Event Title

Heard And Not Seen: The Child in Contemporary Euro-American Pop Music

Presenter Information

Asher Butnik, Oberlin College

Location

Science Center, A154

Document Type

Presentation

Start Date

4-26-2013 1:30 PM

End Date

4-26-2013 2:30 PM

Abstract

How do we make sense of the use of the xylophone in Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know,” Billboard’s #1 song of 2012? Using Peircian semiotics, this paper examines sounds and phrases associated with childhood in contemporary Euro-American pop music, ranging from toy instruments to nursery rhymes. What associations evoke “child-ish-ness” for the listener? How is innocence conveyed musically, and to what effect? I examine the ways these invocations adhere to ideas about the child propounded by queer theorists. The role of the child in popular music has remained largely unexplored, but I seek to bring these conversations into ethnomusicological discourse.

Notes

Session I, Panel 1: Modal Fanaticism / Infantile Fantasy: Experimentation and Expression in Musical Forms
Moderator: Rebecca Leydon, Associate Professor of Music Theory

Major

Ethnomusicology; Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies

Advisor(s)

Jennifer Fraser, Ethnomusicology
Greggor Mattson, Sociology

Project Mentor(s)

Jennifer Fraser, Ethnomusicology
Greggor Mattson, Sociology

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Apr 26th, 1:30 PM Apr 26th, 2:30 PM

Heard And Not Seen: The Child in Contemporary Euro-American Pop Music

Science Center, A154

How do we make sense of the use of the xylophone in Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used To Know,” Billboard’s #1 song of 2012? Using Peircian semiotics, this paper examines sounds and phrases associated with childhood in contemporary Euro-American pop music, ranging from toy instruments to nursery rhymes. What associations evoke “child-ish-ness” for the listener? How is innocence conveyed musically, and to what effect? I examine the ways these invocations adhere to ideas about the child propounded by queer theorists. The role of the child in popular music has remained largely unexplored, but I seek to bring these conversations into ethnomusicological discourse.