Abstract

I examine examples of participatory animal memes that reuse and reference jazz music, culture, and associated movement to address the relationship between music and nonhuman animal bodies that human user-creators make, share, watch, and listen to across social media on their devices. I focus specifically on the choreomusical relationships between preexisting music, the edited video of the “dancing” animal, the human owner's musical and gestural interventions, and the video creator's (more often than not the pet's owner) understanding, translation, and incorporation of musical, audiovisual, spatial, sensory, and cultural markers of jazz (or, at least, what the meme user-creators think “jazz” is). This seemingly niche case study in actuality reveals the complex affective and creative responses by user-creators and the choreomusicality of these videos. Here I am adapting Daniel Callahan's (2012) concept of choreomusicality to the audiovisual relationships among digital bodies, their movements and gestures, and preexisting music. Choreomusicality, or the interrelationship among music, movement, and the construction of genre, can be productively extended to include the wide range of choreographed movements of performing bodies, materials, and technologies. Internet memes, like animated films, feature singing and dancing animals and objects (and sometimes people) creating audiovisual narrative contexts where “anything [can] become endowed with a musicality of movement and expression all its own” (Smith 2011, 169). The microgenre of jazz-inflected musicking animal memes not only highlights one avenue of hearing the musicality of online meme culture but also provides a productive space to address issues regarding popular music, cultural identity, and its representation; offers insight into what motivates people to make and share these images, music, and sounds; and asks how they relate to other online social practices and formations of music genres.

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