cfp: Topographies of Sound

Call for Papers: Topographies of Sound
Muscle Shoals, Alabama, November 12-13, 2018
Muscle Shoals Sound Studio & Marriott Shoals Hotel & Spa

This two-day symposium in Muscle Shoals, Alabama welcomes papers on the significance of landscape and geographical location for a range of American musical forms and their sonic architecture. In The United States alone, instances of this interrelation are legion, signaled for instance in genre monikers such as “Memphis Soul,” “Appalachian Folk,” “The Bakersfield Sound,” “The Paisley Underground,” and “Southern Rock.” Many are also the place names that immediately suggest the flavor of a particular sound: Laurel Canyon, Seattle, Woodstock, Harvard Square, and Music Row, to name just a few. On a more general level, entire regions have been invoked to describe the sonic texture of genres such as “desert rock” or “delta blues.”

Serving as much more than mythopoetic, evocative labels, these generic orientations reflect the impact of specific artists, musicians, producers and other personnel in specific spaces (studios, other recording environments) and places (towns, cities, rural areas) over time in complex, unpredictable and interchangeable ways. Although inevitably scratching the surface of this vast cultural cartography, the symposium Topographies of Sound invites presentations that reflect upon the vital connections between place, space, and music.

By locating the symposium in Muscle Shoals, and placing parts of the program sessions in the legendary Muscle Shoals Sounds Studio at 3614 Jackson Highway in Sheffield, Alabama, we wish to address these aesthetic constellations in one of the environments where they have been most evidently of significance and pondered upon, while also paying tribute to a unique creative milieu in American recording history.

Possible themes might include (but are not limited to):

* Music and the poetics of place
* Landscape and the question of authenticity
* Regional musics vis-à-vis the national and the global
* Sound and socioeconomic context
* Artists intimately associated with a specific area or city
* Geographical places mentioned in songs
* Musical poetics and mobility, transportation, travel, (trains, steamboats, automobile, etc.)
* Urban and rural musics
* Music and identity politics
* The journey motif
* The importance of the geographical location of recording studios
* Case studies of bands & artists, albums in relation to concrete places
* Musical styles and the fetishization of real places
* American music in the context of an Aesthetic Imaginary
* The use of elemental, topographical, or nautical tropes
* Land and the grain of the voice

Conference Fee: $150 incl. wine reception at Hotel November 11 and studio tour at Muscle Shoals Sounds Studio.

We welcome abstracts (max 250 words) to and Deadline: June 10, 2018