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Over the Waves: Music in/and Broadcasting
Hamilton, Ontario, February 2005

Call for Papers

International Conference
Over the Waves: Music in/and Broadcasting

18-20 February 2005
McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada

One way to break out of prescriptive categories of music (high/low, serious/popular,
instrumental/vocal, etc.) is through its method of distribution - as live
performance, printed text, recorded performance (sound recording, video, film) or as
participant in one of the transmitted media (radio, television, internet). We would
like to identify this last category of dissemination as broadcast music, which
technology has made possible since the 1920s. Broadcasting has changed how music is
experienced in terms of space, embodiment and social behaviours - in effect, helping
to define modern life. Music that is dispersed by broadcast technologies assumes an
imminent quality, conveyed through a sense of in-the-moment "happeningness" and the
beneath-comment "everyday", which differentiates it from media like film and recorded
sound that are "experienced as repetition" (Auslander, Liveness, 46). This
transitoriness manifests itself in different contexts: music that is transmitted over
the waves is inflected by the circumstances under which it is heard as well as the
broadcast medium - whether radio, television or the internet - through which it is
conveyed. It is the perceived ephemerality of music in broadcasting that has
prejudiced, or at least hindered, scholars from dealing with it in any serious or
comprehensive way.

Music in broadcasting has many guises: it may appear as a soundtrack for news
programs, situation comedies, or dramas; it may be featured as the "main thing" in
opera and concert broadcasts and in live transmissions from concert and dance venues;
or it may serve to fill the hours of its consumers in easy-listening, top forty, or
urban country formats. It may operate as commodity, public service, special event,
aural wallpaper, or some combination thereof. Listening may be involuntary, or
listeners may tune in for pleasure, company or enlightenment; alone or in groups; in
domestic spaces, cars or the workplace.

Historically, broadcasting has been subjected to a high degree of control by
governmental and corporate entities, but its media also have the power to cross
boundaries of class and nation. They can carry music, a powerful expression of
cultural values, to unexpected (and expected) audiences, shaping new senses of
identity, making possible creative appropriations and fusions, and/or imposing
particular notions of value, which in turn may be resisted. Broadcasting creates a
ubiquitous yet liminal social space, positioned somewhere between the imagined and
the tangible. The constructions of this social space and its regulation through sound
are of profound importance for the ways in which we experience the world. The
phenomenality of musical space is critical to issues of place, time and a concept of
habitable and uninhabitable space. Politically, this space is the site of the
contestation between the forces of globalization and of localization.

This conference seeks to initiate a fundamental discussion about music in/and
broadcasting that will bring together specialists from various broadcast media. This
will result not only in a conference of papers that will stimulate further thought
and discussion, but also in a publication that would be the first to address music
and broadcasting across media lines. We are particularly interested in examining the
political, bureaucratic, corporate and commercial structures that inform and regulate
the nature of music in broadcasting; the ways in which music broadcasting expresses
and creates "imagined communities" based on class, region, gender, etc.; the manner
in which listeners in "body and spirit" experience music on the radio, in television
and on the internet; how the dispersal of musical sound through broadcast media
shapes notions of space; and the phenomenality of music in broadcasting.

The International Conference Over the Waves: Music in/and Broadcasting will take
place from 18 to 20 February 2005 on the campus of McMaster University, Hamilton,
Ontario, Canada. Keynote addresses will be given by Jenny Doctor and Anahid

The organizing committee invites proposals for individual papers and sessions on
topics as identified above. Proposals for individual presentations should be in the
form of an abstract of 500 words and should contain a clear outline of the paper's
aims and subject matter, a description of its research findings, and an assessment of
its contribution and significance to scholarship. Proposals for panel sessions should
include an abstract of 500 words demonstrating the rationale for the session, as well
as an abstract for each paper conforming to the above guidelines. All papers will be
limited to 25 minutes' duration.

Proposals should be submitted by e-mail to Christina Baade ,
James Deaville or Sandy Thorburn
Attachments in Word are preferred for the text of abstracts; please include a
plain-text version in the body of the e-mail. All proposals will be acknowledged.

Deadline for proposals: Friday, 22 October 2004 - results should be determined by 1
December 2004.

Conference organisers: Christina Baade, James Deaville, Sandy Thorburn (McMaster

Dr. James Deaville
Associate Professor and Director of Graduate Studies
School of the Arts
McMaster University Hamilton, Ontario
L8S 4M2 Canada
Telephone: +1-905-529-7070 ext. 23667 Fax: +1-905-527-6793 E-Mail:

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