Archive by Author | nkhverma

SO! Thursday Stream Year in Re-Hear

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The offer was, I confess, music to my ears. It was the around this time last year that Editor-in-Chief Jennifer Stoever and the SO! collective generously offered me the chance to come on board to help them draw in sound-minded editors and authors from the American Studies Association and Society for Cinema & Media Studies, and other academic associations, opening up a new space two or three Thursdays each month. The truth is I never even considered turning them down. Working together, we recruited talented folks to work as Guest Editors, crafting a number of special series posts that dig deep into mediated sonic worlds of music, radio, film, art and science.

The result has been a group of articles that I couldn’t be prouder of for their richness. Among the most widely-read articles I’ve worked on this year you’ll find Mike D’Errico’s controversial piece on gender and brostep, but also Margaret Schedel’s groundbreaking article on sonifying nanoparticles. Go ahead, try to find another sound studies venue – online or anyplace – with range like that. No luck? As I suspected. Welcome back.

Not only has working on SO! been an honor, it has also opened up new horizons for me, forged odd alliances and prompted strange harmonies – hallmarks of what exciting sound studies ought to be about. I learned something and relearned more every week. In that spirit, this “Year Re-hear” post celebrates the Thursday stream by listening back –not once, but three times — to where we’ve been.

“A Tribe Called Red – Hall 4 (1)” by Flickr user Trans Musicales, CC BY-NC 2.0

“A Tribe Called Red – Hall 4 (1)” by Flickr user Trans Musicales, CC BY-NC 2.0

First, the straight story.

Our year started with The Wobble Continuum, a series on race, gender and dubstep, edited by Justin D. Burton (Rider University) with posts by Mike D’Errico (UCLA), Christina Giacona (U of Oklahoma), and Burton. These articles brought new perspective on the  “maximalist aesthetic” of electronic dance music and explored resistance to sonic racism, while examining sonic experience everywhere from a baseball stadium to a bus stop.

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Then, beginning in February, we heard from Latin America through Radio de Acción a series on radio and the idea of region. Edited by Tom McEnaney (Cornell), with posts by Alejandra Bronfman (UBC), Karl Swinehart (Uchicago) and Carolina Guerrero (Radio Ambulante), RdA brought us fascinating stories of student activists taking over radio stations to oppose Fulgencio Batista in the 1950′s and of the founding of Radio Ambulante, at the forefront of Spanish-language creative narrative radio today.

When Spring came (remember Spring? sigh.) I edited Start a Band, reflecting on the legacy and music of the late Lou Reed, with posts by Jacob Smith (Northwestern) and Tim Anderson (Old Dominion). Tim and Jake offered penetrating accounts of how reissues of Velvet Underground records helped a generation learn to listen, and how their music quite literally gets under your skin, and sometimes even deeper.

Sculpting the Film Soundtrack

Sculpting the Film Soundtrack, was our next series, an ambitious take on new directions in film sound design edited by Katherine Spring (Wilfrid Laurier), with posts by Randolph Jordan (Simon Fraser), Danijela Kulezic-Wilson (University College, Cork) and Benjamin Wright (University of Southern California). This series had extraordinary range, examining works by such figures as Hans Zimmer and Shane Carruth that break down old assumptions about soundtracks, while unsettling the act of listening itself.

Magnavox_AM2From radio and film, we turned to art and science. First with Hearing the Unheard,
a series edited by Seth Horowitz (NeuroPop) with posts by the sound artist China Blue (The Engine Institute), Milton A. Garcés (University of Hawaii at Manoa) and Margaret A. Schedel (Stonybrook). This series took us inside the ears of dogs, out into the vacuum of space billions of years ago, and deep inside the sound of underground lava. Then came our current series, Radio Art Reflections, edited by Magz Hall, which promises to undertake a trans-national history of radio art — check out the first post by artist Anna Friz (Canada) on radio art and acoustic ecology.

Where will this stream go next? In part, that’s up to you. If you have a concept for a special series, and a sense of some exciting authors for it, have a look at our Call for Guest Editors, we’ll extend the deadline a few days.

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Remix!

In reviewing these posts, I was struck by how they form their own connections in ways we didn’t plan and probably couldn’t foresee a year ago. The Thursday stream echoes back on itself. Here, for your consideration, are three alternative hypothetical groupings of the exact same posts you see above:

Sound and Indigenous Peoples Today: a series featuring an examination of the circulation of A Tribe Called Red’s song “Braves“, a study of indigenous peoples of Vancouver’s Eastside on film, and an introduction to Aymara-language radio in Bolivia, with Christina GiaconaRandolph Jordan and Karl Swinehart.

The Microsonic: a series on itty bitty sounds, and how to get at them. Posts explore the sonic fragments in Upstream Color, the sonification of data from x-ray scatter, and the tactile sounds of Lou Reed with Danijela Kulezic-WilsonMargaret A. Schedel, and Jacob Smith.

Sonic Breakdown: a series on the sound of breaking down and how sounds break things down, from the big budget film soundtrack to volcanic rock formations, and national boundaries in Caribbean radio history, with posts by Benjamin Wright, Milton Garces and Alejandra Bronfman.

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Finally, why not let the sounds from these posts tell the story for a change?

Tickle your ears with some of the sounds we’ve featured in this stream over the last year, a little sound sandbox:

  • Guest editor Seth Horowitz’s office, as an elephant might hear it
  • Tape of a student takeover of Radio Reloj in Cuba in 1957
  • “Lady Godiva’s Operation” by The Velvet Underground
  • A tremor at Arenal, a volcano in Costa Rica
  • electrosmog, a work of radio art by Kristen Roos for Radius in Chicago
  • The sound of cartoons playing on a TV in a methadone clinic in Vancouver
  • A sonifications of a variety of mappings of x-ray scattered particles by Meg Schedel

.

.

.

Thanks to Jennifer, Aaron, Liana, Will and everyone here at SO! for putting your faith in me this year. And thanks especially to all our writers and editors for being so enthusiastic, brilliant and patient.

The SO! family salutes you!

Featured Photo by Flickr user Jenene Chesbrough, Creative Commons License.

 –
Sounding Out! Special Editor Neil Verma is Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Radio/Television/Film at Northwestern University. Verma has published writing on sound in many areas, with a particular emphasis on the intersection of radio with other media. His book, Theater of the Mind: Imagination, Aesthetics, and American Radio Drama (University of Chicago Press) won the Best First Book Award from the Society for Cinema & Media Studies in 2013

 

From Mercury to Mars: Jennifer Hyland Wang’s “After the Martians” from Antenna

WOTW75_NV_Postcard_WEB (1)“What I find so intriguing about the heated public discussion immediately following the War of the Worlds broadcast – in letters to the FCC and to Orson Welles, in newspaper pages, and in industry trade journals – is not just the way the controversy comments about the power of radio or the susceptibility of the audience, but the way in which the gendered logics embedded in the broadcast system rose to the surface in these debates and informed the popular, industrial, and regulatory discussions about the mass “hysteria” of October 30, 1938 …”

[Reblogged from Antenna]

With Jennifer Hyland Wang‘s terrific exploration of the gendered logics surrounding the reception of the “War of the Worlds” broadcast and its implications for communications regulations, our six month series on the radio work of Orson Welles — From Mercury to Mars — comes to a close.

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I have many supporters to thank for helping to bring this project together, but none so much as the Sounding Out! team – Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman, Liana Silva-Ford and Aaron Trammell, as well as our co-conspirators Nick Rubenstein and Monteith McCollum who contributed so much to the #WOTW75 project. Also a big thanks to Andrew Bottomley, my counterpart at Antenna and recruited all the authors from that end.

welles11Chiefly, however, I want to thank all our writers for such smart and entertaining work. I think it’s fair to say that the Mercury to Mars project brought more insight into Welles’ radio years than virtually any other body of collected writing. In August, Cornell professor Tom McEnaney started out the series with a detailed study (here) of the role that Latin America played in Welles’ radio imagination and early film projects. Eleanor Patterson of the University of Wisconsin Madison followed up with her take on WOTW as a kind of residual radio (here). In the early Autumn, Professor Debra Rae Cohen of the University of South Carolina took on Welles’ first play in the Mercury cycle – his version of “Dracula” – explaining how it commented on the medium (here). On Antenna, Cynthia B. Meyers from the College of Mount Saint Vincent provided keen insight (here) on her experiences teaching WOTW in the classroom. Soon afterward, Kathleen Battles of Oakland University brought us her fascinating take (here) on Orson Welles’ self-parodies on the Fred Allen show and elsewhere, and in the lead-up to our #WOTW75 event, NYU’s Shawn VanCour made a compelling case (here) for why the second act of WOTW was so much more remarkable than the first.

971153_10151467911611783_635005065_nOn the 75th anniversary of the “War of the Worlds” broadcast last October, we organized (or at least inspired) listening parties and collected hundreds of real-time tweets from participants in seven states and three countries all listening at the same time and using our hashtag #WOTW75. The exercise was coordinated with a three-hour SO!-produced broadcast from WHRW at SUNY Binghamton, with comments on the show by a dozen prominent scholars and writers, including Kate Lacey of Sussex University, Alex Russo of Catholic University, Brian Hanrahan of Cornell, John Cheng of SUNY Binghamton, Damian Keane of SUNY Buffalo, Jason Loviglio of the University of Maryland, Paul Heyer of Wilfrid Laurier University and more. We couldn’t be more proud of the depth of the material and the breadth of the event, which stretched from the University of Mississippi to Northwestern University, from Bournemouth University in the U.K. to the Ontario College of Art and Design in Toronto. Here is the navigator page we put up the night of the event, here is Aaron Trammell‘s remarkable audio documentary that aired early that night and here is Monteith McCollum‘s amazing WOTW “remix” that aired later.

Buffet

After the anniversary, our series continued to grow. Josh Shepperd of Catholic University reflected on what WOTW meant for the development of media studies (here) based on new archival research, and Jacob Smith of Northwestern wrote a terrific article (here) about “Hell on Ice,” Welles’ great drama of sailors lost in frozen wastes. We also commissioned new writing (here) on Welles’ adaptations of Sherlock Holmes by A. Brad Schwartz, who co-wrote a PBS program on the WOTW scandal. We also heard from two of the most prominent media studies scholars out there: Michele Hilmes of Madison wrote about the persistence and evolution of radio drama overseas after Welles (here), while Murray Pomerance of Ryerson University wrote a rich and provocative study (here) of Welles’ voice itself.

Thanks to one and all. For my part, it’s simply been a joy to share my boundless fascination with Orson Welles’s radio work with so many friends, fans and colleagues. Signing out now, on behalf of Mercury to Mars, I remain your obedient servant, Neil Verma.

Welles Alpha

From Mercury to Mars: War of the Worlds and the Invasion of Media Studies from Antenna

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Our #WOTW75 hijinx are behind us, dear listeners, but our series on the radio work of Orson Welles, From Mercury to Mars, continues with several posts stretching into the new year. This week, our partner blog Antenna published a fascinating look at how social research into the WOTW audience both synthesized and catalyzed a whole set of approaches of social research about media effects. Drawing on some original research into the personal letters of Princeton researcher Hadley Cantril, Catholic University Professor Josh Shepperd tells the story …

“The day after the ‘War of the Worlds’ broadcast, a request came from Frank Stanton’s
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employer – the Columbia Broadcast System (CBS) – for an opportunity to test their new ‘technique.’ Cantril wrote in one personal letter: ‘when the broadcast of October 30 occurred, with its responses in mass hysteria over a wide area, the Princeton researchers recognized that here was a perfect opportunity for their inquiry.’ On the Wednesday following the broadcast two field workers began the first Mass Communications research canvass—in Orange, New Jersey. They visited the homes of 30 persons who were known to have listened to the broadcast, while other researchers began to tabulate statistics from other sites …”

[Reblogged from Antenna]

The M2M series is becoming quite an archive. To catch up, here are some links.

  • Here is “Hello Americans,” Tom McEnaney‘s post on Welles and Latin America
  • Here is Eleanor Patterson‘s post on editions of WOTW as “Residual Radio”
  • Here is “Sound Bites,” Debra Rae Cohen‘s post on Welles’s “Dracula”
  • Here is Cynthia B. Meyers on the pleasures and challenges of teaching WOTW in the classroom
  • Here is Kathleen Battles on parodies of Welles by Fred Allen.
  • Here is Shawn VanCour on the second act of War of the Worlds
  • Here is the navigator page for our #WOTW75 collective listening project
  • … And here is our podcast of Monteith McCollum‘s amazing WOTW remix.

In two weeks, check this space for a new essay by Northwestern University Professor Jacob Smith on the radio play that connoisseurs have long felt to be hands down Welles’s best radio work, “Hell on Ice.”

– nv

#WOTW75 — It’s Time for “War of the Worlds!”

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Click here to stream our broadcast in your web browser from WHRW in Binghamton, New York, beginning at 7pm EST!

Tweet along with us at #WOTW75

7:00-8:00 EST An all-new audio documentary hosted by Brian Hanrahan (Cornell) and featuring critical reflections from a dozen prominent radio historians, including Kate Lacey, Kathleen Battles, Jason Loviglio, Damien Keane, Alex Russo, Shawn VanCour and Tom McEnaney.

8:00-9:00 EST The re-broadcast of the original “War of the Worlds”!

9:00-10:00 EST  Hosted by SO!’s own Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman (Binghamton University), this hour includes live post-broadcast chats with Keane, McEnaney, and VanCour, and experimental soundscapes and drama produced by Binghamton University students and community members.

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Looking for the end of the world? Don’t panic, you’ve come to the right place. Our #WOTW75 project invites you to listen to and live-tweet Orson Welles’ classic “War of the Worlds” radio play tonight alongside hundred (thousands?) of others. This page has all you will need to participate.

When to Listen. Our project starts at  7 pm Eastern Standard Time on Wednesday, Oct. 30. Our goal is to keep in sync across listening sites everywhere.

How to Listen. Click here to stream our broadcast in your web browser from WHRW in Binghamton, New York. If this feed won’t work or goes down, see Alternative Listening Options below.

How to Respond. Use Twitter, Instagram and post on our Facebook group page using the hashtag #WOTW75. Be sure to follow @WOTW75 on Twitter and reply to one another). Posting a comment on this page is another option. Want to follow the conversation as a whole? Try our hashtag in tagboardGrover's Mill

Alternative Listening Options.  There are several other listening options available. You can stream the play from wellesnet, youtube or archive.org. These should be suitable to play on an ipod, phone or laptop. Please keep these links handy just in case something goes wrong with the WHRW feed (although we don’t anticipate this).

Public Radio Options. Want a real radio experience? KPCC Southern California Public Radio has generously given a feed out for free to a variety of public broadcasters, so check your local NPR, BBC or college station. KPCC will have its own broadcast on pacific time. They are sharing our hashtag, too. Here is a link with more information.

ticeHow to Help. All we need are your ears and keyboards, but if you want to build the project, add your friends to our FB group and post items from that feed to your wall.

How to Document. Doing something creative while listening? Installing WOTW on a streetcorner, in a bar, an observatory? Roaming rural New Jersey with a flashlight? We need images and artwork. Snap a few for us and send them our way. Your responses will archived both digitally and in print.

There’s more. Here is a link to the most recent entry in our From Mercury to Mars web series about Welles and radio, for which #WOTW75 is the centerpiece. Here is a link to Howard Koch’s WOTW script, in case you’d like to read along. Here is a recent radio play contest, and here is a recent episode of the podcast Aca-media on WOTW.white flag Check out PBS American Experience, which aired a major documentary on Tuesday night. Also, here is a new version of the story by Campfire Radio. Visiting New Jersey? There are live events out there in the moonlight, check out Raconteur Radio. Many more events and news items for the anniversary are up on  wellesnet.

Thanks for joining in on the fun. We’re eager to read your tweets and posts, and proud to annihilate the world before your very ears.

Questions, ideas? wotw75@soundingoutblog.com

Happy

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