Fusion Sign-Vehicles: A Semiotics Analysis of Social and Musical Behavior in South Asian Fusion A Cappella12/10/2018
In 1996, the first collegiate South Asian A Cappella choir, Penn Masala, was founded at the University of Pennsylvania. Over the last twenty-two years, nearly fifty such groups have been founded at colleges and universities across the United States. These ensembles blend western popular music with South Asian music, namely Bollywood film songs. Membership in these groups typically involves participants with South Asian ethnic backgrounds as well as participants from various other ethnic backgrounds. This paper discusses the way in which sign-vehicles of South Asian a cappella performance aid in the construction of the ethnicities of its performers, showing how identities are blended, reinvented, and performed in both musical and social settings. Specifically, I will analyze the way that Dhamakapella, a South Asian A Cappella choir at Case Western Reserve University, behaves in a fashion that conveys a fusion of South Asian and western identities.