In Sound and Society’s first meeting of the winter quarter, we welcome Dr. Kimberly Cannady, lecturer in Ethnomusicology at Victoria University of Wellington (New Zealand), who will present on part of her current book project. Her presentation is entitled,

Cultural Intimacy and “Cringeworthy” Sounds in Iceland.

Wednesday, January 16th, 2019

Logan 801

4:30 – 6:00 PM

Dr Cannady writes, “In this presentation, I introduce part of my ethnographic book project Hidden in Plain Sight: Traditional Music in Iceland. Since the late 19thcentury, the once common sound of unaccompanied vocal music (for which the uneasily translated verb að kveða is used to distinguish this from singing (að syngja)), has been rendered a sonic embarrassment as part of the fervent Icelandic nationalist movement. I explore how those who continue to kveða today navigate the uneasy sonic reputation of their music and how these same sounds now often elicit deeply emotive, physical responses from Icelanders. Drawing on Herzfeld’s theory of cultural intimacy, affect theory, and sound studies, I argue that the sounds of kveða challenge the dominance of visual and written heritage in Iceland and reposition the negotation of an anxious modernity into the aural arena.

I hope that this session might be a hybrid presentation and discussion. I will present a portion of my written research, which should lend itself to an open discussion about the material and potential directions forward. In advance of the talk, it will be advantageous to spend some time listening to a few examples of one of the rímur-songs that I will discuss: “The Widow” (Ekkilinn). I recommend you listen to the vocal qualities of the singers as well senses of pitch in each example.”

Click to view the listening examples and lyrics here.

Refreshments will be served.

Persons who believe they may require accommodations to participate fully in this event should contact the coordinators, Ailsa Lipscombe at or Amy Skjerseth at in advance.

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