Sights & Sounds: Interrogating the Music Documentary (June 4-5, 2010)

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University of Salford, Greater Manchester, United Kingdom
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Sights & Sounds

Interrogating the Music Documentary

University of Salford

June 4-5, 2010

In the fall of 1894, W. K.L. Dickson assisted Thomas Edison in his experimentation with sound film. He shot a sequence in which one man plays a violin before the recording phonograph horn while two others dance. Might this be the first music documentary?

In the years since, numerous works have been produced that consist of narrative formulations of musical history; portraits of individuals or groups; replications of musical events; meditations on musical genres or transformative occasions. A number of these works have become renowned in their own right, such as D.A. Pennebaker's Don't Look Back (1967) or the Maysles Brothers Gimme Shelter (1970). Others have become as famous as the events they depict, including Steve Binder's The T.A.M.I. Show (1964) Michael Wadleigh's Woodstock (1970). Still more have placed a name and a face to previously unknown musicians, as did Paul Justman's Standing in the Shadow of Love (2002) with Motown Records' Funk Brothers. Some have provoked controversy as much as they have drawn audiences, like Ken Burns' PBS series Jazz (2001). Some have attached a conceptual framework to a genre and a group and incorporated an argument about that material, including Julian Temple's The Filth and the Fury (2000).

The conference will interrogate this body of film and welcomes submissions on works in any media: radio, television or film. We are interested in issues that include but are not limited to narrative strategy, visual articulation, ideological analysis, star imagery, gender dynamics, race, We are particularly interested in studies that challenge normative story-telling strategies, familiar and hence deflated visual approaches, or wish to topple canonic formations of musical production that have been perpetuated through their presentation in various media.

The conference will feature appearances by filmmakers (to be announced) and showings at the Cornerhouse Cinema, located in Manchester. We hope as well to commission selected papers from the conference for publication in a volume, the first such anthology of approaches to the genre of music documentary.

Deadline for submissions: December 14, 2009

Announcement of program: January 4, 2010

Please send proposals of no more than 500 words by e-mail to both of the following addresses

Conference Chairs:

Prof David Sanjek
(Director, Popular Music Research Centre)

Dr Benjamin Halligan
(Senior Lecturer)

School of Media, Music and Performance

University of Salford