Reggae Research 2: Sound System Outernational at the Global Reggae Conference at UWI!

Sound System Outernational researchers are heading to the Global Reggae Conference at the University of the West Indies at Mona, Jamaica! There will be a research panel, and there will be both a screening of “Weapon is my Mouth” and a dance courtesy of Ba-Ba Boom outta Naples.

Global Reggae Conference
February 9-11, 2017
Dancehall, Music and the City
Reggae Studies Unit
Institute of Caribbean Studies
The University of the West Indies, Mona – Jamaica

For artistes, industry practitioners, researchers, academics, and fans… The Institute of Caribbean Studies and the Reggae Studies Unit at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus announce the fifth biennial Global Reggae Conference under the theme “Dancehall, Music and the City”. This conference is being staged at a time when we celebrate Bob Marley’s birth and the very foundation, the space – dancehall – through which the world has consumed seven distinct musical genres in mento, ska, rocksteady, reggae, nyabinghi, dub and dancehall. This conference also comes at a time when Kingston celebrates its designation as a creative city for music by UNESCO in December 2015.

SSO Panel and Events at Global Reggae Conference
Borders, Limits and Listening: sound system research methodologies


1) The Sonic Laboratory of the Sound System: the Audio Engineers’ Methods of Knowing and Making – Professor Julian Henriques (Goldsmiths, University of London)
This paper explores the ways of making of the audio engineers who design and build the street technology of the dancehall sound system set of equipment. This is in order to find out how this might be a source of knowledge for other media. It starts by recognizes the science and scyence of the ways of knowing of the engineers who invented the phonographic instrument of the dancehall set as a technology that could become a model for sonic media more generally. Over generations they have in effect used the sound system as a living laboratory for refining the understanding both the propagation of auditory experience and its affects on the bodies and embodiment of the crowd. Producing the intensities of sonic dominance, this presentation claims that the technologies of the set can now be used tell us a lot about other auditory, multi and immersive media, such video games and VR. The shared social medium of the dancehall is also most relevant for understanding the intense connectivity of the very different individual sphere of social media. The importance of the sound system for understanding these other media environments comes through an analysis of the street technology and culture in terms of bricolage, versioning and improvisation, as well as assemblage theory and Deleuze’s concept instrument-free processes.

2) Policing Noise Levels: Methods of regulation, incorporation and exclusion in the UK and Italy – Brian D’Aquino (PhD student, University of Naples L’Orientale, Italy)

The bass-loaded, street culture of the sound systems is currently going through an exponential growth out of Jamaica, deeply affecting the way music is produced, reproduced and consumed in the European urban space. As technological development allows to raise the bar of loudness to unprecedented levels, sound systems are increasingly struggling with severe noise regulations.
How can we make sense of the role reggae sound systems play within an urban soundscape which is increasingly policed? What freedom of expression is left for a radical sonic culture when sound itself must conform to a standard? Is noise regulation reproducing forms of social control and racial exclusion?
Drawing on a conception of the audiosphere as a site of political confrontation, where power relations are built and contested, this paper aims to offer an insight into the politics of sound inherent in the activity of reggae sound systems. Based on an ongoing research conducted between Italy and the UK, it explores the way sound regulations reflect and shape the social organization of the urban space. Emerging from the intersection of sound studies, cultural studies and acoustics, the shifting concept of noise will be used as the main tool to discuss the relation between sound, power and social order.
3) Film showing with sound system: Weapon Is My Mouth (52min, 2016)
Dr Leo Vidigal (UFMG, Brazil)
This documentary is conceived and made specifically a “danceable film.” It has to be experienced, appreciated and danced to within the environment of a sound-system session. Projected between the speaker stacks it is anew kind of expanded cinema, as a fusion of cinema and dancehall experience. This film experience is the product of an one-year research programme made at Goldsmiths by Brazilian scholar and soundman Leo Vidigal, in collaboration with filmmaker Delmar Mavignier.

4) Dance “The I-talian Job” – Bababoom Hi Fi dj set (Naples, Italy)

Italy is the home of one of the most thriving sound system scenes in Europe. Since 2004 Bababoom Hi Fi has been operating its own custom-built sound system up and down the country and occasionally abroad,

This 90 minute special set will showcase some of the finest Italian productions plus a bunch of exclusive, unreleased tunes. Strictly conscious reggae music from the 21st century. Dub it !

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