Music Theory Online
Traditionally, explicit discussion of listeners’ bodies and personal experiences does not often appear in the realm of music analytical observations. One of the reasons for this omission is the masculinist bias that, prior to the 1990s, characterized much of the field, and that tended to dismiss metaphorical language, overtly subjective musical descriptions, and the role of the body in musical practices all at once. A primary goal of feminist music theory has been to combat this bias by acknowledging many different kinds of bodily experiences as vital to music analysis. In this paper, I suggest an analytical approach that examines interactions between human movement and music in detailed terms, in service of a feminist aim to take bodies seriously. Specifically, I aim to show how music-analytical a+ention can be productively directed towards the performing bodies that move to music in multimedia pieces by offering a close reading of a music video by the rapper Tyler, The Creator. My analysis focuses on the relationship between Tyler’s movement and the music and on this relationship’s role in informing ways that we might read his self-positioning and identity formation. In so doing, I hope to flesh out a new feminist approach to analysis. This approach centralizes the role of moving bodies, acknowledges the subjective nature of listening experiences, and examines, primarily by way of queer theory, political potentials inherent to the movement-music interaction.
Movement, embodiment, feminist analysis, hip hop
© 2017 Society for Music Theory
Sterbenz, Maeve, "Movement, Music, Feminism: An Analysis of Movement-Music Interactions and the Articulation of Masculinity in Tyler, the Creator’s ‘Yonkers’ Music Video" (2017). Music: Faculty Publications, Smith College, Northampton, MA.