Paper: Bass Cultures and the Sensory Construction of the Audio-Social


‘I know you’ve all been prepared for this but I thought I’d just remind you just the same…’

Abstract from an older paper on bass cult(ure)s, affect engineering and sonic-fictional resonance presented at the 2009 IASPM-Canada conference.

‘Bass Cultures and the Sensory Construction of the Audio-Social’
ABSTRACT: This paper focuses on bass, the body, and the culturally constitutive functions of sensory experience.  As essential as it is to so much contemporary music, and despite centuries of experimentation around with its corporeal force, surprisingly little has been written about the cultural uses of low-frequency sound. The following discussion combines sonic fictional synthesis with a materialist account of bodily sound to make a case for expanded attention to the corporeal and the incorporeal in musical culture.  My larger project is concerned with developing a conceptual toolkit more suited to this task than are dominant models rooted in the language of mediation, construction and consumption.  Popular music studies scholarship has yielded many important insights on matters of identity, power relations, technology, and industry.  However, its disinterest in the non-representational along with its tendency to disregard the corporeal, or construe it as an effect of social construction, is analytically debilitating.  For all of our speculations on people’s subjectivities we still have very little sense of how it sounds and feels in the sites we describe, even though these are among the main concerns of the people involved.