SEM Niagara Chapter, 2005


9:00 – 10:30 am
Jeremy Morris (Ryerson/York)

Exploring the Role of Branding in the Popular Music Industry

Branding, once solely a technique used to distinguish packaged goods and other commodities, has become an integral marketing tool for a variety of products and services (Gobé 2001, Klein 2000, Moore 2003). As marketers strive to differentiate their wares in a cluttered market, universities, political parties (Team Martin) and other such “products” have had to examine what their “brand” means and what it can offer potential customers. The popular music industry, though traditionally not discussed in such terms, is no stranger to brands and branding. The industry relies on legendary brands like U2 and the Rolling Stones to pack auditoriums around the world and gambles constantly with new brands and new means of marketing them. With proper branding, the right artist(s) can climb from relative obscurity to superstardom. The recent slew of fabricated boy bands and Canadian Idols are arguably more brand than music.

Despite this – what I consider to be a plethora of branding activity – the topic remains relatively unexamined (Negus 1992, however, provides an excellent starting point). As the onslaught of new digital technologies (i.e. streaming audio, mp3 compression and file sharing) presents the music industry its greatest threat (or, possibly, its greatest opportunity) in the last two decades, I believe it is an important time to understand the relationship between “music” and “brand”. The act of consuming music is integrally linked to consuming music brands. In this paper I intend to provide an analysis of a music brand: Radiohead. My case study will assess several key factors that constitute the brand: packaging, videos, website, press, sound, image, logo etc. I will begin with a brief overview of the concept of branding and then discuss the implications of applying this construct to the music product. Ultimately, I hope to provide a framework for approaching the complexities of a branded musical product and offer insights as to how brands influence the act of music consumption.

Jennifer Taylor (McMaster)

Lilith Fair: A Celebration of Whom?

Lilith Fair: A celebration of women in music was the first all female music festival to tour North America. Its founder, Sarah McLachlan, hoped that Lilith Fair would demonstrate the "great and diverse music being made by women." Of the 52 women musicians who performed in the inaugural year, 1997, 49 were white singer/songwriters. Over the following two years, white, singer/songwriters continued to dominate the festival’s line-up. Thus, although Lilith Fair placed gender in a highly visible position, it was the social fiction of "woman" that was continually constructed. This is a category rooted in patriarchal oppression and Victorian ideologies of femininity that subsequently signifies the white, heterosexual, middle class female. As a consequence, the festival did not celebrate a diverse range of women musicians, but rather reinscribed a particular "women’s music" community that intersected with the notion of respectability. Locating Lilith Fair in ideologies of gender, race, class and sexuality, this paper will explore how the music and extra-musical activities of Lilith Fair constructed this particular "woman." Finally, it will argue that the festival engaged with the position of women musicians in popular music and consequently reproduced the problems of representation evidenced in the popular music industry.

Gordon Sheard (York)

Bakhtin in Bahia: The Brazilian Carnival Song “Pererê” and Dialogized Heteroglossia

In this study I examine the song “Pererê”, as recorded by the Bahian singer Ivete Sangalo prior to the 2001 carnival of Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, within the framework of Mikhail Mikhailovich Bakhtin’s theories known collectively as ‘dialogism’. Initially developed in the realm of literary criticism, Bakhtin’s ideas (often in the guise of ‘intertextuality’) have been increasingly deployed in recent years as a tool for musical analysis (see, for example, Echard 2002; Middleton 2000; Lacasse 2000; Monson 1996). Here I utilize Bakhtin’s notion of ‘dialogized heteroglossia’ as an approach to the specific socio-musical milieu of the Bahian carnival.

‘Heteroglossia’ refers to the stratification of the language of any society into various forms, including those aligned with groups differentiated by such factors as age, class, and profession. As they interact within the context of competing societal forces, and again when they are (re)presented within a literary work, these various language types are dialogized (Bakhtin 1981). In the Bahian genre known as axé music various musical dialects present in Salvador – often representative of competing identities in a field of historical tendencies, differentiated global affinities, and unequal economic and power relations – are brought together. I will analyze the song “Pererê” as an example of the workings of this process in this heteroglot genre.

Jim Kimball (SUNY Geneseo)

DISPLAY-DISCUSSION: Jaw Harps: A Comparative and Historical Display

Jim Kimball will display, discuss, and teach using his collection of jaw harps plus related materials and lore from a variety of European, Asian and American sources.

11:00 am – 12:30 pm SESSION 2
Jose Neglia (Toronto)

Madama Butterfly Part II: Re-“Righting” the Wrongs of the Butterfly Story in a 2004 Japanese Opera

The reception of Puccini’s Madama Butterfly in the West, where the work has been a mainstay of the opera repertoire throughout its one-hundred year history, contrasts with its more ambivalent reception in the land of its setting, Japan. From revised and even truncated productions to adaptations in diverse media such as bunraku and musical theatre, the Butterfly story in Japan has repeatedly undergone ‘revisions’ that have resisted the work’s Orientalist and colonialist underpinnings. And yet, rather than outright rejection, Madama Butterfly is staged frequently in Japan, maintaining an ambiguous position between reverence as a monument of Western high culture, and resistance as a testament to Western hegemony in East Asia.

It is within this context that composer Saegusa Shigeaki and librettist Shimada Masahiko embarked upon a sequel to the Butterfly story in the 2004 Japanese opera, Jr. Butterfly. This paper examines Jr. Butterfly in order to engage the work within the contradictory reception history of Madama Butterfly in Japan. In this regard, Jr. Butterfly at once faithfully adheres to the Italian opera tradition, borrowing the musical language and form from the music of Puccini and his contemporaries, while providing a counter narrative to the Butterfly story, particularly through its re-contextualized setting, namely Japan during the Pacific war. I draw upon postcolonial theory, in particular Homi Bhabha’s theories of mimicry and hybridity, in order to explicate the work as a site of resistance to Western hegemony in the context of US-Japan relations of the 20th century.

Kate Galloway (Toronto)

The Revitalization of Ritual in R. Murray Schafer’s Patria Cycle

R. Murray Schafer’s Patria cycle is shaped by the inclusion and implementation of ritual practices and performances. The integration of ritual into these compositions is Schafer’s attempt to supplant the ordinary with the extraordinary. Contemporary society, whether due to increasing secularization or decreasing spiritualism, has lost touch with ritual, suffering ritual boredom. In response to this boredom, Schafer has designed a new form of theatre that has revitalized and rejuvenated the spirituality of the participants. Patria is an attempt to reintroduce and reinvent the special and celebratory – the mystery and awe of forgotten rituals. Ritual in Patria is a transformative experience when it is enacted and performed within the framework of established rules and shared values. Many of the Patria works are based on traditional rituals, adopted from various cultural and historical sources. Others are unique to the particular performance and have emerged from Schafer’s imaginative process. Schafer continues to develop a new non-traditional art form within which he embeds traditional concepts of ritual. This paper will examine the ways in which Schafer integrates the structural and experiential elements of ritual space, time and identity, drawing upon examples from a selection of Patria works including: Patria the Prologue: Princess of the Stars, Patria 6: RA, Patria 10: The Spirit Garden, and Patria the Epilogue: And Wolf Shall Inherit the Moon. By referencing many of Schafer’s works this paper will illustrate that ritual not only is the core within each production, but also serves as a connecting thread among them.

Alexander Glenfield (York)

Humor in the Hybrid: Musical Aesthetics of Pun in Tuvan Shamanism

This presentation concerns humor as a response to musical stimuli, specifically, hybrid musical artifacts. The kind of humor explored here does not include the deliberately funny musical constructions of P.D.Q. Bach, Weird Al Yankovic, or Frank Zappa. Pejorative humor, laughing at musical recordings and performances, is in focus under the lens of the theory. A frequently neglected component of ethnography, humor, is taken here as a relevant aspect of musical ethnography, for laughter is a sign of a listener’s reactionary psychic processes. Humor theories from philosophy, anthropology, and psychology streams are applied for analysis in musical ethnography.

Based on recent fieldwork studies in the Russian Republic of Tuva, I will unveil unique aesthetic perspectives of Tuvan artists and fans. Two performances at the 2004 Usttuu Huree Festival in Tuva, the first by local Tuvan musician Kongor-ol Ondar and the second by the late Sun Ra’s Arkestra, will support the following theory: A humorous response, pejorative laughter, signifies harbored aesthetic judgment and fixed authenticity concepts that have roots in the local Tuvan animistic belief system. The belief system itself suggests a distinct musical aesthetic based on the linguistic pun. In Tuvan shamanism, punning, a lowly humor form in the West, is treated as an elevated aesthetic model for music…and everything else in nature.

2:00 – 3:30 pm SESSION 3
Isaac Akrong (York) &
Everett Igobwa (York)

Miziki wa Kisasa: A Comparative Analysis of Rhythm in Sub-Saharan African Musics

Rhythm in Africa has been described in many forms in the wake of ethnological taxonomy of socio-lingual perspectives of its indigenous people. Most rhythms are traditionally described in cycles rather than linear and a connection can be made to aspects of African societal life.

This paper will present popular music examples from sub-Saharan Africa, with an attempt to appreciate rhythm as a common denominator that links the musics of this diverse region. We aim to tackle selected rhythmic patterns at a macro and micro level in an effort to foster discussion on rhythmic sensibilities in this region.

Rubén Esguerra (York)

Tuning the tambor alegre: Establishing a stylistic and aesthetic identity

This work is a comparative study of two percussionists from the Atlantic-coast region of Colombia who are specialists in the tambor alegre performance tradition. The bullerengue—the most popular genre in which the tambor alegre is found—is believed by the inhabitants of the region to have its origin in San Basilio de Palenque, a maroon village located 50 kilometers southeast of the city of Cartagena, Colombia. The community of San Basilio is considered a crucial locale in the preservation of Afro-Colombian culture, language, and music (Arocha and Friedemann 1984; List 1983). Based on fieldwork undertaken in December 2002, this study considers how evolutions in the techniques for tuning the tambor alegre can be understood in terms of stylistic and aesthetic choices. The study engages the performance styles of the late Encarnación Tobar, an orally trained master drummer, and Richard Arnedo, a young, conservatory-trained virtuoso. Given the contrasting generational and regional circumstances from which these two performers emerged, this study of the particular tuning techniques of these individuals contributes to an explanation of: (i) how individual performers establish a definitive performance style within a musical tradition; (ii) some of the socio-historic factors that prompt shifts in performance aesthetics, and; (iii) new information to be added to scholarly study of Afro-Colombian musical instruments (e.g., List 1983).

Mitzie Collins (Eastman)

Children’s Playground Clapping Games and Chants from Rochester’s 19th Ward and South Wedge Neighborhoods: A Project in Progress

From the 19th century to the present, scholars of North American children's songs have feared that children's clapping games were fast disappearing from the culture. Yet in Rochester, New York, children still know a variety of count-outs and clapping games. During the spring of 2005, I videotaped clapping games and chants from children living in two neighborhoods in Rochester. I interviewed the children about the games, asking them when and why they played them, and what particular skills each game required. The collection and interview process as well as samples of the games themselves will be the focus of my presentation. Drawing on the writing of Brian Sutton-Smith and Patricia Shehan Campbell, I will examine the special challenges of collecting children's folklore, along with more general issues of representation, authority and interpretation.

4:10 – 5:40 pm SESSION 4
Kathy McKinley (Carleton)

Cambodian Popular Music in the Diaspora: Transnational Business and Imaginings of Home

Following the UN-brokered democratic elections in 1993, as Cambodia emerged from decades of political isolation, transnational flows and connections between Cambodians in diaspora communities and the "homeland" increased dramatically. Through these transnational linkages a new independent transnational Cambodian recording industry has emerged, expanding rapidly within the past few years to include over 20 companies with more than 60 labels in circulation. Mediated forms of traditional and popular music on CD and DVD are now readily available throughout the diaspora. The wide circulation of this music through vast distribution networks has been enhanced through its availability on Internet sites that typically include interactive features such as chat groups, clubs and forums for online discussion of music. This "Khmer owned" industry has empowered Cambodians in dispersed communities to attain a level of cultural autonomy through greater access to "Khmer" music. At the same time, mediated forms of Cambodian popular music have become a focal point for the negotiation and reconfiguration of "Khmer" identity, particularly within the past few years as the industry has become more diversified. This paper explores the range of "Khmer" sensibilities arising from these negotiations and discusses the extent to which Cambodians in local diasporic spaces are experiencing themselves as part of an expanded "global" Khmer community through mediated forms of Cambodian music.

Heather MacLachlan (Cornell)

The Don Dance as an Expression of Karen Nationalism

The Karen are a Southeast Asian people group of some ten million living in Thailand and in the Karen State (or division) of Burma. The Karen National Union has been fighting for independence within Burma for over fifty years. The civil war has created tremendous difficulties within Karen State and as a result, thousands of Karen have fled over the western border to refugee camps located in Thailand. These camps have become a focal point for the preservation of Karen culture.

The Karen continue to perform their traditional don dance in the refugee camps. The don dance is a medium through which social solidarity, political aspirations and cultural distinctives are expressed and affirmed. The residents of the Mae Khong Kha refugee camp express their hope for the future and their pride in their past as they perform the don dance each year on January 16.
The don dance has been documented once before in the ethnomusicological literature, by Theodore Stern and Theodore Stern in “I Pluck My Harp: Musical Acculturation Among the Karen of Western Thailand” (Ethnomusicology, May, 1971.) The description of the dance they observed at that time largely resembles the dance which I saw when I visited Mae Khong Kha refugee camp in January of 2001. However, some important differences were apparent, and I argue that these differences may be accounted for by the different situation the Karen refugees now experience.

Heather Peters (York)

A Semiotic Understanding of the Yugoslavian Immigrant Experience as Represented in the Nostalgia of Homeland Music

Using a semiotic perspective, this paper examines the phenomenon of a prolific collecting of 'homeland' music by Yugoslavian women who have recently immigrated to an urban area in southwestern Ontario. The theme of nostalgija (nostalgia) is predominant at various levels in their selection of repertoire across musical genres. Based on a framework of Greimas’ “Lexicon of Nostalgia” and the work of several other theorists, this discussion explores the interplay of semantic fields inherent in the cause and coping process of nostalgia as an idealized past subsumes the painful present. I propose that a semiotic analysis of homeland music’s role in the immigrant experience reveals that the discursive and connotative elements of song brought into an aestheticized and meaningful coherence through form, text and stylization, produce a natural embodiment of the adaptation process understood as nostalgia. Several songs popular in the Yugoslavian community in Stoney Creek, Ontario will be analyzed to demonstrate the significance in relationships between music, culture and the immigrant experience regarding both individual and collective identities. Finally, the home computer will be considered in its iconic role as a connection between the past and present in collecting music.