Daily Archives: April 24, 2010

EMP Pop Music Conference Day 3 + 4

Ok peeps! Last post of my comments on EMP’s Pop Music Conference 2010! Day 3 + 4. Here you go!

Feminist Working Group Session

  • Emily Wells
  • Wynne Greenwood
  • Tara Rodgers aka Dj Analog Tara

This was yet again another excellent panel talking about gender, technology and the music industry. It was actually a very philosophical discussion about embodiment and how female musicians experience themselves and their music. For example, Wynne Greenwood talked about how it was for her to be a solo artist, performing on video as a full band, and how we can embody and disembody ourselves from the things we create.

Analog-Digital Divides

  • John Fenn, “Analog Circuits, Digital Community: Boutique Effects Pedals as Convergence Culture”
  • Loren Kajikawa, “The Analogue Sound of Digital Production: Dr. Dre’s G-Funk in Post-Rebellion L.A.”
  • Karen Tongson, “Analog Acoustics: Echoes of the Subject from Rin on the Rox to Glee”
  • Oliver Wang, “Microwave DJs: Digital Technology and Contemporary Disc Jockey Practice”

Great discussion putting in its place the binary oppositionally charged rhetoric that “analog is better than digital.” Both have pros and cons, and often what works best for the artist works best. Personally, I like digital because it is easy, quick and does what I need. Hell, I’m just happy to have a format I can work with, have access to, and sorta afford. The best part of this panel was the DJ discussion. The idea that some DJs aren’t “real” DJs because they aren’t crate digging for vinyl. Since we have digital mp3s, they haven’t “earned their right” to be DJs. Whatever. There is still quite a bit of work you need to do to become an accomplished DJ, and just because people aren’t literally crate digging doesn’t mean they aren’t digging for music in other ways.

Roundtable: In the Girls” Room: Pre-Internet Teen Girl Bedroom Culture

  • Marisa Meltzer
  • Kara Jesella
  • Ada Calhoun
  • Neal Medlyn

Oh yea, bedroom culture! This panel was a complete flashback to my 90s bedroom listening to Alanis Morisette, painting my nails, and dreaming that others out there felt like I did. The made some interesting points about how girls use their bedrooms as a site of forming their identities, and music is an important part of that. Listening to the radio for that one perfect song, staring at your band posters for hours, making ‘zines, it’s all about finding yourself. Now, there were some excellent critiques as to which girls had this type of privileged bedroom space that had many possessions in it, and that they didn’t share a bedroom with anyone else. Interesting though, I wish we would have had more time to talk! P.S. Thanks to Marisa for signing my copy of “Girl Power!”


  • Jonathan Beard, “The Beat Says It All: Jimmy Jam, Terry Lewis and the Technological Development of a Sexual Identity in Janet Jackson’s Control”

A little disappointed by this panelist. I don’t really thing he proved at all how the sonic and technical aspects of Janet Jackson’s Control was sexual liberation. Lyrically, yes, it totally is, but the panel was about the instrumentation, not lyrics and I really don’t think we every really talked about “how” the beats, samples and mixing she used indicate a sexual liberation. I can think of ways this can be, but I wish the panelist would have made this point clear.


  • Elaine Hayes, “Sarah Vaughan, Crossover and the Technology of Race”
  • James G. Williams, “Living In a Sonic Alterity: Exploring Black Identity with Auto-tune While Subverting Racialized Vocal Timbre”
  • Leah Pogwizd, “Auto-Tune, No Homo: Music Technology and the Construction of Sexuality in Hip-hop”

Auto tune! I think another one of my favorite panels. Usually, the quick and easy response to artists who use Auto-Tune is that they are cheaters, fakers, and just using technology to cover the fact that they can’t cut it. Well, in some ways, yes artists use Auto-Tune to correct out of tune pitches, but usually most people don’t notice when that happens because it is so seamless. The instances when people have the above feelings is when it is so obvious that auto-tune is being used to the point of robotic vocals. At this point, as the panelist note, it becomes a vocal effect, like distortion for the guitar. I like the discussion of auto and race, noting how it can in some ways be used to subvert the idea of racialized vocal timbres. Basically, it takes away socially constructed ideas about what a “black or latin” voice is supposed to sound like. Yet, I wonder, does that mean it is then “white-washed?” I hope not. PLus, the idea of those rappers who use auto-tune are somehow more feminine because they are harnessing technology, rather than being “real and raw” rapping with their vocals unaltered, is an interesting gender twist to how gender norms intersect with technology. Cool!

Identity Projects

  • Carey Sargent, “Trappin” in the “Best Place to Live”: Rap and Resistance in the Gilded College Town”
  • Wendy Hsu, “Mapping the Translocal Taqwacore Social Networks via Digital Humanities”
  • Jason Kirby, “Pandora.com, pop genres, and the question of “musical DNA””
  • Pinko Communoids

Transnational jam session! That was the best part of this panel! The Pink Communoids Skyped with their fellow band member who was in South Korea. Epic win for technology. Carey and Wendy’s presentations on the racialized nature of music subgroups was amazing. The racisim that rappers face in a majority white college town was horrific. The usage of technology to visually show the fans of a Taqwacore band was a geek’s google map dream. PLus, the idea that Pandora is “objective” in how they classify music is bunk. It sounds nice trying to code music via the sounds, but you cannot separate how we think about those sounds, and yet, what we even consider certain sounds from a socially constructed meaning. Plus, getting your music past the 400 or so panel of coders at Pandora is giant feat in the first place. The “objective” panel gets to decide what is in and what is out. How exactly does that work?

Photos from here, here, here, here, and here.

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