Introduction. "Avowing the Unavowable": On the Music of Composition
Thomas Rickert and Byron Hawk
emails: Rickert - firstname.lastname@example.org; Hawk - email@example.com
homepages: Rickert - http://www.uta.edu/english/rickert; Hawk - http://www.uta.edu/english/hawk
bios: Thomas Rickert is a Ph.D. candidate in Humanities at the University of Texas at Arlington, working on his dissertation entitled "Zizek's Funhouse: Strange Reflections in Rhetoric, Ideology, and Culture." His areas of concentration are cultural studies, rhetoric and composition theory, and literary theory. He also does work in psychoanalytic theory (Zizek and Lacan), and has an interest in film, architecture, twentieth-century avant garde art movements, Modernism/Postmodernism (theoretical debates, histories, literatures), music (rock, punk, ambient, etc.), and the current paranormal/conspiracy trend. Byron Hawk is a Ph.D. candidate in English at the University of Texas at Arlington, working on his dissertation entitled "On Vitalism: An Ethics, Politics and Pedagogy of Decomposition." He has published review articles in Enculturation and Post Script, hypertexts in Kairos and Pre-Text Electra Lite, and has an article forthcoming in an edited volume entitled The Terministic Screen: The Rhetoric of Film and Film Theory.
abstract: As a deterritorial force, music has no meaning. Meaning is written into music. Because music does not speak, various cultural, political, and/or economic discourses try to territorialize it, make it speak with an Author-God meaning. On various levels, all of the pieces in this issue are dealing with the way culture comes in to write this ungraspable excess, music, and by extension those who consume it--live in it. Because only language speaks, it must speak for music. And when we write about music, we can only do so through a discussion of its relationship to culture. For us, music is not composed, not just a composition, but an active force in composing new relations, new evocations, between self and other, between language and mood, between culture and individuals. Cultural Studies arose as a predominant methodological framework for examining these relations in the context of rock, pop, and punk forms. But our perspective on avante-garde electronic music presents Deleuze and Guattari's critical discourses as a way to recompose that methodological boundary limit--a way to put those musics into new assemblages.
Rap, Black Rage, and Racial Difference
Steven Best and Douglas Kellner
emails: Best- firstname.lastname@example.org; Kellner- email@example.com
homepages: Best- http://www.utep.edu/philos/best.htm; Kellner- http://www.gseis.ucla.edu/faculty/kellner/kellner.html
bios: Steven Best is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the University of Texas at El Paso. With Douglas Kellner, he is author of Postmodern Theory: Critical Interrogations and The Postmodern Turn, as well as The Politics of Historical Vision. Douglas Kellner is George Kneller Chair in the Philosophy of Education at UCLA and is author of Critical Theory, Marxism, and Modernity, Jean Baudrillard: From Marxism to Postmodernism and Beyond, Television and the Crisis of Democracy, The Persian Gulf TV War, Media Culture, and with Steven Best Postmodern Theory: Critical Interrogations and The Postmodern Turn.
abstract: Rap music has emerged as one of the most distinctive and controversial music genres of the past decade. A significant part of hip hop culture, rap articulates the experiences and conditions of African-Americans living in a spectrum of marginalized situations ranging from racial stereotyping and stigmatizing to struggle for survival in violent ghetto conditions. In this cultural context, rap provides a voice to the voiceless, a form of protest to the oppressed, and a mode of alternative cultural style and identity to the marginalized. Rap is thus not only music to dance and party to, but a potent form of cultural identity. It is an informational medium to tune into, one that describes the rage of African-Americans facing growing oppression, declining opportunities for advancement, changing moods on the streets, and everyday life as a matter of sheer survival. In turn, it has become a cultural virus, circulating its images, sounds, and attitude throughout the culture and body politic. We interpret rap as the soundtrack of the contemporary cultural scene, making clear the racial divide that separates our culture, and the cultural conflicts over race, sexuality, and identity. Probing some of the meanings and effects of rap, we contextualize its rise and popularity in the situation of the cultural wars of the present.
Speaking of Music: Explorations in the Language of Music Criticism
bio: Gregory Erickson teaches English at Medgar Evers College and music at the Brooklyn Conservatory of Music. He is an active professional musician in New York City, performing in orchestras, chamber groups and as a soloist. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in trombone performance, has a Masters degree in English literature from Hunter College, and is currently a Ph.D. candidate in English at the CUNY Graduate Center. He has published and presented papers on modernist literature, musicology, baseball, and theology, and is working on his dissertation, "The A/theology of Modernist Narrative."
abstract: The last 30 years of musicology have shown a slow, reluctant progression away from the positivism created largely by nineteenth-century Germanic traditions. Although this movement has accelerated in the last ten years, musicology, more than the other humanities, has hung on to the legacy of enlightenment in its insistence on locating unifying principles, and in privileging teleology and autonomy as criteria for music criticism and evaluation. For a philosopher like Schopenhauer, however, music could not be written about in a rational, conceptual language, but only indirectly. In this essay I explore this idea, its relevance for the future, and the ways in which modern philosophy has and can be a part of the language of musicology. For most of the last century, writing about music has been divided into two categories: an analytical, scientific, and precise language of description, and a metaphorical, poetic, and less "critical" interpretive language. In this essay I want to show how recent philosophical thought in musicology has dissolved these traditional ways of thinking about music and language. Like much contemporary criticism in the arts, the "new musicology" focuses on discontinuities rather than trying to establish a work of music as an autonomous unit. The problem is that the language that musicologists use has been elaborately constructed around assumptions of the autonomous nature of music, and in many ways the new criticism has failed because it still falls back upon old paradigms of interpretation that it claims to break from. Using philosophy and literary theory, I look at the relationship between metaphor and musicology and between knowledge and music; I try to show what musicology can take from these modes of thought in the formation of new ways of writing about music that move away from thinking of a work as an artifact. By looking at contemporary thinkers like Rorty, Derrida, and Blanchot, I show how musicology has followed their line of thinking, and I explore areas musicology has yet to fully address.
4 Real: Authenticity, Performance, and Rock Music
bio: David Pattie is a Lecturer in English and Drama at the University of Greenwich. His research interests include popular culture and performance theory, political theatre, Scottish theatre, literature and culture, and the work of Samuel Beckett.
abstract: This essay examines the idea of authenticity as it is incarnated in the performance of Rock music. It argues that Rock (a loosely defined term) does not simply operate a simple idea of an easily accessible authenticity, emobodied by the performer and recognised by the audience, that can be opposed to a more theatrical and therefore inauthentic style of performance and music; rather, authenitcity in rock music is itself performed, and is rooted in both the fan's and the musician's idea of music itself as an authenticating signature.
Listening/Reading: Toward A Stereophonic Hermeneutics
bio: Joseph Schneider is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of English as well as a J.D. candidate in the School of Law at SUNY Buffalo. He also works as an audio engineer for Indigo Productions, a Buffalo concert production company, and at a club in downtown Buffalo called the Continental. His Master's thesis, completed in May of 1999, is titled "Anarchism, Law, and American Identity," and focuses mostly on Emma Goldman.
abstract: This essay attempts to open up a conversation between a theory of reading and a theory of listening by explicating Roland Barthes' essay "Listening" and the music of Tortoise. Schneider's experience as a "sound guy" coupled with the study of literature has given him a sympathetic ear toward metaphors of sound and resonance. Although the essay addresses Jacques Derrida's Glas only in part(s) of the text, the entire argument grows out of a desire to articulate a way to read that book across sound, resonance, and music--a desire that haunts the text from start to finish.
Towards a New Aesthetic in Digital Music Practice in New Zealand Universities
bio: Ian Whalley is a senior lecturer in the Music Department at the University of Waikato, Hamilton, New Zealand. In 1992 he established the digital music studios on campus and he now leads the digital music program to the doctoral level. As an active author on digital music practice and aesthetics, his work has been published in both professional and academic journals and at symposiums in Australasia, Japan, Europe and North America. His recent compositions, premiered at various international festivals, are influenced by music from the Asia/Pacific region, and there is an emphasis on combining this with electroacoustic music production and performance gestures.
abstract: This paper begins by citing a 1995 newspaper article in which academically-driven contemporary classical music composers are disparaged for ignoring a more general audience, and then relates the subsequent retort by modernist composers. The author here presents a new perspective on the issue with regard to electroacoustic music composition and practice in New Zealand. Based on a wide discussion of the issues, a compromise is argued for between modernist extremism and commercial pragmatism to ensure some common ground between composer and audience. The way forward is seen through exploring new contexts for reception, crossover activities with existing musical styles and practices, and the simplifying of musical language which should not be confused with simplicity of message.
I am the eye, you are my victim: The Pornographic Ideology of Music Video
Sheri Kathleen Cole
bio: Sheri Cole has a Master of Arts in Women's Studies from the University of Cincinnati where a longer version of this work qualified as her Master's Thesis. Ms. Cole is currently a development consultant for a variety of nonprofit, feminist organizations in Philadelphia, PA.
abstract: This paper analyzes videos of the 1980s popular music group and video pioneers Duran Duran, considering how pornographic ideology and conventions have been reproduced in music video and, therefore, invade mainstream consciousness. While it is somewhat easy for anti-pornography activists and scholars to turn to hardcore pornography to argue that those images harm actual women, this paper questions what happens when we cease viewing these images as pornography, defining them as less harmful because they appear in mainstream media.
Identity and Agency: Riot Grrrls’ Jouissance
bio: Judy L. Isaksen is a PhD student in Rhetoric and Composition at the University of South Florida in Tampa. She is simultaneously teaching a variety of writing courses and assisting in the administration of the Writing Center at Eckerd College in nearby St. Petersburg where she is a Visiting Assistant Professor of Rhetoric. Her most recent publication is a pedagogical writing project on Zora Neale Hurston (NCTE).
abstract: Riot Grrrls, 90s neo-feminist punks, are often not taken seriously, due to their seemingly bizarre appearance, cacophonous music, and anger-driven energy. However, if viewed through the critical lens of écriture féminine, the Riot Grrrl subculture takes on new and significant feminist proportions. Drawing from the power of radical discourse, both French feminists and Riot Grrrls critique and challenge phallocratic ideology in an attempt to establish both a sense of personal identity and social agency. Transgressive lyrics, parodic mimicry, underground zines, and body-based rhetoric are the discursive measures Riot Grrrls successfully employ as they boldly resist patriarchal hegemony.
Prince and in The Black Album Tangle: A Foucauldian View
bio: Jeff is a 5th year PhD student in Rhetoric and Composition at Ball State University, currenlty working on his dissertation which is a study of the Ball State Writing Program's contract faculty as it faces the large scale implementation of computer classrooms. His academic interests include Kenneth Burke, classical rhetoric, the rhetoric of procrastination, and writing program administration. Jeff is currently the Archivist for Kairos: An Online Journal for Teachers of Writing in Webbed Environments.
abstract: By changing his name from Prince to a glyph-like symbol, the Artist Formerly Known as Prince has been seen from a variety of perspectives from "kook" to "marketing genius" to "freed spirit." From his perspective, "Prince" is a different artist from the one currently recording music; "Prince" had become more of a marketing tool than the name of any individual artist. In the terms of Michel Foucault, "Prince" is an author-function that classified a body of musical texts. In this webtext, I argue that with the split between "Prince" and the Glyph symbol was, originally, significantly different than a simple name change. I argue that it is an attempt to change author functions. That attempt is made most seriously, I contend, by the release of Prince's Black Album, which Prince had decided to not release because of its "evil" songs. When the album was released, "Prince" was no longer the concern of the glyph symbol. This webtext question how powerfully the author-function operates in popular music and popular culture generally, when artists have immediate and strong control over the images that identify them.
The Father and the Son: The Rhetoric of Rebellion in Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On
bio: Emily Gray is a doctoral candidate in English at New York University and a graduate of Princeton University. She is currently beginning dissertation work on the social and rhetorical use of siblings in Renaissance drama. Emily lives in Fort Greene, Brooklyn.
abstract: This essay examines the surface hype of rebellion in Marvin Gaye’s seminal 1971 album, What’s Going On. Using Harold Bloom’s theory of influence, I argue that the restless energy and brilliance of this musical text stem from the tensions between an artist’s struggle to be "original" and his ultimate awareness of a belated place in a long line of precursors. What’s Going On reads like the story of a son who is eager to reject, and yet is deeply indebted to, the technical and spiritual inheritance gained from a series of "fathers": Marvin Gay Sr., Berry Gordy, and God.
Pop Avant-Garde: A Critical Inquiry into the Various Performances of Sonic Youth
bio: Chris Robe is currently attending Lehigh University for a PhD in English literature/critical theory. He also writes drama and short-stories.
abstract: The techniques of the derive and detournement, once utilized by the Situationists International to question the legitimacy of consumer desires, have been appropriated musically by the band Sonic Youth to challenge popular notions held about the production of music and the autonomy of the musician--commonly espoused by mainstream music magazines. By using avant-garde techniques within a popular music form, Sonic Youth has introduced a mass amount of consumers to the debate of how to define music and the musician than is commonly associated with the "alternative" rock genre. Whether Sonic Youth fans decide to more deeply investigate the questions the band's music raises for themselves or instead adhere to popular music magazines' simplistic and cliche promotional articles is mainly dependent upon each fan's disposition of viewing music as a mere means of entertainment and/or as a politically relevant medium.
Punapau and d'Iberville
homepages: Punapau - http://www.punapau.de/; d'Iberville - http://www.multimania.com/beju/cv/
bios & abstracts: (see **Featured Artists**)
Pan(a)Sonic: Savage Drones and the New Age of Analog
bio: Dave Rieder is a Ph.D. student in the English department's Rhetoric/Composition/Critical Theory track. He is researching a dissertation topic on the eighteenth-century thinkers, David Hume and George Campbell. His academic interests include History of Rhet/Comp, Psychoanalysis, postmodern and poststructuralist theories, Computers and Writing, and computer programming. Presently, Dave is guest editing Enculturation's next issue entitled "Post-Digital Studies" with Matthew Levy.
abstract: In April '99, the lo-fi, high-powered, analog minimalisms of Pan Sonic rolled into Dallas, Texas to open for the post-rock group, TransAm. In this review, several points of interests are covered concerning the group: their history; their inventional methods; their homegrown equipment; their musical interests in physicality and the body. Pan Sonic stands out in the genre of electronic minimalism for their use of analog sound generators (instead of digital equipment). While this could be read as stylistically nostalgic, the futurist, Paul Saffo, writes about a "new age of analog." According to Saffo, an explosion of interest in sensory-based "smartifacts" is on the horizon. In the next decade, we will witness the growth of "a newer analog computing industry in which digital technologies play a mere supporting role, or in some instances play no role at all." In terms of this narrative, Pan Sonic's aesthetic can be read as more forward thinking than bit-based sound will ever be.
Shhhh! Or, the Methodological Earplugs of Cultural Studies in Popular Music:
A "Re-Sound" of Swiss, Sloop and Herman's _Mapping the Beat_
Matthew A. Levy
bio: Matthew Levy is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Rhetoric at the University of Texas at Arlington. In addition to serving as Review Editor of Enculturation, he is Associate Editor of Audio for Pre/Text Electra-Lite. Current writing topics include: Rhetoric as Interface, Cynicism/Kynicism in Rhet/Comp, improvisatory teaching, multiple-register border negotiations in the classroom, Lines of Flight in novels by Kenan and Reed, and Pure Persuasion (from Kenneth Burke) in Aphra Behn's Ooronoko.
abstract: "Mapping the Beat," the collection's introduction explains, means following Jacques Attali's lead (from Noise) in tracing the shifting boundary between what culture understands to be music and noise. Because the designation of 'music' is given to sound with order and because the perception of order is ideological, the boundary between music and noise is a political one. The boundary always reflects a political reality; the structure of music reveals/conceals/becomes/reflects the order of things.
Rock and-or-not Roll, Rhythm, Noise, and Processual Mediating-Vibrating Technologies
Victor J. Vitanza
bio: Victor J. Vitanza has been known electronically as R.U. Rhetoricus? -Sophisticus? BigChiefTablet. "Vic Vit." vvictor. vEager. v///ger. "Victa Nyanza" (FW, 558.28). Vaud-Ville. Rotciv. saVVy . . . ETC. VJV has been labeled in print by his 'colligs' as an "Aristotelian gunslinger" (Jim Porter); as "that occasional Paganini of the printed page" (Don Stewart); "Evel Knievel"/"Mr. Natural" (Hans Kellner); "the deconstructive demon" (Jim Berlin); "the tower ofBabel" (John Poulakos); "the great epistemological anarchist in the field" (Bob Connors); "the V.V. Project" (Kenneth Burke); and has been even further characterized as "Vitanzan Vitalism . . . a form of letteraturizzazione, a kind of linguistic herpes that comes and goes" (Geo. Kennedy). Actually, VJV is a Professor of English at the University of TX, Arlington. He teaches in the undergraduate and graduate rhetoric, composition, and critical theory program.
abstract: In this review of Theodore Gracyk, Rhythm and Noise: An Aesthetics of Rock, Victor Vitanza explores how Gracyk is heuristically instructive in thinking through the knotty problems of the aesthetics and politics of rock music. Rock should be envisioned not as product but as process, less in traditional historical terms than in revisionist if not ultimately subversive historical terms. Rock must be thought as Becoming-Rock, a form working against the efforts to subdue and quiet it down, and accordingly we must "turn up, juice up, the noisy monster." But it is noted that in the end we are compelled always to listen doubly (hegemonically/counterhegmonically), but all the while the music lives on.