Thursday, February 12, 2004

Call for Papers: Popular Music Studies/Ethnomusicology/Anthropology/Cultural Studies


13th Biennial Conference of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM)
July 18-23, 2005 Rome, Italy

The Program Committee of IASPM invites individual or panel proposals on the general theme of “Making Music, Making Meaning” for the July 2005 conference to be held in Rome. While focusing on meaning as a shared initial concept, the conference will be organized by five parallel streams, as follows:
• Mapping Meaning (convenor Geoff Stahl) []
• Reading Meaning (convenor Claire Levy) []
• Voicing Meaning (convenor Franco Fabbri) []
• Visualizing Meaning (convenor Marion Leonard) []
• Mediating Meaning (convenor Shuhei Hosokawa) []

Proposals should be sent by email to:

They should include author’s name, institutional affiliation (if any), post and email addresses, paper or panel title, and abstract of no more than 300 words suitable for publication on the conference website if accepted. Please also specify the intended stream and attach your submissions as files with the title “authorsname.rtf”.

Deadline for submissions is July 1, 2004; authors will be notified of the Program Committee’s decisions by January 1, 2005.


Mapping Meaning (convenor Geoff Stahl) []

This stream invites individual paper and panel proposals that investigate issues related to specific popular music meanings emerging in different geographical regions. The production, distribution and consumption of popular music across the globe has meant that attachments to place, national/regional, are important aspects of musicmaking. Discussions focusing on regions around the Mediterranean, the Balkans, Latin America, Africa and Asia, and also on music which
reflects inter-ethnic, inter-regional and inter-cultural perspectives are especially encouraged. We welcome as well papers that address issues relating the intersections and mediations of identity, locality and spatiality. Local scenes and global trends, musical hybridity and cross-pollination are phenomena worthy of more discussion. Considerations of transnational dimensions of past and present musicmaking are also welcome.

Reading Meaning (convenor Claire Levy) []

Since its beginnings, popular music studies has insisted on the priority of meaning. Following the understanding that popular music means different things to different people, theoretical orientations pursued methods ranging from the realm of semiotic or interpretive frameworks to theories of social and cultural homology. While ever challenged by the very nature of popular music and the way it functions, much scholarly work has recently developed methods of textual, contextual and intertextual analysis, or focused on issues in relation to different aspects of the complex relations between intra- and para-musical structures. How are these orientations advancing? Why and how do they borrow theoretical perspectives from neighbouring disciplines? What is, after all, so specific about popular music theory in its attempts to make sense of particular developments in music? How does it contribute to modern understanding of culture and society? Does this understanding produce a further fragmentation of contemporary knowledge in humanities or does it tend to conceptualize a more holistic view on cultural movements? Following from this, how does such knowledge find its way to class rooms? This stream invites individual paper and panel proposals that involve, re-conceptualize and/or further develop theoretical approaches in analysing, studying and also teaching the meaning of popular music. Textual, intertextual and interdisciplinary perspectives are especially encouraged.

Voicing Meaning (convenor Franco Fabbri) []

Most popular music is song, making popular music means (to a large extent) to sing, and a great part of the meaning created while (or by) making popular music is associated with the human voice, then with the body, with complex relations involving the act of singing and an individual personality (‘le grain de la voix’), with intonation (in the paralinguistic sense), with dialects and languages, with texts (‘lyrics’), with the technology of performance and sound reproduction.
While all of these themes and concepts are more or less familiar to academic musicologists and ethnomusicologists (being related to such topics as plainchant, madrigal, opera, Lied, the usage of the human voice in different ethnic contexts, etc.), they appear to be vital to address important issues in popular music studies as well. Just think of the meaning of the search for ‘a white man who had the Negro sound and the Negro feel’ (Sam Phillips, may he rest in peace), not a marginal question in popular music history. What does it mean to have that (vocal) sound and feel? And what about the ‘voz affillà’ in flamenco, ‘bahha’ inArabic song (and its derivatives in many styles of Eastern Mediterranean - mostly female - singing, with ‘that’ typical opaque, ‘tired’ vocal timbre), the deep voice of French chansonniers and Italian cantautori? How are song lyrics pronounced? And are singer-songwriters’ lyrics ‘poetry’? How are social meanings mediated
through the voice? How are local accents (Southern, Liverpudlian) creating meanings? How are foreign languages received and made meaningful? How do languages create barriers to the understanding and dissemination of popular music? Papers addressed to this stream may cover all topics related to the human voice, to language, to song, to all interactions between verbal and musical meanings. Papers covering historical aspects of these relations, and/or focusing on
national/local popular genres (as opposed to transnational/mainstream/anglocentric ones) will be warmly welcome.

Visualizing Meaning (convenor Marion Leonard) []

This stream of the conference invites paper and panel proposals related to sound and vision. This connection is broadly conceived from the analysis and contexts of audio-visual texts to the connection between music and the visionary. In relation to the first of these connections, papers may look at any aspect of meaning making related to music use within documentaries, films, television, video games or music videos. Such considerations may touch on concepts and themes including stardom, genre, mood, mythology and representation. Papers may explore industrial or historical dimensions of this theme, considering for
instance the licencing of music within film soundtracks and advertisements, cross-promotional strategies or the historical link between sound and vision. The stream also encourages papers which explore the concept of the visionary, related to the ties between music styles and religious practice, folk and cultural customs, and rituals and myths. Alternatively, presentations may wish to explore how music has been used to evoke utopian, dystopian and political visions of the future.

Mediating Meaning (convenor Shuhei Hosokawa) []

In the study of popular music, the role and function of mediation has hardly been neglected. From Adorno’s pioneering work to recent research on record labels, recording work, television, MP3 and other sites and technologies, the significance of mediation in the production, reproduction and consumption of popular music has been studied extensively. We know that media in a broad sense not only transmit the sound from the atelier of the composer to the recording studio and the living room and head phone, but also condition the mode of existence of sound itself, the way of conceiving and interpreting music, and the pleasure and displeasure of music. Our musical life depends on various types of mediation, but at the same time these intermediary agencies depend on music. What do we experience in our “media-saturated” world? Is it different from what one used to experience in pre-industrial society? How have these mediations been shaped in today’s world? In this stream, we will revisit this concept of mediation in order to look back and ahead at popular music studies. This stream welcomes paper and panel proposals on recording and entertainment industry, technology, journalism, advertisement, agency, space/place, and other related issues.