Matthew D. Morrison

Matthew D. Morrison is a PhD candidate in Musicology at Columbia University. He completed a masters in Musicology at The Catholic University of America. He is currently the Editor-in-Chief of Current Musicology, an adjunct instructor of black music at Vassar College, and writing a dissertation on the intersections between sound and race.



"I Pledge Allegiance to the Block: City-scapes, Hegemonic Sound, and Blackness"

Urban social-cultural landscapes serve as an immediate and frequented framework for discussions of blacks in America. Whether a homesite for protest and resistance or, as Alain Locke suggests, an escape from the ‘medieval’ south, the city serves as both a muse and haven for black American cultural expression. Although city-scapes are heavily represented in African American music and popular culture, more discussion is needed about how the city is often a hegemonic space of black cultural expression. In other words, how does an urban setting dictate power and blackness in the (African) American community? This panel, a roundtable discussion, will analyze sound as a framework for negotiating race and power in black music. Panelists will discuss how music and “sounds of the city” are used to manipulate race and power politics.

Questions to be addressed include:

  1. How does urban blackness sound? What privilege, if any, does this type of sound represent?
  2. Why is the city considered the ‘homesite’ and sonic backdrop of a (contemporary) black experience?
  3. What restrictions does urban sound as a privileged expression impose on spaces considered non-urban (i.e. southern culture and landscapes?)