is the line–and the sound–that opens Richard Wright’s 1940 wake-up-call to America, Native Son, a novel about the systemic reaches of structural racism and what happens when it works as intended: funneling privilege to white people and dealing losses–in housing, economics, education, employment, the legal system, and overall mental, physical, and emotional health and life quality–to people of color. There have been moments in the 75+ intervening years since Wright’s novel topped best seller lists where it’s felt like folks had finally heard this alarm loud and clear; right now it seems like too many have just been repeatedly hitting snooze instead of choosing to get–and stay–woke.
But just because some folk’s can’t, won’t–or choose not–to hear it is not at all reason to stop sounding the alarm, and Sounding Out! certainly isn’t going to stop chiming in and amplifying its urgency, especially in this current moment. It has been our mission since we began in 2009 to encourage scholarship about and via sound that helps us all do the work necessary to listen “bone-deep in the deep of bones” to that “BRRRRRRRIIIIIIINNNNG” (thank you Fred Moten, for that stunning description of listening in In the Break, and so much more).
To listen to it and, we hope, to ACT.
We are now “nine and feeling fine,” in spite of it all, still sounding the alarm within our field and reverberating to other disciplines, inside, through, and beyond the hyperpoliced borders of the US, and at the intersection of multiple social identities: race sexuality class gender nation citizenship status. Now, more than ever, we are grateful for the work we do and the platform we have built–and we are honored to be part of the wonderful, brilliant, and powerful community who sustains us and who’s always out there, listening and doing that work. It’s been a breakthrough year for sound studies brilliance; we have actually received more unsolicited submissions this year than in previous years combined (!!!). Keep it flowing–we’ll begin setting the 2019 schedule soon!
Just a sampling of what (and where) the year nine cohort brought you: to an art installation on the streets of Mexico City, to Australia for a conversation on sound and the law and an open letter about race, power, and equity in academia, to K-12 classrooms all over the US in a Liana Silva-edited forum on sonic pedagogy, to Argentina to listen to the “song of the summer,” to Russia to listen in to the sounds of World Cup 2018, to a galaxy far, far away, to Canada’s radio waves to hear traces of “The Idea of North,” to the contested political space of the womb, to Hamilton, to the paisa bars, mosh pits, hardcore shows, tarimas, and 1980’s flashbacks of Chicana Soundscapes (thank you Michele Habell-Pallan for curation and the intro to this forum!), and to indigenous peoples’ sound from Mt. Scott to Standing Rock.
And of course we must give special props and the deepest of gratitude to guest editors Praseeda Gopinath and Monika Mehta (who brought you the groundbreaking Gendered Soundscapes of India forum), to our regular writers Regina Bradley, Justin Burton, and Robin James who bring it three times a year, to our Fall 2017 intern James “DJ Tasty” Tlsty who brought you “Listening In With Sounding Out!” on WHRW (and our podcast stream) and our spring 2018 team, Shauna Bahssin and Allie Young, who brought copy-editing expertise and respectively, posted on a 24-Hour Drone Festival in upstate NY, and created a podcast (airing on our podcast stream very soon!) about womxn’s experiences in the music industry.
To all our writers, readers, supporters, retweeters, sharers, teachers, and word-of-mouth fans: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Gracias por todo. Let’s continue blowing it to full watts in year 10.
–JLS, LMS, and AT
⏰⏰⏰⏰ SO! 2016-2017 Highlight Reel⏰⏰⏰⏰⏰
- Justin Burton‘s book, Posthuman Rap (Oxford UP), was published fall 2017, and Justin successfully applied for tenure spring 2018.
- Karen Cook is a recipient of an inaugural ACLS Professional Development Grant, and presented some recent work at the annual Medieval-Renaissance Music Conference in Maynooth, Ireland in July 2018.
- This year, Robin James assumed co-editorship (with Eric Weisbard) of the Journal of Popular Music Studies and she wants to encourage SO! writers and readers to submit their article-length work. In addition to writing for SO!, she also published an article on post-feminism and electronic dance music. She keynoted the 2017 IASPM-International conference and the Future/Present: Current Practices in Pop Music Studies conference in Uppsala, Sweden.
- Monika Mehta published “Fan and its Paratexts,” Dossier on Fan, in Framework (January, 2018) and “Streaming Hotstar Originals” for the theme week Global Television Streaming, edited by Jasmine Mitchell and Lisa Patti, for in media res: a media commons project (April 2018). She also co-edited SO!‘s forum Gendered Sounds of India with Praseeda Gopinath and co-wrote the introduction with her as well.
- For 2018, Marlen Rios-Hernandez will be at the Latinx Studies Association (LSA) at D.C. presenting “‘How Many Queers Are Here Tonight?’: The AIDS Epidemic and Punk as Contagion From Gobbing, Cruising, to Los Frikis” as part of the “Performing Dissidence: Social Change and the Stage in Musical Performance” panel. She will be at this years American Studies Association (ASA) in Atlanta presenting a piece entitled “‘We Will Bury You!’ Listening For Chicana Punk and Other Subaltern Queer Auralities on Vinyl” on the “Emergent Auralities: Subaltern Sounds in Latinx Cultural Production and Performance” panel. Moving forward, she’s a recipient of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) year long dissertation fellowship and intend to graduate by Spring 2019.
- Tara Rodgers just put out a solo record as Analog Tara called Fundamentals–a sample is on this year’s SO! mix! Thank you TR!–and was featured on NPR and in the Washington Post!
- SO! Ed-in Chief Jennifer Lynn Stoever just returned from amazing methodology/methods training at the Voces Oral History Institute at the University of Texas-Austin. In Spring 2018, she completed a longterm public sound art project called The Binghamton Historical Soundwalk (with co-teacher Monteith McCollum, community partner Susan Sherwood + TechWorks Binghamton, amazing students, and seed grants from Binghamton University and the Whiting Foundation). You can read more about it in the (free) collection Listening to the City Toolkit: Engaging and Amplifying Unheard Voices Through Creative Practice from the MIT Colab Project that dropped in Spring 2018. Earlier this summer, she published two online essays: “The Sonic Color Line, Black Women, and Police Violence, in a special forum on Sandra Bland on Black Perspectives, the journal of the African American Intellectual History Society (AAIHS), and “Drake vs. the Beatles? Time to retire rap vs. rock cliché,” for CNN Opinion. She’ll be heading to Melbourne, Australia in late August 2018 to give talks as part of the Eavesdropping Art Festival coordinated by the Ian Potter Museum of Art, Liquid Architecture, and the Melbourne Law School. Her nine-year-old son will be attending as well, enjoying art and keeping watch for all the dangerous animals he’s heard about on the Discovery Channel.
And remember, the “notes” on our Facebook page is *still the best place to hear about calls for art, calls for posts, and upcoming conferences, shows, and volumes in sound studies. “Like” us here and please continue to keep us in the loop regarding new projects. We love to signal boost, as you can probably tell by our very active Twitter feed!
Click here for Sounding Out!‘s Blog-O-Versary “Sound the Alarm” mix 9.0 with track listing (and of course which writers suggested which songs)!
Jennifer Lynn Stoever is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sounding Out! She is also Associate Professor of English at Binghamton University, lead organizer of The Binghamton Historical Soundwalk Project and author of The Sonic Color Line: Race and the Cultural Politics of Listening (NYU Press, 2016).
REWIND! . . .If you liked this post, you may also dig:
- 2017 “!!!!Resist!!!!” Blog-O-Versary mix 8.0
- 2016 Blog-O-Versary “!!!!!!!” mix 7.0
- 2015 Blog-o-Versary 6.0 Keep on Pushing! (Our 400th post!!)
- 2014 #flawless 5.0 celebration and mix
- 2013 Blog-o-Versary 4.0: Solid Gold Summer Countdown!
- 2012 #Blog-O-Versary 3.0: Can’t Stop Won’t Stop (The Awesomeness)!
- 2011 “Awesome Sounds from a Future Boombox” 2.0
- 2010 First Blog-O-Versary party mix: A Celebration of Awesomeness
CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD: Sound The Alarm
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Sound The Alarm
Elvis Costello and the Attractions, “Night Rally”—Jeremy Braddock
J. Ballin and Carla Morrison, “Mi Gente”—Liana Silva
Snap!, “I’ve Got the Power!”—Robin James
Diana Gordon, “Woman”—Allie Young
The Raincoats, “No One’s Little Girl”—Gina Arnold
Sam Cooke, “This Little Light of Mine (Live)”—Shakira Holt
The Ergs, “Books About Miles Davis”—Aaron Trammell
Descendents, “Parents”—Marlen Rios-Hernandez
Guerrilla Toss, “Betty Dreams of Green Men”—James T Tlsty
Shabazz Palaces, “Shine a Light w/ Thaddillac”—Nabeel Zuberi
Amali Dhumali, “DHOOM3”—Monika Mehta
Rhianna, “Man Down”—Justin Burton
Dr. Dre, “Keep Their Heads Ringing”—Karen Cook
Analog Tara, “Percolation”—Tara Rodgers
Princess Nokia, “Kitana”—Jennifer Stoever
Rina Sawayama, “Ordinary Superstar”—Shauna Bahssin
Nina Diaz, “January 9th”—Wanda Alarcon
***Click here to read our Blog-o-versary year-in-review by Ed. in Chief JS
[Editor’s Note 01/24/14 10:00 am: this post has been corrected. In response to a critique from DJ Rupture, the author has apologized for an initial misquoting of an article by Julianne Escobedo Shepherd, and edited the phrase in question. Please see Comments section for discussion]
Time to ring the bell: this year, Sounding Out! is opening a brand-new stream of content to run on Thursdays. Every few weeks, we’ll be bringing in a new Guest Editor to curate a series of posts on a particular theme that opens up new ground in areas of thought and practice where sound meets media. Most of our writers and editors will be new to the site, and many will be joining us from the ranks of the Sound Studies and Radio Studies Scholarly Interest Groups at the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, as well as from the Sound Studies Caucus from the American Studies Association. I’m overjoyed to come on board as SCMS/ASA Editor to help curate this material, working with my good friends here at SO!
For our first Guest series, let me welcome Justin Burton, Assistant Professor of Music at Rider University, where he teaches in the Popular Music and Culture program. Justin also serves on the executive committee of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music-US Branch. We’re honored to have Justin help us launch this new stream.
His series? He calls it The Wobble Continuum. Let’s follow him down into the low frequencies to learn more …
Things have gotten wobbly. The cross-rhythms of low-frequency oscillations (LFO) pulsate through dance and pop music, bubbling up and dropping low across the radio dial. At its most extreme, the wobble both rends and sutures, tearing at the rhythmic and melodic fabric of a song at the same time that it holds it together on a structural level. In this three-part series, Mike D’Errico, Christina Giacona, and Justin D Burton listen to the wobble from a number of vantage points, from the user plugged into the Virtual Studio Technology (VST) of a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) to the sounds of the songs themselves to the listeners awash in bass tremolos. In remixing these components—musician, music, audience—we trace the unlikely material activities of sounds and sounders.
In our first post, Mike will consider the ways a producer working with a VST is not simply inputting commands but is collaborating with an entire culture of maximalism, teasing out an ethics of brostep production outside the usual urge for transcendence. In the second post, Christina will listen to the song “Braves” by a Tribe Called Red (ATCR), which, through its play with racist signifiers, remixes performer and audience, placing ATCR and its listeners in an uncanny relationship. In the final post, Justin will work with Karen Barad’s theory of posthuman performativity to consider how the kind of hypermasculinist and racist signifiers discussed in Mike’s and Christina’s pieces embed themselves in listening bodies that become sounding bodies. In each instance, we wade into the wobble listening for the flow of activity among the entanglement of producer, sound, and listener while also keeping our ears peeled for the cross-rhythms of (hyper)masculinist and racist materials that course through and around the musical phenomena.
So hold on tight. It’s about to drop.
As an electronic dance music DJ and producer, an avid video gamer, a cage fighting connoisseur, and a die-hard Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson fan, I’m no stranger to fist pumps, headshots, and what has become a general cultural sensibility of “hardness” associated with “bro” culture. But what broader affect lies behind this culture? Speaking specifically to recent trends in popular music, Simon Reynolds describes a “digital maximalism,” in which cultural practice involves “a hell of a lot of inputs, in terms of influences and sources, and a hell of a lot of outputs, in terms of density, scale, structural convolution, and sheer majesty” (“Maximal Nation”). We could broaden this concept of maximalism, both (1) to describe a wider variety of contemporary media (from film to video games and mobile media), and (2) to theorize it as a tool for transducing affect between various media, and among various industries within global capitalism. The goal of this essay is to tease out the ways in which maximalist techniques of one kind of digital media production—dubstep—become codified as broader social and political practices. Indeed, the proliferation of maximalism suggests that hypermediation and hypermasculinity have already become dominant aesthetic forms of digital entertainment.
More than any other electronic dance music (EDM) genre, dubstep—and the various hypermasculine cultures in which it has bound itself—has wholeheartedly embraced “digital maximalism” as its core aesthetic form. In recent years, the musical style has emerged as both the dominant idiom within EDM culture, as well as the soundtrack to various hypermasculine forms of entertainment, from sports such as football and professional wrestling to action movies and first-person shooter video games. As a result of the music’s widespread popularity within the specific cultural space of a post-Jersey Shore “bro” culture, the term “brostep” has emerged as an accepted title for the ultra-macho, adrenaline-pumping performances of masculinity that have defined contemporary forms of digital entertainment. This essay posits digital audio production practices in “brostep” as hypermediated forms of masculinity that exist as part of a broader cultural and aesthetic web of media convergence in the digital age.
Media theorist Henry Jenkins defines “convergence culture” as “the flow of content across multiple media platforms, the cooperation between multiple media industries, and the migratory behavior of media audiences who will go almost anywhere in search of the kinds of entertainment experiences they want” (Convergence Culture, 2). The most prominent use of “brostep” as a transmedial form comes from video game and movie trailers. From the fast-paced, neo-cyborg and alien action thrillers such as Transformers (2007-present), Cowboys & Aliens (2011), and G.I. Joe (2012), to dystopian first-person shooter video games such as Borderlands (2012), Far Cry 3 (2012), and Call of Duty: Black Ops 2 (2012), modulated oscillator wobbles and bass portamento drops consistently serve as sonic amplifiers of the male action hero at the edge.
Assault rifle barrages are echoed by quick rhythmic bass and percussion chops, while the visceral contact of pistol whips and lobbed grenades marks ruptures in time and space as slow motion frame rates mirror bass “drops” in sonic texture and rhythmic pacing. “Hardness” is the overriding affect here; compressed, gated kick and snare drum samples combine with coagulated, “overproduced” basslines made up of multiple oscillators vibrating at broad frequency ranges, colonizing the soundscape by filling every chasm of the frequency spectrum. The music—and the media forms with which it has become entwined—has served as the affective catalyst and effective backdrop for the emergence of an unabashedly assertive, physically domineering, and adrenaline-addicted “bro” culture.
Film theorist Lorrie Palmer argues for a relational link among gender, technology, and modes of production through hypermasculinity in these types of films and video games. Some definitive features of this convergence of hypermediation and hypermasculinity include an emphasis on “excess and spectacle, the centrality of surface over substance… ADHD cinema… transitory kinetic sensations that decenter spatial legibility… an impact aesthetic, [and] an ear-splitting, frenetic style” (“Cranked Masculinity,” 7). Both Robin James and Steven Shaviro have defined the overall aesthetic of these practices as “post-cinematic”: a regime “centered on computer games” and emphasizing “the logic of control and gamespace, which is the dominant logic of entertainment programming today.” On a sonic level, “brostep” aligns itself with many of these cinematic descriptions. Julianne Escobedo Shepherd describes the style of Borgore, one particular dubstep DJ and producer, as “misogy blow-job beats.” Other commenters have made more obvious semiotic connections between filmic imagery and the music, as Nitsuh Abebe describes brostep basslines as conjuring “obviously cool images like being inside the gleaming metal torso of a planet-sized robot while it punches an even bigger robot.”
MASCULINITY AND DIGITAL AUDIO PRODUCTION
While the sound has developed gradually over at least the past decade, the ubiquity of the distinctive mid-range “brostep” wobble bass can fundamentally be attributed to a single instrument. Massive, a software synthesizer developed by the Berlin and Los Angeles-based Native Instruments, combines the precise timbral shaping capabilities of modular synthesizers with the real-time automation capabilities of digital waveform editors. As a VST (Virtual Studio Technology) plug-in, the device exemplifies the inherently transmedial nature of many digital tools, bridging studio techniques between digital audio workstations and analog synthesis, and acting as just one of many control signals within the multi-windowed world of digital audio production. In this way, Massive may be characterized as an intersonic control network in which sounds are controlled and modulated by other sounds through constantly shifting software algorithms. Through analysis of the intersubjective control network of a program such as Massive we are able to hear the convergence of hypermediation and hypermasculinity as aesthetic forms.
Media theorist Mara Mills details the notion of technical “scripts” embedded both within technological devices as well as user experiences. According to Mills, scripts are best defined as “the representation of users embedded within technology… Designers do not simply ‘project’ users into [technological devices]; these devices are inscribed with the competencies, tolerances, desires, and psychoacoustics of users” (“Do Signals Have Politics?” 338). In short, electroacoustic objects have politics, and in the case of Massive, the politics of the script are quite conventional and historically familiar. The rhythmic and timbral control network of the software aligns itself with what Tara Rodgers describes as a long history of violent masculinist control logics in electronic music, from DJs “battling” to producers “triggering” a sample with a “controller” or “executing” a programming “command” or typing a “bang” to send a signal” (“Towards a Feminist Historiography of Electronic Music,” 476).
In Massive, the primary control mechanism is the LFO (low frequency oscillator), an infrasonic electronic signal whose primary purpose is to modulate various parameters of a synthesizer tone. Dubstep artists most frequently apply the LFO to a low-pass filter, generating a control algorithm in which an LFO filters and masks specific frequencies at a periodic rate (thus creating a “wobbling” frequency effect), which, in turn, modulates the cutoff frequency of up to three oscillating frequencies at a time (maximizing the “wobble”). When this process is applied to multiple oscillators simultaneously—each operating at disparate levels of the frequency spectrum—the effect is akin to a spectral and spatial form of what Julian Henriques calls “sonic dominance.” Massive allows the user to record “automations” on the rhythm, tempo, and quantization level of the bass wobble, effectively turning the physical gestures initially required to create and modulate synthesizer sounds—such as knob-turning and fader-sliding—into digitally-inscribed algorithms.
SONIC WARFARE AND THE ETHICS OF VIRTUALITY
By positing the logic of digital audio production within a broader network of control mechanisms in digital culture, I am not simply presenting a hermeneutic metaphor. Convergence media has not only shaped the content of various multimedia but has redefined digital form, allowing us to witness a clear—and potentially dangerous—virtual politics of viral capitalism. The emergence of a Military Entertainment Complex (MEC) is the most recent instance of this virtual politics of convergence, as it encompasses broad phenomena including the use of music as torture, the design of video games for military training (and increasing collaboration between military personnel and video game designers in general), and drone warfare. The defining characteristic of this political and virtual space is a desire to simultaneously redefine the limits of the physical body and overcome those very limitations. The MEC, as well as broader digital convergence cultures, has molded this desire into a coherent hegemonic aesthetic form.
Following videogame theorist Jane McGonigal, virtual environments push the individual to “work at the very limits of their ability” in a state of infinite self-transition (Reality is Broken, 24). Yet, automation and modular control networks in the virtual environments of digital audio production continue to encourage the historical masculinist trope of “mastery,” thus further solidifying the connection between music and military technologies sounded in the examples above. In detailing hypermediation and hypermasculinity as dominant aesthetic forms of digital entertainment, it is not my goal to simply reiterate the Adornian nightmare of “rhythm as coercion,” or the more recent Congressional fears over the potential for video games and other media to cause violence. The fact that music and video games in the MEC are simultaneously being used to reinscribe the systemic violence of the Military Industrial Complex, as well as to create virtual and actual communities (DJ culture and the proliferation of online music and gaming communities), pinpoints precisely its hegemonic capabilities.
In the face of the perennial “mastery” trope, I propose that we must develop a relational ethics of virtuality. While it seems to offer the virtue of a limitless infinity for the autonomous (often male) individual, technological interfaces form the skin of the ethical subject, establishing the boundaries of a body both corporeal and virtual. In the context of digital audio production, then, the producer is not struggling against the technical limitations of the material interface, but rather emerging from the multiple relationships forming at the interface between one’s actual and virtual self and embracing a contingent and liminal identity; to quote philosopher Adriana Cavarero, “a fragile and unmasterable self” (Relating Narratives, 84).
Featured Image: Skrillex – Hovefestivalen 2012 by Flickr User NRK P3
Mike D’Errico is a PhD student in the UCLA Department of Musicology and a researcher at the Center for Digital Humanities. His research interests and performance activities include hip-hop, electronic dance music, and sound design for software applications. He is currently working on a dissertation that deals with digital audio production across media, from electronic dance music to video games and mobile media. Mike is the web editor and social media manager for the US branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music, as well as two UCLA music journals, Echo: a music-centered journal and Ethnomusicology Review.
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Music Meant to Make You Move: Considering the Aural Kinesthetic-Dr. Imani Kai Johnson
Listening to Robots Sing: GarageBand on the iPad-Aaron Trammell
This year’s American Studies Association meeting in Baltimore, Maryland (October 19th-23rd) marks a real tipping point for Sound Studies within the interdisciplinary field of American Studies. First of all, there was the publication of Kara Keeling and Josh Kun’s co-edited special issue for American Quarterly, Sound Clash: Listening to American Studies, this past September 2011. Packed with 17 cutting-edge essays—culled from a record breaking 80+ submissions—this must-read issue is, according to Keeling and Kun’s introduction, “a sign not only of sound’s quantitative currency but the promise of its future as a field of ongoing inquiry, and its importance and relevance to the future of American Studies itself” (452). In addition to its vibrant blend of emerging scholars and senior folk, the issue is notable for its head-on engagement of sound and power in multiple, intersecting dimensions: race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, and national identity. The issue’s intervention tracing the aural edge to U.S. citizenship privilege is especially important, and game-changing for both American Studies and Sound Studies. If you have access to Project Muse, you may download the entire issue (or selected essays) through this link here. The issue also kicks off a new audio-visual web interface for American Quarterly, and you can look here to see and hear more from several authors in the issue.
We at Sounding Out! are proud to be mentioned in the introduction to AQ’s Sound Clash and to have five members of Team SO! featured in the issue: yours truly, Editor-in-Chief and Guest Posts Editor Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman, and guest authors, D. Inés Casillas, Nina Eidsheim, Tara Rodgers, and Gayle Wald. Look for Sounding Out! posts in 2012 from more of the AQ special issue’s contributors, including Mack Hagood, D. Travers Scott, and Roshanak Kheshti. If you are headed down to B’more and you’d like to hear from many of these folks in person, American Quarterly is sponsoring a roundtable panel on Saturday, October 22nd, bright and early at 8:00 a.m. at the Hilton Baltimore Holiday Room 5. It will be moderated by Josh Kun (USC) and will feature Kara Keeling (USC), Asma Naeem (University of Maryland, College Park), Dustin Tahmahkera (Southwestern University), and Roshnak Kheshti (UCSD) as panelists. Look also for unscheduled guests to appear from the issue, such as Gayle Wald (George Washington) and myself (SUNY Binghamton)—ASA rules do not permit formal participation in more than one panel—and know that, despite the early tip-off time, Keeling and Kun will be taking full advantage of the session to give Sound Clash an enthusiastic and proper send off. Between now and then, I’ll be frantically figuring out how to clone myself, because a couple of the issue’s contributors, Tara Rodgers (University of Maryland) and Barry Shank (Ohio State), are unfortunately scheduled in two excellent competing sound studies panels that very morning (scroll down for full details)! Hopefully, when the ASA Sound Studies Caucus gets fully up and running, there will be less tortuously tantalizing research pile-ups like this one.
That’s right, I said the ASA Sound Studies Caucus. If the publication of the AQ special issue wasn’t awesome enough news, the word on the street is that next year, I may not have to do Sounding Out!’s beloved ASA conference pre-game round-up. Sound Studies is in the process of gaining that all-important indexing in the front of the American Studies Association conference program through the brand-new Sound Studies Caucus. Through ASA, the caucus is hoping to sponsor specific sound-related panels for forthcoming ASA meetings. This year’s reception is a planning session where interested parties can introduce themselves and become more involved in some of the caucus’s administrative tasks. The official meet up takes place on Saturday, October 22nd from 4-6 p.m. at the upstairs bar area of the Pratt Street Ale House (206 W. Pratt Street) and Team ASA SSC will be selling limited edition T-Shirts to fund raise for the group. Interested folks can join the Sound Studies Caucus Googlegroup in advance of the meeting and catch the latest breaking news.
The ASA Sound Studies Caucus came out of a 2010 working group of UC faculty called “Sounding Race” generously funded by a UC Humanities Research Institute Grant. The caucus centralizes race, gender, and sexuality to the study of sound and vice versa; in the words of their grant: “A new direction in sound studies suggests that sound, indeed, racializes, queers, and genders both the speaking subject as well as the listener.” The grant was authored by Deborah Vargas (UC Irvine), Roshanak Kheshti(UC San Diego), D. Inés Casillas (UC Santa Barbara and frequent Sounding Out! blogger), and Kevin Fellezs (formerly at UC Merced, now at Columbia University). We at Sounding Out! are thankful for their scholarship, enthusiasm, and their critical administrative labor; we look forward to hearing more from this collective both at the caucus meeting and at the sure-to-be-excellent roundtable: “ASA Committee on Ethnic Studies: Sounding Race” on Friday October 21st, at 10:00 a.m. in Hilton Baltimore Peale B. It will be moderated by Herman Grey (UC Santa Cruz) and will also include Kirstie Dorr (UC San Diego). Look for me at both events—I will be the one live-Tweeting furiously with a huge grin on my face, excited to be gathering with so many Sound Studies colleagues from across ASA’s many (inter)disciplines.
In addition, I will be representing Sounding Out! on a panel organized by Nicole Hodges Persley (University of Kansas) and sponsored by the American Studies Women’s Committee called “Digital Displays: Women Imagining Blogospheres as Alternative Public Spheres,” on Saturday, October 22nd from 2:00p.m. to 3:45 p.m. at the Hilton Baltimore Holiday Ballroom 4. I will be joining Tanya Golash-Boza (University of Kansas, author of the blog Get a Life, Ph.D), Judy Lubin (Howard University, author of the blog Judy Lubin’s Leading Voices) and Jamie Schmidt Wagman (Saint Louis University) in a conversation about the role and power of blogging in contemporary academic careers. In particular, my paper, “Sounding Off About Sounding Out!: Emerging Scholars in an Emerging Field” will focus on the mission and history of our blog and its interventions in the problem of access for women, junior scholars, and scholars of color. Sounding Out! will continue the conversation beyond Saturday afternoon by publishing excerpts from my paper post-ASA. We hope that you will join us, either in person or by contributing your thoughts and comments when that post eventually goes live.
Below you will find Sounding Out!’s picks for panels, papers, and events of interest to Sound Studies scholars at ASA 2011. We’d like to thank IASPM (the US branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music for compiling the Popular Music Panels a few weeks back and add that our version of course understands “sound” more broadly: you’ll find music panels among work on urban soundscapes, theorizations of listening, research on sound and space, sound and race, sound and citizenship, as well as new research in the digital humanities for those interested in blogging and other audio-visual technologies, methodologies, and pedagogies. In addition to panels, I have also copiously trolled through the program looking for events of interest to sound studies scholars as well as individual papers housed on panels not ostensibly or exclusively about sound (another important measure of the health, usefulness, and influence of Sound Studies methodology across the board). If you find that I have missed you—or have placed your paper here in error—drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will rectify the situation ASAP.
Finally, I want to give a quick shout out to local organizations and research projects in Baltimore that study sound, both as a gambit for Sound Studies scholars at ASA to think about how to foster relationships with site-specific colleagues and professionals at this and future meetings, but also as a way of introduction (or a welcome back) to the city that we will live in and be a part of for a few precious days this week. Here are links to the Baltimore Soundscape Project, an interactive, collective soundmap facilitated by the private nonprofit group The Hearing and Speech Agency, which began in Baltimore in 1926 and functions as a “direct service provider, information resource center, and advocate for people of all ages and incomes who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have speech-language disabilities”; Baltimore Sounds, a website run by Joe Vaccarino, a local musician, writer, and restaurateur, “dedicated to the history of past and present pop musicians throughout the Baltimore regional area” that features an extensive “Big List” of all musicians and groups in the area between 1950 and 2000; and the enjoyable Sounds of the Baltimore Oriole for a ornithological taste of “wild” Baltimore beyond the built environment. Take a good listen and I’ll see you all very soon. For the virtual experience, look for my live tweets via our Facebook and Twitter pages or on the official ASA backchannel: #2011asa.
Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman is co-founder, Editor-in-Chief and Guest Posts Editor for Sounding Out! She is also Assistant Professor of English at Binghamton University and a Fellow at the Society for the Humanities at Cornell University.
2:00 pm – 3:45 pm
African American Soundscapes and Sound Theory, Hilton Baltimore Tubman B
CHAIR: Alexander Weheliye, Northwestern University (IL)
PAPERS: Anthony Reed, Yale University (CT), “Some Echo of Haunting Melody”: W.E.B. Du Bois’ Musical Modernity
Noelle Morrissette, University of North Carolina, Greensboro (NC), James Weldon Johnson’s Soundscape of Modernity: Black Manhattan
Benjamin S. Glaser, Cornell University (NY), “They require(d) of us a song”: Psalm 137 and the Negro Renaissance
Carter Mathes, Rutgers University, Newark (NJ), Narrative Acoustics: “Free” Writing Black Consciousness
Towards a Sensual Politics: Nation, Race, and Sense Perception, Hilton Baltimore Peale B
CHAIR: Todd Carmody, University of California, Berkeley (CA)
PAPERS: Britt Rusert, Temple University (PA), Fugitive Senses: Race and Empiricism in the Early Republic
Erica Fretwell, Duke University (NC), Sensitive Citizenship, Passing, and Other Nervous Conditions
Patrick Jagoda, University of Chicago (IL), How Videogames Think
COMMENT: Nihad Farooq, Georgia Institute of Technology (GA)
4:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Folk, Pop, and Indie Rock: Race and Ethnicity in American Music, Hilton Baltimore Carroll B
CHAIR: Ulrich Adelt, University of Wyoming (WY)
PAPERS: Lorena Alvarado, University of California, Los Angeles (CA), Ambiguous Anthems: Narratives of the Immigrant Subject and Popular Music
Nicholas Francisco Centino, University of California, Santa Barbara (CA), Raza Rockabilly: Reclaimed Space, History, and Identity in Contemporary Los Angeles
Matthew Mace Barbee, Siena Heights University (MI), The Unseen Power of the Picket Fence: How Black Nationalism Created Indie Rock
Voicing a Riff: The Village Voice Music Section and Its Critical Legacy, Hilton Baltimore Johnson B
CHAIR: Eric Weisbard, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa (AL)
PANELISTS: Joshua Clover, University of California, Davis (CA), Ann Powers, Independent Scholar, Greg Tate, Independent Scholar, Eric Weisbard, University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa (AL)
12:00 pm – 1:45 pm
Nijah N. Cunningham, Columbia University (NY), Strident Light, Radiant Sound: Reparation and Redress in a Flyer for a Forsaken Life, Reparative Justice and the Failures of Government, Hilton Baltimore Brent
4:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Patricia Herrera, University of Richmond (VA), Sonic Memorials to Roberto Clemente, The Nuyorican Movement, Aesthetics, and Feminism, Hilton Baltimore Peale B
10:00 am – 11:45 am
Performative Black Christianity and the Logics of Religious Representation, Hilton Baltimore Holiday Ballroom 4
CHAIR: Daphne A. Brooks, Princeton University (NJ)
PAPERS: Ashon T. Crawley, Duke University (NC), Arthur, Crunch, and the Sound of Blackness in Baldwin’s Just Above My Head
Ronald Neal, Wake Forest University (NC), Spike Lee Can Go to Hell! Tyler Perry, Religion, and Southern Masculinity
Terrion L. Williamson, Michigan State University (MI), Juanita Bynum: Black Religiosity and the Making of a Good Christian Girl
COMMENT: Fred Moten, Duke University (NC)
Affective Histories, Critical Transformations: A Roundtable Discussion, Hilton Baltimore Latrobe
CHAIR: Jasbir K. Puar, Rutgers University, New Brunswick/Piscataway (NJ)
PANELISTS: Mel Y. Chen, University of California, Berkeley (CA), Dana Luciano, Georgetown University (DC), Robert McRuer, George Washington University (DC), Karen Tongson, University of Southern California (CA)
ASA Committee on Ethnic Studies I: Sounding Race, Hilton Baltimore Peale B
CHAIR: Herman S. Gray, University of California, Santa Cruz (CA)
PANELISTS: Deborah R. Vargas, University of California, Irvine (CA), Kirstie A. Dorr, University of California, San Diego (CA), Kevin Fellezs, Columbia University (NY), Dolores InÈs Casillas, University of California, Santa Barbara (CA), Herman S. Gray, University of California, Santa Cruz (CA)
12:00 pm – 1:45 pm
Musical Migrations, Political Transformations: Reassembling Caribbean Musics in the Post-War United States, Hilton Baltimore Johnson B
CHAIR: Brent Hayes Edwards, Columbia University (NY)
PAPERS: Alexandra Vazquez, Princeton University (NJ), Listening in the Cold War Years
Nadia Ellis, University of California, Berkeley (CA), From a Broken Bottle, Traces: Haunt and the Poetics of Diasporic Repair
Shane Vogel, Indiana University–Bloomington (IN), Madam Zajj and U.S. Steel: Duke Ellington’s Calypso Theatre
COMMENT: Brent Hayes Edwards, Columbia University (NY)
Transforming Scholarly Research in the Digital Age (Sponsored by the Digital Humanities Caucus), Hilton Baltimore Key Ballroom 09
CHAIR: Wendy Chun, Brown University (RI)
PANELISTS: A. Joan Saab, University of Rochester (NY), Gwendolyn DuBois Shaw, University of Pennsylvania (PA), Tara McPherson, University of Southern California (CA), Mark Williams, Dartmouth College (NH)
2:00 pm – 3:45 pm
The Musical Imaginary: Race, Class, and Authenticity, Hilton Baltimore Paca A
CHAIR: Aldon Lynn Nielsen, Pennsylvania State University, University Park Main Campus (PA)
PAPERS: William Fulton, City University of New York, Graduate School (NY), Re-inventing Authenticity: Big Brother and the Holding Company’s Cheap Thrills as Haight-Ashbury Counterculture Statement
Sonnet Retman, University of Washington, Seattle (WA), Muddy the Waters: Other Stories of Love and Theft in the Making of the Delta Blues
Elizabeth Yeager, University of Kansas (KS), “Find[ing] myself a city to live in”: Middle Class American Imagination and Phish Scene Identity
Jack Hamilton, Harvard University (MA), Being Good Isn’t Always Easy: Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield and Janis Joplin in the 1960s
COMMENT: Danielle Heard, University of California, Davis (CA)
2:00 pm – 3:45 pm
Daylanne English, Macalester College (MN), ArchAndroids and Their Antecedents: The Roots of Janelle Monae’s Afrofuturistic Post-human, Afrofuturism, Hilton Baltimore Peale A
4:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Marisol Negron, University of Massachusetts, Boston (MA), From Mambo to Hip Hop: (Re)Imagining ìNuyoricanî with HÈctor LaVoe and La Bruja, Imagining Latinidad and Citizenship in Popular Cultures, Hilton Baltimore Brent
8:00 am – 9:45 am
American Quarterly Theme Session I: Sound in American Studies, Hilton Baltimore Holiday Ballroom 5
CHAIR: Josh Kun, University of Southern California (CA)
PANELISTS: Kara Keeling, University of Southern California (CA), Asma Naeem, University of Maryland, College Park (MD), Dustin Tahmahkera, Southwestern University (TX), Roshanak Kheshti, University of California, San Diego (CA)
**Other scholars appearing in the issue are invited to attend and participate. Confirmed attendance as of this posting: Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman, SUNY Binghamton (NY), Gayle Wald, George Washington University (DC)
Sounds of Response in the Age of Communicative Capitalism, Hilton Baltimore Key Ballroom 07
CHAIR: Travis Jackson, University of Chicago (IL)
PAPERS: Ruby Tapia, Ohio State University, Columbus (OH), Sonic Architectures of Memory: Digital Re-mixes and Structured Mournings at the Virtual WTC
Barry Shank, Ohio State University, Columbus (OH), Imagination and Transformation in Alarm Will Sound’s 1969
Shana Redmond, University of Southern California (CA), Manifold Music: On Markets and the Limits of Racial Exchange
COMMENT: Travis Jackson, University of Chicago (IL)
Automation or Imagination? Aesthetics and Politics in the History of Electrical Communication, Hilton Baltimore Holiday Ballroom 4
CHAIR: Patricia Ticineto Clough, City University of New York, Queens College (NY)
PAPERS: Mara Mills, New York University (NY), The Politics of Reading Machines, 1912–1971
Drew Daniel, Johns Hopkins University (MD), What Is a Digital Sound Object?
Tara Rodgers, University of Maryland, College Park (MD), The Liveliness of Synthesized Sound: From Helmholtz and Darwin to the Cybernetic Imagination
Orit Halpern, New School University (NY), The Autonomous Eye: Cybernetics, Perception, and Bio-politics
COMMENT: Patricia Ticineto Clough, City University of New York, Queens College (NY)
10:00 am – 11:45 am
Musical Lives and Imaginaries in B’More and the Chocolate City, Hilton Baltimore Carroll B
CHAIR: Lester Kenyatta Spence, Johns Hopkins University (MD)
PAPERS: Natalie Hopkinson, Independent Scholar, Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City
Al Shipley, Independent Scholar, Tough Breaks: The Story of Baltimore Club Music
Gavin Mueller, George Mason University (VA), The Ecology of Go-Go’s Informal Markets
COMMENT: Lester Kenyatta Spence, Johns Hopkins University (MD)
2:00 pm – 3:45 pm
ASA Women’s Committee: Digital Displays: Women Imagining Blogospheres as Alternative Public Spheres, Hilton Baltimore Holiday Ballroom 4
CHAIR: Nicole Hodges Persley, University of Kansas (KS)
PAPERS: Tanya Golash-Boza, University of Kansas (KS), How Academics Can Benefit from Blogging and How to Get Started
Judy Lubin, Howard University (DC), Reframing Shirley Sherrod: Black Women Bloggers and the Intersection of Race, Class and Gender
Jamie Schmidt Wagman, Saint Louis University (MO), A Woman’s Sphere: The Pill, The Net, and What’s Next
Jennifer Stoever-Ackerman, State University of New York, Binghamton (NY), Sounding off about Sounding Out!: Emerging Scholars in an Emerging Field
COMMENT: Nicole Hodges Persley, University of Kansas (KS)
4:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Transforming Sound(s): A Reading and Discussion, Hilton Baltimore Tubman B
CHAIR: Jonathan Peter Moore, Duke University (NC)
PANELISTS: Mark McMorris, Georgetown University (DC), Nathaniel Mackey, Duke University (NC), Evie Shockley, Rutgers University, New Brunswick (NJ)
8:00 am – 9:45 am
Allison Perlman, New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJ), Regulating the Color Line: Univision, Spanish Language Broadcasting, and Latino Speech Rights, Regulation, Citizenship, and Communication Technologies,Hilton Baltimore Armistead
10:00 am – 11:45 am
Jason William Loviglio, University of Maryland, Baltimore County (MD), Radio Free Baltimore: Neoliberal Transformation on the Local Public Airwaves, Behind The Wire, Hilton Baltimore Holiday Ballroom 6
Fran McDonald, Duke University (NC), Supreme Laughter: The Reparative Function of Laughter in the American Courtroom, Humor Studies Caucus: Humor as Reparation and Representation, Hilton Baltimore Key Ballroom 09
Lerone Martin, Eden Theological Seminary (MO), Play It Again!: The Phonograph and the Re-imagination, Reparation, and Transformation of Black Protestantism, 1925–1941, The Arts of African American Faith: Social Transformation and the Black Religious Imagination, Hilton Baltimore Peale B
12:00 pm – 1:45 pm
Felicidad Bliss Cua Lim, University of California, Irvine (CA), Audible/Visible: Racialized Stardom and Language in Philippine Cinema, American Quarterly Theme Session III: Visuality and Race, Hilton Baltimore Holiday Ballroom 5
2:00 pm – 3:45 pm
Clare Corbould, Monash University, Australia, Performance and the Oral History of Slavery: The WPA Ex-Slave Narratives of the Interwar Years, Imagined Spaces and Reparative Performances: Constructing Public Memory in the Americas, Hilton Baltimore Johnson B
James Deutsch, Smithsonian Institution, Hark the Noisy Streets: The Nineteenth-Century Sounds of Baltimore, The City and Its Spaces, Hilton Baltimore Peale C
4:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Hishaam Aidi, Columbia University (NY), Hip Hop, Public Diplomacy and Indigenous Islam, Islamophobia: 10 Years after September 11, 2001, Hilton Baltimore Johnson A
8:00 am – 9:45 am
Business Meeting of the Science and Technology Caucus, Hilton Baltimore Chase
12:00 pm – 1:45 pm
Business Meeting of the Digital Humanities Caucus, Hilton Baltimore Stone
4:00 pm – 5:45 pm
Business Meeting of the ASA Women’s Committee, Hilton Baltimore Chase
ASA Sound Studies Caucus Meeting, Pratt Street Ale House, 206. W. Pratt Street, Baltimore, 21201
10:00 am – 11:45 am
The Golden Years: Fifties TV and Radio, Hilton Baltimore Key Ballroom 07
CHAIR: Candace Moore, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (MI)
PAPERS: Benjamin Min Han, New York University (NY), Cold War Talent: Ethnic Performers, Music, and Variety Shows in 50s America
Susan Murray, New York University (NY), Colortown: NBC’s Investment in Color, 1950–1959
Christina Abreu, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (MI), From the Bronx to I Love Lucy: Lived and Televised Latinidad at the Tropicana Club in the 1950s
Patrick Roberts, National-Louis University (IL), Soul Machine: Agency and the Art of the Gimmick on Chicago R&B Radio, 1955–1963
COMMENT: Joel Dinerstein, Tulane University (LA)
Reparative Warhol, Hilton Baltimore Peale A
CHAIR: Eric Lott, University of Virginia (VA)
PAPERS: Jonathan Flatley, Wayne State University (MI), Liking and Likeness: Across the Color Line in Warhol
Homay King, Bryn Mawr College (PA), Moving On: Andy Warhol and the Exploding Plastic Inevitable
Gustavus Stadler, Haverford College in Pennsylvania (PA), Andy’s Wife: Fidelity and Faith in Warhol’s Aural Practices
COMMENT: Eric Lott, University of Virginia (VA)
10:00 am – 11:45 am
Albert Sergio Laguna, Columbia College (IL), Listening to Change: Radio, Humor, and the Future of Cuban Miami, Humor Studies Caucus: Ethnic Humor: Pleasures and Problems, Hilton Baltimore Key Ballroom 10
10:00 am – 11:45 am
Grace Wang, University of California, Davis (CA), Tiger Moms and Music Moms: On “Asian” Parenting; and Tamar Barzel, Wellesley College (MA), …pater le Punkeoisie—No Wave’s Queer and Jewish Interventions into Punk Rock’s Semiotic Terrain, Disciplining Gendered Bodies: The Strategic Performance of Ethnic Identity in Musical, Literary, and Visual Culture, Hilton Baltimore Peale C