This month I toured through sounds by friends, relistened to sounds that inspire me, found some new things to hear, caught up on some of my Bandcamp purchases. There isn’t really a program or guide, it’s just things that I felt like listening to each day.

The readings were finishing up things before the end of the year, some social justice reading, an essay that provoked conversation via Twitter, and starting up on something old and influential.

I’ll probably revisit ideas from the Redmond book repeatedly, especially the elements on transformation and recontextualizing sound/meaning.

Reading and listening journal of an experimental musician, Dec 2020

Db052020
listening: Autumn Efforts by Jo Bled [rubboard and encapsulated electronics], digital:Bandcamp

book: “If white people keep forgetting that black lives matter, as they clearly do given their acceptance of everything from racist comments by friends and colleagues to lack of sentencing of most police officers who kill unarmed blacks, to more structural racist practices, then they will always be surprised when those #memories take hold.” Just Us by Claudia Rankine

Db062020
listening: “Pry” by Urian Hackney [punk/heavy], digital: Bandcamp

book: “…then anger, and your attendant fears, perhaps, are spotlights that can be used for your growth in the same way I have had to use learning to express anger for my growth. But for corrective surgery, not guilt. Guilt and defensiveness are bricks in a #wall against which we will all perish, for they serve none of our futures.” Just Us by Claudia Rankine

Db072020
listening: NYC Liminal Series, #Solos Vol. 1; Bass [free improvisation/experimental music], cassette: Chaikin Records

book: “Elena Filipovic, ‘The Global White Cube’: ‘Particular to the white cube is that it operates under the pretense that its seeming invisibility allows the artwork best to speak; it seems blank, innocent, unspecific, insignificant. Ultimately what makes a white cube a white cube is that, in our experience of it, ideology and form meet, and all without our noticing it.’” Just Us by Claudia Rankine

Db082020
listening: EMPAC Sessions 2: 2020 by Maria Chavez [turntablism/experimental music], digital: Bandcamp

book: “While they are compelling, it is more than the artistry or charisma of the music or performer that draws people together. In the ways that they symbolize and call into being a system of sociopolitical ideas or positions, the songs that I analyze as anthems are devices that make the listening audience and political public merge.” Anthem by Dr. Shana Redmond

Db092020
listening: Music for the Man who Grew Common in Wisdom by Ellen Fullman [sampler/experimental music/sound collage], vinyl: Besom Presse via Outer Sounds Vinyl

book: “This act of ‘musicking,’ to borrow from musicologist Christopher Small, was agentive and future-sighted in its forecast of the music’s effect. It was an organized and organizing effort in which the individual singers were no longer soloists: they were, within movement struggle, the embodied amplifier for a collective who refused the limitations of the term ‘audience’ and instead became a ‘public.’” Anthem by Dr. Shana Redmond

Db102020
listening: Map of Absences by Turning Jewels into Water [experimental beats/electrodiaspora], vinyl: FPE Records

book: “Anthems demand something of their listeners. In performance they often occasion hands placed over hearts or standing at attention. Yet more than a physical gesture, anthems require subscription to a system of beliefs that stir and organize receivers of the music. At its best this system #inspires its listeners to believe the circumstances or world around them can change for the better—that the vision of freedom represented in the song’s lyrics and/or history are worth fighting for in the contemporary moment.” Anthem by Dr. Shana Redmond

Db112020
listening: for Evelyn by Wren Kitz [ambient guitar/field recordings/experimental rock], vinyl: Section Sign Records

storytime: This fall we came into a large bucket of strawberries. The yards to one side are overgrown and forgotten by all but the small deconstruction crew tearing down the neighboring building a few bricks each day. The land, like all the land in the Northeast, is probably a superfund site if you dig more than a foot down, so close to the water that was a highway that was a communication channel that was the water that fed and bathed this broad #valley originally or at least after the glaciers pulled back north after their most recent excursion maybe 10,000 years ago. Anyway, we came into these strawberries and I wilded them through the yards. Maybe some will grow, I hope they do. But I wouldn’t recommend eating them. I just like the idea of them existing here now. —Gahlord

Db122020
listening: A Year with 13 Moons by Jefre Cantu-Ledesma[ambient guitar/field recordings/experimental music], vinyl: Mexican Summer

book: “As ethnomusicologist Kyra Gaunt argues, ‘Musical play is a vital environment within which black folks. . . learn to improvise with what it means to be dominant and subordinate in musical and nonmusical relationships.’ This ‘play,’ as a three-dimensional practice, is pronounced within anthems and accounts for the sound and innovation of musical acts, the uneven participation within them, as well as the politics that are mobilized through their performances. Power is, therefore, present throughout and working on multiple, and sometimes competing, registers.” Anthem by Dr. Shana Redmond

Db132020
listening: Kahil El’Zabar’s America the Beautiful by Kahil El’Zabar[jazz/spiritual jazz], vinyl: Spiritmuse Records

book: “Anthropologist James Scott uses the idea of public and hidden transcripts to discuss the ways in which oppressed peoples #communicate with power and one another. Public transcripts are the ‘open interaction between subordinates and those who dominate,’ while hidden transcripts are those that ‘[take] place ‘offstage,’ beyond direct observation by powerholders.’ These texts and spaces are not uniform or absolute. As he notes, ‘Power relations are not, alas, so straightforward that we can call what is said in power-laden contexts false and what is said #offstage true. Nor can we simplistically describe the former as a realm of necessity and the latter as a realm of freedom.’ What is true, according to him, ‘is that the hidden transcript is produced for a different audience under different constraints of power than the public transcript.” Anthem by Dr. Shana Redmond

Db222020
listening: irreducibility by Will Yager [contemporary art music/experimental music], digital: Bandcamp

journal article: “Many aspects of our social system serve as filtering mechanisms, determining which interaction happen and between whom, and thus which social patterns people are in a position to observe. For the majority of the 20th century, the US quota system of immigration made legal immigration with a path to citizenship almost exclusively available to Europeans (earning Hitler’s regard as the obvious ‘leader in developing explicitly racist policies of nationality and immigration’) But the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act opened up immigration possibilities, with a preference for ‘skilled labour’.” “Being-in-the-Room Privilege: Elite Capture and Epistemic Deference” by Olúfémi O. Táíwò, The Philosopher v108n4

Db25202
listening: Robeson by Paul Robeson [vocal music/popular song], vinyl: Verve (MG -4044)

journal article: “Doing better than the epistemic norms we’ve inherited from a history of explicit global apartheid is an awfully low bar to set. The facts that explain who ends up in which room shape our world much more powerfully than the squabbles for comparative prestige between people who have already made it into the rooms. And when the conversation is about social justice, the mechanisms of the social system that determine who gets into which room often just _are_ the parts of society we aim to address. For example, the fact that incarcerated people cannot participate in academic discussions about freedom that physically take place on campus is intimately related to the fact that incarcerated people are locked in cages.” “Being-in-the-Room Privilege: Elite Capture and Epistemic Deference” by Olúfémi O. Táíwò, The Philosopher v108n4

Db262020
listening: _Songs of My People_ by Paul Robeson with Lawrence Brown [spirituals], vinyl: RCA (LM-3292)

book: “The telling [about the past] is a part of the work of producing one’s self as a coherent being over time, part of producing a retrospection that is in turn a resource for projection into the future, a cueing in to how to proceed. In this sense, the past, musically conjured, is a resource for the production of agency in real time. It serves also as a means of putting actors in touch with capacities, reminding them of their accomplished identities, which in turns fuels the ongoing projectiong of identity from past into future. Musically fostered memories thus produce past trajectories that contain momentum.” Tia DeNora quoted in Anthem by Dr. Shana Redmond, NYU Press

Db272020
listening: Performances for Myself by Alex Meinhof [arhythmic modular electronics], digital: Bandcamp

book: “The movement that made the contemporary South African reality is, through its anthem, condensed and compressed into material objects that can be bought and sold in the marketplaces owned and managed by a powerful elite. The practice of ’Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika’ as an anthem meant that it never belonged to any one person but rather to all who shared in its vision. The contemporary fight for ownership over the anthem highlights the postcolonial turn to nostalgic consumption and the erasure of a deadly recent past that has, discursively and sonically, become institutionalized within the fictive inclusivity of post-apartheid democracy.” Anthem by Dr. Shana Redmond, NYU Press

Db282020
listening: Today’s listening was live, Anne Leilehua Lanzilotti and I did a graphic score workshop with Istanbul Technical University students in the Spaces of Spaces architecture design studio.

book: “There is also something problematic that could impede future visions and mobilizations. Although often composed, and always performed, collectively, the imbedded singularity of _the_ anthem may be its undoing. Like the messianic leadership that has proven troubled and inefficient time and time again, the isolation of a sonic text as the mouthpiece for a collective invites challenges that most anthems cannot withstand over time. But instead of grieving for or fetishizing an idyllic past, it is important to recognize that ‘identity work is [also] achieved in and through the music to which [people] have _stopped_ listening’.” Anthem by Dr. Shana Redmond, NYU Press

Db292020
listening: _Early Worm_ by Wren Kitz, digital:Bandcamp

journal article: “It is easy, then, to see how this deferential form of standpoint epistemology contributes to elite capture at scale. The rooms of power and influence are at the end of causal chains that have selection effects. As you get higher and higher forms of education, social experiences narrow—some students are pipelined to PhDs and others to prisons. Deferential ways of dealing with identity can inherit the distortions caused by these selection processes.” “Being-in-the-Room Privilege: Elite Capture and Epistemic Deference” by Olúfémi O. Táíwò, The Philosopher v108n4

Db302020
listening: Dreams Grow Like Slow Ice by Tammy Evans Yonce, digital:Bandcamp

journal article: “Elites from marginalized groups can benefit from [situations arising through deferential standpoint epistemology] in ways that are compatible with social progress. But treating elites’ interests as necessarily or even presumptively aligned with full group interests involves a political naiveté we cannot afford. Such treatment of elite interests functions as a racial Reaganomics: a strategy reliant on fantasies about the exchange rate between the attention economy and the material economy.” “Being-in-the-Room Privilege: Elite Capture and Epistemic Deference” by Olúfémi O. Táíwò, The Philosopher v108n4

Db312020
listening: Dawntreader by Erin Rogers, CD: Relative Pitch Records
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essay: “They brush aside a number of outmoded concepts, such as creativity and genius, eternal value and mystery—concepts whose uncontrolled (and at present almost uncontrollable) application would lead to a processing of data in the Fascist sense. The concepts which are introduced into the theory of art in what follows differ from the more familiar terms in that they are completely useless for the purposes of Fascism. They are, on the other hand, useful for the formulation of revolutionary demands in the politics of art.” Essay: “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction” by Walter Benjamin (translation: Harry Zohn) in Illuminations, Hannah Arendt ed., Schocken Books