The Black Sound Lab (BSL), housed in the Digital Humanities and Social Engagement Cluster at Dartmouth College, is a newly formed research environment dedicated to the intersections of Black sonic life and digital work. The dual missions of the BSL are to work towards the decriminalization of Black sound and to amplify Black life through digital practice.
What does it mean to decriminalize Black sound?
From the 19th century Black Code laws that banned Black people from congregating to murder of Jordan Davis over hip-hop played at a gas station, Black sound has been surveilled and criminalized for centuries.To decriminalize Black sound is to make audible these historical and contemporary connections and work against policies that proceed to harm Black people over sonic expression that has been deemed too noisy, loud, and dangerous.
What does it mean to amplify Black sonic life?
To focus solely on criminalization overestimates the importance of crime to black sonic life. The BSL also seeks to emphasize the vitality of Black sonic life in all its forms, from mapping popular Black music venues to amplifying the work of other thinkers and organizers working to deepen connections between Blackness and sound.
Dr. Allie Martin (she/her) is a Mellon Faculty Fellow at Dartmouth College in the Music Department and the Cluster for Digital Humanities and Social Engagement. Her work explores the relationships between race, sound, and gentrification in Washington, DC. Utilizing a combination of ethnographic fieldwork and digital humanities methodologies, Allie considers how African-American people in the city experience gentrification as a sonic, racialized process. Her work has been supported by the Ford Foundation, the Smithsonian Institution, the Society for American Music, and the American Musicological Society. She is currently working on her first book, entitled Sonic Intersections: Listening to Gentrification in Washington, DC.
Armond Dorsey (he/they) is a musician, playwright, and poet from Prince George’s County, MD whose creative works center on storytelling, Blaqueerness, the Black mundane, Black masculinity, and Afrosurrealism. Armond’s writing and narrative electroacoustic compositions channel history, memory, and ethnography to thread the stories Black folk have lived, continue living with, and dream of living in. The practice of intentional, deep listening lays the foundation not only for Armond’s creative works but also their research. Armond’s research interests combine Black studies, music cognition, sound studies, and public health to curate and develop music interventions that both address racial and historical trauma as well as improve access to care for marginalized communities.
Armond is a current first-year M.A. student in the Digital Music program at Dartmouth College. In June 2020, they graduated from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in Music modified with Neuroscience alongside a minor in African and African-American Studies.