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The Vibrations of Affect and their Propagation on Night Out on Kingston’s Dancehall Scene

By Julian F. Henriques


This paper proposes that the propagation of vibrations could serve as a better model for understanding the transmission of affect than the flow, circulation, or movement of bodies by which it is most often theorised (Brennan 2004). The vibrations (or idiomatically “vibes”) amongst the sound system audience (or “crowd”) on a night out on the Dancehall scene in Kingston, Jamaica, provide an example. Counting the repeating frequencies of these vibrations in a methodology inspired by Lefebvre’s (2004) rhythmanalysis results in a Frequency Spectrogram. This ranges from the sociocultural frequencies of nightly, weekly and seasonal cycles and circulations of musical style and fashion; to the material frequencies of the amplitudes and timbres of sound itself, with Reggae’s signature low-pitched bass-line; to the corporeal frequencies of the flesh and blood of the dancehall “crowd”, pulsating with heartbeats and kinetic dance rhythms. The vibration model then addresses the intensities of affect (Deleuze and Guattari 1988, Massumi 2002) in terms of auditory amplitudes, as with sonic dominance (Henriques 2003); feelings as frequencies; and the distinctive meaning of affect (Sedgwick and Frank 1995) as timbre. This aims to encourage the radical impulse of the idea of affect to abandon the traditional envelope of the autonomous, self-consistent, rational individual. The meaning of affect is thus located in the ratio, proportions and patterning of vibrations, that is, outside the discourse of emotions or representation of feelings

Topics: J931, L300, L330, L610, L722, P300, W300, W310, W390
Publisher: SAGE Publications
Year: 2010
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