A close-up photograph of a spinning record When the organizers of the 2020 Sound Studies, Rhetoric, and Writing (SSRW) Conference reached out to us in February 2020 asking if we would be interested in presenting our research on a keynote panel for an online version of the conference in October 2020, we were all excited but curious as to how the conference might work. Shifting the event to an online format in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic felt like a smart move, but we were all wondering how it could be pulled off seamlessly.

After about an eight-month stretch of panel meetings, conference organizing, preparation, and tech run-throughs, we found ourselves on the other side of one of the most successful sets of keynote panels in which any of us had been involved. So when the question came up as to whether we would like to post the conference proceedings on the SSRW website or think about a way to publish the presentations in a larger venue, many of us chose the latter. These presentations felt powerful, rich, and timely during this pandemic, which has made us all reach for ways to engage and communicate, to converge and commune with one another—both scholarly and personally—while in the grips of quarantine. With this in mind, we are excited to share a series of hypertexts that stem from our 2020 SSRW keynote panels. And what better way to share these visual and sonic musings than through the innovative space provided by Kairos?

We hope this work, in whatever small or large way, can contribute to your philosophical inquiry, viewing, and listening enjoyment in the midst of this moment. A very special thanks to Kairos and to the 2020 SSRW Conference Planning Committee (shout out to Rosa Tobin, Ben Lauren, Kati Fargo Ahern, Victor Del Hierro, Crystal VanKooten, and David Sheridan). Finally, a heartfelt additional thanks to Crystal VanKooten, whose webtext work and dedication to this process in the middle of a pandemic and global/civil unrest has been both invaluable and inspiring. We have truly enjoyed this process and the journey that has come along with it. We hope that you enjoy the outcome of our journey together.

Wishing you all peace and health, prosperity and equity,

Vanessa J. Aguilar
Stephany Bravo
Todd Craig
Jared D. Milburn
Emery Petchauer
Eric Rodriguez
Cecilia Valenzuela and Magnolia Landa-Posas

Panel 1: "Testimonios, Microphones and Sonic Soliloquies: Speaking Through and Claiming Our Auditory Narratives"

"Terrible Melodies Telling Me Beautiful Things"
by Eric Manuel Rodriguez

Rodriguez's piece explores how Detroit's contributions to popular music serve as a means to understanding sound writing. Shifting from elements of meat locker punk concerts to the sonics of beloved hip-hop producer J Dilla, Eric explores just how the concept of "making do" has motivated and affected the sights and sounds of "The D's" addition to emerging popular music and contemporary sound production.

"AudioVoice: A Relational, Subaltern Praxis of Listening to Testimonios and Composing with Sound"
by Cecilia Valenzuela and Magnolia Landa-Posas

Valenzuela and Landa-Posas draw from Latina/Chicana feminisms to highlight that collective experiences of political and social urgency are imbued with relational and embodied sonic aspects. To illustrate this, they share a collaborative project they call AudioVoice, an audio-based sonic testimonio they undertook to document and reflect upon their own lives.

"Black Sound Matter(s): The Sonic Soundscape of Black Auditory Liberation"
by Todd Craig

Craig traces a 40-year conversation that serves as an auditory freedom roadmap, demonstrating the sociopolitical savvy of the DJ. This piece aims to radically transform traditionally-conceived intellectual space through sound writing sensibilities and DJ rhetorical practices. Using DJ rhetoric (Craig) as a lens to enact a sonic literary critique, Craig reserved the right to not speak, and to instead compose live. Using turntables to control all audible elements in the presentation epitomized the DJ's ability to mediate, mitigate, construct and disrupt traditional academic spaces.

Panel 2: "Breaking and Making: Hip-hop Aesthetics across Place, Sound, and the Moving Image"

"Breaking and Making: An Introduction"
by Emery Petchauer

Petchauer introduces the panel with needle drops into the drum breaks of funk, soul, and jazz records that make up the sonic and conceptual foundation of hip-hop. By working with these records on two turntables, he considers the break not only a musical unit of sound but a conceptual unit of possibility within hip-hop aesthetics. He invites listeners to consider the different ways panelists "theorize from the break" by using the material affordances associated with it as a conceptual filter for imagination and understanding.

"TEST-TEST-TESTIMONIALISTA: Stories of Sound, Space, Place, and the Body in Compton"
by Stephany Bravo

Bravo summons the landscapes of Compton, California, by documenting personal childhood memories through el testimonio, a form of storytelling learned over her mom's cafecito sessions. The stories weave histories of migration within a predominantly Black and Latino community by tackling topics such as the Los Angeles Rebellions of 1992 and continuous forms policing. Stephany's stories are guided by exterior forces such as sounds but also the continuously evolving vessel that is her body.

"Sunk in the Method: There's a Groove to the Theory"
by Jared D. Milburn

Art is a delivery method Milburn uses to express identity. This work illustrates that music has a way of separating us from our own inherent bias born from our inner thoughts, then bridges those viewpoints with the world, encouraging us to look outside of ourselves. Identity is in the sounds we make, and answers to who we are reflect in how those sounds are used. With the combined use of sound, tone, sampling, delivery, and visual influences, Milburn's work takes root—it is within this bias and moment of connection the effectiveness of the message gets its strength. The rupture of self and surroundings bridges into the groove of the record. This film is a depiction of the journey our characters experience as they interact in this groove—in the moment where the music encapsulates them. Represented by the act of putting on headphones, we cut between characters, as if soloing tracks—for added perspective—to highlight the discourse of our grander conversation.

"Summoning Duende: Afro-Diasporic Religious Listening Practices in Funkadelic and Childish Gambino's Music"
by Vanessa J. Aguilar

Aguilar's "Summoning Duende" explores how funk music performers Childish Gambino and Funkadelic conjure a supernatural force called duende in their songs "Good to Your Earhole" (1975) and "Riot" (2016). This piece explores how duende disrupts traditional listening practices by drawing attention to how spiritual possession is heard sonically through vocal utterances and musical elements produced by Childish Gambino and Funkadelic. Aguilar situates the origins of duende into Afro-religious practices of spiritual ecstasy which have been reduced to the "sounding Other" by mainstream audiences who are unable to conjure duende.


Childish Gambino. (2016). Riot [Song]. On Awaken, my love!. Glassnote.

Funkadelic. (1975). Good to your earhole [Song]. On Let's take it to the stage. Westbound.