So, I’ve been thinking about representing time. Let’s say, for instance, we want to represent the systematic, repeated demarkation of time, or the rhythm, of go-go music. For a basic overview of this genre, here’s the [wiki page] (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Go-go)
Things I’ve been considering in relation to this:
- the beat can be written in standard notation (or TUBS, or any number of other sonic-writ-visual systems), but this is not how it would be distributed or written by people who play it, and it de-contextualizes the beat, removes it from all space and time
- de-contextualization via a written system or a recorded snippet seems a slippery slope, especially given the history of de-contextualizing and appropriating African American musical traditions
- film representations and national popularizations have varied views: [Washington City Paper Article] (http://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/articles/42532/da-oral-history-of-da-butt-put-your-memory-in/)
- if we can’t ethically represent the beat without including historical and culturally contextual information, how much historical and cultural info do we include? and what, exactly? An [amazing article on go-go] (https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/style/how-long-can-go-go-keep-going/2015/08/28/20e5bbb4-4b39-11e5-bfb9-9736d04fc8e4_story.html) that addresses social and cultural issues, oppression, decline, current-day status, etc.
- and then, obviously, what would this representation of rhythm of/in a certain place and time look/sound/feel like? Like [this example] (http://www.culturalequity.org/lomaxgeo/) ?
- an audience member, DJ, record collector, etc. can be as much a part of a scene as the musicians playing the music— do we represent them? how?
Some broader questions I’m thinking about:
- How do we sensitively, empathetically represent things that are experiential? or aurally relayed? or performative parts of a culture? you kind of can’t just throw the performance (audio/visual/script/sheet music) up there and say “here it is!” … or can you?
- Music and soundscapes in digital sound archives are fun, they satisfy a great curiosity and allow self-directed learning. What are the drawbacks?
- How do we define the parameters of representation? By anticipated use? How can we perceive this?
So I’m trying to imagine a representation of a musical use of time that is of a certain time. Reflecting on it today will cause us to represent it a certain way, though a modern lens. Prototype idea 1 — an annotated map of the area that was ground zero for go-go venues with information from the perspective of a performer, dancer, fan, with video, aural explanation of the beat, and why it is significant to the cultural and historical legacy of the community. Essentially, a richly annotated and interactive snapshot from the heyday of the genre. Prototype idea 2 — a game where you physically learn the go-go beat, and the better you perform (play in time! make it groove!) the more cultural and historical information you are given. Literally learning to perform and embody a time (rhythm/history).
Just some things I’m thinking about in relation to time and its varied meanings, representations, and uses.