Tag Archive | ethnography

Lokananta: Sounds of Crisis and Recovery from Indonesia’s National Record Company


Entering from the front, Lokananta seems quiet. An art-deco façade gives way to a sleepy courtyard with a central fountain—the sound of splashing water mixes with stately gamelan music from a wall-mounted speaker—but there are signs of activity here in Indonesia’s oldest record company. Head right into the duplication room and you hear the hiss-snap of an old tape-splicing machine at work, plus occasional bursts of guitar as a worker in a blue collared shirt tests out punk cassettes. Across the low campus of pastel yellow buildings, an engineer in the company’s cavernous studio listens back to an upbeat shuffle from a recent session.

These sounds take on a special significance at Lokananta, because it is the nation’s state-owned record company—the “Sound of Indonesia”—which after a brush with bankruptcy in the early 2000s, is now making a tentative comeback driven largely by renewed interest in analog music technology. It makes for an interesting scene: tattooed indie rockers and young tape sellers partnering with a company that for decades was part of the authoritarian government’s Department of Information. Crisis and transition have a way of forging unusual partnerships, and Lokananta’s current business configuration is a product of economic crisis.

I learned of Lokananta’s winding path to recovery while doing ethnographic fieldwork in May 2015, when I visited the company, interviewed many of its employees, and met with some of the young musicians and entrepreneurs that are helping to keep it afloat. They helped me piece together this story of Lokananta’s long history and uncertain future, a story that reflects many of the larger social changes unfolding across Indonesia during the company’s sixty years of operation. From the ‘golden years’ to the ‘vacuum,’ crisis to recovery, I found that Lokananta continues to fulfill its mission of disseminating the sounds of the nation, but those sounds are different than before. More specifically, I argue that the fiscal crisis forced Lokananta to open itself to the new sounds and scenes that have emerged in contemporary Indonesia.

An Instrument that Plays Itself

Lokananta takes its name from a mythical gamelan ensemble that according to legend sounded without being struck (perhaps an echo of the long-running association between recorded sound and the supernatural?). When established in the city of Surakarta in 1956, Lokananta’s mandate from the Sukarno government was to establish a national culture through sound, and at the same time mitigate the influence of the international music then dominating the airwaves. In Lokananta’s early years, this meant manufacturing vinyl discs of recordings made throughout the archipelago, and then distributing those records back to the country’s radio stations for broadcasting. Soon enough listeners began asking to buy records themselves, and in 1959 the state-owned company began selling to the general public. Besides recordings of regional songs, or lagu daerah, much of the music bearing Lokananta’s seal was in the classical gamelan tradition of central Java and a style of sentimental song known as kroncong.

The company’s output during those golden years—basically the 60s-80s—is well documented in a discography compiled by ethnomusicologist Philip Yampolsky; I’m more interested in what has happened since then. By the 1990s, recorded music was neither mysterious nor scarce. Anyone with a tape deck could copy a cassette and pirated music was ubiquitous. Studios were downsizing and going digital, and Lokananta, with its large facility and staff, was struggling to remain viable even with government support. Then came the Asian Financial Crisis and the fall of the ‘New Order’ regime in 1998.

The Department of Information was liquidated during the political transition, meaning Lokananta lost all government funding. Most of the technical staff were shifted to the national radio broadcaster, RRI, while Lokananta shrank to a skeleton crew and for several years stopped almost all production. Employees who were there refer to this time as the “vacuum.” The piano was sold, microphones disappeared, and for a time the record storage shed was rented out for indoor soccer. Lokananta went silent.

With the loss of public support and the traditional music market in decline, Indonesia’s oldest record company needed new sources of revenue. Increasingly, that revenue has come from recording and duplicating albums by indie and underground artists, scenes that have actually blossomed in the aftermath of the repressive New Order regime.

Lokananta Riot

Just days before I arrived at Lokananta, a Balinese Rockabilly band called The Hydrant wrapped up a session there for their new album. The band’s very presence at the studio says a lot about Lokananta’s changing image in the Indonesian music world. When I later met with Adi, The Hydrant’s bass player, he told me that until this year he’d never heard of Lokananta. Even as a lover of vintage recordings, he had no idea that his country boasted an old wood-paneled studio that is reportedly modeled on the famous Abbey Road in London. When he heard about that room from a friend in Jogjakarta, Adi and his band realized it was the perfect place to record an album ‘live in the studio’ just like their idols from the 50s and 60s (some of those idols were even released on the Lokananta label). According to Adi, the studio manager at Lokananta told him that The Hydrant was the first “riot and roll band” to record there, so the album became “Lokananta Riot.”

This trend of young bands recording live at Lokananta got its start in 2012, when Indonesian R&B singer Glenn Fredly and the indie pop group White Shoes and the Couples Company both completed projects there. For these artists, recording in the company’s vintage studio served to emphasize their connection with Indonesia’s national music history, and also to draw attention to Lokananta’s important role in that history. In fact, the album that White Shoes recorded, Menyanyikan Lagu2 Daerah, was entirely based on the style of regional folk songs (lagu daerah) that Lokananta distributed in its early years.

But the big name acts that are drawn to Lokananta’s studio don’t necessarily manufacture their albums there, even though Lokananta was originally and primarily a record factory, not a studio. The 7” vinyl records of Menyanyikan Lagu2 Daerah, for example, had to be pressed overseas because Lokananta’s record fabricating machines—the country’s first—were sold for scrap metal in the 1980s. Cassette production, however, has not stopped, even if it is down from the days when the company could pump out tens of thousands of tapes a month. In those days, neighborhood kids would fly kites with the discarded magnetic tape. And like the recording end of business, Lokananta’s duplication services are now reaching a whole new clientele.

Rather than churn out playful kroncong tapes, today Lokananta acts as more of a boutique producer, specializing in small runs of indie releases by bands with names like Deluded, Homicide, and Working Class Symphony. These bands are not drawn to Lokananta so much by its history and legacy, but for very practical reasons that again can be traced back to the company’s near collapse in the early 2000s.

Many of the new cassettes produced at Lokananta pass through the hands of two local entrepreneurs: Rochmad Indrianto and Tamtomo Widhiandono. Indtrianto, who goes by Anto, is only 25. Over the whir of tape duplicators, he explained to me that unless you want them copied one by one on a home tape deck, Lokanata is the only place to do a short run of cassettes—as few as 20-50 copies. The quality is good, and because Lokananta is right there in Surakarta, the turnaround is fast and the prices low. When Anto and Tamtomo started working with Lokananta in 2014, the company’s only output was re-releases of old recordings. The two young entrepreneurs, and the cassette revival they were part of, could not have come at a better time. That year they placed several duplication orders for their label and online store Alpha Omega Merchandise, and also helped to organize a Record Store Day event at Lokananta with vendors, speakers, and live performances in the studio:

Record Store Day

Once word got around the local scene, more tape orders started coming in. Lokananta was not easy to work with directly—it had no online order form or Instagram account—so Anto and Tamtomo became the middlemen. They told me that this year they are handling at least eight to ten orders a month. Thanks to that business, for the first time ever Lokananta now generates more than half of its revenue from tape duplication services. This turn of events feels appropriate in a way: the very independent music scene that both contributed to and benefited from the end of the New Order regime is now helping to prop up an institution left stranded by that government’s collapse.

Main Building

The Sound of Indonesia

Many people and projects have claimed to capture the sound of a nation. No doubt Lokananta comes up as short as the rest. Yet, I’m struck by the way this one state-owned recording company and its meandering story do reflect so much of the tumult of Indonesia’s last sixty years. Lokananta has always been what the moment called for: a pressing plant for regional folk records, a studio for mass-produced gamelan recordings, an archive, and an indie cassette workshop. In each adaptation you can hear the political, cultural, and technological changes at work. You can sense the shifts in government censorship, which limited the import and reproduction of foreign sounds, and the sounds of critique and dissent that followed. You can see the shift from vinyl—which most Indonesians could only access via radio broadcasts—to the cassette, the medium that finally made recorded music readily available to the general public. And since Lokananta’s crisis at the turn of the millennium, you can hear the sounds of an industry in transition: a growing and uncensored independent music scene, and a renewed search for a national identity in the sounds and technologies of the past.

The ‘Sound of Indonesia’ that Lokananta offers in its current output must be understood as part of the institution’s response to crisis—brought on by both a changing music market and the sudden loss of government support. In this state, Lokananta’s sound cannot be curated by producers or culture ministers; it is dictated by necessity, and in that struggle to survive the company has had to open itself up in new ways. Looking through old photos in Lokananta’s archive, I saw a lot of official state pageantry and choreographed presentations—administrators in suits and workers with ID badges. Right now, however, Lokananta is a place where someone can walk in off the street with a home-recorded cassette and get it duplicated, where an up-and-coming band can book a recording session, where an avant-garde composer can put on a noise concert, or where a few motivated entrepreneurs can find a willing partner. It is a place of nostalgia but also experimentation and DIY networking—all of which are now publicly visible on the company’s facebook page.

Tape Order

Lokananta’s new director has plans to convert the main building into a museum and is already applying for national cultural heritage status. There is also talk of restoring and updating the studio equipment—no word on any new vinyl pressing machines. But whatever it becomes in the future, the present is clearly a special moment in Lokananta’s history. And while many of the company’s employees may consider this to be a rough patch in that history, when I see the words “The Sound of Indonesia” emblazoned on their uniforms, I can’t help but think that they are living up to that motto in ways that their predecessors in the New Order period would have never imagined. They are producing records and finding community partners that previously might have never made it through the company’s pastel-yellow entryway. The political transition, fiscal crisis, and recovery forced that change, and luckily for Lokananta, Indonesia’s burgeoning independent music scene has embraced it.

Ian Coss is a graduate student in Ethnomusicology at Boston University, where his work is focused on the uses of radio and recording technologies. Ian has released several albums of original music that draw on everything from gamelan to dub, and continues to perform around New England. He has also worked as a freelance radio producer for Afropop Worldwide and The World. Follow all his projects at iancoss.com.

All images are used with permission by the author.

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Sounding Boards and Sonic Styles: The Music of the Skatepark

Sound and Sport2Welcome back to our summer series on “Sound and Sport.”  In today’s post, Josh Ottum discusses the sonorous sounds and unique rhythms of the sport of skateboarding. For an instant replay of last month’s post, click Tara Betts‘s “Pretty, Fast, and Loud: The Audible Ali.” For May’s post, click Melissa Helquist‘s “Goalball: Sport, Silence, and Spectatorship.”  Next month’s grand finale will feature a doubleheader on Brasil, with a post by Kariann Goldschmitt on the promotional sounds of FIFA 2014 and a podcast by Andrea Medrado entitled “The Sounds of Rio’s Favelas: Echoes of Social Inequality in an Olympic City.” We’ll close with another take on the Olympics, excerpted from David Hendy‘s recent Noise broadcasts for BBC Radio 4 on the politics of boos at the games. For now, get out your board, strap on your helmet, and prepare to jam. —J. Stoever-Ackerman, Editor-in-Chief

Seven layers of screen-printed, sugar pine maple whack the concrete. Aluminum axles pivot on rubber bushings as they slide across steel coping. Circular, molded polyurethane encases lubricated bearings that spin in midair before slamming onto birch. Vocal cords are strained as exclamations are made in response to a maneuver. These are the unmistakeable sounds of the skatepark. As skaters ride through the park, a unique sonic tapestry emerges revealing a constantly shifting array of timbre, pitch, and rhythm. This sliding aural space is similar to the compositional flow between rehearsed maneuvers and improvisatory actions, connecting skaters in the skatepark to musicians improvising in a jam session.

Just as the results of a musical performance depend on acoustics of the venue and the idiosyncrasies of the instrument, the skater is beholden to a similarly complex signal chain. The aural atmosphere of the skatepark relies on the number of other players, as well as their chosen instruments, and unique approach to playing. While surveying the sonic and social dynamics of four skateparks in Ohio and California for this study, the line between performer and listener was often unclear. Skaters are consistently sliding between roles as passive observers and active participants, watching and being watched, making sound and listening to the sounds of others. And, just as an improvising musician aims to develop her own unique voice, the skater intertwines sonic and visual elements into a unique stylistic signature all her own. In this study I will look at the skatepark as a site for skaters to express themselves much in the same way that a musician plays an instrument at a jam session. I will explore the board and terrain, the importance of style, and the culture of the park itself. To begin, I will contextualize the ways in which the skateboard has been constructed as a sonic instrument.

The Instruments

As a skater lands an ollie in the Vans Skatepark in Orange, California, the sound of hard polyurethane wheels slamming against a hollow birch ramp emanates throughout the warehouse, entangling with distinctive sounds made by other participants. The listener is made acutely aware of each skater’s instrument and stylistic approach to performance. What differentiates the rider on a board in the skatepark from a guitarist playing in a rock club? Just as the materials of the electric guitar and its signal chain inform the sonic nature of the instrument, the skateboard and its engaged terrain sound out unique and identifiable characteristics of each device. I spoke with a skater at Flipside Skateboard Shop in Athens, Ohio about the specifics of wheel construction and his own personal preferences:

2 flipside wheel chart

Abrasion test chart, Flipside Skateboard Shop, Athens, Ohio

Just like the layered wood of an electric guitar body, boards are made through a multistep manufacturing process that involves layering thin plies of wood. Maple is most commonly used with the relative flexibility of the deck determining qualities of audible resonance as a skater ollies or railslides. And trucks, which function as axles, can be heard grinding along a surface such as pool coping, a painted curb, or a handrail.

In order for these materials to make sound they must be controlled by a rider and engage with some kind of terrain. The combination of what materials are chosen and how they are used result in a rider’s unique approach. In the skatepark, skaters swathe themselves in clothing, pads, and helmets while riding devices wrapped in visual signposts of self-expression that sound out the priorities of the particular rider.

Sonic Style

Following Henri Lefebvre, Iain Borden speaks of the skateboard as a “lived component of the body, its actions and its self-image in relation to the terrain” (28). Similarly, from my time spent at skateparks in Ohio and California, I have noted the malleability of terrain as a domain to express one’s own unique style. Skaters use their devices as instruments, playing the park, repeating phrases, overlapping with sounds emitted from their peers. All the while, advertisements adorn both bodies and instruments and maneuvers mimic the iconic moves of sponsored skaters viewed in magazines. Visiting Focus Boardshop across the street from the Etnies Skatepark in Lake Forest, California reminds the observer that the elusive, focal point of style in the world of skateboarding is not only confined to the visual realm. As reissued decks from Powell Peralta, Slimeball wheels, and multiple videos adorn the walls of the shop, teenage skaters hang out, asking to bend and stand on decks and spin wheels, all the while watching and listening to newly released videos. Just as guitars and synthesizers reflect the users aesthetic outlook, the look and sound of skateboards signal to a skater’s audience (often other skaters in the park) what kind of skater he or she is.

Tara Rodgers’ insightful article on wood paneling on synthesizers for Sounding Out! has its analogue in the spiritual aura of the object in skateboarding. Bound up in this aura are genre-shaping histories that have taken the sport in innumerable directions. Whether it is the catwalk ethos of Vision Street Wear, Danny Way’s connection with Monster and Red Bull energy drinks, or enjoi’s self-referential marketing, the graphics that wrap around skate gear carry with them weighty connections to the sport’s most original moments. These moments are, of course, defined by marketing campaigns, hosted in influential magazines such as Thrasher and Transworld, and the zietgeist of the time. Intertwined with these branded materials is the sonic quality of the instrument. The sound of the instrument itself reflects the particular ethos of the skater who selected it. In the clip below, an employee working at Focus Boardshop in Lake Forest, California talks about the particular way his board’s sound reflects the idiosyncratic nature of its components. Notice how he skater speaks about the sound of his bearings as a direct link to his style, connecting to Borden’s idea of the board as a lived component of the body.

During my visit to the community skatepark in Athens, Ohio I come across two skaters who have returned to the sport after a two-decade break. One skater sports a longboard with 70a wheels so soft you can’t hear him skate through the concrete pool. Immediately after interacting with the longboarder, another skater finishes a session in the pool at the Athens skatepark with a long slide. I ask him about the role of his wheels and what he calls “the best sound in the world”:

Soft Wheels

Hard Wheels

Skaters related the histories of their boards to me with a sense of fond nostalgia. These histories functioned, primarily, as a mode of individuation, through which those observed were seen refining their identities within the community through conversation. As more time is spent at each of the parks, I begin to notice communal flows of conversation between skaters and their engaged terrain as well. Competitive aspects to out-do each other, synchronized maneuvers, and vocal responses are percolate the soundscape. As listeners perform and performers listen, connections with well-formed cultural codes of improvisational music begin to emerge.

Jamming the Skatepark

Improvising musicians often use the context of the jam session as an opportunity work out new ideas and rehearse repertoire. Minton’s Playhouse in New York is one of the original sites for the jazz jam session. Here, “cutting contests” allowed players the opporunity to outplay each other with virtuosic displays of improvisational prowess. Musicians play to hear each other individually and as a unit, often pushing each other to extremes. The sound is composed, listened to, and then reacted to. Skateparks provide a similar atmosphere. A trick (like an ollie) is immersed in the sonic flows of the surrounding skaters. The skatepark is simultaneously encouraging and competitive, forgiving and relentless.

When I visited the Vans Skatepark on National Go Skateboarding Day park employees tempted skaters to display their best moves throughout the park with the promise of free swag. The environment remained friendly and encouraging as skaters rose to the challenge, welcoming the pressure.

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The rituals of the skatepark are varied in their scope. When a skater lands a difficult trick, it is common to hear the tapping of board tails on the ground; applause. Vocal reactions to maneuvers (landed or failed) are also quite common.

What sets the sonic atmosphere of the skatepark apart from the sound of skating outside the park is the palpable lack of intruding sounds from the outside world. As communities continue to accept the skatepark as part of their permanent landscape, the once transgressive sound of the sport takes on a new meaning. The scrapes and slides that once signaled intrusion are now contained in a controlled space. While visiting these jam sessions, it became clear that the sounds of the skatepark remain a mostly male-dominated activity. While the instruments and terrain remain available to the wider public the sound of the skatepark reflects a relatively closed environment often shrouded in platitudes of youth culture. However, once a sense of acceptance and experimentation is cultivated, some other aspects of the skatepark are revealed. The skatepark is a place to play and explore the range of one’s repertoire. It is a place to engage with the limitations of the instrument and one’s own physical faculties. And, it is an environment that encourages friction, noise, and distortion. The skatepark is a communal amplifier, obscuring and reflecting sound as the players immerse themselves in the ultimate sounding board.

Bonus Material:

While immersing myself in the sounds of the skatepark for this project, the idea came up to reimagine the sounds of the skatepark as a musical composition. I asked musicians Michael Deakers, Casey Foubert, Junior High, and Ryan Richter to make a piece that used any portion of the recordings of the four skateparks I visited. Their work reflects a deep connection to the rehearsed and improvisational aspects of music-making and skateboarding. The sounds of these pieces emerged from hours of practice and spontaneous decisions allowing for a particularly effervescent creative outcome. To hear these, check out out my Soundcloud here.


Featured Image, “Grinding” courtesy of Luke Hayfield Photography

Josh Ottum holds an MFA in Integrated Composition Improvisation and Technology from UC Irvine and is currently a PhD student at Ohio University in the School of Interdisciplinary Arts. His research interests include sound, energy extraction, Van Dyke Parks, Southern California, library music, and synthesizers. As a singer-songwriter, composer, and producer, Josh has released multiple records on various labels, completed numerous international tours, and composed music that has appeared on MTV, AMC’s Mad Men, and NPR.

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Listening to Whisperers: Performance, ASMR Community and Fetish on YouTube

Imagine this, only virtual. Image borrowed from Genista @Flickr.

Imagine this, only virtual. Image borrowed from Genista @Flickr.

PercussiveThoughts is giving me a facial. The voice tells me about the “little scrubbies” in the exfoliant, and I begin to hear their delicate sibilance on my temples. If I’m lucky, a pleasurable, tingling sensation might begin somewhere on the back of my head and travel down my spine, turning my facial into something closer to a massage. The sole caveat is that I’m not really being touched at all.

This is ASMR, “Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response,” a pseudo-medical designation whose native soil is YouTube. The term pulls together a range of physiological and affective states: goosebumps, chills, relaxation, melting, tingles, and so forth. PercussiveThoughts and her fellow vloggers (I call them “Whisperers” here and explain why below) aim to trigger these frissons through a cornucopia of techniques. Sound is paramount; Whisperers scratch rough surfaces with their fingernails and percuss everyday objects with fingertip drum-rolls. And, of course, they whisper, sometimes using lozenges or gum to increase the opportunities for swallowing and lip-smacking.

What’s interesting about these videos is how they manage to traverse the gap between the sonic and the haptic. There is, of course, something familiar about this leap. Like the magician’s hat that produces rabbits and endless handkerchiefs, an audio speaker produces a volume and variety of sound out of proportion with its small, blank visage. In the case of Whispering, however, sound is transduced into touch, and the taut membranes of the listener’s headphones become coterminous with his own skin.

Apart from Steven Novella’s suggestion that ASMR might be a mild form of seizure, it does not yet appear to be a subject of scientific research. So Whisperers have taken on the role of amateur scientists themselves, with YouTube serving as a public petri dish. For this very reason, Novella has also cautioned against the assumption that ASMR is a real physiological phenomenon at all, since feedback loops of suggestion on the Internet might create “the cultural equivalent of pareidolia.”

Whisperers, however, have no doubts. And while the ASMR acronym is a recent development, many Whisperers say their first encounters with the phenomenon occurred sometime before their first exposure to the Internet and often before adulthood: during make-believe tea parties, while watching their classmates draw or braid each other’s hair, and, perhaps most commonly, while watching The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross.

The audience for Whispering is anyone who can have this experience, which apparently isn’t everyone. Contrary to the soporific themes of their videos, Whisperers and their fans identify themselves as having awakened to a special form of pleasure. Some have even made videos recounting their first experiences. The downside of this ability is the anxiety about its social acceptance. Whisperers sometimes opt for anonymity in their videos, revealing their faces only after much encouragement from fans. Rarely do they they let their family and friends in on the secret.

That this familiar, tingly feeling has assumed a pseudo-medical acronym is hardly coincidental. ASMR isn’t just pleasurable, it’s therapeutic. Hundreds of YouTube comments attest to the power of ASMR to help relieve them of insomnia, anxiety, and panic attacks. Nor has this dimension been overlooked by Whisperers themselves, who regularly perform as doctors or therapists in their roleplay videos. This is particularly interesting in light of recent scholarship on human/machine interactions. In Addiction By Design, Natasha Schüll shows how therapy for video-poker addiction can take the same format as the gambling itself, namely, “ongoing technological self-modulation to maintain equilibrium” (250).

Homemade Whisper videos, while habit-forming, are clearly not the sort of intricately-engineered machines that Schüll writes about. Nor do they wreack the same sort of havoc (depletion of one’s life-savings, deterioration of one’s physical health, etc.). And yet, both are arranged in problematic feedback loops of self-medication. The slow-paced, low-volume respite that Whisper videos offer is made all the more necessary by the fact that viewers must go online to watch them. This paradox is amplified by YouTube’s advertisements, which will sound especially abrasive because viewers tend to turn the volume up while listening to Whisper videos. That some of the more popular Whisperers earn money from their videos only complicates things further.

*

“No, we don’t get as many men here as women,” PercussiveThoughts says, as though responding to a question from me. Of course, I wouldn’t be so rude as to contradict her – I know better. To judge from the comments below, she gets plenty of male visitors. And her colleague ASMR Velous confided during an interview that around 70 percent of her viewers are men. For this reason, some Whisperers have made genderneutral or male-oriented videos.

A man getting a facial. Borrowed from FoundryParkInn @Flickr.

A man getting a facial. Borrowed from FoundryParkInn @Flickr.

Gender is a major, and sometimes contentious, topic of discussion in the Whisper Community. In the YouWhisper web forum, the discussion topic “Gender Preference?,” has the greatest number of views (more than 170,000). In general, female Whisperers are more popular than their male counterparts. The three most popular male Whisperers that I could find–WhisperMister1, MaleSoothe, and TheLyricalWhispers–each have fewer than 5,000 subscribers and their per-video view-counts tend to peak around ten or twenty thousand.

Not long ago, GentleWhispering, one of the better-known names in the Whisper community, set off a series of heated back-and-forths with her ~FeminineGrace & Charmforsleep~ video. In it, she discusses universal traits of femininity while brushing her hair absent-mindedly. Whatever one might think of her opinions, the fact that GentleWhispering’s viewership dwarfs all other Whisperers to date suggests that something in her technique is working. My guess is that it has a great deal to do with her hands.

While giving Russian language lessons on a chalkboard, she points to a word with her middle, ring, and pinkie fingers while keeping the chalk poised delicately between her thumb and index finger. When she is about to touch the fabric of an armchair, her fingers arch back–rather than claw forward–as though to ensure that the contact is as light as possible. And, like so many other Whisperers, she takes any opportunity to tap hard objects with her well-kept fingernails.

The “femininity” of GentleWhispering’s hands is the performance of a soothing, caring touch, and her whispering voice is the transubstantiation of this touch through sound. Sometimes, she even short-circuits the analogy by massaging the microphone directly.

*

But even the performance of gendered touching does not quite explain how these sounds and images manage to reach through the speaker and screen. After a second glance at these videos, we might wonder if the preponderance of partial objects has something to do with it.

I’m talking about all of those disembodied hands stroking opposite hands or displaying objects detached from their collections. Often, for the sake of anonymity, the Whisperer’s eyes are kept out of frame, leaving only an expressive mouth, like CalmingEscapes, with its signature tics and swallows. If even the mouth is too revealing, the camera gazes down at covered breasts, ”objects,” in a Freudian panoply of sexual cathexis (is it a coincidence that some Whisperers even roleplay as the viewers doting mother?). One has to wonder what effect is achieved by this strange summation of partials.

In spite of widespread insistence that these videos are not sexual, the comparison with sexual fetish is too obvious not to make. Sticking with Freud for a moment, the hyper-presence of the Whisperer would seem to disavow the separation implicit in internet communication. Her mouth speaks individually into each of the listener’s ears while also hovering on screen. Her hands animate dead objects through rappings and close-ups. In her omnipotence, she can even tell us what to do.

Fetish or not, the word “whisper” is a perfect synecdoche for this fragmentary whole, and that’s why I’ve used it instead of ASMR. A whisper is, by definition, “unvoiced.” The cheeks, mouth, teeth, and tongue accomplish the acoustic filtering that gives words their shapes, but the larynx produces noise rather than tones. Lacking pitch, a whisper might be called only a “part of speech.” And yet it speaks volumes by shifting the register of communication. Whatever is said in a whisper gains the aura of genuineness, honesty, and intimacy.

Of course, in a YouTube video, these qualities are suspect from the moment one clicks the play button. But perhaps this is what makes Whispering work. One hears in these videos, above all, the effort of performance. It is the performance of gender, as discussed above, but more generally the performance of interaction, intimacy, and proximity. What every Whisper video whispers is “Let’s pretend!” And nothing proves this better than the fact
that some popular Whisper videos contain rather unpleasant sounds. Consider TheWhiteRabbitASMR’s dentist appointment video. If one is willing to grit one’s teeth through the long sections of abrasive drilling, it’s because she so adeptly crafts the intimate space of fantasy in which it takes places.

The pleasure of pretending was made clear to me when ASMR Velous recounted her childhood tactic for inducing ASMR. “I would constantly trick people into pretending to do things. I had this little play kitchen set, and I would cook up imaginary food for people and make them pretend-eat it really slowly and make those eating sounds like [chewing sounds], and I would just sit there and be all tingly. And I just loved it….I made up this game with my friends, where we would basically mime a profession and the other person would have to guess the profession you were miming. That was another way for me to trick my friends into pretending to do stuff.”

*

PercussiveThoughts is wrapping things up. “That completes your facial… So you can sit up. Well, thank you. Thank you so much. I’m really glad you enjoyed it.”

I did enjoy it! But thank goodness it’s not really over; I can just hit the reload button. No matter how many times I do, I know that my pores won’t be any cleaner when I look in the mirror. But that’s not the point. Rather, Whisper fans take pleasure in the intimacy and complicity of pretending. That complicity applies even to the skin of the listener, a surface as vibrant as the skin of the speaker.

Joshua Hudelson is a Ph.D. student in the Music department at NYU.  He received his MA in Digital Musics from Dartmouth College, where he conducted ethnographic fieldwork on the Electronic Voice Phenomenon community.  He is currently writing about the Noiseless Typewriter.

Sound at SEM/CORD 2011

Sound Studies has been celebrated, as Kara Keeling and Josh Kun recently pointed out in American Quarterly, as both the result of and inspiration for an increasing number of scholars, who “not only take the culture, consumption, and politics of sound seriously but are making it the centerpiece of their research, publishing, and pedagogy.”  But what significance does Sound Studies hold for ethnomusicology, a discipline that for over half a century has focused directly on the social and political dimensions of what John Blacking famously called “humanly organized sound”? This question will be one of many circulating in Philadelphia this week at the 56th annual meeting of the Society for Ethnomusicology (SEM).

The Heart of Baltimore Avenue, West Wall

The Heart of Baltimore Avenue, a mural with accompanying sound broadcast at 91.3 FM.

Despite the centrality of ethnographers of music, including Steven Feld and Veit Erlmann, to the emergence of this new interdisciplinary body of knowledge, many ethnomusicologists saw room for greater dialogue with other disciplines for whom the sonic was a relatively novel epistemological filter. To this end, in early 2009 a group of young SEM members formed the Sound Studies Special Interest Group (SSSIG) in order to foster cross-disciplinary discussions and highlight work within SEM that reimagined sound beyond “the music itself.” This year’s conference will mark the end of my tenure as co-chair of the Sound Studies SIG, and elections will be held for a replacement at our annual lunch meeting on Thursday, November 17th. If you are interested in joining the group and can attend the conference, please join us. If you can’t make it to Philadelphia, you can still join the group’s active discussion forum.

The past few years have witnessed an increasing number of presentations at SEM that fall under the umbrella of Sound Studies, a trend acknowledged in the theme of last fall’s meeting in Los Angeles, “Sound Ecologies.” This year is no different, and from a preliminary glance at the program, I have taken the liberty of highlighting a few acoustic currents running throughout the conference. A large number of panels this year are devoted to issues of embodiment, which can, for the most part, be attributed to the fact that SEM has paired up with the Congress on Research in Dance (CORD) for a joint conference. In the summary below I have noted which group is sponsoring each panel listed, although the conference requires only one registration and all panels are open to all participants and attendees.

Pandemonium, at the Eastern State Penitentiary

Pandemonium, a 2005 sound installation at the Eastern State Penitentiary

The theme of this year’s joint conference is “Moving Music / Sounding Dance: Intersections, Disconnections, and Alignments between Dance and Music.” Many of this year’s panels focus on the relationship between sound and bodies, including embodied practices in music and dance and bodily communications of carnality, empathy and affect, and music and movement, for example. The voice is also prominent this year, in panels on its relationship to the body and music, dance performance in the Pacific Islands, pedagogy and practice, and female Iranian vocalists in exile. As in other years, the relationship between ethnomusicology and medicine is also represented, as are music’s connection to healing and the sporting body.

Technology, another area of interest for Sound Studies, will receive thorough attention this year. Panels on techno-mediated performance, sound and technology, online gamespaces and prosthetic technologies of queer expression, and material culture and labor.

Looking beyond sound toward intersensoriality, many panels discuss the relationship between the aural and other senses, in terms of music visualization, sound, sight and time, ethnographic film, and sensing movement and sound in dance.

The Painted Bride Art Center
The Painted Bride Art Center

Two events that promise to be of special interest will focus on language, one a roundtable on keywords in music and motion, the other a panel on the lexicon of music, noise, sound, and silence.

A number of panels hearken back to early work on soundscapes, from discussions of field recordings and ethnography and gender and negotiating space, to the sounds of post-industrial society, protest and public spaces, and boomboxes and dance parties. My last official duty as SSSIG co-chair will be to lead a soundwalk through Philadelphia’s city center. This soundwalk is an event that the SSSIG would love to see annually as a way to connect meetings to their immediate environs.

All in all, this year’s joint conference promises to be an enjoyable one, with plenty of fascinating presentations and more good music than you can shake a tailfeather at. Even if you can’t attend, you can follow along virtually on twitter. Both #SEM2011 and #2011SEM seem to be in use.

Bill Bahng Boyer is co-chair of the Society for Ethnomusicology Sound Studies Special Interest Group and a lecturer in music, writing and rhetoric at Dartmouth College. He is also a doctoral candidate in music at New York University, completing a dissertation on public listening in the New York City subway system.

The Sound of Philadelphia, by MFSB

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THURSDAY, November 17, 2011

THURSDAY PANELS

8:30 am -10:30 am

Sounding Religion in the Public Sphere

SEM: 1E Freedom Ballroom (Section F) Chair: Monique M Ingalls, Rutgers University

Monique M Ingalls, Rutgers University. Worship in the Streets: Performing Religion, Nation, and Ethnicity through Music in Toronto’s Jesus in the City Parade

Carolyn Landau, King’s College London. Pluralism, Tolerance and Engagement with the “Mainstream”: Navigating Ismaili-Muslim Identities in Public Musical Performances

David M Kammerer, Brigham Young University-Hawaii. Anything But a “Silent Night”: Tonga’s Royal Maopa Brass Band and the Tradition of Christmas Eve Serenading

Deborah Justice, Indiana University. When Sacred Space becomes Secular Space: How a Church’s Saturday Dinner Show for Charity Eases Sunday Morning Tensions

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Recovering and Composing Hybridity through Histories of Music and Violence

SEM: 1I Salon 5/6 Chair: Jessica A Schwartz, New York University

Jessica A Schwartz, New York University. Between Continuity and Disruption: Strategic Hybridity in the Musical Activism of Rongelapese Women

T. Christopher Aplin, independent scholar. Martial Cosmopolitans: Apache War and Song Beyond Borders during the “Loco Outbreak”

Kristy Riggs, Columbia University. Musical Fabulation and the Retelling of Violence in 1840s Algeria

Sarah McClimon, University of Hawaii at Manoa. War Memories Revisited: Hybrid Nationalism and Discourses of Cultural Purity in Japanese Military Song Festivals

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Dancing Matter(s): Embodied Practices in Music and Dance

SEM: 2A Freedom Ballroom (Section E), Live Video-Streaming Room Chair: Tomie Hahn, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Tomie Hahn, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Dancing with Sensible Objects

Sean Williams, Evergreen State College. Dancing with the Drum: Teaching and Learning Sundanese Jaipongan

Sally Ann Ness, University of California, Riverside. Dancing Instruments; Objectivity in Musical Performance

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Vocal Epistemologies: Bodies, Pedagogy, Practice

SEM: 2H Salon 3/4 Chair: Robert O Beahrs, University of California, Berkeley

Robert O Beahrs, University of California, Berkeley. Echoing through the Nine Skies: Embodied Knowledge Production in Tuvan Throat-Singing Pedagogy

Marti Newland, Columbia University. Cocolo Japanese Gospel Choir: Mediating Spiritual and Racial Difference through Vocal Adduction

Sumitra Ranganathan, University of California, Berkeley. Dwelling in my Throat: Sound and Experience in a North Indian Classical Dhrupad Tradition

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Local Philadelphia Communities

CORD: Independence Ballroom D

Laura Vriend. Sufjan Stevens and the Magic Snowflake: Sound and Spatiality in Headlong Dance Theater’s Explanatorium

Christine Dang. My Laudations Shorten for me the Journey to the Saints’: The Poetics of Exile in an Islamic Community of Philadelphia

Abimbola N. Cole. Welcome to the United Stated of Africa: Kwame Nkrumah’s Philadelphia Years, African Nationalism, and Hip-Hop Perspectives on Unity in the New Africa

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Sacred Journeys, Spaces, Sounds

CORD: Logans 1

Andrea Mantell Seidel. Sacred Sound: Tuning the Cosmic Strings of the Subtle Dancing Body

Emily Wright. Sacred Spaces: History and Practice in Christian Sacred Dance

Lizzie Leopold. Voyager, A Journey into Our Outer Spaces: A Choreographic and Scholarly Exploration

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1:45-3:45pm

Techno-Mediated Performance: Virtual, Visceral, Spectacular

SEM: 3E Freedom Ballroom (Section F) Chair: Kiri Miller, Brown University

Kiri Miller, Brown University. Virtual Transmission, Visceral Practice: Dance Central and the Cybershala

J. Meryl Krieger, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis. From Live Performance to Mashup: Mediated Performance in Popular Music

Judith Hamera, Texas A&M University. Dances with Zombies: Michael Jackson and Movement in the Age of Post-Industrial Reproduction

Sydney Hutchinson, Syracuse University. Downloading Dance: OK Go, YouTube, and the Future of Pop

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Gendered Intimacies and Musical Negotiations of Space

SEM: 3F Freedom Ballroom (Section G) Chair: Ian R MacMillen, University of Pennsylvania

Anna Stirr, St. John’s College, University of Oxford. Sensuality, Exchange, and Violence in Nepali Nightclubs

Gavin Steingo, Columbia University. On the Sonic Politics of Spinning

Ian R MacMillen, University of Pennsylvania. Conscription into Intimacy: Young Men, Power, and the Gendered Inclusion of Croatian Tambura Musicians

Jane Sugarman, CUNY Graduate Center, Discussant

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Round Table – Sound and Sense in the Muslim World: The Politics of Listening

SEM: 3J Parlor A Chair: Deborah Kapchan, New York University

Jonathan Glasser, College of William and Mary

Rich Jankowsky, Tufts University

Galeet Dardashti, independent scholar

Deborah Kapchan, New York University

Michael Frishkopf, University of Alberta

THURSDAY INDIVIDUAL PAPERS

Noel Lobley, University of Oxford, Pitt Rivers Museum. Recording, Remembering and Using the Sounds of Africa

2:15 SEM: 3H Salon 3/4

Gregory Weinstein, University of Chicago. An “Acoustically Perfect Hall”?: Engineering Space in Classical Recordings

3:15 SEM: 3H Salon 3/4

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Philadelphia Record Exchange

Philadelphia Record Exchange

EVENTS

SEM Sound Studies Special Interest Group Meeting

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm Salon 5/6

SEM Audio Visual Committee

12:30 pm – 1:30 pmFreedom Ballroom (Section G)

SEM Student Open Meeting, Sponsored by the Student Concerns Committee

12:30 pm – 1:30 pm Independence Ballroom (Section A)

SEM SSSIG Philadelphia Soundwalk

Led by Bill Bahng Boyer, SSSIG co-chair

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm 4K Hotel Lobby

SEM/CORD Joint First-Time Attendees and New Members Reception

5:30 pm – 6:30 pm Horizons Rooftop Ballroom

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Philadelphia native Fresh Prince

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FRIDAY, November 18, 2011

FRIDAY PANELS

8:30 pm -10:30 pm

Round Table— Keywords of Music and Motion

SEM: 5D Independence Ballroom (Section C) Chair: Christina Zanfagna, Santa Clara University

Christina Zanfagna, Santa Clara University

Jason Stanyek, New York University

Melvin Butler, University of Chicago

Tamara Roberts, University of California, Berkeley

Martin Daughtry, New York University

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Intimately Political: Bodily Communications of Carnality, Empathy and Affect in Dance Practices and Criticism.

CORD: Freedom Ballroom H

Evandne Kelly. Embodied Affects of Nationalism and Ethnicity in the Dances of Fijian Diasporas in Canada

Emma Doran. Dancing in Your Seat: Reading Empathy in Print Media

Shawn Newman. It’s all in the hips: Sexual and Artistic Minority in Canadian Concert Jazz Dance

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10:45am-12:15pm

Rethinking Music Visualization

CORD: Independence Ballroom D

Paul Scolieri. Ruth St. Denis, Walter Benjamin, and the Mimetic Faculty

Daniel Callahan. Absolutely Unmanly: The Music Visualizations of Ted Shawn and His Men Dancers

Stephanie Jordan. Troubling Visualisations: Mark Morris Marks the Music

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1:45-3:45pm

Sounds of Difference and Recognition: Music, Interculturalism, and Belonging in the European Nation-State

SEM: 7C Independence Ballroom (Section B) Chair: Benjamin Teitelbaum, Brown University

Joshua Tucker, Brown University. New Latinos in the Old World: Music, Multiculturalism, and Ethnogenesis in a Changing Spain

Benjamin Teitelbaum, Brown University. Unity Intoned: Music and the Rhetorical Paradoxes of Swedish Radical Nationalism

Adriana Helbig, University of Pittsburgh. The Influence of Paul Robeson?s Musical Legacy on Soviet and Post-Soviet Racial Ideologies

Timothy Rice, University of California, Los Angeles. Discussant

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Sound, Technology

SEM: 7I Salon 5/6 Chair: Leslie Gay, University of Tennessee, Knoxville

Trevor S Harvey, Florida State University. Live from Second Life: Social Actualization through Musical Participation in Virtual Worlds

Alan Williams, University of Massachusetts, Lowell. All Hands On Deck: Choreographed Intimacy in the Analog Mixing Process

Tim Miller, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Instruments as Technology: Co-constructing the Pedal Steel Guitar

Lauren Flood, Columbia University. Arduino Revolution: Hacking the Way to New Sounds and Moveable Art with Open Source Technology

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Music and the Body/Voice

SEM: 7J Parlor A Chair: Elizabeth Tolbert, Peabody Conservatory, Johns Hopkins University

Max M Schmeder, Columbia University. At One With One’s Instrument: Transcending the Body-Instrument Divide

Katherine L Meizel, Bowling Green State University. Hearing Voices: Toward a Model for the Study of Vocality

Peter Williams, University of Kansas. Docile Bodies Improvising: Gender and Constraint in Improvised Music and Movement

John R Pippen, University of Western Ontario. Moving New Music: Disrupting the Mind/Body Divide in Western Art Music

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Health and Healing

CORD: Independence Ballroom D

Toni Shapiro-Phim. A Sacred Melody and Innovative Choreography in Cambodia

Karen Schaffman. Kinesthetics of Crying and Soundtracks of Tears: Performing Grief in Works by Deborah Hay and Ralph Lemon

Carlos Odria. Improvising Transcendence for Health and Healing: Spontaneous Sounds and Bodies in a Dance Composition Class

Rodrigo Caballero. Sound, healing and the body: acoustemologies of health in the Pacific Northwest

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4:00-5:30

The Body in Flow: Sport as Dance

SEM: 8A Freedom Ballroom (Section E), Live Video-Streaming Room Chair: Jonathan M Dueck, Duke University

Jonathan M Dueck, Duke University. The Big Dance: Sound, Gender, and Flow in Collegiate Basketball

Timothy J Cooley, University of California, Santa Barbara. To Surf is to Dance: Hawaiian Mele and Hula and the History of Surfing

Judy Bauerlein, California State University, San Marcos. A Wave is A Body In Motion

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Gay and Queer Studies

SEM: 8E Freedom Ballroom (Section F) Chair: Gregory Barz, Vanderbilt University

William Cheng, Harvard University. Acoustemologies of the Closet: Online Gamespaces and Prosthetic Technologies of Queer Expression

Sarah E Hankins, Harvard University. “The Disguise Will Never Work All the Way”: Realness, Queerness and Music in a Gender Performance Community

Mark D Swift, Washington and Jefferson College. Dance Style, Masculine Identity, and the Gay Ethnographer in a Suburban Brazilian Scene

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Sounding Bodies, Moving Voices: Dance Performance in the Pacific Islands

SEM: 8F Freedom Ballroom (Section G) Chair: Adrienne Kaeppler, Smithsonian Institution

Jane Freeman Moulin, University of Hawai’i at Manoa. The Dancer’s Voice

Lisa Burke, Framingham State University. “A Wind that Penetrates the Skin”: Understanding Kiribati Music through Dance

Brian Diettrich, New Zealand School of Music. Stirred Spirits, Adorned Bodies: Sound and Gesture in Chuukese Community Performances

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Issues of Representation and Presentation in Public Culture Media Production

SEM: 8G Logans 2 Chair: Clifford R Murphy, Maryland State Arts Council

Clifford R Murphy, Maryland State Arts Council. Visiting With Neighbors: Fieldwork on Radio in Maryland

Nathan Salsburg, Lomax Archives/Association for Cultural Equity. Folk Revival 2.0: Presenting and Representing Vernacular Music in 2011

Maureen Loughran, Tulane University. Five Years After the Storm: Authority and Public Engagement in Radio Production

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INDIVIDUAL PAPERS OF INTEREST

Louise J Wrazen, York University. The Displaced Voice: Assertions of Selfhood and Belonging Amidst Change

9:00 am SEM: 5H Salon 3/4

Sharon F Kivenko, Harvard University. Listening for the Call and Knowing When to Come In: “Performance Sociability” in Mande Dance

9:30 am SEM: 5I Salon 5/6

Farzaneh Hemmasi, Hunter College. At a Distance: Voice, Dance, and Display among Female Iranian Vocalists in Exile

2:15 pm SEM: 7E Freedom Ballroom (Section F)

Chun-bin Chen, Tainan National University of the Arts. Hybridity in Taiwanese Aboriginal Cassette Culture

4:30 pm SEM: 8C Independence Ballroom (Section B)

Samuel Araujo, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro. Amidst Walls, Wired Fences and Armored Cars: The Sound Heritage of Post-Industrial Society

5:00 pm SEM: 8K Parlor C

The Sun Ra Arkestra House

EVENTS

British Forum for Ethnomusicology High Tea Party

5:30 pm – 6:30 pm Liberty D

The Drexel University Mediterranean Ensemble Presents

A Mostly Balkan Party . . . Philly Style

7:30 pm – 9:30 pm The Stein Auditorium, Drexel University Campus 3215 Market St.

A.J. Racy and The Arabesque Music Ensemble in Concert

Presented by Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture

8:00 pm – 10:00 pm Trinity Center for Urban Life, 22nd and Spruce Streets

Dance Workshop: Sound and Vibrational Signals in Buto Dance

Led by Tanya Calamoneri

8:00 pm – 10:00 pm Independence Ballroom D, free to all registered CORD attendees

Dance Workshop: Singing Dance and Sensing Sound

Led by Amy Larimer

8:00 pm – 10:00 pm Salon 10, free to all registered CORD attendees

SEM Dance Section, CORD and CCDR Reception

10:00 pm – 11:00 pm Salon 5/6 (Free to all registered attendees)

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schoolly d album art

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SATURDAY, November 19, 2011

SATURDAY PANELS

8:30-10:30am

Listening to the Field: Sonic Presentations of Ethnographic Material

SEM: 9A Freedom Ballroom (Section E), Live Video-Streaming Room Chair: Ben Tausig, New York University

Ben Tausig, New York University. Playing Under Protest: Diffusion and Decay

Mack Hagood, Indiana University. Audio Production as SEO Services: Sounds and Stories in the Path of I-69

Senti Toy Threadgill, New York University. Voice in the Box: The Politics of Affect and Acoustemology in Nagaland

Deborah Wong, University of California, Riverside. Discussant

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Engaging Ethnomusicology and the Health Sciences

SEM: 9D Independence Ballroom (Section C) Chair: Frederick J Moehn, New York University

Theresa A Allison, University of California, San Francisco; Jewish Home, San Francisco. Music and Memory, Dementia and Song: Engaging the Health Sciences in Research on Music, Memory and Relationships

Heather B White, University of California, Berkeley. You are the Music, While the Music Lasts: The Neuroscience Behind Social Music Production and Identity

Jeffrey W Cupchik, Eastman School of Music, University of Rochester. Teaching Medical Ethnomusicology: Engaging the Science(s) of Healing

Dane Harwood, independent scholar. Integrating Quantitative Methodology in Ethnomusicological Research: The Challenges to Moving towards Reproducible Results

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Music, Sound, Noise, Silence: Towards A Conceptual Lexicon

SEM: 9H Salon 3/4 Chair: Matt Sakakeeny, Tulane University

Matt Sakakeeny, Tulane University. Music

Thomas Porcello, Vassar College. Sound

David Novak, University of California, Santa Barbara. Noise

Ana María Ochoa, Columbia University. Silence

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Music in Oman: Interculturalism, Time, Space, and Politics in the Sultanate

SEM: 9I Salon 5/6 Chair: Anne K Rasmussen, College of William and Mary

Anne K Rasmussen, College of William and Mary. The Musical Design of National Space and Time in Oman

Nasser Al Taee, Oman Royal Opera House. Mozart in Muscat: Politics, Performance, and Patronage in Oman

Majid Al Harthy, Sultan Qaboos University. African Identities, Afro-Omani Music, and the Official Constructions of a Musical Past

Salwa El-Shawan Castelo-Branco, Universidade Nova de Lisboa, Portugal. Discussant

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The Commercial, the Popular, and the Crazed

CORD: Independence Ballroom D

Mary Fogarty. Musical Tastes in Popular Dance Practices

Mary Elizabeth Anderson. Oprah Feelin’: The Commercial Flash Mob’s Affective Game

Jennifer Fisher. When Good Adjectives Go Bad: “Lyrical Dance,” Romanticism, Brain Science, and the Competition Dance Machine

Ok Hee Jeong. The politics of Korean Wave

Asheley Smith. “Crank That”: The Work of Dance Crazes as Collective Memory and in Mechanical Reproduction

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Sensing Movement-Sound

CORD: Freedom Ballroom H

Candace Bordelon. Finding “the Feeling” Through Movement and Music: Oriental Dance, Tarab, and Umm Kulthum

W. Eric Aikens. Using Entropy as a Measure of the Dispersal of Temporal Energy in the Music/Dance Relation

Stephanie Schroedter. Music as Movement – “Kinesthetic listening” in the Creation and Reception of Dance

Wendy Rogers. Dancing in a Sound Space

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The Sonic, the Visual, and the Temporal

CORD: Salon 10

Freya Vass-Rhee. The sounds (and sights) of silence: William Forsythe’s compositions of quiet

Allen Fogelsanger. The Play of Visual and Sonic Actions: Watching Dance and Music

Wen-Chi Wu. Beyond Spontaneity Acquired Through the Lived “Habit-Body” vis-à-vis Performing Techniques

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10:45-12:15

Music and Bodies of Sound

SEM: 10F Freedom Ballroom (Section G) Chair: Daniel Reed, Indiana University

Kate Galloway, University of Toronto. Ecological Auditory Culture: The Relationship Between Ethnographic Soundscape Composition and How We Listen to the Environment

Devin M Burke, Case Western Reserve University. Sign Language Music Videos: Analyzing Embodied Musicking in a Culturally Hybridistic and Technologically Mediated Audio/Visual Artform

Leona N Lanzilotti, Eastman School of Music. Musical Theatre of the Deaf and Hearing: Understanding Musical Embodiment in a Mixed-Cast Production of Guys & Dolls

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Music and Movement

SEM: 10H Salon 3/4 Chair: Beth K Aracena, Eastern Mennonite University

Rebecca A Schwartz-Bishir, independent scholar. Music that Moves: Musique dansante and the Sensory Experience of the Dancing Body

Lynda Paul, Yale University. Liveness Reconsidered: Sound and Concealment in Cirque du Soleil

Beth K Aracena, Eastern Mennonite University. Towards a “Natural History” of Corpus Christi Processions in the New World

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INDIVIDUAL PAPERS OF INTEREST

Donna A Buchanan, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. Choreographic Encounters of an Ethnomusicological Kind: Sound, Movement, Spirituality, and Community where the Balkans and Caucasus Converge

9:00 SEM: 9G Logans 2

Rachel Goc, University of Wisconsin, Madison. Global Practices of Motown Visual and Sonic Aesthetic

9:30 SEM: 9F Freedom Ballroom

Michael S O’Brien, Luther College. This is What Democracy Sounds Like: Mediation and Performativity in the Soundscapes of the 2011 Wisconsin Pro-Labor Protests

11:15 SEM: 10J Parlor A

Corinna S Campbell, Harvard University. Sounding the Body, Dancing the Drum: Integrated Analysis of an Afro-Surinamese Performance Genre

11:45 SEM: 10A Freedom Ballroom (Section E), Live Video Streaming Room

Rachel Mundy, Columbia University. O Bird of the Morning: Sound, Silence, and Information at the Species Boundary

11:45 SEM: 10K Parlor C

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EVENTS

SEM Seeger Lecture

Randy Martin: “Complex Harmonic Movements: Politicalities of Music and Dance”

4:00 pm – 5:30 pm Liberty Ballroom B, C and D

PhillyBloco Dance Party

7:30 pm – 10:30 pm Liberty Ballroom B, C, and D

(Ticket Required – $10.00 per attendee in advance or $15.00 per attendee at the door)

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SUNDAY, November 20, 2011

SUNDAY PANELS

8:30-10:30am

Musical Advocacy: Mediation, Creativity, and Social Engagement

SEM: 12A Freedom Ballroom (Section E), Live Video-Streaming Room Chair: Carol Muller, University of Pennsylvania

Marié Abe, Harvard University. Reimagining Oaxacan Heritage through Accordions and Airwaves in Central Valley, California

Michael Birenbaum-Quintero, Bowdoin College. Process, Network, and Knowledge: Theory and Praxis of a Grassroots Music Archive in the Afro-Colombian Hinterlands

Shalini R Ayyagari, American University. “Postcards from Paradise Weren’t Meant for Me”: Community Affiliation and Advocacy Work through South Asian American Hip Hop

Kay Shelemay, Harvard University. Discussant

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Material Culture and Musical Labor

SEM: 12C Independence Ballroom (Section B) Chair: Allen Roda, New York University

Allen Roda, New York University. Resounding Objects: Scripting Sounds and Making Music in Banaras Tabla Workshops

Darien Lamen, University of Pennsylvania. Crafting Sound: Sound Systems, Skilled Labor, and Artisanship in Belém do Pará, Brazil

John Paul Meyers, University of Pennsylvania. Stickers, Strings, and Sgt. Pepper Jackets: Resources for Re-Creating the Past in the Tribute Band Scene

Paul Greene, Pennsylvania State University. Discussant

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Screening and Round Table—From Fieldwork to “Film-work”: Representing Realities Through Ethnomusicological Film

SEM: 12F Freedom Ballroom (Section G) Chair: Elizabeth Clendinning, Florida State University

Discussants

Tim Storhoff, Florida State Univeristy

Todd Rosendahl, Florida State Univeristy

Sara Brown, Florida State Univeristy

Kayleen Justus, Florida State Univerisity

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New Identities in Jazz

SEM: 12H Salon 3/4 Chair: Ken Prouty, Michigan State University

Brett S Pyper, Klein Karoo National Arts Festival, South Africa. Listening Made Visible: Dance as Kinetic Listening Within South African Jazz Appreciation Societies

Yoko Suzuki, University of Pittsburgh. She’s a Japanese Jerry Lee Lewis!: Body, Mind, and Spectacle in Hiromi’s Jazz Piano Performance

Michael C Heller, Harvard University. Modeling Community in the Loft Jazz Era

Colter J Harper, University of Pittsburgh. Jazz, Race, and the Visual Narrative: Constructing Identity through the Photography of Charles “Teenie” Harris

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Modes of Analysis, Modes of Listening

SEM: 12G Logans 2 Chair: Matt J Rahaim, University of Minnesota

Shayna Silverstein, University of Chicago. Microrhythms and Metric Variation in Groove-Based Dance Music of the Arab East

Cornelia Fales, Indiana University. Provoking Modal Listening In Music

Mark Hijleh, Houghton College. World Music Theory: Issues and Possibilities

Michael Tenzer, University of British Columbia, and Matt J Rahaim, University of Minnesota. Discussants

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Round Table: Ethnicity, Culture and Body

CORD: Freedom Ballroom H

Dr. Suzana Martins, Dr. Daniela Amoroso, MA. Nadir Nóbrega, Sandra Santana

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INDIVIDUAL PAPERS OF INTEREST

Marc Gidal, Ramapo College of New Jersey. Audible Boundary-Work: “Crossing” and “Purifying” Afro-Gaucho Religions through Sound and Music

8:30 am SEM: 12I Salon 5/6

Michael B MacDonald. Decentralized Dance Party Manifesto: Boomboxes, Anarchy, and the Commons

10:00 am CORD: Independence Ballroom D

Emily J McManus, University of Minnesota. Listening to a Body and a Sound: Female Leading and Same-Sex Tango in the United States

11:15 am SEM: 13B Independence Ballroom (Section A)

Michael O’Toole, University of Chicago. How the City Sounds: Festivals and Urban Space in Contemporary Berlin

11:45 am SEM: 13I Salon 5/6

Liberty Bell

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