“Boulders, Fighting on the Plain”: A World War I–Era Song Repatriated and Remembered in Western Tanzania
The song “Shiganga Jilikenya ku Mabala” (Boulders, fighting on the plain) was composed during World War I by Ng’wana Matonange, a Sukuma singer conscripted into the German Army. Matonange saw the war in economic terms from the point of view of a pastoralist, commenting that the Germans and the British were at war because of cattle. The song enjoyed popularity in dance competitions during the 1920s, before being collected by the anthropologist Hans Cory. The song text was transcribed, and archived with the Hans Cory Papers at the University of Dar es Salaam. The text was referenced in interviews with living musicians and other commentators who were from the village where the song was collected. They were able to elucidate further about the composer, the melody, additional verses, performance practice, and the battle documented in the song. Their commentary informed ethnographic and historical interpretation of the song’s transmission trajectory.
Craig Breaden and Laura Wagner
In a dialogue, the authors—one an audiovisual archivist, the other a scholar-turned-archivist—discuss the challenges of processing the Radio Haiti Archive, the seemingly unusual choice of Duke as custodian of the collection, and the sometimes uneasy balance between the practices of a traditional US academic library and providing true access to audiences in Haiti and in the Haitian diaspora. Wagner and Breaden address the ways in which the Radio Haiti archive is an act of devoir de mémoire (memory work), contending that providing meaningful access to digitized Radio Haiti materials—in terms of language, technology, and culture—allows the station to, in a sense, continue to exist in its place of creation, as a bearer of Haiti’s history and heritage.
This chapter presents an overview of available writing and research materials within country music history and cinema studies disciplines on the interaction of commercial country music and theatrical motion pictures—how the music and its practitioners have been represented on-screen and reception of both have been affected by that representation, and how the music has contributed to films. The deficit in systematic resources for study is described—the lack of country music film archives, filmographies of related motion pictures, and dedicated catalogues. Literature (or its absence) engaging country music and the screen as they evolved and related in the silent, prewar sound, postwar country music boom, and post-1970 “New Hollywood” periods is outlined. How country music performances have served narratives and as self-contained cinematic elements are differentiated, and film’s continuing use as an agency for shaping country’s cultural respectability is outlined.
This chapter explores the role of the recording industry in framing and fueling the development of country music from the 1920s to the present. It primarily examines the way that artists, producers, and record companies developed and manipulated the tenacious debate between “tradition” and “crossover” that continues to structure the music as art, commodity, and cultural symbol. The notion of country authenticity is a function of the attempt to establish country as a distinct and sellable genre. While the recording industry (particularly in Nashville) often gets cast as the villain in debates over country “authenticity,” this chapter suggests that a historical examination of this relationship reveals a more complicated story that has marked the careers of artists from Jimmie Rodgers to Taylor Swift. Swift’s notable work with social media, viral videos, and other components of the media landscape facing recording artists in the 2000s is the latest iteration of a much longer story for country artists, audiences, and record labels.
This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media edited by Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog, and John Richardson. “Discursive accents” indicate the genre, style, or medium of a work. This essay likens discursive accents—the low drone in horror film soundtracks, the guitar rock of 1980s television, or the atonality of “new music”—to spoken accents. For, just as listeners to an unfamiliar language often attend to subtleties that go by unnoticed when words’ meanings are clear, listeners to discursive accents may attend to stylistic and generic frictions that might otherwise be swept away in more discursively straightforward works. In works by Animal Charm, Sean Griffin, Paul McCarthy, and Ryan Trecartin, image stabilizes and grounds the work in some discourse—usually just one—whereas discursive accents such as diegetic or nondiegetic sound and music destabilize the work by suggesting multiple discourses. In these moments of generic hybridity and stylistic instability, discursive accents retreat from meaning and exist more as immanent, unintelligible sound.
This chapter examines the vocal and sonorous dramaturgy of a series of performances by the Italian experimental theatre company Socìetas Raffaello Sanzio, from Santa Sofia (1986) to the cycle Tragedia Endogonidia (2002–2004). The company aimed to create a new language called Generalissima, to satisfy the need for a re-foundation of the anti-logos of the word. Thus it experimented with the conflict that exists between voice and body and between the spoken word and action. The voice constitutes a terrain for experimentation, an adequate domain for the theatre to be regenerated, using the body to the side of technological manipulation of the voice. The aim is to allow the story to be told by sound, by the materiality of the voice, of the text and of the senseless utterances, together with the tactile sensations created by the physical characteristics of the environment.
The first decade of the 2000s witnessed the transnational proliferation of dubstep, an electronic dance music style that quickly became ubiquitous across media platforms and audiences. This article traces the history of dubstep, from its origins in the underground clubs of south London to its presence on the silver screen of Hollywood films. First, the transnational musical relationship between England and the United States is interrogated, in an effort to highlight the significance of “local” scenes in light of increasing globalization. Second, the article examines the use of dubstep across media platforms, positing the more general cultural practice of technological mediation in electronic music as a gendered practice.
Laura U. Marks
This article appears in the Oxford Handbook of Sound and Image in Digital Media edited by Carol Vernallis, Amy Herzog, and John Richardson. This essay considers “noise” in light of enfolding-unfolding aesthetics, a model in which the infinite, information, and images (considered multisensory) respectively enfold and unfold from one another, in ever-changing relationships. According to this model, which is informed by the philosophy of Leibniz, Bergson, and Deleuze, our perception selectively unfolds some aspect of the infinite, but most of the infinite appears as noise. However, a sort of quantitative filter often predetermines what we perceive, so that what we end up perceiving is the product of information; moreover, this often occurs in the service of profit. The essay proposes ways to avoid both the paralysis of all-noise and the strangulation of all-information through creatively deploying enfolding-unfolding aesthetics in art and everyday life.
Travis D. Stimeling
This chapter explores the influence of recording technologies on the creation and reception of country music from the first hillbilly recordings to the twenty-first century. Following a survey of recent literature from the musicology of recording and sound studies, country music’s voice-centered recording strategies are explored through case studies drawn from early hillbilly, honky tonk, and “hot country” recordings. Country music’s history as a recorded musical practice is shaped by technological and aesthetic developments that can be heard in a wide range of recorded popular musics. Furthermore, this chapter examines the ways that bluegrass musicians, engineers, and producers deploy specific technologies, including the single-microphone technique, to articulate their musical and cultural authenticity. These ways can help us gain a better understanding of the expressive power of recorded country music by placing these “records in dialogue” with other recordings in country music and from other music styles.