From Occupy to #Casseroles: Urban Music and Social Protest 2.0


For our final meeting, we will be discussing sonic strategies of social protest following the global Occupy protests. We will be reading this short essay by leading sound studies scholar Jonathan Sterne on the unique soundscape of the student protests in Quebéc known as “casseroles” or for the more twitter oriented, “#casseroles.” We will also be reading this article on the anti-nuclear protests in post-Fukushima Japan by ethnomusicologists and theorist Noriko Manabe.

I’ll be uploading the sounds and music associated with Monday’s class by the weekend. Here is a link to the music for Monday. I blame the delay in getting these to you on the difficulty of letting this class come to a close.



Punk, Riot Grrrl, Queercore etc.

For the last full week of classes, we’ll be discussing punk music’s engagements with political movements in the U.S. and England. For Monday, we’ll be reading this essay by Kevin Dunn from an edited collection on Music and Human Rights as well as Simon Frith and John Street’s essay on Rock Against Racism in Rockin’ The Boat. These readings should prove especially resonant for those of you covering a punk-related artist for your final projects. For Thursday, we’ll be discussing Riot Grrrl, third-wave feminism, and queercore. I know I mentioned Elizabeth Keenan‘s work in class today, but I’d like to reiterate that she’s the unique ethnomusicologist who is also at home doing historical work. We’ll be reading Keenan’s article (UPDATED link here) on pop music and third-wave feminism in addition to this article on queercore.

I’ll be posting the listening for next week tomorrow. UPDATE: Here is the music for this week. It was stupidly difficult to pick tracks, and I look forward to this week’s discussion.

Women’s Music and Lesbian Separatism

Original Olivia Collective

For next Thursday, we will be reading this chapter by Judith Peraino on homosocial musical communities in the 1970s as well as Cynthia Lont’s chapter from Rockin’ The Boat. Lont’s essay is a good, quick guide to what we’ll be discussing, while Peraino offers a more nuanced analysis through Michel Foucault’s theory of technologies of desire. You don’t need to spend much time on the second half of Peraino’s chapter since we won’t be addressing disco (talk to students who took Music and the Global Metropolis). Here is a link to the music.

The first time I heard this music back when I was in college, it made me and my fellow classmates cringe. Keep in mind the broader set of political and social circumstances that drove these feminists to take on the separatist strategies and positions that they did.

The Sixties in North America

Here is the listening for tomorrow’s class, drawing from examples in both of the readings. Considering that rock and soul music from mid-60s through the mid-70s is effectively the canon for histories of rock ‘n’ roll and popular music in general, it was exceedingly difficult to choose examples that can address the ways that the different counterpublics attempted to change the political status quo in the United States. I ended up choosing some lesser-known examples that I think exemplify some of the major trends in music protest from the decade that we haven’t already addressed in the class. As you prepare for tomorrow’s class, consider how Ward and Gitlin’s perspectives differ in how they address the same general period of music-making and the interrelationships between the ’60s counterculture and the rising black consciousness associated with soul music.

Also, I plan for discussion to at least partially address Brad Paisley’s “Accidental Racist.” If you have avoided stumbling into this media spectacle, here are some good places to start.

Stokely Carmichael


Tropicália and the 1960s

Next week we will be transitioning to our final unit. Appropriately enough, the music we’ll be covering from Brazil is some of the most engaged with N. American and British trends in Rock ‘n’ Roll of the ’60s. For Monday, we’ll be reading an article on Milton Nascimento by Martha Ulhôa (available here) and some excerpts from Caetano Veloso’s memoir Tropical Truth (available here). Unlike just about everything else we have read this semester, Veloso’s writing is autobiographical; he does not attempt the kind of scholarly objectivity and instead imbues his writing with the passion of an artist forced into exile for causing a disruption. For this reason, I would like you to focus more of your attention on Tropical Truth. Important things to know about Veloso: 1) he was arrested by the Brazilian military in 1969 and, along with fellow tropicalista musician Gilberto Gil, he lived in London for three years; 2) he is one of the most famous Brazilian musicians in the world. Those two facts should help you understand Veloso’s perspective and tone in the excerpt. He writes with a voice of self-importance.

On Thursday, we at long last will discuss the 1960s in the United States. The chapter by Todd Gitlin discusses the role of music for members of Students for a Democratic Society. Gitlin is now a sociology professor at Columbia University, but he was one of the leaders of the New Left and organized some of the first major protests against the U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Reading his perspective against Caetano Veloso’s makes for some interesting comparisons. Brian Ward is a professor of American History at University of Florida and specializes in the American South. His chapter analyzes the role of secularization in ’60s soul music. Since this is the second time that we are discussing the civil rights movement, I encourage you to consider how his perspective differs from Turino’s and consider the recent media spectacle surrounding Brad Paisley’s attempt to solve racism in the south.

Here is the music for Monday. I’ll post Thursday’s music after the weekend.

Chico Buarque and Brazilian Legacies

Sérgio and Chico

Sérgio and Chico

In tomorrow’s class, we’ll spend part of our time on the Brazilian singer-songwriter Chico Buarque and his relationship to political resistance during the Brazilian military dictatorship that began in 1964 and intensified in 1968. One aspect of Buarque’s career that is common knowledge to Brazilian music specialists, but that might be lost on casual listeners, is how he has benefited from growing up in a culturally influential family. Chico’s father, Sérgio Buarque de Holanda, was a prominent historian; he participated in The Week of Modern Art in 1922 (a pivotal moment for Brazilian culture), and he often served as a cultural diplomat to other countries. His brief history of Brazil, Raizes do Brasil (1936), is one of the most celebrated books about Brazilian culture.

Sérgio’s legacy on Brazil is immense. Many of his children went on to effectively shape the cultural life in the twentieth century. Miúcha, Chico’s sister, was a friend of nueva canción innovator Violeta Parra.  She also married bossa nova star João Gilberto (and is Bebel Gilberto’s mother). (Two of Chico’s other sisters, Ana and Cristina, are also singers.) As we will discuss tomorrow, one of Chico Buarque’s songs directly addresses the likely end of one of the Buarque de Holanda’s family friends. It’s easy to see from Chico’s history how his socially engaged music often takes part in a larger tradition of shaping and commenting on Brazilian society.

Miúcha, João Gilberto, Chico Buarque

Miúcha, João Gilberto, Chico Buarque

Nueva Canción and Protest Song in Latin America


This week, we turn our attention to Latin America. On Monday, we’ll discuss Nueva Canción in Chile and Argentina. In addition to the chapter by Pablo Vila in Rockin’ The Boat, we’ll also be discussing this article by Jeffrey Taffet.

On Thursday, we’ll be discussing Nueva Trova in Cuba and MPB in Brazil. Please read the chapter on Nueva Trova in Moore’s Music and Revolution and this chapter by renowned Brazilianist (and professor of Portuguese at University of Florida) Charles Perrone.

The musicians and songs we’ll be discussing had antagonistic relationships with the rise of dictatorships in South American countries. In the last year or so, some of these nations have taken steps to reconcile the past. Over the last week, many news outlets have been covering the exhumation of Chilean poet (and outspoken communist dissident) Pablo Neruda to determine his cause of death just after Augusto Pinochet seized power in 1973. Similarly, just a few months ago, the agents of the Pinochet regime who murdered Nueva Canción singing Víctor Jara were finally arrested. And over the last year, the Brazilian government formed a “Truth Commission” to help shine some light on the horrors of the decades of the dictatorship that began in 1964 and gradually ended in the 1980s.

Needless to say, our topics over the next week are very timely.

Here is the listening for the week.


Materials for the Iron Curtain

Alfred Schnittke

Next week we’ll be talking about the influence of the Soviet Union and Russia on the politics of music-making. Coincidentally, half of the readings are by scholars with local connections. For Monday, we’ll be talking about classical music and popular music behind the Iron Curtain. We’ll be reading “Music of Disruption” by USF professor Maria Cizmic from her book Performing Pain: Music and Trauma in Eastern Europe (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011). We’ll also be reading the chapter by Peter Wicke in Rockin’ The Boat.

For Thursday, we’ll be talking about what has been happening in Russia since the 1990s. We’ll be reading an article on the Russian national anthem by NCF alum J. Martin Daughtry (he wrote his thesis on Joseph Brodsky). I have also assigned an Associated Press article on Pussy Riot. (Click here for a PDF.)

I’ll update this post later today or tomorrow with some musical examples. Here is the listening for Monday. And here is the listening for Thursday.