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Greetings! I hope you are all doing very well and ready for the meetings. We
would like to alert you to more activities connected to music and sound at the
First of all, please do not forget to attend our annual business meeting on Friday
November 16, from 12:15 to 1:30PM in Union Square 17&18.
In addition to the sessions and papers highlighted in September and October in
our monthly email, please note this paper on musical anthropologists by our
member Lila Ellen Gray:
“Sounded Empathies: Musical Anthropologies and the Challenge of Affect”
Lila Ellen Gray (Columbia University, Dept of Music) (Thursday November 15,
10:45 AM). On the panel: Researching Affect/Affecting Research: Empathy and
imagination in Anthropological Methods (Panel runs from 10:15am-12pm
November 15). Organizers: Yael Navaro-Yashin (University of Cambridge) and
Elizabeth Anne Davis (Princeton University)
San Francisco Dance Card
MSIG members Luis-Manuel Garcia and Ali Colleen Neff have gathered an
impressive list of music and sound events that will take place during the AAA
meetings in diverse venues throughout San Francisco. Please take a look at the
San Francisco Dance Card and select the events you would like to attend!
In addition, MSIG invites you to Sunday service at the Church of St. John Coltrane
on Sunday, November 18th, at 11:45 a.m at 1286 Fillmore St. This San Francisco
institution, founded in the Fillmore jazz district, follows an African Orthodox
theology and engages a process of “sound baptism” in its services. Church
members lead a series of improvised chants, sermons and instrumental
movements. Visitors are encouraged to bring instruments and voices to join in
an emergent musical chorus throughout the service. Archbishop Franzo King
and church members will be available to speak with AAA members after the
service, which ends between 2 and 3 p.m.. Brunch will follow. Donations to the
church are welcome. For more information, call MSIG organizer Ali Colleen Neff,
who will be present at the service, at 919-308-1072 or visit the church website
The fourth edition of Ethnographic Terminalia, “Audible Observatories,” will take
place in San Francisco from November 13 to November 16, 2012. The press
release for these events is attached to this message. For more information,
please visit Ethnographic Terminalia’s website:
Best regards and we look forward to seeing you in San Francisco,
Carla and Jerry
We have organized the following activities for our members at the AAA meetings in San Francisco:
First of all, please do not forget to participate in our annual business meeting. It will take
place on Friday November 15, from 12:15 to 1:30PM in Union Square 17&18.
In addition, there are several music- and sound-related panels at the AAA meetings! Some of
these panels are:
• LABORING CREATIVELY. Wednesday, November 14, 2012: 8:00 PM-9:45 PM.
Chairs: Aina Landsverk Hagen (Work Research Institute) and Leonore A Phillips
(University of Minnesota, Twin Cities)
• MUSIC, ART, NARRATIVE AND FICTION. Wednesday, November 14, 2012: 12:00
PM-1:45 PM. Chair: Sadiah Nynke Boonstra (Urije Universiteit)
• FROM LIGHT TO SOUND: EXPLORING PERCEPTIONS IN LANDSCAPE
AND SPATIAL STUDIES. Wednesday, November 14, 2012: 2:00 PM-3:45 PM. Chair: Kate
Galloway (Memorial University, Research Centre for the Study of Music, Media and Place)
• AUDIBLE OBSERVATORIES: CONTEMPORARY ART PRACTICES IN
CONVERSATION WITH ANTHROPOLOGIES OF VOICE AND SOUND.
Thursday, November 15, 2012: 8:00 AM-9:45 AM. Organizer and Chair: Stephanie Takaragawa
• AUDIBLE Observatories—Listening STATIONS (Inno-vents)
Friday, November 16, 2012: 5:00 PM-8:45 PM
Saturday, November 17, 2012: 11:00 AM-5:00 PM
Sunday, November 18, 2012: 12:00 PM-9:00 PM
Craig AR Campbell (The University of Texas at Austin – Department of Anthropology)
• THE POLITICS OF PARTY MUSIC: BAY AREA BEATS, RHYMES AND
DANCE. Friday, November 16, 2012: 8:00 AM-9:45 AM. Chair: Dawn-Elissa Fischer (San
Francisco State University)
• SOUND, MEMORY, AND SETTLEMENT OF NATURAL AND MANMADE
DISASTERS. Saturday, November 17, 2012: 10:15 AM-12:00 PM. Chair: Jennifer E.
McDowell (University of Pittsburgh)
• MUSIC, DIGITAL MATERIALITIES AND ETHNOGRAPHY. Saturday, November
17, 2012: 4:00 PM-5:45 PM. Organizers: Georgina E Born PhD (University of Oxford) and
Alexandrine Boudreault-Fournier (University of Victoria). Chair: Alexandrine Boudreault-
Fournier (University of Victoria)
There are also a very sizable number of individual papers that discuss music and sound
from diverse perspectives. We encourage you to peruse the preliminary program for more
information on those sessions. If a member of MSIG would like us to post information
about their session or paper on our website, or to send a general message to the list about it,
please let us know!
This year, we have organized a series of fascinating events outside the traditional AAA
venues. The MSIG will organize two interrelated initiatives to encourage AAA attendees
to engage more deeply with the sonic and music-social landscapes of San Francisco and the
Bay Area. First, we will be offering conference “dance cards,” a handy checklist of music
and dance events going on in SF during the time of the conference. We are working on
compiling the information for these cards, securing the funds to print them, and arranging
to have them included in the conference packets. Secondly, we will be inviting some of
the artists and promoters behind the events on the “dance cards” to join us for a panel or
brown-bag lunch somewhere close to the conference site. The precise theme for the panel
will be announced later, once we have confirmed the panelists, but the broader theme
consists of the pleasures and challenges of making musical nightlife happen in the Bay Area.
The organizers of these events are Luis-Manuel Garcia and Ali Colleen Neff.
For more information on these activities, please visit our webpage in October. We will also
send you an email with updates on the activities and venues connected to this event.
Volunteers to Create a Listserve
We are looking for volunteers interested in creating and running a listserve for MSIG.
Jerry and Carla are only able to send one message per month to the MSIG membership.
Clearly, this limits our possibilities for extended communication, and we hope to remedy this
limitation with a listserve.
If you are interested in contributing to MSIG in this matter, please do let us know!
Our new MSIG-SEM Liaison
As of last month, David Novak has been officially appointed the MSIG-SEM liaison.
He replaces John Chernoff, with whom he has been working closely to maximize our
effectiveness within SEM. David’s email is [email protected]
Looking for Candidates for MSIG Co-convener
Carla will end her term as MSIG convener at the end of the AAA meetings in San Francisco.
At the business meeting, Jerry will become the MSIG convener, and we will appoint a new
co-convener. At this point, we invite any MSIG member to apply for the position of co-
If you are interested in being considered for this position, please send us a short email
message with a short paragraph indicating your research projects as well as the reasons for
Liminality & Borderlands
International Association for the Study of Popular Music, US Branch
2013 Annual Conference
Austin, Texas, February 28 – March 3, 2013
Crossover stars, vampires and zombies, gender-bending divas and divos, international sensations who truck cultural ideas across borders: popular music and culture are full of performers and characters who move through and effectively occupy zones of “in-betweenness,” carrying signifiers of more than one identity at a time while fully embodying none. In light of the many pop culture projects that inhabit these less-definite stations and/or spread across and blur boundaries, the 2013 IASPM-US Conference in Austin, TX, will explore the ideas of liminality & borderlands in popular music, focusing on those things (artists, genres, textures, developments, etc.) that are “neither” and “both” at the same time.
Whereas liminality’s temporal underpinnings index as a processual transition betwixt what has been and what is yet to come, the notion of borderlands (exemplified by the work of Gloria Anzaldúa) attends to the dynamic and tangible spaces that exist between binaries and geographies. Both concepts challenge norms by unsettling accepted practices and conventions, but can also serve as bases for disenfranchisement, preventing groups from forming the sort of cohesive, affirmative identities that emerge from traditions and shared histories. In-betweenness can function as a position of emancipatory release or an intermediate zone of structured initiation. Thus, depending on one’s experience, both the process and state of straddling border(s) may be characterized primarily by either lack or abundance. The 2013 IASPM-US conference will consider a variety of the possible motivations and ramifications of liminality and existing at the borderlands. The following ideas represent topics that may be explored at the conference, but we anticipate and encourage many more approaches to liminality & borderlands and will consider any topic on popular music for inclusion on the program:
Inter-mediate(d) Identities: As performers and audiences seek out unique experiences of music, they often find themselves at the border of many different genre distinctions without fully belonging to any one. Some musicians, like MIA, play at international boundaries, existing in many spaces at once while risking being misunderstood. Still others—Lady Gaga, Elvis Presley, LMFAO—work with racial and gender signifiers that suspend them between traditionally constructed groups, expanding both their mobility and their vulnerability. In what ways do musicians and listeners construct multiple, overlapping identities through popular music? How are these identities critiqued, ratified, or sometimes even created by the mainstream? How do the political, aesthetic, and commercial aspects of music performance intersect in material ways that are lived out in and on the body?
Emergent Performances: As a form of expression, music performance is necessarily liminal, with intention and interpretation always dynamically moving among all participants in a communicative web. Through performance, artists are transformed and audiences lose themselves in the spatial and temporal liminality it engenders. How do we understand performance as on the one hand multivalent and on the other nascent? How can we study popular music as an emergent practice? And what does it sound like when framed this way? What are the unique roles that listeners and performers play in the in-between spaces of performance? When musicians discuss their performances, do they tend to understand what they’re doing more as emergent or fixed? What roles are played by technology to encourage us to understand music as either emergent or fixed?
Methodologies and Pedagogies in Progress:Popular music studies is a relatively new field, and its boundaries and practices are in constant negotiation. When considering liminality & borderlands in popular music, it seems helpful to also think about the “in-betweenness” of popular music in the academy and in public discourse. How does our experience of popular music translate in our methodologies and teaching? How does popular music studies interact with its border disciplines in the academy? How do scholars navigate the boundary between “popular” and “classical,” and how do popular and classical music studies inform one another? As a nascent discipline, should popular music studies seek definitive methodologies or choose instead to remain at the borderlands?
Pastiche and Layered Meanings:One hallmark of postmodern style is pastiche, and popular music—from mashup artists to singers who incorporate unexpected genre markers in their music—includes a variety of instances of stylistic agglomeration and intertextual reference, resulting in sounds that reside at the borders of music genre-fication without fitting neatly into any particular category. This sort of liminality represents a move away from clear definition toward blurrier boundaries. Practices like signifyin(g) also upset the notion of definitively grasping music by allowing many different possible interpretations at once. What do we make of music that chooses ambiguity as its own end? How do we account for multiple meanings and interpretations afforded by liminal practices of signification? How do we fit our understanding of this sort of “in-betweenness” into the postmodern critiques of pastiche and capital?
Industry at the Crossroads:Popular music has long been tied to the demands and needs of the marketplace, with various entertainment industries influencing the ways music has been produced, distributed, mediated, and consumed. In past decades, for example, corporate conglomerates have helped define the accepted boundaries and practices of musical genres and subgenres, styles and substyles. While participants and observers have long contested these borders (and their perceived dominance), they have recently become increasingly porous and fractured as new technologies and business models emerge. How do musicians, mediators, and listeners navigate these new in-between spaces of production and consumption? In what ways might participants strategically seek liminal spaces or borderlands for their commercial musicking? How do we relate these new market realities to previous narratives that often assumed a monolithic, undifferentiated popular music mainstream?
* * *
The United States branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music is situated on the cutting edge of popular music studies and has remained an important part of the popular music landscape since the early 1980s. Over the years, our Annual Conference has nurtured stimulating intellectual, professional, and musical exchanges, not to mention countless scholarly collaborations and partnerships. We are excited to carry this tradition into our 2013 conference, hosted by the Butler School of Music at the University of Texas, in the beautiful and immanently musical city of Austin.
This year’s conference program committee includes Anthony Kwame Harrison (Virginia Tech), Justin D Burton (Rider), Kevin Fellezs (Columbia), Elias Krell (Northwestern), Andrew Mall (DePaul), Katherine Meizel (Bowling Green), Karl Hagstrom Miller (University of Texas), and Ali Colleen Neff (University of North Carolina).
Deadline for proposals is Thursday, November 1. Please submit proposals to [email protected]. Individual presenters should submit a paper title, 250-word abstract, and author information including full name, institutional affiliation, email address and a one-page c.v. Panel proposals, specifying either 90 minutes (three presenters) or 120 (four), should include both 125-word overview and 250-word individual proposals (plus author information), or 250-word overview and 50-word bios (plus email addresses and vitae) for roundtable discussions. Please send abstracts and vitae as separate MSWord attachments. All conference participants must be registered IASMP-US members. For membership information visit: http://iaspm-us.net/
See you in Austin!
We would like to extend an invitation to participate in a brief survey that we are conducting. The purpose of this survey is to learn more about your work, why you joined MSIG, what you expect from your MSIG membership, and how you think MSIG might best serve your needs in the future. We greatly appreciate your input and feedback as we continue growing as a group. Please submit your responses by no later than Friday April 27, 2012. You can start the survey now by clicking this link:
When you think about where you live, what sounds come to mind? In Washington, D.C., the sound might be the click of a camera shutter made by tourists. But what about your city?
- Kids splashing in a pool?
- Train whistles?
- A pick-up basketball game at the neighborhood court?
- The clatter of pots and pans at your favorite restaurant?
- Construction equipment?
- Crickets chirping in the early evening?
The NPR Cities Project is seeking out the sounds you hear every day that make where you live unique. Your sound could air on All Things Considered or the brand-new TED Radio Hour, or become part of a multimedia interactive.
To submit, follow instructions here:
As part of the curatorial collective of Ethnographic Terminalia, Stephanie Takaragawa Craig Campbell are taking lead curation roles, focusing the exhibition around sound. The hope is to have multiple sites of engagement for the audience because in part, these exhibitions are also intended to get the anthropologists OUT of the convention hotels and into the cities. One of the constellation projects they are interested in doing for San Francisco would be to organize site-specific QR Tags and geocaching, which would provide unique opportunities for engagement with and experience of sound projects by anthropologists. They are interested in partnering with the Music and Sound Interest group to create sound walks or soundscapes for the AAA 2012 meeting.
Please see the current working draft of their statement for this year below. Please contact Dr. Carla Montero if you are interested in participating – [email protected]
Ethnographic Terminalia :: 2012 :: San Francisco
Ethnographic Terminalia is a curatorial collective dedicated to exploring the borderlands between contemporary art and academic research. For three years Ethnographic Terminalia has mounted travelling exhibitions (from Philadelphia, to New Orleans, and most recently Montréal). We are now preparing an exhibition for the Pacific Coast at the end of 2012 in San Francisco. This exhibition is titled Audible Observatories.
The curators for Audible Observatories make a playful connection between research-based art and place-bound exhibition in order to animate a curatorial vision that foregrounds audio-centric art works within a broader rubric of site-specificity. We conceptualize the audible observatory as either a mobile or a stationary site of perception which is sensible to others just as it is a place from which sensing the world happens. The relationship between listening and being heard is central to the audible observatory; it is meant to be a relentlessly self-reflexive site of communicaiton that makes location-specificity a central aspect in its aesthetic.
Audible observatories are points of sensory convergence. They are nodes where worlds perceived through the senses intersect and begin the labour of transforming independent events into knowable and meaningful claims. They speak and they are spoken to. Audible Observatories as an exhibition brings together works that draw attention to both the situation and the agency of the observer.
Humans as audible observatories are understood as relational beings: both observing and creating the world (where observation is tied to creation and creation is tied to observation; they are two sides of the same coin). Audible Observatories are things that both hear and can be heard. They sense the world and are sensed by it.
The model observatory in 19th century science was invisible and inaudible. A new model was proposed in the 20th century. One where the labours of hiding the observatory are exchanged for a more self-reflexive and critical position. If old observatories produced knowledge through non-interventionist observation we propose a new model observatory that is mobile, self-aware, and a little bit nervous.
Audible Observatories is currently searching for a single gallery or pop-up gallery space to act as a hub for our operations. The location would ideally be within walking distance of Union Square but not farther than two or three miles. The principle behind ET is to host a small constellation of exhibitions and events parasitical to the meetings of the American Anthropological Association. The logic of this format is to interface between the professional meetings (which will bring upwards of five thousand visitors to San Francisco) and local art, community, and museum scenes. Outside of the main gallery-hub, Audible Observatories
will remediate the cityscape by mapping a virtual exhibition over-top of the city itself. Through site-specific installations, mobile galleries, QR tags, and Geocaches, we will draw the exhibition both out of the gallery and off of the internet in a unique constellation of events that resolutely places this show in San Francisco.
We are currently working with sound artist John Wynne (www.sensitivebrigade.com) and Steve Feld (music.unm.edu/faculty_staff/
Welcome to the online home of the Music and Sound Interest Group of the American Anthropological Association. Please direct discussions and news postings to the forum.