Tag Archives: music

CFP: Music Flows, IASPM-US Annual Conference

Water Flows 33_29_9_web

March 13-16, 2014 

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

Submission Deadline: Friday, 15 November, 2013

Music flows. Evocative metaphorically while directing our attention to the global circulation of songs, the theme for the 2014 IASPM-US Annual Conference takes its inspiration from the UNC campus-wide Water initiative. Water in its many forms is a ubiquitous subject of pop songs. Whether as metaphor or literal reference, water imagery as a theme in popular music has been used to celebrate identity, express emotions, address environmental issues, convey pleasure, pay homage to spiritual beings, and shape communities of resistance. Here we take up notions of fluidity and flow to address not only what many deem our most important natural resource, but to consider the ways in which water’s qualities may yield productive insights into the present and future of popular music.

Fluidity suggests smoothness and flow, as well as uncertainty, indefiniteness, and mutability. This tension is felt across global capital, ecology, and the business of music, as money, energy, and sounds flow around the world, their movement unevenly enabled and restricted by a range of economic, political, and cultural forces. From the licit or illicit circulation of songs to the melting of glaciers, popular music – and the world in which it exists – faces a future in which the status quo is quite literally in flux. With seemingly solid foundations melting away, we face a moment of productive instability, in which new potentialities emerge even as life as we know it may be dramatically transformed.

The 2014 IASPM-US Annual Conference will take place from March 13-16, 2014 at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The Center for the Study of the American South (CSAS) will be our host on campus, in collaboration with the Department of Music and the Southern Folklife Collection. Papers related to popular music and southern culture are especially welcome. Look for a featured panel on southern music and enjoy a lively reception hosted by the Center.

Papers may focus on one of the following aspects of the theme, on other aspects of the conference theme, or – as always – any other issue in the study of popular music.

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Music for Gracious Living: Learning about Lifestyle from LPs

Janet Borgerson and Jonathan Schroeder, Rochester Institute of Technology



This project finds us concerned with how home is conceptualized, enacted, and consumed. We are interested in exploring how the US home became an entertainment zone – and an alternative to ‘going out’ – in postwar popular culture. In the West, notions historically linked to home include domesticity, intimacy, and privacy; austerity, efficiency, and comfort; and nostalgia and style (Rybczynski 1987). The shifts away from public, feudal households to “the private, family home” with its increasing domestic intimacy “affected not only our physical surroundings, but our consciousness as well” (Rybczynski, 1987, 49). Rybczynski points out that home interiors in the seventeenth century began to demonstrate what Mario Praz identified as Stimmung, “a characteristic of interiors that has less to do with functionality than with the way that the room conveys the character of its owner–the way it mirrors his soul” (43).

We take a historical approach to understanding the contribution of material artifacts, in this case, the LP (long player) record album, to the imagination of modern identity and style in the home. LP album covers from an important era in the development of the American home, when the marketing of hi-fi sets, backyard barbeques, and dinner parties combined to create a vision of the good life, offer images for a case study on the intersection of identity and complex consumer objects. These LP’s combine visual instruction and a music genre specifically marketed for creating an ideal home. We examine examples from our large vinyl archive, selecting an illustrative sample from the 1950s and 1960s. This was the era in which the LP record emerged as a dominant format for music distribution, postwar affluence contributed to leisurely lifestyles, and notions of cosmopolitan cachet were promoted via air travel, home decorating, and entertaining.

Record albums occupied a space evoking identity and group membership in many homes during the postwar period as recording technology emerged and developed, bringing sounds, sights and specially designed furniture into the home. Apart from music, vinyl records included several genres aimed at developing “taste” and achieving a “modern” lifestyle, such as dance instruction records, travel guide records, and home entertaining records. These albums re-circulate today as nostalgic classics, precursors of cooking, decoration and makeover television shows, and collected for their value as windows into a bygone era (e.g., Adinolfi 2008). Moreover, as the LP record – surprisingly – has gained in popularity in recent years, these vinyl artifacts enjoy new life as retro icons (Felton 2012).

In this analysis, we focus on a subgenre of “dinner, dancing, and entertaining at home”, in other words, the home entertaining record, and in particular, a series put out by RCA Victor Records called Music for Dinner at Home, which included French, German, Italian and Chinese versions – nations with which the United States had various tensions during war years. We also attend to a series called Music for Gracious Living from Columbia Records, which included such gems as “Barbeque,” “Buffet” and “Do-it-Yourself”; and, finally, Music for Hi-Fi Living, a twelve volume complete guide for modern lifestyles. Drawing upon notions of materiality and agency in the constitution of consuming subjects (Borgerson 2005) and critical visual analysis (Schroeder 2006) our theoretical approach offers compelling visions of home from an era that brought the home more fully into modern consumer culture, and still resonates today. For example, the 1955 “Barbecue” album from Columbia Records’ Music for Gracious Living series states “in the evening, what better living than a barbeque in your own backyard, or on your patio, porch or terrace, surrounded by family and friends, and by music, especially selected for your out-door living!” This record includes advice for “patio planting” and “cool patio drinks,” and offers such tunes as “Summer Evening in Santa Cruz” and “Live, Laugh, Love.”

A key insight from the study is that the more people stayed at home, the more they needed objects, artifacts, and practices that linked them to affiliated groups, real or imagined, beyond the walls, doors and windows of home – in other words, those people, groups, and environments with whom they were not present, because they were at home instead. This may prove an interesting entré for understanding more fully the social media linkages now at play in the blurring between home and the world “out there.”

As media theorist Jacob Smith reminds us: “From the 1940s to the 1970s, the phonograph industry experienced phenomenal growth in sales and cultural influence, producing recordings that were meant to serve a multitude of functions in the American home above and beyond the reproduction of popular music” (Smith 2011, 1). Smith writes that, in the postwar period “phonograph records frequently provided a ‘segment-making’ home media alternative to the dominant ‘society-making’ media of network broadcasting. […] Records convened audiences around shared interests that were often underrepresented in the broadcast media, making them a powerful vehicle for the formation of group identity during the postwar decades” (Smith 2011, 202-203). “Educational” records, such as the examples discussed here, are among the LP records to which Smith refers.

Not only did album cover images provide a clue to an album’s musical style, or values, but such visual representations offered lessons for achieving an often aspirational lifestyle. The small print that filled the LP’s back cover communicated visions of the recording within, and also produced historical knowledge not just of the featured music, but also the related cultural contexts deemed relevant to the consumer’s enjoyment. This phenomenon of commentary beyond the recording per se was particularly common on albums of unfamiliar musical styles, for example, Music for a Chinese Dinner at Home (Borgerson and Schroeder 2003; Reagan 2011). In attempting to make the unfamiliar more palatable and the culturally sophisticated more accessible, album notes often became pedagogical opportunities to teach consumers about musical traditions, foreign lands, home entertainment and lifestyle choices aimed at communicating a more cultured and modern American home (e.g., Borgerson and Schroeder 2006).

 Selected References

Adinolfi, Francesco (2008), Mondo Exotica: Sounds, Visions, Obsessions of the Cocktail Generation, Karen Pinkus, trans., Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Borgerson, Janet L. (2005), “Materiality, Agency, and the Constitution of Consuming Subjects: Insights for Consumer Research” Advances in Consumer Research, 32, 439-443.

Borgerson, Janet L. and Jonathan E. Schroeder (2003), “The Lure of Paradise: Marketing the Retro-escape of Hawaii,” in Stephen Brown and John F. Sherry, Jr. (eds.), Time, Space and the Market: Retroscapes Rising, New York: M. E. Sharpe, 219-237.

——— (2006), “The Pleasures of the Used Text: Revealing Traces of Consumption,” in Stephen Brown, (ed), Consuming Books: The Marketing and Consumption of Literature, London: Routledge, 46-59.

Cohan, Steven (1996). “So Functional for its Purposes: Rock Hudson’s Bachelor Apartment in Pillow Talk,” in Joel Sanders (ed.), Stud: Architecture of Masculinity, Princeton, NJ: Princeton Architectural Press, 28-41.

Felton, Eric (2012), “It’s Alive! Vinyl Makes a Comeback,” Wall Street Journal, January 27, D8.

Reagan, Kevin (2010), Alex Steinweiss: The Inventor of the Modern Album Cover, Cologne: Taschen.

Rybczynski, Witold (1987), Home: A Short History of an Idea, New York: Penguin.

Schroeder, Jonathan (2006), “Critical Visual Analysis,” inRussell Belk (ed.) Handbook of Qualitative Methods in Marketing, Aldershot, UK: Edward Elgar, 303-321.

Smith, Jacob (2011), Spoken Word: Postwar American Phonograph Culture, Berkeley: University of California Press.

Valentine, G. (1999), “Eating in: Home, Consumption and Identity,” The Sociological Review, 47(3), 491-524.


Call for Tracks: Radarstation 2

Fantomton is looking for musicians for a sound-project based on samples taken at the abandoned listening station at Teufelsberg Berlin.

The abandoned listening station on the Teufelsberg Berlin has a magical atmosphere. The industrial area with its rusty metal surfaces, broken glass and the unique acoustic in the domes provide a rich repertoire of fascinating sounds which reflect the area’s ambience. We could not resist the attraction of the place and visited it in 2009, equipped with microphones and recording devices. Subsequently the recordings were given to musicians in order to get different interpretations of the sound material. The goal was to translate the impressions of the place into music. The result is the release Radarstation: fantomton.de/releases/music/ft001-radarstation

Due to great interest and a lot of positive reactions in the recent time, we once more would like to motivate artists to use our sound material to produce new exciting tracks. Deadline is the 25 November 2012.

Link to the call: fantomton.de/experimente/radarstation-2-call-for-tracks/

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CFP: Nostalgias, Special Issue of Volume!

Call for papers: Nostalgias: A special issue of Volume! The French Journal of Popular Music Studies

Edited by Hugh Dauncey (Newcastle University) & Christopher Tinker (Heriot-Watt University)

Online: volume.revues.org/2914

Version française ici : volume.revues.org/2912

Volume!, the French peer-reviewed journal dedicated to the interdisciplinary study of popular music – seeks contributions for a special issue on nostalgia and popular music in a variety of national, international and transnational contexts.

This issue will explore the ways in which popular-music-related nostalgia is produced, represented, mediatised and consumed. Morris B. Holbrook and Robert M. Schindler define nostalgia as “A preference (general liking, positive attitude or favourable effect) towards experiences associated with objects (people, places or things) that were more common (popular, fashionable or widely circulated) when one was younger (in early adulthood, in adolescence, in childhood or even before birth)” (2006: 108).

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