Vocal Figurations: Technique, Technology, and Mediation in the Gendering of Voice in Twenty-First-Century Pop Music

  • Date:
  • Location: Universitetshuset, sal IV
  • Doctoral student: Veronika Muchitsch & Nina Sun Eidsheim
  • Organiser: Institutionen för musikvetenskap
  • Contact person: Lars Berglund
  • Disputation

Dissertation to be publicly examined in Lecture room IV, Uppsala University main building, Biskopsgatan 3.
Faculty opponent will be Professor Nina Sun Eidsheim, UCLA Herp Albert School of Music.

This thesis examines the gendering of voice in twenty-first-century pop music and music criticism through the concept of vocal figurations. Embodying a thoroughly relational understanding of voice, it articulates vocal technique, studio technology, and electronic mediation as three primary dimensions through which voices come to signal gender as it intersects with other vectors of social identity. The artistic trajectories of Lana Del Rey, Anohni and Beyoncé, whose voices are central to their performances and reception histories, form the analytical cases of this thesis. Substantiating the roles of technical, technological, and mediated dimensions of voices in the production and possible disruption of normative sonic discourses, the analyses of these voices advance knowledge about the specific interlockings of material, discursive, aesthetic, and political dimensions that gender voices in twenty-first-century popular music. The relational conceptualization of voice embodied in vocal figurations further leads to a multi-faceted analytical method that juxtaposes music analysis with analyses of critical reception and identifies the latter as a sphere of discursive production. Illuminating the ways in which music criticism produces and perpetuates sonic discourses that saturate vocal qualities with assumptions about gender as they intersect with sexuality, race, and class, this thesis seeks to initiate an extended critical examination of these processes.