Session/Séance 3f: IASPM Panel 4 Micro-Timing the Groove: From Tutting to Timbre

Session/Séance 3f: IASPM Panel 4  Thursday/jeudi 25 May 2017. 4:00PM-6:00PM, EJB 217.
Micro-Timing the Groove: From Tutting to Timbre
     Moderator: TAMI GADIR (University of Oslo)


1. Groove, Timbre, and the Metaphor of Weight
     Chris McDonald, Cape Breton University

There is no question that creation and perception of “groove” involves aspects of both timing and of timbre. This presentation explores timbre’s role in the creation of grooves, with attention to the metaphor of weight. When instruments, especially drums, are recorded or synthesized, the percussive sounds are often manipulated to resemble objects of varying amounts of weight. The manipulation of percussive sounds in recorded music can create a variety of weight-based kinesthetic associations, such as the “heaviness” of heavy metal, or the spry sense produced in some electronic dance music. This presentation builds on Charles Keil’s hypothesis that rhythmic grooves depend on micro-timing to create certain rhythmic feels, and that such grooves are often described as “behind the beat” or “ahead” or “on top of the beat.” This distinction, for Keil, is the basis on which grooves create different kinesthetic effects for listeners or participants. This presentation hypothesizes that feelings of lag (“behind the beat”) and anticipation (“ahead of the beat”) may be partly an outcome of timbre, as well as micro-timing. Using selected recordings, I present a case that the heavier the percussion track sounds, the more “lag” is perceived, while the lighter the percussion sounds, the more it feels on top or ahead of the perceived beat. The connection between rhythm, timbre and perceived weight may have ramifications for discussing music’s effects, expression, and its placement within genres, so this connection is worth exploring in detail.


2. Groove and the Grid: The Establishment of Microrhythm in Vancouver Hip-Hop
      Matt Shelvock, Western University

Digital technology enables the creation of rhythmically perfect music. Despite our ability to craft music that exhibits a measurably consistent tactus for the first time in history, listeners and musicians alike often distrust the flawless rhythms made capable by recording software. As a matter of fact, hip-hop producers and engineers actively ensure that natural-sounding rhythmic structures prevail in their work. Many hip-hop producers and artists configure the temporal expression of drums, synthesizers, samples, and other recorded sounds to exhibit a humanistic sound, even though this music is created using technology. Music researchers elsewhere provide empirical and phenomenological analyses of microrhythm in hip-hop (Danielsen 2010), however, the current paper instead discusses methods used to establish this microrhythmic structure. Building upon my previously published work in the field of music production studies (2011, 2012, 2014, 2016), and collected interviews with Vancouver-based producer/mixer Ray Moulin (Self- Serve Records, Dilla Foundation, Chin Injeti, ex-Wutang members), I will survey the rhythmic priorities valorized by Canadian hip-hop fans and artists alike. I also intend to elucidate how these rhythms are crafted by producers and studio personnel. Most importantly, this paper clarifies production strategies venerated within Vancouver hip-hop scene – perhaps the least-discussed subculture of hip-hop.

Keywords: hip-hop, rhythm, sampling, production, music production studies


3. Music, Meaning and Movement in Breaking
     Friederike Frost, German Sport University Cologne

Music is a powerful parameter within the urban dance culture of Breaking (also referred to as Bboying, Breakdance; a style of hip-hop dance or street dance). As an ingredient in the emergence of Breaking, music impacted and still shapes the movement fluidity and quality of Breaking. It also influences the energy of the moving dancer. Hence, DJs choose specific music to create a particular atmosphere for competition or exchange of dancers. Next to music, Breaking movements, their quality and fluidity are based on and influenced by cultural roots, e.g. cultural traditions of the African diaspora (Rose 1994), as well as individual experiences and music taste of a dancer: “Every time a dancer enters the circle, their history is revealed to experienced dancers through their movements” (Fogarty 2010, p. 74). The circle (or cypher) on the dancefloor creates the space for exchange and competition; it defines the cultural context of Breaking. Following the diacritical concept of movement (Fikus und Schürmann 2004) within a theory of practice approach, a moving body is connected with a meaning. The diacritical concept unites movement and meaning into a complex sign which must be observed as an equal unity. In Breaking, movement and meaning is based on the roots of emergence and expressed and situated within the cultural context. This presentation, based on a PhD project within dance and movement science, investigates influences on movement and meaning, movement quality and movement fluidity in Breaking within the cultural context. It claims an impact by cultural roots, music, and context. The lecture demonstration stresses the element of music. Research results are based on literature research, interviews with internationally known dancers, and participating and non-participating field observation of practice and competition in Breaking.

Keywords: breaking, music, movement and meaning, diacritical concept, theory of practice


4. The Musicality of Gloving
     M Gillian Carrabré, Western University

Gloving is a form of musical expression associated with electronic music events also known as raves. The tools designed specifically for this type of flow art are white gloves outfitted with programmable LED lights in the fingertips. Glovers use their hands to interpret musical works with colour and motion. For ravers in Ontario, this is a part of their identity, earning them what Sarah Thornton refers to as “subcultural capital.” I will present a case study of a small sample group from the Toronto Gloving Community (TGC) in an effort to shed light on this new form of musicality. Glovers consider themselves guides through the musical experience, communicating their interpretations to other fans during a DJ’s set. Gloving performances, which are improvisatory in nature, showcase a tangible form of reception. Consideration will be given to how glovers negotiate the concept of musicality. Additionally, attention will be given to colour palette choices in the lights. Colours are of particular importance to a performance and will be altered to suit particular genres or musical moods, which I argue is a way of articulating synaesthesia. I will also assess how the notion of guiding other ravers’ reception of the music mediates a glovers own musical experience. Various emerging terminologies for particular expressive techniques (liquid, tutting, whips, remoting) will also be discussed. This work is preparatory for a larger study to be completed throughout 2017-18. Methodology has been adapted from a few more recent participant observation study releases (Bhardwa, 2013; O’Grady, 2012; Robinson, 2013) in the field of Electronic Dance Music Culture (EDMC) research. Through working closely with glovers, I will explore the ways in which contemporary Canadian raves are challenging existing boundaries of musicianship.

Keywords: gloving, musicality, synaesthesia, active audience, EDMC


Thursday Schedule | Programme - jeudi
(Session 3 | Séance 3)

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