NZMS and IASPM Round-up

So the past few weeks have been taken up with the two conferences: the New Zealand Musicological Society and the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (Australia/New Zealand chapter). As always with conferences there’re so many interesting papers and conversations going on that it’s impossible to document all of the things that I found fascinating, so I’m going to borrow a Reddit concept, Today I Learned (TIL) to cover some of these things.

NZMS: University of Auckland 29/11–2/12


Firstly, and most importantly, never trust the technology even if you’ve used it before, because someone could change the operating system! I learned that the hard way when a number of things I pulled from Papers Past wouldn’t display in my Power Point (from a paper I’d presented at the same venue last year), and it was all down to the different operating system! Let that be a warning to all presenters out there to really check the tech even if you’ve used it before! :

How fascinating different approaches to historically informed harpsichord articulation could actually be, and why there are so many different factions amongst early musicians (it’s all to do with a small collection of treatises, which seem to contradict each other)

How intricate the development of various Wellington based jazz festivals have been, the power plays involved, and the impacts that they’ve have on the local jazz scene- for better and worse.

How the title pages of Mozart’s sheet music were used to sell particular ideas about Mozart (especially soon after his death), as well as the music.

About the Austrian Grand Duchess Maria-Elisabeth’s music collection and her abilities as a musician.

The history of the Auckland Philharmonic Orchestra and the economics of its survival, how it continues to thrive and the cultural value that is placed on it in the Auckland region.

About Poly-fest (a large Polynesian culture competition that takes place among Auckland high-schools), and why some students choose to participate (occasionally against their family’s wishes, which is a huge thing in PI families!)

About music making in Colonial Virginia from education to professional performance. And how you don’t need PowerPoint or anything fancy to have a fascinating and effective presentation!

Ernest Kaai’s performing life on the vaudeville circuit in the 1910s and 1920s, and his commodification of his Hawaiian heritage.

How fake Les Paul guitars are often considered better than the real thing by fans and how the instruments operate as icons for the Gibson company that was (rather than how it operates now)

Phew- that was a lot to pack into three days- and that’s not even getting into the extracurricular activities the crazy conversations and catching up on a year’s worth of gossip! Straight from one conference to the next, and an entirely different paper for me: on to IASPM


IASPM: University of Tasmania, Hobart 5/12–7/12


About the introduction and development of Latin American music and dance in Australia during the 1930s-1960s.

How Nikki Sixx creates and recreates his image and relationship with his fan base through social media

About the Xenomania production team (Pet Shop Boys, Girls Aloud, among many others), and the hunt for the ‘normal’ popular music tropes in their songs…Also that Girls Aloud sounds pretty cool when sped up!

How cruise ships use music to move passengers around the ship, and how they encourage them to spend more money.

About the relationship between Jazz and the Beach in 1960s Australia (complete with disturbing fashion choices…and some cinematic angles that should never have found the light of day)

About Rapper Tag as a digital “cypher”

A whole lot of stuff about the musical rebuilding of Christchurch after the earthquakes; including the difficulties of red-tape and the necessary mobility of venues, which causes problems for business owners (especially around promotion) and their audiences

That sometimes no matter what you’re going to walk into the end of a really interesting talk, and wish that you’d been there for the whole thing! I had that when I caught the last five minutes of a very interesting paper about creating a visual, non-music specific method of musicological analysis.

There were more that I wanted to see, but deadlines for an editing job had to come first. Still it was fantastic to catch up with old friends, make new ones, and hear a year’s worth of gossip. Hobart’s a cool little city, even if I didn’t really get out of the CBD, it was still neat being able to explore some place new, and I definitely have to go back for a proper visit.



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