Session 8A – Past Sounds, Present Politics: Sound and Vision in the Cover Age
Jacqueline Warwick, “Songs my Father Taught Me: Dad Rock, Nostalgia, and Child Musicians”
Abstract: Child musicians invariably perform old or old-fashioned material, and this juxtaposition of youthfulness with nostalgia is central to their appeal: the musical child symbolizes the future of tradition. Many child stars develop through supervised mimicry of their fathers, much like the young Michael Jackson or the boy Mozart, and their careers can often be understood as fulfillment of their father’s musical ambitions. The father’s role in directing children’s musical development is also crucial to the phenomenon of “dad rock”, a recently popular term that refers to the genre preferences of white middle-aged men and also evokes music as a central site of father/child relationships. The fond associations of “dad rock” are in sharp contrast with the negative stereotype of the stage mother. In this paper I will argue that mastery of old-fashioned aesthetics is crucial to the career of a child prodigy, and I will consider how child prodigies contribute to canonization and nostalgia. Through examples of child musicians such as British guitarist Zoe Thomson, whose father began promoting her performances of classic rock songs when she was seven, I will also address the role of child musicians in hierarchies of gender and generation in family life.
Craig Jennex, “Pleasurable Pasts: Cover Song Collectivity & Retro-orientations”
Abstract: In her 2010 text Time Binds, Elizabeth Freeman suggests that “temporal drag,” the constant pull of the past on the present, “may offer a way of connecting queer performativity to disavowed political histories” and thus complicate the progressive linearity ascribed to feminist waves and queer politics. Drag performance, then, simultaneously offers possibilities for gender crossing, and also carries with it a temporal transivity that is potentially generative for contemporary politics. In this paper I argue that cover song performance is a primary musical manifestation of temporal drag, as artists inhabit another identity, persona, or moment while self-consciously registering the act of mimicry. Queer covers in particular, I argue, seem to have more on the line, as artists often awaken an arguably heteronormative past moment and bring it into the present, re-staging familiar musical sensibilities and aesthetics for a new context and the new politics that exist therein. I listen closely to Vivek Shraya’s 2013 album Breathe Again: A Tribute to Babyface and, in particular, the album’s collectively-performed anthems, to explore the ways Canadian musicians are using cover song performance to sonically queer the recent past and reimagine notions of political collectivity.
Susan Fast, “Reclaiming and Critiquing the Past: Lez Zeppelin Revisit ‘Black Dog’”
Abstract: In her book Time Binds, Elizabeth Freeman writes that “the stubborn lingering of pastness (whether it appears as an anachronistic style, as the reappearance of bygone events…or as arrested development), is a hallmark of queer affect: a ‘revolution’ in the old sense of the word, as a turning back.” Taking this as my central idea, I will examine a video performance of Led Zeppelin’s “Black Dog” by the all-female tribute band Lez Zeppelin recorded at the State Theatre in Virginia, a performance I attended and filmed. The phenomenon of all-female tribute bands to classic rock and metal bands such as Zeppelin has been viewed as a reclamation of these masculinist genres by women, their popularity a result of the womens’ “surprising” musical abilities and the novelty/tittilation factor, especially for straight men; but they have also been viewed as a way in which the music and genre has been critiqued and in some cases queered. Still, there are few analyses of individual performances that try to tease out the specifics of this politics. Rather than “mining” a past to, as Simon Reynolds puts it, extract subcultural capital, idealize, sentimentalize or “be amused and charmed” by the past, tribute bands such as Lez Zeppelin offer a nuanced critique that is captured particularly well in this performance.
Session 8B – Methodologies
Hubert Léveillé, “A Change is Gonna Come: Three Empirical Studies on the Evolution of Harmonic Syntax in Popular Music from the 1960s”
Abstract: The goal of this research is to investigate the evolution of musical tendencies of popular music in the 1960s through a large corpus study in order to identify any consistent changes in harmonic, tonal, and formal syntax. While writers have addressed the shifting musical paradigms of this period, noting that “[r]ock musicians no longer aspire[d] so much to be professionals and craftspeople” but “artists” (Covach, 2006, p. 38), it remains to be demonstrated that a correspondingly profound shift can be empirically located.
Three studies based on the Billboard DataSet (Burgoyne, et al., 2011; Burgoyne, 2011), a new corpus collecting 743 transcriptions of music popular in the United States between 1958 and 1991, will be presented. The first study looks at the incidence of multi-tonic songs throughout the decade. The proposed theory is that the incidence of songs featuring modulations increases through the decade. The second one focuses on the incidence of specific chord progressions over the same period of time. The proposed theory is that, as we go further into the decade, progressions featuring chords with diatonic roots will decrease in popularity, and, conversely, progressions featuring chords with chromatic roots will increase in popularity. Finally, the third study investigates the evolution of formal organization. four possible formal structures have been identified, inspired by the categories proposed by Covach (2006): AABA, simple verse-chorus, contrasting verse-chorus, and simple verse. Here, the proposed theory is that the AABA form will decrease in popularity, the contrasting verse-chorus will increase in popularity, while both the simple verse-chorus and simple verse forms will remain the same.
The results are mixed, pointing out the development of new tendencies coexisting with established practices.
Laura Risk, “A Visual Mapping of Musical Variation in Early Commercial Recordings of Instrumental Dance Music in Quebec”
Abstract: In 1920s and 1930s Montreal, fiddlers, accordion players, and harmonica players recorded instrumental dance tunes for commercial labels. These recordings—over 1000 sides—were an important segment of working-class popular music in Quebec, and are still the go-to source for new repertoire for musicians working in folk or traditional music today. Gabriel Labbé’s magisterial studies (1977, 1995) catalogue these recordings by label and release date, and include performer biographies. However, there has been no in-depth study of their musical contents, perhaps due to the large number of recordings, the relatively small number of extant transcriptions, and the paucity of antecedent sheet music sources. Among the questions that remain unanswered: does this repertoire divide into subsets delineated by melodic contour, harmonic rhythm, and metrical structure? Given multiple recordings of the same dance tune, to what extent do performances vary melodically, rhythmically and structurally (see Duval 2012)? How similar are the contents of the Montreal recordings to instrumental dance recordings made elsewhere in North America in the same years (Spottswood 1990)?
This paper reports on an ongoing computer-aided musicology project that uses data processing tools to answer the above questions (Cuthbert 2014). Working with a computer programmer, I have built two overlapping databases: the first contains a numerical representation of each repertoire item, while the second contains quantitative comparisons of those representations. These databases may be used to create a visual representation of melodic, rhythmic and structural variation within the repertoire. I use these results to trace musical connections among the recording artists (see Bellemare 2012), to characterize regional styles and repertoires brought to Montreal by rural-to-urban migrants, to compare these recordings with early commercial recordings in New York City, and to link this repertoire to popular dance styles of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.
Erik Smialek, “Metal Taxonomies: Parallel Universes of Genre”
Abstract: Over the past thirty years, heavy metal discourse has shown a particular obsession for genre categories and boundaries, resulting in both a surprising number of efforts to chart genre taxonomies and a great deal of policing by fans over what styles of aggressive music are emphatically not “true” forms of metal. When viewed through the lens of genre theory (Foucault 1972, Derrida 1980, Bakhtin 1986), genre taxonomies can help popular music scholars to better understand fan debates about genre by drawing attention to the aesthetic values and assumptions that inform the taxonomies, evident in the implicit logic of their graphical displays.
After a brief demonstration of how fan debates over genre taxonomies function as competitions for subcultural capital (Bourdieu 1993, Thornton 1996, Kahn-Harris 2007), I argue that it is more productive to critique the implicit logic of genre taxonomies than the individual factoids they display. Using taxonomies from a French scholarly monograph (Hein 2003) and a documentary film on metal (Dunn 2005), I demonstrate how the authors of both charts rely on a linear conception of influence that privileges legibility and stability while sacrificing more complex relationships such as reciprocal influences between newer and older genres and the simultaneous participation of musical texts in multiple genre categories (Derrida 1980). Lastly, using one of the most popular and sophisticated genre taxonomies of metal available to date, I show how the online “Map of Metal” (Grant and Galbraith 2010) reproduces popular narratives about subgenre hierarchies and myths about metal’s singular origin in England (Wallach 2011). By drawing attention to the often subtle assumptions behind metal taxonomies, I argue that these reified visualizations of genre both inform and reflect common, but often erroneous, beliefs about metal music circulating widely amongst the genre’s audiences and producers.
Session 8C – Science Fiction
Emilie Hurst, “Music, Voice and Monstrosity: Hearing the Body in Doctor Who”
Abstract: I explore how we hear gender in the episode “Asylum of the Daleks,” from BBC’s Doctor Who (1963-1989; 2005 –) by examining the usage of the voice as well as diegetic and non-diegetic music. In this episode, the Doctor and his current companions are sent by his long-time enemies the Daleks to prevent the escape of exiled insane Daleks from their Asylum. Throughout, they are guided by the audio transmissions of Oswin Oswald, a woman who crashed on the planet a year prior. The final moments, however, reveal a twist: Oswin is no longer human, having long been transformed by the planet’s security into a Dalek. By analyzing specific segments of the programme, my presentation will argue that the usage of music in “Asylum of the Daleks” – in particular, the “Habanera” taken from George Bizet’s Carmen, which as argued by Susan McClary sits on the divide between popular and classical music – highlights the interplay between the visible body and voice leaving Oswin not only heavily marked by her gender, but also, her monstrosity.
Oswin initially performs the role of dangerous seductress by demonstrate her vocal proficiency. In addition, by employing a human voice throughout the episode – rather than adopting the ring-tone modulation typically associated with the Daleks – Oswin is able to pass as human, while the final dissociation of her voice from the body, creating what Matt Hills terms a “gothic acousmetre,” reduces Oswin from women to monster, a threat which must be destroyed. The progression from Femme Fatale to ultimate demise is underscored by the character’s association with Bizet’s Carmen, who is similarly painted as a gendered ‘Other.’ By listening closely, we are thus able to locate a central concern of the episode, as well as the remainder of the show’s season: the struggle over Oswin’s body.
Alexander J. Polley, “Technology and Guardians of the Galaxy”
Abstract: Classic Rock occupies a central role in Guardians of the Galaxy, often in moments of the protagonists’ development. The film depicts the protagonist, Peter Quill, as requiring his Sony Walkman in order to perform significant tasks. Indeed, it occurs at nearly every key moment in the movie. Examples of Quill’s Walkman assisting him include his pursuit of a love interest and defeating the main antagonist. The songs used in the above scenes include Elvin Bishop’s “Fooled Around and Fell in Love,” and The Five Stairsteps’ “Ooh Child (Thing Are Gonna Get Easier),” respectively; both of which act as support for the character during these pivotal points. However, if technology is required for the sole human focal character within the film to advance, does this reflect a hindrance of humanity via its own innovations? This paper intends to answer the question of dependence on technology in Guardians of the Galaxy through consideration of Adorno’s critiques of technology and popular culture and an exploration of technology as prosthesis.
As Witkins argues, themes pertaining to alienation and fetishization in Adorno’s critique encircle the issues of de-skilling individuals and making them dependent on products within the culture industry (Witkin 2003). Furthermore, Eric Krakauer argues Adorno postulated that technology would suppress society and create a technocratic dystopia in which we are controlled through improper use of technological advances (Krakauer 1998). I argue that technology does not hinder Quill any more than the other focal characters: technology acts as a prosthetic tool so that Quill may advance beyond his otherwise limited existence. In other words, Quill’s Walkman does not hinder, but rather extends his abilities in a multitude of ways, such as saving a planet. Does Guardians of the Galaxy present Quill as technologically dependent, or does he instead use his Walkman to further his human abilities?
Alexa L. Woloshyn, “Nature, Music, and Technology in Björk’s Biophilia: ‘A Gateway Between the Universal and the Microscopic’”
Abstract: “Welcome to Biophilia: The love for nature in all her manifestations. … We are on the brink of a revolution that will reunite humans with nature through new technological innovations.” David Attenborough’s voice greets the visitor upon arrival at the Biophilia app, and clearly lays out the message that unites Björk’s entire Biophilia project (the project includes an album, app, tour, live concert film, and educational program). The visual component to Björk’s output, namely through music videos, album covers, and notorious costumes, has been a topic of frequent remark in critic and fan statements as well as scholarship, but with Björk’s Biophilia project (2011-present), the Icelandic artist increases the important of the visual, as well as interactive, with an explicit goal of blending nature and technology.
The claim that Björk presents the nature–technology dichotomy as a continuum in her work is not new, as Marsh and West (2003) and Dibben (2009) have demonstrated. This paper expands on those claims to demonstrate a more explicit and extensive message in Biophilia, which is to “experience how the three come together: Nature, music, technology. Listen, learn, and create.” The visual aspects in particular have an educational aim, with the Biophilia Eduational Program using the songs and app to explore the science-related themes in each song (e.g., viruses and parasites in “Virus”; tectonic plates in “Mutual Core”).
This paper traces the musical and visual path of the nature–technology dichotomy in Björk’s output and artistic identity to contextualize the significant expansion found in the Biophilia project. Following an analysis and characterization of the visual elements of the Biophilia app and live tour, the paper asserts that the Biophilia project is an elaborate and effective example of Björk’s branding (for example, with the pervasive “musical compass” symbol), in which sound and image unite in various media.
Session 8D – Chanson de Québec
Johanne Melançon, “L’esthétique du vidéoclip «engagé» dans la chanson québécoise: le son, les images et les mots (titre provisoire)”
Abstract: La chanson sociale et engagée, c’est-à-dire la celle dont le sujet ou le message porte sur des préoccupations sociales, constate ou dénonce une situation à caractère social (chanson sociale) ou se fait plus tranchante et revendique un changement (chanson engagée), a certainement trouvé avec le vidéoclip un moyen de rendre son message encore plus percutant en utilisant l’image, le vidéoclip devenant ainsi une véritable «valeur ajoutée» (Chamberland) à la chanson. Avec ce genre de chanson, même dans les années 1990, comme en témoignent certains clips des French B, le clip, déjà, n’était pas tant une publicité qu’un discours qui cherchait à faire réfléchir, utilisant souvent une intertextualité musicale et visuelle, d’autant plus que les images n’étaient pas seulement visuelles mais aussi linguistiques avec l’ajout de mots en tant qu’images. Si aujourd’hui le clip ne peut plus vraiment être considéré comme une simple publicité pour faire vendre des albums, mais doit plutôt être défini comme l’interaction entre du son et des images (Vernallis, 2013 : 208; «a relation of sounds and image that we recognize as such»), qu’en est-il du vidéoclip social ou engagé dans la chanson québécoise? Quels procédés sont privilégiés? Comment se tisse le lien entre le son et l’image dans ces clips? Jusqu’à quel point les mots (qu’il s’agisse des paroles de la chanson ou de mots inclus dans les images du clip) prennent-ils de l’importance? Peut-on dégager une esthétique, et même une évolution d’une esthétique, du vidéoclip sur des chansons québécoises sociales et engagées des années 1990 à aujourd’hui?
Dans cette communication, je tenterai de répondre à ces questions à partir de l’analyse de quelques vidéoclips, des années 1990 à aujourd’hui, d’artistes comme les French B, Mitsou, Projet Orange, les Cowboys fringants, Loco Locass et Alexandre Belliard.
Danick Trottier, “Le tournant télévisuel des années 1950 en chanson québécoise: l’exemple du Concours de la chanson canadienne de 1956-1957”
Abstract: Cette conférence se penchera sur la forte expansion qu’a connue la chanson québécoise des années 1950 par l’entremise de la télévision. Sa rapide insertion dans les foyers québécois (76% des foyers possédaient une télévision en 1957) est venue solidifier la communauté canadienne-français autour d’un contenu audiovisuel où chanson, vedette et image formaient l’événement culturel du moment. En a témoigné le premier Concours de la chanson canadienne organisé par Radio-Canada en avril 1956. L’événement est confié à deux acteurs de la chanson canadienne-française bien en vue à l’époque, soit Rolande Desormeaux et Robert L’Herbier. Un gala télévisé a vu le jour le 22 février 1957 pour dévoiler les douze chansons finalistes ainsi que les deux lauréats (Radio-Canada aurait reçu au-delà de 1000 chansons). Si les concours de la chanson existaient depuis un bon moment à l’époque, entre autres à la radio, celui de Radio-Canada s’est distingué par son ampleur et par son usage de la télévision à des fins de promotion, entre autres à travers l’émission hebdomadaire Rolande et Robert qui a débuté en mai 1954. À cela s’ajoute le fait que le concours s’est allié la participation de la maison de disque Pathé, qui a accepté de produire un 33 tours des 12 chansons finalistes.
Cet événement a marqué un tournant dans l’industrie québécoise de la chanson : le régime duplessiste s’essoufflant, la présence du concours à la télévision a posé les bases du show business québécois orienté vers la variété et la chanson. Les deux chansons lauréates, soit le « Le ciel se marie avec la mer » de Jacques Blanchet interprétée par Lucille Dumont et « Sur l’perron » de Camille Andréa interprétée par Dominique Michel, ont connu un important succès. Comme le démontrera la conférence, ce succès a reposé en partie sur la construction d’une persona de chanteuse convenant au petit écran. La conférence réévaluera la portée de cet événement de manière à montrer comment cette première alliance entre deux industries (la musique et la télévision) situe l’importance qu’occuperont la variété et la chanson dans les années suivantes en faisant usage des codes télévisuels. Enfin, les deux chansons seront analysées pour mieux comprendre les valeurs qui ont présidé au choix du jury et le rôle qu’a pu jouer l’image des deux chanteuses, autant de faits annonçant la dualité des années 1960 entre yéyé et chansonnier.
Gérald Côté & Serge Lacasse, “Remixer la chanson québécoise: Remixing identities”
Abstract: The paper concerns an art‐based research project involving a dozen musicians who were asked to create remixes of songs from Quebec artists recorded before 1950. This project had two main objectives: First, the production of an album of 20 remixes based on historical recordings from Quebec; second, a better understanding of the remixers’ creative process through an ethnographic study. Now that the project has been completed, it is time to present its scientific and artistic results.
After a contextualization of the project and a brief presentation of some of the remixes featuring on the album, we will summarize some of the ethnographic findings: Results suggest that although the participant musicians were invited to use similar digital technologies (including sampling, sound synthesis, filtering, stretching, etc.) in the context of a postmodern (Kramer 1999) and hypermodern world (Lipovetsky 2005), their music seems to reflect aesthetic proposals in accordance with very singular ideals. The new technological tools tend to favour individual (almost secret) pieces of work, in a world in which collide multiple musical spaces that open the way for a personal semantic exploration that nevertheless refers to movements of polarity capable of generating sets of consistent meanings. Following an ethnographic investigation that has produced hundreds of pages of comments from the participants about their own creative process, the paper will illustrate the creative quality of the individual‐musician that flourishes when in contact with technological through tools that have become more powerful and flexible.
Carol Vernallis, “Beyoncé’s Overwhelming Opus; or, the Past and Future of Music Video”
Abstract: Why should we care about music video? 1) Its cultural presence. It is YouTube’s most viewed content and the most common way for young people to consume popular music. 2) Music video is a genre with its own conventions, ways of carrying a narrative, eliciting emotions, and conveying space and time. Music videos can convey a brief state of bliss. It’s dependent on ephemeralities like color, movement, and sound. Like music, it possesses motives, rhythm, syncopation, and grain, and it resides somewhere between advertising and high art (Kaplan, Vernallis). 3) It reflects broad shifts in technology, aesthetics, institutions and audiences: studying these help explain social contexts. 4) Its aesthetics have affected nearly every form of moving media. It has been a key driver of the new intensified audiovisuality (Vernallis).
But there is surprisingly little scholarship on music video. Few close analyses account for the genre’s music, image and lyrics; only two in-depth models for analyzing music video exist (Burns, Vernallis). I’ll propose a working definition for the genre, and then discuss music video’s technological and socio-economic influences. I’ll highlight some of the genre’s specificities, as well as show how audiovisual relations have changed, and the ways analysis might attend to technology, platform, and musical style.
The broad aim is to demonstrate how to analyze a music video. I’ll move closely through several videos from Beyoncé’s audiovisual album, Beyoncé (2013). I’ll show how Beyoncé stands as the genre’s fulcrum, both formal innovator and historical guardian.
Session 9A – Soundtracks
Steven Hicks, “Zappa on Film: Baby Snakes and the Collapse of the Concert Hall”
Abstract: Frank Zappa’s 1979 film Baby Snakes weaves a tapestry of concert footage, scenes referencing the film’s production, concert rehearsals, and Claymation. Its theater premiere was additionally outfitted and augmented with rock concert appropriate amplification (Ruhlmann 1996), collapsing space, time, and venue through technological mediation, immersing the audience in a collage of material confronting the viewer with social observations of both the institutions and structures underpinning the production. Zappa, transcending roles of rock/movie star, immerses the audience itself within a heavily Frankfurt-derivative social critique of concert and film, encoded in venue, content, and technique.
Despite the abundance of Zappa scholarship, few studies have focused specifically on Zappa’s filmic oeuvre (Fuente 2013); this study thus intends to instigate reconsideration of the filmic financial failures of Frank Zappa as potentially his most subvert yet polemic social commentary: in Baby Snakes, abstraction and immersion simultaneously situate the audience within live/disembodied parodies of the concert institution. This study justifies its subject and methodology in extensive and recent Neo-Marixst Zappa scholarship, and also the composer/producer’s early foundational experience with similarly related discourse (Dineen 2011; Watson 1982).
Ben Watson describes Zappa’s artistic technique as a demonstration of real-world flaws through technical means (Watson 1982). Accordingly, Adorno criticized the impossibility of reality in film (1981), thus Zappa situates his audience within filmic unreality through the venue’s sonic simulacra; this is, after all, a film about the institution of the concert hall (Fuente 2013). It is not musical content, but the observations made evident by the techniques and conditions of its presentation that are in question: the collage technique objectively presents art as a cultural commodity (Fuente 2013; Watson 1996; Watson 2005), forcing the simultaneous recognition and abstraction of life and art. The audience is forced to consider the unreality of on-screen reality, and, in turn, question their own.
Kristeen M. McKee, “The Sights and Sounds of Normativity in Disney Animated Princess Films: What Rhetorical Perspectives Can Teach Us about Visual and Aural Constructions of Princesshood”
Abstract: Trademark songs from classic and contemporary Disney animated films are important carriers of rhetoric. While much has been written about the power and influence of the visual elements of Disney animation, few are the sources that analyze the rhetorical effects of the medium’s aural properties.
With this presentation, I intend to explain why select animated musical hits make for a compelling rhetorical examination of the power of sight and sound. Through specific examples, I will show how, when combined, visual composition and sound design can reinforce preferred constructs of subjectivity. In each case, I will explore the nature and suggested meanings of the songs’ visual and aural properties. Specifically, I will demonstrate how visual elements such as colours, lines, shapes, sizes, etc., and aural features like accents, dictions, lyrics and melodies all work together to create a particular kind of subject for audiences. As rhetorical texts, these songs have the power to frame attitudes and shape assumptions about what it means to be “normal” and what must be done in order to “belong” to Disney’s dream world.
In this presentation, I will also argue that the dominant ideologies that are encoded within Disney’s musical hits may become more powerful when they invite audiences to participate. By encouraging audiences to sing and move along to these popular songs, both the company and its consumers are implicated in an ongoing performance of a particular kind of subjectivity. My preliminary analysis suggests that these texts rely on and reinforce long established conservative ideologies of subjectivity according to normative constructs of gender, sexuality, race and class.
Session 9B – Guitars and Those Who Love Them
Benoît Cordelier, “Ethnocentric Discourses among Guitar Players’ Communities Internet Forums Examples”
Abstract: The electric guitar industry has rapidly grown trying to cater to different budget level consumers. This has led to a strong diversification of the manufacturing countries following the same globalization trends as in other industries. Once an American icon, electric guitars are now massively produced in Asia as well as Latin America with improving quality levels.
This communication aims to explore discourses about the importance of the country of origin for guitar players in Internet forums. We will here focus on debates confronting American and overseas made guitars.
Theoretically, this research will draw on consumer behaviour theory, centered on country of origin literature, and consumer culture theory that will allow us to highlight the ethnocentric elements that guitar players take into consideration and the way it influences their representations of guitars.
Methodologically, we are using a discourse analysis approach where we view discourse as interplay between textual and contextual factors. Hence after a familiarization with the research field, particularly through observation, and a brief introduction to the historical role of the American branded electric guitars, we are coding adopting a semi-open coding strategy to identify the different type of discourses. Our coding will thus be informed by drawing on the ethnocentrism and country of origin literature as well as by the ongoing findings as we favour an inductive stance.
We are temporarily finding that ethnocentrism discussions are always present in guitar players’ communities as they attempt to decide between perceived ethical choices and budget minded reasoning. There is no strong nationally driven political consumerism as much as a pragmatic approach that ends up softening the nationalist discourse. Two entangled characteristics tend to balance the ethnographic discourse: individual interest and a relativizing process as of the merits of the ethnocentric stance.
Mark J. Percival, “Superheroes and Guitars: Music and Musicians in U.S. Comics of the 1960s and 1970s”
Abstract: In the introduction to 1990’s On Record, Frith and Goodwin discuss the roots of the sociology of pop and rock in discrete studies of mass culture, of youth and of deviance. They argue that these concerns merge with the arrival of rock and roll in the 1950s – “the first unavoidable mass culture commodity aimed at teenagers”. Rock and roll became part of the 20th century narrative of moral panic around popular culture, but a similar story was unfolding around another popular cultural product, the comic book. Wertham’s highly critical Seduction of the Innocent (1954) led to his appearance in front of a Senate Subcommittee on juvenile delinquency in which he suggested that comic books were a central cause of juvenile crime.
The consequent sanitising of comics in the 1950s was paralleled by the mainstreaming of rock and roll in the late-1950s, most clearly illustrated by the de-sexualisation of Elvis Presley’s stage (and particularly television) performances. This paper suggests that pop music and comics, as two potentially subversive cultural forms, moved closer together in the following two decades as consumers of both went to college, and comic books became increasingly peppered with references to contemporaneous popular culture. Frith has argued that the defining nature of popular music as it developed in the 20th century was its seamless merging of the creative and the commercial. More than any other creative medium, I would argue that comic books work in the same way. This paper explores some of the key moments of cross-over between these popular cultural forms and argues that, starting in the 1960s, pop music made comics more “real”.
Session 9C – Technologies of Sound and Vision
Ian Macchiusi, “Sample-based Music, The Digital Audio Workstation and Visual Representations of Musical Time”
Abstract: The computer’s visual representation of sound has revolutionized the creation of sample-based music through the interface of music software, or—as it is commonly called—the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW). While the visual interface allows the user to easily add complexity to a composition, whether that be rhythmic (through visually aided editing), timbral (through the precise visual manipulation of equalization) or textural (through the simple visual organization of a large variety of instruments and samples), the ways the DAW represents musical time alters how sample-based artists conceive of their craft, inextricably embedding a spatial metaphor in the tools of musical creation. This spatial representation of music is further entrenched through the DAW’s functions such as zoom, drag, drop, copy, cut and paste which enable the user to conceptualize music as a series of modular building blocks to be viewed at different levels of magnification, inserted into a temporal grid and united in a vast sonic pastiche of the artists’ choosing. Utilizing theories from the field of software studies, an analysis of the ways the DAW represents, edits, repeats, affects, controls and influences the user’s conception of music will be furnished through an examination of DAW user manuals, YouTube tutorial videos as well as comments on online communities such as Reddit and futureproducers.com. Specifically, I believe this vast collection of internet materials provides a fascinating glimpse into the computer producer’s processes, habits and biases that are engendered by the DAW’s representation of music.
Michelle A. Macklem, “Composing with AUMI (Adaptive Use Musical Instruments)”
Abstract: How can emerging adaptive technologies for the disabled be brought into the sphere of skilled audio composition? Developed by the Deep Listening Institute, the software interface Adaptive Use Musical Instruments (AUMI) is an accessible, affordable software that enables an interactive music experience for its user. The program uses video tracking to allow a user with limited physical mobility to control the playback of sounds on a variety of virtual instruments. This presentation will explore the use of this adaptive musical technology beyond its initial design as a tool for “real-time” use in the context of music therapy and/or group improvisation. Moving away from a model that treats disability principally as a medical condition, AUMI seeks to accommodate and adapt rather than cure (Lubet, 2004) via a technology that can by used by a wide audience. While AUMI was originally created to “enable people with little to no voluntary mobility to participate in improvising music,” (Oliveros et al., 2011) I believe it can be employed in a wider framework of musicianship and presents the potential to become a nuanced and accessible compositional tool in terms of digital audio production.. Through new developments, most notably the ability to output MIDI data, AUMI can be used to record, remix and produce music through external software like Protools. With the demand for compositional devices beyond a use for musical therapy, this presentation will discuss and demonstrate how AUMI works to serve a large audience of mobility impaired and able-bodied composers. I will integrate a short live demonstration of how AUMI works and its newest features. I will draw attention to the use of a creative and critical design inspired by disability (Pullin, 2011), and how in turn it can inspire a new contemporary form of digital composition.