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Each interdisciplinary keynote session features a Keynote Speaker plus two invited Respondents. We are grateful to our Keynote Speakers and Respondents for their participation in this format!  

Kyra Gaunt (University at Albany State University of New York, NY) 

PLAYED: How Music and Tech Grooms Violence Against Black Girls Online

When we search for and discover rap artists on YouTube (the number one music discovery channel on the web and the number one destination for kids) or on TikTok, we rarely think our views as users are complicit in the sexual grooming of girls in their intimate bedroom musical play. We rarely consider that we are participants orchestrating that violence, and until we notice it, we can’t stop.

This talk unpacks the role that music and tech plays in the way that girls turn up to patriarchal violence and anti-Black sexism, and explains how we can understand these processes as an ecological threat of violence.

When music and tech broadcast the idea of persons labeled as bitch, female (which is an adjective not a noun), dyke, trans, or THOT (the acronym for “that ho over there”), it is not only anti-Black sexism and misogyny, it is psychological and linguistic violence! It tells audiences that those persons should not be taken seriously. We blame the victims and not the climate of air/noise pollution socializing their silence nor the technology enabling it.

Tween twerking content is situated at the intersection of music monetization, algorithmic search recommendations, sexually-objectifying comments, and online sexual enticement tactics. Black and Brown girls have been growing up and drowning in anti-Black misogynistic musical mansplaining. Participation is central to how we can understand what’s going on with Black girls online, both in negative terms of marginalisation, but also in terms of imagining solutions: if online Black girls wrote their own twerk songs rather than merely driving attention to the most viral songs on YouTube or TikTok, they could break the Internet in music and tech.

It is critical to understand that full control or independence over one’s body or voice is a trap, or a patriarchal illusion, because twerking online is never a solo act.

[More on Kyra]

Disciplinarity: Social Sciences | Respondents: Music Neuroscience – Kyung Myun Lee, KAIST, Korea; and Historical Musicology – Maiko Kawabata, Royal College of Music and Open University, UK

Ruth Herbert (University of Kent, UK) 

Participation and Playing A/Part

Music, as Christopher Small observed ‘is not a thing at all but an activity, something that people do.’[1] The process of musicking is inclusive of all participatory action connected with music – whether performing, listening, dancing/moving, practising, producing, recording – in live concert settings, ritualistic, therapeutic or educational contexts and everyday life. Musical participation is inevitably multisensory and multimodal, and characteristics and subjective experiences of participation are necessarily situated, arising from a systemic interaction between individual, environment and sonic attributes. Importantly, different types of participation are informed by different types of knowledge (e.g. disciplinary specialisms), different ways of knowing (e.g. non-verbal mentation), communicating and experiencing.

In this talk I consider two recent, contrasting multisensory participatory arts research projects, exploring a) the potential of attributes of different media to afford alterations of mood and subtle shifts of consciousness; b) the psychological qualities and characteristics of neurodivergent participation and creativity. Ecological, phenomenological and ethological perspectives serve to contextualise both studies.

 The first project was initially developed at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital with young people aged 14-18 undergoing treatment for mental health conditions. It explores intersections between spaces, senses and subjective experience, using processes of Turkish paper marbling (Ebru) and simultaneous musical looping/layering of crowd-sourced sounds. The second (which constitutes the core focus of this talk) was a series of music and sound workshops, part of an interdisciplinary project exploring the identities and experiences of autistic girls and adolescents through a range of creative activities. I discuss an exploratory framework, emerging from video analysis of workshop sessions that identifies a series of what are termed ‘modes of playing’, (spontaneous and volitional responses/examples of agency, understood as encompassing musical behaviours and general/performative behaviours within a group context). At times girls appeared to play a part (for example projecting a public identity via ‘masking’). Alternatively, they would play apart – present but detached/abstracted apart (marked by private or hidden musicking within the group context). Study of neurodivergent musical participation extends our understanding of the processes and dynamics of distributed creativity. As Joseph Straus has observed, ’Our bodies and minds are not all the same, and the differences among us make a difference’[2] (Straus, 2011:159)

[1] Small, C. (1998). Musicking: The Meanings of Performing and Listening. Connecticut: Wesleyan University Press., p.2.

[2] Straus, J. (2011). Extraordinary Measures: Disability in Music. New York: Oxford University Press.

[More on Ruth]

DisciplinarityPsychology | RespondentsMusic Education – Nate Holder, Royal Northern College of Music International Chair in Music Education, UK;  and Music Perception – Jan Stupacher, Institute of Psychology, University of Graz | Center for Music in the Brain, Aarhus University, Denmark.


Frederick Lau (The Chinese University of Hong Kong, HK)

Music Beyond its Making

Music-making is inherently a social act. Much has been said about the sociality of music and the power of musical imaginary to carve out social space and create cultural identity. Musicians make music for various reasons, ranging from professional and personal to self-enjoyment. The semiotic potential of music has no bounds, regardless of whether music is performed or consumed publicly, privately, or virtually. Participation in music evokes unexpected associations and hidden knowledge beyond what is heard at the sonic level. Using selected musics of Asia and the Pacific as examples, I apply Thomas Turino’s “semiotic snowballing effect” concept and Ana Maria Ochoa Gautier’s notion of “aurality” to suggest that aside from its immediate effects, music participation is a rippling wave that reaches outward to a nexus of effects that connect people to the specificities of various cultural contexts and societal dimensions. Music-making and participation is not a linear and teleological process but rather an open-ended course of action that engages with the depth and integrity of established musical traditions while illuminating a path into the future.

[More on Fred]

DisciplinarityEthnomusicology | RespondentsMusic Neuroscience – Katie Overy, Director of the Music in Human and Social Development Research Group, The University of Edinburgh, UK; and Music Psychology: Richard Parncutt, Professor of Systematic Musicology and Director of the Centre for Systematic Musicology, University of Graz, Austria.

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