Towards a Typology of Vocal Personae

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Towards a Typology of Vocal Personae

Philip Tagg

Université de Montréal

Stream: Songs of Desire
After fifteen years of running popular music analysis seminars, often for students with no formal music training, it has gradually become possible to formulate ways of designating musical structure without using "musicological mystification", or, as I usually put it, "without having to know what a diminished seventh is". Nowhere is the tendency more clear than in expressions students use to phenomenologically label aspects of vocal expression, for example, to mention a few of the more colorful terms in alphabetical order: "acrobatic princess", "angry young man", "bedside gigolo", "bitch", "confidante", "death dog" (or "hound of hell"), "dolly bird", "good little girl", "harpie", "hicupping teenager", "lager lout", "nice young man", "realist raconteur" and "suicidal student". These and other recurrent vocal persona descriptors will be exemplified and discussed. Problems of teaching this part of popular music analysis and of creating a coherent terminology for these aspects of musical expression will be addressed. Notwithdtanding, the democratic necessity of finding adequate user-friendly descriptors for such phenomena, so tangibly central to most vocal performance since the invention of the coil microphone, will be advocated with considerable vigour.

Geoff Stahl

Victoria University of Wellington

In the creative life of the contemporary city, the relationship between cultural production and economic renewal has fostered new discourses of the self as well as new patterns of belonging. Often understood by some as an ideal(ized) neo-liberal space, the contemporary city presents those involved in creative milieux--its artists, cultural entrepreneurs and others--with a new range of possibilities and attendant problems that are bound up in situations which are increasingly precarious. This has been construed as symptomatic of a culture which valorizes risk as a work mode, a way of life, a necessary response to the casualization of the labour and changing definitions of work and the workplace, the withering away of tradition and its binding mechanisms, a hallmark of the post-social, the aestheticization of everyday life, etc. Whether it is called “soft capitalism,” or “fluid modernity,” the situation is one in which the gravity of another economic regime has been occulted to make way for one that is supposedly “gentler,” “kinder,” “lighter.”
This paper addresses the unbearably lightness of “being urban” by considering a number of issues concerning artists in Berlin, particularly musicians, examinging the central role that Club Transmediale, plays in their networking activity and supplements strategies for survival in a fragile and fraught urban context. Beginning with a short vignette of one musical performance, it is meant to work out the relationship between humour and play, what Erving Goffman has called the “unserious nature” of the game, as attitudes and behaviours which are a necessary part of making sense of the New Berlin. The way in which this festival, now six years old, also contributes to the image of Berlin as a creative city is also scrutinized, as it raises concerns about how the notion of a creative city can be framed according to different interests which pose it as a problematic to which cultural activity might then orient itself towards and against.

Communicating the Collective Imagination: The Socio-Spatial World of the Mexican Sonidero

Cathy Ragland

Esther Boyer College of Music and Dance, Temple University

Stream(s): Nation, Region City AND Technology & Industry


Among Mexican immigrant workers, the sonidero (DJ) emerges as a subversive and powerful figure in facilitating and framing individual agency within new social spaces, blurring boundaries that once defined "home" and "abroad." This paper considers the role of the sonidero in mediating connections between immigrants in New York and New Jersey and sending communities in Mexico. At weekend social dances in clubs and bingo halls -- featuring light shows, sound manipulation, and cumbia music -- sonideros talk constantly over the mix, reciting poetic shout-outs written on the spot by (mostly) undocumented and documented youth. CDs of each sonidero's set are duplicated and later mailed to Mexico. In the social dance space, the sonidero serves simultaneously as entertainer, as a vehicle for communication between distant parties, and as a quasi-heroic figure traveling the same migrant paths as many in his audience. Since most sonideros and attendees are from the southern state of Puebla, references to local villages are capriciously located in NY boroughs. Likewise, regional and national identities are equally "mixed-up" (i.e. "Puebla York" or "Manhatitlan"). Simultaneously in Mexico, dances are held in outdoor plazas (often financed by immigrants from the same villages), where residents of all ages compose shout-outs that are mailed to the US. In the sonidero-mediated social dance space, the exploitation of technology evokes a newly constructed social life in both the US and Mexico that is built on a shifting of location, sounds, and images. It disrupts borders, displacement, and marginality and bypasses the mainstream political economy of music and global markets.

Hearing as a Contact Sense

Anahid Kassabian

University of Liverpool

Stream: Songs of Desire/Popular Unpopular Musics
In this paper, I explore the possibility of thinking of hearing, and therefore music, as a contact experience. Beginning from the growing tactile experience of music that comes with high-volume sub-bass mixing, I argue that new musicology, based as it is in semiotics and narratology, cannot account for film, videogame, club and other musics that rely on sub-bass and surround sound technologies. Instead, a haptics of music, drawing on the work of such theorists as Deleuze and Guattari and more directly Brian Massumi and Laura Marks, might offer new theoretical paradigms for not only the study of these musics, but of music more generally.

Lyrics, Tunes, Arrangements: Putting A Song Together In A Tense Way

Silvio Augusto Merhy

Universidade Federal do Estado do Rio de Janeiro – Unirio

Stream: Popular and Unpopular Musics
Records have made easier to think over a musical issue as a document, not exclusively as esthetic object. Through song recordings it’s possible to decompose, recompose, analyze, extract components, etc., and most of all consider them as belonging to a vast social net. Putting together lyrics, tunes and arrangements transform into a question the task of classifying genres. Musical arrangements, as a kind of song frame, can displace the former sense of the combination lyrics/tune. Recorded songs of Tom Jobim and Vinicius de Moraes, namely “O morro não tem vez”, disclose contradictions and tensions in what is called Bossa Nova and make it a permanent question.
Letras, melodias, arranjos das canções populares – componentes em tensão.
O registro fonográfico tornou mais fácil que se pense a análise de uma produção musical como documento, não só como objeto de apreciação estética. O gravação de canções populares permite decompor, recompor, analisar, destacar partes, etc., e sobretudo pensá-las como objeto pertencente a uma rede social de amplitudes quase infinitas. O resultado da combinação da letra, melodia e arranjo transforma em questão a classificação dos gêneros. O arranjo musical, suporte musical da canção, pode deslocar e colocar em tensão a produção de sentido do conjunto letra e melodia. Alguns dos registros das canções compostas por Tom Jobim, como “O morro não tem vez”, revelam contrastes e tensões que tornam o que se classificou como Bossa Nova uma questão permanente.

The Monterey International Pop Festival (1967): Visions of Peace, Love, and


Charles Gower Price

West Chester University of Pennsylvania

Stream: Performance
The First Annual Monterey Pop Music Festival was the earliest significant rock festival, and it is well documented in D. A. Pennebaker’s short film Monterey Pop. Historically in the shadow of the larger Woodstock Festival of 1969 and Michael Wadleigh’s 1970 documentary film Woodstock, in many ways the Monterey event is a truer expression of the hippy sensibility of Northern California’s “summer of love,” and Pennebaker’s film provides consistently better musical performances. In contrast to rural upstate New York, Monterey was a venue well prepared to host such an event—albeit for a smaller audience. Thirty-one acts performed, with San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York bands well represented. Unlike Woodstock, soul music was part of the mix.
Both the audience and the participants—melding together in ways not possible at Woodstock two years later in 1969—were peacefully celebrating the anti-Vietnam War movement, open drug use, hippy fashion statements and sexual freedom credos of the blossoming counter culture of San Francisco that were being heard about around the world. Representing the U.K. were Eric Burdon, The Who, and The Jimi Hendrix Experience, and world artists with performances by Hugh Masakela and Ravi Shankar. A significant outcome was that major American record companies eager to cash in on the new psychedelic rock quickly signed up Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Electric Flag and The Who.

Maybe The Music Industry Has Gone “Crazy? Probably…”: A Discussion On The Internationally Acclaimed DJ and Producer, Danger Mouse, and His Contribution To The Re-Configuration of The Industry of Today and The Future.

Sharadai Rambarran

University of Salford


Stream: Technology and Industry

Keywords: Technology, authorship, industry, consumption, copyright
The blurred distinction between the Adornian spheres of music has gradually strengthened over the last few decades. A current contributor to the developments is Danger Mouse (Brian Burton).in 2004, with the aid of digital sampling, he ingeniously blended the Beatles’ The White Album and Jay-Z’s Black Album and called it The Grey Album. Danger Mouse was notoriously handed a cease and desist order by EMI for not asking for copyright permission. Ironically in 2005, he worked for EMI to produce the Gorillaz’s second album Demon Days. The first single from that album made the top chart position that was based mainly on the purchasing of downloads. in 2006, Danger Mouse had his status acknowledged again with the band Gnarls Barkley. The track ‘Crazy’ was instantly a number one hit (UK) which was achieved entirely through downloads a week before the actual release of the single.
This paper will focus on the authorship, copyright, ownership and musicological issues of the Grey Album. It will also explore how his other works have made an impact on the audience through technological consumption, such as the Internet (e.g. ITunes). This will raise questions about the industry such as: Are certain established industry structures now in decline? Have unrelated sources of the music industry (e.g. websites such as ‘My’) replaced its tools with the consequence that musicians and producers like Danger Mouse now have control of them? and, who will be in control of recognising creative music in the future, the industry or us?

The Performance of the Fado Singer: From Oral Tradition to Media

Heloísa de A. Duarte Valente

Instituto de Artes (Unesp) São Paulo, Brasil

Intended Stream: Songs of Desire

Keywords: song; mouvance; nomadism; performance; fado; semiotic analysis
Carrying on an investigation in which I develop the idea of “media song”, that is, the kind of song that is associated with electronic technology, I will describe, in this paper, how an old tradition like the fado song has been converted into another modality of song, after being absorbed by media (recordings, TV shows, radio programs). in observing this unique genre, I will focus on some aspects of song performance, specially: 1) the role of the microphone in the changes in performance tradition and conception: the microphone made possible a new way of singing (e.g., the "soft" crooners, in the 30’s), in opposition to the previous operatic models (e.g., Enrico Caruso). On the radio, this “soft voices” converted unknown bodies into lovely imaginary idols; 2) the very importance of record as a means of learning the way of “styling” (“estilar”) the melody phrasing and ornamentation: if in the times of Marceneiro versification and improvisation presupposed the model of oral tradition, nowadays, the singers of “New Fado” (“Fado Novo”) declare to have learnt fado performance listening to domestic records, Amália Rodrigues’ ones, in particular. Considering fado as a privileged example of “nomadic” genre, I will found my analysis on the concepts of “mouvance”, by Paul Zumthor and “territorialized/ nomadic” musical genres, by Ramón Pelinski

Stepping in Cyberspace: Salsa Dance and the Hypertext

Sheenagh Pietrobruno

Fatih University


Stream: Technology and Industry

Keywords: Salsa Dance, Hypertexts, Standardization, Diversification, Orality
Popular dance practices that were once only disseminated through lived oral communication are presently being transmitted to the globe in the form of hypertexts. Popular “street” style salsa, for instance, has most notably been transmitted through the minds, bodies and memories of dancers: this style has generally not been recorded in texts or notation. Having developed through lived oral contexts outside of textually- regulated rules and codes, the “street” style is consequently characterized by a myriad of evolving styles rather than a fixed denoted standard. Until the rising popular use of the Internet ( about 2000), the “street” style or styles had not been standardized through written regulations as are the Latin American dances of the ballroom tradition. This paper examines if the dissemination of salsa in hypertexts leads to an increased standardization or whether the renewed orality of the Internet furthers the diversification of forms that resembles the development of cultural diversity of lived oral contexts. This analysis draws from a virtual ethnography of various popular salsa dance sites.

A Consequence of Popular Choice in Turkish Popular Music; Phrygian Mode

Songul Karahasanoglu Ata

Istanbul Technical University, Turkish Music State Conservatory


Stream: Songs of Desire

Keywords: Turkish Popular Music, Phrygian mode, Kürdi maqam, social transformation.
Popular music has been greatly affected by the richness of traditional music in Turkey. This effect can easily be seen in their maqams, rhythms and styles. When we look at the properties of contemporary pop-music scales from the beginning of the 1980s, the Phrygian mode, which is frequently used in Spanish music and also among many countries of the Mediterranean, started to be used in Turkish pop music and it remains very popular until this day. The Phrygian mode is the same as the kürdi maqam, which is one of the basic maqams of traditional Turkish music. However it does not carry other maqam characteristics.

There are several reasons for the increasing use of the Phrygian mode. Firstly its structure gives it an oriental sound which is familiar to Turkish listeners. Secondly it can harmonize with a major scale. Also the increased popularity of the Spanish guitar (and thus the melodic sequences typically used there on) has influenced the choice of scales.

in this presentation, the characteristics of the Phrygian mode and the Kürdi maqam will be introduced and compared. Examples of such works will be given and with the aid of audio materials, it will be shown why this mode has been so embraced by the public and composers alike; how it is used; how it is harmonized and how it became so popular.

Learning for Fame: Performing Gender and Sexuality on Television

Hillevi Ganetz

Centre for Gender Research, Uppsala University

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