Academic conference questions – translated

conf.jpgSo farewell, Kassell, as day 5 of the IASPM2017 conference winds down. Our German hosts have been fantastic, and the overall atmosphere has been, as ever, one of courteous collegiality and mutual academic admiration. Almost all of the questions from the floor have been in the spirit of inquiry, peer support and knowledge sharing.

Almost.

Below, as a public service, I’ve provided a list of some of the more ‘problematic’ questions that we hear from time to time at academic music conferences, with translation.

Thank you for a great presentation…
I’d like to tell you about my work.

Less of a question, more of a point, really…
I’d like to tell you about my work.

Have you read…?
I’m going to cite an out-of-print book you’ve never heard of and watch you squirm politely.

What’s the relationship of your work to [e.g.] the Andean nose-flute?
I’ve written a book about the Andean nose-flute.

One of the things that seems, to me, to be the case, based on the way you set up the inherent affordances available to the agents of this paradigm, is that, how can I really say this, well, there’s a difference between… well, more of a dichotomy… between the primary sources as they state their position phenomenologically, and the secondary sources, filtered as they inevitably are through the lens of scholarship and the attendant limitations of the contemporaneous evidence base available, although I have to say you do a great job of pulling those sources together given the inherent paucity of reportage from the primary participants, which I suppose is an inevitability due to the kind of retrospective material we’re dealing with here, and we all would support, as I’m sure everyone here agrees, the requirement to preserve the authenticity of that, even if the researcher is sometimes pressured by the field into creating taxonomies not necessarily intended for academic consumption by the original practitioners being studied, and that’s important, but only important inasmuch as the research community needs to define it for this particular sub-field, given that there are so many other sub-fields within which different taxonomies have been established; what’s your view?
It’s time for the coffee break but I DON’T CARE.

How does the tabor syncopation example you played relate to Bourdieu’s concept of cultural capital?
You musicologists know nothing about society.

In terms of the geopolitics you mention, what is the effect of the Dorian pivot-note key change halfway through bar 23?
You sociologists know nothing about music.

The Politics of Digitizing Analogueness #iaspm2017

Pat O’Grady
: Macquarie University

The Politics of Digitizing Analogueness

Plugins
Plug-in hardware emulation – are looks as important as sound to the user?

ABSTRACT: In the field of pop music production, audio companies such as Waves and Universal Audio claim to reproduce the sound of ‘vintage’ analogue signal processing recording technologies. They use software to emulate the form and sound of technologies that, in their hardware form, became highly valued parts of recording studios from the 1960s and 1970s. These digital technologies are marketed towards the increasingly capable and more affordable personal computer market, often used in home studios. The companies claim to provide the user with the comparable results to analogue. Since the 1980s, similar changes to the recording technology landscape have been understood as ‘democratization,’ as music production trended towards a digital economy. However, these emulations also exist alongside a reemergence of the use of analogue technologies in music production, particularly in large studios. In this paper, I explore how the popularity of digital emulations can be partly attributed to shifting attitudes towards analogue vintage technologies. I draw from an analysis of industrial discourses within music production in order to show that rather than democratize the field of music production, they reinforce the social order of the field of recording. In doing so, they continue to promote within a discursive space the importance of large studio music production.

Pat begins by leading us quickly through the development of the technologies that led us here, through the rise of digital recording in the 80s, the rise of the workstation in the 90s and the plugin in the 2000s and beyond. We are now, he suggests, in the ‘Analogue Comeback’ era, and he cites both analogue hardware and UAD emulation plugins in some Australian professional studios’ advertising. He notes that due to the four-decade establishment of digital recording, there now exist professional studio practitioners who did not grow up with analogue equipment.

Binaurality and stereophony in 60s/70s pop #iaspm2017

Franco Fabbri: Conservatorio di Parma, Università di Milano (Italy)

Binaurality, stereophony, and popular music in the 1960s and 1970s

Mixing desk
In the early days of stereo recording, engineers would often mix without headphones, even if the final mix was intended for binaural listening.

ABSTRACT: Stereophonic headphones were first marketed in the USA in 1958. Binaural listening (via headphones) became one of the favourite ways for fans to listen to rock albums in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Stereophonic mixes, however, were not necessarily designed for binaural listening. Sound engineers rarely used headphones, and generally preferred to mix without wearing them, with some explaining that they couldn’t get a proper balance if they didn’t listen to the studio monitors. Often they would listen to the result of a mix with cheap shelf loudspeakers, or even car loudspeakers, claiming that those would be the most common sound sources used by the audience; strangely enough, headphones were not used for this purpose in the studio. While the association and historical overlap of stereophonic mixes, advances in studio technology and consumer audio, and the rise of psychedelia and progressive rock have been commented (more in accounts on or by individual artists/bands/producers than in general terms) the issues of binaurality, of stereophony, and of their relations with popular music has seldom been explored. The paper will focus on the musicological aspects of binaurality and stereophony, both at poiesic and aesthesic levels.

Franco opens with a history of the study of binaurality, leading us to the development of stereo audio in the 50s/60s, which provided two [and this is key to what follows] separate channels. He makes the point about the difference between binaural listening on headphones (which separates the signals completely) and binaural listening (which includes phase/delay between the signals). In the earliest experiments in binaurality, headphones were used first – and listeners considered headphones more ‘realistic’ than speaker-based stereo. Headphones were also not an option in the early days of cinema (he cites Disney’s Fantasia as one of the earliest movies with 2 channel sound)… because of the social aspect. Franco illustrates “it was difficult to kiss your loved one in the cinema wearing headphones”!

Technological tactility in mixing #iaspm2017

Brendan Anthony: Queensland Conservatorium (Australia)

Talking tactility: Technology’s influence on ‘feel’ in popular music mixing.

SSL
What does ‘tactile mixing’ mean when everything is digital?

ABSTRACT: One of the final creative stages in the popular music production process is mixing, and often creative brilliance not technical prowess is responsible for mix popularity. The arrival of digital technologies has affected a rapid change in mixing techniques and perhaps the subsequent overuse of various forms of technology can dominate and distract the mixers’ connection to creativity. In this instance technology should be an extension of consciousness, because mixing is a form of synesthesia and mixers should attempt to connect to creativity and emotion through their mix system. This author theorizes mixers can connect to the emotive paradigm of music via a personalized system designed around a preference of tactility and a sense of ‘feel’ when mixing. Therefore, this paper uses a qualitative comparative investigation into the popular music mixing process. This exploratory experiment involved five participants, who mixed two songs each, with varying forms of technology and tactility. The participants completed a questionnaire after the experiment so comparative data regarding the mixing experience was collected. Mix results were analyzed by the author and a thematic analysis supported by professional research completed the study.

[ABSTRACT ONLY – with apologies to Brendan for arriving late – the last few minutes that I saw sparked a fascinating discussion in the room].

Global Folk drumming pedagogy (Sweden) #iaspm2017

Daniel Akira Stadnicki: 
University of Alberta, Canada

Towards a ‘Global Folk’ Drumming Pedagogy?: Percussive Innovations and Legacies in Swedish Folk Music

Petter_Berndalen_Foto_Andy_Liffner_1_Web
Swedish drummer Peter Bernadalen

ABSTRACT: This paper explores the drumming and percussion techniques found in Nordic ‘global folk’ music (Hill, 2007), emphasizing some of the pedagogical questions, issues, and opportunities that emerged in this research. Concentrating primarily on the ‘innovationist’ branch (Kaminsky 28-30; 2012) of Swedish folk music and the work of drummer Petter Berndalen, this presentation expands upon some of the key features of contemporary Nordic folk drumming as potential resources for ‘world’ drum kit performance and instruction. These include: timbre as a pedagogical resource; the subordination to melody instruments; and the distinct melodic rhythm of the polska as a radical drumming paradigm. This presentation will incorporate stylistic analyses, interviews with Swedish and Norwegian folk drummers, and reflections on my own performance-practice (including brief demonstrations). Drummers are often musical outliers in many established folk traditions, and drumming—particularly in trap/kit configurations—remains an overlooked topic in folk/roots music scholarship. However, Nordic drummers have crafted unique ways of accompanying folk musicians, generating new percussive traditions, often on modified kits using mounted and hand- held tambourines. Through highlighting the work and oral histories of Nordic folk drummers, this paper will contribute new research on folk musicianship and music pedagogy.

Hill, Juniper. “Global Folk Music” Fusions: The Reification of Transnational Relationships and the Ethics of Cross-Cultural Appropriations in Finnish Contemporary Folk Music,” in Yearbook for Traditional Music 39 (2007), 50-83.

Kaminsky, David. Swedish Folk Music in the Twenty-First Century: On the Nature of Tradition in a Folkless Nation (Lanham: Lexington Books, 2012).

After a brief contextual intro, we see a selection of kits, which include traditional kits, augmented with djembes, cajons, plus various Indian and Japanese drums etc.

Two Sides of the Moon: the virtuosic & primitive in rock drumming #iaspm2017

Mandy Smith: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame/Case Western Reserve University

Two Sides of the Moon: Mediating the Virtuosic and the Primitive in Rock Drumming

Keith moon
Keith Moon – “controlled chaos” deconstructed.

ABSTRACT: In live performances, The Who’s drummer Keith Moon flails his arms wildly, dazzles the crowd with classic “drummer face,” and dominates the entire kit, leaving no drum or cymbal unbeaten. In the midst of this pandemonium, however, he executes technically masterful passages and maintains a steady beat. Moon’s bodily performance style produces a visual and aural clash that embodies both chaos and control. He somehow manages to epitomize both “primitiveness” and virtuosity—two concepts often at odds in Western culture. This paper draws on recent scholarship on the body and groove, particularly Robert Fink’s concept of rhythmic tension and release, to argue that drums operate as a site where rock’s value structures are mediated because of the instrument’s ability to signify simultaneously the primitive and the virtuosic. I analyze two Who songs, “My Generation” (1965) and “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (1971), to demonstrate how Moon manifests musically an important conflict in rock values—its competing aesthetic ideals of cerebral complexity and raw simplicity. By embodying both values simultaneously, Moon complicates debates over rock authenticity and lineages. This paper ultimately argues for an analytical consideration of the oft- neglected drummer to gain a deeper understanding of rock’s meanings and pleasures.

 

Mandy opens with an excerpt of Keith Moon playing Won’t Get Fooled Again, pulling “at least four awesome drummer faces” while playing to the headphone beat of the ARP synthesizer backing track, simultaneously achieving the primitive and virtuosic.

A History of drummer jokes… #iaspm2017

Matt Brennan: University of Edinburgh

Towards a history of drummer jokes and stereotypes

Victor
Victor Joyner’s Imperial Four, 1915

ABSTRACT: This paper investigates the history of drummer jokes and stereotypes. Drummer jokes are abundant in popular music culture, and their punchlines hinge on stereotypes about drummers (I focus on seven in particular – drummers as dumb, noisy, illiterate, uncreative, male, broke, and replaceable.) This is not to say that drummers are universally perceived as low status musicians by any means. Instead, as Stephen Cottrell (2004) has suggested, “stereotypes require a certain suspension of disbelief; we persist in stereotyping even when confronted with evidence which defies or contradicts the stereotypical image created.” But musician jokes of all kinds employ humour which “also has its place in controlling behaviour, that is, it can be used to reinforce behavioural norms and values existing within a society or group; ridiculing socially inappropriate behaviour promotes social control because it emphasizes social conformity” (ibid). This paper sketches the history of drummer jokes and stereotypes and argues that drummer stereotypes are ultimately not just about drummers: we find similar stereotypes routinely attributed in wider narratives of “low culture” of all sorts. Making fun of the drum kit and drummers is therefore a useful lens to consider the historical construction of the divide between high and low culture.

Ref: Cottrell, Stephen. Professional music-making in London: ethnography and experience (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004).

Matt begins, contrarily enough, with his serious research questions – how do drummer jokes define perception of drummers, and are the jokes a cause or effect of their ‘lowly’ status.

Studying listening / recorded popular music #iaspm2017

Marta García Quiñones: Independent researcher

Studying listening to recorded popular music: a methodological overview and some suggestions for future research

ABSTRACT: It is normally taken for granted that popular music fans listen to recorded music, and that their preferences are mainly shaped by that activity. However, studying what happens while they are listening appears as a challenging task. While current neurobiological research seems to provide access to how our brains react to music (Levitin 2006), it has attained so far very limited results, and ultimately perpetuates a solipsistic conception of listening. In the last two decades popular musicologists, anthropologists and sociologists have proposed different qualitive research strategies, which are generally more sensitive to the varieties of human relationship to music and the diversity of listening contexts, and even occasionally deal with situations where music listening happens alongside other actions (Lilliestam 2013, Kassabian 2013). Yet, these methods may raise questions of representativity, and do not always allow a better understanding of the intersubjectivity of listening practices—that is, the fact that listening and appreciating recorded popular music is something that is often done with others, in dialogue with their opinions, and in a network of affective exchanges. This paper wants to contribute to the design of useful research procedures focusing on this particular aspect of the experience of popular music fans.

[JB note – this was presented in a room with some noise pollution from next door, and being sat at the back I didn’t catch all of it. At one point we were dealing simultaneously with an un-miced presenter, audio playback from the next room, and a local bell-ringing group practising in the church across the road! I’ve posted what I have below, but I suggest interested scholars should follow Marta’s work directly because this post really doesn’t do justice to the depth of the presentation].

Marta’s focus is on music listening in everyday life; she is interested in the effect of listening context on the listener’s perception. Her goal is to design situation-based models by which musicologists can interrogate how people hear music.

In a section about technologies, Marta reflects that new and old technologies often coexist simultaneously, and she makes the point that despite FM radio being a relatively old technology it is still responsible for a large number of listener experiences. She refers to AM/FM radio as the ‘centrepiece of audio’ among the 25-54 age demographic.

She makes an argument that the passive/solipsistic act of ‘listening’ to music is replaced in some scholarship with the more active act of ‘responding’ to music. She breaks down the literature on listener research into three categories:

  • Social Psychology, Consumer psychology and psychology of music (e.g. John Sloboda, Adrian North/David Hargreaves, Greasley & Lamont)
  • Sociology and communication studies (e.g. Tia Denora, Antoince Hennion, Raphael Nowak)
  • Popular music studies (e.g. Susan Crafts, Melissa Avdeef)

Marta notes that these authors make a significant contribution to listener research, but notes (as others have done, including me) that academics have a tendency to survey their own students, which may risk limiting the value of the evidence base.

Greasley and Lamont talk about the ‘Experience Sampling Method‘; Marta also discusses the Day Reconstruction Method and Tia DeNora’s work on participant-observation.

Popular song & literary scholarship (Brazil) #iaspm2017

Cláudia Neiva de Matos: Universidade Federal Fluminense

Popular song and literary scholarship: interactions between criticism and artistic creation

[ABSTRACT ONLY]

vm-e-baden
Vinícius de Moraes (right); one of several Brazilian poet/songwriters discussed in Marta’s presentation.

ABSTRACT: Brazilian popular song and literature have long been intertwined. The 19th-century “modinhas” were often created by setting written poems to music and in the radio era romantic songs often had literary style lyrics. Since bossa-nova and tropicalismo, an increasing number of artists, from Vinícius de Moraes to Arnaldo Antunes, have composed poems as well as lyrics. Besides, since the 1980s, as popular music gets more space and relevance as a subject of academic research, a new kind of connection arises, linking scholars and popular songwriting: professors and critics of the literary and linguistic fields, such as José Miguel Wisnik and Luiz Tatit, are also renowned songwriters and singers. They never or seldom write poetry, but they produce important books and articles about popular song. This paper will approach the artistic and critical production of those and other “mastersingers”, in order to discuss the following working hypothesis: when creating and performing songs get together with researching and analysing them, both art and science are affected; art offers new aesthetic proposals and forms; academic and critical work develop new perceptions and perspectives, with remarkable results to the analytical and theoretical approach of popular song.

[no commentary – with apologies to Cláudia, I arrived late to this session, but her discussion of the overlap between Brazilian poets, academics, and songwriters was fascinating and I look forward to reading her work if she writes it up at a future date].

Keynote: popular music studies / jazz studies #iaspm2017

André Doehring: Institute for Jazz Research, University of Music and Performing Arts Graz, Austria

Fish and fowl? Mapping the no-man’s-land between popular music studies and jazz studies

 

louis-armstrong3.jpg
Louis Armstrong stated many times that he loved Guy Lombardo’s Royal Canadians. Was he more open-minded than some jazz and pop musicologists? [spoiler: yes]
OUTLINE: In his article ‘Is jazz popular music?”, Simon Frith (2007: 10) has noticed that the “separation of jazz and popular music studies is an indisputable fact of academic life”. Indeed, due to their historically different developments, both disciplines have established sets of aesthetic norms, separate institutional bases, and specific methods to identify and cope with the musics they have found worth studying. Recently, Matt Brennan (2017) has shown the influence of music journalism on these scholarships. Ultimately, both succeeded – more (jazz studies) or less (popular music studies), at least in the German-speaking world – as distinctive disciplines with developed curricula. 

This keynote argues, by pointing to examples throughout the history of recorded music, that this neat division of the musical world is precarious because it prevents a fertile exchange between jazz and popular music studies; for instance, the development of (still) so-called New Jazz Studies during the last twenty years has only occasionally led to serious discussion in the popular music field. Moreover, this separation excludes a lot of musics, musicking and musicians in between these two fields. In particular, by using an example from the realm of electronic dance music, the lecture advocates a joint effort to fill the void in between the front lines of jazz and popular music that, potentially, may lead to structural changes in teaching and researching jazz and popular music.

REFERENCES:

BIO: André Doehring is professor for jazz and popular music research and head of the Institute for Jazz Research at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Graz (Austria). Before, he has been assistant professor at the University of Gießen (Germany) where he received his doctorate in musicology and had studied musicology and sociology. He is president of the International Society for Jazz Studies (IGJ), member of the scientific board of the German Society for Popular Music Studies (GfPM), co-editor of GfPM’s online journal Samples and since 2017 of IGJ’s yearbook Jazz Research and Studies in Jazz Research. His main research topics are the social histories and historiographies of popular music and jazz, analysis, and music and media. Currently, he is involved into establishing a European network for transnational jazz studies.

PUBLICATIONS: Song Interpretations in 21st Century Pop Music (Eds. Appen/Doehring/Helms/Moore, Ashgate, 2015); “Andrés’s ‘New For U’ – new for us. On analysing electronic dance music” (Ashgate 2015); “Modern Talking, musicology and I: analysing the forbidden fruit” (Routledge 2016); “Male journalists as ‘artists’: the ideological production of recent popular music journalism” (Éditions des Archives Contemporaines 2017).

[with apologies to André for not hearing the start due to background noise as people came in]

André laments the relative historical disinclination of academe to be prepared to engage musicologically with pop and jazz. He states that there is still a percentage bias against non-classical musics, citing as evidence the tiny proportion of popular (as opposed to classic) musicology professorships in German universities. He leads us through the history of some pioneers, including Marshall Stearns, who founded the Institute for Jazz Studies in 1953 New Jersey, USA.  We are led through the gradual growth of jazz studies in (mainly US) Higher Education from the 1950s onward.

Digital natives in the music industry? #iaspm2017

Koos Zwaan, Sabine de Lat and Mark van Everdinck: Inholland University of Applied Sciences (presenter: Koos Zwaan)

Digital natives in the music industry? How the Internet ecosystem is creating value for artists

DJ Angerfist
The Netherlands’ DJ Angerfist – he shares social media platforms with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra.

ABSTRACT: We will report findings from a large scale online research project looking at the value of online income streams for Dutch pop musicians. We have performed an analysis of the online activities of a diverse group of about 1100 Dutch artists, stretching the entire scope of popular music genres. By using cluster analysis we have identified a number of different archetypical artist strategies for using online possibilities for marketing, promotion and interaction with the audience. These quantitative findings have been enriched by doing interviews with a number of artist managers of artists who can be identified in one of these artist clusters. From our analysis we can conclude that different types of artists have strategic reasons for choosing a specific type of online strategy. Both theoretical and practical implications of this study will be discussed.

Koos opens with a quiz – who is back, and where? The answer, of course, is Taylor Swift is back on Spotify. Koos quotes from Swift’s 2014 Time interview:

“I’m always up for trying something. And I tried [Spotify] and I didn’t like the way it felt. I think there should be an inherent value placed on art. I didn’t see that happening, perception-wise, when I put my music on Spotify.” Taylor Swift, 2014

Vesta Tilley and the 19th-century music industry in the UK #iaspm2017

Nancy Bruseker: Independent scholar

How to find out more about the 19th-century music business in the UK

Tilley
Vesta Tilley (1864-1952), in and out of drag (source – Wikipedia).

ABSTRACT: Technological advances in music distribution have radically changed business and audience practices and the way music itself is made by musicians. However, these technological developments affect not only music being made and sold today. Modern technological advances have made sources like historical newspapers and genealogical records more accessible, allowing researchers the opportunity to begin to reconstruct musical lives and musical worlds beyond the 20th century, including ones that predate recorded sound. This paper uses sources like the British Library’s 19th century newspaper archive, the British Newspaper Archive, Ancestry and Digimaps historic maps, to reconstruct one British music hall performer’s, Vesta Tilley’s, touring schedule across five decades – 1870s to the 1910s – in order to show what a music industry structured around live performance, rather than record production, looked like. The data allows an extensive view into Vesta’s working and touring life: how often she was on tour, how far she went, and how her work patterns changed from childhood to adulthood to retirement, and how her repertoire interacted with these developments. In brief, without an album release schedule it was relentless. Furthermore, the data illustrates how a large number of independent venues gradually gave way to a series of syndicates (Moss, Stoll, De Frece, and others), changing the shape of the tour, providing us a view of the birth of the equivalent of the 21st century Academy circuit in the UK: the evolution of the business of entertainment up to the earliest days of sound recording.

Nancy starts by outlining that her research, though historical, is nonetheless digitally powered, and that the 19th century music industry might have much to tell us about how later music industry models evolved.

Crowdfunding and Amanda Palmer #iaspm2017

Beatriz A. Medeiros and Natalia Dias: Universidade Federal Fluminense

Crowdfunding is not for everybody: Performance in the Art of Asking

Palmer
Amanda Palmer: previously signed to Roadrunner, and now an independent crowdfunded artist.

ABSTRACT: This paper had as main goal to understand the importance of performance inside a process of crowdfunding, from the video produced by the independent musician Amanda Palmer, for the platform Kickstarter, to promote the project for launching her album, Theater is Evil. One of Kickstarter’s main requirements are audiovisual productions that assist in the dissemination of artists and their projects. Such videos seem to be the leading engagement products to attract “backers”. However, the hypothesis is that this is not the ultimate persuasion of this model. Resorting to Reception Studies as methodological basis and using internet ethnographic as inspiration, comments relating the video of Palmer’s project, present at the Youtube and Kickstarter platforms, were analyzed. Thus, it was possible to observe that not only the audiovisual performance is important to move “backers”, but also there’s a need of previous knowledge of the artist by these financers.

[Beatriz presents this jointly-authored paper on behalf of both authors].

The research subject is Amanda Palmer, a US-based independent artist who started her career in a piano/drums punk duo (signed to Roadrunner until 2011) and is now a solo independent artist. Her first album ‘Theatre is Evil” was crowdfunded via Kickstarter and later Patreon; Beatriz shows us a screenshot of the funding page, which shows pledges of $1,192,793 against a target of $100,000.

Then the Science Guys Entered The Room #iaspm2017

Henrik Smith-Sivertsen and Jesper Steen Andersen – Royal Library of Copenhagen/University of Copenhagen

Then the science guys entered the room – on MIR and popular music studies

Graph
The (quasi?) scientific big data study of popular music hits that was undertaken by Mauch et al (2015). Great idea, but controversially executed.

ABSTRACT: During the last years new approaches to the study of popular music have emerged. A whole new field labeled MIR (music information retrieval) has been established as recent technological developments have made it possible to analyze large datasets of music/related information in ways unthinkable ten years ago. Due to the technical skills needed, the scholars conducting such research are generally trained within computer scientific fields. Contrarily, the field of popular music studies (PMS) has traditionally been anchored within disciplines of humanities and social science. For a number of reasons the contact between the two traditions has been limited. In this paper we will present and discuss the results of different MIR-projects on music history and demonstrate that: the digitization of music and the analytical tools being developed on the one hand holds big potential for new approaches within PMS.the results presented until now on the other hand often clearly demonstrate limited musical/historical knowledge. both MIR and musicology can benefit from acknowledging each other’s core competencies and from transgressing differences in research cultures.

[JB note: I would travel a long way (and indeed, have done so) to hear Henrik talk. He is a true eccentric, an extraordinarily entertaining presenter, a deeply impassioned archivist, and a methodologically thorough researcher. I’ve not seen Jesper present yet, but have high hopes that he is an equally methodologically passionate Dane].

Psychedelia to Djent #iaspm2017

Andrzej Mądro: Academy of Music in Kraków (Poland)

From Psychedelia to Djent – Progressive Genres as a Paradox of Pop Culture

Meshuggah
Meshuggah. That face definitely says ‘Meshuggah’.

ABSTRACT: Progressive rock has, as a popular music genre from the very beginning, separated itself from pop culture extensively. It wanted to be the elite, the modern, and the innovative in new forms of art. Ideas of “art rock” do not expire and with time gave rise to the new, transgressive trends: neo-progressive in the 80s, progressive metal and mathcore in the 90s, and, recently, djent. At the expense of greater commercial success, many bands still cut off from the rock-metal mainstream and operate independently, incessantly exceeding stylistic and aesthetical boundaries. Moreover, poetics of their music often reveals a tension between elitism and egalitarianism, intellect and corporeality, individuality and conventions. During the last few decades also classical music crossed the limits of the traditional, even modernistic aesthetics. So if nowadays we consider music that is minimal, electronic, neoromantic or other postmodern trends as “classical”, how should we regard progressive genres? Can they be seen as synthesis of two worlds: classical and rock, or are they being created a thick frontier between art and pop culture? Who is to say whether rock opera should be interpreted as a cluster of songs or as a musical drama?

Live music ecology #iaspm2017

Adam Behr: 
Newcastle University

Narrating Popular Music: The state of the live music ecology

Venue
The Great British Live Music Census is a partnership between University of Edinburgh, UK Music, Musicians Union, and the Music Venue Trust.

ABSTRACT: This paper introduces the political and industrial context of the Great British Live Music Census. It builds on the theorization of live music in cities as an ‘ecology’, which has informed the development of the census project, and looks specifically at the role of the state (local and national) in shaping the musical lives of cities and their inhabitants. Whilst music is often deployed as part of city branding exercises, and used to drive trade, tourism and regeneration, venues and musicians are often at the sharp end of such changes. With policy formed with the benefit of the wider economy and populace in mind, musicians and music businesses attempt to carve out a space in the regulatory process to protect and sustain their activities. This paper examines the dynamic between grassroots music activity, the larger commercial operators and policy bodies that has both informed the census and been a feature of the ecology that the project team has had to negotiate. It discusses the political decisions, the responses of musicians and music industry personnel, and the space for academics within this equation.

Just for fun? Contemporary Gifting of Music #iaspm2017

Chris Anderton – Southampton Solent University (UK)

Just for the fun of it? Contemporary Strategies for Making, Distributing and Gifting Music

Album cover
Ben Sharp aka Cloudkicker is a prolific independent artist whose work is freely downloadable.

ABSTRACT: Technological developments in home recording and internet distribution mean that it is now easier than ever before for musicians both to create music and to distribute it to the public for a relatively minimal financial outlay. The traditional economic relations and structures of the recording and copyright industries may largely be bypassed through processes of disintermediation, and musicians have much greater control over their own recorded works than is typically afforded by the commercial recording companies. Many musicians have adopted alternative strategies for making their music available to the public, and it is one broad subset of these musicians that this paper will focus on. These musicians make their music available for free download/streaming through sites such as Bandcamp, Free Music Archive and the Internet Archive, or directly through their own websites. In some cases, the music is released through collective Netlabels and Creative Commons licences, while at other times, copyright is retained and the music is made available on a ‘name your price’ basis with no minimum amount specified. This article will use Jacques Attali’s notion of the ‘Age of Composition’ as a starting point for considering the strategies of these musicians and their relationships with traditional models of music making and distribution.

Chris opens with a description of the opportunities afforded in recent years to independent artists by internet-based distribution technologies. Our first example is Mery Ann (Spain), the artist name for Maria Aguilar, the co-owner of Zodiac Musick, a now-defunct netlabel that was in existence between 2003 and around 2015. Mery Ann’s work is retro 80s synth electronica [my reference points are vaguely Tangerine Dream and Georgio Moroder]. Chris reads an excerpt from the label’s radical mission statement: 

Latin-American popular music: “Paraguay Purahei” #iaspm2017

Gabriel S. S. Lima Rezende – UNILA (Brazil)

The problem of Latin-American popular music: an analysis of “Paraguay Purahei” album (2014)

Paraguay Purahei.jpgABSTRACT: This paper aims to discuss the problem of modernization of popular Latin American music genres from the analysis of “Paraguay Purahei” (2014), the first CD released by the eponymous trio. The theoretical framework that defines the approach belongs to the field of sociology of music, specifically the branch that takes the sound-musical materiality as an essential dimension of social analysis. As part of a broader research on the problem of modernization in popular musics of Latin-America, this proposal focuses on the analysis of the phonograms that constitute the CD mentioned above whereby the effort to understand the meaning of the “modernizing action” is established. This action configures itself in the intertwining of the choice of repertoire, composed exclusively by referential pieces of the traditional repertoire of Paraguay’s popular music, with the compositional-performative procedures used in the treatment of the traditional material. Understanding the meaning of this action implies the identification of idiomatic elements that link the chosen pieces to the traditional repertoire, the types of procedures used in redesigning this traditional material, and the interpretation of how these are interlaced.

Blame It on the Boogie – criteria for good pop music? #iaspm2017

Presenter: Dirk Stederoth – Universität Kassel, Institut für Philosophie

Mick Jackson
Mick Jackson, who wrote and released the original version of Blame It On The Boogie in 1978.

ABSTRACT: The presentation focuses on the question of whether there are criteria for measuring the quality of a pop song that go beyond the scope of a mere musical structural analysis. As many examples demonstrate, such structural analysis, which, according the criteria thereof, is derived from the aesthetic study of classical art music, offers rather unsatisfactory results when applied to pop music. In addition, it is questionable whether harmonic or rhythmic complexity, for example, is even a suitable criterion for the analysis of pop music. Against the background of this problematic situation, the presentation proposes an approach based on musical aesthetics, which assumes a fundamental tension between ideational musical structures and their categories (tonality, rhythmicity/the study of meter and composition) as well as the realization of music. The thesis of this approach proposes that pop music can not so much be considered from the structural perspective of this debate but instead from the perspective of realization. However, studying pop music for the perspective of realization requires comparable categories. These categories in the presentation at hand are sound, groove and performance. After this approach has been presented, I will also apply these categories of realization by means of a comparative analysis of the two versions of the pop song “Blame It on the Boogie” by Mick Jackson and The Jackson Five in order to establish the heuristic value of these categories.

Dirk opens his presentation with these historically concurrent versions of ‘Blame It On The Boogie’. We hear The Jacksons’ more famous version, then the earlier German version by original songwriter ‘Mick Jackson’ (no relation). Dirk tells the apocryphal story of how the song was discovered at the MIDEM show in the 1970s, and then immediately debunks this legend, stating that it was actually a more straightforward publishing deal because The Jacksons needed a more successful hit than their previous one.