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Faculty of Music


Ultrasonic Tastemakers: Towards a Critical Gastromusicology

Across African American music genres, artists have linked their musical and gustatory prowess to transport their fanbase on a multi-sensory journey, particularly in the resonance found through the overlapping development of "soul food" and "soul music" cultures.  Probing that constellation of soulful, musical, sensual, and culinary perception, the manual Ultrasonic Tastemakers: Towards a Critical Gastromusicology is a ground-breaking critical gastromusicological investigation into the interconnectedness of African American embodiment, oral transmission, cultural production, and consumption in the global marketplace as emblematic of what I coin as gastromusicophysics or multisensory “taste.” Prompted by the high demand and distribution of African American music and foodways as major U.S. industries and exports, this book project takes seriously accounts of the pain and pleasure in gastromusicological flows throughout U.S. history, from work songs sung while harvesting plantations to performing “Strange Fruit” in jazz clubs during the Jim Crow era. While previous gastromusicological research has focused on composers’ culinary lives (Braus 2007) and music researchers’ foodways encounters and recipes (Williams 2006), there has not been an in-depth, multisensory exploration of African American tastemakers’ musico-gustatory role in satiating consumers’ voracious appetites for African-derived culture on the world’s stage. In this talk, I set the foundation for a critical gastromusicology by establishing the crucial contributions of tastemakers at the intersection musicogustatory and sonogustatoryproduction by culture bearers who have always been marked by their forced mobility or monetized portability.

Wednesday, 18 May, 2022 - 17:00
Event location: 
Recital Room, Faculty of Music and online via Zoom (email for link)