Conference (Un)Introduction

Coming up the stairs into the UnConference space, we are greeted by the Seattle Fandango Project in full swing, roquera activists, musicians, and theorists fully activating the audience! Michelle Habell-Pallan is there on the jarana with Sonnet Retman, the two lead conference organizers. Mil gracias!

The conversation begins with a blessing by Christina Guiaocalling on the ancestors — spiritual and musical — Mahalia Jackson, Jimmy Hendrix, MLK, and all others who have blessed and graced the space of Seatlle’s Washington Hall. We call on the energy that lives in all of us; crying out for the healing and transformative love needed to take all of us onto higher ground with music bringing tremendous power and intention: all music and all sound reverberates throughout space long after the initial sound. Let us remember not just to be the sound, the action, but also the body that receives and carries forth these vibrations of love and healing to inspire and transform us. To seal this blessing, let us all say thank you three times together.

Music and cultural studies scholar Sherry Tucker then took the stage to offer her perspective on the conference theme of vibrations of love: referenced a sad song about longing and love, ending on the note that some time we might get an opportunity to embrace love vibrations. Thank you to the Women Who Rock conference organizers to create forum for us to engage in vibrations of love — as reconceived by Audre Lorde — the capacity for joy in the way that my body stretches and opens to joy — the way the body opens to become a bridge for sharing and lessens the threat of difference. The vibrations of love also sparked in the work of Chela Sandoval. The unabashed, unapologetic work of the roquera theorists that Tiffany Ana Lopez talked about last year in her identification of women who rock as creating a space for speaking out and calling forward of others into a circle of bearing witness. Tucker emphasized the ways we perceive sound ways: through the body, not just through hearing and listening. The vibrations in the auditory cortext just one way of perceiving sounds. Cristine Zann Kim is a deaf sound artist, a women who rocks, who teaches us much about sound. Most of the sounds we perceive are discarded. Even the sounds we share have different accoustical reference points. Women Who Rock are experts in perceiving the discarded vibrations and transforming them into vibrations of love. Paulina Oliveras has developed many useful exercises that are dedicated to this very goal. A brief one to share: if you are speaking, you are sending; but are you receiving what you send? Tucker urged us to  repeat the mantra from one of Oliveros’ exercises. “With each breath, I send and receive sound.”

Lara Davis and her crew ChiChi then took the stage and blasted sounds full throttle, drums, electric guitar, bass, creating a soundscape that permeated the entire body (the vibrations are buzzing into my fingertips as I type this now!). The sound is aggressive and commanding, the vocals weaving poetry, signaling the ying and yang. The second song references the punk aesthetic, the drums hammering a steady beat, the vocals screaming out and screaming out.

Monica Rojas de Cajon Project is then up. The Cajon Project uses music, arts, and dance to educate about the cultural presence in Peru and its history of slavery, the goal to fight against racism and discrimination. Cajon is a drum that wasn’t used by women, who were not allowed to play the instrument, but is now the prime force for her own music and collaborations. They play their music today for the conference to begin the day by getting on its feet to dance. Monica begins to play out beats on the cajon, a box-shaped drum which is played by her sitting on it and hammering out beats on a box. (The sound and style reminds me of the street-style performance on found plastic containers.) The sound she creates is multi-layered and dynamic One of the Fandango Project members joins in and steps onto the stage adding her own rhythmn patterns, answering the invitation, freeing Monica to lead our dancing. Everyone is now on their feet; the hall is throbbing with the conference participants dancing together at 10 am on a Saturday morning! Vaya! And with that, there is a line dance out into the workshop sessions. Look for the next post on the first of the workshop sessions.

One thought on “Conference (Un)Introduction

  1. I love this, Tiffany! You capture it. I was struggling with Tami’s IPAD, but you caught it. I’ll copy it here, too. Sherrie

    Sounding & Perceiving, Sending & Receiving: VIBRATIONS OF LOVE

    Do any of you remember the song, “Love Vibration,” by Ann Peebles? It’s a sad song, really, a song about missing an opportunity to build a relationship—“I was too busy being tough,” she sings, “and you were too busy being cool.”
    It’s a sad song about love vibrations. And a song of longing. And it’s an advice song. The song ends with the hope that maybe, someday, another opportunity might come along and that this time the parties involved won’t LET THE LOVE VIBRATION PASS THEM BY.
    I want to thank the organizers of this UN-CONFERENCE for the opportunity to focus on Women Who Rock as makers of scenes, builders of communities, and to share and learn and practice and make techniques for “sounding and perceiving, sending and receiving VIBRATIONS OF LOVE.”
    Not courtly love. Not Disney princess love. But love like Audre Lorde talked about in the “Power of the Erotic,” as the experience of the “capacity for joy…the way my body stretches to music and opens into response.” And how this “capacity of joy,” when shared, “forms a bridge between the sharers which can be the basis for understanding much of what is not shared between them, and lessens the threat of difference.” (56). Think of the LOVE interpreted by Chela Sandoval as “differential consciousness,” a mode “social action and identity construction” that refuses to still the vibrations, that sounds and hears dissonance as transformative. The kind of LOVE VIBRATIONS produced by the “unabashed, uncensored and unapologectic” roquera theorists s that Tiffany Ana Lopez talked to us about last year, who make scenes, she said, “not merely to speak out, but also to call people into a circle of bearing witness…”. Not just to sound, in other words, but to perceive. THESE KINDS OF LOVE VIBRATIONS ARE NOT ABOUT sounding alike. But you know what? Sometimes these kinds of love vibrations pass us by, too. It takes practice and work and focus and THAT’S what we’re here for today.
    I want to quickly break down the four vibratory modes that I HAVE BEEN TALKING ABOUT WHEN I say sounding, perceiving, sending and receiving. And then share an exercise to help us get our frequencies going.
    1 SOUNDING: We don’t sound alike. We sound at the same time, operating in simultaneous vibrations of difference. As long as we are breathing, we sound all the time. Air moving through our bodies produces vibrations, whether channeled into lip vibrations against bamboo or plastic reeds through columns of metal, or bodies fingering taut strings, tapping objects and bodies possessing cavities and skin, bouncing off walls.

    2 PERCEIVING: SOUND WAVES ARE PERCEIVED IN MANY DIFFERENT WAYS. And not only that, but the same sounds are perceived differently by all of us. Vibrating via the auditory cortex is only one of the ways sound waves travel. People in Deaf Culture have raised attention to the privileging of the auditory, while at the same time pointed to other pleasures of sound wave perception. Deaf Sound artist Christine Sun Kim works in vibrations of sound waves in many ways, directing them to move pinwheels and all sorts of other projects—and she is a Woman Who Rocks. Even among the hearing, not all sound waves are within range of the auditory cortex, and not all sound waves that vibrate auditory cortexes are perceived by hearing people in the same ways. In fact, we probably have no way of knowing those differences in perception. We are all in this acoustic space—Washington Hall—but it is unlikely that any two of us houses identical acoustical set ups in our craniums. Vibrations are perceived in many ways—through our seats, the floor, our feet—and not all vibrations that are perceived are attended to consciously. Most get dragged into the trash bin before they have a chance to compute—WOMEN WHO ROCK are experts in perceiving the discarded vibrations, the too different vibrations, the discounted vibrations—oftentimes their own soundings wind up there—and they are experts at transforming them as VIBRATIONS OF LOVE,
    Improviser, composer, musician, humanitarian Pauline Oliveros has developed many useful exercises and meditations developed toward this goal:
    I share a brief one, entitled “Sending and Receiving”
    “If you are speaking, sending, performing with an instrument, or otherwise sounding, then you are sending. Are you receiving what you send and also receiving the whole of the time/space continuum of sound?
    Use this mantra:
    With each breath I send and receive sound.” (DLCG, 13)
    TAKING THE ADVICE OF ANN PEEBLES, in the interest of SOUNDING PERCEIVING SENDING AND RECEIVING VIBRATIONS, let’s repeat Pauline Oliveros’ mantra together.
    “With each breath I send and receive sound.”
    “With each breath I send and receive sound.”
    Thank you!

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