Abstract: This panel presentation includes a facilitator plus twelve music theorists who have collaborated in three groups of four to interpret multimodal expression in popular music video. The work has emerged from a Society for Music Theory peer workshop that took place in New Orleans (November 2022) but was not open to an audience. We are pleased to present the results of this collaborative analytic research to the BARN audience.
Working with a variety of analytic approaches for the interpretation of the musical, textual, and visual content of music videos, the three groups conduct collaborative analyses of the following music videos: St. Vincent’s “Cruel” (2011); Tanya Tagaq’s “Aorta” (2016); and Janelle Monáe’s “Make Me Feel” (2018). These three videos feature a range of genres (alternative rock, experimental electronica, and R&B), as well as a range of musical–cultural subjectivities. Organizing our ideas around narrative and discourse (St. Vincent), embodiment and gesture (Tagaq), and representations and subjectivities (Monáe), we analyze the three channels (modalities) of expression—lyrics, music, and images—in order to illuminate the emergent messages and meanings. While each participant focusses on one aspect of a given music video, an analytic dialogue develops through the assembly of interpretive perspectives. It would be rare for a single analyst to accomplish what is gained by this collaborative model.
Lori Burns (facilitator) is Professor of Music at the University of Ottawa. Her interdisciplinary research merges musical analysis and cultural theory to explore representations of gender in the lyrical, musical, and visual texts of popular music. She has published articles in edited collections, as well as in leading journals (Popular Music, Popular Music and Society, The Journal for Music, Sound, and Moving Image, Studies in Music, Music Theory Spectrum, Music Theory Online, and The Journal for Music Theory). She is co-editor of The Pop Palimpsest with Serge Lacasse (2018), The Bloomsbury Handbook to Popular Music Video Analysis with Stan Hawkins (2019), and Analyzing Recorded Music with Will Moylan and Mike Alleyne (2023).
Presenting on St. Vincent’s “Cruel”
Kate Galloway is Assistant Professor in Ethnomusicology and Games at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute where she is cross-appointed to the Music, Electronic Arts, and Games and Simulation Arts and Sciences programs. Her research and teaching address sonic responses to environmentalism, sound studies, digital culture and interactive media, and posthuman and animal studies. Her work is published in American Music, The Soundtrack, MUSICultures, Sound Studies, and Popular Music, among other venues. She has co-edited two special journal issues (American Music and Twentieth-Century Music) with K. E. Goldschmitt and Paula Harper that address the creative and social phenomena of internet music communities and practices of listening to the internet. She is co-organizer of the 2021 Taylor Swift Study Day and co-editor of the forthcoming edited collection Taylor Swift: The Star, The Songs, The Fans.
Brad Osborn is a scholar whose work lies at the intersection of music theory and popular music studies. He is the sole author of Everything in its Right Place: Analyzing Radiohead (Oxford, 2017) and Interpreting Music Video: Popular Music in the Post-MTV Era (Routledge, 2021), and is co-author along with Larry Starr and Christopher Waterman for the 6th edition of American Popular Music (Oxford, 2021). Brad’s research on music videos is published in the journals Music and the Moving Image, Perspectives of New Music, and Music & Science; and in the edited collection Transmedia Directors: Artistry, Industry, and New Audiovisual Aesthetics (Bloomsbury, 2020). He also writes and records shoegazey post-rock as the artist D’Archipelago.
Tyler Osborne earned his Ph.D. in music theory from the University of Oregon, where he currently serves as an adjunct professor. His research on Fanny Hensel’s music has appeared in Music Theory Spectrum, Music Theory Online, and in the Oxford University Press collection of essays, The Songs of Fanny Hensel. In addition to his research on nineteenth-century women composers, Tyler is also pursuing projects that investigate intersections of posthumanist philosophy with musical theories of timbre, form, and aesthetics in EDM and death metal.
Nico Schüler is University Distinguished Professor of Music Theory and Musicology at Texas State University. His main research interests are methods and methodology of music research as well as computational music research. He is co-editor of the international research book series Methodology of Music Research, the author or editor of 21 books, and the author of more than 120 articles. One of his recent books is Computer-Assisted Music Analysis (2014). Dr. Schüler has done extensive research on computational analysis of music recordings, especially with the use of Sonic Visualiser, and has conducted workshops throughout Europe and North America.
Presenting on Tanya Tagaq’s “Aorta”
Karen Fournier is an Associate Professor of Music Theory at the University of Michigan, where she also serves as the School of Music's Director of Research. Her publications focus on issues pertaining to popular music and gender/sexuality (with a specific emphasis on British punk rock), gender and ageing, subcultural studies, and fandom/fanzines. Additionally, she is the author of The Words and Music of Alanis Morissette (Bloomsbury 2015).
Victoria Malawey is a scholar, composer, and singer-songwriter based in the Twin Cities, and Professor of Music at Macalester College. Their book, A Blaze of Light in Every Word (Oxford University Press, 2020), introduces a new conceptual model for analyzing singing voices in popular music, drawing upon interdisciplinary research.
Philip Stoecker is Professor of Music and Department Chair at Hofstra University, where he has been teaching since 2008. His research interests include the music of Thomas Adès, Alban Berg, George Perle, and Arnold Schoenberg. He co-edited Thomas Adès Studies (CUP) with Edward Venn, and this collection of essays by leading scholars on the music of Adès won the 2022 Outstanding Multi-Author Collection Award of the Society for Music Theory (SMT). He has presented papers at regional and international conferences, and his articles have been published in numerous national and international music theory journals.
Evan Ware is a music theorist and composer. He is the co-editor of the volume Music in Star Trek: Sound, Utopia, and the Future (Routledge 2023). His scholarship on popular music, cover songs, multimedia music has appeared in publications on punk music and has been presented meetings of the Society for Music Theory, Music Theory Midwest, Music Theory Southeast, Music and the Moving Image, the Society for Cinema and Media Studies, and the Canadian arm of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music.
Presenting on Janelle Monáe’s “Make Me Feel”
Carla Colletti is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Music at Webster University in Saint Louis, Missouri. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Iowa, and her research interests include interdisciplinary pedagogy and intertextual connections between visual art, music, and text. She has presented at local, regional, and national conferences including the Association of American Colleges and Universities General Education, Pedagogy, and Assessment Conference. Her work is also available in Engaging Students: Essays in Music Pedagogy and Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy.
Christopher Doll is Associate Professor in the Mason Gross School of the Arts, and the School of Graduate Studies, at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He is the author of the monograph Hearing Harmony: Toward a Tonal Theory for the Rock Era (University of Michigan Press, 2017) and articles on a range of topics, from Bach to Babbitt to Hans Zimmer to “Louie Louie.”
Sarah Louden is a Clinical Assistant Professor of Music and the Director for the Music Theory and History Program at New York University Steinhardt. Her research focuses on the intersection of music, cognitive neuroscience, and multisensory perception. She studies the influence of sensory perception on a broad range of musical topics, including multimedia and contemporary music analysis, music theory pedagogy, classroom accessibility, performance, and digital technology. She holds a PhD in Music Theory from the University at Buffalo SUNY.
Rachel Short is Associate Professor of Music Theory at Shenandoah Conservatory Winchester, VA., where she coordinates the Music Theory Tutor Program. Her research specialties are choreomusical analysis, rhythm and meter, American musical theater, and music theory pedagogy. Besides presenting at various conferences, she has a forthcoming chapter “The Changing Rhythms of Bridges and Ends” in Here for the Hearing: Analyzing the Music in Musical Theatre, a coauthored chapter on Hellzapoppin’ in the forthcoming Routledge Companion to Choreomusicology, and a forthcoming article “Interactions between Music and Dance in Two Musical Theatre Tap Breaks” in the Society for Music Theory Videocast Journal.