Black Sound Symposium

The Black Sound Symposium is a 4-day event full of concerts, talks, workshops, screenings, and interdisciplinary dialogue rooted in Black sound and Black sonic space. The symposium aims to create and sustain community; to celebrate curiosity, wonder, disobedience, collaboration, and play in artistic work; to expand anti-racist and activist pedagogy and methodologies in and outside of our institutions; and to honor the long and rich lineages of Black virtuosity that have been diminished and erased from artistic canons and social consciousness.

DAYTIME TALKS, PANELS, & WORKSHOPS with: Gabriel Solis, Nicol Hammond, DeForrest Brown, Jr., Madre Guía (Stephanie Hewett), Carolyn Jean Martin, Aaron Samuel Mulenga, Akwasi Abrefah, & Mark Lomanno

EVENING CONCERTS by: Anthony R. Green + Bill Solomon, DeForrest Brown, Jr. + Madre Guía (Stephanie Hewett), and Speak for Change with Thomas Sage Pedersen and Madre Guía

“Black studies and anticolonial thought offer methodological practices wherein we read, live, hear, groove, create, and write across a range of temporalities, places, texts, and ideas that build on existing liberatory practices and pursue ways of living in the world that are uncomfortably generous and provisional and practical and, as well, imprecise and unrealized. The method is rigorous, too. Wonder is study. Curiosity is attentive.” -Katherine McKittrick, Dear Science and Other Stories

Upcoming Events

Past Events

Mark Lomanno – Modulating Bodies and Intimate Incorporations: Trauma, Improvisation, & Belonging

Mon., Apr. 24, 2023 PDT | UCSC Music Department, Room 131
 4/24: Mark Lomanno: “Modulating Bodies and Intimate Incorporations: Trauma, Improvisation, and Belonging.”

Mark Lomanno - Breath Work: Comping, Coping, Crisis, and Listening for Kin

Sun., Apr. 23, 2023 PDT | Indexical
Examining practices of breathing, listening, and improvisation as modes of radical kinship in critical times, Lomanno asks us – What scales can a musician run if they’re running out of breath? Running for their life? Drawing on Abbey Lincoln’s music and a vast array of Black Feminist writings in music, literature, and sound, Lomanno leads a guided listening of Black American pianists Mulgrew Miller and Bud Powell, as he asks us – when listening to music, what have we missed by listening only to the notes themselves? What else will we hear if we listen for the musicians’—and all our—bodies? Suggesting that these jazz pianists have shared essential insight for manifesting the “Wholly Earth” Lincoln imagines, Lomanno makes a case for Black sound practices as incubators of more sustainable communities.

This event will culminate with a collective improvisation by Indexical's Artist in Residence, Kumi Maxson.

Akwasi Papa Abrefah: Histories of Protest, Resistance, and Joy in Trinidadian Steel Pan

Sun., Apr. 23, 2023 PDT | Indexical
Akwasi Papa Abrefah discusses the spontaneity in the development of steelpan in Trinidad and Tobago -- a process that illuminates the extensive histories of resistance and radical joy tied to the instrument's origins, as these creatives clashed with the policing of pan communities and US militarization. Akwasi will also discuss his work in building a community for the music at Stanford University.

Embodiment Workshop for Creativity and Activism with Nicol Hammond

Sun., Apr. 23, 2023 PDT | Indexical
Teaching music - particularly the music of marginalized people - sets up an environment in which trauma is hard to avoid. The COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing complexities of returning to classrooms with students who are frequently traumatized, dissociated, and disconnected led me to develop the exercises I will share in this workshop.  When we are stressed or traumatized, or otherwise in a hypervigilant state, our mind and body work overtime to find environmental clues that confirm that we can safely narrow our focus to the thing we're trying to concentrate on. Consequently, orienting ourselves to our environment helps our nervous system to step down a little from our alertness. By gently orienting to one another, and recalling the materiality of our bodies, we can make space for more creativity, shake off some of the fatigue that comes from activist work. These exercises are adaptable for all types of mobility and fitness, and do not require special equipment.

Anthony R. Green: Zoom In with Samantha Bounkeua + Bill Solomon

Sat., Apr. 22, 2023 PDT | Indexical
The Zoom In performance project is first and foremost about the Black experience in the United States in all of its various iterations. It developed organically through performances of original works, works by other composers, improvisation, and finding the commonality between the art created from these approaches. Additionally, it is a project that is constantly changing as the Black experience in the US also changes not only because of the passing of contemporary time but also because of the information from the past that is constantly being unearthed and revisited, thus creating a stronger context of past Blackness in dialogue with the present. Local violinist Samantha Bounkeua joins for a performance of Rest in Pow’r (Survival Song).

DeForrest Brown, Jr.: Speaker Music Lecture

Sat., Apr. 22, 2023 PDT | Indexical
DeForrest Brown, Jr. gives a lecture on the theoretical work behind his Friday night (4/21) techno set.

Stephanie Hewett: Groove Sermon Workshop

Sat., Apr. 22, 2023 PDT | Indexical
Groove Sermon is a movement workshop celebrating the rich Black Queer history of House music through an exploration of the body's response to the African rhythms and dynamic vocals inherent in the music. The workshop begins with a groove-centered warm-up, followed by movement improvisation and ending in a short, choreographed movement phrase. 

DeForrest Brown, Jr. + Madre Guía (Stephanie Hewett) with introduction by Xavier Livermon

Fri., Apr. 21, 2023 PDT | Indexical
DeForrest Brown, Jr.'s performance reclaims the Black origins of techno as a post-industrial Black folk music from Detroit. Techxodus [Live Prototype] is an improvised electronic rhythmanalytical performance that extends the myth-scientific narrative of DeForrest Brown, Jr.’s debut book, Assembling a Black Counter Culture, and encourages a reimagining of techno beyond the dance floor as a technologically optimized form of Black American Blues, Jazz, and Soul music. Stephanie Hewett opens with a DJ set focusing on the sonic, somatic, and spiritual manifestations of Black freedom.

Anthony R. Green & Gabriel Solis – a Conversation

Fri., Apr. 21, 2023 PDT | UCSC Music Department, Room 131
Anthony R. Green and Gabriel Solis: A Conversation

Gabriel Solis - Against Erasure: Jazz, Blackness, and the Global Imagination

Fri., Apr. 21, 2023 PDT | Indexical
The music we often call Jazz is a remarkable creation. Exceptionally dense and rich, its journey from a local way of playing popular songs to a genre with global reach was almost instant. The feedback loop between local and global networks has continued to define the music to the present. Jazz scholarship has struggled to make sense of this dynamic. A persistent thread of mostly white jazz studies has particularly taken Jazz’s global breadth as a reason to perform a kind of erasure of its deep relationship to Black aesthetics, and more specifically to African American arts communities. This talk offers a polemic, against erasure, but also a historiography, aiming to see the music’s global life not as something in a paradoxical relationship to the particularity of musical blackness, but rather as in a congruent relationship with it.

Screening and Discussion with Madre Guía (Stephanie Hewett)

Thu., Apr. 20, 2023 PDT | Indexical
Due to illness, Thomas Pedersen had to cancel, but we will still host Madre Guía this evening! She will show footage from her recent project (E)cho (Q)ueue at The Lab in SF, followed by a discussion with other artists, moderated by the Black Sound Symposium's curator, Kira Dralle.

Madre Guía (Stephanie Hewett) (she/her) is an interdisciplinary artist whose work emerges from a play-based movement practice within an investigative framework. As a queer, Black, Afro-Diasporic artist with roots in the Caribbean, her work is inevitably rooted in emancipatory practices. Hewett aims to deepen curiosity around the Black American experience by focusing on the sonic, somatic, and spiritual manifestations of Black freedom through a variety of improvisational structures and cross-disciplinary experimentation.

Roundtable: Carolyn Jean Martin + Aaron Samuel Mulenga

Thu., Apr. 20, 2023 PDT | Indexical
Carolyn Jean Martin and Aaron Samuel Mulenga present artistic work and scholarship on articulations of Blackness in the Western visual field.

Black Sound Symposium Opening Reception

Thu., Apr. 20, 2023 PDT | Indexical
Come mingle, meet the artists, and hear remarks from the symposium's curator, Kira Dralle!

Event is Free and Open to the Public.