Tag Archive | IASPM-US

Sound at IASPM-US 2014

For the second weekend in March, the U.S. chapter of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM-US) will be holding its annual meeting at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Like sound studies, popular music studies is fueled by an interdisciplinary spirit, and many of the questions that currently occupy the popular culture corner of sound studies have much in common with those of us who take the study of music seriously. This year’s conference offers a unique theme, “Music Flows,” that centers around questions of water, flows, and liquidity. The conference theme also offers more expansive ideas to flows, including mobility, embodiment, sonic materialities, and ecology. While the theme may strike some as unconventional, it ends up being an excellent metaphor for those of us who study musical flows in fields that prefer static works and communities over transient ones.

The James Taylor Bridge in his native city of Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The James Taylor Bridge over Morgan Creek in his native city of Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Since this is a popular music conference, many of the papers at this meeting take musical texts as their focus (including mine); however, there are still many panels and individual papers that might interest scholars from a sound studies perspective. After all, sound travels better in water than in air, and following that logic, water and sound both feature waves. Indeed, there are papers that take the water waves and sound waves as their inspiration. Compare, for example, SO! guest writer Mack Hagood’s discussion of an early popular recording of water waves against Robin James’s philosophical theorizing about sound waves and Neo-Liberalism in the music of Ludacris. Similarly, many papers take their inspiration from the sounds that come from water or are performed in it: Peter Schultz specifically tackles the sound-design of watery environments in video games, while SO! guest writer Josh Ottum investigates the sounds from the floating garbage island in the middle of the ocean. These papers offer attendees the opportunity to consider the large theoretical consequences of changes to the water and waves in recordings.

Some papers approach water from a perspective focused on materiality and mediation. Craig Eley’s paper offers a historically grounded study of the hydrophone and underwater recording. Peter McMurray’s paper analyzes the problem of making music for watery environments and the challenges of water’s sonic conduciveness. For an athletic perspective on hearing music in the water, Niko Higgins talks about the music that swimmers use in their athletic training. These perspectives on liquid mediation offer a tremendous opportunity to expand sound studies beyond its general dependence on sounds that happen in the open air.

Beyond the more literal takes on the water in music flows, a large portion of the papers have taken their inspiration from the metaphor of social mobility, liquidity, and trade. There are panels and papers that emphasize transnational sonic flows, such as the panel “In and Out of Africa,” and Jason Robinson’s work on recording challenges in a transatlantic jazz collaboration. Two papers in particular deal with the role of African Americans in U.S. diplomatic relations: Darren Mueller’s paper on Dizzy Gillespie as a jazz ambassador, and Kendra Salois’s work on hip-hop diplomacy. Along a similar vein, Yvonne Liao specifically considers ports and their relationship to musical trade in Shanghai’s jazz scene. There is also a paper on the role of music as a social lubricant by Luis-Manuel Garcia that promises to be a real treat.

Megafaun serenades a Chapel Hill, North Carolina crowd, Image by Flickr user  abbyladybug

Megafaun serenades a Chapel Hill, North Carolina crowd, Image by Flickr user abbyladybug

There are also numerous papers that tackle flow and water as a metaphor in music-making and mediation. They include SO! guest writer Mike D’Errico’s study of embodiment and interactivity in digital media, Rebecca Farrugia and Kelly Hay’s study of women’s flow in a Detroit hip-hop scene, and Jonathan Piper’s paper on “sludge” metal. “Anointing Sounds” is a roundtable on music’s materiality and the sounds of religious experience through the Christian metaphors of “anointing” and “healing waters.”  Finally, for those scholars seeking the rare paper on record eaters and collecting, check out SO! guest writer Shawn VanCour and Kyle Barnett’s paper.
.
Other highlights include a keynote by Louise Meintjes, whose book Sounds of Africa! took the musical recording process in studios as a serious object of study, and one of the last papers of the conference, Matthew Somoroff’s study of James Baldwin as a listener and ethnographer..

Finally, it is worth mentioning how many papers address sound studies’ long-standing relationship with soundscapes, ecomusicology, and the environment. There is a panel called “Ecologies of Place” with papers on ecologically-minded music from places as far flung as India, Iceland, Appalachian Ohio, and Canadian parks. There is also a panel on “Urban Soundscapes,” including Robert Fry’s paper on sound, music, and branding at a hot spring resort and Mathew Robert Swiatlowski’s paper on the boom box and the Walkman in urban space.

Many in sound studies cite Jonathan Sterne’s critiques of ocularcentrism in cultural criticism. This conference encourages us to think beyond the air and stasis and shift our focus to the possibilities of liquid metaphors in cultural change.

Scroll down for Kariann’s handpicked panels and papers of interest for sound studies folks perusing IASPM-US.  

Featured Image: One of Chapel Hill’s many ponds, at the Outdoor Education Center, Image by Flickr User Kat St Kat

Kariann Goldschmitt is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at New College of Florida and Ringling College of Art and Design. She holds a Ph.D. in Musicology from UCLA (2009) and was the 2009-2011 Mellon Fellow of Non-Western Music at Colby College in Maine. Her scholarly work focuses on Brazilian music, modes of listening, and sonic branding in the global cultural industries. She has published in The Journal of Popular Music Studies, American Music, Yearbook for Traditional Music, and Luso-Brazilian Review and contributes to the South American cultural magazine, Sounds and Colours.

"Franklin Street, Chapel Hill" by Wikimedia user Caroline Culler, CC BY 3.0

“Franklin Street, Chapel Hill” by Wikimedia user Caroline Culler, CC BY 3.0

Friday, March 14

9:30
“The Fluid “Field”: Recording and Performance in Transatlantic Collaboration”–Jason Robinson, Amherst College
 .
“Swimming What You Hear: The Music of Distance Swimmers”– Niko Higgins, Columbia University
.
10:15-11:45
“In and Out of Africa: From Biodiversity to Cultural Diversity: Negotiating Cultural Sustainability, Difference, and Nationhood through World Music in France,” Aleysia Whitmore, Brown University
 .
“American Afrobeat: Perception and Reception of Antibalas in Nigeria,” Stephanie Shonekan, University of Missouri
 .
“African Sounds in the American South: Community Radio, Pan-Africanism, and Historically Black Colleges, 1950-1986,” Joshua Clark Davis, Duke University
 .
“Thinking the Anthropocene Through Sound ‘Apeman’: The Kinks’ Romantic Expression of Environmental Politics and the Paradox of Human Evolution,”
Sara Gulgas, University of Pittsburgh
 .
“Coming of Age in the Post-3.11 Waterscape: Music and Silence in Japanese Animated Cinema and Children’s Art,” Kyle Harp, University of California, Riverside
.
“Sounds Like Garbage: Paddling Through an Island of Trash Toward a New Sonic Ecology,” Josh Ottum, Ohio University
.
“Watery Textualities: The Perceptual Flow of Metric (Re)evaluation in Radiohead’s ‘Bloom,'” Michael Lupo, CUNY Graduate Center
 .
“Splash, Bubble, and Clink: Topic and Timbre in Aquatic Video Game Environments,” Peter Shultz, University of Chicago
 .
“Just Ludacris Enough: Wave-Forms & Neoliberal Sophrosyne,” Robin James, University of North Carolina-Charlotte
 .
12:00-1:30
Keynote Lecture: Louise Meintjes, Duke University
 .
1:45-3:45
.
“Embodiment and Mediation: Riding the ‘Sound of Here-and-Now’: Locating Groove in Japanese Garage Punk,” Jose Neglia, University of California, Berkeley
.
“Air Flows: Breath, Voice, and Authenticity in Three Recordings,” Greg Weinstein, Columbia College Chicago
.
“‘Them boys kin shore tromp on the strings’: Down-Home Virtuosity in Rural Variety Radio,” David VanderHamm, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
.
“‘Less Work, More Flow’: Embodied Interactivity and the Ecology of Digital Media,” Mike D’Errico, University of California Los Angeles
..
1:45
“Secret Sonic Weapon on Record: Dizzy Gillespie and the Ambassadorial Politics of Jazz,” Darren Mueller, Duke University
.
“The Costs of Being Fluid: Popular Music and the Lubrication of Social Frictions,” Luis-Manuel Garcia, Max Planck Institute for Human Development
..
2:15
“Soft Power in Hard Times: Affect, Labor, and Ethics in US ‘Hip Hop Diplomacy,'” Kendra Salois, University of Maryland, College Park
.
2:45
“Listening with Your Face: The Neo-colonial Politics of Underwater Music,” Peter McMurray, Harvard University
.
James Taylor Bridge, Public Domain

So nice we put it twice, The James Taylor Bridge, Public Domain

.

Saturday, March 15

8:30
“Voices of Americas – The Sound of the Radio Programs About Folk Music in Brazil and the USA under the Pan American policy (1936-1945)”–
Rafael Velloso, UFRGS/Brazil & University of Maryland
.
“The Sound of Sludge: Groove, Materiality and Bodily Experience in Sludge Metal”–Jonathan Piper, Independent Scholar
.
8:30-10:00
Urban Soundscapes
“I Can’t Live Without My Radio”: The Sony Walkman & the Stereo Boombox in the Urban Soundscape of the 1980s”–Mathew Robert Swiatlowski, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
..
“Sounding Hot Springs: Music and Branding in America’s Spa City”–Robert Fry, Vanderbilt University
.
“Hip Hop Flows (through Detroit): Women’s “Legendary” Work Mapping Marginalization and Sustainability in Urban Sonic Spaces”–Rebekah Farrugia, Oakland University, Kellie Hay, Oakland University
..
10:15-11:45
“Mediating ‘Natural’ Sounds Going Deep: The Hydrophone and the History of Underwater Recording”–Craig Eley, Penn State University
.
“Early Digital Waves: Irv Teibel’s Environments and the Psychologically Ultimate Seashore”–Mack Hagood, Miami University
.
“Sigur Rós and the Soundtrack to Selling Planet Earth”–Matt DelCiampo, Florida State University
.
10:45
“Port sounds: Jazz(-scapes) in 1930s and 1940s Shanghai,” Yvonne Liao, King’s College London
.
1:45-3:45
Ecologies of Place
“Music, Dance, Theater, Water:  Environmental Justice and Ananya Dance Theatre,” Allison Adrian, St. Catherine University
.
“Stone and Ice: Resonant metaphors of Jón Leifs ecological music in Iceland’s soundscape,” Leslie C. Gay Jr., University of Tennessee
.
“Sounds of Recovery and Protest in Appalachian Ohio,” Brian Harnetty, Ohio University
.
“Mediated Ecomusicological Flows: The Nexus of Sonic Materiality and Ecotourism in the National Parks Project,” Kate Galloway, Memorial University of Newfoundland
.
2:45
“Music, Mobility, and Streaming: A Multimedia Lecture by the Killer Apps, Iowa City’s Best All-Mobile-Phone Cover Band,”Kembrew McLeod, University of Iowa and Loren Glass, University of Iowa
.
"Cheerleaders, UNC, 1989" by Flickr user North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

“Cheerleaders, UNC, 1989” by Flickr user North Carolina Digital Heritage Center, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

.

Sunday, March 16

8:30
“Tracking Edible Phonography: Record Eating, Collecting, and Musical Taste,” Shawn VanCour, NYU and Kyle Barnett, Bellarmine University
8:30-10
“Anointing Sounds: Holy Ghost Reservoirs in an Age of Mass Media (Roundtable),”  James Bielo, Miami University, Anderson Blanton, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Rory Johnson, Miami University
.
11:45
“Voices Above His Head: James Baldwin as Listener and Ethnographer,” Matthew Somoroff, Duke University
.
Chapel Hill's finest, WUNC, image by Flickr user Keith Weston

Chapel Hill’s finest, WUNC, image by Flickr user Keith Weston

Advertisements

Sonic Borders Virtual Panel: Devon Powers’s “Popular Music Studies: An Audible Discipline?”

listening1“Without careful deliberation about these issues, then, the perennial marginalization of sound in numerous fields may quite easily result in the eclipse of popular music studies. Given the choice, it is quite possible that sound studies will become the terrain of choice for answering questions related to sonic phenomena, leaving popular music scholars with  an existential question: who are we and where are we going? And more: how should those of us who study popular music think about ourselves? Are we sound studies scholars by another name? What might be lost were we to decide that we were? In short, does popular music studies continue to matter?[. . . ].”  [Reblogged from IASPM-US.net]

Click here to continue reading today’s installment at IASPM-US.

SO IASPM7

Sonic Borders Schedule

1/21 – Liana Silva, Sounding Out! – “I’m on My New York Sh*t”: Jean Grae’s Sonic Claims on the City

1/28 – Regina Bradley, Sounding Out! – I Like the Way You Rhyme, Boy: Hip Hop Sensibility and Racial Trauma in Django Unchained

2/4 – Marcus Boon, Sounding Out! – One Nation Under a Groove?: Music, Sonic Borders, and the Politics of Vibration

2/6 – Barry Shank, IASPM-US – On Popular Music Studies

2/11 – Tavia Nyong’o, Sounding Out! – Freedom Back: Sounding Black Feminist History, Courtesy the Artists

2/13 – Theo Cateforis, IASPM-US – No Control, or: How I Learned to Start Worrying about Sound

2/18 – Tara Betts, Sounding Out! – They Do Not All Sound Alike: Sampling Kathleen Cleaver, Assata Shakur, and Angela Davis

2/20 – Shana L. Redmond, IASPM-US – The Sounds We Make Together: Chuck Berry’s Onomatopoeia

2/25 – Airek Beauchamp, Sounding Out! – Queer Timbres, Queered Elegy: Diamanda Galás’s The Plague Mass and the First Wave of the AIDS Crisis

2/27 – Devon Powers, IASPM-US – Popular Music Studies: An Audible Discipline?

 

Queer Timbres, Queered Elegy: Diamanda Galás’s The Plague Mass and the First Wave of the AIDS Crisis

SO IASPM7Welcome to the final week of our February Forum on “Sonic Borders,”  a collaboration with the IASPM-US blog in connection with this year’s IASPM-US conference on Liminality and Borderlands, held in Austin, Texas from February 28 to March 3, 2013.  The “Sonic Borders” forum is a Virtual Roundtable cross-blog entity that will feature six Sounding Out! writers posting on Mondays through February 25, and four writers from IASPM-US, posting on Wednesdays starting February 6th and ending February 27th.  For an encore of weeks one through four of the forum, click here. And now, while we regret to inform you that Art Jones’s dispatch from Pakistan must be re-booked at a later date, the show must go on . . .and I am thrilled that writer and Ph.D. student Airek Beauchamp is stepping in as our closing act. Make no mistake, he brings the pain!  Once again, Sounding Out! gives you something you can feel. –JSA, Editor-in-Chief

At dinner a few days later in the Village Jarrod tells me that he cries whenever anyone says that they really ‘get’ his work. Because his work is so horrifying. It hurts him to know that he has inflicted it upon someone, someone able to understand it.–A.W. Strouse, in reference to the recent performance of Jarrod Kentrell at Ps1‘s “The Meeting”

I first heard Diamanda Galás’s The Plague Mass (1991) around 1994, when I would have been about 20 years old. Equal parts mass and babble, The Plague Mass is an elegiac tribute to Galás’s brother and other victims of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, a sonic rage against the silence surrounding the disease that redefines “the elegy” in the process. I suppose that I should make a confession here and say that contracting HIV was one of my biggest fears at the time. I was fresh out of the closet and ready to experiment, yet the media coverage of the crisis had pretty much told me that, as a gay man, an active sex life was a death sentence, a message I had been receiving since I was in fourth grade. There was something in Galás’s record to which I automatically, deeply connected.  Although this brand of desire was new to me, there was also something deeply familiar about it–ancient even–and this feeling was produced by the horror of her work, not in spite of it.

PM

Cover of The Plague Mass (1991)

Recorded live in 1990 at Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City, The Plague Mass was  conceived as a performance piece, enabling Galás to use sound to move in a messy, unstructured, and often terrifying way across multi-dimensional space.  Her sonic trajectories seemed to take my global, abstract fears and make them intimate and concrete. In “Diamanda Galás: Defining the Space In-between,” Julia Meier describes Galás’s soundscape as composed of “chants, shrieks, gurgles, hisses often at extreme volumes, frequently distorted electronically and accompanied by a torrent of words” which defy description (2). In the space created by this cacophony, Galás mourns her brother, responding to the silence surrounding AIDS by making use of what composer and sound theorist Yvon Bonenfant refers to as “queer timbres” in “Queer Listening to Queer Vocal Timbres,” the unique, dynamic sounds of desire and self in the voice that also operate as a kind of touch, a reaching out to other desired and desiring bodies.  In homage to Antonin Artaud’s theory of the theater of cruelty–in which audiences are exposed through multisensory domains to truths they often do not wish to see–Galás uses queer timbres to form an outsized means of aural communication in The Plague Mass that fills more affective space than standard musical productions or theater productions.  The shrieks and howls suggest Galas as depicted on the album’s cover: flayed, raw, and radically open to the passage of every vibration. By erasing semantic and syntactical codes, these sounds deeply engage the entire body in the process of making sound.

Artaud

Artaud

Queering the traditional theater, Artaud argued for new intersensuality that would occupy space in a three-dimensional manner.  In The Theater and Its Double, Artaud describes how the “intensities of colors, lights, or sounds, which utilize vibration, tremors, repetition, whether of a musical rhythm or a spoken phrase, special tones or a general diffusion of light, can obtain their full effect only by dissonances. But instead of limiting these dissonances to a single sense, we shall cause them to overlap from one sense to the other” (125).  Texturing sound, or working with dissonance and disruption to create a more forceful product,  offered Artaud a unique play between the senses, allowing it a more direct and apparent physical impact upon the bodies of both performers and the audience.

The plague and how it inhabits and destroys bodies is a central metaphor for sound and language in the work of both Artaud and Galás. Artaud focused much of his theory on the plague as an example not only of an affective space but also as a transformative event in human history and in individual lives. Artaud’s writing on the plague, however, also garnered him harsh criticism. By suggesting a theater in which language became subordinate to the shriek, the grunt or other non-semantic orality, he decried all of traditional French theater and its lofty legacy. Nonetheless, he was invited to speak about his essay “The Theater and the Plague” at the Sorbonne.  Deciding to actually incorporate his ideas about ‘liquefying boundaries,” he began speaking in a standard oratorical mode but slowly devolved into a theatrical performance of the plague, eventually ending in shrieks of physical pain. In Watchfiends & Rack Screams, Clayton Eshleman describes how, by the end of his speech, the only people left in the lecture hall were a minor contingent of his close friends, including Anais Nin, who recounted the tale (12).  The shrieks, the howls are all a further way to engage the whole body in the process of making sound, while also erasing semantic and syntactical code. In Gilles Deleuze’s estimation of Artaud’s work in The Logic of Sense, it reached the depths of language: “The word no longer expresses an attribute of the state of affairs; its fragments merge with unbearable sonorous qualities, invade the body where they form a mixture and a new state of affairs… In this passion, a pure language-affect is substituted for the effect of language” (89).

Jaap Blonk performs Artaud’s “To Have Done with the Judgement of God”

Reflecting and refracting Artaud, Galás uses the space of The Plague Mass to re-consider and re-theorize the ailing body. In her work the body represents not just Galás herself, but also the bodies of all the afflicted, the bodies issuing negation of suffering, and finally, the collective body of the spectacle of the AIDS crisis.  Like Artaud, Galás sees the plague of AIDS as transformative, but without the safe buffer provided by the critical space of history.  This plague is instead an immediate issue made all the more volatile due to the refusal to help the victims by the conservative Reagan administration as well as the rigidity of the Catholic Church’s encoded dogma that characterizes homosexuality as sinful depravity and refuses to acknowledge the need for AIDS education and condom distribution.  Galás evidences this in the opening track “There Are No More Tickets to the Funeral” which incorporates traditional Christian hymns, liturgical representations of condemnation, and the voices of the afflicted.

These appropriated sounds circulate in constant tension, queering the ominous, authoritative patriarchal drones by contrasting them to the timbres of desire and pain embodied by the shrieks.  In “Confessional (Give Me Sodomy or Give Me Death),” the narrator’s voice bleeds into the frantic voice of the defiant dying, blending in with the conjured voices of angels of death that hover over the bed. This commentary places the listener in a very immediate and uncomfortable multidimensional space encompassing several terrifying aspects of death.  Here Galás exemplefies Bonenfant’s queer timbres through the tactile effect of layered sound that is felt with the skin, in the bones, as well as with the ears, communicating a palpable experience that lies beyond the barely-nuanced music it is seductively easy to grow accustomed to.

It is Galás’s use of sound’s affective properties that makes The Plague Mass most effective as queered communication.  In “This is the Law of the Plague” she incorporates elements of glossolalia, colloquially known in religious communities as “speaking in tongues,” a speech act that embodies voice by implying a physical loss of control of the body as well as the casting off of concrete linguistic structure.  Galás’s use of glossolalia deliberately blurs the border between spiritual possession and the madness inherent to AIDS as the virus passed through the blood/brain barrier of its human host.

Aided by electronics, Galás’s vocals begin as the chant of orator. Punctuated by a throbbing, sparse single drum-beat, her sickened, keening crawl of words enumerates in detail what it is that defines a person as unclean.  The language is precisely enunciated, each word sharply edged and cornered—a practice that would no doubt double Artaud over in pain, given his struggle with schizophrenia that left him vulnerable to crisp sounds.  Slowly, Galás’s voice rises to the shriek of a pious, avenging angel, a shrill, wail shimmering with vibrato communicating the sound of a raptured body, rent in chaotic ecstasy. Eventually her ululations are submerged in a bath of primordial babble, a place where language moves in every direction through a body somehow more permeable, a sonic space that Deleuze would describe as topographic, that is, possessing heights and depths. Enacting and inviting the babble of the mad and the afflicted maintains a red line on the tolerance of the listener’s psyche before returning, without ceremony, to the sparse and cold incantations of the church.  Here queer(ed) timbres push the audience to limits well past the reaches of patriarchal or accepted sound; Galas plays along the edge of tolerance before dropping the audience abruptly back into the decidedly colder and less humane sonic tropes of an unforgiving religion.

Galás’s sonic practices encourage in me a listening that reaches out into space to connect with these sounds, whose physicality communicates fears and apprehensions that are old enough to feel genetically encoded in my psyche.  Bonenfant describes this reaching as “queer listening,” an extrinsic process based on desire in which “we listen ‘out’ for (reaching towards) voices that we think will gratify us” (77).  Bonenfant queers the body in the process of sound; it becomes abstracted, absorbed into a process and functioning on many layers that include—but also subsume—the subjective Cartesian body of agency we are comfortable with. The body becomes bodies, and it becomes present in spaces that go beyond the immediate space it occupies in space/time.  Galas traverses time and space in The Plague Mass, from the ancient litanies of hymns and spirituals to the anguish of those afflicted with AIDS, and layers voice on voice until they are inextricable, a huge din telling more than just a story, or The Story but the stories of many.

Image by Flickr User 1v0

Image by Flickr User 1v0

In a personal e-mail exchange, Bonenfant clarified his relation to both Artaud and Galás.  When asked if he was influenced by Artaud he explained:

Not directly, but certainly indirectly, and his ideas affect extended voice practice generally. I think the idea of the ‘theatre of cruelty’ is often deeply misunderstood and it was a product of its time. I understand Artaud to have been crying out for an anti-bourgeois theatre that actually stirred people up. But stirring people up is only part of the story. What stirs some, attracts others. Now, my argument is more that: these voices we might call ‘queer’ stir SOME people up but actually they ATTRACT others – others who might be seeking queered bodies to contact.

Bonenfant went on to explain that artists such as Galás can thus make contact with people who desire the kind of disruption or ‘stirring’ that they provide. He went on to relate a story that Galás shared in an interview, in which she described a performance in which she looked out at the audience and noticed a very young boy listening to her perform. For the rest of the concert, Galás said she felt guilty for the damage she was undoubtedly inflicting on the young boy’s ears and psyche. However, after the concert the boy approached her and thanked her profusely. It turns out that he had suffered from a terminal and painful illness and felt unable to express the physical and emotional distress that he lived with. Here, though, was an artist onstage articulating it, broadcasting it to him and others, for him and others.  This is what Bonenfant refers to as “an affective, somatic bond” created through shared sonic experience, and this is what Galas constructs.  By standard definitions The Plague Mass is almost unlistenable, but yet it has connected audiences remote in space and time (a nod here to Karen Tongson’s “remote intimacy”).  A sonic reaching out attracting listeners similarly reaching, its indelicate music draws the suffering near, providing a form of collective comfort by exploring and embodying the suffering, grief, and rage located beyond the permeable membrane of conscious thought and feeling.

Diamanda Galas performing in the 1980s, Image Courtesy of Flickr User Carl Guderian

Diamanda Galas performing in the 1980s, Image Courtesy of Flickr User Carl Guderian

It is this kind of connection through a tonal richness that is uncoded but yet full of information  that is radically important.  Galás’s groans, growls, and chants create an intersubjective circuit of communication that moves active listening outside of the body and draws visceral connections in a three-dimensional psychic space. This is what Galás immediately stirred in me back in 1994, and what I have been determined to recover and communicate since that first listening cut me to the quick. Queer listening does not just entail an affirmation of the soundtracks of queer lives–a kind of perpetual disco, 12” remix project–but rather it also demands a critical–and visceral–vulnerability to the jarring, violent world arranged against queer agency.  Galas’s work  hijacks the elegy and queers it, extending it to us as an offering against the true horror: the official silence in the face of so much death.

Featured Image of Diamanda Galás courtesy of Flickr user digital_freak

A Taurus who enjoys the ocean, Airek Beauchamp is currently at SUNY Binghamton pursuing his PhD in Creative Writing. He also studies composition pedagogy and queer theory, although he is becoming more and more seduced by sound studies.  He can rock a disco all night or just stay in and maybe catch up on some 30 Rock. Some call him fancy, some call him a bitch, but really he is both. He is a multiplicity of multiplicities, all in one mortal shell.

Sonic Borders Virtual Panel: Shana Redmond’s “The Sounds We Make Together: Chuck Berry’s Onomatopoeia” from IASPM-US

chuck-berry-my-dingaling-chess-4For a song often derided as trite, “My Ding-a-Ling” has much to tell us about the immediate post-civil rights sexual imagination. This imagination was not organized around the puerility of the title but rather the performer’s unique history, which he demonstrates through distinct musical and listening practices on stage. Chuck Berry’s 1972 live recording from the Lanchester Arts Festival in Coventry, England, models musical reciprocity as he sings both to and for his co-ed audience. His vocal of the onomatopoeia “ding-a-ling” resonates as a thinly veiled sexual reference while also lingering in the performance space as that which beckons the audience to sing-a(-)long, a practice that he regularly responds to with improvisatory comments. The “harmony” that he notes coming from two women attendees is announced by Berry in the moment as a sexual relation, not only with him as they sing with his “Ding-a-Ling” but also with each other, producing their own queer counterpoint. A number of asides within his performance exhibit the collaborative nature of Black music-making and the play involved in Black crossover to the mainstream. Berry’s project on stage that night also manifests a collision and collusion of popular music and sound studies by erotically traversing a number of performative and sonic boundaries through the exposure of alternative sexual relations. [Reblogged from IASPM-US.net]

Click here to continue reading today’s installment at IASPM-US.

SO IASPM7Sonic Borders Schedule

1/21 – Liana SilvaSounding Out! – “I’m on My New York Sh*t”: Jean Grae’s Sonic Claims on the City

1/28 – Regina BradleySounding Out! – I Like the Way You Rhyme, Boy: Hip Hop Sensibility and Racial Trauma in Django Unchained

2/4 – Marcus BoonSounding Out! – One Nation Under a Groove?: Music, Sonic Borders, and the Politics of Vibration

2/6 – Barry Shank, IASPM-US – “On Popular Music Studies”

2/11 – Tavia Nyong’oSounding Out! – “Freedom Back: Sounding Black Feminist History, Courtesy the Artists”

2/13 – Theo Cateforis, IASPM-US – “No Control, or: How I Learned to Start Worrying About Sound”

2/18 – Tara BettsSounding Out!, They Do Not All Sound Alike: Sampling Kathleen Cleaver, Assata Shakur, and Angela Davis

2/20 – Shana L. Redmond, IASPM-US – The Sounds We Make Together: Chuck Berry’s Onomatopoeia

2/25 – Art JonesSounding Out!

2/27 – Devon Powers, IASPM-US

%d bloggers like this: