Domagoj Kučinić: Pavao Markovac and “Worker’s Music”: not for concert halls, but for meetings and trips

Pavao Markovac was a musicologist, publicist, critic, political agitator, organizer, and a prominent member of the so-called Croatian left intelligentsia between the two World Wars. His extremely rich political and artistic work within the labor movement regularly, however, remained outside the narrow focus of scholarly debates. To illustrate, Nataša Leverić Špoljarić in the text “Pavao Markovac (1903–1941) – a musical enlightener between two world wars (on the 80th anniversary of his death)” (sic!) almost completely bypasses this part of his work, citing it only as a biographical episode, while other aspects of his work are elaborated in more detail. The reasons for omitting this key aspect still wait to be investigated, but it would not seem wrong to attribute them to historical revisionism, which casts a shadow on many fields and many depictions of left-wing artists and cultural workers of the interwar period. In different encyclopedic entries about Markovac there is only a remark that he wrote about music from a Marxist perspective, which does not show the width, complexity and intertwining of his journalistic, political and artistic work, based on the Marxist tradition. This text does not pretend to completely fill this gap, but to re-initiate the debate introduced by Markovac himself, which is, in short, on Marxist interpretations of music, its production, reception and, finally, it’s role in the society.

Continue reading “Domagoj Kučinić: Pavao Markovac and “Worker’s Music”: not for concert halls, but for meetings and trips”

Mojca Kovačič – Creating Atmospheric Coherence through Commemorative Rituals, Singing Partisan Songs, and Rehearsed Affect

The journal Narodna umjetnost has published an article by Mojca Kovačič entitled Creating Atmospheric Coherence through Commemorative Rituals, Singing Partisan Songs, and Rehearsed Affect ( The article presents aspects of affective atmospheres in the context of commemorating the events of the Second World War in post-socialist Slovenia. Particular emphasis is placed on the role of partisan songs in establishing relations between the past and the present, discussed with specific reference to commemorative events and the experiences of singers in a rural choir. Individual narratives revealed the internal dynamics of each singer’s experience while singing partisan songs, as well as the role that collective memory, the past, history, politics, and personal narratives play in that experience. The singers’ experiences also provide the basis for questioning the concepts of coherence within the theory of affective atmospheres.

Martin Pogačar – A microphone in a chandelier: How a secret recording sparks mnemonic imagination and affect

Memory Studies published a paper »A microphone in a chandelier: How a secret recording sparks mnemonic imagination and affect« by Martin Pogačar. The article examines a recording of an old Slovenian choral song made in 1941 during the Fascist occupation. Pogačar analyses the recording as a temporal object that drives affective mnemohistories; modulates individual and collective experiences, expectations and interpretations; and induces mnemonic imagination. He furthermore discusses the song’s historical background, its technical history, and compares its affective force in live performances and in mediated experiences in YouTube. The investigation of the song as a temporal object that engenders variegated, multilayered engagements with the past contributes to the debates on the study of music and memory, and the history of media technologies in the context of post-socialist memory.

American Musicological Society Annual Meeting, Virtual, 11–12 and 20–21 November 2022

Panel: Feeling Powerful – Sonics, Politics, and Affective Regimes

The physical aspects of music and sound, or “vibrational practice,” in Nina Sun Eidsheim’s terms (2015), rely on physical experience contextualized and eliciting an affective response. By revisiting definitions of “power” (Walser 1993), in which power comes from feelings of controlling sound, this panel suggests how shared physical experience may be differently felt and contextualized in the realms of affect theory (Hofman 2015, Massumi 2016) and sound studies (Cusick 2006, Daughtry 2015, Tausig 2019) with an emphasis on the transformational affective potential of sonic embodiment (Eidsheim 2015, Hofman 2020, Cox 2016). 

Each case study investigates the varied ways in which the vibrational-acoustic qualities of voice create types of social engagement that exist on heightened emotive terrain. Across each case study, we link cultural responses to “affective regimes,” defined broadly as the often overlapping and sometimes contradictory logics of capital, technological development, urban space, and governance that inform the sounded dimensions of contemporary social life (Mankekar and Gupta 2016; Navaro 2019). Considering affective regimes as a means of analysis enables us to foreground “the corporeal body whose bodily processes are being reshaped by the logics of capital and technology, in short, not just the laboring body but the feeling body” (Mankekar and Gupta 2016, 38). Imagining a scaffold of affective regimes guided by spatial acoustic and embodied sonic practices, case studies in varied contexts – extremist politics in Metal music; affective curation in professional choral performance; and the use of found acoustics in chant-driven protest  show how sound can overwhelm, subvert, and channel power through controlling emotional guidelines and embodied experience. These papers suggest an expanded definition of “power” that affords new ways to theorize physical experience as connected to political kineticism via physicality and affective drive. Moreover, this scholarship explores the tenuous distinctions between beingpowerful and feeling powerful in consideration of the overlapping and sometimes contradictory logics of capital, technological development, urban space, and governance that inform the sounded dimensions of contemporary social life.

Eugenia Siegel Conte, University of California, Santa Barbara
Max Z. Jack, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin 
Jillian Fischer, University of California, Santa Barbara
Ana Hofman, Research Centre of Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts 

Society for Ethnomusicology, 66th Annual Meeting, Virtual, 28–31 October 2021

Panel Abstract: Complicating “Affective Labor” in Ethnomusicology 

Ethnomusicologists, increasingly interested in both affects and forms of musical work, use the term “affective labor” to denote the feelingful dimension of what musicians produce, whether or not they’re paid. Work on “affective” or “immaterial” labor argues that the production of subjectivities, particularly through the consumption of cultural products like music, is key to neoliberal socio-economic organization, where wages are gained through affective performance. This panel offers a productive critique of “affective labor” and the concepts it rests upon. Specifically, in setting affective labor as a unique form of work, the term suggests a division between labor that involves thought and feeling, and labor that involves “only” bodies, reproducing problematic conceptions of culture as “immaterial.” Moreover, the term muddies the ability to discuss the relation between acts which produce feelings as part of social meaning, and those which (also) produce profit. Each of these papers addresses the relations between affect, labor, and wage. The first examines musical and personal narratives about Punjabi truck drivers’ work ethics and disaffection, which reveal how patterns of circulation of material goods determine patterns of affect; the second focuses on musical leisure as a conceptual framework that questions the affective labor paradigm in the post-socialist context; and the third examines Brazilian Spotify contractors whose ability to curate branded playlists arose from their long involvement in unpaid, yet densely affective music production. The total panel, including a discussant, offers what we hope is a critical extension of an exciting new arena of ethnomusicological research. 


Ana Hofman, Research Centre of Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts
Back to Leisure: Labour, Class and Everyday Singing in a Post-Socialist Town
Davindar Singh, Harvard University
The Drive to Work: Punjabi Truck Songs and the Ethics of “Dis-Affected” Labor
Garland, Shannon, University of California, Merced
The Work of Making Moods: The Concrete Labor of Spotify Curation

AffecTalks // Ian MacMillen / Playing it dangerously: belonging, exclusion and tambura sentiment


Join us for the 1st lecture in the AffecTalks series

Ian MacMillen

Playing it dangerously: belonging and exclusion and the tambura sentiment

November 16, 2021, 11:00-12:30 CET


Ian MacMillen will present on his recent monograph, Playing It Dangerously (Wesleyan University Press, 2019). The book offers a new way to understand music and race, demonstrating how structures of belonging as well as exclusion arise as musicians’ feelings conflict with their discourses of diversity and inclusion. Based on fieldwork in Croatia, Serbia, Austria, and the U.S., it examines music’s affective mobilization beyond conscious thought, arguing for the centrality of material processes to the racialization of sentiment in tambura music. This genre-crossing practice serves as a site of both contestation and reconciliation for Croats, Roma, and Serbs since Croatia used it as a national symbol during the 1990s wars. The book demonstrates the dialectical dynamic between affective and discursive responses to differences in playing style, and how the denial of feeling ultimately helps to privilege ideas of tambura players as heroic male Croats, even as the music engenders diverse ethnic, racial, and gendered becomings.

Ian MacMillen is Lecturer in Music at Yale University and, for the Fall 2021 semester, a Fulbright Scholar in Bulgaria with a lectureship at New Bulgarian University. He previously directed the Center for Russian, East European & Central Asian Studies at Oberlin College & Conservatory, where he taught courses in Ethnomusicology and East European Studies. His research focuses on popular and traditional musics of Southeast Europe, with concentrated fieldwork projects in Eastern Croatia, Vojvodina (Serbia), and Sofia, Bulgaria. In addition to a monograph on tambura Music in Croatia (Wesleyan University Press, 2019), his research appears or is forthcoming in publications such as Ethnomusicology ForumEthnomusicologyHrvatski Tamburaški Brevijar, and the Oxford Handbook of Slavic Folklore. His current book project on music, memory, and forgetting has been solicited by the University of Chicago Press.

AffecTalks lecture series is organized within the project “Music and politics in the post-Yugoslav space: toward a new paradigm of politics of music in the 21st century”, financed by the Slovenian Research Agency (J6-9365).

Project team at Loud Memories, Turbo Folks: Mapping Sound, Image and Remembrance in the Post-Yugoslav Space

Two days in mid-September, the 16 and the 17, were an opportunity to hear a number of excellent presentations by a diverse group of researchers at the Loud Memories, Turbo Folks: Mapping Sound, Image and Remembrance in the Post-Yugoslav Space International Symposium September. 

The symposium, attended by our project team members, was driven by the desire to engage with the question how images, sounds, and memories (re)invent traditions, histories, and spaces of political intervention? The organisers, the Center for Cultural and Religious Studies, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of

Ljubljana (CPKR, FDV (UL)), and the MGLC – International Centre of Graphic Arts, forwarded the question of what are the cultural dynamics and the affective charges of the post-Yugoslav condition? How do they travel across various media and across the borders of various posttransitional peripheries?

Continue reading “Project team at Loud Memories, Turbo Folks: Mapping Sound, Image and Remembrance in the Post-Yugoslav Space”

Tanja Petrović: From Noise to Voice. The Work of Sonic Affect amid Industrial Debris

On the website one can listen to the sound installation by artists Marko Tadić and Miro Manojlović “Concrète machines: 13 pieces for Prvomajska”. These sound pieces have been used at the exhibition in the framework of The Second Biennale of Industrial Art in Istria under the title “On the Shoulders of Fallen Giants.” The installation was placed in the cinema hall in Raša, a small mining town, known as the youngest town in Istria: it was built in 1936 and 1937 to be home of miners and their families. The mines were closed only 30 years later, and the town is today just a monument to mining life and labor. The cinema hall also lost its function – its interior is emptied of seats and void of function. It is just one among many empty, ruining buildings in this town, built by Italians during their administration in Istria. The town that was carefully conceptualized to cater the needs of its inhabitants, for a long time already stands still, bond with the past, as a monument to a bygone era, and as a ruin of the imagination of the future that industrialization used to embody.

Continue reading “Tanja Petrović: From Noise to Voice. The Work of Sonic Affect amid Industrial Debris”

Mojca Kovačič: “Recording bracelets” a methodological tool for ethnography of affect

The empirical study in which we focus on the affective and emotional potential of music in shaping political collectivities also involves fieldwork at selected communal events, such as official and unofficial commemorations, festivals, protests. In addition to autoethnography, on which researchers of affective and emotional states often base their approach, we are primarily interested in the singing and listening experiences of active participants. Of course, a question immediately came up: How to capture those momentary states or bodily responses to music performance (before, during or after the event)? We wanted to collect data on an individual’s bodily experience, but we didn’t opt for a neuroscientific approach. Namely, we see such an approach as limited, as it often neglects previous experiences or histories of performance and listening involved in “current” bodily reactions (see Martin 2013). However, we don’t deny that a combination of the two would also contribute to our approach.

Continue reading “Mojca Kovačič: “Recording bracelets” a methodological tool for ethnography of affect”