YouTubology, Spring 2015

As you may know, I think the mini-mega-montage is the method, and I’ve been asking students to make them for a few years. One of my biggest inspirations for assigning students to make YouTube-sourced montages is the fact that musical supercuts are already an ordinary practice, whether we’re talking about the best Nae Nae Vines

The Amplification of Souls (review)

Gilles Aubry’s The Amplification of Souls is a meticulously composed and conceived “audio-essay” (Aubry’s term) on Kinshasa’s charismatic churches and the broader soundscape they inhabit and inflect. I reviewed the CD, along with its 80 page booklet, in Issue 371 of The Wire (January 2015). As usual, I am posting the final draft I sent

Fresh Jamaican Catch-Up

What can I say? It’s been a chockfull summer. Mostly with farming and teaching, but also, I’m happy to note, with writing and talking about music as well. And while I’ve found the time to do some “dancing about architecture,” I’m afraid I’ve been a little slack when it comes to linking/re-posting it here. So

Summer of Technomusicology (2014): DJ Mixes

The fifth etude in our summer session required students to cook up short DJ mixes that follow a particular musical thread across time and space. As readers will know, I’ve made a few of these over the years, and I’m obviously enamored of such an audible form of storytelling about music culture in the age

Summer of Technomusicology

The Summer of Love is way behind us, as is the Second Summer of Love, & perhaps the Third and Fourth. The Summer of Technomusicology, however, will soon be here! I’m thrilled to report that I’ll be offering my favorite class to teach in the world right now, as premiered last year at Harvard U,

Desperately Seeking Dembow: Wayne & Wax Poetics

I don’t know if you dear readers get tired of hearing about dembow, but I sure don’t. That said, if my boom-ch-boom-chick narratives start to seem as monotonous a march as some allege with regard to the dembow beat itself, do let me know. Well-worn paths notwithstanding, I’m happy to share this latest riff on

Groovin’ on Groove Music

Appended below is the “director’s cut” (or unabridged author’s version) of a book review I wrote almost a year ago, which will soon finally see the light of day in the Journal of Popular Music Studies. The book is Mark Katz’s Groove Music, and I say enough below that I needn’t say more here, but

Megamontage Is the Method: Mozart to K-Pop

an utterly awesome eight-year-old diva, via YouTube This past week I’ve whipped up another couple YouTube montages in the vein of Gasodoble, Bump con Choque, and my students’ projects in last year’s technomusicology class. Unlike my previous efforts, which not too surprisingly involve reggaeton, these new mega-montages engage repertories that I don’t generally mess with:

Raggamuffin Hip-Hop Mega-Post!

illustration by Patrick Kyle for Cluster Mag I’m very happy to share some new work that involves quite a bit of collaboration: two articles and a truly epic mega-mix devoted to the rich, ruff-and-ready sound of raggamuffin hip-hop — aka, dancehall-derived flows over breakbeat-based beats (ca. 1987-94). It’s a distinctive and special repertory, near &

Dembow Complex

In case you missed it, I recently published a piece in RBMA mag about the history of the Dembow, a history I’ve been working to tease apart and put together for a looooong time now. If you’re not familiar with RBMA, it stands for Red Bull Music Academy. And I was pretty happy to be

Panel People, Can Y’all Get Funky?

For anyone who missed our panel last week and would like to check out our conversation, I’m happy to report that it’s been archived here. But here’s an embed for your viewing ease — Video streaming by Ustream Thanks again to my eloquent interlocutors, all of whom had colorful stories & trenchant perspectives to share,

YouTubes in Cross-Cultural Perspective

Today is the final meeting of my last class at Harvard this year — and possibly my final class as a college-level instructor, but we’ll save that discussion for another day. For now, I’ll leave you with a few playlists I created in order to have some examples a click on during class. In short,

Migrant Locals @ EMP NYC

Later this week, on Friday April 19 from 2-3:45pm, I will have the pleasure of hosting a panel of some dear friends & colleagues & all-around awesome folks at the EMP Pop Conference at NYC (at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts @ 721 Broadway). An experiment of sorts, this year’s Pop Conference will take

Friday in NYC: New School to Old School

I’m happy to announce that I’m headed to the Big Apple this Friday for a couple awesome engagements. First, at midday on Friday (12:10-2:50, to be precise), I’ll be guesting in ethnomusicolleague Ben Tausig’s class at the New School this semester, MP3: A Global Perspective. Our topic on Friday will be the history of filesharing,

Africa Remix

This Friday, February 8, Harvard’s “African Musics Abroad” seminar will stage a one day conference called “Africa Remix” with an aim to probe the global circulation of African musics in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, featuring presentations by major producers of African sound recordings, discussions with presenters of African musical performances live and

It Was 10 Years Ago Today…

yung wayne wonder on the mic Almost incredibly, it was ten years ago today that I put my first blogpost online, less than a week into a six month stay in Kingston for doctoral research, accompanied by my better half — my partner on Hope Road, as I ultimately dedicated the dissertation — who blogged

Music Ontology Mixtape

Ok, it’s more of a playlist, but now that I’ve got your attention… Today in my other class, Music 97c (Music in Cross-Cultural Perspective), I threw a few limit cases at my students, inviting them to think about where people draw lines between music and non-music and why it’s worthwhile to acknowledge these as we

Musical Publics

Here is the syllabus for a new course I’m teaching this spring at the Big H. It’s the culmination of a few years of piqued curiosity about “public” as term and concept, noun and adjective. As happy as teaching technomusicology made me, this sort of course — an intense, focused series of readings on a

The Kind of Drones We Like

Hard to believe the fall semester is already coming to a close, but we’re going out with a bang in Technomusicology (see & hear some of our projects here and there): Thursday’s final class session will feature a visit from none other than Jace Clayton, aka DJ /Rupture, globe-trotting artist, writer, label honcho, three-turntable magician,

The Montage Is the Method

Last week the students in my technomusicology class submitted their video études. The assignment was relatively straightforward: make a montage of YouTube-sourced videos interlinked by some (musical) subject, theme, or tune. One additional challenge, if made far easier by Ableton’s video capacity, was to attempt to bring the various performances into a kind of musical

Selected Student Essays, Transduced

I’m happy to report that the semester has been going swimmingly. Sorry for the dearth of posts here, but I’ve been rather engaged with reading, for one course, across a vast and dense literature on music, race, & nation while exploring, in another, the history and potential of music’s (and sound’s) deep entanglement with technologies

I’m Not a Harvard Man, I’m a Harvard, Man

I’m very pleased to report that I’ll be teaching full-time in the Music Department at Harvard this year, filling the big shoes of two ethnomusicolleagues on leave, Ingrid Monson & Richard Wolf. This is an honor and a pleasure, and even as a one-year non-renewable gig, it sure beats the adjunct beat I was walking

No Logos?

Ok, rounding things out, here’s the 3rd review/polemic in the 3-part series I’ve been running here (see parts 1 and 2). This one’s the most recently published, hardly a year old! (That’s not bad for lag, as these things go.) On the surface, it’s a review of 2010’s Anthology of Rap (Yale); but again, while

Dances With Words

Following up on the last post/review, I’m running the next in the triad I described there: a series of book reviews written over the last few years which together bring matters of form — and its institutional (re)production — to the fore. This one — a review of Mark Butler’s Unlocking the Groove: Rhythm, Meter,

How To Wreck a Nice Book

This Thursday at MIT, Dave Tompkins will be giving a talk based around his book, How To Wreck a Nice Beach: The Vocoder From World War II To Hip-Hop. I’ve not given the book a full treatment on the blog, but I’ve been recommending it to anyone I talk to about music or technology or

Technomusicologically Speaking

I’ll be talking twice in the next two days about a thing I’ve been calling technomusicology. If in a previous moment bi-musicality represented cutting edge musicological literacy, today’s tech-suffused world would seem to call for the development of something akin to technomusicology — which might also include a sort of technomusicality. Aside from bringing into

Me @ EMP

I’ll be in NYC this weekend participating in the annual EMP pop conference, always a lively gathering of people who not only care about music but care about finding the right words to talk about music. I’m pleased to be involved in two promising panels — a roundtable with the likes of Eddie Stats, DJ

Rapping to the Beat

Funny as it may be, I’m pretty sure Run DMC’s “Roots, Rap, Reggae” (featuring Yellowman) is the first “reggae” song I ever knew. As an occasionally awkward and awfully chintzy attempt at reggae via New York, it’s an odd introduction in nuff ways. On the other hand, there are a couple moments in the song,

On RETV the Girls Dem See Me

Bigups to my man Marvin Hall, aka @hallsoflearning, aka the guy we’ll be thanking someday for the Jamaican turn in robotics — or something equally astounding — for uploading an old reel from RETV (Reggae Television) dating back to 2003. That’s the year I was living in Kingston with my better-half, doing dissertation research alongside

Reggae Reverberations, Skype Narration Stylee

Last month I spoke over Skype with Roifield Brown, a British-Jamaican producer working on a series of podcasts and a short film devoted to the international influence of Jamaica’s distinctive shapes and forms, or in his words: How Jamaica Conquered the World. It’s no doubt one of many many tributes to the likkle but tallawah

Is “Africa” “Actually” African?

Africa Is a Country, a wry but passionate blog devoted to “Africa” — the idea, not (simply) the song — in contemporary media (but “not about famine, Bono, or Barack Obama”) has been threatening to make a weekly series out of the genuinely remarkable resonance of Toto’s 1982 soft-rock anthem. It’s a begrudging tribute of

Jivin’ Ladybug Picnic

Today I’ve got a Q&A with Jared Demick at his site The Jivin’ Ladybug, a “Skewered Journal of the Arts” or in slightly plainer terms, “an online arts journal devoted to word-whittlers, picture-pizzazzers, & sound-slingers, all over this here globe!” Though the latter most obviously describes me, and the middle option may seem more dubious,

Secret(e) Soundscapes & Other Ethnomusicologoodies

radio towers > ivory towers This week in Cluster Mag I’ve got a piece that follows up on my late summer production & performance, at metaLAB‘s openLAB_03, of a personal(ized) archive of Boston’s radio soundscape. The centerpiece of “Love That Muddy Ether” is Boston Pirate Party, an ode to an increasingly diversified sound of the

Spectacular Copulative Writing

Allow me to point you over to Norient.com, where I’ve just contributed an article that attempts a brief history of perreo and other “spectacular copulative” dances, including a glance at such recent instantiations as daggering, perreo chacalonero, and of course, choque. Longtime readers know I’ve been working to develop an analysis of such practices —

The African Americas Project & the Mystery of Dem Bow

I’m headed down to the University of Delaware tomorrow for “The African Americas Project,” a two-day symposium bringing together quite a mix of artists, musicians, and scholars to explore the connections between Latin America, the Caribbean and the US. For my part, I’ll be talking about “Reggaeton’s Afro-American Address,” by which I mean the ways

Incoming / Outgoing

Despite my relative silence here this summer — about which, more soon — big tings a gwaan, especially as the fall semester rolls around. First up, I’m thrilled to report that I leave today for Rotterdam, my first visit to Holland / the Netherlands! I’m fortunate to have been invited to participate in a conference

Imagined Community Organizing

Pardon the late notice, but for anyone who can attend, I’ll be talking today at Tufts at the annual conference of the Transnational Studies Working Group, which this year gathers around the theme: “The Sights and Sounds of Transnationalism: Sensing Through the Nation-State” (pdf). I’m happy to report that I’ve been asked to speak as

¡Qué Geko!

Ok, mis local locos, tonight’s the night! We’re kicking off the Together Festival 2011 with none other than Geko Jones, Dutty Artz bredrin and co-host of Que Bajo?!, NYC’s awesomest Afro-Latin dance party (& honestly, probably the best night I’ve ever had the pleasure to play at). Do come out and welcome Geko to town

Musical Encounters of the Fifth Kind?

NASA’s announcement in December about our impending arsenic-based overlords caused quite a stir, followed by a fair amount of disappointment. Despite oddly worded reports suggesting that “NASA has discovered a completely new life form that doesn’t share the biological building blocks of anything currently living on planet Earth” (his emphasis), it turned out that NASA

Berkman Talk w/ Reax

My Tuesday lunch talk at the Berkman Center is now available for viewing/listening/downloading/etcccc And I’m happy to report that, in fine Berkman tradition, the talk has already been blogged by some very astute observers of digital/internet culture: Jillian York offers an affirming precis here David Weinberger, author of Everything is Miscellaneous, live-blogged the talk in

Platform Politricks

orthogonal image copied from some website or other I’ve been working on this monstruo post since last January, and hinting at it here and there, making it feel all the more urgent to finish though I haven’t had the time to tie it up. And yet, what has made finally publishing this post so hard

Berkman Lunch Talky

Sorry for the silence here, dear readers. Been a busy month of literal and figurative heavy-lifting. I hope to strike things up again very soon, especially after next Tuesday, my final presentation of the semester, about which I’m very excited. I’ll be appearing in the Berkman Center’s Tuesday lunch series to talk about the “unstable

The Journal of Popular Music Studies, and Me, and You

I’m happy to announce that I recently joined the team of associate editors at JPMS, or the Journal for Popular Music Studies, which is the quarterly publishing venue of IASPM-US, or the United States branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. Now that I’ve got that mouthful out, let me tell

Feeling the Unheard

The following text is the comment I delivered as the discussant for Steven Feld’s presentation this past Friday at Sensing the Unseen, a year-long seminar at MIT seeking “to join more familiar attention to material culture with an innovative focus on immaterial culture” in order to explore, in a variety of ways, the realm of

nature mashing (riddim meth0d repost)

In anticipation of tomorrow’s opening session of MIT’s Sensing the Unseen series, which, in October, will bring to campus Steven Feld — a scholar of music and sound who has deeply influenced both my field (ethnomusicology) and my own work — I am re-posting yet another riddimmeth0d mashup. This particular mash was even more of

Global Reggae

Next week I begin teaching my second course at MIT. It’s a new syllabus, though it draws on certain materials I’ve used before. In contrast to previous offerings, however, this will be the first time I teach a class with a primary focus on reggae outside of Jamaica — on what I’m calling here “global

Todo Mundo Musikeando

When I was in Mexico recently, I gave a lecture-demo on how one might express ideas about music through music. (Readers of this blog will be familiar with these approaches, especially via my excursions in riddim meth0dism.) Although I want to keep the concept as open as possible, believing there are myriad ways to do

musical examples (riddim meth0d repost)

[Here’s another repost for the archives. These are by no means my most accomplished etudes in this vein, but I think they suggest some fun and useful possibilities, especially for pedagogy. As usual, I’ve updated some links below. This was originally published way back on 17 February 2006.] in my class on electronic music, i

Etnomusicología a lo Digital

I’m happy to report that tomorrow today I’m headed to Mexico City yet again. At this rate, I’ve been telling people, I expect to be relocating there permanently sometime in mid-October. I joke, but I do feel like the place keeps calling me. This time around my excuse is a lecture-demo I’ll be giving at

Too Much Island

I first met Benjamen Walker in prison in Jamaica. Either there or the hotel down the street. We were both in Kingston together, with a ragtag band of a couple dozen more, in order to, as best I can understand it today, sprinkle some internet magic on the place. (And help support some serious reform

Post Postopolis Unpacking, Part 1: Hip-hop en DF

The great irony of Postopolis!, as fellow blogger Nicola Twilley observes, is that the intense, consuming nature of the event itself tends to preclude much blogging about it. Add to the 60 or so presentations packed into 5 days the bewildering and inviting charms of Mexico City, and you’re lucky to make a virtual peep

Shake Yr Funky Fulbright

Tonight’s Beat Research appearance by Canyon Cody and his Gnawledgable cohorts gives me a nice opportunity to lavish some overdue praise. I first met Canyon not via internets but thru my brother, a classmate and friend of Canyon’s at Boston College. My bro suspected we’d have a lot to talk about, and he was right.

big gyptian (riddim meth0d repost)

[Ok, here’s another oldie-but-goodie from the Riddim Meth0d vaults. Plenty of readers are no doubt familiar with this post/mashup, especially since I’ve revisited the issue. In the time since I wrote it (almost 5 years ago!), I’ve also had the strange fortune of submitting a brief report — about the significance of “Big Pimpin” to

the lion seeps tonight (riddim meth0d repost)

[Well, the Riddim Meth0d domain has finally kicked the bucket, scattering our posts to the great Internet Archive in the ether, or elsewhere. I’m going to continue rehashing here certain posts that seem to merit the treatment. In that vein, here’s another bit of resurrected mashup poetics for you. I’m happy to report that the

The Sound of Skinny Jeans

Tomorrow I’ll be joining the fine folks from the Music and Sound Studies Colloquium Series at the University of Minnesota to talk about the synaesthetic publics addressing each other via skinny jeans, electronic dance beats, and wonky shuffle steps. I’m pasting the title and abstract below. As you can see, I’m flogging some familiar, but

Following the Musical Money

awesome img grab via promo materials for a similarly titled music conf also this week I’m honored to announce that I’ll be keynoting this Saturday’s Columbia Music Scholarship Conference. The conference theme is near and dear to my heart & work: “Music and Money: Examining Value in Music.” The relationship between money and value is

Global Hip-hop

Since I’m in a syllabus sharing mood, I figured I should finally get around to posting the one I put together in Spring 2008 for a course on “Global Hip-hop.” A series of case studies examining how hip-hop travels outside the US, what it carries with it, and how people adapt its forms to their

Music Industry and Digital Youth Culture

Next Tuesday (Feb 2) will be the initial meeting of the first class I’m teaching at MIT. I’m excited about the course, a new one, which invites students to read along with me and collectively investigate what I’ve been calling music industry — that is, a broader understanding of musically-propelled cultural practice than something like

Gazakly

An ethno-colleague, who shall remain anonymous, had her students listen to the Afropop program on World Music 2.0. She was kind enough to send me a hilarious response. I’m rather floored by the ways it mixes a (kneejerk?) resistance to exoticism and an insistence on indigenous originality. I wonder how many other listeners/readers either A)

Follow Ups

For those out-of-towners who were wondering (and I’m flattered, really), it turns out that last week’s talk at MIT, “Skinny Jeans and Fruity Loops,” was recorded after all. That said, it’s audio-only whereas my talk was fairly visual-centric at times, so it’s a little weird to not be able to see the accompanying videos, photos,