Sonic psychogeography

A poetics of place in popular music in Aotearoa/New Zealand

Authors

  • Tony Mitchell University of Technology, Sydney

DOI:

https://doi.org/10.1558/prbt.v10i2.145

Keywords:

New Zealand music, identity, locality, place

Abstract

This article explores aspects of the relationship between music, place, locality and identity in Aotearoa/New Zealand. While there have been numerous attempts to construct a national identity for New Zealand music (often referred to as ‘Kiwi’ music), I will argue that there is far more comprehensive evidence of a range of regional musics, which go beyond examples such as the Flying Nun-Dunedin Christchurch and roots-reggae-dub-Wellington nexus, and suggest rather a local-transnational nexus, which combines strong global influences with evocations of particular localities. This transnational orientation suggests a liminal or ‘in-between’ situatedness for much music produced in New Zealand, in which landscape and ‘sonic geography’, whether urban or rural, is not related to expressions of national identity, but to a more locally- grounded poetics of home, belonging, and also alienation. In exploring ‘psychogeographical’ aspects of a range of popular music in Aotearoa, I will examine remixes of taonga puoro music (pre-European Maori musical instruments) by Richard Nunns and Hirini Melbourne by various dub and electronica musicians, music by Neil Finn, Don McGlashan, Bachelorette, Roy Montgomery, and music inspired by places in the South island, especially the ‘landscape of trauma’ of the Aramoana massacre of 1990.

Author Biography

Tony Mitchell, University of Technology, Sydney

Tony Mitchell is a senior lecturer in cultural studies and popular music at the University of Technology, Sydney. He is the author of Dario Fo: People’s Court Jester (London: Methuen: 1999), Popular Music and Local Identity: Pop, Rock and Rap in Europe and Oceania (University of Leicester Press, 1996) and the editor of Global Noise: Rap and Hip Hop outside the USA (Wesleyan University Press, 2001).

References

Babington, B. 2007. A History of the New Zealand Fiction Feature Film. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

Baillie, R. 1999. ‘The Don of Song’. New Zealand Herald (22 May).

Bannister, M. 1999. ‘Don McGlashan: Touching the Green, Green Grass of Home’. Music in New Zealand (Summer 1999/2000): 48–53.

—2006. ‘A Thing Well Made: NZ Settler Identity and Pakeha Masculinity in the Work of Don McGlashan’. Perfect Beat 8.1: 34.

Blythe, M. 1994. Naming the Other: Images of the Maori in New Zealand Film and Television. Metuchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press.

Bollinger, N. 2002. ‘Sounds like Home’. New Zealand Listener (22 June): 56.

—2006. ‘Roots and All’. New Zealand Listener (2 December): 48.

Brabazon, T. 1996. ‘ “It Started on Queen Street”: New Zealand Popular Music, Cultural Identity and the Question of Landscape’. Continuum 10.1: 152–67.

Brodie, I. 2006. A Journey through New Zealand Film. Auckland: HarperCollins.

Chunn, M. 1999. ‘Five Songs’. Music in the Air 8 (Winter): 23–7.

Cole, B. 2007. ‘The Art of Noise Refined’. The Sunday Times, 26 March.

Conrich, I., and S. Davy. 1997. Views from the Edge of the World: New Zealand Film. Studies in New Zealand Culture, vol. 1. London: Kakapo Books.

Coverley, M. 2006. Psychogeography. London: Pocket Essentials.

Crang, M. 1998. Cultural Geography. London: Routledge.

Davison, I. 2006. Interview with Tim Gummer, http://www.thebigidea.co.nz/article. php?sid=3716&mode=&order=0 (accessed 15 March 2008).

Downes, G. 2008. ‘The Verlaines Potboiler: Music on the Edge of (In)competence’. In Music on the Edge: Selected Papers from the 2007 IASPM Australia/New Zealand Conference, ed. D. Bendrups, 68–74. Dunedin: Otago University.

Driver, R. 2002. Give It a Whirl. Visionary Film & TV Ltd.

Eggleton, D. 2003. Ready to Fly: The Story of New Zealand Music. Nelson: Craig Potton Publishing.

Emery, P. 2007. ‘Dimmer’. The Brag 235 (5 November): 35.

Flintoff, B. 2004. Taonga Puoro: Singing Treasures: The Musical Instruments of the Maori. Nelson: Craig Potton Publishing.

Grimley, D.M. 2005. ‘Hidden Places: Hyper-realism in Björk’s Vespertine and Dancer in the Dark’. Twentieth-century Music 2.1: 37–51. doi:10.1017/S1478572205000186

Hunt, J. 1998. Hone Tuwhare: A Biography. Auckland: Godwit.

Keam, G. 2006. ‘Exploring Notions of National Style: New Zealand Orchestral Music in the Late Twentieth Century’ (unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Auckland).

—2007. ‘Myths and Legends: Tales of Kiwi Musical Distinctiveness’. In Music on the Edge, Collected Proceedings, ANZ-IASPM International Conference, 29 November–2 December 2007, ed. D. Bendrups. University of Otago, Dunedin.

Le Héron, E. 2004. ‘Placing Geographical Imagination in Film: New Zealand Filmmakers’ Use of Landscape’. New Zealand Geographer 60/1: 60–6. doi:10.1111/j.1745-7939.2004. tb01706.x

McAuley, G., ed. 2006. Unstable Ground: Performance and the Politics of Place. Brussels: Peter Lang.

McGlashan, D. 2000. ‘Bookmarking the Century’. Landfall 8.1 (March): 44–6.

McLean, M. 1996. Maori Music. Auckland: Auckland University Press.

Massey, D. 1994. Space, Place, and Gender. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Matthews, P. 2006. ‘Upfront: Don McGlashan’. New Zealand Listener, May 13.

Mitchell, T. 1996. ‘The Sounds of Nowhere? Bicultural Music in Aotearoa/New Zealand’. In his Popular Music and Local Identity: Rock, Pop and Rap in Europe and Oceania. London: Leicester University Press.

—2009. ‘Sigur Rós’s Heima: An Icelandic Pyschogeography’. Transforming Cultures eJournal 4.1. University of Technology, Sydney. http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/ojs/index.php/ TfC/issue/view/65/showToc.

Rankin, I. 2005. The Falls. London: Orion.

Rapson, B. 2002. ‘Songlines that Cross Auckland’. Metro 257 (November): 34–44.

Russell, B. 2004. ‘CONTRA-FLUDD/CONTRA-KEPL: The Disharmony of the Spheres Extolled in Ten Theses’. New Zealand Electronic Poetry Centre. http://www.nzepc.auckland. ac.nz/features/dunedin/russell1.asp (accessed 7 March 2008).

Shuker, R., and M. Pickering. 1994. ‘Kiwi Rock; Popular Music and Cultural Identity in New Zealand’. Popular Music 13.3: 261–78. doi:10.1017/S0261143000007194

s.l.m. 2003. ‘Douglas Lilburn & the Effect of Landscape on Music’. http://www.spacific.net/ index.php/sp/content/view/full/426 (accessed 6 March 2008).

Smithies, G. 2007. Soundtrack: 118 Great New Zealand Albums. Nelson: Craig Potton Publishing.

Spittle, G. 1997. Counting the Beat: A History of New Zealand Song. Wellington: GP Publications.

Straw, W. 2002. ‘Scenes and Sensibilities’. Public 22/23: 245–57.

Street, J. 1995. ‘(Dis)located? Rhetoric, Politics, Meaning and the Locality’. In Popular Music: Style and Identity, ed. W. Straw et al., 255–63. Montreal: Centre for Research on Canadian Cultural Industries and Institutions.

Sweetman, S. 2006. ‘Don McGlashan & Seven Sisters’. The Lumiere Reader http://www. lumiere.net.nz/reader/item/1096 (accessed 26 November 2007).

Toner, P. 2007. ‘Sing a Country of the Mind: The Articulation of Place in Dhalwangu Song’. In The Soundscapes of Australia: Music, Place and Spirituality, ed. Fiona Richards. Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing.

Tumarkin, M. 2006. Traumascapes: The Power and Fate of Places Transformed by Tragedy. Melbourne: Melbourne University Publishing.

Published

2009-11-11

How to Cite

Mitchell, T. (2009). Sonic psychogeography: A poetics of place in popular music in Aotearoa/New Zealand. Perfect Beat, 10(2), 145–175. https://doi.org/10.1558/prbt.v10i2.145

Issue

Section

Articles

Similar Articles

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.