Panel 1 – Deanna Davis: Chair
Crushing the New World Order at Full Industrial Strength
Industrial music has had a long connection with extremist and radical politics. While many of the scene’s progenitors exploited political imagery as a shock tactic, later artists adopted explicit ideological positions and frequently critiqued representatives of power. While wedding music with political activism was hardly innovative, the use of sound samples that came to characterize the genre afforded industrial musicians a unique opportunity to adopt the actual recorded voice of the enemy—and subvert it.
My presentation will examine the usage of political imagery and sound samples in the experimental industrial of the 1970s and early 80s (Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire) as well as in some of the more significant subgenres that developed out of it, including industrial metal (Ministry, KMFDM) and electronic body music (Skinny Puppy, Front 242). I will also explore how the ambiguous treatment of fascism and totalitarianism, combined with the frequently ironic usage of sound samples, has blunted the progressive edge of industrial music’s modernist critique of the mainstream.
Adolf Bernhard Marx: Form, Idee, and Metaphor
Although the early nineteenth-century music theorist A. B. Marx is generally known as the founder of the German Formenlehre, he was also an active writer, music critic, and supporter of Beethoven. In his writings on compositional pedagogy, he focused a great deal of attention on formal analyses of the musical structure, yet, in his role as a music critic, he rarely engaged in such analyses, instead employing a pictorial, programatic, and metaphorical approach, that was common throughout the nineteenth century. While superficially oppositional, these two approaches often point to the same underlying features, the dynamics of motion and rest that underly both Marx’s theory of form and metaphorical descriptions of music. As a demonstration, a Marxian formal analysis of Mendelssohn’s Hebrides overture is compared with a short metaphorical description of the same piece.
Construction and Performance of Afro-Pop: a case of Habib Koite and Thomas Mapfumo
This paper discusses the mediation between Western popular music and African traditional styles. I discuss the role of balafon and mbira in the music of Mali’s Habib Koite and Thomas Mapfumo of Zimbabwe. Drawing from my attendance at their shows, observing performance styles, and documentary analysis I investigated the effect of these instruments in electric bands. Mapfumo’s music is modeled around the mbira whereas Koite imitates traditional ngoni sounds with guitar and uses the balafon to surrogate his music. These two musicians are representative of a large pool of African musicians in Afro-pop who are hybridizing music styles.
Koite and Mapfumo have crossed musical borderlands seducing crowds in Africa and other parts of the world making it more transnational. Their fan base is culturally mixed and is searching for new music. To satisfy this desire these musicians mediate African and Western popular music to come up with Afro-pop. Further Koite and Mapfumo are driven by political doctrines such as cultural policies that are an effort to promote cultural property, instruments and traditional music. Their cosmopolitan audiences are driven by curiosity and spiritual connection in listening to African music. Habib Koite and Thomas Mapfumo have both toured Vancouver, Victoria, Calgary and Seattle between March 2008 and May 2009 and attracted mixed audiences.
Panel 2 – Andi Eng: Chair
The pallors of hands of neighbourly faces (performance)
One of the difficulties of writing acoustic music with an electroacoustic component is creating a meaningful interaction between performer and electronics. Generally, electronics fall under one of two categories: either a recording is played with the performers having to synchronize through various means; or the performers are processed in real-time, the control over which is either programmed ahead of time or left up to an off-stage technician.
This piece explores a newer kind of interaction, whereby the motions of the performer allow for tangible control over the electronic component. A webcam is placed onstage in front of the singer, which relays motion data to a Max/MSP/Jitter. That data is then utilized to control various parameters of signal processing. The notation consists of a graphic text outlining only pitch—all other parameters are left up to the performer. The idea is that the singer uses the electronic processing to help realize some of the shapes suggested by the graphic text.
The piano, unprocessed, provides the backdrop for the singer’s explorations. In each of the three movements, the piano plays a repeated figure of a slightly different character. Though none of the movements develop or waiver from their respective character, the pianist is given some freedom so that the figure changes subtly, with no exact repetitions. The text is taken from an instructional article on how to write proper programme notes. This text, however, has been chopped up and reassembled using computer software, so that each sentence has only a vague resemblance to any real meaning.
The White Void of Unpeopled and Unlimitable Space (performance)
Through my compositional training I have discovered that as hard as I try, I cannot escape my earlier obsessions: early 90’s death metal and horror/sci-fi novels. The work The White Void of Unpeopled and Unlimitable Space was conceived as a collage of the two artists that I feel best represent these genres: the band Entombed (Swedish Grindcore), and novelist H.P. Lovecraft (sci-fi/horror novelist of the late 19th/early 20th century).
The piece itself is divided into seven discreet sections that coincide with the form of the original story Ex Oblivion. For each new section, a change of texture and notation is created creating a collage feel that resembles the original poetry. The story itself is from the first person’s perspective, moving from a disgust at the waking world, a yearning to stay in the dream world, a movement into the dream world, and finally to a drug induced exploration of the dream world.
The melodic material has been taken from the band Entombed taken and rearranged to suit my own purposes. The rhythmic nature of Death Metal has been retained and explored to create a chaotic and delirious sound as the character dwells deeper into his dream world of insanity.
Music and War: An Insider’s Perspective
Members of the U.S. military make great sacrifices during their career, evidenced no more clearly than when separated from loved ones while deployed overseas. This philosophical essay discusses sacrifice within the sacrifice of deployment, when the free engagement with music is categorically placed in abeyance. Its context is the operational cycle of Navy ships, and it describes the significance of deployment and war drills during this two-year period. Its real focus, however, is the systematic employment of what Foucault termed “bio-power” over sailors, forcing them routinely to place their musical selves in suspension. As a former naval officer and current student, I base this argument on critical theory and five years of personal military observation.
The essay begins with a discussion of the momentary psychological effects of this bio power, since its long-term implications are beyond the scope of this paper. It examines the place of music in the daily lives of sailors, including both quotidian duties and off-duty time, and it pays special attention to moments when ships enter their highest state of readiness, military decorum is strictly enforced, and musical behavior is suppressed. Preparedness to receive orders demands silence; only secret resistances produce music in these moments. This proposition sharply diverges from our current impressions of extremely loud music as weapon. (What of silent, suspended musicality?) And yet, this paper concludes by attempting to relate silence with torturously loud music under a common suspension of self, enforced in the pursuit of good order and discipline.
Deanna C. Davis
The Politics of Conviviality
A critical and contextual reading of Nina d’Aubigny von Engelbrunner Briefe an Natalie über den Gesang, als Beförderung der häuslichen Glückseligkeit und des geselligen Vergnügens (1803) provides a unique insight into the gendered construction of music and domesticity in early 19th-century Germany. Once highly respected, d’Aubigny’s book both situates the role and status of the female amateur musician with rare precision and subtly advocates its reordering.
Ostensibly addressed to the maternal educator—a figure central to cultural discourse about female nature—d’Aubigny deploys inherent ambiguities in ideologies of motherhood to reshape the amateur singer. While maintaining the traditional view that women’s amateur musicianship helped maintain “domestic joy” and acknowledging maternity as the natural outcome women’s life cycle, d’Aubigny simultaneously argues for roles and activities that defy these social functions and reorganizes the female subject position.
Drawing attention to women’s deprived music training, d’Aubigny attacks pervasive objections to serious music study for women. By asserting the physical benefits and moralizing effects of singing, she advances music education as vital to the family and the cultivation of the German citizens. Still, the instruction outlined situates, at best, uncomfortably with normative views of women’s social function and their capacity for Bildung. Inattention to early childhood music education and the unfolding of advanced music education suggest subversive undercurrents: the amateur singer becomes a musical steward whose “noble” singing “lead[s] and cultivate[s] the taste of the multitude.” D’Aubigny’s reorganization of the amateur singer, then, expresses a feminist vision of advanced music education and stakes a claim for women’s participation in serious music culture.
Panel 3 – Dan Brophy: Chair
The relationship between the system of major chords and tonality and the system of minor chords and tonality is arguably the central problem facing tonal music theory. By the end of 19th century, two types of theoretical systems emerged as the most prominent: scale-based theories and harmonic dualist theories. Scale-based theories regard the minor system as a transformation of the major system, which has its roots in natural laws. Harmonic dualist theories view major and minor systems as equally derivable from natural principles and claims that major and minor theories are structural mirrors, or duals. Harmonic dualism attained its greatest significance in 19th century Germany through the theoretical work of Moritz Hauptmann (1792-1868), Arthur von Oettingen (1836-1920) and Hugo Riemann (1849-1919). The Austrian music theorist and pedagogue, Robert Mayrhofer (1963-1935) built upon and extended harmonic dualist theories, eventually publishing three treatises on harmony during the early 20th century. Mayrhofer was particularly interested in devising a theoretical system that would be adept at describing the highly chromatic music of contemporary composers such as Wagner and believed that existing theories- both scale-based and to a certain extent, harmonic dualist theories, to be inadequate. Mayrhofer addressed the problematic aspects of “conventional” harmonic theories in theoretical aspects such as chord and interval classification to develop an original musical system built on the structural power of the interval of the major third. This paper provides an overview of Mayrhofer’s theoretical system as well as an analytical application to the orchestral prelude of Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder.
Tradition and Agency at the Miramichi Folksong Festival
For over 50 years the Miramichi Folksong Festival in northeast New Brunswick has provided a context for the performance of local musical culture such as the Miramichi’s own unique ballad singing tradition. Using historical and ethnographic data I trace a small group of songs from the time they were first recorded by New Brunswick historian and folklorist Louise Manny in late 1947 to the most recent festival. By way of scrutinizing a specific and well-documented local example I shed light on how traditions operate through time and examine the alternately creative and editorial roles of the many individuals who have developed the tradition. In doing so, I highlight the means by which musical traditions are constructed intersubjectively over time as opposed to having developed “naturally” or passively.
Panel 4 – Colin Labadie: Chair
Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now”: Disco, Rock and the Counterculture in the 1970’s
Abstract: In many histories of post-World War II popular music, disco and related dance styles are cast as examples of mindless consumerism, hedonist abandon and material excess. Rock music, by contrast, is frequently idealized for its putatively counter-cultural stance, its working-class populism, and its construction of “meaningful” rebellion. I argue that that the emergence of disco in New York in the 1970s was in fact a countercultural phenomenon; the dance clubs that were instrumental to disco’s emergence functioned as “safe spaces” for largely gay, black, and Latino men (women in disco, straight or gay, acted largely as symbolic surrogates and icons for gay men) to negotiate identities that were marginalized and repressed within mainstream American culture. In such contexts, heterosexuals and whites were accepted, even welcomed, but a straight white identity was no longer dominant or normative as in the wider society. In fact, it could be argued that the disco subculture more fully embodied the progressive social ideals and supposed egalitarianism of the 1960s rock counterculture than did rock (even in its anti-authoritarian “punk” guise) after 1970. Furthermore, disco’s apparent conflation of production and consumption, its reliance upon multiple layers of technological mediation and its inextricable link to the physical space of the dance floor all challenged the received assumptions of rock ideology. Having established that the disco movement was, at least initially, “countercultural” in nature, I intend to explore the social, aesthetic, and ideological reasons why it is rarely apprehended as such.
Sounds of the Rainbow: Skittles Candy and the Singing Rabbit
*** note: Andi’s abstract is a video. You can find it at: http://www.xtranormal.com/watch/6009455
The Silk Road Project, founded by cellist Yo-Yo Ma in 1998, takes artistic inspiration from the trade routes that traversed Asia beginning two millennia ago. I will examine how the cultural legacy of these trade routes is realized in modern music performance and educational contexts. Online videos, recordings and discussions of various performances are a means for understanding the Silk Road Project’s presentation of multicultural music. Furthermore, these presentations act as a medium for the dissemination of this historic legacy in the form of modern musical values. Intercultural cooperation is balanced with claims to authenticity of tradition amidst a performance context focused upon Ma’s cello playing.
Panel 5 – Sandra Joy: Chair
Watch Me Unravel, I’ll Soon Be Naked
One can find nearly anything on YouTube. Anything, that is, except pornography. How, then, do we account for the abundance of videos, claiming to be—or to contain—“porn,” “vintage erotica,” or “stag footage”? In this paper I investigate the appropriation of a particular phrase, “stag film,” by YouTube videographers, and the essential role sound and music play in the process. I argue that strategic uses of sound have facilitated the development of a YouTube-specific genre of “stag film,” furnishing aural clues necessary for viewer/listener cognition, and for the construction of new meaning(s), provided by “vintage” soundtracks. Furthermore, I contend that this newly-defined genre, while admittedly fluid and changing, is also tightly bound up with issues concerning censorship. My analysis will include a close reading of two “YouTube stag films,” with particular attention given to sound, in order to highlight the new genre in action.
YouTube videographers post “stag films” for a variety of reasons. But, as I will demonstrate, their videos are invariably shaped by legal constraints and, for some, by the desire to capitalize on the curiosity of their audience. YouTube censorship rules make it difficult for actual stag film footage to be uploaded, both forcing and allowing videographers to take artistic liberties. And since the phrase “stag film” is an enticing “tag” for viewers, it assists in promoting products, websites, and other videos. Thus, housed within promises of titillation are marketing agendas. “Stag film,” taken from the dimly-lit backroom where it once lived, is given a new, legitimate life, in advertising.
Hexagonal (Facets 1-6
Language is a stereophonic sound structure composed for seven vocalists (none of whom are using their vocal cords).
Hexagonal (Facets 1-6) is a stereophonic sound structure composed entirely of sounds produced by an electric guitar.
A Case of Irreconcilable Differences? Noise & Flute Music
Traditional repertoire choices for flute performance may appear to be far from the realm of noise music, but are they irreconcilable with the concept? Should art just reflect the beautiful or both the dark and the light, a life in completeness? This paper delves into the relationship developed between the flute and noise in music. Avant-garde composers of the 1970-80s did not view the use of noise in flute music as a case of irreconcilable differences. Rather their utilization of noise has allowed flute repertoire to reflect both the beautiful and disturbing sides of life more completely. An examination of Thom David Mason’s 1975 work Thoughts and Denis Gougeon’s 1988 work L’Oiseau Blessé demonstrates the incorporation of noise in solo flute repertoire and the subsequent results.
*** note: there’s no abstract for Ben’s piece, as his abstract was the mp3 that will be played. Here’s a brief note about the piece:
This is a didactic piece about sound. Each person should lie on the floor in a comfortable
position, with some part of their clothing or body touching the adjacent listener(s). Press play, and lie down.
Panel 6 – Cari Friesen: Chair (awaiting confirmation)
Pianism is the combination of piano technique and sound artistry. Composers exploring new piano sounds and expressions in the twentieth century influenced pianism and opened up a wide aural macrocosm. This influence can be discussed as extension and departure from conventional pianism: extended pianism. Extended pianism is defined by new physical and conceptual elements. Conventional physical elements are posture, muscle development and control, visual keyboard orientation, and physiological conditioning. Extended physical aspects include awkward or unnatural positions at the piano, re-learning conventional skills, control of different muscles, visual orientation to the piano interior, and aural skill development for non-pianistic sounds and altered pitch. Conceptual elements are the creative and intellectual aspects of interpreting music. Conceptual extensions include free-interpretation, intuitive performing (improvisation), exploring new styles of sound-artistry, interpreting composers’ unconventional instructions, and expanding expressive boundaries. Together, the physical and conceptual form the multi-dimensionality of extended pianism. This lecture presents one dimension of extended pianism–the piano interior–with demonstrations from “Dans le crepuscule du souvenir…cinq pièces pour piano” composed in 1989 by Canadian composer Brian Cherney.
A series of sound sketches and impressions inspired by the city of Venice, its lagoon and its traditions. The listener embarks on a journey through a series of “sound frames” of an imaginary and electro-acoustically reinterpreted Venice. These sketches represent an attempt to build musical material from one of the world’s most unique urban soundscapes. Sound is seen a central aspect in experiencing Venice. And it is not simply the water element but also a generally low noise floor, a magic spaciousness that sounds gain as they scatter across the lagoon, the inherent spatiality of bell sounds from the city’s hundred-plus bell towers, the footsteps, the musicality of the local language and the international contaminations, boat horns, reverberant stone churches, the polychoral music of the Renaissance and much more…
Most of the materials are derived from original field recordings taken in Venice with a budget field recorder between 2007 and 2008. For these I have experimented with the idea of finding and deriving musically expressive motifs and patterns out of the raw field materials. Other sections, most notably the last one, starting at 6’00″, are reinterpretations of the Venetian soundscape recreated in the studio (a boat’s horn and bells in this section).
Fabricating Soundscapes: An Exercise in Militant Sound Investigation
In a militant sound investigation, we take time to organize the social ﬁeld to be recorded. Social ﬁeld + organizing = soundscape. The organization of the social ﬁeld demands that we listen in desire and that we listen beyond the echoes of our need.
_Ultra-Red_ Some Theses on Militant Sound Investigation
The soundscape is a deliberate organization of social space that is subject to control and
interpretation; a cultural form that is fictionalized and narratable; an ambiguous and contradictory idea that is always changing and variable. It is an aesthetic process of devices and tactics that can express radical material, auditory, and political practices. In analyzing sound this way, I am interested in the fleeting and ephemeral techniques that are enacted by auditory artistic interventions. This points to a fundamental belief that artistic practice can structure spatial experience. The performance of this piece will enact the organization of the social field through a live recording of the ambience in the room, the manipulation of that ambience, and its playback to the audience. The point of this exercise will not be to answer any questions or come to any conclusions but to remember what it is like to listen and to hear and to engage with one another as a community of listeners cognizant of the contradictions and desires that sound investigation can reveal.