SSR #3

Nastasia Vasconcells

ENGL 320: Sonic Studies

14 May 2018

SSR #3

The Significance of Location

Summary:

Sound Play is a book that discusses the variety of music in video games. Video games are an interactive media between a person and an avatar. Music affects the person and how they play the game. Locations within the games play an important factor as well. From deserts to shops, video game locations can be anywhere. Chapter 1 of the Sound Play states, “Programming can be heard on desk radios found in local pubs, shops and NPC residences” (Cheng p.22). Within the video game, Fallout 3, there is a scene where an avatar enters one of these locations. The person playing can change which radio station they want to be heard, while they are playing. The location creates a vibe for the person and the person picks the music based on that vibe. The location plays an important part in video games and video game music.

Synthesis:

The Radio and the Gendered Soundscape introduction, presents the evolution of radio. The importance of location for the radio is discussed, “Latin America was an important region for radio, and this rioplatense zone was the place in Latin America where radio emerged earliest and expanded most quickly” (Ehrick p. 18). If the radio was not introduced to this part of the world, we may not have had the advancements that came along with the radio that occurred in Latin America. This book discusses Radio Feminina. Radio Feminina was the first all-women radio program. This station started in Montevideo, Uruguay. The station was very successful and gave women the ability to have a say. Uruguay played an important part in women’s oppression.

The Auditory Culture Reader, chapter 12, examines different locations and different sounds. It discusses the importance of thinking about sound and thinking about what sounds that may occur at a location. For example, any job interviews occur in public places, but if the interviewer sets up a place that is not great for communication the interview could be unsuccessful. Wilson states, “It is routine to think pragmatically about noise interference when conducting interviews. If you are conducting an interview in a café or a bar, not only do you question the accessibility of the site for the participant…but you also might ask ‘is it conducive to conversation?’” (Bull, Back & Wilson p. 163). Location is very important when making these decisions as it affects the future of both the interviewer and interviewee.

Chapter 1 of The Sonic Color Line presented the struggles black artists’ faced throughout history. Linda Brent was an African-American writer, but she was also a listener. For example, “Linda arrives in the North listening out for signs of freedom, connection, and family life but learns that her raced and gendered identity still demands she continue to listen for danger” (Stoever p.73). At this point, she had realized how much race and gender affect one’s life, especially in her time period. The North was known to be a location of freedom. However, even though she was not a slave in the North, she was still looked down upon because of her race and gender. Location in this time period was crucial for freedom, but fair treatment was not always as expected.

As discussed above, the location of the radio was very important. World War II began in 1939 and during that time period, many radio stations were regulated because of the things being said. Rules that stations could not offend other countries and other similar rules were put in place and this affected the outcome of many shows. Radio and the Gendered Soundscape, chapter 2, states that “U.S. government’s infiltration of the airwaves of the Rio de la Plata…helps understand the ways in which World War II was fought” (Ehrick p.87). The U.S. played an important role in the war. Rio de la Plata is very close, location wise, to Buenos Aires and Montevideo where other main radio stations were located. Other radio stations could have been infiltrated, but were not and one could argue that this was because of location.

Feminism, the radio, and location influenced each other immensely. Location was important for the radio, radio was important for feminism. Paulina Luisi was a leader of the feminist movement in Uruguay. In Radio and the Gendered Soundscape, chapter 3, “Paulina Luisi’s voice on the occasion of the first (legitimate) presidential election since Uruguayan women had been given the right to vote” (Ehrick p.112). Luisi was an important figure for feminism as she fought hard for the citizenship of Uruguayan women. She often used the radio as a way to get her word out. Without Luisi, the radio, and the location, feminism may have struggled even more.

Questions:

  1. How does location affect any issues today? Location affected the radio, and radio affected feminism, but what would one example be of location affecting some movement today?
  2. Does living close to Washington D.C. affect peoples beliefs? For example, the woman’s march was in D.C., did the closeness of the event affect people’s beliefs and/or the want to participate?

 

Word Count: 857

Works Cited

Bull, Michael, and Les Back. The Auditory Culture Reader. Bloomsbury, 2016.

Cheng, William. Sound Play. Video Games and the Musical Imagination. Oxford University Press US, 2014.

Ehrick, Christine. Radio and the Gendered Soundscape: Women and Broadcasting in Argentina and Uruguay, 1930-1950. Cambridge University Press, 2016.

Stoever, Jennifer Lynn. Sonic Color Line: Race and the Cultural Politics of Listening in the U.s. New York University Press, 2016.

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SSR #2

Nastasia Vasconcells

ENGL 320: Sonic Studies

18 April 2018

SSR #2

The Power of the Voice

Summary:

In chapter two of Radio and the Gendered Soundscape, it discusses how women on the radio were the voices of this new medium. The voice is very powerful and has strong effects on people. It is how humans communicate and it is how people make a name for themselves. This is shown on page 72, “While Silvia Guerrico was making a name for herself as the voice of and for ‘intelligent women’ on Buenos Aires radio, the voices of other intellectual and political women were making themselves heard on the airwaves in her hometown, laying the groundwork for what would come later on Radio Femenina” (Ehrick). Before the radio, women barely had a voice in the world and the radio gave them that opportunity for the first time. For example, page 101 says “Radio Femenina was certainly a platform for asserting women’s voices into the public sphere, at a time when women had recently been enfranchised and sought to use their newly acquired rights to shape a better, and more peaceful, world” (Ehrick). Using their voices, they helped the movement for women’s rights and the power of the voice influences many other changes as well.

Synthesis:

“Her Voice a Bullet” is the title of chapter two in Sound in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction and it examines the voice of Tokyo Rose. She was a radio host that used her voice to sway wartime emotions. She used her voice as a psychological weapon. On page 47, it describes a movie, which is about Rose and how she used her voice to change people’s opinions. The movie shows men listening to Rose, “most of the men think announcer Tokyo Rose is harmless, but one, Pete Sherman, knows that words can kill” (Pfau & Hochfelder, p. 47). Rose used her voice to influence war decisions and play on the heartstrings of those listening to demoralize them. The power of Tokyo Rose’s voice lead to changes in World War 2 and everyone who was listening, it changed their opinions about the war even if the information was not true.

One technologic improvement that proves the power of the voice would be the CB radio. Chapter 7: An Audible Sense of Order from Sound in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction examines how this radio created a new way to communicate and pass along information. Many used the CB radio but one of the most beneficial uses was that it was a way to connect civilian communication to police communication. Many “truckers” used this to reinforce safety and share emergencies quicker than ever before. On page 172, it describes the CB radio as being “used as a tool to create community and order and to combat fear” (Blake). The only way the CB radio works is through the use of one’s voice to share information. The voice helped to give people a traveling neighborhood watch, which no one had before.

Another person who used their voice to change norms was Eva Duarte. In the introduction of Radio and the Gendered Soundscape, it discusses the rise of the radio and the rise of women’s voices in radio. Ehrick says, “The forceful, coarse voice of now First Lady Eva Duarte de Perón continued to present as the authentic voice of the people, and to beckon and mobilize via both radio speeches and public rallies” (p.1), she was a “voice of a woman for the people.” This chapter explains how throughout history women were “supposed to” remain quiet and not share their own opinions. Radio challenged this norm and people like Eva helped to break the patriarchal norm and give women voices.

Music can be made through instruments but also by using the voice. Because of this, music can be very powerful and therefore used as a form of torture. In the Auditory Culture Reader, chapter 31: Music as torture/ Music as a weapon discusses how music is used to psychologically break prisoners and disorient them as interrogation techniques. On pages 380-381, Bull & Back describe how “the use of music as a weapon is perceived to be incidental to the use of sound’s ability to affect a person’s spatial orientation, sense of balance, and physical coordination.” These songs were played very loudly and in a loop to create sound deprivation. An example of how this worked is on page 381, prisoners were “forced to listen to music by Eminem (‘Slim Shady’) and Dr. Dre for twenty days before the music was replaced by ‘horrible ghost laughter and Halloween sounds’” (Bull & Back). Other songs used were from Sesame Street, Christina Aguilera, Barney, Metallica, etc. and the chapter explains how these songs and the words can be psychologically harmful. Another way the music is harmful in these situations is if the words being sung are offensive to the prisoner’s religion or beliefs. The voice is used here through music as torture to try to influence and change the prisoner’s mindset.

The way the voice is used, it can change, influence, power, and torture people. Chapter 11 of the Auditory Culture Reader says, “voices are more than a conduit for the transfer of communication” (Bull & Back, p.168). Voices are used to have a strong effect on people’s emotions, feelings, and beliefs. Voices are a powerful tool. The chapter goes on to say, “the soundings of the voice- the volume, intonation, frequency, pitch, and accent- enables a critical reflection” (Bull & Back, p.168). This reflection means the evaluation of what was said and also the evaluation of what was heard. The voice is used to modify, change, and progress the way things are.

After the scandal between Sylvia Guerrico and Ramon Novarro, Guerrico continued to use her voice to influence change. In Radio and the Gendered Soundscape chapter one, Ehrick explains how, “despite a more conservative atmosphere, Guerrico still inserted some of her old messages into her radio dramas, encouraging women to empower themselves and denouncing certain aspects of women’s oppression and exploitation at the hands of men” (p. 58). Even with the scandal and backlash she received, she still continued to use her voice to inspire women and to change the patriarchal world.

Questions:

  1. If the women listed above from the Radio and Gendered Soundscape did not exist or use their voices as a condition of change, would women have as many rights today?
  2. What ways is the voice used today to influence change?
  3. Does social media count as a way to express one’s voice?

Word count: 1099

Works Cited

Bull, Michael, and Les Back. The Auditory Culture Reader. Bloomsbury, 2016.

Ehrick, Christine. Radio and the Gendered Soundscape: Women and Broadcasting in Argentina and Uruguay, 1930-1950. Cambridge University Press, 2016.

Strasser, Susan, and David Suisman. Sound in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction. University of Pennsylvania Press, 2013.

Script-group project

Tasks:

– Storyboard: Leena/All

– Equipment Gathering/Research: All

– Editing: Justin

– Recording: All

Our theme is exploring music and sound (or lack thereof) in public places.

Style: comparing and contrasting sonic elements of different public spaces

Photos: Nastasia will take and send photos of our notes.

Logistically, we plan on meeting Wednesdays after class.

Comparisons:

  1. Nature vs. Construction
  2. Airport vs. Train Station
  3. Concert vs. sound of a guitar
  4. Restaurant vs. Starbucks
  5. Library vs. Barnes and Noble/bookstore

Ryan – bookstore, restaurant

Nastasia – Starbucks, library, airport, metro

Leena – concert, guitar, train station

Justin – Construction, nature

Models:

“Electric Guitar vs. Acoustic in Country” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k7m7e-e2LK4

“Can You Hear The Difference Between Expensive and Cheap Pianos?”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ApGXujZVWf4

“Old vs. New Car Sound Comparison”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WsyW0HB70M0

Script:

Introduction

We explored and compared the different sounds in public places.

Nature/construction

To many people, nature can seem like just a lot of ambient noises in the back of your head. It is one of the sounds that gets muted out in daily life since its not something that most people go out of there way to listen for. However, you take a few minutes out of your day and listen, (sound). You can begin to hear new noises that you never even knew were there the whole time, everything from the animal calls to the winds blowing against the leaves. Nothing overtakes anything else, and the sounds seem to equal each other out. (sound volume up cut to construction)

Construction work fits under the same category that nature does in sound but with less appeal. It’s much louder and in your face than nature is but tends to be muted out just like its counterpart. The sound in construction is much more muddled and disorganized, the bigger machines take the priority sound-wise most of the time, and nothing seems to fit together making it sound very unpleasant.

Airport & train/metro:

Thousands of people visit airports a day. Throughout the airport, the well-known voices help to tell people when their flights are leaving and some of the rules and regulations dealing with flights (sound). Behind all of the hustle and bustle, many airports have music playing. Many do not even notice this as it is faint and they are focused on their travels (sound).

The DC metro is also a place thousands of people visit, but in comparison to the airport, the sounds are variably different. The sounds on the platform are people talking and the trains approaching and leaving (sound). Once on the train people can also be heard, but the voices saying to be careful with the doors, and what stop is next, are the main sound people pay attention to. These voices are similar to the voices on may here in an airport (sound).

Guitar/concert

The strumming of a single acoustic guitar contains more sounds than one would expect. Overall, the ear focuses on the notes and chords being played on the instrument. (sound) However, if you listen closely, you can hear a variety of noises: the buzz from the steel strings, or the reverb in the room where the instrument is played. Additionally, the singularity of the guitar sounds allows the listener to hear aspects of background noise, such as sounds from the interior of a house. (sound)

A music concert, however, makes these sounds seem minuscule. At a rock concert, you hear the blaring of guitars, the thudding bass, the rhythmic beat of the drums (sound), all combined with the sounds of the crowd (sound of the crowd fades in). You hear the buzzing of amplifiers, the sounds of the musicians as they tune their instruments and speak to the crowd (sound).

 

Restaurant/cafe

Starbucks is a busy place that constantly has orders coming in and out. It is also a hangout spot for many students and workers. The sounds one would hear at Starbucks would be the order of drinks and food, machines beeping, and names and drinks called out when ready (sound). There is also the subtle sound of cafe music in the background (sound).

The nation’s most populated Outback: Steakhouse happens to be right outside my house, so after a quick jaunt, I approached the door expecting to hear a cacophony of noise from all directions. Conversations seemed to never end and were constantly buzzing in my ears. The sounds of the clinking of utensils against clay plates and the waitstaff subdued the sounds of the televisions playing some sport near the bar area. It’s hard to focus on one sound because all of it seems like white noise.

 

Library/Bookstore

A library is a place for studying and working. Students flood the library looking for books, researching, and typing. The 3rd and 4th floors of the A.O.K. Library at UMBC are quiet floors. That means you can talk but only in a whisper. Here I am walking around the library and you cannot hear anything other than my steps (sound). Other sounds that could be heard would be typing and pages of books turning (sound).

Barnes and Noble is a bookstore that has a coffee shop inside of it, so most of the noise came from the coffee shop making orders and yelling at the patrons to grab their coffee. The children’s section has occasional screams of kids waiting on their parents, but for the most part, it is quiet except for the soft song in the background.

 

Conclusion

Sounds are everywhere, but when taking the time to really listen, one will find similarities and differences between every public place they go.

SSR #1 revision

Nastasia Vasconcells

ENGL 320: Sonic Studies

19 February 2018

The Challenges Black Artists Faced SSR#1

Summary:

In chapter 25 of The Auditory Culture Reader, Bull and Back bring awareness to the struggles and the issues black artists faced and still currently face due to a myriad of reasons. One reason was, “music…a structure of feeling that might function to make wrongs and injustices more bearable” (Bull & Back p.324). Politics were involved with a lot of music and many people used this as a way to justify their actions. For example, in The Sonic Color Line in chapter 4, Stoever explains how there was visual objectification and sonic commodification, which revealed how the sonic color line sought to limit black voices (p.194). Many whites thought it was a privilege to have black artists when in reality many black artists were made to be marketable. Lomax represents this example through his interactions with Lead Belly, but it can be seen with many other black artists throughout history (Stoever p. 194). Because of this history, many black artists struggled.

Synthesis:

In the introduction of The Sonic Color Line, Stoever shows one of the struggles black artists may have faced due to the sonic color line. For example, “The Jubilees and Chesnutt succeeded in shifting definitions of “authentic” blackness away from blackface performance; however mainstream American media outlets appropriated their representations to shore up a new sonic image of blackness focused on sounds of suffering” (Stoever p. 26). This means that white Americans changed the meaning of black artists’ music to what they wanted. This was a commonality that occurred with black artists and black music and made it challenging for them.

Chapter 7 of The Auditory Culture Reader discusses the way slaveholders treated their slaves and that the black person (their slaves) employed sensory characteristics that separated them from whites. This chapter also brings awareness to the separation black artists would face; “the late nineteenth century saw the legal consolidation of this desire to establish separate spaces for black and white, and even in the driest legal document we find senses playing pivotal roles in segregating streetcars, restaurants, theaters, and all manner of public accommodations well into the twentieth century” (Bull & Back p. 102). Segregating theaters was not the ideal for black artists since this limited opportunities for them. Being separated because of the way they “smelled, looked, tasted, etc.” provided evidence for whites to justify segregation and halt success for black artists.

The Sonic Color Line details the way whites controlled the details of listening in order to favor them. Chapter 1 says “Jacobs further explores the differences between white listening practices and those developed by slaves, using rich description to detail the white supremacist assumptions enabled by and encoded in the sonic color line, revealing them as specific sonic symbols of American patriarchy and white supremacy rather than universal affective experiences” (Stoever p.58). This created a racialization of listening that would, in turn, make it difficult for a black artist to escape the white supremacist assumptions.

The introduction of The Auditory Culture Reader discusses an audition of a black man to the audition of a white man. The one critique given to the black man was to sing in his “natural” voice (Bull & Back p. 17) meaning the black man did not sound the way he was supposed to. Continuing, Bull & Back say, “you can’t segregate the airways” (p. 17). This meant people could not control the way they sound, but whites were still separating blacks because of their sound. Also, their sound became another medium for supporting segregationist views. This rationale is the “listening ear,” which in this case adjoins (fictional) racial content to specific kinds of sounds. This artist was judged for his voice not sounding black enough through the “listening ear” creating an issue to succeed.

Another artist that had issues with not sounding black enough was Elizabeth Taylor Greenfield, who is discussed in chapter 2 of The Sonic Color Line. Stoever says “The sonic color line divided white women from black women, and the listening ear amplified perceived differences in the face of abolition and women’s rights activism, devaluing Greenfield’s voice and appearance while representing Lind’s soprano as the embodiment of the tenets of upper-class Victorian femininity, even as her performances immanently subverted them” (p. 88). Jenny Lind was a white artist in the same time period. The chapter reflects their different experiences due to their differences in skin color. Both of the artists had similar sounds, but because Greenfield was black, she was treated differently. Many criticized her because of her “whiteness” which was reflected in her singing voice. She was also criticized because of her “blackness” which was reflected in her skin color. She was not “enough” of either color so she had difficulties as an artist.

Chapter 3 of The Sonic Color Line discusses the Jubilee singers and Charles Chesnutt. The Fisk Jubilee Singers challenged America’s sonic color line and altered the dominant listening ear (Stoever p. 133). This, however, was not without risk, “but only through dangerous performances that risked affirming the listening ear by constructing new sonic representations of “blackness” (Stoever p. 133). The chapter also talks about conservation of the music and artists throughout time and how it showed the hardships faced. Remembering what people went through to be black artists and to change the way black artists were viewed is an important part of history.

In conclusion, the struggles black artists faced throughout time is highlighted in both The Sonic Color Line and The Auditory Culture Reader. Racism, slavery, white supremacy, segregation, and more challenged black artists in ways white artists would never have to encounter.

Questions:

  1. Does criticism for not sounding “white” or “black” enough still occur today? Why has this not evolved to not be an issue?
  2. When people audition, are people still turned away because of the way they look? What strategies are in place to prevent this from happening?
  3. How much history has been erased due to the fact whites changed many things to be what they want rather than what it was?

 

Word count: 1030

Works Cited

Bull, Michael, and Les Back. The Auditory Culture Reader. Bloomsbury, 2016.

Stoever, Jennifer Lynn. The Sonic Color Line: Race and the Cultural Politics of      Listening. New York University Press, 2016.

Questions-senses 3/28

1. Sound through touch can help to describe something in a sound. For example, people usually don’t get a full understanding of sounds unless they can touch or see it. People can hear the tapping of a pencil, but they can also feel it in their fingers or on the desk. Another way would be, in a car, someone can hear the bumps in the road, but the way we feel those bumps would be either a rise and fall over a speed bump or the down and up over a pothole. The sounds are very similar but the way it feels tells us which one it is. This can explain why we have physical reactions to songs, as well.

2. One experience when I had a heightened moment of multi-sensations would be when I was around the age of 12. I had a very bad migraine that led to distorted vision. I decided to still take a dance class and I had to use my sense of touch to figure out where things were and use hearing to understand my instructor, rather than watch. I was very scared so this heightened my senses (the ones that were working properly). Another time was when I was going to see my sister after a long time. I was very excited and I was looking and checking out every single car looking for hers, I remember the smell of gasoline, and listening to horns honking. My senses were raised in this exciting situation.