This is an overview of panels and papers on affect, presented recently at SEM conferences worldwide.
Society of Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting 2018
The Affective Politics of Sound in Crises of Political Agency in Crises of Political Agency
Chair: Ana Hofman, Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts and Michael Birenbaum Quintero, Boston University
Participants: Michael Birenbaum Quintero, Boston University, Ana Hofman, Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Rasika Ajotikar, SOAS/Georg-August-Universität Göttingen Respondent: Gavin Steingo, Princeton University
This panel explores the political efficacy of music and sound in settings of political futility. Convening scholars working in diverse settings across the neoliberal global periphery (post-socialist former Yugoslavia, contemporary religious-nationalist India, and violent “post-conflict” Colombia), this panel focuses on how music and sound intervene, or are complicit, in a political atmosphere structured affectively by apathy, exhaustion, and capitulation. The sounded practices we examine promise to reorder regimes of soundand silence in social space; cultivate ethical, intersubjective practices of care and solidarity; and model modes of thought and action beyond established conditions of living. Thus, we are less concerned with how pre-existing politics are expressed sonically, or with sounded tactics’ interventions into the political sphere, than with how sound, by working in the ostensibly apolitical registers of affect, play, and the senses, recasts politics as making life livable. Yet even as these affective sounded practices integrate the formerly inaccessible realm of the political into daily life, they also divert agency away from the struggle for future-oriented structural change that structures formal politics into more politically ambiguous realms. By examining post- Yugoslav self-organized singing collectives, the “rebellious musical gatherings” of oppressed castes in India, and the changing meaning of loudness in a troubled Colombian city, we attend to the ways in which the affective, sensible, and ethical dispositions of sounding and listening offer possibilities for life and world-making beyond the binary framework of the political and the apolitical.
Sound, Alterity, Memisis and Affect: Repertoires and Soundmarks in Intercultural Huapango Huasteco and Nahua Weddings,Kim Anne Carter Muñoz, Universidad de Guadalajara
For generations, huapango huasteco , especially as played in trío huasteco , has represented a unifying and intercultural gateway between Mestizo, Nahua, Ñha Ñhu (Otomí) and other ethnolinguistic groups in the Huasteca, Mexico. In intercultural contexts repertoire, soundmarks (Schaefer 1993) and innovation take on different meanings for distinct audiences and participants. These differences show how Mestizo and Indigenous concepts of sound, music systems, actuals (Schechner 2003) in dance and ritual, tradition and modernity guide performance as distinct worldviews co-exist. Recently, Nahua sones de costumbre have been appropriated and performed outside of their original context by Nahua and non- Nahua. Events such as weddings have been staged for folkloric presentations and festivals such as encuentros huapangueros. Tríos have become a new form of regional popular music that includes: cumbias , rancherasand other compositions popular among Huastecan youth who live traveling between local, national, and international settings. In all of these places, Nahua, Ñha ñhu and Mestizo musicians serve as intercultural agents bringing repertoire and soundscapes with different meanings for their insider and outsider audiences of alterity and affect, through the mimesis of soundmarks, and the creation and appropriation of genres. Based sound and performance studies, this presentation will compare the performance of the theatrical piece called Boda Huasteca (Huastecan Wedding), huapango huasteco in folkloric festivals, and musicians ́ and participants ́ performance in the intimate setting of a wedding celebration in the Huasteca Hidalguense in order to understand competing aesthetics, motivations and worldviews.
A Multisensorial Affective Ecology of Sonic Worship: The Sikh Sacred Song Culture,Inderjit Kaur, University of Michigan
The notion of “affective ecology” has been used in sound studies to denote an ecology of affect mobilization and contagion (Goodman 2010), where affect is defined broadly as the capacity to affect or be affected (Massumi 2002). In this paper, I draw on these concepts to analyze sonic worship and its associated activities as an affective ecology of multiple sensory modalities (Howes 1991, Classen 1993, Smith 2007) which mutually enhance embodied experiential knowledge of the ineffable. I focus on the worship practices of Sikhism, a minority religious tradition from India, founded at the turn of the sixteenth century in the western part of un-partitioned Punjab, and due to a long history of widespread migration, now practiced in many countries across all continents. While the singing, chanting and listening of sacred verses form the core of Sikh worship, it is almost always combined with communal food and other service activities. The setting and activities form an ecology that is a nexus of sound, objects, people, place, events and memory that mutually mobilize and intensify an affective dynamic. Participation in worship events entails a complex of sensory modes — song being audio-centric as well as haptic, and other activities centered variously on the ocular, tactile, gustatory, and olfactory. Based on several years of fieldwork in different parts of India and the US, including participant observation and semi- structured interviews, I investigate the mutuality between bodies, human and non- human, that invigorates and sustains this affective ecology and its epistemic potential.
“Music is Work”: The Marginalizing and Alienating Effects of Msafiri Zawose’s Affective Labor Within and Without Neoliberal Tanzania,Peter Breithaupt, University of Texas at Austin
Drawing on recent critiques that consider the potential “negatives” of Michael Hardt’s and Antonio Negri’s notions of affective labor as work intended to create or manipulate peoples’ emotional experiences, this paper illuminates the marginalizing and alienating effects of Tanzanian Afrofusion musician Msafiri Zawose’s mode of affective labor. Msafiri’s aspiration to reimagine a “Tanzanian” musical identity drives his form of original music with its strong connection to cultural heritage. Msafiri’s music sounds and signifies in seeming contradistinction to the “Westernized” music dominating Tanzania’s popular music economy – music through which many contemporary Tanzanians make important claims for a shared participation in global socio-economic cultural practices. Reminiscent of the state’s nation-building interventions in cultural production – a period in which such participation was severely precluded – I argue that it is Msafiri’s mode of affective labor that places him and his music on the margins of the local music economy. This marginalization has impelled Msafiri to seek support from transnational non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Focusing on Msafiri’s recent collaboration with UK-based NGO Santuri, I extend recent political economic analyses of the relations of power and property between recording artists and their employers. By unintentionally disregarding the carefully crafted musical basis and deeply embodied nature of his affective labor, Santuri caused Msafiri to experience acute social-psychological alienation – a stark reminder of the inequalities that mark his work within and without neoliberal Tanzania. This paper is based on ethnographic research that I conducted with Msafiri and several other Afrofusion musicians in Bagamoyo, Tanzania, August 2016 and June-July 2017.
The MistralBecoming: Affective Religious Soundscapes in Secular France, Margaret Rowley, Boston University
Flows of immigration into France in recent decades are shifting the historical religious practices of the population, with most estimates placing the number of Muslim practitioners to be close to five million and growing rapidly. The laïcité (secularism) of the French state relies on a Christian definition of religion which it summarily obscures: imposed on places heard as public, laïcité imagines religious practice(s) as containable in the private sphere. The public and private spheres become troubled by sound leaking through walls, into streets, around corners, through car windows, from private to public and back again. Under laïcité , leaking sounds of Catholicism are often legally interpreted as historic, inert, or even secular, while sounds of Islam are heard as inherently religious, proselytizing, and powerful. I will utilize early fieldwork and recent legal rulings to examine bells, calls to prayer, the singing of La Marseillaise , and other sounds of and against religion that move through public and private bodies and ears. In this paper I draw on Donna Haraway’s work, hearing the soundscape of religion in France as “troubled,” mixed-up, and turbulent, particularly in the Côte d’Azur following the 2016 Bastille Day attack in Nice. Haraway does not hear “trouble” as invitational of conflict; rather, she suggests that “staying with the trouble requires learning to be truly present.” I suggest that, rather than an imagined future of conflict, presence in the present with all of its trouble is what sound may ask of us and enable us to achieve.
Society of Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting2017
Besides Resistance: Affects and Politics of Youth Music and Listening in the Arab Mediterranean
Chair: Kendra Salois, American University
The framing of popular uprisings across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as “Arab Spring” imposes and reifies Western narratives of resistance and democracy. These narratives have dominated scholarship on the region, overlooking modes of political engagement that are not explicitly premised on resistance (El Zein 2016). Considering contemporary creative practices in sites across the MENA, this panel demonstrates ways that youth mobilize music for its broader potential to manifest modes of politics besides resistance. In one paper, Tunisian youth challenge ossified social categories and critique past authoritarian control of heritage by engaging Arab-Andalusian art music through active listening practices. In another, Egyptian youth seek to transform what they see as the depressive state of Egyptian culture through do-it-yourself innovation in the independent music scene. The final paper examines the ambivalent relationship to Arabness in young Lebanese men ́s transnational performances of race and gender in rock. Taken together, these papers explore performing and listening at three levels: from re-working the constitution of a heterogeneous national identity, to expanding the horizons of national culture beyond state borders, to border- crossings in which “Arab” influence is merely a trace. This panel identifies, at each of these scales, ways music engenders affective responses that engage politically with the precarity currently facing youth around the Mediterranean. This engagement need not be resistance. It can be witnessed in transformative listening experiences, utilization of public depression for creative social action, or the conjuring of an imagined past for economic success.
Re-envisioning the Global Music Industries: Entrepreneurship, Archive, and Affect in the Global South
Chair: Kariann Goldschmitt, Wellesley College
As many musicians and audiences attest, the economic and cultural stakes of music have become global in ways that were unimaginable when “globalization” emerged as a dominant analytical paradigm in the 1990s. The catch-all category of “World Music” created by and for multinational recording companies in the late 1980s othered most of the world’s music traditions for Western audiences, without accounting for the local music industries in many parts of the world that took different approaches to commodifying music. Music industry scholarship from this perspective often focused upon the discourses of cultural and economic imperialism, overlooking the manifold local innovations of production, distribution, promotion, and marketing of music commodities to diverse audiences. This panel seeks to set a new tone for the debates swirling around the products created by music industries. Panelists will argue that meanings and values are attached to musical products not only in production and consumption, but are constantly framed and reframed through advertising discourses, media platforms and brand strategies, spatial representation, as well as by interactions in a variety of social spaces through case studies in the Global South. They also interrogate the materiality of musical practice, that is, the ways in which music in and beyond physical formats mediates social interactions. As such, we aim to update our understanding of music industries by showcasing new interdisciplinary approaches to the study of musical circulation, even as it expands the insights of this earlier generation of scholarship.
Sound & Affect
Chair: Catherine Appert, Cornell University
The Sounds of the Aguante: Sounding and Listening in the Affective Violence of Argentine Soccer Supporters
Luis Achondo, Brown University
This paper examines the sonic and perceptual dimensions of the cultural practices of Argentine soccer supporters. Argentines have built a violent, but sonically rich soccer subculture. Rhythms and drums derived from murga porteña (a genre related to the Argentine carnival) and brass instruments accompany the collective sounding of thousands of people that sing songs with modified lyrics before, during, and after games. These songs interweave narratives of place with misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, and racist utterances. Based on interviews with supporters of different teams of Buenos Aires and participant observation in their sonic practices, my examination of the sonic and perceptual dimensions of their performance provides a more nuanced understanding of what Argentine scholars have theorized as the aguante (roughly, endurance): the hypermasculine, violent logic that has configured Argentine soccer fandom since the 1980s. I argue that supporters simultaneously listen and sing with their entire bodies: their enormous bodies function as resonant instruments that, overwhelmed by sound, put into alignment aural, haptic, kinesthetic, tactile, and visual sensory registers. I also deploy the term “affective violence” to conceptualize supporters’ affective experience of the overlapped forms of violence that intersect in their sonic practices. In this sense, I contend that supporters seek to subject other people not only through violent utterances but also through sound in itself. All in all, this paper provides new inquiries into the interplay of movement, singing, and listening; the plasticity of the senses; and the intersection of sound, affect, and violence.
Ways of listening to North Indian Classical Music: An Ethnomusicological Perspective on Sound and Affect
Chloe Alaghband-Zadeh, University of Cambridge
Since the 1990s, scholars have paid increasing attention to theories of affect. Overlapping with work on materialities, embodiment, and non-human agency, the so-called “affective turn” has been hailed as a major paradigm shift across the humanities and social sciences. However, ethnomusicologists are only starting to engage with this body of scholarship (e.g. Hofman 2015). In this paper, I consider how insights from affect theory can contribute to the kinds of detailed musical ethnographies in which ethnomusicologists specialise. Specifically, I use recent work on affect as a way of examining listening practices at performances of North Indian classical music. I focus on rasikas (connoisseurs). These expert listeners are conspicuous at concerts, where they sit towards the front of the room, follow the music closely and show their appreciation by gesturing or commenting out loud. Based on interviews and ethnography with rasikas in Delhi, Mumbai and Pune, I explore the ways in which affect operates in and configures live performances of North Indian classical music. I propose that expert ways of listening in this context exemplify what Margaret Wetherall calls an “affective practice” (2012): a particular, socially constructed way of doing emotion. In doing so, I show how listeners’ (embodied, affective) engagement with North Indian classical music sustains class distinctions. Thus I argue that the affective dimensions of listening in this context are fully entangled in broader power relations.
After Affect: Affordances of Rhyme, Rhythm and Meter in South Asian Song Traditions
Inderjit Kaur, University of California, Davis
With the turn to affect (Gregg and Seigworth 2010) and the increased interest among ethnomusicologists to foreground and analyze the affective power of music (Thompson and Biddle 2013), research has focused on detailed analyses of musical sound and the meaning of lyrics. Less, however, has been written on the affective work of the rhyme and rhythm in lyrics, particularly, internal rhyme (such as, alliteration). In this paper, focusing on North Indian song traditions, I investigate the affective force in poetic rhyme, and in its interaction with the rhythmic and metric structure of the music. Using examples of song renditions across categorizations of music such as art (specifically, dhrupad), devotional (specifically, Sikh sabad kīrtan) and popular (specifically, Bollywood), I show various ways that internal rhymes in song texts interplay with musical rhythm and meter, offering some comparative remarks on musical constraints and choice. Pulling together insights from affect theory, linguistics and rhetoric, cognitive studies, and philosophy, as well as ethnographic research with musicians and listeners, I foreground the materiality of sounded text to explore the affective potential in the interactions between the poetic and musical rhythms in songs. I propose that affordances between rhythms of poetic text, musical sound, musician, and listener are significant parts of the complex set of means by which song traditions go after affect.
Generosity and Gratitude, Patronage and Praise; Performing Sociality in Dakar, Senegal
Brendan Kibbee, The Graduate Center, CUNY
In alternate and often opposed representations, West African griots are either celebrated as “masters of the word,” displaying extraordinary knowledge and artistry (Wright 1989, Ebron 2009), or derided as figures whose integrity has been compromised by their duty to serve the rich and powerful (Keita 1995, Sajnani 2013). This paper, drawing on recent fieldwork in a popular quarter of Dakar, Senegal, offers a different perspective. I place griot praise songs within a broader category of “positively affective speech acts” (PASAs; Holmes 1984) that are extremely common in Senegalese public life. I argue that in the postcolonial city, such speech acts are integral to dynamic associational and interpersonal networks that produce “social capital” (Putnam 2001)–conditions of mutual obligation and trust that result in improved collective well-being–or in Abdoumaliq Simone’s (2014) words “people as infrastructure.” In an environment adapted to labor scarcity and reliant on the strength of social ties, PASAs articulate solidarity, mutual respect, and demands for generosity. Understanding PASAs and praise songs as nodes in an infrastructure of affective interpersonal connections, I show that as contemporary griots create possibilities for the expansion of social capital, they shape the contours of public discourse in complex ways. Ultimately, I argue that the Senegalese public sphere is characterized less by an opposition between affective songs of griots and critical speech of non-griots than by a common language of praise, sung and spoken, that structures relations of sociality and sustenance in the postcolonial city.
Tiene : A Metaphor for the Transmission of Musical Affect
Janice Mahinka, Borough of Manhattan Community College and The Graduate Center, CUNY
In Spanish-speaking Caribbean regions and their diasporas, isabor is an aesthetic concept associated with the popular form of dance/music known as salsa. The term is much referenced, though little work in English has been done beyond noting its metaphoric terminology and analogies to “gustatory imperatives” (Fernandez 1994). This paper introduces the culturally specific aesthetic concept of isabor, critiques its common translation into the English word flavor, and argues that isabor is used to express ineffable affects associated with shared musical experience. Based on eighteen years of personal immersion in salsa communities, ethnographic research with salsa dancers and musicians, and work drawing on phenomenology and salsa research, I will contextualize isabor and draw attention to its distinctly affective expression and claims of value judgement with specific Thomas Csordas’s “somatic modes of attention,” philosopher and social theorist Teresa Brennan’s “living attention,” and my own concept of timespace manipulation with the ways musicians and dancers articulated and gestured their feelings regarding isabor in my interviews and research. Together these ideas merge a culturally specific understanding of isabor with the acquisition of knowledge necessary to both recognize the aesthetic concept and enact effect. Through a brief discussion of parallels with and deviations from similar intersensorial metaphors and aesthetic concepts in other cultures, I argue that the term isabor should remain untranslated, and maintains its greatest power from the socio-cultural dance/music practice in which it is grounded.
The Populist Sensorium: Sound and Sensation in the 2016 Campaign
Justin Patch, Vassar College
The word populism reverberated through the cacophonous 2016 campaign, flowing off the tongues of pundits, journalists, and observers. Although the term is nebulous, dynamic, and difficult to define, there was no denying the appeal that populist platforms for voters. This paper analytically approaches populism as a sensuous-affective phenomenon, created through combinations of sound, rhetoric, action, and emotion. Populism is not defined by stable sets of policies or legislative stances. It consists of feelings and notions of oppression and disadvantaging by a powerful class that exists in an antagonistic relationship to “the people”, a righteous, collective, national body. Populism requires sonic and sensuous guidance to locate, affirm, and reinforce the notional of collective struggle against a common enemy. In 2016, campaigns vied to create this feeling of togetherness, of the people’s struggle against the powerful in a battle for the soul and future of the nation. Candidates in both parties, but particularly Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, utilized mixtures of music, chanting, rhetoric, and choreographed crowd noise to create a sensory experience that cultivated extraordinary enthusiasm and support for their populist platform. This paper examines the contrasting populist soundscapes of the Trump and Sanders campaign, from Sanders’ revival of Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” to Donald Trump’s eclectic playlist that included classic rock, 80’s metal, opera, and Broadway hits. These divergent assemblages of sounds, affects, and responses demonstrate the seductive allure of populism and the role that sonic culture plays in the embodied experience of the political campaign.
“All Because of the Alcohol”: Alcohol, Emotion, Music in Andean Performance
Joshua Tucker, Brown University
Studies of “the music industry” usually thematize product circulation and technological mediation. Live performance, however, remains central to the business. In many cases it is increasingly so, as piracy and digital streaming undermine the profits associated with recorded sound, prodding musicians and promoters to invest in other revenue streams. This calls for renewed attention both to the financial exigencies of live performances: accounts of the way that musical workers generate revenue by fostering and then fulfilling listener expectations – expectations that, in turn, are grounded in broader assumptions about music’s aesthetic and affective capacities.
This paper examines the interplay of profit, affect, and sound in one indigenous music scene. It focuses on Peruvian chimaycha, a Quechua-language genre that has become a successful urban popular music in the highland city of Ayacucho. Part of a broader Andean tradition whereby song is tied to romantic and social precarity, chimaycha has been used to socialize experiences of grief and fear. Contemporary performances, however, are organized along twin arcs of emotional expression and alcohol consumption. Listeners seek to intensify their affective identification with the sounds they hear, by consuming beer and submitting to its disinhibiting properties; meanwhile, musicians and promoters manage the gradual distribution of affective engagement so as to maximize beer sales, their generators of revenue. By situating these performative and organizational dynamics in the socioeconomic changes that are transforming contemporary indigenous life, I show how this corner of the music business both obeys and structures listeners’ experiences of ongoing social change.
Material Nostalgia for the Cultural Revolution Era: The Affective Practices of Revolutionary Music in Contemporary China
Shelley Zhang, University of Pennsylvania
In this paper, I investigate the re-popularization of material culture and music from the Cultural Revolution in contemporary China. Specifically, I explore how my interlocutors from the Hunan province celebrated the Dragon Boat Festival in 2016 by visiting a former landlord’s property and affectively performing music from China’s Cultural Revolution. The Cultural Revolution (1966-76) was a sociopolitical movement that harshly disrupted the cultural, political, economic, and social life in the People’s Republic of China. Controlled by Chairman Mao Zedong, the Revolution removed his political rivals, punished land owners, and strictly controlled musical production. Despite the drastic conditions of those days, many Chinese today are re-engaging with and even fetishizing material culture from that period. For instance, my interlocutors spent the Dragon Boat Festival, one of the PRC’s few national holidays, visiting a former landlord’s property that has since been transformed into a modest museum and tourist site. Its attraction relies heavily on its ownership of Cultural Revolution relics, such as Mao Zedong portraits, Mao-themed dishware, and a stone flour mill, which tourists are welcome to use. As some of my interlocutors relived memories from the Cultural Revolution, they began performing Revolutionary music. Drawing from Svetlana Boym’s seminal text, The Future of Nostalgia (2001), I investigate how material culture and music from the Cultural Revolution impact contemporary China’s notions of nationhood, cultural transformation, and futurity. I argue that many individuals articulate their nostalgia for the Cultural Revolution era through affective consumer practices and the re-popularization of Revolutionary music.
Society of Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting 2016
Music, Intimacy, and Publics
Chair: Jonathon T. King, University of North Carolina, Asheville
What does our understanding of music’s social power gain from thinking about music through the lens of publicness? Jurgen Habermas’s (1962) foundational account of the “rational-critical” public sphere privileges print genres of deliberation and critique, leaving little room for music. More recently Lauren Berlant (2008) and others highlight the centrality of affect, sentiment, and emotion to public experiences of affinity and belonging, understanding publics as expressive accomplishments of genre, style, and medium. It is no surprise to music scholars that music binds communities through affective attachments, sentiment, and embodiment. So what can ethnomusicologists learn from public sphere theory about the mediations of stranger relationality across time and distance? What can we contribute with a special focus on musical intimacies? This panel explores these questions across a wide range of contemporary musical genres and regional contexts, building on recent interventions by Stokes (2010) and Dueck (2013): In Iranian popular music, intimate evocations of suffering and addiction provide affective hooks that bind a transnational public sphere. In the context of the European refugee crisis, the Berlin electronic dance music scene narrates emotional commonalities across very different experiences of migration. In US children’s music, constructions of child audiences as an intimate public strategically bypass adult anxieties and justify the growing commodification of childhood. And in music associated with Canada’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission, musical intimacy mediates both face-to-face sociality and national belonging to address historical abuses of Indigenous children. Together these papers suggest that musical publics are intimate publics.
Sonic Displacements: Music, Listening, and the Moving Vehicle
Chair: Ian MacMillen, Whitman College
In transporting musicians and musical media, and through their own sonic impacts on spaces of mobility and habitation, vehicles shift our ways of listening in the world. They act as chambers of aural saturation, engendering microcosmic communities of affective listening and distributed subjectivity (Kassabian), or jar us into awareness of how faculties of perception “cross-cut the boundaries between brain, body and world” and between individual senses (Ingold). What does it mean to hear when our bodies resonate with an engine’s vibrations? How do music and silence figure the presence (or absence) of vehicles and passengers? How do our spatial displacements amplify or constrain sonic moorings to place? Advancing new work in ethnomusicology, affect theory, and sound studies, our panel addresses these questions through musical studies of vehicles pivotal in the history of globalization: ships, automobiles, and spacecraft. We begin with late colonialism, considering musical affects of racial absence and colonial presence in L’Africaine‘s stage ship and other operatic machinery. We next examine vehicular territorialization of urban soundscapes, challenging nationalist music’s sonic and semiotic primacy by analyzing affect, clamor, and singing in Croatian wedding convoys’ flag rituals. We conclude with an ethnography of the International Space Station, astronauts’ listening practices, and multi- sensory, musicologically revealing ways of knowing while living in lower Earth orbit. Collectively, we offer new ways to hear and theorize vehicles as sounding bodies; as spaces of musical circulation, performance, and listening; and as field sites from which musicality affords a critical, adaptive ethnomusicological perspective on space and locality.
Listening to Geographies of Responsibility in post-Fukushima Japan
Marié Abe, Boston University
On December 31, 2011, eight months after the devastating M9.0 earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent nuclear crises in northeast Japan, over 200 celebrity singers took to the stage of the annual music TV program “Kohaku Uta Gassen .” The carefully scripted, five-hour-long show performed national solidarity and elicited support for the disaster-affected regions through the trope of “kizuna“ affective bonds. In the face of fragmented national sociality after the triple disaster, the rhetoric of kizuna in the music program elicited not only the material support, but also a sense of nationalist allegiance evoked through the lyrical tropes of hometown, family, and homeland. In stark contrast to this performance of “disaster nationalism” were the raucous sounds of Jinta-la-Mvta, one of the most active musical groups participating in the antinuclear street protests. Markedly international in their scope, Jinta- la-Mvta’s repertoire spanning tunes from Chile, Ireland, Korea, Okinawa, and East Timor called forth a radically different kind of sociality that imaginatively forged affective alliances across these locations. Based on ethnographic and musical analyses, this paper probes the possibilities and
limitations of Jinta-la-Mvta’s “protest music” by exploring these two modes of socialities produced through sonic responses to the nuclear crisis. I suggest that Jinta-la-Mvta evince social precarity not merely as a resulting condition of the disaster that nationalist solidarity of kizuna will remedy. Rather, heard in relation to Doreen Massey’s notion of “geographies of responsibility,” their music repositions the sense of precarity as the root of the structural constraints that warrant social critique in post-Fukushima Japan.
Brass Bands, Participatory Musicking, and Affective Activism at the HONK! Festival of Activist Street Bands,
Erin Allen, Ohio State University
Recent scholarship has focused on the emotional geographies and participatory politics of social movements and the use of space, sound, and performance to mobilize public attention and affect (Salovaara 2015; Waitt, Gordon, & Farbotko 2014; Parviainen 2010; Shukaitis 2007). This paper explores the role of intersubjectivity, empathy, and the body as affective modes of social change in the HONK! Festival of Activist Street Bands. Brass bands the world over share the performative potential for space and place- making, community building, and collective participation in public settings through the use of loud, acoustic, and mobile instruments. Based on recent fieldwork at HONK! festivals in seven U.S. cities, this paper examines this sociomusical potential and the multiple ways it manifests in the course of performance to create or transform affective registers of place, situation, or of individuals. HONK! festivals seek to overcome arbitrary social boundaries, protest violence and oppression, reclaim public space, and incite individual and community transformation. All HONK! bands share repertoires mixing Balkan, New Orleans, klezmer, Afrobeat and other “global” brass styles, an individualistic “DIY” sensibility to costume and instrumentation, as well as performance practices emphasizing energetic carnivalesque street performance encouraging audience participation. Thus HONK! festivals celebrate a collective yet individualistic politics of participation that draws both on “global” brass traditions and local lifeworlds and ideologies to facilitate moments of affective freedom and resound the possibility for lasting social change.
Sensing Precarity: Listening and Living in Lower Earth Orbit
Robert Beahrs, The University of Pittsburgh
The International Space Station (ISS) — an artificial satellite and microgravity research laboratory — has been orbiting the Earth since 1998. Astronauts spend multiple years in rigorous training for ISS research missions, which typically last six months. This paper draws on affect theory and sound studies to explore astronauts’ multi-sensory listening practices while living and working in lower Earth orbit aboard the ISS. How do experiences of daily sensorial stimuli on the ISS compare with those on Earth? How might cognitive and affective conditioning unique to the high-risk activities of astronaut life produce new understandings about the interplay of the senses, particularly vision and hearing? What can an ethnomusicological perspective on astronaut life teach us about sensing sound more generally? Using fieldwork conducted in 2012-13 with NASA astronaut Thomas Marshburn during his training and subsequent launch on a Russian Soyuz rocket from Kazakhstan (plus audio and video from Marshburn’s 146-day ISS mission and his and his crewmates’ memories of their experiences), I show how the effects of aural deprivation shape astronauts’ senses in particular ways while training for, and living in, lower Earth orbit. I argue that astronaut training overdetermines sensorial experiences during mission activities, and that the senses’ discreteness becomes more pronounced in the absence of the perceptual cuing we experience on Earth. Finally, I examine from a musicological perspective how astronauts cultivate vibrational ways of knowing their spatial relations to the ISS and Earth that are crucial for survival in the hostile environment of outer space.
Guest List Plus1: Refugees and Berlin’s Electronic Music Scenes
Luis-Manuel Garcia, University of Birmingham
In September of 2015, tin cans labelled “Plus1: Refugees Welcome!” began appearing at nightclub box offices around Berlin. Attendees on the “guestlist” (i.e., free entry) were asked to donate at least 1€ towards organizations providing support for refugees. Working from interviews and media-analysis, this paper profiles the responses of Berlin’s electronic music scenes to the influx of asylum-seekers to the city, ranging from individual to collective, spontaneous to planned, overt to clandestine. This influx both activates and challenges those utopian fantasies of inclusivity and solidarity that underpin electronic dance music culture, historically rooted as it is in contexts of racial and sexual struggle (e.g., disco, house). Berlant’s (2008) notion of ‘intimate publics’ provides an analytic framework, describing formations of affinity and belonging that are based on shared feeling—on affective experiences that are vaguely-but-complexly tied to identities and life-narratives. Local responses evince a wide emotional range (e.g., anger, sadness, frustration, dread, heartbreak, compassion), but they are grounded in the (imagined) affective experience of migration. Berlin’s electronic music scenes are mostly composed of migrants—both domestic and foreign—albeit ones who have relocated to Berlin with more resources and support networks. Nonetheless, they draw on their own ambivalent experiences of migration to generate a sense of affinity and ethical commitment. This paper thus also provides an account of a rare moment of intersection between flows of migration that are starkly contrasting in circumstances.
Aboard the Colonial Ship: Affects of the Operatic Machine
Katie Graber, The Ohio State University
Machinery has been part of operatic spectacle since the genre’s inception in the 17th century, facilitating quick scene changes, representing supernatural events, and providing realistic backdrops. In nineteenth-century French grand opéra, extravagant sets were nearly required. One such popular production was Meyerbeer’sL’Africaine , with its famous ship scene in the third act. This scene is central to the opera – not only in its temporal placement, but also because of its pivotal role in changing the setting from Europe to the mis- named “African” Orient and upending the hierarchy of characters. Selika the slave returns to her rightful place as queen, and the “Indians” who overtake the ship now land the European men in chains. Although clearly exoticist in its themes, L’Africaine ‘s music is unquestionably Western European. The silence and ambiguity of the main characters’ racial identities can be compared to the role of machinery in the opera: the affective force of the ship comes from its immensity paired with the inconspicuousness of its apparatus. The movement of the vessel along with the storm and the takeover by “savages” must hide the technology (in silence and in techniques of scoring) in order to create a seamless visual and auditory display. Likewise, Meyerbeer’s portrayal of race is paradoxically unified under Romantic melodies and harmonies, eliding racial difference and diverging from contemporaneous operas that employed “local color.” A close reading of the music and operatic conventions of the time reveals the machinery – both material and sonic – behind the affect of the opera.
Sentimentals and the Politics of the Local in Cape Town’s Klopse
Francesca Inglese, Brown University
Kaapse klopse (“Clubs of the Cape”) have been a feature of musical life in Cape Town, South Africa since the mid-1800s when the city’s creolized ex- slave population remixed local traditions with the sounds and performance styles of touring American blackface minstrel troupes. Today, klopse participants, the vast majority from Cape Town’s coloured townships, parade in the Minstrel Carnival every New Year and compete with one another in sports-like competitions during the summer months. In this presentation, I attend to performances of songs known as “sentimentals” in klopse competitions, a genre that mostly consists of American popular repertoire. Drawing on personal interviews, conversations, and the observation of over three hundred live solo song performances between 2011-2014 (as well as recordings of several hundred more), I show how singers’ earnest karaoke- style renditions of American popular songs work to circulate affect (Ahmed 2004) within the klopse community, creating links with a deep local history of “surrogation” (Roach 1996), even as they raise continued anxieties over the politics of mimicry amongst the practice’s coloured participants, many of whom continue to experience themselves as marginalized “inbetween” subjects. I posit that anthropological models of localization or indiginization cannot fully account for the ways in which foreign material can enter into a community fabric while remaining remarkably unchanged. Instead, I show how participants find value-in-use, rather than in frameworks of authenticity or culture-as-difference, as they make foreign popular songs meaningful in embodied performances and communal listening experiences.
Sounding Democracy: Performance, Protest, and Political Subjectivity
Laura Kunreuther, Bard College
What does democracy sound like? Democracy is typically associated with various forms of voicing – political speeches, public gatherings of shouting protesters, filibusters in the halls of the U.S. Congress, or heated debates in teashops, salons, newspaper debates around the world. But “sounding democracy” also always involves non-discursive acoustic events, such as the orchestrated sounds of a crowd, musical processions, spontaneous eruptions of noise, or theatrically enacted silence, at times intended to indicate the failure of other modes of voice. I explore the diverse uses of sound in Kathmandu, as street protesters bang pots and pans in protest, or honk in support to create deafening noise across the city, and where broadcasts of crying and silence define the most famous political work of recent performance art. These are all examples of “āwāj uthāune” (raising voice) that Nepalis associate with democratic practice. While the Nepali term āwāj echoes global discourses of voice, it also refers to materially textured “non-human” sounds that fall outside of spoken discourse. The nexus of meanings around āwāj, embracing sound, noise, and voice, invites us to take seriously the complex role of sound in constructing political subjectivity, particularly when urban sounds are under scrutiny as “noise” in need of regulation. By exploring the many dimensions of āwāj, this paper seeks to address the affective and sensory dimensions of political subjectivity in Kathmandu, and to situate these under– recognized features within prevailing theories about liberal democracy.
Croatian Wedding Cars, Musical Rituals of the Flag, and Affective Non-Memorials of Violence
Ian MacMillen, Whitman College
When flags and music represent a nation jointly, ethnomusicologists typically see these media’s symbolic roles as more semiotically anchored and limited in the case of visual emblems than in song, in which they rightfully recognize an ontological flexibility through its temporality, orality, and participatory processuality (Bohlman; Muller; Turino). Yet such conclusions also imply both forms’ stability as symbols for interpretation and their discreteness from other sensory phenomena, conditions unlikely to hold in all nationalist contexts. Based upon extensive fieldwork with tambura chordophone bands at Croatian weddings, this paper examines the musical procession of the national banner in wedding convoys’ lead cars as an instructive confluence of forms that lifts flags out of their static, two-dimensional lives as images into chaotic scenes obscured by automobiles, flares, and smoke; patriotic tambura songs blasted by car speakers and live musicians similarly merge with horns and screeching tires, contributing significantly to the ritual’s affective power while relinquishing some of their sonic and semiotic primacy. I argue that the flag’s procession facilitates an affective non-memorial of the violent sounds and visual fields of Croatia’s war of secession, a rendering of past perceptual intensities that in its invoking of traditional forms of music and ceremonial magic is more about becoming than remembering. Convoy cars in these contexts become ideal chambers within/from which to hear music’s fragile yet potentially assaulting claim on urban space, which, while facilitating the Catholic wedding rite’s creation and defense of the Croatian (national) family, violates anew their compatriots’ sonic and visual peace.
Feeding the (Serbian) Pasha: Affective Labor, Ethnicity, and Performance Politics Among Romani Musicians in Vranje, Serbia
Alexander Markovic, University of Illinois-Chicago
This paper interrogates how Romani musicians’ affective labor and embodiment (re)articulate ethnic power hierarchies in Vranje, Serbia. Minority Roma monopolize the performance of brass band music in this region, cultivating seminal repertoires of the ritual and dance music that are central to life-cycle celebrations in Vranje. Romani professional musicians are indispensible as affective laborers at celebrations, where their musical and performance practices produce ćef among guests: a state of heightened emotional and social engrossment in the celebratory event. Yet celebrants’ ćef also entails pleasure produced through public performances of self at musical events. Guests use the bodies and solicitous attention of Romani performers to enact claims to wealth, status, and power in front of watching community members. I argue that affect and power plays are co-produced at musical events in Vranje through bodily engagements between musicians and patrons that performatively enact ethnic inequality. Serbian-Romani interactions derive semiotic power from the confluence of professional stigma concerning paid musical performance and the low status of marginalized “Gypsies.” When Serbs use Romani musicians’ bodies to display lavish tips by slapping them onto their foreheads, push tips into empty beer bottles to keep the musicians to themselves indefinitely, or pay for ritualized dramas where Romani entertainers “bow” and refer to the patron as “pasha,” they use performative practices to control performer bodies and “embody” ethnic power hierarchies. Romani performances must please paying patrons, even as demand for their affective labor forces them to performatively reproduce their minority status vis-à-vis the Serb majority.
“Ana ‘Andi Cherophobia”: The Fear of Happiness and the Affects of Belonging in Contemporary Egyptian DIY Music
Darci Sprengel, University of California Los Angeles
In the two years following the 2011 Egyptian uprisings, do-it-yourself (DIY) music became widely known in Egypt as “the music of the revolution.” Egyptian youth produce and disseminate this music, covering a variety of genres, without relying on state patronage or the multinational music industry. After a two-year period of relatively free public performance, military rule, returning to power in 2013, has brutally repressed political and artistic expression. Ruling through a palpable “barrier of fear,” it criminalized “unauthorized” music performance and public gatherings. This return to military rule has cultivated feelings of political and cultural depression. In these conditions, many DIY musicians have opted to abandon “politics” to focus instead on musically engaging “energy,” “mood,” and “atmosphere.” This paper examines the relationship between sound and public feeling under conditions of authoritarianism. Based on eight months of recent fieldwork, I posit that youth’s strategic sonic and technological manipulation of affect is itself political. Most ethnomusicological studies of Egyptian music have focused on the Arab art music of the 1950s and 60s and dismissed contemporary youth music as having little social or intellectual value. Challenging such an assumption, this paper draws from recent theories of affect proposed by Judith Becker, A.J. Racy, and Lauren Berlant. I argue instead that the way youth use new technologies and globally circulating sounds in conjunction with local aesthetics, listening practices, and musical philosophies to mediate public feeling enables us to rethink ocular- and Eurocentric theories of the public sphere and, by extension, what constitutes oppositional politics.
Musical (Re-)Configurations of Social “Warmth:” Sensing, Suffering, and Trance in an Algerian Sufi Community
Tamara Turner, King’s College London
In Algeria, it is expected and taken for granted that we can feel the energy of a place, situation, or event; what we sense as that atmosphere is called hal . While the experiential phenomenon of hal is fundamental in the Muslim world, it has escaped the attention of anthropologists and ethnomusicologists. Halis often translated in formal Arabic as “a condition,” or “state of being” but these common understandings mask the unstable, ephemeral, and affective qualities of hal such as the way it collapses what we often separate in English as “consciousness,” “emotion,” and “bodily sensing.” In diwan , an Algerian
Sufi ritual, music is essential in order to “warm” (hami) hal so that this musical, social warmth can cultivate a wide spectrum of trance–from “mild” trance (jedba) to possession trance (bori) . All of these trance registers can be understood as varieties and intensities of presence: ways of being present, being away, or disappearing into other personages. Through these musically precipitated reconfigurations of selves and relationships, trance articulates and attends to personal suffering and social pain in the diwan community. This paper builds on eighteen months of fieldwork in Algeria, scholarship on affect (Ahmed 2004; Brennan 2004; Massumi 1995), the anthropology of pain and suffering (Blackman 2012; Throop 2010; Scarry 1985), and pivotal scholarship on music and trance (Rouget 1985; Becker 2004; Jankowsky 2010) in order to propose that diwan dynamics of social warmth offer ways of understanding the nexus of music, trance, and ritual as an affective epistemology.
Society of Ethnomusicology Annual Meeting 2015
Ethnomusicology and Affect Theory: Disciplinary Implications
Chair: Gavin Lee, Soochow University School of Music
Participants: Luis-Manuel Garcia, University of Groningen, Katie Graber, Ohio State University, Ian MacMillen, Oberlin College and Conservatory, Ali Colleen Neff, Virginia Tech,Matthew Sumera, University of Minnesota
The emergence of affect theory in the social sciences and humanities signals a shift in scholarship, one principally defined by a downgrading of the importance of language and signification, and the rise of material “force” and bodily consequences. This roundtable brings affect theory (as practiced by Brian Massumi, Sara Ahmed, Laurent Berlant, and others) to bear on longstanding ethnomusicological assumptions, in particular, conceptions of identity, embodiment, and agency. Among the various critical approaches to affect theory which we will present, two threads of thought stand out. First, the process-ontology of force implies change and the potential for a radical re- orientation of power dynamics, which problematizes the concepts of identity (being “identical” to one’s unchanging self) and resistance (what if inequality were no more?)–both key concerns in ethnomusicological fieldwork and writing. Affect theory articulates the capacity for connection and change through networks of media, music, sound, performance, listening, feeling, perception, and bodies. Second, Massumi’s controversial proposition that affect involves unmediated force in relation to the body is read against theories of cultural embodiment. Roundtable participants engage a range of investigations, including: audiovisual representations of war; voice, affect, and historical texts; identity and hybridity as mediated through musical sensation; the philosophy of Baruch Spinoza, affective citizenship, and musical scenes; and, participant-observational approaches to racialized sensations of musical danger and aggression. Through our work, we address the broader methodological question: What are the promises, challenges and limitations of affect theory in relation to ethnomusicology, and vice versa?
Synthesizing Theoretical and Methodological Perspectives of Musical Experience and Affect/Emotion/Sentiment/Feeling
Chair: Tony Perman, Grinnell College
Participants: Denise Gill, Washington University in St. Louis, Judith Becker, University of Michigan, Harris Berger, Texas A&M University
Emotion in response to music is increasingly central to ethnomusicological inquiry as scholars investigate the nature and meaning of musical experience. However, this field of inquiry is fraught with complexity. Numerous disciplinary discourses and intellectual fields compete for supremacy, with some highlighting the ineffable idiosyncrasy of affect to others addressing the physiological predictability of cognition. This timely roundtable brings together scholars working on affect/emotion/feeling/sentiment in musical and sonic practices to harness contributions from these disciplines and explore the possibility of synthesizing the multitude of approaches. Our panelists bring together perspectives from the psychology of music and neuroscience, cognitive science, continental phenomenology, American pragmatism and semiotics, and affect theory together with ethnographic insight generated from fieldwork in Zimbabwe, Turkey, Burma, and the United States in an effort to push ethnomusicology into the center of the conversation about music’s emotional and affective impact on people and their communities. We seek to effectively communicate within the interdiscipline of ethnomusicology and advance collective understanding of musico-emotional experiences cross- culturally. As we clarify the intersection between music and emotion, as well as the consequences of this intersection for broader personal, social, spiritual, and political lives, we also question the utility of a unified approach to studying music and emotion for ethnomusicology. In addressing each of our respective areas of expertise and engaging lengthy conversation with the audience, we ultimately suggest that ethnomusicology’s ethnography-driven, inherently multi-disciplinary, and experiential methodology render it uniquely suited to exploring the considerable effect music has on people’s emotional lives.
The Place of Sound: Ethnomusicology, Anthropology, Sound Studies
Chair: Matt Sakakeeny, Tulane University
Participants: David Novak, University of California, Santa Barbara, Ellen Gray, University of Amsterdam, Daniel Fisher, University of California, Berkeley, Amanda Minks, University of Oklahoma, Benjamin Tausig, Stony Brook University, Ana Maria Ochoa, Columbia University
This is an exciting time for the study of music and sound, as groundbreaking research draws together insights from a wide range of social sciences and humanities, animating the possibilities for a return to greater dialogue between ethnomusicology and anthropology. Despite the historical kinship between the two disciplines, venues for shared anthropological and ethnomusicological conversations have been limited. The consolidation of sound studies offers potential for drawing together scholars across disciplinary boundaries, but it is as yet unclear where music resides in this reordering and how music scholars can most productively contribute and intervene. In advance of a mini-conference on anthropologies of music and sound currently planned for the 2016 SEM meeting in Washington, D.C., this roundtable opens discussion on a number of contemporary approaches to the study of music and sound across disciplinary boundaries, considering method, theory, and intellectual genealogies. Panelists will address key concepts of listening, mediation, indigeneity, environment, noise and voice, to elaborate on productive questions including: 1) What does the consideration of music and sound as distinct or integrated realms foreclose or enable?; 2) How might researchers with different disciplinary and geographical orientations approach the problems of fieldwork, issues of description, and the constitution of data in cultural approaches to sound, to music, and to listening?; 3) What challenges does sound studies pose to thinking about formal dimensions of musical performance and aesthetics in relation to social life? This discussion will shed light on how disciplinary paradigms are shifting in cultural work on music and sound.
Poetic Transnationalisms: Song, Text, and Affective Geographies of Belonging
Chair: Christine Dang, New York University
Participants: Farzaneh Hemmasi, University of Toronto, Christine Dang, New York University, Joshua Tucker, Brown University
This panel examines the transnational production of political, cultural, and religious communities through the musical performance of poetic texts. Drawing on philosophical, literary, and musicological theories on the relation of music and poetry–as well as interdisciplinary scholarship on transnationalism and postcoloniality–this panel investigates the ways in which the fusing of poetic and musical media can connect communities separated in space, time, and history through shared discourses on performance aesthetics and political ethics. Interpreting “poetry” broadly to include composed poems as well as song lyrics that attend to poetic form and imagery, papers in this panel analyze texts in Persian, Arabic, French, Quechua and other indigenous languages; drawn from folk, classical, and modern traditions; situated variously in popular song, art music settings, and religious rituals; circulating within postcolonial states and across multiple regions–including the Middle East, West Africa, and South America. While exploring diverse poetic traditions and musical cultures, the panel’s papers raise similar questions about the relationship between textuality, orality, and musicality; about language, indigeneity, and authenticity; about the blurring of aesthetic and epistemological categories during poetic performance; and finally, about the role of social memory, embodied practices, and economies of desire in shaping the poetics and politics of transnational communities. Weaving together these strands of inquiry, this panel contributes historically- situated, postcolonial perspectives to the humanistic debate on music’s relation to poetry–perspectives that probe the affective processes and conditions of possibility through which sounds and texts merge within contemporary geographies of transnational belonging.
Beating the Drum to Wake the Bride: Music, Affect, and Memory at Romani Weddings in Vranje, Serbia
Alexander Markovic, University of Illinois at Chicago
Music and dance are central to elaborate, multi-day Romani weddings in Vranje, Serbia. Important ritual actions in particular are powerfully framed by specific musical repertoires and dance practices. This paper explores how affect is produced through corporeal, sensorial engagement with music and dance at Romani weddings. I focus on two key rituals, the dance of the groom’s mother, Svekrvino Kolo, and the post-consummation custom called “the waking of the bride,” in order to illustrate how musically-mediated affect heightens the semiotic impact of wedding rituals for participants. Drawing from theories of affect that point to its relational potential, I explore how affect produces particular subjective states in–and connections between– participants, re-constituting gendered, family-centered, and community-based identities. I particularly point to the significance of memory (both personal and collective) for linking music, ritual practice, and experiences of affect. The indexical properties of specific ritual tunes and dance practices powerfully connect participants’ bodily experiences of affect to (often nostalgic) memories of family celebrations and community ritual traditions. As economic crises push many Roma to emigrate, diasporic life re-shapes both the conditions and practices that inform marriage, sexuality, family, and gender. Yet the traditional wedding rituals I analyze here retain their salience in the eyes of the community. I argue that continued interest in performing customary wedding rituals today stems from the affective potential produced by music and dance, informed by positively-valenced memories of celebrations past.
Affects and Becoming in Musical Performances of Aama Samwale
Pirkko Moisala, Helsinki University
This paper explores affects and becoming within musical performances of Aama Samwale (Mothers’ Group) of a Gurung village in Nepal. Aama Samwale works towards developing the village and maintaining its culture. For these purposes, mothers collect money from people who are willing to pay for a musical performance. They make music to welcome and bid goodbye to visitors, and they accompany wedding parties and other celebrations. The performances consist of singing, drumming, and dancing – activities that many of the performers are practicing for the first time, as mature women within Aama Samwale. I ask how Aama Samwale performances produce becomings (Deleuze & Guattari 1987; Deleuze 1994), in other words, how Gurung women reconstitute themselves in their social and material lives and how these performances carry potential transformative vitality for the whole village milieu. I take affect as a transformative force that enhances becoming. As Elizabeth Grosz states, becomings “are not simply a matter of choice, not simply a decision, but always involve a substantial remaking of the subject, a major risk to the subject’s integration and social functioning” (1994). I argue that a musical performance is not only about context-specific sounds and musicking individual bodies, but also about its potentials. Even though at the outset the performance may seem to repeat an already known pattern, to cite Deleuze, “the external return does not bring back ‘the same’ but returning constitutes the only same of that which becomes” (1994).
Ethical Sensations: Affective Attunements in Sikh Shabad Kirtan
Inderjit Kaur, University of California, Berkeley
Listening to shabad (sacred song) is the central form of worship for Sikhs around the world. Shabad are sung in a variety of genres ranging from classical to popular. A dominant theme of their lyrics is living an ethical life engaged with the world. Shabad are songs primarily of Sikh prophets (1469- 1708), addressed as gurus, who canonized them into the primary Sikh scripture, Guru Granth Sahib. Sikhs (literally students) hold a deeply affective relation to their ten Gurus, the founders of Sikhism, and to the embodiment of their teachings. This paper is part of an exploration of the particular technologies of various musical genres of Sikh shabad kirtan in the affective, somatic-cognitive preparation and structuring of the body for everyday ethical living. The focus of this paper is on a globally popular style called Akhand (uninterrupted) Kirtan, in which participatory singing sessions range from a few hours to all night, and shabad are sung in repetitive cycles of varying rhythmic, dynamic and timbral intensities. Based on ethnography with Sikh listeners in the San Francisco Bay Area, this paper proposes that the particular technology of Akhand Kirtan style is to combine musical elements and shabad lyrics in a manner that generates “relaxed” states of “emptiness” that open the space for ethical sensations. At the intersection of sound, affect and cognitive studies, this paper draws from works such as Hirschkind (2006), Becker (2004), Brennan (2004) and Varela (1991, 1999) to posit a model of affective and embodied ethical orientation via sacred song.
Icons of Crying, Emblems of Lament: Affect in Flamenco Song and Instrumental Solo
Kevin Romero, University of Colorado Boulder
Lament is narrowly categorized as song for the the deceased in a funerary setting. Anthropologist Greg Urban suggests that there are two planes to lament; an overt expression of grief caused by loss and a covert expression of the desire for sociability. The former he labels affect, the latter meta-affect. However, what arises as funerary ritual can be recontextualized and more broadly categorized. Aspects of overt expressions of grief arising in funerary contexts can be recontextualized in laments for unrequited love or for the absence of some other ideal condition. This seems especially informative for an analysis of flamenco song. Scholars of flamenco have long categorized flamenco genres as gypsy song, Andalusian song, or songs borrowed from the New World; as deep, medium, or light song. Such categorizations emphasize perceived origins of genres along ethnic or geographic lines. However, vocally, gypsies have imbued everything with hints of lament. In this presentation I will examine flamenco through the lens of lament utilizing and adding to the four icons of crying that Urban has noted. Additionally, the genres in flamenco most valued by gypsies are laments for the deceased (seguiriya) or unrequited love (solea). It is interesting that these genres are in a phrygian tonality which is often interjected into genres in major and minor. I will demonstrate how both icons of crying and the descending tetrachord are recontextualized in genres that gypsies do not view as their own and how categorization of flamenco genres reifies cultural, stylistic, and generic boundaries.