IASPM-Canada 2021 Conference: Big Sounds From Small Places

Making Music, Making Place

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Stream began June 10, 2021 7:30 PM UTC
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Chair Michael MacDonald

Luiz Alberto Moura | Movements in the Portuguese indie labels, scenes and cities - The role of indie labels in Portuguese cultural cartography

Rhiannon Simpson |Blurring the lines of genre for identity: Socio-political engagement and national selfhood in Australian popular music.

Luis Ramirez |The Online Composer-Audience Collaboration

Ryan Daniel and Florence Bouchard | Enacting popular music from the margins: female musicians in New Caledonia

Luiz Alberto Moura |Movements in the Portuguese indie labels, scenes and cities - The role of indie labels in Portuguese cultural cartography

This work aims to analyze relations between different territories in Portugal and the practice of musical production, represented here by indie record labels. For this, we will take as a case study four indie labels and their impacts on the cities they are based: Lux Records, in Coimbra; Lovers & Lollypops, in Porto; Revolve, in Guimarães; and Omnichord Records, in Leiria. Despite having arisen at different times (from the 1990s to the 2010s), they all are located outside of the capital, Lisbon, and operate within DIY and DIT ethics, both internally and with the communities of the cities.


We will see how these labels mix their foreign influences with local practices and reconfigure them into something unique and singular: they are loyal to their ‘Portuguese’ roots while keeping keen eyes on the European market.


We also intend to elucidate issues and unveil strategies used by these labels, and their impacts, not only in local music but also in Portuguese culture from thereafter. Also, we will tackle their differentiation strategies vis-à-vis the music industry — and their relationships with the players — in such a small and peripheral market.


Together, these record labels crossed different moments in Portuguese history (from the political opening in the 1970s to the severe economic crisis in the late 2000s) and positioned themselves as alternatives to the mainstream, to voice underground movements. Besides, they are active agents in the revitalization and/or adaptation of spaces for musical production and practice, with a predominant role in the decentralization/evolution of musical scenes in the country, being essential in the creation, production, and dissemination of Portuguese music.

Rhiannon Simpson | Blurring the lines of genre for identity: Socio-political engagement and national selfhood in Australian popular music.

The reification of working class tastes, and a rejection of figures associated with British elitism are considered unique facets of Australian identity (Tranter & Donoghue, 2010; Turner & Edmonds, 2001). Despite this, academic discussion of what constitutes a distinctly ‘Australian sound’ has focused on the analysis of works within euro-centric, art music traditions. This presentation posits that the first distinctly ‘Australian’ music within the nation's recent colonial history was popular protest music, and served as the starting point of a unique musical tradition which continues today (Harrison, 2005). The globalization of music distribution in the 1970s, and the subsequent international success of bands like Midnight Oil, Men at Work and AC/DC, led to the genre of ‘Aussie Rock’ becoming a signifier of (inter)national identity (Brunt & Stahl, 2018). However, countries who have gained independence from relatively recent colonial pasts (including both Canada and Australia) are often accused of claiming popular music traditions merely derivative of British and American tropes (Stratton, 2003; Wagman, 2001). Though the genre of ‘Aussie Rock’ may hold similar sonic properties to music associated with other nations, I argue that the history, values, ideals and socio-political engagement of this genre renders it distinct. When distinguishing national music traditions by socio/political/cultural engagement rather than sonic properties, the lines between genres may blur. However, doing so lends insight into the ways that national musical identities are shaped and perpetuated despite increasing globalization. Exploring the ways in which contemporary music making connects with past social histories allows works with differing instrumentations or genre tropes to be considered part of a national musical movement. Thus, Canadian and Australian music may be positioned as both sonically derivative from, and culturally separate to British or American music traditions, and the identities they perpetuate.

Luis Ramirez | The Online Composer-Audience Collaboration

There is a substantial amount of research on the composer-performer relationships, yet, there is little research about the dynamics between the composer and listener, a subject which merits consideration. Thanks to the internet and online video-sharing platforms, composers can directly interact with their listeners and fans. This research focuses on Jacob Collier and Andrew Huang, two artists who use online resources to collaborate with their audience by requesting compositional material from them. Huang is known for his "Fan Mash” series where he produces a song by processing fan-submitted short videos of random sounds. Collier became widely popular by producing complex reharmonizations from fan-submitted melodies and livestreaming the arranging process for his listeners. These two young artists have in common a platform for interacting and submitting content, which can result in a stronger sense of participation and identity with their audience, ultimately leading to a stronger community. This research provides a detailed description of their corresponding approaches to audience collaboration. In addition, it identifies eight categories of discourse with their audience by analyzing two specific YouTube videos and reviewing user commentary as a tool for further insight into the dynamics and interpretation of digital interactions.

Ryan Daniel and Florence Boulard | Enacting popular music from the margins: female musicians in New Caledonian

Located in the South Pacific, New Caledonia has a rich and lively culture, with an increasingly prominent popular music field. Being very isolated from the major music markets in the northern hemisphere, however, artists in this French island are often faced with unique challenges to achieve significant exposure beyond their home base. To date, there is minimal literature which specifically deals with the experiences of female musicians in the Pacific islands. Therefore this paper explores the experiences of four 21st century female musicians in New Caledonia. In particular, it reveals some of the unique opportunities and challenges in making a living out of the popular music industry while remaining in Melanesia. This study addresses a significant gap by offering an introduction to the lives of female musicians in New Caledonia, with a focus on four key areas relevant to their practice: nature and island life, emerging popular music practices, the role of technology, and connecting with the global village. The paper offers keen insights in terms of how relatively marginalised female popular music practitioners embrace and respond to the challenges that they face on a daily basis.