Limits of La Onda (Minnesota 2012).
Pastor’s Progress: Tony Pastor at the Crossroads of Variety and Vaudeville
Steve Waksman—Smith College
Tony Pastor was perhaps the leading theatrical impresario of his time from 1865, when he opened the first of his fabled theaters in the working class Bowery district of New York City, until the early 1890s when his approach to theatrical management was displaced by the greater economy of scale associated with B.F. Keith, Edward Albee and others who ushered in the vaudeville era. Building on Gillian Rodger’s important recent work on the history of variety theater, Champagne Charlie and Pretty Jemima, this paper draws on extensive archival research into Pastor’s career to examine two key areas of change in American entertainment. First, Pastor lets us track the shifting cultural geography of variety performance from the 1860s to the 1890s. During this time Pastor moved his theater twice, from the Bowery to a location further up Broadway, and then to a theater on 14th Street in the Union Square district of Manhattan. With each move he made an effort to lay claim to the sort of respectability that would differentiate his offerings from lower, less savory spaces like burlesque theaters and concert saloons, while still seeking to keep the loyalty of his established patrons. Second, Pastor sheds important light on the place of popular song in the variety and vaudeville theater. As he explained in an 1895 interview with the New York Dramatic Mirror, “I’ve introduced one or two new songs nearly every Monday night during the season for the past thirty years.” Such a pace of production suggests an emergent economy of songwriting tied to popular performance venues that can be said to have set the stage for the further conversion of popular song into reproducible commodity associated with Tin Pan Alley.
Panel Session 6
Steve Waksman is Associate 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 (Harvard U.P., 1999) and This Ain’t the Summer of Love: Conflict and Crossover in Heavy Metal and Punk (U. California, 2009). Currently he is researching a new book, “Live Music in America: A History, 1850-2000,” co-authoring the sixth edition of the textbook, Rockin’ Out: Popular Music in the U.S.A., with Reebee Garofalo, and co-editing the Sage Handbook of Popular Music with Andy Bennett.
New Mexico Music: Singing Spanish, Speaking English, Playing Ranchera with Electric Guitars
Elijah Wald—Independent Scholar/Tufts University
“New Mexico music” is not just a geographical description, it is a distinct genre supported by numerous radio stations in New Mexico and Southern Colorado but virtually unknown outside that area. Distinguished by its electric guitar leads, horn sections, and high-speed polkas, it remains stubbornly separate from neighboring tejano music and current Mexican trends. Driven by the tastes of dancers at community events such as weddings and fiestas, the scene has developed an obligatory repertoire of instrumental hits unknown outside the region, polkas and cumbias known throughout Mexico and the Southwest, and a handful of English-language rock and country oldies. The New Mexico music scene is dramatically bilingual and bimusical, but often in ways perplexing to outsiders: Although the vast majority of songs are in Spanish, deejay and performance patter is overwhelmingly in English; and although the repertoire is dominated by Mexican ranchera of the 1940-50s, performers and listeners firmly distinguish it from Mexican music. Largely defined in the 1960s by Al Hurricane, “The Godfather of New Mexico Music,” this style is now threatened by generational linguistic shifts, a growing Mexican immigrant population, evolving technologies, the commercial power of U.S. and Mexican pop trends, and the growing dominance of casinos. However, it continues to support dozens of bands, a prolific recording industry, and substantial broadcast markets—and to challenge common formulations of “border culture” in complex and sometimes disturbing ways.
Panel Session 3
Elijah Wald has been performing music since the 1970s and writing about it since the 1980s. His eleven books include How the Beatles Destroyed Rock ’n’ Roll: An Alternative History of American Popular Music; Escaping the Delta: Robert Johnson and the Invention of the Blues; The Dozens: A History of Rap’s Mama; and Narcocorrido: A Journey into the Music of Drugs, Guns, and Guerrillas. He has taught blues history at UCLA, is currently completing doctoral work at Tufts on New Mexico music and banda rap, and is a frequent speaker on blues, pop, and Mexican styles.
Asian American Musicians Negotiating Transnational Identities in the Digital Age
Cynthia Wang—University of Southern California
In April 2012, Dawen, an American-born musician of Asian descent, moved to Taiwan to pursue a music career, bolstered by a contract from a major record label. For the few years prior to this move, he had fervently used digital media avenues to distribute his music and music videos, garnering a sizeable international fan base, capturing the attention of the music industry in Asia. By making this move, his identity as an Asian American musician becomes blurred with his reality as a future Taiwanese pop star, catering mainly to an Asian audience.
Asian America exists in the liminal space between America and Asia, belonging and foreign, visibility and invisibility, being both seen and unseen. Many Asian Americans are first or second generation and keep strong ties to their country of origin, creating a powerful diasporic network between America and Asia. Asian American musicians have been able to capitalize on this “straddling” of two cultures, with their music and their bodies migrating across borders within diasporic communities, and allowing for an expanded audience base that is not tied to America. With the advent of the Internet, Asian American musicians have found a powerful potential alternate distribution outlet for to distribute their music, find niche audiences, and create substantial fan bases, collaborating across geographical distances and negotiating their identities across national and cultural spaces. Artists like Dawen have used YouTube to increase their visibility, with the hope of leading to opportunities outside of traditional geographic borders. The duality, or multiplicity, of the identity of these artists often go hand in hand with physical migration and flow across national boundaries. Through the process of sharing their art and seeking out chances to collaborate with people who share their culture of origin, but not necessarily their nationality, how do these musicians create new transnational identities that transcend pre-existing borders of culture, identity, and nationality? How do we start renegotiating Asian and Asian American identities in light of the transnational flow of bodies, cultures, and ideas in an increasingly globalized world enabled by technological advancements and digital media?
Panel Session 5
Cynthia Wang received her BS from Northwestern University in Radio/TV/Film and Biological Sciences, with a minor in Asian American studies, and her MA from the Media, Culture, and Communication program at NYU, where her thesis examined YouTube comments of classical music posts. She is currently getting her PhD from the Annenberg School of Communication at USC. Her research focuses on ways in which digital media enables and increases transnational flows of information and knowledge, thereby constructing alternative citizenships and spheres of discourse that transcend the boundaries of the nation-state, and how theoretical perspectives inform design decisions.
Problems with Chineseness: A postcolonial examination of Wang Leehom’s Huatian Cuo
Yun Emily Wang—University of Toronto
In this paper I examine the liminal subjectivity of Mandopop celebrity Wang Leehom, and analyze the multiple layers of meaning in his symbolic evocation of Peking Opera in the 2005 single Huatian Cuo (“A mistake in the flower field”). As one of the most prominent figures in Mandopop world catering to a transnational Chinese-speaking audience, the appeal of US-born-and-raised Wang has been theorized as resulting from a well-positioned hybridity of Chineseness and Americanness. Huatian Cuo, for instance, demonstrated this hybridism by employing Peking Opera elements (instrumentation, vocal style, and the story line in the lyrics) in an “American” hip-hop song. I interrogate notions of Chineseness and Americanness by re-examining Huatian Cuo from three postcolonial perspectives: first, problematizing the subject position(s) of Wang, I posit that the Chineseness performed is auto-exotically forged in the neocolonial gaze of the West. Second, I situate Peking Opera in Taiwanese nationalism after Japanese colonization. Serving as lynchpin for a post-colonial nationalizing imagination, the highbrow traditions that Peking Opera stands for is, to this day, operative in Taiwan in response to Japan’s continuous economic and cultural hegemony. Wang’s Peking Opera symbolism therefore foregrounds the Taiwan-Japan power asymmetry. Lastly,
I analyze how Peking Opera symbolism invokes political factions within Taiwan. Since its relocation from Mainland China in 1949, the Nationalist Party has legitimized its domination by constructing a folk realm that diametrically opposes elitism embodied by Peking Opera. Wang’s Peking Opera symbolism invokes the folk/elite binary, and perpetuates the discursive formations privileging the Nationalist Party.
Panel Session 8
Yun Emily Wang is a PhD student in Ethnomusicology at the University of Toronto. She holds an MA in Humanities and Social Thought from New York University and a BA in Music from the University of Rochester.
Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide: David Bowie, Lady Gaga, and the Death of Glam
Gregory Weinstein—University of Chicago
Throughout her mercurial career, Lady Gaga has drawn heavily on earlier pop and avant-garde performers to craft a unique performance identity. Her self-defined “Mother Monster” persona seems most indebted to the thoroughly referential glam concept of David Bowie’s Ziggy Stardust period (which itself draws on Warhol’s pop art). Both Bowie and Gaga accent their uniqueness through dress, makeup, performance style, and, significantly, off-stage appearances. And both performers pointedly refused to differentiate between their outlandish onstage character and their off-stage persona, using their queer images to highlight and critique the conventions by which audiences judge the authenticity of pop artists.
Or so it seemed until Gaga released her second album, Born This Way. As I argue in this paper, Bowie’s vision of the glam persona (embodied by Ziggy) was a pointed postmodern cultural critique, a visual and musical pastiche that attacked the conventions of mainstream rock ‘n’ roll, and, by extension, society’s gender norms. Gaga maintains Bowie’s value of difference, yet her persona represents a retreat from Bowie’s radical critique. Whereas Bowie manipulated media to set himself apart and to model a world where queerness was accepted and valorized, Gaga reaches out to her “little monsters,” explicitly claiming to speak for and as them. In her performances, Gaga projects authentic intimacy rather than glam detachment, breaking the mediated “fourth wall” so studiously maintained by Bowie. I argue that Gaga refuses to question the constructedness of mediated identity, and she thus undermines Bowie’s vision of a glam utopia where queerness and difference are celebrated.
Panel Session 5
Gregory Weinstein is a Ph.D. candidate in ethnomusicology at the University of Chicago, where he is writing a dissertation entitled “Listening Back: Creativity and Collaboration in Britain’s Classical Music Recording Studios.” He teaches popular music at Columbia College of Chicago, and in the spring, he will be teaching a course on “glam” at the University of Chicago.
Smells Like Pop/Alternative? The Grunge Story I Missed the First Time
Eric Weisbard—University of Alabama
Nirvana, grunge, and alternative rock broke in the 1990s on my watch. I was a writer and editor for alternative weeklies and magazines, first in the Bay Area and then at the Village Voice and Spin. The story we covered focused on artists and scenes (Seattle and descending), underlying it all a profound anxiety: as indie rock, the music of a successfully separate sphere, became part of the mainstream, should the effects be seen as a democratization of taste or corruption by the marketplace? By the end of decade, most leaned toward answer two.
Recently, I returned to the 1990s, reading back issues of Radio & Records, the trade publication that tracked the intersection of the record industry and radio stations which played hits prioritized to generate particular audiences: “superserve” women 25-34, say, or English speaking Latinos. In these pages, alternative rock was quite a different story—about how different commercial stations positioned against one another. Was alt the natural province of a small but growing number of stations that played it exclusively? Of older album oriented rock stations finally ready to play new songs again? What did it mean that many new bands like Gin Blossoms were claimed by female leaning top 40 and Adult Contemporary? Did alternative rock die, or was it ripped in half by two different bigger formats?
I look forward to adding this nineties radio parable to a conference devoted to musical boundaries and phenomena that traverse them.
Panel Session 2
Eric Weisbard teaches American Studies at the University of Alabama, is Vice President of IASPM-US and associate editor of the Journal of Popular Music Studies, and has been organizer of the EMP Pop Conference since its 2002 inception. Before that, he wrote and edited at the Village Voice and Spin. He edited Pop When the World Falls Apart, Listen Again, This is Pop, and the Spin Alternative Record Guide, wrote Use Your Illusion I and II, and is currently finishing a book on Top 40 radio formats during the rock era.
My feet are the drums and my shoes are the sticks”: How tap dancers became “musicians.”
Christopher Wells—University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
Tap dancers live and work in the borderlands, enjoying “dual citizenship” on both sides of the line between dance and music. Yet, while tap by its nature demands integration of movement and sound, artists must often choose to emphasize one and downplay the other to self-indentify as either “dancer” or “musician;” selecting the right identity at the right time can mean professional life or death. Several dancers in the 1960s and 1970s revitalized their fading careers by restricting the extroversion of their movements and shifting focus to the “pure sound” of their steps. Dancers like Baby Laurence, Honi Coles, and Cholly Atkins performed at the Newport Jazz Festival and integrated themselves into the emerging institutional power structure that shunned popular entertainers but protected and subsidized “serious jazz musicians.” When tap regained its popular audience in the 1990s, Savion Glover eschewed flashy body and hand gestures, favoring complex and subtle rhythmic improvisation and regarding exaggerated movements as shackles from which his rhythms had been liberated. Glover and other contemporary tappers’ preference for introversion has roots in the adaptations Coles, Atkins, and Laurence used to craft a viable identity for their art. By re-branding themselves “serious musicians” and severing their ties to popular entertainment, these “hoofers” skillfully maneuvered the restructuring of institutional power in the jazz scene as stoic musicianship and aesthetic “relevance” replaced theatrical presentation and commercial appeal. Tap dancers’ performative negotiations invite exploration of the potent aural/corporeal border and the rigorous cultural work that constructs and maintains it.
Panel Session 7
Christopher J Wells is a PhD Candidate in Musicology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill where he teaches for the departments of music and African & Afro-American Studies. He has served as Program Coordinator for the Institute of African American Research and his own work focuses on African American music and musicians both popular and classical. Chris is also a practitioner of vernacular jazz dances and studies the intersection of music and dance black popular culture.
We Sell Pleasure: Negotiating Sounds and Representations on the World Music Stage
Aleysia Whitmore—Brown University
As musicians build careers in the world music industry, they negotiate geographic, cultural, and linguistic boundaries to make their music appealing and accessible to European and North American audiences. In this paper I examine how two world music groups, Orchestra Baobab and AfroCubism, make strategic decisions about their music and representation as they work with European producers and managers on world music stages. Drawing on eight months of ethnographic fieldwork attending concerts and interviewing musicians and industry personnel in Mali, Senegal, Europe, and North America, I argue that musicians make specific performative and discursive moves to represent themselves and develop their careers.
Members of Dakar-based Orchestra Baobab, and the Malian-Cuban collaboration AfroCubism depend on industry personnel to act as culture brokers and develop images and narratives that appeal to world music audiences. However, musicians themselves are also actively involved in developing these representations. They negotiate their representations in transcontinental phone calls with industry personnel, in newspaper interviews, and in performances. Musicians are deeply concerned with the burden of representing themselves and their nations as simultaneously modern and steeped in tradition, as accessible to Western ears but also locally authentic. Thus, they strategically highlight select elements of their culture and history such as their transatlantic connections to Cuba and ancient griot traditions.
Building on scholarly work on world music and the music industry, this study provides insight into how musicians negotiate the demands the music industry and their own goals as they build international careers on a myriad of local stages.
Panel Session 7
Aleysia K. Whitmore is a PhD candidate in ethnomusicology at Brown University. Her dissertation explores African-Cuban musical collaborations and mixing in the world music industry. For her masters degree at Brown, she looked at the transnational movements and practices of salsa and the ways in which various conceptions of race and gender come together on dance floors in which diverse groups of people participate. Aleysia completed her Bachelors of Music at the University of Toronto.
Sampling the City of Syrup: The Fluidity of Place in Hip Hop Identity Construction
Langston Collin Wilkins—Indiana University
For the majority of hip hop’s existence, artists’ cultural identity was in-large-part determined by locality. The geographic border also acted as an identity boundary, housing the particular identities available to artists from a particular area. There are, for example, particular sonic, discursive, and visual aspects that distinguish a New York-based hip hop artists from a Los Angeles-based one. While there are several different styles operating within Oakland, CA’s hip-hop culture, there are foundational aspects that all area artists draw from. Place-identity has become more fluid in recent years as artists are more and more merging local identities or even rejecting place-labels altogether. In this presentation, I will examine the negotiation of place-identity in hip-hop culture by using the hip-hop center of Houston, Texas as a case study. Houston is a particularly interesting case because it has had a sparse and infrequent presence in mainstream hip hop. Therefore, it was an unlikely candidate for such identity borrowing. Today, New York’s biggest new rap artists ASAP Rocky sonically and discursively draws heavily from Houston hip-hop culture. Additionally, Houston hip hop has a significant presence in Germany where artists are making music inspired by Houston and are now even collaborating with Houston artists. Using interviews, audio, and video, I will explore how and why Houston hip-hop culture becomes source material in the identity construction of artists living outside of its city limits. I will also discuss how this process impacts Houston as well as what it reveals about hip-hop culture today.
Panel Session 3
Langston Collin Wilkins is a PhD Candidate in the Department of Folklore & Ethnomusicology at Indiana University. A native of Houston, Texas, he received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Texas at Austin. He also holds master’s degrees in African-American & African Diaspora Studies and Folklore & Ethnomusicology from Indiana University. His research interests include African-American music & culture, popular music, the relationship between music & place.
Absorb and Diffuse: The Liminality of Recording Studio Practice
Alan Williams—The University of Massachusetts Lowell
From the territorial divisions inherent in studio design, the technological mediation of performance, and the frequently contested roles and hierarchical status of technicians and musicians, the recording studio is the locus of constant boundary crossings. Using the work of Turner, Levi-Strauss, Bourdieu, Foucault, Appadurai, Théberge, Porcello and Meintjes to establish a framework for analysis, this paper examines the fluid nature of recording studio practice by focusing on the walls, windows and doors of the physical space, the communication technologies of headphones and talkback systems that bridge the physical divides, and the personal power dynamics that emerge from the use of these technologies. The paper concludes with an overview of the history of recording studio practice in order to trace the increased malleability of role and status resulting from shifts in technological and music industry operation.
Panel Session 2
Alan Williams is currently an Associate Professor of Music at the University of Massachusetts Lowell. He has published articles in The Journal on the Art of Record Production, The Music and Entertainment Industry Educators Association Journal, and the Journal of Popular Music Studies, and has chapter included in The Art of Record Production, edited by Simon Frith and Simon Zagorski-Thomas, published in 2012 by Ashgate Press He is also the founder of the group Birdsong At Morning, who released their 4-CD debut, Annals of My Glass House in 2011.
The Sounds Weezy Makes: Towards an Analytic Vocabulary of Vocal Poetics in Hip-Hop Practices
Edward Wright—University of Toronto
The late aughts saw Lil Wayne emerge as a global standard bearer for commercial hip-hop and popular music. His style of performance has been adopted and altered by a variety of performers in and outside of hip-hop. Yet despite his popularity and influence, critics and scholars lack the critical vocabulary to discuss the vocal poetics expressed in his works, as they are still primarily concerned with overt political posturing and lyrical analysis. In this paper I investigate the wide array of vocalizations Lil Wayne (Dwayne Carter) performs in his music. Ranging from laughter to cries, and from speech to song, the rapper’s performance exists entirely on the threshold between a variety of performative modes. In doing so, the rapper invokes and confuses performances of masculinity and geographic identity; challenging the aesthetic of the masculine East-coast lyricist that has historically dominated hip-hop criticism and popular practice. I concentrate primarily on the Lil Wayne’s voice and how an understanding of the rapper’s word play, rhythmic flow, and melody is inseparable from his performative sounds. By performing a close reading of a variety of Lil Wayne songs from Tha Carter 3 (2009) I locate precise moments where these different forms of vocalizations can be found in an attempt to develop a critical lexicon in order to discuss more ambiguous moments that may draw upon a variety of performative techniques. In performing such a task, I will provide a more effective model for the future analysis of the vocal poetics found within hip-hop.
Panel Session 8
This presentation will highlight aspects of my doctoral dissertation, a multi-case qualitative study exploring the phenomenon of identity development of not-straight (more traditionally labeled as gay, lesbian, bisexual, and/or queer) fans through their attachments to British popular singer Dusty Springfield as a fan-object. The inter-disciplinary conceptual framework of the study combined the fields of identity development, fan studies, and psychological theories related to projection. The central finding was that Dusty as fan-object is multi-faceted enough to carry whatever fans need to be held; in her, they find those aspects of themselves that need nurturing and understanding.
The various relationships fans feel with Dusty are based upon their identification with and interpretation of the fan-object’s life, music, and image. As such, Dusty serves as a floating signifier. She mirrors fans’ not-straight sexual identities and emotional vulnerabilities, as well as one participant’s self-definition as a racial outsider and another’s sense of victimization as a survivor of domestic abuse. In the service of their identity work, not-straight fans also creatively appropriate fan-objects’ semiotic possibilities; through the use of bricolage, they piece together and fill in the blanks from dominant culture to imbue them with not-straight meanings and values. Clips and lyrics from specific songs will be integrated into the presentation to demonstrate how fans in the study utilize Dusty’s iconic flexibility to alter their sense of themselves, their relationships with others, and their sense of where they belong in the world.
Panel Session 5
Being a popular music fan changed my life—my sense of who I am and what my place is in the world. This led to my interdisciplinary doctoral research into how the identity of other not-straight Dusty Springfield fans was influenced by their relationship to the pop icon, as It developed through their interpretation of her music and life story. When not promoting the gospel of Dusty Springfield as Britain’s greatest popular singer, I teach literature and (mostly) composition at a liberal arts college in New England.