Conference Agenda

RN07_02: Sociology of Culture: Music
Wednesday, 21/Aug/2019:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Rita Ribeiro, University of Minho
Location: GM.335
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Geoffrey Manton, Third Floor 4 Rosamond Street West Off Oxford Road


Afrobeat Music: How to Re-think Belonging and Political Action

Antonietta De Feo1, Anna Lisa Tota2

1Roma Tre University, Italy; 2Roma Tre University, Italy

In the last decades music is probably the aesthetic language around which a great variety of perspectives has been explored. Among these, music sociology has focused on the way music performs a constitutive action, in other words on the crucial elements that enable individuals to experience the reality and the social relations. Here, the emphasis is on the practical dimension of culture, how culture works in its socio-material aspects. Tia DeNora has been at the forefront of a new research agenda, where music is conceived as an artefact with its own agency and its ability to exert power. More precisely, music can act as a technology of the self, enabling subjects to act and to think of themselves in particular ways. This standpoint can be very useful to further investigate questions of collective belonging and the relationship between identity and community.

Within this research direction, our contribution analyses music as a form of political participation and as an identity claim. Through the historical case study of Fela Anikulapo Kuti’s afrobeat music we analyse how music helps us to consider political discourses as material and operational. In this respect, we not only consider the lyrics, but also and especially the rhythm, the sounds, and the performances with which Fela Kuti shapes the strategies of political resistance to military authoritarianism and Western neo-colonialism.

From Musical And Culinary Orders To Orders Of Sounds And Flavours

Isabelle Darmon

University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

In music and cuisine, specific instruments, works, or dishes have been the ‘carriers’ of particular styles, movements, regions, generations and epochs. Weber famously hailed the piano as carrier of the Bourgeois turn of Western music, whilst in Antonin Careme’s system, Béchamel became a key carrier of modern French cuisine. Indeed music and cuisine can be defined as compositional arts (even when sonic matter ceases to be the chief material used by composers as pointed out by G Douglas Barrett), which makes individual sounds and flavours unlikely carriers of their logics.

Yet a series of 20th and 21st century artistic, industrial and technological ruptures have led to the conception and design of sounds and flavours, as quasi autonomous units, as ‘forms of reference’ (Lehmann 2011). This paper proposes a mapping of some of the key 20th century movements (musique concrete, electronic music, sound studies, molecular gastronomy, slow food), as well as technological and industrial developments, that shaped sound and flavour into autonomous physical, acoustic, acousmatic, and chemical beings, and even ‘micro-worlds’ of their own (Boehmer 2004, Berenstein 2018, Ulloa 2018). The purpose of such mapping is to sketch out the autonomisation logics at play, and to put forward the analysis of contemporary orderings of sounds and flavours as a cultural sociological task.

The Concept of “Popular Culture” in Brazil and the Indie Rock Scene in Fortaleza

Pedro Martins Menezes

University of Porto, Portugal

The concept of “Popular Culture” is the object of an endless dispute in Brazil. The idea of “Brazilian popular culture” has been frequently confused with the very definition of “Brazil” itself. Thus, the debates regarding the definitions of this notion are as ancient as the European discovery of the country. If we intend to organize, according to weberian ideal types, the various acceptations the term “popular culture” has acquired throughout the Brazilian intellectual history, we will likely find the following picture: “Traditional-popular”, understood as the folkloric cultural inventory we inherited from the past. The “miscegenated-popular”, which would be the result of African, European and indigenous hybridizations. “Enlightened-popular”, the culture of a non-ideologically engaged working class, capable of expressing its political demands. “Massified-popular”, synonym of majority, the production of the cultural industry that provides its symbolic goods to a population regarded as consumers. “Poor-popular”, the inventory of senses shared by economically unprivileged social classes. “Populist-popular”, an image of the people, forged by an authoritarian and nationalist State. “Erudite-popular”, an allegedly polite and sophisticated version (or appropriation) of the signs of nationality consumed by the educated Brazilian middle class. Using the history of this theoretical debate to enlighten interviews I’ve conducted, this research deals with the indie rock scene of Fortaleza – a very regionalistic Brazilian metropolis, marked by a local tradition of which rock music is not a representative element – and intends to grasp the roles and usages of this typology in that community. That is, would indie rock music be “popular culture” in Fortaleza? If so, according to which definition? What does “popular culture” mean to the indie rock scene in Fortaleza?

The Construct 'Popular Music' Institutionalised: The Creation Of The IASPM

Xavier Villanueva Capella

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

The IASPM (International Association for the Study of Popular Music) was created in 1981 by a group of academics from various disciplines and by professionals from different music environments with the aim of deepen in the study of so-called popular music. Taking into account that the academic review ‘Popular Music’ was also born in 1981, we can consider this year as a step stone in the institutionalisation of ‘Popular Music Studies’ (Cloonan, 2005). But what are the causes that originated its institutionalisation? Which is the role of the agents involved? What are the implications of its use as an academic category? Popular Music Studies and popular music are labels originated by social constrictions and not by purely musical arguments (Martí, 1990). This research wants to analyse the precise conditions in which IASPM was born through the study of the pioneers who made it possible and through the ideational and structural conditionings which shaped it. The goal here is double: to provide a critical history of the association and to understand the role of the construct popular music through the process of its institutionalisation. Related archives are going to be analysed as well as secondary analysis of documents and 15 in deep interviews are going to be done. Our preliminary results are that these social constrictions will allow the understanding of popular music construct as a cultural setting and its idiosyncrasy as a knowledge category.