Musical gestures are an important part of the way we hear sounds. My 99-year-old grandmother taps her toes, when she hears Perry Como. My father—a guitar player—twitches his fingers, when he hears Jimi Hendrix. I bob my head when I hear Chance the Rapper. We all do this somewhat subconsciously, organically. Yet we all do this somewhat persistently.Read More Dissecting Airistotle: Towards a Vocabula(i)ry for Analyzing Air Guitar Choreography
In Music and Social Life, Thomas Turino analyzes music as a mode of communication, and he defines “semiotic density” as “the number of potential signs occurring simultaneously” (108). Turino is arguing that music’s semiotic density is greater than that of written text, since it has more layers of meaning. Music piles indexes upon indexes, through things […]Read More Half-Time Shows: Airnadette & Semiotic Density
In 1969, R. Murray Schafer coined the term “schizophonia,” which refers to the splitting of a sound from its source by using recording technology. For example, you hear a recording of a pig grunting, but you don’t see a pig. This is schizophonia. You might also hear a recording of a pig grunting as part of the Pink Floyd song […]Read More Schizophonic Performance: What We Can Hear and When We Can See It
Picture a normal air guitarist’s body. Picture it from top to bottom. Picture it from all angles. What did you picture? Now, think of how this exercise requires you to draw all kinds of assumptions about the “normal” body—about race, gender, bodily proportions, weight, height, hair length, fingernail style, and maybe even clothes (unless your body […]Read More Air Guitar and a Social Model of Disability
In Bakhtin’s Rabelais and His World (this version translated by Helene Iswolsky 1984), he develops a theory of “carnival” in the medieval period. The concept comes from his analysis of a tradition called the Feast of Fools, during which burlesque performances, bodily-rooted humor, laughter-inducing spectacles, and other forms of play took place. These disorderly carnival activities contrasted with the […]Read More Bakhtin, Carnival, and Air Guitar
When speaking to Ice T about his thrash metal band, Body Count, The Guardian’s Paul Lester asked: “Is there an element of parody to what you do, or are you deadly serious?” Somewhat cryptically, Ice responded: “Absolutely. Body Count is 100% grindhouse over-the-top. It’s what you wish you could do but can’t. You wish you […]Read More Thinking Through Parody
Why do our fingers twitch when we hear “Purple Rain”? Why, when we sing along with the radio, do we raise an imaginary microphone to our face? In an academic paper on “air instruments,” Godoy, Haga, and Jensenius offer one explanation. Listening to music, they argue, involves producing “musical imagery” in our brains. This is […]Read More Why Do We Air Guitar?