Call for Panelists | Sound, music, technology: anthropological explorations

Sound, music, technology: anthropological explorations, panel taking place at the at the American Anthropological Association (AAA)’s 112th Annual Meeting at the Chicago Hilton on November 20-24, 2013, needs additional participants. Check out details on the panel and it’s organizers below.

Panel Organizers: Gabriela Vargas-Cetina and Steve Glazier

In the twenty-first century sound seems to surround us everywhere, and music seems to be within reach of everyone.  Sound emitting devices come in all sizes and in many forms, from chimes to radios, cell phones and home theatre systems, to the PA systems used in stadiums and concert halls.  The universe of sound seems to be ever-expanding.  New sound devices and musical instruments emerge continuously from the confluence of older ones and new developments in electronics.  In music, acoustic-based instruments and ways of playing co-exist with digital instruments, music-based games and virtual technologies.  While in the past it was believed that electronic sounds and music would come to dominate over more ‘natural’ technologies, today we find types of music, such as rock, hip hop and ‘ambient’, that intentionally combine, ‘natural’ sounds with electronic ones.  Digital technologies, from CDs to MIDI, affordable music applications, interactive music-centered games, and the internet, would appear as tools of democratization that make music available to everyone everywhere; Jacques Attali’s dream of a world of music composers seems within close reach.  However, the ways in which sound and music are experienced, created, enjoyed, or endured are profoundly cultural, and social differences continue to impact on the creation and consumption of sound and music around the world.

This panel brings together anthropologists working on sound, technology and music in different locations and from different angles: from musicians’ instruments and their use of analog and digital technologies to issues of gender, voice, education, discrimination and pollution in sound and music.  The session showcases the fluid nature of sound and music, which in our times becomes evident from the juxtaposition of ‘natural’ and highly manipulated sounds, the tension between market-driven trends and creativity, and the continuous rupture between any possible ‘natural to artificial’ sound continuum.  In the 1970s Murray Schafer conceptualized the increasing low-fi muddling of what he called ‘the soundscape’ as the result of the sound imperialism inherent in industrial and post-industrial society.  In the twenty-first century, however, we see through these papers that our soundscapes are the mixed result of culture and technology, and find that not only power and technology, but also everyday aesthetics and creative expression inform sound and music-related practices everywhere.  Here we explore how people continue to find meaning and cultural significance in sound and music practices, and how cultural dynamics inform our understanding of the sonic environment as yet other ways to create difference.

You may submit a 250 word abstract here.

American Anthropological Association2013 Annual Meeting

American Anthropological Association (AAA) is a member of the American Council of Learned Societies (ACLS).