Paper Session
Nov 20, 2021 12:00 Noon - 12:50 PM(America/Chicago)
20211120T1200 20211120T1250 America/Chicago Politics of Affect AMS 2021
"Lets Bang on Some Pots": Sound, Intimacy, and Affective Publics in Brazil's Panelaços
Individual Paper 12:00 Noon - 12:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 18:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 18:50:00 UTC

     In March 2020, following new shelter-in-place orders enacted in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro exploded into a clamor of pots, pans, and voices. Residents throughout Brazil took to their balconies nightly to participate in "panelaços"-literally "big pot bangs"-a longstanding mode of sounded protest and political participation in Brazil that has come to be associated with political discontent and impeachment. The most recent instances were aimed at President Jaír Bolsonaro, as shouts of "Bolsonaro out!" and "Bolsonaro genocide!" drew together a sonic public to express dissatisfaction with his dismissive handling of the pandemic and lack of empathy for the thousands that have died.

       Building upon recent work on Brazilian panelaços (Diego 2018; Teshainer et al. 2018), this paper approaches recent iterations of this collective sounded protest through the lens of affect and intimacy to ask how the social and affective registers of collective precarity and vulnerability are mediated by aural practices of sounding and listening. Drawing from ethnographic work and my own participation in Rio's panelaços, I understand the panelaços as a plural performative social space that not only generates intimate attachments among participants, but engenders and gives new meaning to notions of stranger sociality and political solidarity.

     Drawing theories of affect and subjectivity (Ahmed 2004; Flatley 2009) into dialogue with performance theories (Butler 2015) and work on "sounding in synchrony" (Herrera 2018), I argue that these complex entanglements of human and sound provide the conditions of possibility for new forms of sociality and act as a site for the emergence of new social formations and publics. That is, the sounds of the panelaços draw together strangers under the umbrella of a new political public united by shared vulnerability and precarity. The paper ends by suggesting that the panelaços invite us to rethink intimacy as a dynamic practice through which individuals navigate their embodied, emotional attachments to various social and cultural formations. In short, the paper demonstrates the ways in which affective attachments and political publics emerge in an aural sphere and are constituted by sonic practice. 

Chris Batterman Cháirez
Univeristy Of Chicago
Preserving Levon Helm’s Voice: Identity, Vocality, and Sounding Region in the Music of The Band
Individual Paper 12:00 Noon - 12:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 18:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 18:50:00 UTC

The history of The Band is plagued with battles over publishing rights and bad blood between guitarist Robbie Robertson and the other four members of the outfit that began after the release of their second album in 1969. Despite these tensions, they still remained a working and touring band for another 7 years before performing and taping _The Last Waltz_(1978)The frustrations were so present from 1969 on that in his documentary, _Ain't in it For My Health_ Helm notably suggested that there were only two albums by The Band

This paper emphasizes songs from the 1969 album, _The Band_the composition and performance of songs that deal specifically with southern identity. I center issues of whiteness and race by tracing The Band's construction of an "American" sound, evident in the songs "The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down" and "Up on Cripple Creek." The music's success is completely dependent upon the authenticity allotted by the sonic signifier of Levon's voice. I argue that Levon Helm's voice is utilized and, in some sense, even ventriloquized by Robbie Robertson to facilitate his idea of an American sound.  

My analysis of Helm's voice and sonic role in The Band will be framed around an understanding of Peircian semiotics, Barthes' "The Grain of the Voice," and Lipsitz's "The Possessive investment in Whiteness." I build upon the recent works of Adam H. Domby (2020) and Mathew D. Morrison (2019) to construct an analysis framed around civil war memory and legacy in American music

Graham Peterson
Boston University
What Hate Can Do to a Choir
Individual Paper 12:00 Noon - 12:50 PM (America/Chicago) 2021/11/20 18:00:00 UTC - 2021/11/20 18:50:00 UTC

On May 16, 2018, then-President Trump attended a roundtable on California sanctuary policy.  There he said, about undocumented immigrants, "These aren't people.  These are animals."  Moved by these sentences, the Chicago-born, Los Angeles-based composer Ted Hearne wrote _Animals_, a piece for SATB choir.  It was commissioned by The Crossing and the Park Avenue Armory, and it was premiered in Philadelphia and New York in September 2018.  In 2019, Donald Nally, the conductor of The Crossing, explained to the _New York Times_ his motivation for cultivating the socially committed, technically ruthless music, such as Hearne's, that distinguishes his ensemble: "I hate pretty.  I can't stand listening to pretty."  _Animals_, then, was born of hate twice over--hate of very different stripes: xenophobic speech, aesthetic revulsion.  I take _Animals_ as an occasion to raise questions about the alchemy between voice, politics, and affect: What does hate do to the musical body? What is the ideological potential of antipathy to vocal beauty?

In _Animals_, comprehension of racism seems to force Hearne to transmute the voice, which he makes volley Trump's words back to listeners for scrutiny.  Performance directions demand the affect of "grotesque, a hellscape."  Hearne prescribes, for instance, "frantic breathing" through "closed teeth," and "pinched screech[es]."  Chorales flash up only to vanish into the chasm between multipart harmony and guttural cries.  Mouths and throats morph; the choir seethes and keens.  Thinking with philosophies of affect and injustice (Amia Srinivasan) and timbre and resonance (Jean-Luc Nancy), my interview of Hearne, as well as the score and The Crossing's video of _Animals_, I argue that these changes reveal the aptness--etymologically, the fitting nature--of vocal extremity as a musical answer to prejudice.  _Animals_ shows how bending the voice beyond classical limits of beauty and agreeability is a just response to hate.  I hear Hearne tapping into the emancipatory promise of extended technique; his example reveals the pressing need to locate the concept of vocal technique in the sphere of ethics.  Such vocal plasticity, I suggest, clarifies the political possibilities of timbre and attests to the power of music as resistance.

Victoria Aschheim
Dartmouth College
Univeristy of Chicago
Boston University
Dartmouth College
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