The Online Program of events for the 2022 AMS-SEM-SMT Joint Annual Meeting appears below. This program is subject to change. The final program will be published in early November.
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A Southern Politics of Place
Time: 10/Nov/2022: 2:15pm-3:45pm · Location: St. Charles Ballroom
Sounding Quare Country: Aesthetics, Mobility, and Community Politics of Queer Appalachian Musicians
The Ohio State University
In 2019, numerous journalists marked the arrival of queer musicians in country music. Many articles narrated this moment through the careers of nationally visible and commercially successful musicians (Orville Peck, Brandi Carlile, Lil Nas X) or metropolitan musical activists (Karen Pittelman). However, these narratives overlook the unique aesthetics and career trajectories of non-metropolitan queer musicians throughout the United States who contributed to queer country’s emergence during the 2010s.
This paper examines how the music and careers of contemporary queer Appalachian musicians Sam Gleaves, Amythyst Kiah, and Adeem the Artist intersect with “queer country” in the 2010s. Drawing from scholarship on “queer sincerity” (Goldin-Perschbacher, 2015/2022), I use “quare” as a lens to understand how these artists construct personally and regionally meaningful queer narratives and aesthetics. A traditional term connoting strangeness in Appalachian and Black southern culture, “quare” has contemporary utility as a subtly transgressive storytelling technique (Matthew Thomas-Reid, 2020) and an intersectional strategy of resistance for LGBT people of color rooted in vernacular traditions (E. Patrick Johnson, 2001).
Comparing Amythyst Kiah and Sam Gleaves’s albums in the 2010s, I argue that each uses quareness to create aesthetics that (dis)identify with normative conceptions of Appalachian culture. Gleaves’s “Fabulachian” performance style (dis)identifies with Appalachian masculinity by incorporating vocal influences from female Appalachian singers and by queering identities latent in regional labor culture and intergenerational kinship networks. Amythyst Kiah‘s “Southern Gothic” aesthetic (dis)identifies with Appalachian and Southern femininity through ambiguous pronouns and narratives that contest patriarchal and heteronormative tropes.
Analyzing touring, journalism, and media appearances, I argue that both use these strategies to navigate regional authenticity and operate within multiple musical networks. Gleaves’s performances allow him to speak authoritatively as a sincere Appalachian insider in local contexts and connect to queer and feminist musical activism. Kiah’s performances recuperate Afro-diasporic influence in Appalachian music through repertoire, instrumentation, and style to contest whitewashed regional cultural histories and connect to queer and Black feminist organizing in Country and Americana music industries. I conclude with an ethnographic anecdote from Adeem the Artist’s album release party to consider how queer country mobilizes intersectional queer community and activism in Appalachia.
Grooving Political Discontent
Time: 11/Nov/2022: 9:00am-10:30am · Location: Marlborough A/B
Sununu: Contesting Refugee Representations through Music in the Third Space
The Ohio State University
In 2014, Palestinian-Syrian refugee Aeham Ahmad played his piano amid the rubble in the Yarmouk camp in Damascus. A photo and video of his performance circulated online, and the German media dubbed him “the pianist in the rubble.” Ahmad fled to Germany in 2015 and has since developed a personal musical practice he calls oriental jazz. Through free jazz improvisation, he creatively mixes elements of Western popular and classical music with traditional Arabic melodies and performance practices. Nevertheless, German media neglect his music and fixate on his status as a refugee by reprinting the image and nickname. This persistent representation of Ahmad enables Germans to see him as an ideal refugee worthy of Germany’s humanitarian aid; yet it also marginalizes his music and his critiques of the media’s essentialist representations of refugees and European border practices.
To amplify Ahmad’s musical practice, I consider the album he created with French-German jazz singer Nora Benamara, called Sununu, as operating in what Homi Bhabha theorized as the third space. Ahmad and Benamara open an intercultural third space by mixing musical styles to protest geopolitical and musical border practices. The metaphor of the swallow–or sununu in colloquial Arabic–as a free migrant highlights the sununu’s natural, free migration across the Mediterranean and imagines human migration outside of European conventions, laws, and politics. The album’s lyrics call attention to the effects of border practices on human mobility by telling stories of different people’s experiences of borders. Ahmad and Benamara set the lyrics to a blend of Western and Arabic modes, melodic ornamentation, and vocal performance practices, thereby challenging territorialized music classifications and essentialized notions of Arab refugees’ musical practices. I focus on how their song “Ich Komme von Dort” (“I Am from There”) draws on Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish’s poem of the same name to contest Europe’s treatment of refugees as Others, as well as European migration policies that deny Palestinian refugees a national identity. Examining Sununu in the third space reveals how music in the context of forced migration is a significant site for re-imagining human mobility across geopolitical and musical borders.
Time: 11/Nov/2022: 1:45pm-3:45pm · Location: Camp
Pushing Back: Political and Aesthetic Divisions in American Hardcore Punk Moshing
The Ohio State University
In a 1998 issue of Maximumrocknroll, contributor Mimi Thi Nguyen proclaims that “’whitestraightboy’ hegemony organizes punk.” 25 years later, this statement remains true of most hardcore in the United States. Yet, self-proclaimed Black and/or queer hardcore bands vehemently push back against the subcultural dominance of white heterosexual masculinity and carve out a space for marginalized voices in the scene. As this paper will demonstrate, the divide between emergent identity-focused political hardcore and more widespread, white-male-dominated hardcore extends beyond the presence or lack of explicitly stated activist orientations: an aesthetic distinction exists between the two spheres. Through musical and movement analysis, I argue that divisions in American hardcore punk hinge on the prominence of mosh parts in hardcore music. Hardcore’s signature “mosh parts,” also known as two-step parts, are bridges within the genre’s usually ninety-second songs during which the rhythm slows and becomes heavier, driving concertgoers to embody its angry call. Moshers singularly traverse the open pit, aggressively windmill their arms, kick-stomp the ground, and whip their fists in a violent mobilization of autonomy. These sections are significantly less frequent in show sets by identity politics-focused hardcore bands, and accordingly, the style of moshing by the crowds at these shows shifts. Hardcore dancing’s trademark individualist windmilling, elbow-throwing, and roundhouse kicks, no longer rhythmically supported, are replaced with collectivist crowd-surfing and push moshing. I identify the values embedded in these two distinctive embodied vocabularies to argue that it is not the scene’s verbal discourse, but rather its embodied one that actively enforces or challenges whitestraightboy hegemony. I prove first, that the individualist moshing within white male-dominated scenes is a manifestation of racialized and gendered stratification that, when materialized, alienates community members who identify as Black, LGBTQ+, non-male, and/or people of color. Second, I demonstrate that the act of making space in the mosh pit for people of these marginalized identities is itself an agent of social transformation. In doing so, I suggest that language alone does not enact social or cultural change. Rather, it is music and movement that effectively mobilize ideology, and thus offer possibilities for redressing social inequalities.
New Analytical Perspectives on Hip-Hop, EDM, and Post-Millennial Pop
Time: 11/Nov/2022: 2:15pm-5:30pm · Location: St. James Ballroom
Squelching, Wobbling, and Whirring: Short Continuous Processes in Electronic Dance Music
The Ohio State University
Electronic dance music (EDM) features many motions that emphasize the electronic aspect of their creation through continuous changes in pitch, volume, speed, and/or timbre. For example, “Space Junk” by Wolfgang Gartner features melodies ornamented with numerous pitch scoops and falls. Despite growing scholarly interest in EDM, analytical scholarship has not described the functions of these short motions in detail. This presentation contends that such motions can be classified as short “continuous processes” (Smith 2021), and that they are an important part of how EDM creators communicate with audiences. Specifically, short continuous processes can function as 1) embellishments or “effects” that demonstrate creativity, 2) metrical cues that orient or disorient listeners to or from the prevailing meter, 3) signals of genre belonging such as the “squelch” effects in acid house and the “bass wobble” in dubstep, and 4) indicators of authorial voice, distinguishing different versions or performances of works.
The presentation uses various methods to visualize short continuous processes, including transcriptions, line graphs, spectrograms, and DAW representations. Transcriptions in staff notation are insufficient for representing motions created with automation curves or “continuous controllers” such as knobs and sliders (Butler 2014, 71). For example, in Dennis Ferrer’s remix of “Fly Away” by Damian Lazarus & The Ancient Moons, one sound layer begins the breakdown section by accelerating then decelerating, which will be visually represented in multiple ways. This remix, unlike the original mix, is described as an “electro house” track, and the presentation discusses some of the continuous processes and timbres that help the remix fit within that genre. Electro house is known for its intense risers and drops, as well as “grinding and whirring” bass lines (Reynolds 2013, 784).
Live video performances will also be discussed, such as one by DJ Honey Dijon that demonstrates how she uses continuous processes to generate a sense of liveness and distinguish her performance from the original tracks. This and other examples in the presentation show how short continuous processes are a significant part of how EDM creators communicate musical meaning, especially in genres that are perceived as being more overtly electronic than others.
|Squelching, Wobbling, and Whirring-Smith_Handout.pdf|
Art, Healing, and Voice in Sub-Saharan African Music
Time: 11/Nov/2022: 4:00pm-5:30pm · Location: Magazine
The Musical Art of a Cinematic Griot
The Ohio State University,
“For us, music is alive,” Dani Kouyaté tells me. “Music speaks. It speaks without the words of speech.” Kouyaté and I are pondering the nature, meaning, and expressive qualities of sound in his work as a filmmaker and jeli—a Mande (West African) bard, social mediator, and storyteller. For Kouyaté, questions of identity and musicality are as important as they are irreducible, and always intertwined. In his films, modes of identification and musical expression conspire to tell stories. Narrative emerges at the intersection of existential and aesthetic concerns, manifest in speech, song, and sound. Music, like storytelling, resonates at multiple levels, Kouyaté explains, at once “useful” (utile) and “pointless” (futile), and always feelingful. Utility lies in the “interest” (intérêt) an act of expressive culture assumes, in the meanings that interested audiences perceive. Futility affirms that moments of musicking or storytelling have no need of “meaning” (sens) to be significant. Feeling inhabits both modes, the utile and the futile, as an “affecting presence” (Armstrong 1971), investing storied sounds with what Barry Shank might call “force” (2014)—that which makes art, in Kouyaté’s terms, “vital” (vivant).
In this paper, I reflect on Dani Kouyaté’s musical worldview, as a fundamental element of his cultural heritage, an integral facet of his filmmaking, and a vital component of his humanism. This essay is part of a broader biographical study of Kouyaté’s life, work, and philosophy as a “cinematic griot” (Stoller 1992). Drawing on musical case studies selected from Kouyaté’s acclaimed filmography, spanning three decades of work, this paper dialogically reflects on the social and aesthetic vitality of sound in his filmic oeuvre, as a “living” audiovisuality that animates his storytelling. In this context, the paper asks: How and to what extent does onscreen musicality evoke Kouyaté’s status and identity as a griot in Mande society? When do cinematic soundscapes take leave of such strict modes of identification to signal what Ashon Crawley (2016) calls “otherwise possibilities” of human experience? What expressive means does the griot-filmmaker employ to sonify a scene? And what do such audiovisual productions tell us about narrative, affect, and the human condition?
Economies of Sound and Power
Time: 11/Nov/2022: 4:00pm-5:30pm · Location: Grand Ballroom A
Entrepreneurial State: The Impact of the South Korean Government on Musical Diversity of K-pop
Ohio State University,
Korean popular music, and K-pop in particular, has been discussed in many disciplines as an example of cultural globalization and transnationalism. Whereas scholars focus mainly on fandom, media, idol culture, and the industry to figure out why and how K-pop has become a cultural field drawing people in from across the world, the question of how the Korean government’s cultural policies influence and shape K-pop as a musical genre has yet to be explored extensively. But in fact, the South Korean government has had a huge impact on K-pop’s global popularity as it manages globalization as a national project. The government actively utilizes K-pop as a form of soft power in its attempt to promote a favorable image of South Korea as a nation, as well as manage the field to maintain global attention toward K-pop. This paper aims to demonstrate that the government’s promotion of cultural output contributes not only to K-pop's globalization, but also to its musical diversification. On the one hand, the government supports K-pop dance festivals, in conjunction with local governments and embassies, aiming for global fans’ participation. On the other hand, the government’s cultural organ, Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA), supports non-dance-oriented musicians such as a synth-pop group ADOY, gugak-oriented group Sangjaru, and electronic band Idiotape to appeal to diverse musical tastes of a rapidly globalizing audience already attuned to K-pop as a musical brand of a sort. In this paper, I explore how the government accelerates K-pop’s globalization as an entrepreneurial state and how the cultural nationalism of the 21st-century affects K-pop’s musical diversity.
Layers and Stratification
Time: 12/Nov/2022: 10:45am-12:15pm · Location: Ascot/Newberry
Roll Call: Investigating the Role of Drumline in Drum Corps
Ohio State University
This paper explores texture in drumline music and describes the various roles the drumline serves in a drum corps ensemble. My analyses illustrate how the instrumentation of the drumline can change quickly between sections of music or even within one phrase, resulting in a dynamic texture. This flexibility allows the drumline to perform multiple functions in the larger ensemble. By demonstrating the interplay of texture and function in drumline music, I posit that our perception of musical organization and tension in this style is better facilitated.
Music in marching band, drum corps, drumline, and color guard has largely been underrepresented in music theory despite its prevalence in high school and college music education. While there has recently been an increased focus on topics related to these marching arts, theoretical analyses of the music itself have been uncommon. The analytical method used here adapts White’s (2001) functional categories of texture in concert band percussion music. I situate this taxonomy in the context of marching percussion to understand the various functions of the drumline in drum corps. While this research is novel, previous research has explored the role of percussion in other musical styles.
For example, in rock and jazz music, the drumset is commonly understood to provide time using a backbeat, but can also mark formal boundaries, provide emphasis to certain rhythms, and converse with other musicians’ melodic lines. Because the style of drumming in drum corps is quite distinct from these genres, I argue the role of the drumline in facilitating musical texture is unique as well. My analysis of four recent drum corps productions demonstrates how the instrumentation of the drumline allows for multiple textures and functions in the full drum corps ensemble. I further illustrate the fluid nature of these textures and functions that contribute to varying levels of musical tension. This research not only communicates textual and functional interpretations of drumline music, but more importantly helps build academic discourse around this idiosyncratic and understudied musical activity.
Time: 13/Nov/2022: 9:00am-10:30am · Location: Ascot/Newberry
Vox de Machina: Vocal Significations from the Mechanical to the Technological
The Ohio State University
In this paper, I examine diachronic changes associated with timbral profiles as they pertain to the mechanical voice across different time-periods and musical styles. Through a survey of select works ranging from the late nineteenth century until the present day, I argue that the implementation of the mechanical voice has changed as a result of technological and societal attitudes, which are then reflected in the timbral profile. To accomplish this, I incorporate Lavengood’s (2017) approach to timbral analysis, as well as Heidemann’s (2016) work on vocal timbre. Additionally, the analyzed timbral developments will be framed within Monelle’s (2000) representations of the iconic, indexical, and topical.
Through the chronological presentation of the following works, developments in timbral profiles and narrative associations become quite clear. The “Doll Song'' from Jacques Offenbach’s opera, Les contes d’Hoffmann (1881), features the iconic representation of an automaton, a rich but noisy timbral profile, and the treatment of the voice as an object of curiosity. Max Brand’s opera, Machinist Hopkins (1929), evokes an indexical representation of anxiety via the use of a Sprechstimme “machine choir,” which is further heightened with intertextual connections to Arnold Schoenberg’s Pierrot Lunaire. Laurie Anderson’s use of the vocoder in “O Superman” (1981) demonstrates a type of topical synthesis between the human voice and technology, captured best via the timbral augmentation of her voice. The song “The 2nd Law: Unsustainable” (2012), by the English rock band Muse, demonstrates how multiple mechanical voice timbre profiles can be used to convey a musical narrative through their temporal layering and interaction. Lastly, as while the previous repertoire has been uniquely human in its conception, SYGGE’s “Cold Song” (2018) presents a work that was created through the collaboration of a human and artificial intelligence system, inching closer towards making “the voice of the machine” quite literal. In addition to tracking these timbral and narrative changes chronologically, it becomes clear how this process relates to the societal and technological developments of their respective time periods, shedding light on a symbiotic relationship that can be observed in the creation of distinct vocal timbral profiles.
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