Paper Session
Nov 11, 2021 01:00 PM - 01:50 PM(America/Chicago)
20211111T1300 20211111T1350 America/Chicago Gender and Popular Music AMS 2021
_Daddy, You’ve Been a Mother to Me_: Parlour Music and Gender Relations in the 1920s
Individual Paper 01:00 PM - 01:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/11 19:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/11 19:50:00 UTC

Among other social transformations, the 1920s witnessed a paradigmatic shift in amateur music-making due to the emergence of mediated music engagement (e.g., radio, mechanical reproduction). As evident in the massive quantity of sheet music intended for home use, however, parlour music continued to be a common practice in many (primarily white) middle-class homes. Parlour music is notable for its gendered history, a practice Solie (2004) has described as "girling at the piano." The practice is also notable for enacting Victorian-era "separate spheres" societal norms and sex roles expectations. 

An examination of American and Canadian popular song sheet music published between 1918 and 1925 suggests that societal norms and expectations around matters of gender were at the time in a state of transition. This is apparent not only in lyrics emphasizing women's agency and including some mentions of men performing roles historically reserved for women, but also in the iconography of sheet music covers, which in some cases blur gendered binaries. That sheet music of the early 20th century intended for "at-home" use existed within the prevailing economic motive of production and consumption in North America suggests the presence of a market for musical subject matter expressing and promoting new gender relations. 

Drawing upon digital archives of parlour music that includes cover art imagery (e.g. the Margaret Herrick Library) and implementing a maximum variation sampling, we use Goffman's (1979) gender display theory and frame analysis (Goffman, 1974) to operationalize the cover art according to the presence of women's bodies, feminine attributes, and words identifying women (e.g., girl, lady, mamma) (e.g., Wallis, 2011). Treating the corpus as an archive (Foucault, 1972), we also connect cover art with cues in the lyrics, musical styles, and melodic treatment to examine the ways in which underlying societal renegotiations around gender identity and gender relations were reflected in the musical, poetic, and visual discourse of popular sheet music. Ultimately, this paper shows how popular music participated in reshaping sex roles expectations in North American modernist society. 

Cintia Cristia
Ryerson University
Roger Mantie
University Of Toronto
The Belles of Harmony: 1950s Women?s Barbershop Quartets in Illinois and Iowa
Individual Paper 01:00 PM - 01:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/11 19:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/11 19:50:00 UTC

In 1945, a group of women from Oklahoma formed the Sweet Adelines, International (SAI) to create a space for female barbershop quartet music. Their efforts were supported and, at times, directed by members of their male counterpart organization, the Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barber Shop Quartet Singing in America (SPEBSQSA). The Belles of Harmony, four independent women's barbershop choruses from Illinois and Iowa, joined SAI in 1952 with their director, SPEBSQSA member Floyd Connett. Representative quartets from these choruses soon dominated the SAI annual competitions with low, powerful arrangements influenced by Connett's SPEBSQSA experience.

In this presentation, I posit that Connett and his quartet mentees shifted SAI's musical trajectory to arrangements and singing techniques that emulated the masculine style of barbershop quartet singing developed by SPEBSQSA. I rely on the framework of barbershop scholar Liz Garnett, which argues that competition rules define barbershop style. Garnett also theorizes a "separate but equal" dichotomy between male and female barbershop organizations which allows for potential autonomy but also marginalization for women's groups. Extending Garnett's work, my presentation analyzes competition recordings and repertoire to determine the stylistic changes between SAI champions before and after 1952. I also examine the activities of former Connett-mentored quartet members who later held influential roles within SAI, drawing on SAI trade publications and my own recently conducted interviews. Ultimately, this emphasis on SPEBSQSA barbershop style further cemented the codification of this quintessentially American genre as male, despite the role women played and continue to play. 

Justin Sextro
University Of Kansas
The Yoko Effect: From Alma Mahler to Ariana Grande
Individual Paper 01:00 PM - 01:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/11 19:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/11 19:50:00 UTC

The idea that Yoko Ono broke up the Beatles is the myth that will not die. It is trotted out and rehashed perennially in pop culture, on television shows (_The Simpsons, 30 Rock, Big Bang Theory, Freaks and Geeks_), in movies (_This Is Spinal Tap_), and even in song (Barenaked Ladies' "Be My Yoko Ono"). The specifics might spotlight one aspect of the myth over others, focusing on gendered stereotypes, Dragon Lady racism, or simply making fun of a woman's independent artistic efforts. But the general theme endures. The woman is lacking; the woman is to blame. Ono herself reveals awareness of her reputation, responding to it and even incorporating it into her art. But the myth is much bigger than Ono, the list of women dubbed "modern-day Yokos" post-Beatles ever expanding, from Courtney Love, L'Wren, and Taylor Swift, to Meghan Markle and Ariana Grande, among others. 

Though the tag is often used in jest or as an off-hand insult, this paper argues that the label has serious repercussions-repercussions we cannot tolerate or afford in the wake of #MeToo, recent contentious political battles around gender, as well as reassessments of the ways in which we explore and talk about music in the field of musicology. Without awareness of the operation of the Yoko myth, its effects persist, insidiously and subtly directing what women in music can and cannot do. To explore these effects, this presentation explores the links between the various "modern-day Yokos," asking several specific questions: what is the catalyst for the Yoko tag? What is the overall effect of this pervasive myth on these women? Is it a warning-stand back, stand aside, or stand accused? Ultimately, this paper draws a connection between this myth and a historical expectation of women connected to men in music-women who were supposed to support their men without undue attention (even perhaps quietly penning some of their music like Anna Magdalena Bach) or face censor (like the "malevolent muse" Alma Mahler), punished when they found or accepted their own spotlight.

Lily Hirsch
Visiting Scholar, California State University, Bakersfield
Ryerson University
University of Kansas
Visiting Scholar, California State University, Bakersfield
University of Toronto
No attendee has checked-in to this session!
Upcoming Sessions (Local time)