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Each abstract is listed in alphabetical order of surname (second name, given name). Abstracts are listed that were accepted by the conference’s peer reviewers.


Abstracts are also listed below:


A Phenomenological Study: The Adaptation of Digitisation from the Experience and Perspectives of the Malaysian Music Industry

Nurulhamimi Abdul Rahman

University of Liverpool, United Kingdom

Universiti Teknologi MARA, Malaysia


Digitisation is a universal and global phenomenon which brings the disruptive effects to the entire world. However, digitisation is not a uniform process, but its irregular in which different country has their particular way to deal with the situation. Malaysian experience and character of digitisation are very distinctive, unique and distinguishing compared to the rest of the world as Malaysia is a modernise Islamic country with the multi-ethnic, multicultural and multi-faith society. Therefore, digitisation is experienced differently in different state and culture in which these have brought into changes in the recorded music business practices in Malaysia. As a result, these changes influenced how music is made and consumed in societies with a special reference to the Malaysian music industry. Hence, this study aims to discover how the local record companies in Malaysia adapted to digital disruption by discussing the nuances of distinctiveness of the Malaysian experiences of the local music companies which focussing on several key themes and issues highlighted including the music economy, social, cultural, political, educational and individual behavior factors, the business practices of the recorded music in Malaysia (local labels), music industry value chain as well as the difficulties and challenges in the digital environment in the Malaysian context. The finding of this study is expected to educate the research community to learn about the impact of digitisation on music industry from the Malaysian experience and to fit into the current literature.

Keywords: Digitisation, Malaysian music industry, Disruptive, Adaptation


European Repertoires and the Urban Showcase Festival: The case of Eurosonic Noorderslag

Rob Ahlers, University of Groningen, The Netherlands

Each year in January, the Dutch city of Groningen takes central stage in positioning European popular music as a core component of contemporary European culture. In its 32-year existence, the European Music and Showcase Festival Eurosonic Noorderslag has developed into the leading platform for the European music industry. With its emphasis on the circulation of European repertoires and networks, it is unique in the contemporary music festival landscape. Due to its award culture and mediated character, Eurosonic Noorderslag serves as a stepping-stone for upcoming groups and artists internationally. Combined with a music industry conference, the Eurosonic Noorderslag festival successfully presents a European-based cultural event, claiming to provide a counterweight to the dominance of the Anglo-American music industry. The framework that is created by the cultural and economic realities of the industry create an environment where discourse about ‘Europeanness’ is performed and debated. But how does European identity manifest itself? In other words, when is identity performed and when is identity perceived? This paper explores how this festival’s social, ethnographical and cultural processes have facilitated its successful development from 1986 until the present. Consequently, it will be contextualized within urban cultural developments as theorized by Franco Bianchini (1993), David Throsby (2010) and Monica Sassatelli (2011). Finally, I will show how Eurosonic Noorderslag has become the main fulcrum of this transnational industry. This research draws from data gathered through historiographical newspaper analysis, archival research, interviews and ethnographic fieldwork.

Keywords: festival, live performance, European identity

Rob Ahlers MA is a second-year PhD student affiliated with the University of Groningen. His current research interests are music festivals, cultural identity and live performance. Prior to becoming a researcher, he worked as a professional musician and drumming teacher in the northern part of the Netherlands. His article “Benjamin’s KISS: A Perspective on Music, Spectacle and Aura” was published in the IASPM journal in 2016: http://www.iaspmjournal.net/index.php/IASPM_Journal/issue/view/60

Email address: r.ahlers@rug.nl


“Her Master’s Voice”?  Embodied Female Vocality and Geopolitical Agency in Russian-Ukrainian Popular Music.

Stephen Amico

The Grieg Academy/University of Bergen (Norway)

The complexity of the human voice has served in the western philosophical tradition – from Augustine to Austen to Agamben – as a productive locus of inquiry into (metaphysical) questions of presence and human agency.  Owing to both this intellectual lineage, and the centrality of the voice in numerous genres of popular music, it is thus not surprising that voice should have become a concern among critical/popular musicologists (from Frith to Middleton) as well, with attention focused on the intricate relations obtaining among sound, text, author, and corporeality.  In this paper, I will focus on the voice in relation to the extremely successful Russian-Ukrainian “girl group” VIA-Gra (a play on words and cultural history in the Russian language), the collective’s continually morphing roster of female singers, and its “Svengali”-like producer/composer (Konstantin Meladze).  Highlighting the variables of gender, body, liveness, and authorship, and engaging critical/philosophical investigations of ventriloquism (Connor; Harvey) and puppetry (Florenskii), I will argue that attention to voice is essential in understanding both gendered and geopolitical agency and subjectivity in the context of the continuing hostilities surrounding the annexation of Crimea, and the cultural conflicts engendered by calls for national sovereignty in post-Soviet Ukraine.


One-Way Traffic? Utopian and Transformative Experience in Progressive Rock

Kimberley Jane Anderson, PhD Candidate, University of St Andrews Institute for Theology, Imagination and the Arts


Keywords: progressive rock, spirituality, sociology, post-secularism

Somewhat uniquely among rock’s subgenres, arguments are ample for progressive rock’s religious or spiritual dimensions, with a case made even for a rootedness in the Anglican tradition for much of the genre.  Despite this evident connection, though, it has not been explored in sufficient depth whether engagement with progressive rock might also have results which are spiritually significant. Perhaps progressive rock is not one of the most obvious subgenres for sociologists to investigate, due to the isolated, cerebral way in which it is often consumed, its connection with the ‘middle class’, and its unappealing aesthetic elitism (which may indeed support the notion that meaning is fixed, authoritative, and somewhat conservative). Nevertheless, as this paper will argue, sustained engagement with the fictive (utopian) situation offered in some progressive rock has potential to awaken listeners to imagine an alternative to the ‘secularisation’ and ‘disenchantment’ which has been said to pervade contemporary life.

In order to assess listener experience most faithfully, after a brief theoretical section drawing on the ideas of Paul Ricoeur, Theodor Adorno and the theologian David Brown, the paper will outline the preliminary findings from a survey to be conducted in April 2018 which invites progressive rock fans to reflect on the nature of their interaction with the music and its related community, what sort of journey these musical encounters might take them on, and how such experiences might have affected their views on God, spirituality, and/or the meaning of life.


Technicolor dreams – the synesthetic legacy of psychedelic rock.

Camilla Aisa

Institutional affiliation: London South Bank University, camillaaisa@gmail.com

With the 1960s many musical artists start to think and to portrait themselves as precisely that, artists. With the advent of psychedelic rock, then, their medium of choice is not strictly sonic anymore; musicians of the Sixties, and psychedelic musicians especially, begin to show a vibrant vocation towards a wider, more complex and ductile interaction with art forms and the very concept of Art. In this brief era visual artists become interested in rock music, they start to produce art inspired by music and, viceversa, musicians become more and more involved in the visual aspect of their work. The mid and late Sixties then represent a period of seminal renaissance for Album Cover Art and Poster Art: LP covers strive to translate the message of the music they wrap in visual terms. C0nversely, psychedelic rock tries to put the amazing visions triggered by psychedelic drugs into music. Concerts and events in general fuse all these aspects together, while psychedelic posters refuse to simply advertise, and try to narrate that very experience instead. Psychedelia etymologically manifests the depths of the soul, cultivating their variegated manifestations and their need for likewise variegated forms of expression; what follows, then, is a craving for multifaceted sensory experiences, for synesthesia – a particularly compelling concept when it comes to the innate spirit of psychedelic arts and their eclectic ‘champions’. The psychedelic creed has a powerful holistic disposition – a sort of ‘mission’ to bring art forms back together – and it does revitalize a strong concept that is all about putting Art in everyday life and in the lives of everyone. Different kinds of artists ensue, 360-degree artists who are about to express themselves in the most independent way, freely choosing more than just one mode of creative expression. Popular music becomes a platform for integration – both culturally and, of course, socially -, an innovated and innovative language that does not indulge with art’s artificial categorizations, but embraces the synergetic possibilities of all its different forms.

Keywords: psychedelic rock, psychedelic art, synesthesia, Sixties.


Markers of Time in Contemporary Pop Production

Erik Askeroi

The purpose of this paper is to present an analytical tool that I developed in my PhD thesis, which I have labelled sonic markers, and to provide a concrete example, based on more recent observations, which hopefully illustrates this concept at play. In my definition, sonic markers can be identified as “… musical codes that have been historically grounded through a specific context, and that, through their appropriation, serve a range of narrative purposes in recorded music” (Askerøi 2013: 17). In the proposed paper I will discuss the use of sonic markers of time through a reading of the following three musical examples: 1. Amy Winehouse: ‘Rehab’ (2000) 2. Michael Kiwanuka: ‘Tell Me a Tale’ (2012) 3. Bleachers: Don’t Take the Money’ (2017) My general argument is that coded sounds have come to play a major role in the development and renewal of popular music—not merely as a retrospective hipster move during the first decade of the 2000s, but also as a compositional tool in recorded popular music in general. From these three musical examples it seems evident that sonic markers of time in different ways have become a compositional strategy in contemporary pop production, and thus it constitutes a viable inroad for interpreting the expressive dimensions of musical sound in recorded music for practitioners as well as for academics.


Stories We Could Tell: Putting Words to American Popular Music

Tom Attah, Leeds Arts University

Stories We Could Tell identifies eight typical strategies used when critics and historians to write about American popular music. How has the history of rock and roll been told? Has it become formulaic? Or remained, like the music itself, open to outside influences? Who have been the genre’s primary historians? What common frameworks or sets of assumptions have music history narratives shared?  The most persistent formats that the writers of rock and rock histories embrace are the instinctual, the Darwinian, the heroic, the ritual, the alluvial, the agoraphobic, and the Manichean. Stories We Could Tell critically discusses each of these ways of presenting the history of popular music genres. This paper summarises the forthcoming Routledge book of the same name by the late David Sanjek, and which is co-edited by Tom Attah. The book is a unique work of music historiography that analyses, catalogues, and contextualises music writing in order to afford new perspectives on the field of cultural production.

Stories We Could Tell invites the audience to deepen their engagement with popular music by considering the mediating role of critics and writers in the creation of music history. The paper and book have three specific aims. First, by focusing on rock’n’roll, they create an inventory of the eight most persistent narrative patterns used by popular music historians. Each of these narrative patterns has been employed to produce books of immeasurable value, and our knowledge of the subject would, undeniably, be deficient without them. Stories We Could Tell does not dismiss the eight patterns or make their potential inferiorities the main focus of discussion; instead it recognises their abundant usefulness as tools of investigation. The second aim is to elucidate assumptions that have governed the development of each pattern. Finally, the work considers each strategy’s theoretical and ideological consequences.


Dr Tom Attah is BMus Popular Music Performance Course Leader at Leeds Arts University.  His research focusses on the effects of technology on blues music and blues culture. Tom’s teaching and blues advocacy includes workshops, seminars, lectures and recitals delivered internationally. As a guitarist and singer, Tom performs solo, with acoustic duos and as leader of an electric band.  Tom’s solo acoustic work includes his own original Blues compositions and has led to performances at international music festivals, including major stages at the Glastonbury Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts. Tom’s journalistic writing regularly features in specialist music publications, and his original research papers and book reviews are published in internationally peer-reviewed journals.  Tom’s media appearances include performances and documentaries for BBC Radio and Sky Arts.


Producer as Creative Agent: Studio Production, Technology and Cultural Space in Three Case Studies

Tuomas Auvinen

Abstract: In my paper, I discuss how the record producer’s creative agency is formed through technological practices, the cultural spaces of the studios where record production takes place and social interactions between the producer and other creative agents involved in the process of record production. Along the lines of Timothy D. Taylor, agency here refers to an agent’s capacity to make and effect decision in the face of structures. Creativity again means making musical differences in a domain, which follow the ideas of Csikszentmihalyi and Toynbee. My study is based on the comparison of three ethnographic case studies; a home studio -based pop music production, a classical record production that took place in a concert hall setting and a rock production that took place in a conventional studio facility. In my analysis, I have triangulated different kinds of materials such as interviews, field diaries, photos, videos and music to achieve a multi-faceted understanding of how the producer’s agency is constructed during the record production process. In this paper I present the results of my PhD project which holds the same title as this paper.

Keywords: record production, music production, studio ethnography, record producer

Affiliation:                   University of Turku

E-mail:                        tuomas.a.auvinen@utu.fi


On getting intimate with music. Strategies and assemblages of owning digital music.

Victor Avila Torres

In the age of the digital music commodity, loving music means many different things apart from buying, spending time listening or being a member of a specific group. Either through paid or publicly sponsored channels a myriad of music is available using any digital device. In this sense, the practices of loving music have been transformed and the attachments created to music through new forms of access make it an important area to study. My research, based on 42 interviews in Mexico and the United Kingdom, is based on the notion of music experiences as assemblages in which music, sound, devices, places, expectations, social meanings, individual expectations and unexpected outcomes play a crucial role. Some of my data suggest that the listener, through everyday practices, is attached to music by five ‘drivers’ of that relationship, (1) construction of an individual and a (2) social identity, (3) negotiation of spaces and experiences, (4) a constant sense of discovery and (5) the constitution and recall of memories and a sense of time. All those drivers are constantly constituting each other. Nevertheless, in this presentation I will try to explore in depth the process of building an intimate relationship with music. An active work in which the listener engages though different sets of assemblages such as lyrics, translations, socialization, spaces and discourses around specific music. This is the main process in the development of a sense of property of music and the constitution of an individual identity through engagement with music.

Keywords: Music Consumption, Listening in Everyday Life, Attachments to Music, Digital Devices.


The Construction of a Retro Flying Saucer Take Off

Claudia Azevedo

This paper presents an analysis of musical meaning in the 61-second-long coda of “Espaço, Tempo, Lugar” [Space, Time, Place], a song by Brazilian underground pop band Coquetel Havana (Disco Voador, 2017) [Flying saucer]. The intention was to understand how the notion of heaviness/weight in addition to progressive rock’s aesthetic of the previous sections of the song are combined in order to refer to Science Fiction. It considers aspects of traditional musical analysis and music production supported by the responses to reception tests (Tagg and Clarida, 2003) by individuals of three age groups (15-20, 45-55 and 70-80) from the same socio-cultural background in Rio de Janeiro. The song was presented to the respondents in two steps: the coda, then the whole song with lyrics. The tests were followed by a short semi-structured interview. No information about the song was provided. The aim was to verify if and how the contrasting sections and the lyrics would affect the attribution of meaning to the coda. In addition, the band and the sound technician were consulted about their musical intentions with emphasis on the use of plug-ins to create the 1970´s references. The main theoretical sources are Gibson’s theory of Ecological Perception as presented by Clarke (2005) and ZagorskiThomas (2014), the theory of Metaphor by Lakoff and Johnson as presented by Moore (2012) and the Semiotics of Music as presented by Tagg (2015) [2012].


From early sketches to finished tracks: Recording as a production tool in electronic music. The example of High Tone’s Outback (2010)

Dr Baptiste Bacot

Associate researcher at IRCAM, Analyse des pratiques musicales


Dub originates in Jamaica in the 1960s and is directly related to the multitrack recording technology. Sound engineers then began to explore the possibility to create manifold instrumental instances of the recorded songs, muting tracks while highlighting others, and/or adding effects such as filters, reverberations and delays through the mixing desk, eventually recreating different versions of the same track each time they played (or recorded) it. From the 1990s onward, dub influences could thus be detected in EDM subgenres, such as techno, drum’n’bass, breakbeat, and hip hop—to name a few—eventually gaining a worldwide popularity. This communication will deal with the creative process of High Tone, a French dub band that consists of five musicians. Since 1998, High Tone released over 20 studio albums and LPs, mixing various influences, from Jamaican reggae to drum’n’bass, techno, and hip hop. High Tone’s creative process is well established: producing a new track always begins with a collective, digitally recorded improvisation. Each musician is then free to rearrange the track and submit it to the other members, who will in return discuss it, contingently exchange sounds, and modify what they play accordingly. This contribution is based on an ethnographic study, and aims at unveiling the band’s creativity through a thorough analysis of different versions of three tracks. Therefore, we will compare different versions of the drafts (gathered in May 2010) and the studio version of the tracks (released on the Outback album in 2010). This approach is inspired by genetic analysis of mixed music and its documentation, but the shift in the studied repertoire leads to explore other research areas, most notably the issue of self remixing and the ontologies of the provisional work, as named by Mark Butler (2014). High Tone’s musicians also heavily rely on sampling and processing to improve the previous version of the track. As a result, their procedure for creating music falls under the scope of recording production in dub music, which can be retraced through the versioning strategy of the band.

Keywords: Recording Production, Dub/EDM, Creative Process, Ethnography


Towards a Spatial Language for Popular Music in Surround Sound – Considering Composition and Production in the Ambisonic Domain

James Bagshaw, University of Hull, UK Email: james.bagshaw@me.com

Keywords: Ambisonics, Production, Popular Music, Surround Abstract

The presentation of popular music in surround sound has long been a tertiary consideration to its presentation in stereo in the creative outputs of music composition and production. Stereo has and continues to be the ultimate destination medium, with alternative surround versions of pieces occasionally recreated post-composition for the surround domain. Moreover, channel based (i.e. 5.1) re-releases/coincident releases are restricted to specific speaker arrays, and are often remixes of their stereo counterparts, with little or no considered input by the original composer(s). Recently, the production of Virtual and Augmented reality projects has ignited a resurgence in surround listening research, and has forged the way for new audio/visual formats (i.e. Facebook 360, YouTube 360). This paper engages with the recent wider implementation of First Order and Higher Order Ambisonics (HOA), investigating the ability to spatially decode to virtually any loudspeaker array/listening environment. It considers the possibilities of an holistic, spatially-considered compositional domain within HOA, whereby composers and producers work in tandem to create bespoke and spatially-considered musical outcomes. With the destination output being an ambisonic multichannel file (i.e. First Order B-Format), an end user is enabled control of the playback medium, whilst compositions retain their intended spatial arrangement. With an ‘absolute’ spatial master in mind from the inception of the compositional and production process, this paper investigates the aesthetic considerations of creating music with an integral spatial component. Furthermore, discussing the technological affordances and limitations of working with such sound materials in Ambisonics.


Interaction and Interplay in Jazz Performance: theory, practice, and the need for interdisciplinarity

Dan Banks

Email: dan@danbanks.co.uk / D.Banks@2017.hull.ac.uk The University of Hull

This presentation will outline and critique current thinking in the domain of jazz scholarship concerning interaction and interplay, consider the importance and impact of interdisciplinary approaches therein, and outline the presenter’s research on interaction and interplay both as a PhD student (studying music performance at The University of Hull) and practitioner. Interaction and interplay in jazz performance is a somewhat under-theorised line of inquiry in jazz scholarship; however significant work has been undertaken by scholars such as Ingrid Monson, Paul Berliner, and Robert Hodson. This work ranges from ‘close’ examinations of various music to interdisciplinary approaches sitting on the nexus between ethnomusicology, anthropology, musicology, and linguistics. Although studies sitting on interdisciplinary nexus points, such as Ingrid Monson’s Saying Something: Jazz Improvisation and Interaction, have facilitated a deepening and broadening of the field it is arguable that these works have yet to impact analytical techniques and tools significantly, or indeed that their treatment of the examined musical object is superficial. This argument will form one aspect of this presentation. From the body of work mentioned above, the notion that “good jazz improvisation is social and interactive just like a conversation” has become conventional wisdom. However, the allegorical 1 trope—music is like language, and improvisation is like conversation—has some limitations concerning the translatability of musical experience. It is possible to posit that practice led research may provide further insight beyond the intersection of linguistics, ethnomusicology, and traditional musicology; this position will form a fundamental tenet of this presentation’s discussion.


De Facto Cubists: Multi-Microphone Utilisation as Spatial Polyperspectivity

Dr. Matthew Barnard

The time- and space-defying and redefining powers of the sound recording paradigm has been much discussed. The spatial parameter of the equation is largely conceived of from the notion of geographical dynamic: a sound is plucked from a time and space and transported through both variables.  What is perhaps ripe for elucidation is the question of polyperspectivity in relation to multiple-microphone capture. The microphone can be considered a spatial sample. These samples can occur in a diversity of combinations, often with little consideration of imaging beyond phase correlation and coherence. ‘Does it sound right?’ is the prevailing approach in many circumstances of popular music and its production. Monophonic reproduction doesn’t preclude polyperspectivity either, and it perhaps simplifies the basic concept. A point-source in nature, up until loudspeaker reproduction, multiple spatial sampling points can be encapsulated in the monophonic format, sounding simultaneously and hopefully coherently, offering a complexity of form. As listeners, we can be oblivious to this. This paper aims to introduce and flesh out the concept in relation to other frameworks and answer the pertinent questions posed. A springboard for discussion is the approach to recording an instrument for stereo reproduction: we hear a single instrument but are often presented with a spatial multiplex, a conduit for nested spatial orders and sample-archetypes which allow us to hear the instrument from different directions and proximities simultaneously. Spatial polyperspectivity in record production is largely an inevitability, arrived at via pragmatism rightly anchored in the primacy of the ear. But when identified, can it allow an alternate conception of spatial form and image? How critical is the technological mediation of the multiplex form for recorded music?

Keywords: mediation, production, recording, space, image

Institutional Affiliation: University of Hull

Email: m.barnard@hull.ac.uk


Heavy Metal Music and the Student Experience: why alternative university students form their own subcultural campus communities

Name: Amanda Barnett

Institutional Affiliation: University of Liverpool

Key Words: university experience, student societies, metal music studies, subcultural communities, ethnography

Contact Details: amandasilviabarnett@gmail.com or a.s.barnett@liverpool.ac.uk

With various roles music can play in everyday life, it is no wonder that many UK universities offer an array of extracurricular student societies focusing on music. Although there is generally something for most music tastes, experiences, and commitment levels, ‘Rock Societies’ have become the case study for my PhD ethnographic research. ‘RockSoc’s are most campuses response to providing a heavier, louder, head-banging atmosphere for metal, rock, punk, goth and other alternative students. As a current member of multiple Rock Societies, I can attest to why this student club is monumental to those involved, as many members consider themselves outsiders to other elements of campus life and the student experience. These participatory options highlight important interdisciplinary approaches to understanding the student experience through a leisure perspective. I intend to highlight how the student experience has been integrated in popular music and metal music studies, through identity forming practices, subcultural capital, community involvement, personal development stages, and a sense of belonging, through answering the following questions: What responsibility does the University have to provide many varied societies for students and how do student societies help university aged persons develop? Why do different Universities tend have distinctly different variations of music or rock societies, and why do these tend to be clearly separated with metal and rock students needing their own society? What can we learn about the interdisciplinary role Rock Societies play in students’ everyday lives and identity formation that will impact future youth, subcultural, popular music, and metal music studies?


Theorizing the Domain of Production

Eliot Bates

The Graduate Center, City University of New York


The work of production, when conceived in relation to the domain of recorded sound, is a complex endeavor that, in different national contexts and historical periods, can refer to some combination of economic prospecting, project management, creative/artistic vision, and technical labor. Correspondingly, it has been a topic of significant interest to scholars in fields ranging from organizational sociology, to the art of record production, to cultural economics. It is this heterogeneity that makes production so interesting, and also that suggests the benefit of multidisciplinary inquiry into the field of production studies. This paper, rather than attempting to re-assert the “musical” nature of the labor, or reducing production or producers to one thing (e.g. the end product), instead situates production at the collision of aesthetic, economic, managerial and technical domains. Building upon work utilizing the production of culture perspective (Peterson and Anand 2004), mediation theory (Hennion 1989; Born 2010), and ethnographic approaches (Meintjes 2003; Bates 2016), I argue that production provides a fascinating site to study where culture is situated in collaborative creative environments, and how recordings, as (partial) representations of culture, are designed to do this representational work.

keywords: production, labor, creativity, mediation, recorded sound


How Soon Is Now? Live audio and video sync for simultaneous music performance in multiple locations using Internet2

Presenters: Loudon Stearns and Joe Bennett, Berklee College of Music (USA)

In recent years Internet2 connections have afforded ever-faster simultaneous creative collaborations between geographically distant locations – in music, this is known as Networked Music Performance (NMP). In 2010 the first LOLA (LOw LAtency) long-distance simultaneous music performance took place between Trieste Italy and Paris France, based on research at two Italian institutions , and that system’s use has continued to spread as international transfer speeds and computing power has grown. As at January 2018, there are more than 100 music and performing arts universities and colleges using LOLA worldwide. This paper describes and evaluates the technologies and methods used to achieve an ambitious simultaneous international music/dance/arts performance that took place in LA, Boston and Valencia. The project synchronised dancers, musicians, live visual artists, and Ableton Live, with simulcast camera work and video projection in all three locations, using Akamai video distribution and fixed latencies. The practical mechanisms used will be discussed in detail, including the role of the DAW, visual and auditory cue points, monitoring systems, and network challenges, including finding alternative streaming solutions when LOLA itself was not feasible. The technical lessons learned and the experience of the creative team will be triangulated to provide a set of guidelines to inform future work of this nature.

Contact: jbennett@berklee.edu lstearns@berklee.edu

Keywords: LOLA, Ableton, Internet2, Real-Time Collaboration, Music Production


You Really Got Me? Technical and auditory methods for the identification of audio samples in copyright disputes

Joe Bennett

Since the 1980s it has been common for some artists, particularly in hip-hop and rap, to sample existing recordings, and the music industry has adapted over time to the challenges that the practice presents. Copyright case law and judicial verdicts have arguably lagged behind the pace of evolving sampling technologies, but in recent years a fragile balance has been reached, resulting in now commonplace business practices whereby samples are ‘cleared’ by those who wish to use them, and attendant royalty or payment deals are struck with the owners of the original sound recording.

However, unauthorized sampling still occurs at times, and in the case of such disputes the potential plaintiff/injured party will wish to demonstrate reliably that the allegedly infringing work does in fact contain a part of the earlier sound recording. ‘Forensic musicologists’ are commissioned to detect the sample, with a view to informing legal professionals of the extent/likelihood of copying. However, there is, as yet, no agreed standard for such detection, nor does a 100% reliable ‘demixing’ technology exist that enables samples to be easily isolated from a stereo mix. Recent software developments (e.g. improved time-stretching algorithms such as Ableton’s ‘Warping’ feature) have made the technical process more challenging, because the sample’s waveform can easily be manipulated by the samplist, while still retaining its character.

This paper presents some of the available human and technical methods of sample detection, using real-world examples from sampling copyright disputes, and proposes technical and analytical methods for improving the reliability of the process.

Presenter: Joe Bennett, Berklee College of Music (USA)

Contact: jbennett@berklee.edu

Keywords: Copyright, Plagiarism, Sampling, Demixing


Intermixtuality: Case Studies in Online Music [Re]Production

Samantha Bennett

Australian National University

This paper examines the recent phenomenon of online interactive remixing practice, focusing on the relationship between artist and audience through the process of ‘stem’ sharing. By releasing mix stems – individual or groups of instruments separated out from original multitrack recordings – online, artists engage their fan bases in both music production practices and the studio workplace, an environment more commonly associated with engineers, mixers and producers. Little work has been undertaken in examining 21st century, online remixing practice where music production is undertaken in the virtual realm. Accounts of intertextual practices have traditionally focused on sampling (Goodwin 1990) or on sample-based composition such as mashups (Sinnreich 2010), while Lacasse (2000) and Taylor (2001) identified the implications of interactive remixing from authorship and reception perspectives. However, online intertextual practice has only recently been acknowledged as a site of scholarly enquiry (Jarvenpaa & Lang 2011; Michielse 2013; Bennett 2015). This paper addresses the emergence of creative commons remixing, remixing event host sites, and, direct artist-to-fan community remix competitions and events. I use four case studies to elucidate artists’ engagement of fans in music production processes: Deadmau5’s 2010 EDM collaboration with BeatPort and Acapellas4All (’SOFI Needs a Ladder’), Bon Iver’s 2012 release of indie album mix stems for Indaba Music and Spotify, Skrillex and Damian Marley’s 2012 EDM/reggaestep single ‘Make it Bun Dem’ for Beatport PLAY and OWSLA, and REM’s 2011 mix stem release on their the REMHQ website.

keywords: intermixtuality, intertextuality, remixing, production, mix stems


An Internal Migration: Language Choice in Russian Contemporary Indie Music

Marco Biasioli

University of Manchester


The reasons for language choice in popular music in countries that are not Anglophone range from commercial expectations to faithfulness to a perceived (especially rock) tradition that was born and developed in Anglophone countries. But this choice, which musicians often view as ‘simple’ or ‘spontaneous’, conceals complex questions of identity. In a country like Russia, in which English is not widely spread or understood, and which has produced – unlike Scandinavian countries, Germany and France – very few internationally renowned acts, the choice of English gives rise to heated debates: some see it as a step forward towards integration and cosmopolitanism, others as a renunciation of cultural autonomy; some regard it as a challenging yet rewarding manifestation of personal creativity, others as an avoidance of Russia’s strong literary heritage and as an instance of escapism. This engenders claims of ‘internal emigrations’ (Gorbachev 2011) that deserve scholarly attention. Through the analysis of interviews from case studies and industry professionals (collected in the period July 2016 – November 2017), this paper investigates the reasons for and the values that Russian indie musicians attribute to English, as well as how critics and journalists view this choice. As the discussion unfolds it will become clear that the choice between Russian and English represents not only the main issue in the Russian indie music world, but also the most decisive factor in a Russian band’s career.

Keywords: Russian, indie, language choice


Creating and Disseminating Contemporary Electronic Music for Commercial Immersive Sound Formats

Dr. Andrew Bourbon and Michail Exarchos

London College of Music, University of West London, London, UK andrew.bourbon@uwl.ac.uk, mike.exarchos@uwl.ac.uk

At the recent 12th Art or Record Production conference in Stockholm, Sweden, the authors presented an immersive live performance of contemporary electronic music diffused in real time using the Auro-3D sound format. The primary aim had been to explore the creative opportunities afforded by the convergence of rap and electronic music subgenres, whilst leveraging the intersection of real-time music technology with the increasing adoption of multi-channel speaker formats in the international club scene. In the process, the authors identified notable gaps in the practice and theory of real-time immersive electronic music performance, including: the lack of commercially available real-time (software/hardware) solutions for the diffusion of performable immersive sound; the lack of a theoretical framework informing the creation and performance of electronic music works for 3D audio environments; and problematics concerning the placement of—and interaction between—electronic music performer, diffusion mixer and audience within such environments. These give rise to the following question: What are the aesthetic and technical implications of immersive sound technology affordances on the creation and real-time dissemination of contemporary electronic music in live performance settings? The methodology used for the investigation consists of both creative practice and an interpretive/phenomenological paradigm addressing the question from a number of associated aesthetic and technical perspectives. The research aims at discovering and developing models for new opportunities for immersion, theorising on embodied cognition in 3D audio, contextualising the implied dialogue between audience and performer/mixer, and proposing systems for effective ‘translation’ of content into a range of commercial immersive sound formats.

Keywords Electronic Music, Immersive Sound, Diffusion, Sound Format.


Session Proposal- Hybrid Mixing

Session Proposer- Dr Andrew Bourbon

London College of Music, University Of West London


As the DAW has become the dominant environment for the mixing of music, hybrid-mixing workflows have emerged, incorporating hardware processing into the digital mix workflow. This session will explore aspects of hybrid mixing, with a focus on workflow, tools and the sonic and physical impact of hybrid mixing. Workflow analysis will look at methodologies for the incorporation of hardware, exploring hardware inserting and post DAW processing on channels, busses and in summing.  The affordances of particular hardware processes, approaches and tools will be studied, exploring the sonic impact of hybrid mixing approaches. The impact of DIY audio approaches will also be investigated, with an ever-increasing collection of tools being developed for DIY or small run build with a focus on hybrid mixing.

Three engineers will present the session, with recorded interview contributions from award winning mixer Cenzo Townshend discussing his own thoughts on turning away from the console and exploring hybrid approaches in addition to the three presenters. During the session Dr Andrew Bourbon (university Of West London) and Gary Bromham (Queen Mary University of London) will focus on their experiences developing a workflow, choosing appropriate tools and the sonic impact of summing, with the different approaches taken by these engineers compared and discussed with music examples. Daniel Pratt (Queensland University of Technology) will then explore DIY culture in audio equipment, and the impact of DIY culture on the increasingly popular hybrid workflow.


Stylistic Pastiche in Popular Musical Theatre: From Analysis to Practice

Nick Braae

Waikato Institute of Technology

Hamilton, New Zealand


Keywords: musical theatre, style, analysis, arranging, composing

Stylistic pastiche is a standard technique in popular musical theatre. With origins in the early works of Andrew Lloyd Webber (e.g. Jesus Christ Superstar) and other rock musicals of the 1960s, (Hair!), recent shows (The Last Five Years, The Book of Mormon) rely on expansive networks of style references. This paper explores how an analytical understanding of different types of stylistic pastiche may inform composing and arranging practices.

I propose a three-part distinction between different forms of pastiche, with several further sub-distinctions. Firstly, styles can evoke a particular time and place, such as the 1920s jazz era of Lippa’s The Wild Party or late-1970s Philadelphia in Sister Act. Secondly, different styles can underscore or reveal the emotional tone of a song: the Latin inflections of ‘Shiksa Goddess’ (TLFY), for instance, reflect the perceived ‘exotic’ (i.e. non-Jewish) character of Jamie’s new girlfriend. Finally, pastiche often serves a humorous purpose, in three main ways: anachronistic styles are connected with authority figures (‘You’ll Be Back’ from Hamilton); camp connotations (‘Turn It Off’ from TBOM); and, juxtaposition between lyrical content/characters and stylistic associations (‘The All-American Prophet’ from TBOM).

I conclude by relating the analytical findings to my own collaborative practices as an arranger and composer for several original musicals. With examples from The Quest (2017) and Artful Dodgers (2018), I show how the different types of pastiche at the level of both composition (e.g. harmonic/melodic language) and sound-world (instrumentation/arrangement) may add greater depth and nuance to the characters and narratives of the musicals.


Extra musical content at the service of style in idiomatic improvisation: approximations with Bakhtin’s enunciative theory

Klesley Bueno Brandão.

Unicamp (university of Campinas).

e-mail: buenobrandaotrp@yahoo.com

This article proposes the idiomatic improvisation, the one that aims at the configuration of a pre-established musical genre, as a form of enunciation, from the theoretical perspective of Bakhtin’s philosophy of language. According to this perspective, a utterance is constituted indissolubly of three elements: a content (thematic), style and compositional construction, and the relatively stable forms of these three elements of the a enunciation is configured as discursive genres. So, an idiomatic improvisation, as a form of enunciation, will have the same three elements and is linked to a musical genre. Thus, it is pointed out as crucial the identification of the possible contents present in a certain musical genre, for an appropriate stylistic interpretation. For the identification of these possible contents, bakhtinian dialogism, understood as the link between the utterance, can be a important analytical tool. For Bakhtin, one utterance is understood as a response to the other and also provokes responsive attitudes. Therefore, a enunciation, regardless of the form in which the utterance occurs (written, spoken, musical) has a refracted content that can be ascertained, even, in its own compositional constructions. Therefore, through the knowledge of the historical development of a particular musical genre, it becomes possible to identify dialogisms that point to possible contents refracted in a given musical genre, providing material for the development of idiomatic improvisation, respecting the stylistic of the genre, contributing for the decision-making of the improviser corroborating for development of the style of the own interpreter without compromise the genre.

Key words: Musical genres, Idiomatic Improvisation, Bakhtinian utterance


This Must be the Stage: Tactics of Live Music Staging in Italian Media Practices around ’68

Alessandro Bratus (Università di Pavia, Dipartimento di Musicologia e Beni Culturali) – alessandro.bratus@gmail.com;

Maurizio Corbella (Università di Milano, Dipartimento di Beni Culturali e Ambientali) – corbellamaurizio@gmail.com;

Popular music performance gained increasing attention during the tumultuous period conventionally labeled as Sessantotto (“1968”) in Italy. Consequently, media practices developed creative tactics to deal with the political, social and (sub)cultural capital performance came to represent in those years, opening possibilities for individual and collective identification and engagement. This paper pinpoints two of these media practices – namely film and record production – and cross-examines the concurring ways in which they engaged with popular music live acts.

In Italian cinema, “playback” was hailed as the technological norm for surrogating liveness, resulting in lip-syncing and playback strategies becoming loaded, non-transparent performative resources. Simultaneously, in the record industry, the dramatic increase of live album releases in the late 1960s brought about a multi-modal remediation of the performance space as aurally experienced through listening.

To gain a comprehensive framework of interpretation encompassing such individually defined practices, we suggest that the overarching notion of “staging” lends itself as a fertile concept, taking on at least two complementary meanings: staging as (1) the relational configuration of the agents taking part in a performance act (e.g. the performers, the audience, the space, etc.) and as (2) the strategies through which an event is processed across a chain of remediations, ultimately destined for a dislocated audience. Focusing on the constructed, malleable and staged nature of mediatized musical performance rather than merely on its documenting functions, allows us to ponder the pragmatic choices defining the specific relationship between sound and visual elements in each media artifact.

Bio: Alessandro Bratus received his PhD in Musicology in 2009 from the University of Pavia, where he is currently a Senior Lecturer in popular music. His teaching and research activities focus on analytical approaches to music and audiovisual media in Anglo-American and Italian popular culture since the 1960s. He currently serves as the Editor of Analitica: Online Journal of Music Studies.

Maurizio Corbella is Senior Lecturer in musicology at the University of Milan, where he received his PhD in 2010. He taught at the Universities of Vienna and Kiel and received research grants by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and the Paul Sacher Stiftung, Basel. His chief interests and publications focus on music and sound in audiovisual media, remediation theory and cultural musicology. He co-chairs the NECS Workgroup on Music and Sound in Media.


Remediation; Liveness; Media staging; Record production; 1968


Panel session: The UK Live Music Census

Presenters: Matt Brennan (University of Edinburgh) Adam Behr (Newcastle University), Martin Cloonan (University of Turku)

Contact e-mail: m.t.brennan@ed.ac.uk

Contact mobile: 07745449102

Keywords: music industries, live music, census, value, impact

“Findings from the UK Live Music Census”

Presenter: Matt Brennan

This paper presents the findings of a project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council called “The Great British Live Music Census.” It also discusses the challenges and opportunities of researching popular music through the method of a live music census. Live music censuses have been increasingly used in recent years (e.g. Melbourne, Austin, Edinburgh, Bristol) as a tool for illustrating the value of popular music to policymakers. Their use has also coincided with a challenging period for live music venues in urban areas, particularly small venues and clubs. In the UK, for instance, there have been numerous media reports of British music venues closing as a result of property development and gentrification of once lively musical neighbourhoods. This is due not only to developers buying and converting former venues into flats, but also development around venues and the increasingly rigid noise regulations enforced by local authorities. The potential benefits of a live music census apply not just to academic research on live music, however, but also have potential for impact on how policymakers – locally, nationally, and internationally – understand, value, and ultimately encourage live music in cities to flourish. We present the findings of the world’s first national census of live music, combining it with our previous qualitative research into the live music sector (e.g. http://www.livemusicexchange.org) to assess the current state of live music – economically, socially, and culturally – in cities across the UK.

“Tools of the trade: Methods, means and ends in running a live music census”

Presenter: Adam Behr

This paper discusses the methodological aspects of the UK Live Music Census, in particular the process and ramifications of constructing a census ‘toolkit’ for others to use in conducting their own censuses. Several complications, and contextual considerations, arise. Firstly, census activities are resource intensive, meaning that there is likely to be a wide variation in the extent to which potential users of the toolkit will be able to adopt all of its provisions. Secondly, this kind of research is an iterative process, meaning that the production of a toolkit will necessarily be subject to some negotiation regarding what worked in the past and what might work better in future versions. Thirdly, and perhaps most significantly, census activities are heavily circumscribed by their national and local live music ‘ecologies’ – a combination of infrastructure, music industries, and polities. As both our UK census activities and pilot study in Edinburgh showed, policy and industry concerns inflect the broad concerns of participants (and hence viable or valuable survey questions), what is achievable in terms of data gathering, and potential partners (with the attendant negotiations and complications that this brings). In reflecting on both the conduct of the census, and the production of guidance to maximise its replicability, this paper attempts to outline and unpick some of the broader tensions, motivations and opportunities in such a varied and multi-participant research process.

“Gotta serve somebody? Impact and the policy implications of a Live Music Census”

Presenter: Martin Cloonan

This paper seeks to examine the policy implications of the UK Live Music Census. At a time when academics are under increased pressure to ensure that their research has “impact” and when funding is often dependent on impact strategies, the paper provides an empirical case study of what this can mean in practice. It falls in to two parts. The first examines the policy implications of the Census, considering these at a number of levels including local government, devolved administrations and nation state. The second considers what role academics could – and should – play in policy developments around live music. In a competitive industry containing vested interests can academics avoid taking sides? If, not how do they decide which side to be on? Moreover, what implications does the taking of sides have for notions of impact? Must academic impact be good?


Performing Pop Taste: Girls’ musical judgements and the construction of gendered identity

Name: Bridget Coulter

University: Department of Music, University of Sheffield

Email: bhcoulter1@sheffield.ac.uk

Keywords: Identity, gender, taste, value, pop.

My research explores how girls engage with popular music, focusing on gender and identity. As Frith notes in Performing Rites (1996), the valuing of popular music is closely related to issues of identity. Notably, adolescent girlhood is constructed as a period of identity formation, when girls are expected to forge successful adult selves. Adolescence is also typically a time of intense popular music engagement and, because of recent technological advances, young people today have unprecedented access to recorded music. There is, however, widespread public concern about girls’ engagement with pop music, and a more in-depth analysis of this issue is needed. I designed a qualitative methodology to investigate this, conducting informal interviews and focus groups with 53 girls (aged between 10 and 13), focusing on their musical tastes. Using qualitative methods allowed me to gain a nuanced insight into the girls’ beliefs about music. My participants evaluated music using a specific set of shared values. In this paper, I explore these values from an interdisciplinary perspective, incorporating theoretical frameworks from popular music studies, musicology, girlhood studies and cultural studies. In order to critically examine the concept of identity, I adopt a postmodernist approach, applying theories of subjectivity and positioning to explore how the girls used discourses of value to take up various subject positions. My research sheds light on the social function of musical judgements, exploring how individual listeners use these judgements to adopt empowered identities.


‘Digital Warmth’: The Retro in Digital

Gary Bromham, Ragnhild Brøvig-Hanssen, and Anne Danielsen.

It is not uncommon to hear people speak of ‘warmth’ when describing analog technologies such as vintage mixing consoles, multitrack tape machines, and valve compressors. What is perhaps less common, is hearing this term used in association with digital technology. This paper will explore whether the notion of digital warmth has become part of the discourse associated with a nostalgic attachment for early samplers. An area that dominates this discussion is the lo-fi aesthetics produced by early hardware samplers such as the Fairlight CMI, Akai Linn MPC 60 or Emu SP12. A question exists as to how much the low bit rate and low-grade conversion quality contribute to the sonic character of these iconic instruments. Interestingly, what used to be regarded as deficiencies are now often seen as characteristic in a positive way, constituting an aesthetics associated with such technologies. Moreover, while the sound of these original hardware units were once described as ‘cold’, it is now often regarded as exuding a quality described as ‘warmth’. This paper explores the changing values related to the digital past, drawing on qualitative interviews with producers and musicians and an analysis of spectral differences between the original and remake of said technologies. The paper also reports from a listening test of the perceptibility of sonic differences, conducted with an Akai MPC Renaissance, which uses an algorithm to simulate the sound of the original hardware. In doing so, such qualities as ‘digital warmth’, if there exists such a phenomenon, is assessed and evaluated.

Keywords: Retro, samplers, digital, warmth, sound

Gary Bromham, School of Electronic Engineering and Computer Science

Queen Mary University of London, g.bromham@qmul.ac.uk

Ragnhild Brøvig-Hanssen, RITMO and Department of Musicology, University of Oslo


Anne Danielsen, RITMO and Department of Musicology, University of Oslo



EDM Producers’ Reflections on Groove

Ragnhild Brøvig-Hanssen, Bjørnar Sandvik, Jon Marius Aareskjold

How do DJs and producers within the EDM genre think about and manipulate groove, feel and timing when making contemporary electronic dance music? In what ways are timing and sound related? Drawing on qualitative interviews with internationally esteemed Norwegian DJs and EDM producers, this paper examines how these producers talk and think about groove, and which parameters they valorise when it comes to creating a “good” groove for the dance floor. We found that the EDM producers we interviewed seem to be particularly concerned with sound as a defining parameter of “good” grooves, and, to various extent, the manipulation of dynamics and micro-timing. As such, our paper reports on what tools they use in their manipulation of sound, dynamics and timing, including programming strategies, such as levelling, off-the-grid sequencing and quantization, along with more technical processing tools, including gating and side-chain-compression. It also reports on how the producers reflect upon the relationship between sound and timing, such as whether they consider their manipulation of dynamics to affect the perception of the sounds’ temporal placement at the micro-level. We believe that this research provides valuable perspectives to the field of rhythm studies, as it emphasizes and demonstrates that the parameters valorised in the creation of “good” groove differs, and are treated differently, in different genres and contexts.

Keywords: Production, EDM, Groove, Sound, Timing

Institutional affiliation and contact information:

Jon Marius Aareskjold, University of Agder, jon.m.aareskjold@uia.no

Bjørnar Sandvik, Department of Musicology, University of Oslo, bjornar.sandvik@imv.uio.no

Ragnhild Brøvig-Hanssen, RITMO and Department of Musicology, University of Oslo



Nina Simone and Musicals: From Popular to Political

Sarah Browne

Head of Music, Principal Lecturer, University of Wolverhampton, Sarah.browne@wlv.ac.uk

Nina Simone’s perceived crossover from ‘classical’ music to jazz placed her in a musical realm that had historically excluded women. By the mid 1960s, Simone’s recorded material had also crossed boundaries; spirituals, opera, and folk were genres regularly featured on both her live recordings and studio albums. These recordings display the diversity of Simone’s musical heritage and, as Ruth Feldstein notes, often provide ‘a framework for understanding the intersections of gender and music, art and activism in Simone’s career’ (2005: 1362). As the message of the civil rights movement shifted from that of integration to Afrocentrism, Simone’s music displayed an increased political consciousness and through her songs, she sought to expose institutionalized racism, using her lived experience as an African-American woman to do so. Moreover, Simone often used songs from musicals to articulate the concerns of the civil rights movement, transforming this unlikely genre into a political pop song which allowed her to perform black activism. This paper seeks to highlight and celebrate the intersections between musical theatre and popular music through interrogating the work of Simone.  With particular reference to performances of songs from the musical, Hair, this critical analysis will focus on the ways in which Simone projects her identity through reinventing material originally written for an alternative purpose. In doing so, she transforms music of the Broadway stage into songs of political activism which express the singularity of the black, female experience.

Keywords: Hair, Simone, musicals, gender, African-American


Multimodal Subjectivity in Heavy Metal Performance: Patric Ullaeus’ Video Treatments of Arch Enemy, Dark Tranquillity, and Evergrey

Lori A. Burns University of Ottawa laburns@uottawa.ca

Keywords: Subjectivity, Multimodality, Music Video, Heavy Metal Performance

Swedish videographer Patric Ullaeus’ heavy metal music videos render a powerful portrayal of performance style and aesthetics, offering an intimate view of the band members while also exploring the scope of the performance space. He yields an evocative representation of metal performance, enhancing the artwork by providing a sense of immediate access, thus drawing the spectator into the dynamic workings of performance that comprise the genre conventions of song structure, expressive strategies, and discursive elements. As his finely detailed and comprehensive vision situates the viewer “inside” the work, he encourages a superlative awareness of the embodied subjectivities of the performers. This paper examines three Ullaeus videos that illuminate contrasting settings and performance subject positions: Dark Tranquillity’s “Uniformity” (2013); Arch Enemy’s “The Eagle Flies Alone” (2017); and Evergrey’s “In Orbit” (2016). In order to bring multimodal expressions of subjectivity into view, I explore how the performance video presents bodies and materials within space and time, how discursive values drive the artistic representation, and how the parameters of structure and expression shape the performance. My threedimensional analytic model studies the corporeal, temporal, and spatial dimensions, in relation to the discursive, structural, and expressive elements, across the three artistic domains of word, sound, and image. The analytic model responds to scholarly writings on subjectivity (e.g. Auslander 2009; Berger 2009; Clarke 2005; Dibben 2006) and multimodality (e.g., Burns 2017; Cook 1998; Jewitt 2010; Machin 2010) from a range of perspectives. I integrate these interpretive approaches in order to analyze subjectivities at the multimodal intersection of words, music, and images.


Mi gente: Reggaeton, feminism and otherness for Spanish migrants in London

Raquel Campos, PhD Candidate London South Bank University IASPM UK & Ireland member camposvr@lsbu.ac.uk

Raquel Campos is an ethnomusicologist and arts administrator who holds a BA(Hons) in Sociology (2005) from the University of Granada and a MMus in Ethnomusicology (2013) from SOAS, University of London. She is currently a PhD candidate at London South Bank University. Her research investigates the meanings and uses of music activities on social media among Spanish migrants in London. She also works as Assistant Editor for IASPM Journal. Since reggaeton arrived in Spain in the mid-2000s, it has been the target of a moral panic over the content of its lyrics and videos and it has been criticised for oversexualizing and diminishing women, particularly with its dancing. While men and their heterosexual fantasies still dominate the global reggaeton scene, the analysis is more complex. Until recently, most criticism in the media focused on women as enablers of this discrimination through their roles as performers and consumers, disregarding critical analysis of their male counterparts. However, many women understand reggaeton as a countercultural source of empowerment and contestation against conservative scrutinizing of their lives, including music and dancing habits. Using case studies from my ongoing doctoral research among Spanish migrants in London, I analyse how discourses about reggaeton provide Spaniards with tools to articulate their views on complex intersectional debates on feminism, national identity, race and class. In some cases, reggaeton is considered a musical invasion brought by the immigrant Latin-American lower-class that undermines feminist advances in Spanish society. In others, it is embraced as sexually liberating and questioning Euro-centric understandings of feminism. Spanish migrants in London also use reggaeton to reclaim a space of otherness in the city’s nightlife. In recent years, the genre has achieved mainstream success worldwide and it has generated fusions such as reggaeton-flamenco in Spain, generating discussions on Pan-Hispanic identity. I conclude arguing that reggaeton has become a boundary object of otherness that illustrates the debate between different perspectives of feminism and national identity.


Straight Outta ‘Nowhere’, straight into Nike: Grime and the expression of identity

Dr. Monique Charles

University of Warwick, M.c.charles@warwick.ac.uk

Grime was embedded in marginalised pockets of London. Democratised technology liberated it by shifting it away from solely embedded material spaces to digital ones. This impacted the cultural practices of Grime subculture, and enabled new ways to display identity, & ethnicity whilst asserting citizenship & belonging. Technological democratisation expanded the fan base by making its consumption easier to access remotely. The digital domain provided a space for the scenes influencers to become unmitigated authorities. The internet has effectively become an archive for fans to mine, research and familiarise themselves with the scene. Over time, Grime has moved in and out of the mainstream, asserting its identity as it crosses over more firmly each time. Grime established its own online TV stations – SB.TV and LinkUp TV these platforms gave exposure to both new and established artists to show off their freestyle skills, keep viewers up to date with happenings in the scene. Artist’s bypassed industry to engage directly with fans and each other. Auteurs of the Grime scene express citizenship in new ways, a space to present and validate subaltern life. This recently transformed into political action. As organic intellectuals, Grime artists, addressed marginality and belonging, urging fans to support Jeremy Corbyn in GE2017. Having been in the mainstream and recognised as a genre in its own right, it has come full circle, culminating in the new Nike advert showcasing Grimy London, ethnicity, identity citizenship and belonging.


Dr. Monique Charles’ PhD (Warwick) focussed on ‘race’, spirituality, class, gender & music as it relates to #Grime. #HBTG?

Her book chapter entitled ‘Grime Central!’ in edited volume ‘Blackness in Britain’ (Andrews and Palmer, Routledge, 2016), is one of the first scholarly works focusing specifically on Grime music and culture. She is currently working on other publications in the areas of Grime, namely race, musical analysis for the social sciences and politics. http://www.drmoniquecharles.com

Keywords: Grime, Technology, identity, place


Bring the Break-Beat Back! Authenticity and the Politics of Rhythm in Jungle/Drum ‘n’ Bass

Chris Christodoulou, University of Westminster, London, UK


Keywords: break-beat; drum ‘n’ bass; ethnicity; funk; jungle; race; speed

Since the formation of drum ‘n’ bass, and its semantic predecessor, jungle, out of London’s inner city regions in the early-1990s, the break-beat has been the focus of critical discussion amongst participants about the cultural value of rhythm in the genre. The formal emphasis placed on accelerated break-beats – brief rhythmic segments characterised by speed, rupture, and musically translated into feelings of ‘funkiness’ – points, on the one hand, to its development out of a condition of rapid technological change in a post-industrial society, and, on the other, to the dynamic matrix of cultural exchange to which Gilroy refers as the Black Atlantic (1993). While break-beats continue to be a prominent feature of the genre as a whole, the most popular drum ‘n’ bass tracks from artists such as Pendulum, Sigma and DJ Fresh displace ‘breaks’ in favour of simplified ‘two-step’ beat structures more typical of styles outside the direct influence of Black Atlantic culture, such as rock and metal. This has been the occasion for some drum ‘n’ bass participants to argue that the recent dominance of the two-step in mainstream examples of the music provides evidence for its cultural whitening, and its dumbing-down, ironically leading to a resurgence in the use of ‘jungle’; a term previously derided by participants for its ethnocentric connotations. This paper will examine the extent to which this authentication of rhythmic complexity in drum ‘n’ bass culture articulates an unsettling of the stereotypical identification of blackness with bodily excess and mindlessness. More generally, it will also point towards the stratification of rhythm in electronic dance music genres.


Tis must be the place: Virtual reality, musical performance, and U2’s ‘Song for Someone’

Sam Cleeve

Conventional accounts of musical performance assert that the co-presence of performer and audience in a single, bounded, Euclidean space is a necessary condition of its ontology. Conceived in partnership with Apple Inc., the virtual reality (VR) experience built to accompany U2’s ‘Song for Someone’ conversely takes place across a topological configuration that is multiple and distributed, presenting its audience with a collaged series of geographically dispersed, crowd-sourced performances that paradoxically appear to unfold as a single, unbroken rendition of the song. Proceeding through a process of audiovisual analysis, this paper first considers this experience as text, exploring the ways in which it serves to collapse the entire geography of our planet into a global village contained within the material technology of the VR headset. Subsequently, it considers the embodied experience of the listener, who appears to both be situated at the site of each performance whilst also contained within a version of what Michael Bull (2004, 2005, 2006) has identified as the experiential ‘bubble’ associated with mobile listening technologies. In the spatial paradox presented by this experience, musical performance thus emerges as a practice both situated and dislocated, caught between place and placelessness, and which exacerbates tensions between public and private domains. In what ways does the emergent technology of VR undermine the idea that live music must happen at a certain time and place? How does this subvert a set of latent ontological assumptions about precisely what constitutes musical performance? And what are the social and political implications of staging musical performance in this way?


Mysticism and the Mediation of Violence through Noise in Dub, Trance and Drone Metal

Owen Coggins, The Open University


This presentation compares how mysticism and religious experience have been understood in three popular music cultures–dub reggae, psychedelic trance, and drone metal. While dub, trance and drone metal have arisen from very different geographical, socio-historical and musical contexts, they bear striking similarities: their emergence from specifically translocal and marginal contexts; an emphasis on ritual, including sacramental uses of intoxicants; and a concern with repetition, bass and sonic materiality mediated through amplification technology, for example. Further, each has attracted discourses of religious experience and mysticism, though musical, cultural and religious authenticities are constructed very differently for each. The importance of collective dancing for psytrance, for example, contrasts with the frequent immobility of drone metal audiences, while the translocality of the diasporic Black Atlantic in Jamaica for dub reggae differs from the roots of psytrance in a Western hippie traveller community in Goa, India. Dub reggae draws on Rastafarian-influenced practices of Biblical exegesis and interpretation; influence from Buddhist, Hindu and indigenous religions contributes to the construction of a neo-shamanism in psychedelic trance; while drone metal employs a more fragmented deployment of elements from diverse real, fictional and imagined religious traditions.

In examining the contrasting ways mysticism is understood in dub, psytrance and drone metal, I discuss how sound (in timbres, rhythms, musical structures and conventions) as well as social practices and visual/verbal aesthetics contribute to the mystical religious imagination in each context. After highlighting some issues with the classical Perennialism evident in many analyses of religion in these musical cultures, I suggest how the work of Michel de Certeau–on the reception of popular culture and on mysticism as embodied social and textual practice–can provide a grounding for an empirical methodology for studying mysticism in popular music cultures. Beyond this, I reflect on how each form of music and their relations to mysticism can be understood as different approaches to the mediation of violence through noise.

Keywords: mysticism, violence, noise, Michel de Certeau, drone metal, psytrance, dub reggae


Hit Hardware: classic gear and the music producer

Dr. Niall Coghlan

Dundalk Institute of Technology, niall.coghlan@dkit.ie

Keywords: Record Production, Hardware, Analogue, UI Design

This paper examines the appeal of ‘cult’ and ‘classic’ hardware from the perspective of the music producer. Certain technological devices and processors have gained a near-mythical reputation among sound engineers and music producers, leading to high second-hand prices and more recently ‘clones’ or 3rd party reissues of some of these devices. Brand names such as Marshall, Fender and Moog have achieved recognition even among non-musicians, but manufacturers of music production hardware such as Urei, Fairchild or the Monome have yet to realise the same level of popular recognition. However it may be argued that among the music production and sound engineering community these niche devices are even more sought-after than their more famous siblings. Through stakeholder surveys, interviews and documentary analysis, this paper explores the factors that lead to a device having ‘cult’ appeal, including affordances, supply limitations, sonic artifacts and heritage.


Popular Song and the Poetics of Experience

Dr. Ross Cole, University of Cambridge


The singer-songwriter idiom has tended to attract irreconcilable readings in academia and the popular press: as literary craft and as unmediated self-expression, respectively. I offer a rapprochement between these two poles via autobiographical theory, suggesting that singer-songwriters become active readers of their own experience and thought, transforming it to the extent that we hear material as confessional precisely because it is the result of imagination, calculation, and virtuosic performance. I ground this argument in a close reading of Vic Chesnutt’s 2009 album At the Cut, negotiating the difficult question of how far his wide-ranging lyrical reflections on suicide, family, and spirituality should be heard in relation to his own experiences and untimely death. Situating these songs within what Joseph Roach terms an ‘Orphic’ tradition of performance, I conclude that such work traverses and obscures the interstices between art and life.

Keywords: singer-songwriter, autobiography, poetics


Session: “Re/Integration and Song”

Paper 1: Distant Voices: Coming Home. Issues around Songwriting as Research in Justice and Re/Integration

Dr Jo Collinson Scott (Lecturer in Commercial Music, University of the West of Scotland) and Dr Phillipa Thomas, Research Associate, University of Glasgow

Distant Voices: Coming Home is a three year ESRC/AHRC funded interdisciplinary practice-based collaborative action research project that aims to explore and practice re/integration after punishment through creative collaborations. The research is run through partnership between third sector organisation Vox Liminis, the Scottish Centre for Criminal Justice Research, a number of prominent Scottish popular musicians, and researchers in popular music, criminology, public dialogue and visual sociology. Blurring boundaries between creative practices, research, knowledge exchange and public engagement, the project uses collaborative songwriting to support a range of differently situated people with experience of the criminal justice system, to explore questions of justice and reintegration together through the broad theme of ‘Coming Home’.

This paper begins to explore some of the initial findings and challenges presented in the first year of this research. How can and should songs be treated when they become ‘data’ within a research project? The combination of sociological approaches to ‘coding’ with musicological analyses of resultant material throws up crucial ontological and epistemological questions. There are also important aspects of dialogue present both at the heart of the creative process (in collaboration between expert songwriters and experts-in-experience) and in the resultant application of the songs in discursive settings (e.g. performances involving prison governors, police officers, prison officers, criminologists, social workers, public policy makers, receiving communities etc.). What can such dialogue across disciplines and settings reveal about the process of collaborative research using popular song and its results?

Paper 2: ‘A language we all understand’? Translation theory, collaborative songwriting and social integration

Lucy Cathcart Frödén (PhD Candidate, University of Glasgow)

‘A language we all understand?’ is an interdisciplinary, practice-based project drawing on applied linguistic and communication studies, popular musicology and criminology. The project explores the integration of migrants and, in particular, asylum seekers and refugees through creative practice. Its practice-based and iterative approach focuses on collaborative songwriting – and collaborative meaning-making – in partnership with a number of community organisations in Glasgow. Collaborative songwriting is being used in this context to explore how individuals seeking asylum are received by wider communities and to probe key concerns around communication of identity, acceptance and belonging in re/integration processes. The songwriting process is informed by theories of translation and intercultural communication, seeking to shed light not only on linguistic and cultural barriers to re/integration but also, crucially, on what might be ‘found in translation’.

Kirkwood and McNeill (2016) note many similarities between the types of stigma and marginalisation faced by migrants and those facing people with convictions, and reflect on the importance of processes of de-labelling and the construction of positive self-narratives for both. This paper also begins to make an initial comparison between findings in these areas, drawing on links with the Distant Voices project as presented in the initial paper in this session.

Performance (30mins performance, 15mins discussion):

Louis Abbott (Singer-Songwriter), Lucy Cathcart Frödén (Singer-Songwriter/Researcher), Jo Mango* (Singer-Songwriter/Researcher), and Alison Urie (Director, Vox Liminis)

This performance-lecture will introduce and present some of the music being created by the ‘Distant Voices’ project and the related research of ‘A Language We All Understand’. These projects use collaborative action- and practice-led research models to support a range of differently situated people with experience of the criminal justice system and/or migration, to explore questions of integration and reintegration together, primarily through collaborative song writing. A selection of the songs created so far on these projects will be performed live and woven into a discussion around initial findings. Through song and dialogue we will explore issues such as collaborations and power, hierarchies of knowledge, legitimacy, difference, language and community. This performance-lecture will provide an opportunity for us to share our developing thinking/practice, and hopefully start a dialogue about issues around re/integration and justice. For more information about the Distant Voices project see http://www.voxliminis.co.uk/distant-voices/

*Jo Mango is the stage name of singer-songwriter and academic researcher Jo Collinson Scott.


Making Music With Traffic Noise, The Transformation of Negative Sound into Music

José Manuel Cubides-Gutiérrez London College of Music, University of West London, London College of Music

For more than a century, vehicular traffic sound has become a major element in the urban society’s soundscape, and the debate about its impact in people’s every day life is still an ongoing subject amongst academics and researchers. However, it is clear that traffic sound is often seen as a negative phenomenon and it is regularly called ‘Undesired Sound’ or ‘Noise’. According to Paul Hegarty “Music heightens the separation of the world into desired, organised sounds, and unwanted noise”. (Hegarty 2007, 7) However, ‘noise’ can become accepted in music if it is framed in the right context. Composers and artists from Steve Reich to Kraftwerk have explored the idea of implementing traffic noise in their compositions, continuing the debate on the ‘musicality’ of traffic noise. With regard to that concept, this presentation aims to demonstrate how my doctoral research continues the investigation on the implementation of traffic noise in various compositions. It aims to transform the negative association into a positive affirmation using this audio source as the only sound material, in not only academic music but also within the current popular music practice. The presentation will be divided in two sections, the first one introduces the theoretical side of the research based on previous studies by Attali, Schafer, Hegarty, Kahn, Bull, LaBelle. The second one will show the practical side of the project where some videos and audio examples of the process will be shown to the audience in order to explain the applied methodology in order to obtain the final musical piece.


I’ll Mix This My Own Way: Why Millennial musicians still need a record producer.

Tim Dalton

The music business, like many technology businesses, is changing. The modern paradigm of the music industry is user generated content. Jobs that were once vital are now deemed extraneous. Who needs a record producer when you can do the whole thing yourself on your laptop, in the comfort of your own bedroom? Millennial and Generation Z musicians have incorporated the role of record producer into their vast skillset. In this paper I will explore how modern production methods and the changing nature of the music industry has effected how music is recorded and produced. Over the last decade the record producer’s role has diminished in direct proportion to the increased role of the mastering engineer. Just because you own some DAW software, laptop and some monitors doesn’t mean you can make great records. I will argue that musicians still need producers but the role of producer is redefining itself to jive with the modern context of music production. Through technological socialism, the traditional gatekeeper role of the record producer is now redundant but their skills in critical listening, advice giving, arrangement, facilities management and keeping egos in check is still vital. So, it seems, the record producer is not out of a job just yet and is unlikely to be so, even if there is less money to spend on record production. Bands of musicians are an on-going argument and a producer is perfectly positioned to make sure that the band is arguing about their music. Ultimately a producer is the person that gets the record made.

Keywords: Producer, Musician, Millennial, Record Production


Young musicians, gender and sexuality: discussing experiences, issues and strategies for support

Dr. Helen Elizabeth Davies

Recent debates, reports and initiatives attest to an intensifying drive to identify and address gender inequality in the music industry, and the importance of studying gender in popular music courses has been highlighted by Whiteley, who argues it is crucial for students ‘entering the so-called “real world”’ (2015, p.375). Within this context, I have carried out some scoping research for a UK Music supported project investigating gender and sexuality related experiences and issues for performers of popular music aged 18-25, who are in education / training or early career. Central to the research are questions relating to the ways in which young musicians identify with, experience, construct, perform and negotiate gender and sexuality in their musical discourses and practices,. In addition, the project will explore issues and challenges relating to gender and sexuality that they face, as well as the roles of popular music higher education and music support organisations in addressing any issues and challenges. Preliminary research for the project includes interviews carried out with professionals working with young musicians, and a small-scale pilot study with final year undergraduate music students. This paper presents the data generated so far and discusses the ongoing research project.

Keywords: Gender, Performance, Education

Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts h.davies@lipa.ac.uk


The Affect of Neo-Conservative Politics and the Externalisation of Threat in Trent Reznor’s Post-9/11 Aesthetic

David Deacon (BIMM Institute Dublin/University College Dublin)

This paper will engage an interdisciplinary nexus of topics and interpretive approaches, including affect theory, popular music studies, and cultural studies—specifically in relation to the post 9/11 atmosphere of trauma and threat in U.S. cultural production. I will propose a theoretical reading of Trent Reznor’s artistic endeavours as they were affected by the Neo-Conservative politics of the Bush Administration (2000-2009), specifically in relation to his 2007 concept album Year Zero, released under his most identifiable artistic moniker, Nine Inch Nails. It will be considered as both a narrative chronicle of mimetic threat—evoked through its post apocalyptic tonality—and a soundscape reflecting the atmosphere of trauma and anxiety synonymous with the War on Terror. Tropes of American exceptionalism and relegitimised patriotism bolstered by militarisation will be explored through the neo-Darwinian rhetoric typifying the ideological register and nationalistic dogma of the era. Brian Massumi’s perspective on affect theory will be enveloped into the analytical framework to explore the sonic and lyrical characteristics of the album, which I will argue signals an aesthetic shift from existential melancholia—a relatively distinctive trait of Reznor’s genre of industrial metal—toward an outward expression of anger, a propensity for combat, and domination. The latter will be proposed as Reznor’s externalisation of threat through the application of Massumi’s affect theory, and embedding Reznor’s album in a broader classification of post 9/11 cultural production. The shift in narrative voice will emerge as a notable aesthetic evolution in perspective serving to investigate the response to and examination of a climate of manufactured anxiety in popular song synonymous with the era. The concept behind the album will also serve to contextualise the propensity toward apocalyptic rhetoric in popular song arising out from this social, political, and cultural climate.

Key Words: 9/11, Popular Music, Affect Theory, Trent Reznor


Restart that: The (mis)representation of grime music and the argument for an interprofessional research agenda

Alex de Lacey – Goldsmiths, University of London

Grime music is more popular than it has ever been. Two radical misunderstandings in the journalistic sphere over the past year, however, have brought the narrative surrounding the genre into acute focus, particularly amongst its community of practitioners. The Evening Standard’s John Aizlewood mistook a critical performance trope, the “reload”, for a technical malfunction at Skepta’s headline show at Alexandra Palace, whilst Music Week presented J Hus – an Afro Bashment artist – as the cover star for their Grime Week issue. Dissenting voices are rising and a burgeoning school of in-house criticism is raising important questions. This paper calls for an interprofessional approach moving forwards, with practitioners working together with journalists and academics to redress the current state of play. Academic writing on grime to date been heavily atomised, localised, and steeped in hagiographic accounts that fixate upon Dizzee Rascal and Wiley, whilst journalistic reportage regularly lacks in insight. Using primary research from participant observation and interviews conducted with DJs, photographers, journalists and MCs, this paper will present important findings including reasons for prior lack of engagement with the written sphere from the “mandem” – whose understanding is often performative and embodied – and the role now incumbent upon practitioners frustrated with journalists who have “too much power”. An interprofessional approach will help to reconcile the problematic chasm between critics and crafts(wo)men that has resulted in a community of disaffected practitioners and a media whose output negates the multivalent composition of the grime scene. Keywords: Participant observation, ethnography, interprofessional, grime, misrepresentation.

Contact Details and Bio: Alex de Lacey is a PhD candidate at Goldsmiths College, University of London, working under the supervision of Keith Negus and Tom Perchard. His thesis concerns live performance within grime music, and its emergent practice. He has written on grime for publications including Complex and Pigeons and Planes and is also a DJ, with a fortnightly slot on Don City Radio that regularly features guest MCs and DJs. E-mail address: alex.jd.delacey@gmail.com / adela046@gold.ac.uk


Pumped Up Kicks: Scaling modes of listening to evaluate record production.

Kirk McNally (University of Victoria, Canada) Brecht De Man (Queen Mary University of London, UK) Email: kmcnally@uvic.ca b.deman@qmul.ac.uk

This paper explores using Michel Chion’s scheme for modes of listening in relation to the work of recording engineers and producers in the studio. Using Chion’s concepts of semantic and reduced listening (Chion 1994) as a starting point, we critically evaluate the way in which recording engineers and music producers interact with two specific musical elements in the studio: kick and snare drum sounds. A previous study has shown a correlation between the subjective evaluation of reverb usage in music mixing and measured objective parameters (De Man, McNally and Reiss 2017). This supports the idea that engineers and music producers rely upon a set of socio-cultural and learned parameters when making aesthetic decisions about the recording and mixing of music. Turning to the literature, we see evidence of this concept in the writing of Mike Howlett, who identifies a music producer as, “an individual with the confidence to say, ‘I like this one’”’ (Howlett 2009). Using a collection of multitrack audio files, and mixes made from these recordings (De Man 2017), we systematically evaluate the variation of technical changes made to kick and snare drum sounds by recording engineers. The use of a recent recording session by McNally provides the opportunity to scale Chion’s modes of listening within a specific case, observe technical changes over the course of the recording, and compare this to the larger collection in order to gain insight into the parameters used by recording engineers and producers working in the recording studio.


Selective use of music and sound in contemporary black and white filmmaking

Matej Dimlic, University of Westminster, London, UK. dimlicm@westminster.ac.uk

Keywords: sound for film; authenticity and actuality; fiction and documentary

“There’s something about the tonality of the black and white photography that made Bernard Herrmann think about the score in terms of strings only” (Arnold, 2001). By reducing his score to strings only (Vera Miles’s violin) for the 1960’s black and white thriller Psycho, Herrmann had dramatically departed from the rich orchestration of his previous scores for Hitchcock (both Vertigo and North by Northwest were shot in colour). Upon the release of Psycho in 1960, Herrmann claimed to have composed a ‘black and white score’ for a black and white film. Black and white cinematography is often used to suggest authenticity and actuality (Claiming the Real, Winston, 2008). The concept is therefore a particularly valuable storytelling tool in blurring the line between fiction and documentary. This enables audiovisual narratives that can be perceived as both real and imaginary, relying on music and sound as a drawbridge, which reinforces the plausibility of the story and the emotional reading of the film. Such dynamic relationships could otherwise be obscured and oversaturated with the ‘information overload’ of the colour film. This paper questions whether the reduction of visual information coupled with a selective use of music and sound enables a deeper emotional perception of meaning for audiences. The author’s own music and sound design practice in collaboration with filmmaker Marc Isacs – Out of Time, exhibited at the Open City Documentary Film Festival 2017 – is reflected upon and discussed relative to ongoing and future collaborations.


Cowboys and Humanists: Contextualizing Gene Autry’s Cowboy Code

Dr Mark Duffett, Reader in Media and Cultural Studies, University of Chester


In his celebrity image, glamorous country star Gene Autry played the role of ‘public cowboy number 1’ (George-Warren 2007), a figure who combined masculine authority with a sense of fairness and justice. From the late 1940s onward, proving country was a living genre (see Brackett 2016) he publicized his ‘cowboy code’: an ethical creed that included, in some iterations, ‘respecting women’ and ‘not advocating or possessing racially or religiously intolerant ideas.’ Autry’s sense of social justice struck a popular chord during his lifetime, and thus demonstrated that identifying as a popular music fan in the public sphere can have much wider consequences. My aim in this paper is to begin charting the historical progress, cultural context, and political resonance, first of Autry’s creed, and second of the fans who have supported it. Given the unique way in which the figure of the cowboy combined patriotism, male freedom and respect for others, my question is, what was its use in American society during the cold war period? What ideological work did Autry’s public advocacy of respectfulness and fairness do in relation to at home and abroad? What did, and does it mean to identify with a performer expressing such clearly defined personal values in the mainstream of a well established American vernacular genre?

Keywords: American national identity, country music, social justice, fandom


Bye Bye Privacy – Sonic interactions in Mixed Reality

Marius Matesan & Mark Durham

Bye Bye Privacy is an interactive installation that engages with our perception of digital privacy rights, through a mixed reality experience. The installation introduces tangible representations of digital data into real space, then encourages the user to explore and interact with those representations through the real-time manipulation of the soundscape. Conceptually, the installation looks to blend together different forms of space: the real physical space, artificial constructs in that space, and a distinct sonic layer blending the two in the form of a three dimensional soundfield. Multiple streams of modulation run between the layers that read and interpret user interactions, then use that understanding to generate music and sound. The sound output is then analysed and utilised to affect the shape and form of the augmented layer. These feedback mechanisms form a complete loop between participant, soundscape and augmented reality, providing a participant mediated experience that exists somewhere between creator and observer. The majority of both research and commercial augmented reality work takes the binaural approach to sound delivery. We take an alternate approach of working within a multi-speaker system, encircling the participants with speakers to create an immersive soundfield around them. This spatial focus looks to explore music composition as inherently multi-channel by design, and is itself part of an audio-visual landscape. We look to explore how empty space can be transformed into immersive environments, and how ecological approaches to composition and spatialisation can engage participants on an innate perceptive level.


Songs as Systems: Objects, Ecologies, Weather, Viruses

Dr Richard Elliott, Newcastle University, United Kingdom. richard.elliott1@ncl.ac.uk

Recent years have witnessed an intense interest in the roles played by objects in the world. Drawing on the differences and commonalities of Bruno Latour’s actor network theory, Bill Brown’s ‘thing theory’, Graham Harman’s speculative realism and the ‘new materialisms’ proposed by Diana Coole and Samantha Frost, my current research develops a musical analysis that both connects with recent object-centred scholarship and overcomes existing musicological distinctions between music as thing and music as process. This paper focuses on the ways in which systems-related approaches have been applied to the production and reception of pop songs in recent years. Concept albums such as Björk’s Biophilia (2011) and Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith’s The Kid (2017) are marked by organic approaches to electronic sound that create new song forms. These forms may best be understood in meteorological terms, as weather systems or ecosystems that model an affective fragility and fluidity. Of equal interest, and in seeming contrast, are viral metaphors which focus on the durability of song forms, where song is understood as something that not only sings the singer, but also retains a survival instinct that outlasts specific human and nonhuman songholders by showing adaptability to non-traditional forms. I will illustrate these ideas through analyses of songs by Björk, Smith, FKA twigs, Grimes, David Sylvian and James Blake. I will propose a systems-based song analysis as an alternative to earlier approaches while also suggesting that the materiality of song offers new ways of considering object-centred philosophy.

Keywords: analysis, song, production, electronic music, materiality


Phonography, Mediation, and the Challenge of Audiophile Aesthetics

Dr Peter Elsdon, University of Hull, p.s.elsdon@hull.ac.uk

For all of the recent contextualisation of sound recordings through an emphasis on the social, technological, and cultural dimensions of their production, the role of the technologies we use to listen to such recordings tends to be largely absent from such discourses. Theories of music’s mediation, such as those of Georgina Born (2005), emphasise the complex networks that render music not as a thing, but distributed through social, technological, and cultural interactions. One of those interactions, when sound recording is involved, implicates playback technologies as part of our experience of music. But what might be the implications of focussing attention on such technologies?

Traditionally, concerns with playback technologies have been labelled as the domain of audiophilia, and characterised as eccentric and excessive – in essence far from a typical or healthy way of engaging with recorded music. I suggest that an engagement with audiophile aesthetics might lead to some interesting challenges. In this paper I draw from a range of positions, including Thomas Porcello’s ‘technoustemology’ (2005), to explore the implications of a broadly-based idea of phonography that includes the technologies that mediate music through playback.

Keywords: phonography, recordings, listening, mediation, audiophile


The Troublesome Definition of the New Romantics: Media Accounts Versus Musical Style?

Keywords: New Romantics, categorisation, scenes, media, context

Kirsten Etheridge, Oxford Brookes University, kirsten.etheridge-2018@brookes.ac.uk

The wider attribution of the term ‘New Romantic’ has led to slippage in the way it describes people and music: it has become attached to acts who were never adherents of the scene and denied the label, but whose appearance, demeanour, sound and/or values are in sympathy with the ‘Blitz Kids’ (those who regularly attended the Blitz club in London between 1979 and 1980). Synthesizer-based pop was only part of the Blitz club scene’s musical output, but over time the notion has formed that ‘synth-pop’ equals ‘New Romantic’.

This paper examines the resulting issues of categorisation. I claim that the problem of naming the New Romantics can be framed as an interaction between external classifications based on media accounts of the subculture/scene and its cultural context (in, for example, their own dedicated publication –New Sounds New Styles – and other magazines, such as Smash Hits, that had developed to accommodate them) and others based on the musical style. I argue that conflicts between the sound categorisations inherent in research such as Theo Cateforis on Gary Numan and the context are key to understanding how these naming issues came about and have changed over time.


Let me ‘Flip’ your Stage: Exponential Spatial Merging in Sample-based Hip-Hop Practice

Mike Exarchos London College of Music, University of West London, London, UK mike.exarchos@uwl.ac.uk

Previous research dealing with sample-based music production has focused predominantly on the manifestations and mechanics of musical borrowing in sampling, and to a lesser degree on the sonic rationale of the practice; that is, the appeal of past ‘sonic signatures’ to samplists and the processes involved in incorporating them within contemporary phonographic constructs. A more recent phenomenon in hip-hop music production involves practitioners (re)creating their own material for subsequent sampling and infusing it with vintage or phonographic qualities, to satisfy a sample-based aesthetic that until recently has relied heavily on the past. The lesser attention given to the sonic ‘object’—or phonographic ‘ephemeron’—in a sample-based context, but also the current resurgence in sample (re)construction, call for a more focused investigation of the sonic variables and interactions involved in the fusion of past and present phonographic processes: the phenomenon of making—or using—records within records. This research focuses on the merging of past and present spatial illusions as a subset of such variables, exploring how sample-based producers negotiate mix dimensions of ‘depth’, ‘height’ and ‘width’ in their creative process, and the ways in which they fit, disrupt (flip) or stage past mix architectures into developing sonic illusions. As both researcher and practitioner, the author deploys a mixed-methods approach that involves intertextual and phonographic analysis, as well as auto-ethnography and reflexivity, to allow—respectively—for the study of literature dealing with the notion of staging, previous hip-hop discography containing relevant case studies, and current creative practice functioning as applied context.

Keywords Sample-based, Record Production, Hip-Hop, Practice, Staging.


Soul Survivor: The Contemporary Inter-Stylistic Success Of The Fender Precision Electric Bass

Wellington Gordon, New England School of Communications, Husson University, Bangor, ME, USA gordonw@husson.edu

Michail Exarchos, London College of Music, University of West London, London, UK mike.exarchos@uwl.ac.uk

Previous literature and discography make it easy to discern the conditions that rendered Leo Fender’s 1951 electric bass innovation a mainstay in early popular music styles as diverse as Country, Jazz and Rock n’ Roll. The Fender Precision electric bass introduced a winning combination of precision tuning, increased loudness and sideways (lighter) handling, perfecting a number of previous innovations into an ubiquitous instrument design. Yet, almost seven decades later, there has been a plethora of further upgrades and improvements upon Fender’s original design, which would support the assumption that the instrument has been surpassed in its use within contemporary music production. Instead, numerous cutting-edge manufacturing companies—including Fender—continue producing copies, renditions or even downright recreations of vintage Precision basses, to power a music producing market seemingly hungry for the sonic signatures that the original instrument was capable of. But what are the variables that explain the contemporary inter-stylistic success of the Fender Precision electric bass in popular music styles as diverse as Hip-Hop, Metal and EDM? Through (auto)ethnographic research, interviews with bassists, manufacturers and producers, and intertextual and aural analysis, the authors pinpoint the conditions for this phenomenon in contemporary music and attempt to explain the instrument’s resilience in almost seven decades of popular music production. The emerging hypothesis draws on studies in organology, neuroscience and the musicology of record production to contextualise the Fender Precision electric bass as a defining instrument design in popular music history.

Keywords Electric Bass, Popular Music, Inter-stylistic, Record Production.


Inhabiting pop as virtual environment: autoethnographic perspectives on everyday listening

Dr. Iain Findlay-Walsh

In recent years pop music productions have been theorised as virtual environments, which may imitate or play on the sonic-spatial characteristics of actual acoustic spaces. From Allan Moore’s ‘soundbox’ to Mark Fisher’s ‘party hauntology’, the virtual spaces of pop records have been proposed as culturally significant, that is, as spaces through which cultural meaning is produced. Perhaps less frequently discussed are newly emerging habits of engagement with pop’s virtual spaces within cultures of personal listening, or the roles that the ‘fake’ spaces of pop might play among the ‘real’ spaces of the auditory everyday. Bearing in mind the prevalence of pop playback in everyday life, how do its virtual environments layer, mask or merge with the everyday acoustic spaces in which they resound, and what does it mean for a listener to encounter and navigate multiple orders of auditory space simultaneously? This presentation explores perceptual issues around the reception of recorded music within the wider context of everyday soundscapes. A range of theories on sound and listening are discussed, including those by Brandon LaBelle, Salome Voegelin and Mark Grimshaw. These ideas are used to advance an understanding of listening as a relational, embodied process of self-location. Thereafter, record production and soundscape composition examples that use field recordings to re-present everyday music reception encounters are explored and proposed as forms of practice-research in everyday listening. Audio examples include tracks by Burial, Bjork, Marc Baron and Gabi Losoncy, as well as some of my own practice-research, which combines record production and field recording with autoethnographic methods. While seemingly disparate in style, I will argue that each audio example can be understood to generate productive ambiguities between music production and reception, and between actual and virtual auditory environments, thereby tracing the liminal spaces of present-day music reception. (performative or embodied understandings, record production, practice-based or practice-led research)

Bio: Iain Findlay-Walsh (Klaysstarr) is a sound artist and researcher who uses field recording and autoethnographic methods to explore personal listening and environment. His pieces include multichannel soundscape compositions, public and online installations and idiosyncratic record releases, and have been presented across the UK, Europe and in the USA. His music has been released on various labels and media and has previously been commissioned by Radiophrenia, Arika, Counterflows and Experimentica festivals. His research has been published in Organised Sound, and he curates Glasgow’s spatial audio event series, INTER-. He is a Lecturer in Music at the University of Glasgow.


Thinking Out Loud: Experiencing Musicians Real Time Career Decisions

Mathew Flynn, University of Liverpool, matf73@liverpool.ac.uk

From making music with each other to working with producers, musicians have to constantly negotiate the value of their practice. Likewise, in developing careers, when contracting with agents, managers, digital platforms and record and publishing companies, musicians are usually exchanging the perceived or potential value in the music they write, perform and produce for reputational or economic returns. To build and maintain careers then, musicians have to continually evaluate and make decisions about the potential success of creative collaborations. Whilst insightful, most literature on musicians’ project and career decision making is either biographic or ethnographic and therefore retrospective. By definition, these historical narratives do not fully capture the moments of uncertainty and unpredictability in the decision processes musicians adopt before they knew the outcome of the decision.

In an initial attempt to illuminate how musicians think about risk in relation to their project and career development, this paper will report the results of a test phase of a survey on musicians real time career decisions. Based upon an adaptation of the Experience Sampling Method (Csikszentmihalyi, M. & Larson, R. 1992), the one-off questionnaire asks about various elements of the musician’s most recent decision for which they do not yet know the outcome. The purpose of the research is to better understand how different types of musicians think about their career progress and uncover the processes they utilise to realise their intentions. This test phase is designed to refine the actual survey, which is eventually intended to be conducted across the UK in collaboration with the Musicians Union.

Keywords: Musician, Decision, Survey, Career, Process


How does age affect the creative outputs of female popular musicians?

Kirsty Folan, Bath Spa University, krfolan@gmail.com

“Those numbers beside the names of our ageing pop stars say much more than their legendary status, or critical achievement.” – Richard Elliott (2014)

As the UK’s population is ageing, and the government projects that one in seven people will be aged over 75 by 2040 (Government Office for Science, 2016), it is more important than ever that artists feel freedom to age within the youth dominated music industry. It is notable that the age of female artists is often brought to the forefront of conversations while men of the same age, although sometimes victims of ageism too, are more widely discussed in terms of their music and achievements. None of us are immune to ageing, and for female artists in particular, the pressure to remain aesthetically youthful can be overwhelming. My paper will discuss how age affects the creativity of artists, Joni Mitchell and Kate Bush. I will focus on memory, retrospection and experience and whether life events such as loss affect creative outputs, whilst also considering gender specific experiences such as childbirth and motherhood. I will also study the effect of physical changes to the body and voice that come with age such as the menopause, illness and deafness on artists’ performances and songwriting.

Keywords: ageing, creativity, feminism, popular music


Devising Drum Kit Repertoire for Higher Instrumental Popular Music Education (HIPME): Towards a Collaborative Learning Model

Paul Francis

Answering the call for papers that explore theory and/or practice, from the outset, the term ‘Higher Instrumental Popular Music Education’ (HIPME) is used to focus this presentation on instrumental practices within Higher Popular Music Education (HPME). In the presenter’s experience, consisting of professional popular music performance and HIPME across a range of institutions, despite growing investigations within HPME into collaborative approaches of delivery, instrumental tuition is still dominated by a ‘master-apprentice’ approach, delivered by tutors who do not have an awareness of educational research. This paper details the use of interviews and questionnaires, focusing on current HIPME practices, and drum kit performance within that, and five relevant pedagogical approaches, self-learning, peer learning, master-apprentice learning, instrument specific learning and multi-instrumental learning. The discussion explores the process of embedding a wider awareness of educational theory, addressing questions relating to how can the composition of new repertoire be used to transmit educational theory into HIPME practices; what theories can be used to enrich compositional activity; and does the use of such repertoire benefit HIPME practices? Drawing reference to the ethnographic perspective of the respondents, the conclusions of the presentation discusses the process of providing the HIPME community with an operational tool kit, to enable the application of a broader range of teaching and learning approaches, furthering a propagation of a wider understanding of their potential to enrich current practices and educational experiences within HIPME. Embedding popular music practices and educational theory, exploring a greater awareness of a collaborative approach, this paper presents new instructional performance repertoire for HIPME.


Performing Diversity The Performing Subject and Popular Music

Dr. Magdalena Fuernkranz

Institute for Popular Music, mdw – University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna fuernkranz@mdw.ac.at

Popular music transcends the field of sound. Performative aspects such as staging a live performance, acting on stage, construction of the performance persona (Auslander 2004) or star personality (Frith 1996), audience participation, but also socio-cultural developments, contribute to the overall concept of a performance in pop music. New methodological perspectives have been developed in current popular music studies that have linked historical, structuralist or phenomenological paradigms with the discourse of performativity. The interdisciplinary research project Performing Diversity dealt with the performing subject in popular music, performativity, and rituals of music performance. To this end, qualitative case studies were used to explore distinctions and diffusions between the musical style fields of “Classical / Contemporary music”, “Jazz / Improvised music”, “Folk music / World music”, “Dance / HipHop / Electronic music”, “Rock & Pop” and “Schlager / Folkloristic music”. The poster will deal with the analysis of performance, which is understood as part of contemporary popular music practice. Performing Diversity’s focus is on crossover phenomena in today’s musical landscape, with analysis being devoted to musical and cultural spaces-in-between where new things can come about. The documentation and analysis of performance rituals was done with reference to images and sequences (music videos and live documentations). The sample was comprised of Austrian musical, pictorial, and filmic creations from between 2010 and 2015. The main objective is to discern — based on analysis of the figures (Eder 2008) that appear in the theatrical setting of a popular music performance — how the “constitution of culture” takes place.

Keywords: Performing Subject, Performativity, Analysis of Performance, Performance Persona, Constitution of Culture


The DJ As Social Auteur: Paradoxes of Socialism and Autocracy in the Aesthetic-Political Organization of Rave Subculture

Alex Gage

At a rave it is the DJ’s responsibility to spontaneously compose the party’s musical score and to conduct (implicitly or explicitly) the conduct of the crowd.  Part of what makes rave culture so fascinating is its union of the subculture’s social and political values (such as “P.L.U.R.” – Peace, Love, Unity, Respect – equality, the utopic invocation of a “Temporary Autonomous Zone”) and its means of aesthetic expression; the social organization and functioning of a rave is indivisible from its artistic medium. Understanding a rave as a multi-media Gesamtkunstwerk event in which its “audience” is at once one of its media and a site of creative agency, a paradox emerges: The DJ is given an autocratic degree of macro-scale authority within the event, making choices for which they are scarcely answerable to even the event’s promotor(s) beyond the consequences of positive or negative audience reception; at the same time, each member of the crowd engages collaboratively in the event by making micro-level contributions, predominantly through dance performance and peer to peer interactions – performances influenced or “directed” by the DJ. It is possible to gain a cross-disciplinary perspective applying the concept of auteurship to the rave DJ and thence teasing out the cultural-political reverberations through the subculture’s resonant political-aesthetic synergism. This paper will focus on incorporating auteur theory’s idealized understanding of the role of the director as a creative model of power/authority, leaving aside its preoccupation with identifying individual auteurs, to explore the mirroring of art, medium, politics, and (subcultural) society.

Keywords: Rave culture, Auteur, political organization, DJ, subculture

E-mail: galex@yorku.ca


Session proposal (3 papers): Theorising genre categorisation in contemporary popular music analysis

Session proposer & chair: Steven Gamble, Kingston University, London. info@stevengamble.com

Popular music studies has somewhat struggled to address the ways that types of music are separated, compared, and related. In everyday discourse, fans passionately debate whether a given artist makes one kind of music or another; music stores and streaming services classify music in order to appeal to consumers; and much musicological work approaches categorisation using a genre/style dialectic. Drawing from a range of theoretical perspectives to inform music analysis, this panel considers the ways that music genres are negotiated as groups of texts. These papers critically examine approaches to genre categorisation in three kinds of music, which serve as key case studies: metalcore, Goth, and mainstream pop. Kennedy identifies how the generic codification of metalcore influences conceptions of other genres, pointing to the deeply connected genre relationship between metal and hardcore. Bannister notes the use of prototype theory in classifications of musical style and psychedelia, and reconsiders the relationships between acid rock, Goth music, and psychedelic drugs as they are heard and felt. Hansen starts from the observation that the term ‘mainstream pop’ is used to define other genres by opposition, and argues that the mainstream pop concept may need to remain nebulous. The panel therefore investigates genre through multidisciplinary perspectives, engaging variously with media studies, cognitive science, psychopharmacology, and cultural studies. The consequences of such applications will then be addressed in communal discussion between the audience and the panelists. While each paper draws upon music analysis, the varied understandings of genre will require productively talking across musics, methods, and disciplines.

Keywords: genre, analysis, metal, goth, pop


The (Grand) Maternal Queenly Canon

Abigail Gardner, University of Gloucestershire

Queens, both of them. Queen of Calypso and ‘Queene’ of English Folk, Calypso Rose and Shirley Collins are lauded musicians, recording and performing in their eighties. They are two female performers in ‘older age’ who make up a (grand)maternal canon within popular music. This canon goes across genre and includes women who are valued for both their ongoing contribution to music and for their participation in the formative histories of those musics. Performing well past the ‘menopausal gap’ they act as familial beacons in their respective genres, markers of a longevity imbricated and wrapped up with discourses of authenticity that in turn, speak to national and diasporic heritages (Bascombe, 2015). Their contributions to music are recognised in film (The Ballad of Shirley Collins, 2017), cemented by memoir (All in The Downs: Life, landscape and Song, (2018), documented through official websites that measure musical outputs and significance against broader cultural markers (www.calypsorose) and presented in music video. Using an interdisciplinary methodology the paper focuses on these metatexts of Collins and Calypso Rose who are both in ‘old’ age and producing music anew and, in part, through alliance with younger musicians and producers. As one chapter in a book on ‘Ageing and Contemporary Female Musicians’, its motive is to spotlight age as a pertinent theme of enquiry within popular music studies and to note how the production and performances of these women in their 80s signifies a veneration of a ‘grand-maternal canon’ which is both a manifestation and a rebuttal of appropriate ageing.

Dr Abigail Gardner is Reader in Music and Media at the University of Gloucestershire. She writes on music and ageing, music video and music documentary and produces community film and media. Publications include PJ Harvey and Music Video Performance (Routledge, 2015) and Rock On: Women, Ageing and Popular Music (Ashgate, 2012, with Ros Jennings). She is a founder member of the Centre for Women, Ageing and Media (WAM http://wamuog.co.uk), and is PI on two Erasmus + European projects on diversity and digital storytelling.


Artist Attitudes Toward the Changing Character of the Recording Studio.

Lachlan Goold

This paper is an investigation of new approaches to music production that have emerged over the past thirty years and greatly accelerated over the past decade. The changes have primarily been facilitated by the proliferation of low cost digital music production tools. A secondary trigger has been the subsequent decline in recording budgets (Burgess, 2008, p. 1). The confluence of these issues has meant large-format recording studio processes are giving way to lower cost “desktop”, “bedroom”, or “DIY” music production processes (Bennett, 2012, p. 8; Théberge, 2012, pp. 89-90). Little attention has been focused on evaluating and understanding the outcomes of these new technologies from an artists’ perspective specifically to the meaning of the term “recording studio” as a particular kind of space. This paper seeks to address this gap in understanding by evaluating processes of recording in large-format recording studios compared to those associated with situations dictated by a set of limitations common to smaller budget “DIY” projects, and with those involved with a hybrid approach combining both methods. Research methods include participant interviews, participant observation, and analysis of attitudes towards creative labour under these different circumstances. This paper will focus on artist attitudes in the differing recording scenarios indicating that while different recording spaces present different advantages and disadvantages, in terms of recording quality and creativity, the large-format recording studio appears to present no major technical or aesthetic advantage over DIY environments in terms of recording outcomes.


Recording studio, DIY Recording, Artist recording


The role of locality, status and intimacy in knowledge transmission within Soundcloud’s post-Hip Hop underground

Daniel Gouly

My research studies how specific musical and social technologies, such as Digital Audio Workstations, Soundcloud, and YouTube, shape the ways in which electronic music producers interact, share knowledge, develop social networks, and, crucially, develop the skills required to create specific idiomatic sounds. Having spent the research phase of my PhD creating scene-specific sample packs and conducting a range of semi-structured interviews and studio sessions, I draw on this composite methodology to explore an emerging area of my research. In this paper I investigate the varied ways producers learn the idiom in which they practice, and the way this is interconnected with both the acquisition of technical knowledge and the development of relationships with a variety of actors. In particular I will explore the ways that social intimacy and status shape the sharing of culturally important sounds and technical or compositional processes. In doing so I hope to uncover the extent to which these processes are localised and the ways in which producers conceptualise certain idiomatic sounds as possessing particular import. I hope to interrogate why these particular sounds possess such value to specific producers, and how a range of factors including perceived status, personal expression, and intimacy, shape how and when producers transmit or re-circulate the idiomatic knowledge required to reproduce them. This paper will therefore look to draw out complex and evolving in-group thinking about technology, status, locality, aesthetics, and intimacy.


“The Cord is Cut”: Exit Narratives of British anarcho-punks 1978-1986

Matt Grimes

Taking its title from 1980’s British anarcho-punk band Conflict, this presentation seeks to illuminate the reasons for an individual’s disassociation with a musical scene/subculture, specifically British anarcho-punk. Whilst work on subcultural membership is plentiful, and work on ageing within punk scenes and punk subcultures is increasing (e.g Bennett 2013; Haenfler 2012, Davis 2006), studies relating to the processes of exiting from punk scenes and punk subcultures are limited (e.g Haenfler 2004,  Gordon u.p). I draw on a number of interviews from my ongoing doctoral research into past participant’s memories of their involvement within the British anarcho-punk scene (1978-1986), and its continuing significance in their life-course. Although geographically distinct, these regional articulations of anarcho-punk were connected through a much larger anarcho-punk network. Adapting Ebaugh’s (1988) framework of role exit and role identity, I present a discursive analysis of a number of interviews, with past members of regional anarcho-punk scenes in the UK, as to their reasons for exiting the anarcho-punk subculture and scene, and subsequently their anarcho-punk identity. In doing so I aim to address the omissions in punk literature as to why people exit punk scenes or punk subculture’ and build on the existing work about musical scene and subcultural identities and practices within life course transitions, the negotiation of ageing, fandom and identity (e.g Hodkinson 2013, Harrington et al 2011, Bennett and Taylor 2012), and the wider punk rock scenes (e.g Bennett 2006, Davis 2006 and 2012).

Keywords: Identity, Anarcho-punk, Exit narratives, Memory, Role-exit

Matt Grimes is a doctoral student, MA Award Leader and Senior Lecturer in Music Industries and Radio at Birmingham City University. He is the Secretary of the Punk Scholars Network, and also a PhD student and member of the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research. Matt works in a number of disciplines including popular music studies and radio for social change. Publications include “From Protest to Resistance: British anarcho-punk fanzines (1980-1984) as sites of resistance and symbols of defiance” in The Aesthetic of Our Anger: Anarcho-Punk, Politics and Music, 1979-84 (2016) co-edited by M.Dines and M.Worley; ‘Call It Crass but ‘There Is No Authority But Yourself’’ in Punk and Post Punk Vol 4 (2&3).He has co-authored two book chapters “Punk ‘zines – ‘symbols of defiance’ from the print to the digital age.” (with T.Wall) in Fight Back: Punk, Politics and Resistance (2013) edited by M.Worley; and “Radio as a Tool for Rehabilitation and Social Inclusion” (with S. Stevenson) in Radio and Society: New thinking for an Old Medium (2012) edited by M.Mollgaard. matt.grimes@bcu.ac.uk

Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research, Birmingham City University.


Searching for Sophia in Music Production Education –

Jan Olof Gullo and David Thyren, Royal College of Music in Stockholm

Twenty years ago today: a revaluation of the heritage of Swedish record producer Denniz Pop In the project Searching for Sophia in Music Production Education, a multidisciplinary team of Swedish researchers study various formal and informal learning processes connected to education in music production in higher education. This paper is part of that project. Previous research shows a variety of competences that are used and needed among musicians, music producers and other professionals active in the art of music production. Our interest has a background in the worldwide export of music from the Nordic countries. Several of the Nordic international successful songwriters, musicians and music producers have more of an informal background than a scholastic formal education. The term Sophia [wisdom] refers to ancient Greek knowledge typology and is used to summarize the theoretical framework of the project. In this paper, we focus on the Swedish record producer Denniz Pop [Dag Volle, 1963- 1998]. Denniz Pop enjoyed substantial international success in the 1990´s, creating the Cheiron studios in Stockholm, recording and producing e.g. Ace of Base, Backstreet Boys, Michael Jackson, and many others. He was the mentor of songwriter & record producer Max Martin [Karl Martin Sandberg, b. 1971]. The paper ties in with a planned biography on Denniz Pop, coinciding with the 20th anniversary of his untimely death in 1998. In the biography, we conduct five case studies: focusing on interviews with Denniz Pop`s inner family; fellow record producers and close colleagues; artists; music journalists; and musicologists. Keywords: Denniz Pop, Dag Volle, Max Martin, Cheiron, Swedish record production


The (Racial) Politics of the “Post-Punk” Canon: Generic Limbo and Early-80s British Rock

Mimi Haddon University of Sussex m.haddon@sussex.ac.uk

In his influential 2005 book, Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984, Simon Reynolds draws a distinction between the late-1970s post-punk “vanguard” and what remained of post-punk under New Pop. Echoing Greil Marcus’s claim that punk had a world-changing agenda, Reynolds ascribes notions of “progressiveness” and “radical-ness” to bands such as Joy Division, Gang of Four, and Scritti Politti in a way that has influenced subsequent scholarship on the topic (see Crossley 2015). Yet the revolutionary theme that Reynolds uses to bind this otherwise heterogeneous musichistorical moment, wanes as post-punk gives way to New Pop. This disjuncture between the so-called “vanguard” and their not-so-radical successors is the focus of my paper. I am interested in the way early-1980s albums such as the Comsat Angels’ Waiting for a Miracle (1980), the Sound’s From the Lion’s Mouth (1981), and the Chameleons’ Script of the Bridge (1983) fail to meet Reynolds’ “radical” criteria but appear on post-punk playlists compiled by fans. These groups therefore occupy a generic limbo. The stakes of this paper are not simply to argue who is and isn’t post-punk but, rather, I draw on historical discourse and new studies of music and genre by scholars such as David Brackett and Matt Brennan to make two arguments. First, that post-punk is a retroactive construction and that the historical moment was generically more unwieldy than depicted in present-day accounts. Secondly, that Reynolds’ selective ascription of “radical-ness” may be a tacit endorsement of post-punk’s incorporation of black dance music and experimentalism, and a rejection of the identity politics emergent amongst post-punk’s immediate successors.

Key words: post-punk, proto-goth, genre, identity, race


George Michael Identity, Sexuality, Fans & Music Making

Mike Hajimichael – University of Nicosia, Cyprus

George Michael – fandom – life and death  Mike Hajimichael, Associate Professor, Department of Communications, The University of Nicosia, Cyprus

George Michael is a complex popular music icon particularly relating to issue of identity/ethnicities sexuality, music and its contexts, songs and rhetoric, political expression, and media representations of his death. His identity can be explored from different viewpoints as articulated by the media and the pop star himself. For example his relationship with identity place and context is captured succinctly in the song ‘Round Here’ where he casts himself as the son of his father ‘who got here on the gravy train’ and ‘my mamma had a real bad start to the game’. His identity/background has at different points in time been clear (Mega TV Interview, 2008), ‘I am very proud to be Greek’ (The Cyprus Weekly, 1984) and at others, ambiguous, ‘I’ve got little association with Greeks at all other than the fact that I’m hairy’ (‘The Face’ 1985). However contradictory, candid and honest he was on identity the ways in which fans associated with him on issues of his mixed ethnic background is an interesting topic which will be explored at length. Additionally within the context of his death, ‘fandom versus media coverage’ –  which was at times ‘fake’, hostile, mis-informative and exaggerated – will be contrasted with fan-based online social media advocacy to have a street named after him in Cyprus and a statue placed in his honour in Highgate. These efforts to have his legacy respected, will live on, just like his songs, and his enigmatic multi-hybrid identity.

Key words: George Michael, Identity, Ethnicities, Media, Death

Email hajimichael.m@unic.ac.cy


Making Music in Iceland – Production Ethos and Music institutions

Þorbjörg Daphne Hall, Iceland Academy of the Arts & The University of Liverpool


keywords: Icelandic music, nature & landscape, collaboration, national identity

The paper seeks to examine the popular music scene in Iceland, with a focus on Reykjavík as the capital and main musical hub. Various statements have been made about the disproportionate creativity of the music life in Reykjavík in comparison to similar sized cities elsewhere in the world. The reasons for this are sometimes linked to landscape and the natural surroundings in the country whereas others explain it in terms of a national character of ‘do-it-yourself’ attitude. The musical institutions in Reykjavík and the framework in which the popular music resides are explored in order to understand the functionality of the scene. Then the production habits and collaboration mentality of the musicians are investigated in order to gain the fullest understanding of the music making. The clichés of nature and national identity are challenged and are replaced with a multi-faceted understanding of the musical culture.


The Psychedelic Sounds of Goth

Kai Arne Hansen (IASPM, ASARP) University of Oslo

This paper demonstrates, via a series of back-to-back comparisons, that Goth music and acid rock share certain characteristics. These characteristics are fundamental to the classification of music as psychedelic in the popular music literature, which is to say the Goth repertoire is rich in sounds that are understood to reflect or evoke the effects of psychedelic drugs. I draw upon two main texts to identify the sounds associated with psychedelic drugs in the popular music literature. Each approaches the association from opposing starting points and each draws implicitly on prototype theory. Hicks (2000) begins by identifying three prototypical effects of LSD before offering a selection of musical characteristics he claims reflect these. Morrison (2000) – whilst concurring a key feature of acid rock was its attempt to translate into musical terms the effects of LSD – begins from the music, surveying an extensive number of 1960s recordings marketed as psychedelic before subjecting the ten most representative cases studies (based on their prevalence in compilations) to musical analysis. After demonstrating that the music of the Goth scene is rich in those same characteristics associated with LSD, I invite consideration into the taxonomical implications, suggesting that Goth music is psychedelic, just as acid rock had been described in rock journalism of the 1970s as Gothic. I conclude by arguing that a more explicit recognition of the way in which prototype theory informs human processes of categorisation allows us to reconsider the relationship between music and psychedelic drugs in fruitful new ways. Claire Bannister (IASPM UK&I) Kingston University London Identifying Mainstream Pop: Genre, Style, and Identity The term “mainstream pop music” circulates frequently in everyday debates about musical style, worth, and taste. The idea of the mainstream commonly represents a bland mass of music produced primarily for commercial purposes, in opposition to which myriad other genres are positioned as more valuable, creative, and authentic. Though deep rooted, such prevailing (and persisting) notions of mainstream and periphery as opposing forces bypass the complexity that underpins processes of pop performance and reception alike. This paper contemplates different strategies for identifying mainstream pop as a genre. The delimitation of “mainstream” has been notoriously elusive in scholarly work (see Brackett 2016; Hawkins 2011; Holt 2007), a state of affairs that belies the term’s centrality in both historical and contemporary discourses on popular music and identity. Building on David Brackett’s work, which emphasizes “the temporal, experiential, functional, and fleeting quality of genres while nonetheless retaining the importance of the genre concept for communicating about texts” (2016, 3), I explore how pop texts can be taken to participate in different genres. Calling attention to recent examples of artists, songs, and videos that are associated with mainstream pop, I raise a range of questions that unsettle some of the dominant assumptions about what qualifies as pop music. I mobilize the idea of pop as amorphous, not as a criticism against it but, rather, as a point of entry for developing new approaches for its study. Ultimately, the paper will demonstrate that perceptions of what mainstream pop “is” are shaped by non-musical as much as musical elements, and that notions of identity are central to any discussion about genre in popular music.


Collective Creativity: A ‘Service’ Model of Contemporary Commercial Pop Music

Paul Thompson, Leeds Beckett University, UK p.a.thompson@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

Phil Harding, Leeds Beckett University, UK phill-harding@btconnect.com

Keywords: Creativity, Pop Production, Songwriting

A commercial pop music production is rarely the result of a single individual and pop music producers and songwriters are often part of a larger creative collective (Hennion, 1990) in creating a musical product. A team leader typically manages this group activity. That team leader requires an appropriate level of cultural, symbolic and economic capital (Bourdieu, 1984) so they can effectively evaluate the contributions of the rest of the team and guide the project towards commercial success (Thompson & Harding, 2017). This study explores the role of the team leader within the creative production workflow of pop songwriting and production since the 1990s and investigates the ways in which pop songwriting and production teams work within a creative system of pop-music making. Building upon previous studies in this area (Thompson and Harding, 2017; Harding and Thompson 2017) the ‘Service Model’ flow system is illustrated with distinct linear stages that include the processes of pop songwriting, pop vocal recording, post vocal production and then mixing. However, within each of these production stages the ‘highly nonlinear dynamics’ (Capra and Luisi, 2014) of the creative system (Csikszentmihalyi; 1988, 1999) can be viewed in action as the team work together to make the pop record. Drawing upon a series of interviews and data gathered during a Practice Based Enquiry (PBE) conducted at Westerdals University in Oslo, this paper presents the pop music ‘Service Model’. Importantly, the model underlines the value of the collective (rather than individual) in the commercial pop songwriting and production process.


Beyond the System: A Novel Approach to Authenticity in Socialist Metal Music Production.

Dawn Hazle, University of Nottingham (Russian and Slavonic Studies)

It has been identified that metal music produced under socialist non-capitalist regimes follows very different markers of authenticity: being unable to even aspire to commercial success leads musicians to search for the indicators that in capitalist administrations would be considered softer gauges of authenticity, since capitalist production places greatest emphasis on commercial aspiration. It is, however, too simplistic to merely state that independent music produced in socialist states is automatically more authentic than that produced in capitalist societies, and as such it is important to investigate the alternatives available to musicians in their local, socialist context.

Using Soviet Russia as a case study, I will explore the other markers of authenticity available to socialist metal and rock musicians in the early to mid-1980s.  I will look at the differences between official and unofficial groups, and how a musician’s status in the official culture affected not only their ability to produce music, but also how their authenticity was (and is) perceived by fellow musicians and fans.  I will consider the state of existing ‘outside’ the official culture, which does not constitute being anti-Soviet since being against the regime means being actively involved in official culture rather than outside of it. I will use the example of one Russian band which spanned both official and unofficial culture to illustrate how this state of being ‘external to’ the official regime could be considered the main indicator of authenticity in socialist societies.

Keywords: Metal, Authenticity, Socialism, Soviet Union, Russia.

Email: mszdeh@nottingham.ac.uk


“Unbeschreiblich Weiblich”: insanity and female sexual excess in the work of Nina Hagen

Name: Grace Healy Contact Details: healygrace43@gmail.com. The University of Huddersfield.

Key words: punk, feminism, Dadaism, insanity, sexual excess

This paper will examine the ways in which German singer-songwriter Catharina “Nina” Hagen, in her 1978 performance on German music television show Rockpalast, draws on Dadaist principles to explore ideas of female sexual assertiveness in relation to notions of madness. Focussing on operatic voice techniques and Dadaist performance techniques, this paper will explore the ways in which Hagen draws links between insanity and female sexual excess. In the context of 1970s punk-rock, Hagen’s performance can be read as a subversive, feminist critique of the hysterization of women’s bodies. Hagen self-consciously constructs pretended madness and hypersexuality throughout her performances, and in exploring these ideas within a male-dominated space – the rock ‘n’ roll stage – the very act of this self-exploration becomes politicised: in this way, Hagen’s work can be read as a rebellion against gender stereotypes and social order. Author Bio Grace Healy is a second-year PhD student at The University of Huddersfield. Her research explores the influence of nineteenth and twentieth-century art movements, in particular Dadaism and Kitsch, on the creation and development of post-punk music.


The work realities of professional studio musicians in the German popular music recording industry

Dr Jan Herbst University of Huddersfield (UK), School of Music, Humanities and Media (MHM) E-Mail: j.herbst@hud.ac.ukKeywords: popular music, studio musicians, session musicians, recording industry, music business, Germany

Among the professional roles in the recording industry, studio musicians have perhaps received least academic attention. They are still one of the best kept secrets of popular music, a business centred around celebrity figures and recognisable characters (Williams 2010) in which the “interchangeable labourers” (Faulkner 1971) and “musical mercenaries” (MacLeod 1993) have no visible place. The present study explored the work realities of professional studio musicians in Germany, one of the largest music industries worldwide, based on interviews with six pop musicians; guitarists, bassists, keyboarders and drummers aged between 27 and 66 years. The findings show how the changes in the recording industry, most notably the dwindling budgets, the rise of project studios and virtual collaboration, have affected working practices, skill requirements and business models. Twenty years ago, Skrepek (1994: 388) predicted the decline of the profession of studio musicians, “The job (…) has become obsolete, everything is computerised. (…) We are heading towards a future where machines are entertaining us”. The findings indicate that in Germany it is hardly possible anymore to live from studio work as a professional musician, even for the leading session players. Additional occupation becomes necessary and the few jobs available are fiercely contested. Sinking fees and the lack of access to royalties pose a problem, one not tackled due to the fierce competition and the risk of damaging one’s reputation.

How can vocal tone clarity be achieved in the mix? Scientific and creative perspectives Kirsten Hermes, University of Westminster (UK), k.hermes@westminster.ac.uk

Vocal tone clarity (VTC) is one of the most important parameters of high quality popular music mixes. This is the extent to which the spectral shape of a vocal recording allows all the important components of its natural timbre to be heard. Currently, there is no formally proven basis of the acoustic factors that make recorded vocals clear (Hermes et al. 2018). However, since changes in the spectral clarity of single sounds can be predicted (Hermes et al. 2017), it is likely that this is also possible for vocals. Vocal clarity was assessed previously in a combined literature review, pilot listening test and self-reflection (Hermes et al. 2018). It was established that spectral parameters are especially important for vocal clarity, in particular the power distribution over frequency in a recording (as measured by the harmonic centroid). Additional important parameters are the relative amount of energy in different frequency areas, intensity over time, as altered by compression, the ratio between tonal and noise components and the presence of distortion and artefacts. In the mix, masking and fusion phenomena can compromise a vocal’s audibility, reducing clarity. The focus of the current study will be the impact of the relative amount of energy in different frequency areas on VTC. For this, a cross-disciplinary approach is taken, involving feedback from practitioners, own observations and a listener based study.


Panel – Music and sexual violence

Panel proposer: Rosemary Lucy Hill, School of Sociology & Social Policy, University of Leeds. R.L.hill@leeds.ac.uk

This panel focuses on the topic of music and sexual violence at live music events, in lyrical content and in music media discourse. The panel highlights the prevalence of sexual violence within popular music culture. It aims to present questions and answers as to what can be done to ensure that music does not perpetuate harmful practices, images and discourses, thus enabling a safer and healthier culture.

Gig groping: how to prevent sexual violence at live music events

Rosemary Lucy Hill, School of Sociology & Social Policy, University of Leeds. R.L.hill@leeds.ac.uk

David Hesmondhalgh, School of Media and Communication, University of Leeds

Kate Zezulka, Leeds Music Hub

Karen Scattergood, Girl Gang Leeds

Emily Marlowe, Girl Gang Leeds

Media reporting reveals shocking examples of sexual violence at popular music events. Such incidents impact the physical and mental health of survivors and inhibit access to the benefits of musical participation. Whilst White Ribbon’s music campaign outlines what venues can do to stop sexual violence, feminist promoters and venues argue that these guidelines are reactive and either place the onus on individuals to report incidents (and the reporting of sexual violence is fraught with problems) or position ally-men as knights in shining armour, thus maintaining gender inequality. This paper reports on the Healthy music audiences: music, gender and health project which, in collaboration with venues and promoters in Leeds, seeks to understand what makes for a healthy audience with regards the following research questions:

  1. What procedures do venues and promoters employ to maintain healthy audiences with regards to sexual violence?
  2. How can a healthy culture be created at music concerts?

The project uses case studies of three small venues and will study health and safety policies and their implementation. It includes interviews with audience members, venue staff and campaigning organisations such as Safe Gigs for Women. The project aims to develop guidelines that set out preventative measures to create healthier, safer music environments enabling the benefits of live music participation to be enjoyed by all. The paper will discuss how sexual violence is understood by music venues, promoters, campaigners and audience members, how it impacts on musical enjoyment, and what can be done about it.

#MeToo: Cultural Sexism, Media and Metal

Heather Savigny De Montfort University, UK. heather.savigny@dmu.ac.uk

In the light of the Weinstein scandal, sexual harassment and abuse of women has gained media attention. These women’s experiences have not been confined solely to media and cultural industries. The #MeToo has enabled a range of women to speak up and out, individual perpetrators have been ‘named’ and ‘shamed’. While much attention has been (rightly) given to these women’s experiences, what has received less attention has been the ways in which media have covered this issue. Media provide the landscape and the cultural context for the expression of dominant norms and values within a society, so to understand how change might be possible, we need to explore the ways in which dominant norms are produced. Sexism has been historically embedded in language and so to analyse the cultural context of women’s experiences, we need to understand how they are described and discussed in the mediated public sphere. Given that heavy metal, has been historically described as misogynistic, and so, this paper uses metal as a case study to ask questions about the nature of the cultural production of sexism. Adopting a feminist approach and combining survey data alongside discourse analysis, this paper asks what role media can play in challenging the cultural norms which legitimate and normalise the sexual abuse and assault of women. It also reflects more widely as to whether the #MeToo campaign represents a ‘tipping point’ in the production of cultural sexism.

Heather Savigny is Professor of Gender, Media and Politics at the Leicester Media School, de Montfort University. She publishes widely in these areas and more recently her work has appeared in journals such as: Feminist Media Studies; Media, Cultue & Society; Metal Music Studies; British Journal of Political Science and International Relations; Gender, Work and Organisation. She is currently working on a monograph: Feminism, Metal and Politics and this paper forms part of this project.

From Enslavement to Obliteration: Extreme Metal’s Problem with Women

Jasmine Shadrack, University of Northampton. Jasmine.shadrack@northampton.ac.uk

What happens when you love a music form that doesn’t love you back? (Dawes, L. 2013). As a fan and performer of extreme metal for the last twenty years, I and many other women who love metal have observed a problematic paradigm concerning extreme metal and women –more specifically, the obliterated female body, which exists as artwork, lyrical content and in band names. Even though the musical structure, technical and virtuosic playing and production qualities of these songs are undeniably brilliant, the content and ideological packaging can be deeply sexist. From Cannibal Corpse’ ‘Fucked with a Knife’ (The Bleeding, 1994) to Prostitute Disfigurement’s ‘On Her Guts I Cum’ (Embalmed Madness, 2001), it is important to analyse why violence against women exists as aesthetic and lyrical content when this form of ‘extremity’ is a reality for too many women. There is no denying that extreme metal offers its listeners a lot – solidarity, escape, a sense of empowerment – but there has to come a point when we must examine the content to demonstrate what exactly is being said given the socio-cultural reality of violence against women. When reality reflects art, a response is necessary. I approach this topic as a woman who listens to, composes and performs extreme music. In this paper I identify how the category of ‘woman’ is hailed, referenced and represented, and how extreme metal demonstrates and manifests hegemonic responses to women. I offer a feminist response to extreme metal’s interpellation of women in order to demonstrate its modes of address and engagement.

Sexual violence at music festivals

Hannah Bows, Teesside University. H.bows@tees.ac.uk

This presentation will examine current issues surrounding sexual violence at festivals. Drawing on existing empirical data, this presentation will consider what is currently known about the occurrence of sexual violence at festivals and examine this in the context of existing gender/feminism and cultural criminology theories to identify challenges and opportunities across research, policy and practice.


In search for the ‘not yet’. The prospective in Finnish trackers’ and topliners’ creative agency

Riikka Hiltunen, University of Helsinki, riikka.hiltunen@gmail.com

Keywords: pop music, future, songwriting, creative agency

Writing and producing songs to international pop music markets is a highly competitive effort. Music trends circulate fast and there are numerous professional songwriters worldwide, aiming at same markets. Record companies spread the word about artists searching for new songs so widely, that at least in theory anyone has a chance to write a song for some of the top artists in the world. In Finland there are also professional songwriters, trackers and topliners who partake in this “competition” of creating future hits.

How do these songwriters face the future, when the artists are constantly looking for something new and ground-breaking? On the other hand, when the time period between writing a song and an artist recording it may be prolonged to several years, how do songwriters make sure that the song does not sound outdated when it is finally out there?

In this paper I analyse Finnish songwriters’ attitudes towards the future by using French economist Michel Godet’s (2001) typology. Godet’s thoughts have been used in futures studies and strategic management, and applied in business and politics. Godet leans on the concept la prospective by French philosopher and futurist Gaston Berger (1964), which means anticipatory and proactive attitude towards the future. My research material consists of theme interviews and observations of songwriting processes on international songwriting camps. This paper is related to my PhD project in which I analyse future consciousness (see e.g. Lombardo 2006) of Finnish mainstream pop songwriters.


Keeping Jazz Alive through Dance Music: Perspectives from Electro Swing

Chris Inglis, The University of South Wales, chris.inglis93@hotmail.com

The past decade has seen a rise in the production and consumption of the ‘electro swing’ genre – in which influences from the swing era (and related styles), are combined with those from the age of electronic dance music. The fusion of these styles has proved popular with audiences, and various artists – such as Parov Stelar, Caravan Palace, and Caro Emerald – have experienced considerable success.

But where does this style sit on the spectrum from jazz to popular music? Some argue that the genre exhibits the most legitimate example of present day jazz – the use of electronic dance music representing an evolution of the sound; whilst others suggest that this is purely contemporary dance music – the adoption of swing simply a novelty. Some may point out that jazz has always functioned as dance music, and that the inclusion of modern day dance music stays true to how early jazz was originally experienced; while others suggest that there should be no distinction between these two styles at all.

This paper will present and compare views collected from interviews with various artists involved in the electro swing genre, in order to reach a closer understanding with regard to these issues. Electro swing is an area of research which, despite its growing popularity, has largely been ignored by academia; this paper will present a framework for future study into the area, from the perspectives of popular music, jazz, and hybridity.

Keywords: EDM, jazz, fusion, authenticity, nostalgia


New directions to studying narrativity in popular music: the strange case of iamamiwhoami’s bounty.

Dr. Alex Jeffery, University of Cambridge, drascoati@gmail.com

Popular music has always been fertile territory for storytelling and narrativity, whether we are listening to songs or concept albums, watching music videos or following the lives of our favourite music stars.  In the multimodal art of popular music, narrative worlds are constructed in radically different ways from other media such as film or literature, a quality which has been the subject of surprisingly few studies.  Applications of traditional narratology to popular music by David Nicholls (2004, 2007) and Keith Negus (2012) have provided impressive, if very isolated studies, supported by more general theorization around audiovisual narrativity in music video studies by Carol Vernallis and others.

This paper looks at how we might construct more universal frameworks for how narrativity functions in popular music, and it serves as an introduction to a forthcoming monograph on the subject.  I argue that as music is increasingly embedded in a culture of media convergence, we need to look far beyond the tools of traditional narratology towards more contemporary directions such as adaptation studies, and the study of transmedia (often framed as a new ‘media-conscious’ narratology).  Expanding on ideas from the scholars of the new narratology, particularly Marie-Laure Ryan in her edited volume Storyworlds across Media (2014), I use Swedish multimedia collective iamamiwhoami’s unusual audiovisual serial bounty (2010-11) as a starting point for this exploration. Investigation into the case study will identify how technology, narrativity and cults of personality collide in contemporary online contexts to construct new types of contract between performer and audience.


This Sounds Too Mainstream! Locating Record Production and Sonic Experience in Culturally Dominant Practices of Popular Music

Dr. Christofer Jost

The question of whether a piece of music is mainstream or not can be the subject of passionate conversation among listeners. Probably in the rarest of cases, the label “mainstream” is associated with positive characteristics. Surely, mainstream means commercial success, but for many people the latter is synonymous with superficiality, triviality, conformism and some other dubious traits. In addition, the mainstream is often juxtaposed with the underground as the other, the subversive and the emancipatory (and thus the ethically superior). While such evaluations undoubtedly accompany the everyday use of popular music, it needs to be questioned from an academic perspective whether a recording can actually sound mainstream or – to put it the other way round – whether the term characterizes a sonic, meaning aesthetic quality. The paper approaches the pop mainstream from a praxeological perspective by asking how the interplay of different institutions and actors turns the mainstream into an interpretative scheme; this includes, in detail, the spheres of artistic production (including music production as well as non-musical domains like artwork), media distribution and promotion, coverage and finally perception and appropriation in everyday life. In this way it shall be outlined which position record production and sonic experience occupy in the social constitution of the pop mainstream. With reference to theoretical concepts such as image, branding and crossmedia it can be shown that notions of “mainstreamness” also emerge in a network of performative, pictorial, filmic and textual events.

Keywords: mainstream, record production, praxeology

Dr. Christofer Jost is lecturer at the Centre for Popular Culture and Music, University of Freiburg, and Associate Professor (Privatdozent) at the Department of Media Studies, University of Basel. Mail: christofer.jost@zpkm.uni-freiburg.de


Towards a standardization of the recording room: the impact of the Westlake-Estlake design on the Spanish musical productions of the 70s

Marco Antonio Juan de Dios Cuartas, Complutense University of Madrid, mjuanded@ucm.es

During the 1960s, most of the recording studios located in Madrid (Spain) were equipped with recording rooms of large dimensions, as it was the case of Hispavox or Cinearte, which were designed for the recording of symphony orchestras. In these productions, the reflections generated by the acoustics of the room were used as part of the recording, adding tonal colour to the signal of the original source. But the decade of the 1970s meant the introduction of acoustic designs with much more neutral and muffled rooms, which changed the recording process by using close miking techniques and adding the acoustic reflections through plate reverb units like those of EMT or AKG. The magazine Studio Sound, in a survey published in 1979, confirms the fact that the use of this type of units is already widespread in Spanish recording studios at the end of the decade. This change in music production is possible, in part, with the application of acoustic designs under international standards. For example, Tom Hidley recast the Westlake company in Europe under the name of Eastlake and began to carry out acoustic designs in some Spanish recording studios including Musigrama or Eurosonic in the 1970s. As Zagorski-Thomas points out: “the idea was to make the spaces neutral so that recordings made at a Westlake studio could be added to at any other Westlake studio in the world” (Zagorski–Thomas, 2012: 72). This research aims to analyse the impact that the Westlake-Eastlake acoustic design had on Spanish productions during this decade and the change that this fact implied in the world of sound with respect to the productions of the immediately preceding decade.

Keywords: Spanish recording studios, acoustic design, Westlake, Eastlake.


Music and the Subcultural Sacred

Antti-Ville Kärjä, Academy Research Fellow, Music Archive Finland


Countercultural anti-religiosity of black metal, resurgence of pagan musical practices, and alternative spiritualities associated with electronic dance music, among other things, signal a recent change in the Western religious landscape that has been discussed for instance in terms of re-enchantment, re-sacralisation and post-secularisation, yielding attempts to “rescript the sacred” through popular culture. My aim is to participate in this discussion from another direction, by reconceptualising “the popular” through “the sacred.” This entails interrelating the two concepts in their multidimensionality; alongside the multiple dimensions of “popular culture” either as quantitative, aesthetic, sociological, folk, political or postmodern phenomenon, the idea of “multiple forms of the sacred” will be adopted. Thus, in addition to the religious dimension of the sacred, it is possible to consider its political, national(istic), economic and subcultural conceptualisations. My focus will be on the last of these, based on the pronounced role of popular music in subcultural theorisation.


Stark Raving Bad? The Women of the 21st Century UK Free Party Scene

Marianne Louise Keeler

University of Lincoln – MA Gender Studies and currently also employed by UoL as a Research Assistant and School of Social & Political Sciences Ambassador.

Email: 13477091@students.lincoln.ac.uk

This paper draws together the findings of two primary research projects; a mixed methods study conducted in 2016, which brought the research field up-to-date and situated both women and older people firmly within the Free Party / Illegal Rave Scene; and analyses of the findings of subsequent semi-structured interviews with female-identifying (including transgender) participants in 2017/18. The main focus of the second project was to understand why so few females identified themselves as having a ‘significant role’ within the scene, by interviewing both those who had, or had not, done so in the first study. The key questions being around perceptions of which roles held most prestige and whether they linked to criminality, rig ownership, ‘celebrity’ performers or the under-estimation of the value of ‘women’s work’. The analysis also aimed to establish what else these gendered perspectives could tell us about the wider gender, ageing and ‘rave career’ ethnographies of the members of this thriving transgressive community in 21st century Britain and how the Free Party Scene has evolved and survived over almost thirty years.


Why Do We Call it ‘Pop’?

Keir Keightley

Faculty of Information & Media Studies,

University of Western Ontario; member of IASPM Canada

Keywords: Popular Music Studies; Mediation; Theory; Genealogy; History

“In his Keywords, Raymond Williams (1976) remarked that ‘culture is one of the most complex terms in the language’ . . . in the world of PMS, ‘pop’ has the same reputation”  (Dave Laing, Popular Music, 2013, p. 532) This paper examines something so commonplace, so taken-for-granted, that it has become almost invisible, if not inaudible: the word “pop” as applied to the music we analyze. Why do we call it “pop”? Where did that name come from? When did people start talking about “pop songs”? And how might a fuller account of its emergence help better theorize the particularities of our object of study? The paper interrogates the “pop” in popular music studies by reconstructing and theorizing several semantic streams that converge and constitute it. These move from the efforts of cultural elites to programme European art music for proletarian audiences in the mid-19th century, to retail marketing and “popular price” strategies of an emerging consumer culture, from the rise of extensive vaudeville circuits in North America in the 1890s, to the earliest published usages of “pop song” in the 1910s, from the influence of the Pop Art movement of the early 1960s, to the later development of a rock culture understood as antithetical to pop (the notorious rock versus pop binary). Some assert that “pop” is nothing more than shorthand for “popular.” Yet when we carefully trace the multiple historical usages converging in this pithy abbreviation, doubts and confusions arise, and questions proliferate. While persistently alluding in some way to the “popular,” a Foucauldian genealogy of “pop” reveals fractures and contradictions and complexities inside this seemingly simple, even trivial, word. As Stuart Hall has argued in “Notes on Deconstructing the Popular” (1981), the period between 1880-1930 saw not only the rise of the cultural industries and mass media we now study. This period also experienced enormous upheavals and rearticulations that continue to shape our understandings of society, democracy, and the status of “the popular.” Among other things, this meant that the “popular” ascribed to new forms of technologically mediated and commodified “pop music” might not necessarily refer to the approval of large audiences, as Simon Frith (1996) has argued. Crucially, such misreadings of the politics of pop are not unrelated to the coeval rise of political populism.


SNUB TV – No Remote Control

Brenda Kelly

SNUB TV was a critically acclaimed series that chronicled the thriving independent music sector over three BBC series, from 1989 – 1991. On the eve SNUB TV’s 30th anniversary, co-creator and producer Brenda Kelly explores the special combination of factors that produced SNUB TV .Are there lessons to be learned for other media representations of music?  What can theorists and other practitioners add to this understanding. How can music be meaningfully represented in the media?

A number of things made SNUB TV different. Reflecting the DIY spirit of the times, SNUB was a television debut for its producers, Brenda Kelly and Peter Fowler, whose professional background was not in television, but the independent music sector. Their aim was to present a passionately curated survey of unrepresented independent music, and produce a show that disrupted the conventions of music television. SNUB was not a commissioned programme, it was an acquisition for the BBC. This meant editorial autonomy, and their own archive. There was no remote control. Against TV tradition – and the BBC’s preference – SNUB was presenter-free, foregrounding the music and the artists. Arguably, the series pre-figured internet media production in its spirit of independence and control.

The independent music sector created its own parallel universe, away from the mainstream, creating and distributing music on its own terms, in its own way. Embodying this, SNUB – on a tiny budget, produced much of its own material: live footage, videos and interviews.  SNUB was musically democratic: hip hop, trip hop, guitar bands and the avant-garde all found a place on SNUB. It commissioned original theme music from dub music producer Adrian Sherwood of ON-U- Sounds, and graphics from designers on the independent scene, Me Co and 23 Envelope. All this is what gave the series an authenticity and an aesthetic that mirrored the music and wider sector.

This paper involves various of the interdisciplinary categories of Crosstown Traffics including: popular music theory and practice, practice-based or practice-led research, interdisciplinary approaches, performative or embodied understandings, and in addition, media representations of popular music

(Brenda Kelly is a member of MeCCSA, and a lecturer in media, visual culture & broadcasting at FIE – Foundation for International Education)



Consequences of Generic Codification in Twenty-First Century Metalcore

Lewis Kennedy (ISMMS, IASPM UK&I) University of Hull

Following the emergence of the so-called New Wave of American Heavy Metal (NWOAHM) during the first few years of the twenty-first century, metalcore came to replace nu metal as the predominant mainstream metal/hardcore genre in media and fan discourses (Smialek 2015). Prior to this period, ‘metalcore’ generally referred to an amorphous mixture of metal and hardcore that some trace to crossover in the late 1980s, while others consider it a development of hardcore during the 1990s. Recent scholarship points toward the NWOAHM period as the first example of metalcore as a standalone genre, complete with specific, identifiable stylistic traits. Through generic codification, wherein a confluence of various factors demarcated the genre, metalcore integrated new influences and audiences before narrowing its scope to focus on a few specific influences and styles. Utilising metalcore as a case study of the interconnected nature of metal/hardcore music genres, this paper addresses the consequences of generic codification by exploring how changes in a single genre affect conceptions of various other genres. I identify and discuss three key consequences of NWOAHM-codification: (1) the diminishing influence of hardcore, (2) retrospective repositioning of artists and artefacts, and (3) competing historiographical narratives regarding metalcore’s position within metal/hardcore. Comparing specific artefacts and claims from multiple sources, I investigate how generic codification might reconcile conflicting perspectives on metalcore by allowing multiple ‘versions’ of the genre to exist concurrently. In so doing, the paper outlines ways by which we might negotiate metal/hardcore (and musical genres more generally) as simultaneously diachronic and synchronic.


Hyperintimacy in St. Vincent’s “Hang On me”

Emil Kraugerud, PhD research fellow, Department of Musicology, University of Oslo


In the proposed paper, I will analyze and discuss the vocal staging in the song “Hang On Me” from St. Vincent’s recent album, MASSEDUCTION (2017). In the analysis, I will focus on how the production of the voice plays on embodied notions of intimacy in terms of exaggerating certain characteristics of actual intimate voices, resulting in a kind of intimacy that can be regarded as surreal. The exaggeration of intimate vocal characteristics present in this song, as well as in others, resembles how pop music videos often direct attention to the human body in exaggerated ways, which the term hyperembodiment aims to address (see, e.g., Hawkins, 2013). To address the ways in which recorded intimacy directs exaggerated attention to the embodied voice, I suggest to introduce the term hyperintimacy. Hyperintimacy thus refers to an exaggerated form of intimacy, including, for example, the ways in which an intimate voice can occur in an otherwise unintimate sound setting.

While vocal staging and spatiality are now much-explored topics, this paper will focus on a specific type of spatiality, namely intimacy. Intimacy is an essential human phenomenon that has been remarked upon in several analyses of musical spatiality, but has yet to be properly theorized, especially in the context of music production. With this paper, then, I will devote attention to some aspects of sonic intimacy in recorded popular sound, as well as investigate the notion of recorded intimacy as an embodied phenomenon.

Keywords: record production, popular music, intimacy, embodiment.


Mixing electronic music in 3D using high order ambisonics

Oliver Larkin, University of Huddersfield

Recent developments in the field of virtual reality (VR) and 360 video have created a surge of interest in spatial audio due to the importance of sound in immersive experiences. In addition to this a small but significant number of large-scale 3D sound systems have been installed at festivals and in public spaces. Commercial systems such as Dolby Atmos have been installed in clubs, and an increasing number of musicians from a variety of genres are being inspired to make, or at least experiment with ”spatial music” due to technologies such as Facebook 360 and Youtube 360.

Ambisonics is a 40 year-old technique for 3D sound field reproduction that until recently has mainly been championed by University researchers and by enthusiasts around the world. Apart from the “Soundfield” microphone, it has largely been neglected by the audio technology industry as it has been seen as being commercially unviable. Suddenly Ambisonics is in the spotlight due to its suitability for headphone-based binaural listening experiences. It has been embraced by Google, Facebook and many other companies for their platforms. This means that Ambisonics (and in particular High Order Ambisonics or HOA) is making its way into audio production software and consumer devices. Enthusiastic spatial audio researchers and software developers have created new techniques and free accessible tools which make audio production in HOA viable, and HOA is incorporated into the new MPEG-H standard that is being adopted in broadcast.

This workshop will demonstrate some of these new possibilities to conference delegates using the University of Huddersfield’s SPIRAL studio, which features 25 Genelec loudspeakers in a 3D configuration. Oliver has recently remixed a commercial psychedelic trance track in this space using HOA. This is available on a VR website featuring binaural audio, and on Facebook 360 and Youtube 360.  Oliver will use this material as well as music in other genres, to introduce some of the practicalities of working in this medium.
Bio: Oliver Larkin is a creative music technologist, audio software developer and PhD researcher in spatial audio based in Huddersfield. He is supervised by Alex Harker in the Music Department and Hyunkook Lee in the Computing/Engineering department. He has previously worked at the Universities of York and Leeds, and has developed critically acclaimed audio software that is used by many musicians and sound designers. He also develops technology for music and sound art installations and has been a technical assistant and software developer on several spatial audio projects.
Keywords: spatial audio, ambisonics, binaural, electronic music, spatial music


Spatial perspectives of electronic dance music and how it relates to my music

Sebastien Lavoie, University of Huddersfield, Sebastien.Lavoie@hud.ac.uk

Keywords: Spatialisation, Sound Immersion, Electronic Dance Music (EDM), Performance

In this paper I will discuss the technical implementation of space in my performance practice and I will elaborate on my compositional approach in relation to sound spatialisation.  An historical overview of compositions using spatial considerations as a main musical parameter will allow me to situate my work within this artistic practice. Also, I will talk about different implementations and propositions of spatialisation that have been used (as well as the principal locations dedicated to this form of activity) up until this day. A fundamental part in my investigations is about how I can use spatialisation techniques in EDM to enhance my music through an immersive sound experience. I will conclude with the analysis of the work composed.


The imagined nation from the Wind

Na Li

Email: NXL399@student.bham.ac.uk or lina87419@gmail.com Institutional affiliation: University of Birmingham, Department of Music

Chinese popular music, since its birth, has been involved with the construction of national identity. How audience perceive Chineseness and the characteristics that perform this impression have become increasingly important factor in contemporary Chinese musical discourse. By exploring the presentations and representations of Chineseness in this form through the production of recordings and music videos, this paper emphasizes the production and perception for one particular style of Mandopop – China Wind (which was a dominant form of popular music in the Greater Chinese community, especially in mainland China from 2000 until present). From two contradictory senses of ‘our music’ and ‘uncertain and confused’ that are perceived by Chinese audiences, this paper firstly analyzes how sound, text and image perform identities of China Wind music, in particular, how the concept of Chinese style has been constructed through national symbolism (e.g. Hebdige 1979; Torode 1981) of this musical form. Furthermore, it explores how the concept of Chinese style has built an ‘imagined Chinese nation’ (Anderson 1983) in the case of China Wind.


Listening Again to Popular Music as History

Sounding Out History: The Present in the Past

Conveners: Nicholas Gebhardt and Paul Long

Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research

Birmingham City University

Key Themes:

Popular music as historical source

Retrieving historical acts of hearing and listening/historicizing hearing and listening

The function of popular music as historical referent

Understanding the historical moment(s) of popular music as music

Archival sound

Writing histories with music, recordings and performance.

This panel engages with historiographical questions and issues of method around popular music as historical source, and reflects on the range of cultural practices within history, heritage, and memory. It seeks to understand how our ideas about the past relate to the present, and what the possibilities are for rethinking that relationship. Each of the speakers will explore different aspects of our historical experience of popular music by analysing the ways in which the past presents itself to us, how it enters our lives, and the different forms through which it does so.


Giving the past a voice: Song as oral history

Toby Martin, University of Huddersfield, UK

While song lyrics are often used by historians to vividly illustrate particular themes or issues from the past, less attention has been paid to songs as historical sources in their own right. However, songs – both their sound and their words – have the potential to tell us things about the past that other more traditional sources don’t (see Irving 2010; Springer 2006; White & White: 2005). This is particularly the case when dealing with communities who have been traditionally silenced by history – for example Indigenous peoples, migrant communities, queer groups, prisoners, and women. Often the voices of minority groups absent from the written historical record are resurrected through oral history projects. Song has the potential to expand on and deepen such projects – to provide evidence of an emotional responses to historical phenomena, and to provide a record of those who have died, can no longer be interviewed, but have left behind recordings of songs.  Often the voices of minority groups in song defy hegemonic power structures and suggest future directions for political action.  This paper will consider in a general way the possibility of song to give voice to the past, however will include particular examples from Australian Aboriginal folk and country music and examine some of the research being undertaken in that field (see Bracknell 2014; Walker 2015).

Keywords: Oral history, song, indigenous


‘The now of recognisability’: popular music, the archive, and historical contingency

Dr Gerry Moorey, University of Gloucestershire

In this paper, I will apply Walter Benjamin’s notion of the ‘dialectical image’ to music. In particular, I’m interested to explore Benjamin’s idea that outmoded commodities, such as old musical recordings and their associated playback technologies, ‘ripen’ or ‘mature’ so that their historical meaning – ‘the relation of what-has-been to the now’ – suddenly reveals itself. For Benjamin, this ‘flashing up’ of the past into the present is experienced as a revelatory moment in which one gains a sense of the past as lived experience: the hopes and dreams, sorrows and joys that characterised life in a particular era and with which we, in the present, are able to empathise. This historical experience is, however, fragile, fleeting and contingent – dependent on our readiness in the present to be able to grasp and recognise it.  In order to flesh out this notion of the dialectical image as it applies to recorded music, I’ll draw on Roland Barthes’ notion of ‘grain’ and Ernst Bloch’s ideas about immanent utopianism. The second half of the paper will examine these ideas in relation to the 1939 recording of ‘Mbube’ by Solomon Linda and the Evening Birds. An account of the origins of this song and its subsequent afterlife will be given in order to demonstrate the high level of historical contingency that pertains to music and its associated archival practices.

Keywords: music, archive, contingency, dialectical image


“Never under-rate the wily Pathan”: John Lennon and History

Jon Stewart, BIMM Institute, Brighton

A historically-aware songwriter and performer who grounded his work in the experiences of his youth and his cultural back story, John Lennon included conspicuous references to historical literature, events and characters in his lyrics and other texts. This paper is inspired by Fredric Jameson’s famous exhortation “Always historicise!” (1981, p. 1) and develops the methodology he outlined in The Political Unconscious, Narrative as a Socially Symbolic Act to examine Lennon’s sense of the past from the perspective of three semantic horizons: individual artefacts and utterances, class interests, and emergent modes of production. It begins with the Victorian and Edwardian legacy that influenced Lennon’s formative years, including his early exposure to the Whig interpretation of history. It then considers his Irish heritage, the recent history of World War II, and his nostalgia for the Liverpool of his childhood – as Lennon articulated these in various “ideologemes”, or expressions of class consciousness, in his work. Finally, it examines Lennon’s output in terms of historical epochs, or modes of production. Lennon’s innate class antagonism was, however, also tempered by a growing commitment to absolute idealism. Here, spiritual connections overrode class antagonism as the underlying determinant of human progress.  This primacy of the spiritual over the material, ultimately, constituted the core message of Lennon’s output. In this rejection of historical materialism he proved, arguably, more Hegelian than Marxist. The work draws on Henry W. Sullivan’s Lacanian analysis of The Beatles (1995) to provide a psychoanalytical perspective on this transformation, and suggests that Lennon personified a longstanding ideological and methodological dichotomy between New Left class-consciousness and Hippie spirituality.



Panel – Listening Again to Popular Music as History

Material Histories of Popular Music as History: Practice and Identity.

Conveners: Nicholas Gebhardt and Paul Long

Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research

Birmingham City University

Key Themes:

The materiality of popular music sounds and artefacts

Mentalités of modernity and popular music

Retrieving historical acts of hearing and listening/historicizing hearing and listening

Writing histories with music, recordings and performance.

Morten Michelsen (2004) suggests that music is understood as an experience constituted of more than the coherent object presented in any one piece or sound. Music incorporates parts of songs, albums, genres and ‘objectified goods’ that can be bought, sold and exchanged – as computer files, vinyl or sheet music as well as associated merchandise or intermediations. These papers extend the historiographical focus of the first panel on popular music as history. Each considers historical questions concerning the materiality of practices and identity formation associated with music’s creation, dissemination and consumption.


“Contents Expected to Speak for Themselves”: A Brief History of North American Record Retail and Self Service

Dr. Tim J. Anderson

Old Dominion University

To take music seriously we must address its consumption for the mode through which music is received is fundamental to understanding its social position and meaning. Music is always a social act, including the many logistical maneuvers necessary to place a record in front of a possible listener. Records are both produced and distributed through specific cultural material imaginations and practices that are focused on generating acts of association. Record retail, a severely understudied area in popular music, offers us a convenient space through which, as Will Straw, we “examine the material supports which enable music to assume its social and cultural existence” (Straw 2012, p. 229). As Straw notes, because “music arrives in our lives propped up by multiple forms of material culture”, music retail is a significant site for analysis (pg. 227). As such, this paper argues that understanding record retail’s general move from full service to self service in the 1940s and 1950s provides us not only with a new imagination of sales spaces and protocols for chains, department and independent stores alike, but a new sense of the who the customer was, including their sense of self vis a vis records. This paper draws from secondary literature regarding American and British retail, as well as trade literature discussing the necessity and advantages of moving to self-service modes of record retail. Throughout I argue that the history of self-sales strategies for records allows an understanding of music retail that is conceived as simultaneously mass and individualized. As such issues of such as record stock, music segregation and sales staff bring to questions issues of both guidance and identification, through which we gain yet another understanding of both how and why record retail has and continues to be closely associated to issues of race, class and gender.

Keywords: consumption; retail; self-service; guidance and identification.


“Female is not a genre”: The Gendering of Vinyl

Karlyn King

University of Birmingham

This paper uses Williams’ (1961) definition of culture as intrinsically linked to objects and behaviours. That is, we cannot discuss the historical context of musical listening culture without including the corresponding cultural practice of associated artefacts. It is evident that all variations of gender listen to music. However, this paper will examine vinyl record listening culture in the context of gender roles and specifically, the exclusion or lack of visibility of women among such high fidelity practice from 1950-present day. With regards to vinyl records, popular culture has permeated the norm of the “technocratic male preserve” (Greer and Sommerich, 1994, p 37) in the record store. This has been strengthened by social conditioning (Belk and Wallendorf, 1994) and historically rigid gender roles (Keightley, 1996; Doane, 2009). An examination of popular online vinyl retailer forums provides contemporary insight into this systemically embedded pattern which appears to persist even among vinyl’s recent second coming. The novelty of female vinyl fans, outwith the sexualised images used by the marketing industry, is always thoroughly questioned for evidence of the homogenous male traits which make a credible collector. The exclusivity of maintaining such a homogenised practice appears to be linked with an ongoing quest for high expertise, elitist, purist attitudes and subsequent high status, and seemingly, women are not invited. This paper will examine alternative accounts, or as Fraser might call them “subaltern counterpublics” (Fraser, 1990, p 67) from cultural theory, practice and ethnographic research in an attempt to document the slow historical change within gendered listening practice.

Keywords: vinyl; gender; artefacts; history; sexism


Idiosyncrasies within Australian Guitar Culture:

An Historical Examination of Developments Within Popular Music.

Daniel Lee

University of Tasmania

This paper discusses the findings of a qualitative study, conducted in Australia, which embarked on the task of defining Australian guitar culture. This was undertaken by identifying and locating musically notate-able, quintessentially Australian guitar performance styles through an analytical look at the music of historically significant Australian artists. With a focus on popular music styles and historical developments, idiosyncratic features were identified and investigated regarding their foundation influences, development and recurring further influence on the following generations of Australian guitarists. The educational value and relevance of each feature within a contemporary guitar curriculum is discussed alongside the historical narrative and aesthetic evaluation. Findings of the study include the blending of American and British styles with Australian culture to create a vibrant local sub-genre and historical referencing of subsequent generations of musicians.

Keywords: contemporary popular music; guitar culture; Australia; education


3D Audio for Music : Investigating 3D recomposition for binaural reproduction.

Jo Lord – London College of Music, University of West London


The research project investigates and explores the development, practical application and aesthetic suitability of 3D mix technique for record production, the current developments and changes in consumer listening behaviour and the demand for an aesthetic, affordable and convenient 3D audio reproduction. The practical element focuses on re-composing stereo pieces for 3D over headphone consumption using perceptually-motivated production, an Auro 13.1 speaker array and binaural decoders. The first objective analyses the translation differences between the 13.1 speaker reproduction and the binaurally decoded 3D versions, negotiating the practical and aesthetic adaptations required for mixing 3D for headphones using a multichannel speaker array and binaural encoding. An important and fundamental objective posing questions such as; ‘How should we mix 3D music for current user listening trends?’ “How will variation of encoder, headphone and listener affect the perceived musicality and 3D translation?” Research as practice takes an ecological focus in the development of 3D production technique. The study’s second objective investigates auditory perceptual phenomena, peripheral and kinetic staging, timbre, conceptual blending and sonic cartoons. Drawing upon questions such as; ‘How could we utilise 3D audio to benefit composition and music production?’  ‘How could we utilise our understanding of human perception to better 3D music production?’ and ‘How could we arrange a sound stage for 3D music?’ The translation of array to headphones and the creative 3D aesthetic are subjectively assessed in both 13.1 and 3D binaural playback during a series of randomised listening tests using a consistent sample of expert and non-expert consumer volunteers.’

Key Words: 3D Audio,  Recomposition, Record Production,  Sonic Cartoons,  Ecological Perception.



Steven Malliet

Keywords: Electronic Dance Music (EDM), Ritual experience, Neo-tribalism, Post subcultural theory

EDM events are commercial or non-commercial gatherings of people, experiences clearly constrained in time and space. “EDM” is often used as an umbrella term for all genres of electronic dance music. At other times, people argue that EDM is a genre in itself. In this paper “EDM” is used as an umbrella term, including the subgenres of house (e.g.: Fedde Le Grand, Laidback Luke, Steve Angello), techno (e.g.: Carl Cox, Adam Beyer, Richie Hawtin), trance (Armin van Buuren, W&W, Paul van Dyk), psychedelic (e.g.: Astrix, Infected Mushroom, Nelix), dubstep (e.g.: Skrillex, Snake, Diplo), drum ‘n bass (e.g.: Nero, Pendulum, Noisia), and the harder styles (e.g.: D-Block & S-Te-Fan, Noisecontrollers, Angerfist).

In this paper we  aim to make steps towards a model for the quantitative analysis of the EDM event experience, using insights from both classical subcultural theory and contemporary remediations of it. In a first section we provide a literature overview, positing that neo-tribalism is a relatively new way to study the scene, although opinions are divided whether or not the framework forwarded by Maffesoli is the most appropriate to study the EDM scene. We will next present the results of a survey that was administered with 339 EDM enthusiasts in Belgium and the Netherlands, using principal components analysis to identify different dimensions of the EDM experience. This serves as a first attempt to make the EDM event experience measurable and suitable for comparative and quantitative analysis.


‘Ain’t misbehavin’: Jazz music in children’s television

Dr Liam Maloy

Keywords: Jazz, television, childhood, education

Institutional affiliation: University of Nottingham

Email address: liam.maloy@nottingham.ac.uk

Jazz music in children’s television communicates contradictory, complex and often problematic messages about childhood. Integrating studies of music, social history, childhood, education and visual media, this paper explores two main ways in which jazz signifies wider meanings about childhood, whilst examining the genre’s use as a pedagogical tool for children. Jazz music on children’s television reveals relationships of knowledge and power between producers and young consumers, between those creating representations of jazz and those being represented by it.

Firstly, jazz (particularly bebop and ‘cool’ modernist styles) implies hipness, exclusivity, autonomous detachment, and a self-imposed separation from adults. Conversely, moaning saxophones, swung rhythms and ‘blue’ notes infer adult sexuality, hustlers, down-and-outs, dancing, drinking and other ‘adult’ vices. In this context, jazz music in children’s television offers children a glimpse of the ‘grown up’ world outside of the mythologised walled garden of childhood. Textual and contextual analysis is used to interpret and explain the musical, lyrical, and sonic tropes of age in case studies that include the ‘jazz age’ Hollywood cartoons of Warner Brothers, Fleischer Studios, and Disney, the work of Hanna-Barbera (The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Yogi Bear and Top Cat), The Pink Panther and the Charlie Brown/Peanuts TV specials.

Finally, the paper contrasts the substantial inclusion of jazz music, singers and performers in The Muppet Show with the more infrequent, mannered and didactic use of jazz in Sesame Street to highlight how the genre contributes to contrasting philosophies of childhood education.


Liam Maloy is currently a seminar teacher in Transnational Media at the University of Nottingham. His research interest is in music and media made for children. His forthcoming book Spinning the Child (Routledge) discusses how recorded music for children contributes to constructions of childhood in specific socio-historical settings. His proposed post-doctoral study focusses on the music produced and commissioned for children by the BBC and how it is informed by public service commitments, changes in funding, and developments in transmedia. Liam writes, records and performs music for children with his band Johnny and the Raindrops.


EDM Producers’ Reflections on Groove

Jon Marius Aareskjold, Ragnhild Brøvig-Hanssen, Bjørnar Sandvik,

How do DJs and producers within the EDM genre think about and manipulate groove, feel and timing when making contemporary electronic dance music? In what ways are timing and sound related? Drawing on qualitative interviews with internationally esteemed Norwegian DJs and EDM producers, this paper examines how these producers talk and think about groove, and which parameters they valorise when it comes to creating a “good” groove for the dance floor. We found that the EDM producers we interviewed seem to be particularly concerned with sound as a defining parameter of “good” grooves, and, to various extent, the manipulation of dynamics and micro-timing. As such, our paper reports on what tools they use in their manipulation of sound, dynamics and timing, including programming strategies, such as levelling, off-the-grid sequencing and quantization, along with more technical processing tools, including gating and side-chain-compression. It also reports on how the producers reflect upon the relationship between sound and timing, such as whether they consider their manipulation of dynamics to affect the perception of the sounds’ temporal placement at the micro-level. We believe that this research provides valuable perspectives to the field of rhythm studies, as it emphasizes and demonstrates that the parameters valorised in the creation of “good” groove differs, and are treated differently, in different genres and contexts.

Keywords: Production, EDM, Groove, Sound, Timing

Institutional affiliation and contact information:

Jon Marius Aareskjold (corresponding author)

University of Agder

Email: jon.m.aareskjold@uia.no

Bjørnar Sandvik

Department of Musicology

University of Oslo

Email: bjornar.sandvik@imv.uio.no

Ragnhild Brøvig-Hanssen

RITMO and Department of Musicology

University of Oslo

Email: ragnhild.brovig-hanssen@imv.uio.no


Bob Dylan’s iconic gender performativity and performance in 1960’s American Culture SaraMartínez, Lancaster University

This paper will consider Bob Dylan’s rupture with both dominant models of male identity and song folklore between 1962 – 1966, a decisive period in his career. Not just an innovator in the musical field, Dylan also acted as a catalyst in terms of presenting a renewed conception of ‘masculinity’ that offered alternatives to the models which were widely endorsed in American society. I will refer to Theodore Roszak’s seminal work The Making of a Counterculture (1969), as it illustrates the main pillars that compounded the birth and development of the countercultural movement of which Dylan was a reluctant leader. This analysis will focus on the importance of Dylan’s presence in popular culture in contrast with two American male icons of the 50’s —James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause and Jack Kerouac in On The Road—, as his presence offers alternative models of masculinity from that of the 1950s, or those available within folk culture. In order to do explore this argument, I will use Todd Haynes’ I’m Not There (2007) which features six incarnations of Dylan that reflect both the chameleonic-like evolution of his masculinity, and the use of masks that hidden the ‘real’ identity that exists behind the public persona.

Contact details: Sara Martínez Molina Full-Time PhD student at Lancaster University Department of English and Creative Writing Area of expertise: American Literature, Post-War American Culture, Popular Music Email address: martinezmolinasara@gmail.com


Can Harmonic Techniques Common In UK Singles Chart Music Of The 1980s Be Successfully Used In Music Targetting Today’s UK Singles Chart?

Jim Mason

A notable aspect of a significant proportion of music in the UK singles chart in the 1980s was its harmonic complexity.  Many hit singles utilised devices such as pivot-chord modulations, modal interchanges, inversions, suspensions, pedal bass, chord extensions and a wide variety of different chord progressions to increase the potential for originality and stimulate listeners’ emotions in complex ways.  As examined by Serra, Corral, Boguna, Haro and Arcos (2012), popular music has since become simpler – this is also specifically the case when comparing music in the UK singles chart in the 1980s with that in the 2010s.  Most UK singles chart music in recent years is harmonically conservative, often using the most “tried and tested” chord progressions, coupled with a lack of harmonic ambition, and relying on non-harmonic factors to differentiate itself from other work. Would music produced in today’s styles using the 1980s harmonic techniques discussed make the music more appealing and increase the chances of its commercial success, or would adding harmonic complexity detract from the work in a way its audience would find unappealing?  The researcher / practitioner attempts to answer the question through creation of music products, which combine the harmonic techniques discussed with modern production and composition styles, and responses to the work.

Keywords: music, chart, 1980s, harmony

Institutional Affiliation: University of Chester

E-mail Address: j.mason@chester.ac.uk


Power Politics in Practice as Research    

Sara McGuinness

University of West London

Keywords: Cross cultural collaboration, Practice as research, Congolese music, Cuban music.

As Popular music studies moves into the world of practice based research, researchers are increasingly confronted with ethical issue. These considerations, new to many popular music scholars, are ones which ethnomusicologists and sociologists are used to grappling with. It could be argued that any research choices have an ideological subtext, but in the past researchers tended to research subjects they had no power over: their choices impacted on the subject area but not the practitioner.  Moving into the field of Practice based research, working with contemporary practitioners, the researcher is placed in a position where they have the power to actually change things. This brings with it ethical responsibility which needs to be addressed and carefully considered. In this paper I use my research bringing together UK based Congolese and Latin musicians as a case study. I reflect on the multitude of ethical issues encountered, arising from the socio-political climate, cultural norms and expectations. These include issues of mutual trust, shared and conflicting goals and financial considerations. I also touch upon the hidden agenda involved in such a project: the many hours spent on support work not central to the research but essential to it’s continuance and the health and well being of the musicians involved. While my project could be considered an extreme example, it does serve to highlight issues of ideology, social responsibility, the need for flexibility and the level of commitment required of the emic researcher.


Creating a Mastered Recording: Using Experiments, Ethnography and Practice Based Enquiry to Integrate a Common Interdisciplinary Research Framework.

Phillip McIntyre, University of Newcastle (Australia). phillip.mcintyre@newcastle.edu.au

Keywords: mastering, methodologies, research framework,

No matter whether you are engaged in recording EDM, metal, pop, rock, country, world music or any of the other myriad genres that tend to proliferate in the world of popular music, at some point in your record production you will encounter the process of mastering. Bob Katz (2002) has asserted that mastering is the last creative step in record production. In attempting to understand how this process works, as both a practitioner and a researcher, the author has undertaken three different methodological approaches to researching mastering. He conducted, in conjunction with a colleague from psychology, an experiment on audience reactions to mastering (Paton & McIntyre 2009), undertook an ethnographic approach to examining an in-depth case of mastering (McIntyre 2008). He then engaged in practice based enquiry (PBE) from the point of view of a DIY musician and record producer in an attempt to learn, use and understand the skills and techniques necessary to apply the mastering process (McIntyre 2017). The current paper, the fourth in this series, will directly examine these supposedly ontologically disparate methodological approaches and attempt to expose and integrate a common research framework that binds them together. In presenting this evidence, and the arguments that surround it, this paper will address an interdisciplinary approach to researching the inter-professional processes necessary to the creation of popular recorded music.


A splendid time is guaranteed for all: The recreation of The Beatles Sgt. Pepper album on stage.

Anthony Meynell

London College of Music / UWL

In 1967, The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper, an album that took 700 hours of studio time and embodied their ‘studio as instrument’ ethos to create music that could not be reproduced live. Together with electronic manipulation of performances, The Beatles conventional assignment of instruments “significantly diminished in importance, an approach that would make stage performance of those songs by the performers on the record impossible” (Everett 1999), while Moore (2001) states “the only thing we have approaching an authoritative score … is the recording itself”

Paradoxically, last years 50th anniversary of the album release included a multitude of live performances of the album, from the costumed bombast of The Bootleg Beatles with Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra to lesser but no less ambitious re-enactments, bringing together performers and audiences to share in a musical conceit and recreate something that never actually happened.

The recreation on stage of the album in sequence by Alain Pires Lonely Hearts Club Band in Huy and Mons, Belgium on 13th and 14th October 2017 provided a unique opportunity not only to perform, but also examine the process as an auto ethnographic study of music making beyond boundaries of locality. The concert bought together twenty-seven musicians across Europe into a musical landscape defined by a love of The Beatles repertoire.

Due to the geographical spread of musicians, pre-production relied on a collective practice as research to deconstruct available recordings and studio outtakes. Thus the participants collaborated in a unique interactive music making approach, sharing research and tacit knowledge, coming together in final rehearsal to combine into an arrangement with live mixing establishing the final balance. This paper illustrates with video examples the logistics of production and considers how recreating important sonic features are entwined with notions of authenticity, staging, performance and entertainment.


 All of the Lights – Hand Movements, Skills, and Visual Cues in Online Launchpad Videos

Dr. Maarten Michielse

Lecturer, Critical Digital Media Practice

Department of Sociology, Lancaster University, UK

This paper investigates the interplay between hand movements, skills, and visual cues in so-called ‘launchpad’ videos on YouTube. Launchpads are tools that digital musicians use to play (or ‘launch’) audio samples in a live or semi-live performance. In the last couple of years, YouTube has manifested itself as a popular platform for sharing performances with such launchpads. These videos are often filmed from a top-down perspective, focusing on the hands of the performer navigating the technology. The fact that large parts of a performance can be programmed in advance makes that these videos are often treated with suspicion by viewers. While digital music and DJ practices have always been surrounded by debates on authenticity, skills, and liveness (see Auslander, 2008; Attias, 2011, 2013; Borschke, 2017; Michielse, 2015; Rietveld, 2013, 2016; Thorton, 1996), Launchpad videos are particularly interesting in this regard because they put so much focus on the relation between the movement of the hands and the visual cues of the technology. Launchpads light up in different colour schemes when buttons are pushed (or ought to be pushed), resulting in elaborate ‘light shows’ during a performance. These light shows reinforce and sometimes contradict movements of the hands, thus (often purposefully and playfully) inviting discussions about the ‘realness’ of a performance. Based on early results of ongoing virtual ethnographic research (Hine, 2000) on launchpad videos on YouTube, this paper looks into the different ways in which launchpad performers and their viewers negotiate the meaning of digital music performances online.


Bound to the Grid: Accurate Groove in Popular Music since the Invention of Drum Machines and Quantisation

Keywords: quantisation, groove, rhythmic elements, studio production

Robert Michler

Email: robert.michler@hkb.bfh.ch Graduate School of the Arts/ University of Bern

Since new music technologies such as drum machines and synthesizers were introduced in the music scene in the 1980s, productions in pop and rock music have changed into accurate, rhythmic constructions when newer music technologies. Practice and performances have been considerably affected with regard to the approach of style and aesthetics. The technique of organising rhythmic events on a time-based grid is called quantisation and therefore has obviously had and still has a large impact on the specific components, which build the groove in popular music. In this context, diverse questions (naturally) arise: Why is an equal, machine-like order preferred in this type of music? Which ways, manners and interpretations of rhythmical play have been performed in the period before the above mentioned technical innovations, and has a transformation taken place? Is there a significant difference of machine-based groove concerning analogue and digital ways of production? In which way do the cultural meaning and aesthetics of popular music change under the circumstances of modified standards in production? This presentation displays and analyses the impact of drum machines and quantisation on the groove of popular music. It is assumed, that until today, quantisation has brought about a paradigmatic change, but has, however, not been discussed yet. An analysis of current discourse will be made to illustrate that contemporary productions use quantisation as a common tool and in a conscious way.


An Investigation into the Sonic Signature of the Teletronix LA2A Compressor

Institution: University of Huddersfield, School of Computing and Engineering

Name: Dr Austin Moore

Email: a.p.moore@hud.ac.uk

Keywords: Compression, LA2A, Sonic Signatures, Music Production

Previous research by the author established the LA2A was a popular compressor when processing vocals and bass guitars in music productions. However, there is a distinct lack of academic research into this classic studio compressor and no study into its sonic signature. Thus, this investigation fills a gap in knowledge by quantifying the LA2A’s sound quality at an objective and subjective level by conducting a series of objective and subjective measurements. A number of LA2A compressors were sourced from several recording studios in the UK and included both vintage and modern reissues. Collecting audio from a range of units allowed the author to compare and contrast their sonic signatures. Objective measurements were made using test tones to assess the total harmonic distortion (THD) over a range of frequencies and gain reduction amounts, and noise burst measurements were made to observe compression behaviour. Vocal and bass tracks were processed through the compressors at a number of gain reduction amounts, and the results were analysed using FFT, amplitude plots, audio feature extraction and subjective listening tests using the AB/X method. This study builds upon previous work by the author who investigated the sonic signature of the 1176 and will be of interest to music producers and academics who want objective data on these much-used pieces of equipment.


The ‘Performable Recordings’ model: Bridging the gap between studio and live performance in popular electronic music.

Christos Moralis

The emerging phenomenon of new types of bands or performers, in popular electronic music, who try to bring the studio sound on stage, created a gap between ‘human’ and ‘non-human’ that requires performers to work with technology in new ways, rather than mimic or use lip syncing. The ‘Performable Recordings’ model is, ‘a type of music production that enables the artist to perform a musical piece live, using, in real-time, the mixing and post production processes that create the aesthetics of a studio produced version’. Taking into consideration that sound affects human performance and conversely, human performance affects sound, this paper will discuss how the participants had to adapt their performance practices in new ways and the mixing processes had to be adapted on the performer’s’ needs. Having said that, musicians had to invest in the idea to go further than simply learning how to perform in these circumstances but also to ‘buy into’ the project by accepting the challenges that have been set. This research builds upon research on authenticity and its relation to aspects of liveness in these types of live performances. The aim is to create a musical process in which all the participants feel that the band is performing authentically while being sonically faithful to the genre or tradition. The key is the combination of machine accuracy with some aspects of human expressive performance in a way that maintains the integrity of the popular electronic musical style.

Keywords: popular electronic music, liveness, authenticity, live performance, studio production, real-time


Sample replays and their implications for producers and listeners

Justin Morey, Leeds Beckett University, j.morey@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

There is evidence that the cost of clearing the recording copyright of a sample (the master clearance) has risen significantly in the last 20 years (see, for example: McLeod and Di Cola, 2013; Morey, 2014), with one result being the increasing use of sample replay services, which create a sound-alike of a sample at a fraction of the price of clearing the original. A further recent development is that producers (hereafter sampling composers) whose records originally used cleared samples have found that on expiry of the term of clearance, record label demands to authorize an extension have become financially prohibitive, leading to a choice either to create a version with the sample replaced by a replay, or have the record disappear completely from streaming services and broadcast media.

Using qualitative data from practitioners involved in sampling, sample replay services, and sample clearance, this paper explores the implications of developments in the industrial management of copyright on the creative practice of sampling composers and the canon of sample-based music available to listeners, and considers issues of the aura and authenticity of an original recording in terms of sampling and sample replays.

Keywords: digital sampling; copyright; creative practice


From Music to Mock-ups and Back Again; Practical Applications for Virtual Orchestration.

Joseph Murphy

Dundalk Institute of Technology, Co. Louth.


When asked what advice he would give to up and coming composers, BAFTA award winning composer Garry Schyman recommended them to “learn the art of composing, become really good technologically, be able to take computers and synthesisers and samples and mock-up your music and make it sound fantastic without live players.” (Schyman, 2015)

This trend of virtual instruments becoming ever more pivotal in the working practice of composers, particularly those within the realm of scoring Music for Media, continues to grow and develop exponentially. Although technologies aiming to replicate live musical performances offer great opportunities for amateur composers and song writers, it also necessitates the learning of even more specialist skills; namely, those of ‘MIDI Orchestrating’ or ‘MIDI Programming’, in addition to a host of other ancillary disciplines related to general music production.           This paper presents an ongoing body of work which aims toward distilling and compiling a comprehensive source of a wide array of methods and techniques for this practice. To help composers best mediate this technological gap between their creative works and the utilizing of this technology to realize them virtually, this repository of practical approaches aims to cover all aspects of virtual instrument renditioning. This was achieved through a series of stages of gathering and disseminating a variety of resources and supplementary materials, in addition to those found first hand through applied composition, along with their effectiveness evaluated through comparative listening tests.


The Popular Music Heritage of Hungary

Tímea Murzsa

National Cultural Fund of Hungary – Hangfoglaló Program

In 2014, the National Cultural Fund of Hungary started the Hangfoglaló Program, since then, it aims to support the Hungarian popular music – help bands to broaden their opportunities for having concerts in and out of the country, give them bigger publicity, and show them a positive career model as musicians. It has nine subprograms which are covering several fields of the popular music from management to royalties.

The biggest subprogram is the one dealing with popular music heritage. Its main goal is to preserve, process and show the Hungarian popular music heritage. It is important as the recent past of Hungary cannot be understood without a glance at the popular music history. During the Socialist era, in the monopolistic system, popular music was a platform for young people to criticize the one-party state, mostly through lyrics with hidden symbols and messages, picturing the West as an idealized world. From a sociological point of view, the emerging of new musical subcultures formed by the ’lost youth’ of the low social classes, is also quite important.

The program is making oral history interviews with people who were working in the music industry and forming the cultural policy during the Socialism. Moreover, it is collecting in a database the important concert halls and clubs of this era. It is producing talk shows with musicians, running a blog, and making a film club with movies connected to this time, besides publishing books and making conferences.


Heaviness in Three Dimensions: The Use of Sonic Space in Contemporary Metal Music Production

Mark Mynett, University of Huddersfield, m.j.mynett@hud.ac.uk

Distinct challenges are posed when conveying contemporary metal music’s sounds and performance perspectives within a recorded and mixed form. Alongside harmonically distorted guitars, contemporary metal music often features down tuned, fast and frequently complex subdivisions, as well as highly synchronized instrumentation. The combination of these elements results in a significant concentration of dense musical sound usually referred to as “heaviness.”

This paper considers heaviness mainly within the secondary, rather than primary domain. Primary domains are concerned with tempo, meter, rhythm, melody and harmony. Secondary domains, which “shape” these primary domains, involve texture, timbre and location (Moore 2012, 29). Within secondary domains, heaviness is considered from the perspective of the three dimensions in which the music appears to take place, explaining how this style of music production utilizes this space for maximum sonic impact. In the same way that we use two eyes to perceive three dimensions, human hearing also perceives sound as existing in three dimensions. This is especially the case when listening to music involving performing musicians, rather than synthetic based sounds. In this paper, the degree of proximity/foregrounding and ambient characteristics is referred to as the ‘depth dimension’, the way that sounds and their frequency content are perceived as occupying space on the vertical plane is the ‘height dimension’, and the placement of sound sources within the panorama of the stereo field is the ‘width dimension’.


Changing practices in a globalised and digitalised music industry

Anja Nylund Hagen Postdoctoral Fellow, MUSEC Dep of Media and Communication, University of Oslo, Norway a.n.hagen@media.uio.no

The use of digital media has changed the ways in which music is produced and distributed. The revenue base for music has also changed, and several recent industry reports describe economic growth and optimism (e.g. IFPI). In Norway, this is evident in strengthened ambitions for international distribution of Norwegian music and increasing employment numbers of music industry professionals. In parallel, the digital turn has exposed the vulnerability of artists and industry professionals when confronted by new media technology with a global reach. The digital music market is entailed with new competition, but also new opportunities. Internet distribution of music means that geographical boundaries are less important. Hence professional investments, competences, and relations have to be adjusted according to the market logics of social media systems, streaming services, and a growing number of parties in a globalised field. In this context, the music industry as a workplace changes, but how this happens is underexplored. Inspired by production studies’ aim to identify the perspective and agency of particular actors, this paper asks for the music industry professionals’ views on what practices and activities that are key to reach international audiences with music. Using survey methodology supplemented by case studies and interviews, the study will account for the perspectives of both artists, managements, record labels, publishers and others. The findings expect to illustrate professional interplays of human and digital practices, where the distinctive negotiation of music as art and commodity also has to be taken into account. Keywords: music industry developments, digital media, music distribution, work practices


‘The undiluted squash of UK math rock’: The Performer’s View of ArcTanGent

Joe O’Connell


In its promotional materials, ArcTanGent describes itself as ‘the world’s ultimate music festival for connoisseurs of Math-rock, Post-rock, Noise-rock, Alt-rock and everything in between’. August 2017 saw the festival sell out its fifth instalment, attracting five thousand attendees to a farm south of Bristol. Its competitive booking of internationally-recognised acts makes ArcTanGent an unmissable event for fans of the genres, many of whom play in bands and aspire to perform at the festival themselves. In the case of the largely DIY UK math rock scene, this aspiration derives in part from ArcTanGent’s assumption of congressional status among scene participants. Not only does it provide a platform for lesser known bands to promote themselves to an engaged audience, it also presents an opportunity for scene stakeholders from around the UK to interact socially and strengthen networks. This paper draws upon multiple interviews with three bands on ArcTanGent’s 2017 line-up to provide an overview of the meaning of the festival to performers within the UK math rock scene. The levels of experience of each performer varied, from debutants (Right Hand Left Hand) to internationally-recognised veterans (TTNG) via current scene ‘stars’ (Alpha Male Tea Party). The findings of these interviews expose notable differences in the meaning of the festival to each subject, highlighting the excitement and expectation of newcomers on the one hand, and the limitations felt by more experienced performers on the other. The subjects’ levels of engagement with the event also serve to underline its importance to members of the scene, suggesting that in its short period of existence ArcTanGent has become an important pillar in the structure of this underground community.

Key words: Math Rock; Festivals; Performance; DIY; Subculture

Joe O’Connell is an Associate Lecturer in Music at Cardiff University. His PhD research examined notions of authenticity in the presentation of politically-engaged performers in Thatcherite Britain. He is currently undertaking ethnographic research on the UK math rock scene, with specific focus upon subculture and genre formation. Joe is an associate member of Cardiff University’s Festivals Research Group.


‘Move the needle’ – Gender Parity in Electronic Music

Dr. Caroline O’Sullivan

Dublin Institute of Technology


On International Women’s Day 2017, Smirnoff launched their “Equalizing Music” campaign with a pledge to double female headliners at electronic music festivals by 2020. In Ireland, they worked with the ‘Gash Collective’ and ‘This Greedy Pig’ to organise a number of female led workshops for women entitled “Move the Needle’ with the aim to increase representation of women across all elements of nightlife culture to drive meaningful and lasting change. This paper will outline the ongoing barriers that women face to gain access to all sections of the electronic music scene.  Focusing on initiatives such as ‘Move the needle’ it questions their impact and investigates why more women have not subsequently broken down the gender barrier. I outline the motivating factors for women to become involved in music performance and production and contrast them with those of their male counterparts to see if there are fundamental differences in why and how either gender become involved. I posit that through social interaction, the prevailing messages that women receive, is discouraging to their sense of ‘belonging’ to the music scene. I contend that rather than women gaining access to the positions that incur capital, both economic and cultural such as headliner, producer or promoter, they often continue to find themselves corralled into roles that offer them very little in terms of monetary or cultural reward. Finally, I examine some of the contemporary grass-root strategies that women have developed to encourage and motivate other females to become involved.

Keywords: electronic music, dj, women, gender


The Production of Silence

Richard Osborne, Middlesex University, R.Osborne@mdx.ac.uk

John Cage’s 4’33” is one of the most recognized pieces of avant-garde art. In respect of the concert hall tradition of classical music this apparently ‘silent’ piece has cornered the market in muteness. There is, however, a separate tradition of recorded silences, the majority of which occur within the field of popular music. The purpose of my talk will be to sound out and categorize these lesser-known works. Recorded silence has been used for aesthetic, political, memorial and economic purposes. It has raised questions about the sound of recording technologies, the silencing of musicians, the noise of everyday life and the right to be paid for doing ‘nothing’. It has highlighted the visual and audible differences between recording formats. It has sometimes aimed for inconspicuousness; at others it has sought to draw attention to itself. Ultimately, these silent records provide a counterpoint to and a commentary upon their more voluble recorded counterparts. I will argue that it is important for analyses of sound recording to address issues of non-sound recording. I will also play several of these ‘silent’ works.

Keywords: silence, record production, John Cage, sound recordings


Live-Market Evaluation of Interactive Music Apps

Rob Toulson & J. Paterson

Interactive Music Apps have been shown to enable unique and intimate listener experiences , which are not possible through physical, download or streaming music-formats. For example, in 2014-15, the AHRC-funded ‘Transforming Digital Music’ project presented a unique music format for iOS – known as ‘variPlay’. This format allows the user to explore the building blocks of an artist’s recorded music and interact with alternate versions of each song on the release. This paper discusses a further AHRC-funded extension of the variPlay project, with a particular focus on the business case for interactive apps in the popular music marketplace. In collaboration with Warner Music Group, the variPlay platform is explored in real-time by releasing customised apps for three major music-artists throughout 2018. To evaluate the business case, the commercialisation targets three different audience demographics to explore the appetite for interactive apps in potential consumer markets. Additionally, a number of monetisation approaches are tested in the field, including direct purchase, in-app purchase and free download (loss-leader) models.  Warner Music Group is marketing each app via its normal mechanisms for commercial music release on a global scale. The impactful journey from proof-of-concept research through to commercial release is documented, reflected upon and evaluated, incorporating a musicological perspective of the interactive-music landscape, identifying technological and artistic approaches, and analysis of commercialisation and IP milestones. The paper therefore acts as a roadmap and multi-faceted case study for music innovators wishing to pursue their own market-focused research projects.


From America to France: Perspectives on Hippiedom in ’60s and ’70s French Musical Discourse

Ruairidh Patfield


Between the late 1960s and early 1970s, France was profoundly influenced by the hippie movement emerging out of the United States. However, neither the hippiedom of San Francisco or that of Grateful Dead was the hippiedom that arrived on French shores. Due to a lack of direct contact between American and French youth cultures, the American hippie was mediated through reports by journalists and commercialised endeavours. This led to interpretations of hippiedom that were often at odds with the movement’s American manifestation: establishment stars such as the singer Johnny Hallyday would co-opt the hippie aesthetic, tour with Jimi Hendrix as support and glorify San Francisco without ever going beyond a superficial engagement with the movement’s philosophies. Others developed an apparently more sincere approach with hippiedom, but often fell back on a representation of American hippie movement as something fantastical; something Other. By examining the relationship that French youth culture had with American hippiedom and by exploring the prisms through which it was understood, this paper will consider the various forms of mediation involved in the trans-Atlantic voyage. In particular, it will utilise discourse in music magazines of the time and representations of hippiedom in popular music of the period to consider the French construction of the American hippie as an exotic, aspirational Other during the 1960s and 1970s.


The Ecological Approach To Analysis: subverting musical narratives through production technologies in case studies by Radiohead and Portishead

Gittit Pearlmutter (Bar Ilan University) & Simon Zagorski-Thomas (London College of Music, UWL)

In this paper we will explore one of the ways in which the ecological approach to perception and cognition (Gibson, 1979; Clarke, 2005; Moore, 2012) can be used in musical analysis. Through discussing expectations in terms of perceived invariant properties and affordances we will look at the creative process of record production as an interaction between listening expectations and ‘tool-use’ or activity-based expectations. Within that context Radiohead and Portishead provide specific details that demonstrate a more general shift in the tools of musical agency (BrøvigHanssen and Danielsen, 2016; Osborn, 2016): from voices and musical instruments to also include production technologies and the DAW (Théberge, 1997). The particular way these ensembles operate in the studio (O’Brien, 2000; Pizzo, 2014) stimulates a fresh range of disruptive behavior. Thus, ironically a main characteristic of this musical agency is the way it subverts story telling mechanisms. We will elaborate on this point and exemplify tool-uses that result in subverting musical narratives and their relationship to genre and style-focused listening expectations (Burns, Woods and Lafrance, 2016). Our analysis will include the following main categories: • Utilizing left-right panning, fade in / fade out, and deliberately bad edits as means for generating disorientation. • Vocal staging that challenges intelligibility and additionally subverts the human / machine dichotomy. • Internal structural functionality which undermines hierarchical relationships that propel musical energy. • Cases of rhythmic ambiguity.

Production technologies, ecological approach, invariant properties, musical meaning, Radiohead, Portishead, record production.


When slow is good: slowcore, space and power

J Mark Percival, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh

Key words: slowcore, tempo, aesthetics of music

In the splintering of sub-genres that accompanied indie music’s transition from the 1980s to the 1990s, a number of bands emerged that played sparsely arranged, down-tempo music in clear contrast to the layered overdriven guitars and conventional rock tempos of much alternative rock of the time.  These artists, which included Codeine (1989-1994, 2012) and Red House Painters (1988-2001) were grouped together as a new gene, slowcore.  Whilst not the first bands to use slow tempos to explore the harmonic power of particular rock sounds and melody, the so-called slowcore bands (none of who were ever fond of the term) existed at least in part as a reaction to the aggression and speed of the grunge movement. One of the most important of these bands was Low (1993-pesent), whose approach to tempo is most evident in their 1996 cover of Joy Division’s 1979 debut single, Transmission.

Joy Division’s backbeat propels the original single version along at around 154 BPM, to an official length of 3:36.  Low’s version, in a very similar arrangement runs at 113 BPM and clocks in at 6:14. If listeners are familiar with the original, this is almost painfully slow.  This paper therefore explores the ways in which slow music, and in particular indie/alternative pop and rock challenged alt-rock orthodoxy and aesthetics in the 1990s and beyond.

Email: mpercival@qmu.ac.uk


Wild Pop: a panel

Craig Pollard , Dr William Edmondes Dr Charlie Bramley I

nstitution: Newcastle University

email: craigxpollard@gmail.com

Keywords: practice-led, contemporary, pop

This panel presentation emerges from a timely recognition that the majority of commercial, popular music exists (increasingly) outside and beyond conventional notated paradigms, in a way that has yet to be sufficiently embraced or absorbed by academic music research, pedagogy or the wider community. By looking beyond musical paradigms derived from the European classical tradition – which academic research and pedagogy are often disinclined to relinquish – the panel will pursue an alternative language (or critical framework) that locates listening, spontaneity and intuitive decision making as core dynamics within contemporary popular music practice(s). Such dynamics might be heard within releases by Klein or Babyfather, the production and beat making of Metro Boomin or Mike WiLL Made-It, or the hyper pop of PC Music or Charli XCX. 1 And, in making this claim – towards listening, spontaneity and intuitive decision making – the panel attempts to trace a lineage of music making which pays critical attention to the importance of African diasporic musical forms and DJ culture (particularly post-Mancuso). The presentation will suggest that as these practices have found their way into some of the most commercial spaces of popular culture, they might be understood to have also (covertly) disseminated an array of latent creative potentials which, in turn, provide threads for active and engaged audiences to begin piecing together alternate models for music making and sharing.


How do different Doom subgenre terms operate for fans, artists, media and labels.

Simon Poole

The use of ‘genre’ as an idea in the production and consumption of music has clear benefits for the industry as a whole. The clear categorisation of music and musicians allows for the orderly business of marketing, selling, promoting, writing, reviewing and publishing; channeling information into traditional and emerging platforms, shops and magazines. However, the use of ‘genre’ within the realm of musical production has always posed challenges to musicians who fear career-long genre pigeonholing and restriction. Fans too, in a post subcultural world, are increasingly reluctant to restrict themselves through this kind of traditional labelling. This paper explores the progression, revivals, revisions and endless sub-genre splintering and arguments of musical development within ‘genre’ by utilising – borrowing from Koven’s exploration of the Italian ‘Giallo’ movies (2006) – the term ‘filone’; an Italian geographical term meaning ‘the main current in a river’ or in geological terms – the vein in a rock. When applied in a more literary sense, filone can be rather poetically be used to analyse types of music. Used in a positive sense, ’Seguire il filone’ can suggest music ‘to follow the tradition of’ without accompanying generic labelling – or as Hoffman (1994), extended in the geographical usage, suggests a ‘streamlet’. This more fluid approach to genre development and change can be used to explore discussions of development of genre. From Heavy Metal to Doom, to Traditional Doom, Epic Doom, Funeral Doom, Death, Stoner, Sludge, Drone or Black Doom – how do the different terms operate for fans, artists, media and labels? Genre – Filone – Heavy Metal – Doom

Dr Simon Poole Falmouth University simon.Poole@Falmouth.ac.uk


Driving to a rave: Exploring the notions of home, intimacy and liminality

Beate Peter

Keywords: rave culture, identity, community

Institutional affiliation: Manchester Metropolitan University

Email address: B.Peter@mmu.ac.uk

Historically, participation in raves is understood to start with entering a particular geographical site. This understanding, however, excludes the journey to and from a rave and ignores the role that journeys play as part of the event.

Research into rave journeys forms part of the Lapsed Clubber Project, a project that aims to identity and document the complex relationships between people, places and music within rave culture. This paper presents the findings from semi-structured interviews with people who were active ravers between 1985 and 1995 in Greater Manchester, UK. The interviews covered aspects of distance, remoteness and the city, luggage, the role of the driver, other passengers, and rituals on the journey.

Preliminary findings allow us to draw a unique picture of the role that rave journeys play. On the one hand, this is because of the distinct historic and social condition under which raves took place. Before the introduction of the “Rave Bill” in 1994 and the criminalisation of raves, car journeys to the countryside were much more common than today. On the other hand, car ownership among young adults was not the norm, so journeys were joint experiences among friends.

Consequently, the notions of home and belonging for this demographic of ravers is fundamental to their identity. In addition, becoming political and resistant bodies has to be understood as part of a culture before regulation, licencing, commercialisation, and criminalisation. Finally, liminality is a concept that can be applied to the practices of a whole music culture rather than particular events.


Recording with No Regrets – Music Production without Undoing

Erik Petersson

Institutional affiliation: Royal College of Music, Stockholm.
E-mail: erik.petersson@student.kmh.se

In the digital era of music production an increasing amount of time and effort is often being put into the post-production phase. This has created new idioms and sounds that have been previously impossible to achieve due to technical limitations. However, these idioms can also be perceived as unhealthy perfectionism, or even a “de-humanization” of the music. Performing artists, musicians, producers and technicians, could therefore be asked about how their initial performance is affected by the awareness of what can be done in the post-production phase, such as auto-tuning or choosing between multiple takes. Since extensive post-production could be seen as normative nowadays, we might have a chance of answering such questions by doing recordings exactly the opposite way.

This study explores how performing musicians and producers experience music production without extensive post-production. For this purpose, an album was recorded with limitations in time and amount of takes, without the possibility for overdubs, editing and destructive sound design afterwards. The main research question is how the participants evaluated their performance, both as individuals and as a group, being aware of these limitations. The participants filled in a form after the recording session, answering questions about their perceived performance, what kind of emotional states they experienced throughout the session and how they compared this particular session to their previous recording experiences. The results from this study may shed light on some common problems related to decision-making and efficiency in modern music production.

Keywords: record production, recording psychology, post-production, no overdubs.


Further Exploration of Transnational Flow in Cloud-based Music Production: A Constant Tewnty-four-hour Workflow

Daniel Pratt, Queensland University of Technology, danbonefinger@gmail.com

Shane Hoose, Eastern Kentucky University, shane.hoose@eku.edu

Wellington Gordon, Husson University, gordonw@husson.edu

Last year we assembled three experienced songwriting producers from three international locations and successfully recorded our first song. To facilitate this internationally networked recording session, we developed a new theory called transnational flow (TNF). TNF is an amalgamation of Csikszentmihalyi’s (1995) flow theory and Sawyer’s (2007) group flow theory that accounts for the unique logistical challenges associated with transnational collaboration.  This year, we intend to test our fledgling theory by constraining the organizational boundaries and focusing our creativity over a timeframe of three days. To achieve the outcome of a finished song we utilize Dropbox, Reaper, and Skype. We network our expertise and studio facilities using the distributed creativity theory of Sawyer and DeZutter (2009). a sizeable This network of creative facilities takes our modest home studios and turns them into abstract recording environment with three specialized producer-engineers. To navigate the international complexities, we utilize Karl Weick’s Sensemaking (1995) and Jazz metaphor (1998) theories. In doing so, we create a binary of creative and organizational cognitive states where one serves to help the other flow.


Life In Between Phase Part 2: Reflexive Microphone Manipulation

Dr Andrew Bourbon – University of West London

Daniel Pratt – Queensland University of Technology

In the 2017 Art of Record Production conference, we presented a paper that examined the phase analytical tool Auto-Align and its application in both recording and mixing environments. This research revealed new approaches to recording multi-microphone drum recordings as well as detailed methodologies to mixing complicated multi-microphone big band recordings. Our use of Auto-Align in post-production revealed a more considered approach to correcting phase issues. However, it is the use of Auto-Align as an analytical tool that shows real promise for creative manipulation of microphone phase relationships in physical space. This use of analytical phase tools potentially opens up a range of new approaches to recording practice and creative live microphone manipulation.

In this paper, we take our established phase analysis concept for interpreting multi-microphone relationships and apply it to different recording scenarios. We implement and test these recording techniques in three multi-microphone recordings. The first two are elaborate acoustic and electric guitar setups. The Third is an orchestral recording using a Deca Tree microphone array combined with an elaborate spot microphone network. During these experiments, we question whether different scenarios require different approaches. We video document our experience for later use as a pedagogical tool.  Using these documentaries, we aim to demystify phase phenomena for early recording practitioners and continue our exploration of an exciting new frontier in microphone manipulation and spaciality.


The use of keyboard technology in progressive rock between 1968 and 1980.   A musicological analysis of Keith Emerson and Thijs van Leer.

Martin Quinn

There is a large amount of journalistic and musicological work on progressive rock, highlighting its importance as a sub-genre in rock music, its counterculture, and the social class differences towards other sub-genres. When it comes to published work about the use of keyboard technology and the importance of keyboardists such as Keith Emerson and Thijs van Leer, far less is known. Even though books such as Heavy Metal Music in Britain (Bayer, 2009) and Rocking the classics: English Progressive Rock and the Counterculture (Macan, 1997) cover the subject in passing, a detailed understanding of the equipment that was used, how and why such equipment was used by keyboardists is still missing.

The main interest of this study will explore why the choice of keyboard technology differs between musicians such as Keith Emerson and Thijs van Leer, as both are similar and very different when it comes to choice and usage of keyboards in their music.

What technological advances and changes happened to such keyboard instruments between 1968 and 1980? And how these changes affected the sound of the instruments and the music? Such advances like polyphonic synthesizers meant that such consoles like the Yamaha GX-1 can reproduce orchestral like sounds and organ sounds which can be played together using different manuals and settings. For example Keith Emerson used a Yamaha GX-1 from 1977 onwards which was highlighted as an expensive purchase by Brackett (2005), meant that less equipment was needed to produce such sounds.

Keywords: Musicological, Keyboards, Technology, Differences, Progressive

Biography: Martin Quinn (BA) is based in Shropshire and Huddersfield. He graduated in 2017 with a degree in Music Technology and Popular Music, and is currently working on his Master of Arts by Research thesis at the University of Huddersfield.

Contact: Email: mquinnm123@gmail.com


Riffs presents – CREATE/REVIEW/PRINT

This iterative event will take place throughout the conference, where a z-journal (an academic journal in fanzine format) will be created, peer-edited, printed, and distributed to attendees on the final day. A prompt based on the conference theme will be circulated on the Thursday morning, encouraging attendees to write and/or produce creative submissions for the z-journal throughout the conference. Submissions can be photos, lyrics, drawings, notes, Tweets, essays: anything goes.

The development of this special edition of the Riffs journal will document critical engagements with IASPM UK 2018 and unite popular music researchers and practitioners in the creation of an interdisciplinary and collaborative publication that conference attendees can take home. The z-journal will also be available as an Open Access PDF via the Riffs website. Through the development of the z-journal we aim to challenge boundaries surrounding popular music theory and encourage experimental writing on topics that resonate with the themes of the conference: electronic dance music cultures; metal; record production; musicians and beyond. In encouraging contributors to select one or more of these topics, the production of this z-journal will facilitate the collaboration and crosstalk of conference attendees, helping to create a unique, cross-disciplinary record of cutting-edge contemporary popular music scholarship in the UK.

Keywords: collaborative research; experimental writing; popular music practice; publication.

Institutional Affiliation: Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research, Birmingham City University


Riffs: Experimental writing on popular music is an emerging and exciting postgraduate journal at Birmingham City University. Riffs offers postgraduates at BCU and beyond a creative and experimental space for writing and thinking about popular music, in addition to an online forum for the publication and hosting of high calibre postgraduate research in the area of popular music studies.


Twitter: @popmusicjournal

An example of a z-journal special issue of Riffs (created for ‘Beyond Borders’ PGR Conference, BCU in July 2017) can be viewed here: http://riffsjournal.org/issues/special-edition-beyond-borders-july-2017/

Emily Bettison is an AHRC funded, Midlands3Cities, PhD candidate in her third year of study at Birmingham City University. Her research explores ‘The Creation of Creativity in Radio’ specifically looking at the way that radio practitioners define, practice and negotiate creativity. She is also an Editor for Riffs: Experimental Research on Popular Music.

Craig Hamilton is a Research Fellow in the School of Media at Birmingham City University. His research explores contemporary popular music reception practices and the role of digital, data and Internet technologies on the business and cultural environments of music consumption. This research is built around the development of The Harkive Project (www.harkive.org), an online, crowd-sourced method of generating data from music consumers about their everyday relationships with music and technology. Craig is the co-Managing Editor of Riffs: Experimental Research on Popular Music.

Sarah Raine is a Research Fellow at Birmingham City University. She researches the ways in which the younger members of the northern soul scene negotiate their place in a multigenerational community that values ‘original’ participation. She is the co-Managing Editor of Riffs: Experimental writing on popular music, Review Editor and special issue Guest Editor (2018) for IASPM@Journal, and the Network Coordinator for Jazz & Everyday Aesthetics.


‘Hear the world’s sounds’: A political economy approach to understand grassroots musicians’ dilemmas in SoundCloud

Andreas Rauh Ortega

The consumption of mediated music is in a process of shift from consumer electronics-based industry to information technologies (Hesmondhalgh and Meier, 2017), with significant impacts in the ways music and culture are experienced by audiences. Musicians have quickly adapted to these changes, and today there is large consensus that the adoption of online platforms for the circulation and promotion of music (e.g. SoundCloud) are fundamental tools in building pathways to success. However, alongside the benefits offered by online platforms, musicians must take into account potential downsides, and balancing the two aspects is challenging for not only for well-established musicians but also their grassroots counterparts, particularly those with career aspirations.

Drawing from Wittel’s (2017) political economy of digital technologies, this paper examines the political economy of SoundCloud, highlights conflicts of interest between users, the platform, and rights holders, and suggests that the entry of a new actor (i.e. financial capital) contributed to tip the balance unfavourably for grassroots electronic dance musicians (i.e. DJs and producers). Among the major problems raised by musicians are lack of control of uploaded content, the risk of losing promotional potential on the platform, and the erosion of an important outlet for creative expression. The argument is supported from qualitative data gathered from in-depth semi-structured interviews and observations of the musical experiences of 23 grassroots electronic dance musicians based in Leeds and Ljubljana.

Keywords: Electronic dance music; grassroots musicians; political economy; SoundCloud.


The Cyclic Loop vs. The Pop Drop: Hip-hop and EDM Repetition in Contemporary Pop Music

Anders Reuter

While the differences between hip-hop, EDM and contemporary pop are increasingly hard to define, hip-hop and EDM seem to represent different kinds of repetition. This paper will investigate historical, cultural and technological differences between loop techniques of hip-hop and EDM, and subsequently how they are applied in pop music. Musical form is traditionally shaped through a dialectic teleological exchange of dynamics to build tension. Hip-hop usually deflates teleology and replaces dynamic shifts with cyclic, goalless, processual staging of sample-based loops. Dynamic changes are few, and when they do occur, they are abrupt and sudden. Almost overtly teleological, EDM is based on a constant play with dynamics by exchanging loops, sweeps, effects, space and texture. An example of this in pop is the so-called Pop Drop, where EDM’s climactic Drop is used as a post-chorus or chorus. The paper will furthermore discuss how the circular hip-hop loops afford attention and almost fetishisation of detail in the processual juxtaposition of samples. EDM’s linearity is on the other hand more a staging of gradual shifts. This is by large realized with sound synthesis and a ‘four-on-the-floor’ bass drum that pushes a quantized grid of rhythmical regularity forward. Conversely, hip-hop’s more sample-based loops are often based on irregularities in both the repetition of the loop and in the timing of the sound objects within the loop. The paper will use different musical examples and literature addressing hip-hop, EDM and music technology (among others, Schloss 2004, Solberg 2014, Brøvig-Hanssen and Danielsen 2016, Zagorski-Thomas 2014).

Keywords: Hip-hop, EDM, pop, teleology, quantization.

Institutional affiliation: PhD Fellow at University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Art and Cultural Studies, Section of Musicology.

Contact:  andersreuter@hum.ku.dk


Panel – Science & Technology Studies (STS) and Popular Music

In the 1970s and 1980s, scholars in the field of Science & Technology Studies (STS) argued that scientific research was socially shaped and scientific ‘facts’ were socially constructed.  The development of technological artefacts was shown to be multidirectional rather than linear; technology was understood as embedded within a series of social relationships. Despite their differences, the Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) approach, Actor Network Theory (ANT), and the work of other STS scholars signalled a shift towards a ‘focus on what social groups and actor networks actually say and do with technology’ (Bijker & Pinch 2012, p. xxi).

Over the last two decades, work inspired by these approaches has changed the study of music technologies and, more generally, how we research the actors (human and non-human) and practices of (popular) music making. STS also encourages us to think differently about music history: to acknowledge the social elements that permeate the established ‘facts’ of history as well as emphasising the main role of controversies and negotiations in social processes.

This panel will explore the ways in which Science and Technology Studies (STS) has shaped and is shaping the study of popular music. The papers will focus on: [1] the heterogeneous elements through which music is valued; [2] the socio-technical processes that contribute to the construction of historical facts or acknowledged truths; [3] the mediators who connect the engineering worlds of instrument designers with the musical worlds of users; [4] the role of amateurs and a challenge to the idea of ‘revolution’ when writing the history of DIY and punk.

How far can STS help to reconsider the valuation of music in the age of the Internet?

Loïc Riom, PHD candidate at Centre de Sociologie de l’Innovation, Mines-ParisTech, PSL University. loic.riom@mines-paristech.fr

As emphasised by Howard S. Becker (1982), a large part of art worlds’ activities are oriented towards the production of judgments, hierarchies, and reputations. However, the production of value – or what concretely listeners do to know whether music is good – remains an under addressed question in Popular Music Studies. In Science and Technological Studies (STS), however, scholars have fruitfully developed the idea of valuation as a collective and equipped activity based on research into different topics including music (see Hennion 2017).

Drawing on this conceptual framework as well as ongoing fieldwork, this paper investigates contemporary forms of music valuation. Taking examples from different practices of “online listening” (streaming platforms, YouTube, etc.), the first part of the paper describes the heterogeneous elements that inform listeners’ behaviour. By doing so, it emphasizes the prescriptions of the different agencies through which music is valued. In the light of these empirical results, the second part of the paper aims at re-assessing past contributions of STS to the sociology of music. During the last few decades, music worlds have undergone great changes in terms of technology, economy, and practices. Such transformations require us to reconsider our understanding of both amateurism and listening to grasp contemporary forms of music valuation.

The ‘Consecration’ of Hip Hop as a Case for Actor-Network Theory

Christophe Levaux, Collaborateur Scientifique FRS-FNRS, Université de Liège.


Over the last four decades, Hip Hop music has been a huge commercial success in popular music. Often overlooked by academics and critics altogether, the genre has attracted much more attention from the specialised press since the beginning of the 2010s. While Rolling Stone, Pitchfork, NME, and Les Inrockuptibles in France mostly concentrated on (indie) rock’s development during the 1990s and the 2000s, Hip Hop music is now praised in these magazines and websites as one of the most important musical trends in the contemporary era, even if this involves rewriting a version of history they contributed to and shaped. While it is easy to consider this new ‘musical triumph’ as purely aesthetic, or, on the contrary, to view this late conversion as a passing fashion or an opportunistic move, it is also necessary to ask what socio-political processes have allowed the emergence of this new musical “state of affairs” in the music press. This paper aims to put forward this question by drawing on Actor-Network Theory (ANT) and, in particular, using the concept of ‘translation of interests’ as a process for enrolling other actors into a network. In doing so, this paper also aims to assess the applicability of those principles and methods—originally designed for the study of scientific ‘facts’—for the study of ‘facts’ constructed by the music press.

Following the Distributors: Syco Systems and the Selling of Musical Instruments

Paul Harkins, Lecturer, Music, Edinburgh Napier University.


Since the 1980s and 1990s, scholars in Science and Technology Studies (STS) and, more specifically, those adopting the Social Construction of Technology (SCOT) approach have been investigating ‘the user-technology nexus’. This continued a shift in the historiography of technologies from a focus on the designers of technologies towards the contexts of use and ‘the co-construction’ or ‘mutual shaping’ of technologies and their users. In his study of the Minimoog and its adoption as an instrument in rock, Trevor Pinch writes that ‘it is sellers who tie the world of use to the world of design and manufacture. Sellers are ‘boundary shifters’. They are the true ‘missing masses’ of technology studies’ (2003, p. 270). He was referring to David Van Koevering, one of the individuals responsible for developing a market for analogue synthesizers.

At the end of the 1970s, Peter Vogel of Fairlight Instruments in Sydney, Australia demonstrated a digital synthesizer to Peter Gabriel during the recording of his third studio album. Along with his cousin, Stephen Paine, Gabriel started a distribution company called Syco Systems, which became the sole agents of the Fairlight CMI in the UK. Using interviews with the distributors at Syco Systems, this chapter shows how they connected the engineering worlds of its designers with the musical worlds of its users. It tells a story about how the use of the Fairlight CMI as a sampler rather than a synthesizer was shaped by the marketing strategies of its distributors and conflicted with the original objectives of its designers. 

Is DIY a punk invention?

François Ribac, Visiting Research Fellow, IRCAM (APM); Senior Lecturer, University of Burgundy.


According to many journalists, scholars, books, documentaries, websites, musicians, and music fans, the “punk revolution” allowed young people to play music without formal training, to write about music without prior knowledge, to start independent record labels, and give young women access to rock bands. Indeed, punk music is still a flourishing musical genre with many branches and DIY is everywhere, especially on the Internet. Moreover, this phenomenon is often explained by the arrival of new technologies. For instance, punk fanzines were facilitated by photocopiers. In my paper I would like to discuss some of the theoretical and practical assumptions of this history (story?) and especially the idea that punk was a revolution. To get to that point, I will take the example of recording technologies in popular music. Firstly, I will go back to the 1920s and describe how crooners such as Rudy Vallée and Bing Crosby learned music and particularly how they used recording technologies. Secondly, I will refer to fieldwork I conducted some years ago about how popular musicians were learning and making music together during the age of the Internet. I will focus on a trip hop band based on the periphery of Paris (two young women and two young men) and will show how they used technologies and worked together. Finally, I will argue, firstly, that punk is more a visible expression of the place of amateurs in popular culture than a “revolution”. Secondly, I will argue that technology is used by people to produce themselves as individuals and to build new social worlds. In other words, during the age of Internet as before, technology does not do anything by itself (TDNDABI!)


Gabber: Techno meets Metal?

Prof Hillegonda C Rietveld, ]

Sonic Research Group, London South Bank University

The proposed presentation will address an overlap between the early 90s hardcore EDM genre gabber and metal. During its formation in Rotterdam, gabber embraced horror film samples, as well as used its imagery, illustrated by the flyer image of the well-known pale, pinned face from the 1987 movie Hellraiser. There seemed a macho, and almost masochist completion between fans about who could handle the most pain though electronic noise and a celebration of terror. Here one can turn to a similar attitude in heavy metal. During the same period, Robert Walser explains in Running with the Devil that horror appeared as a counter to the rationality of the enlightenment, and coincides with “periods of social strain and disorder” (1993: p 161) as, arguably a chasm appeared between fast financial capital and a slowing economy, producing a gap between ambition and reality. In this context, horror became a way to channel the resultant sense of rage, which may be experienced within the contradictions of subordination. This framework can be applied to the understanding of the formation of gabber amongst young people from a working class environment, including football fans and harbour workers. The musical aesthetic that developed from this, is at once ironically nihilistic, a political commentary, and a safety valve that enables not only a rite of passage through teenage years, but also a means to deal with the experience of a changing society, towards a post-human accelerated culture propelled by fast digital capital and.


THANKS FOR THE MEMORY: celebrating ‘punk’ through interactive documentary practice

Professor Graham Roberts (co-director iRIS, Leeds Trinity University)

Tom Pollard (PhD candidate, Leeds Trinity University)

Stephen Hay (SMC, University of Leeds)

from Joe Strummer Slept here (2015)


to Some 7s clash


In the week before Christmas 2015 Stephen Hay (Director) and Graham Roberts (Producer) presented Joe Strummer Slept Here to a crowd of clash fans at Duke’s Bar in Glasgow. The film deals with Glasgow School of Art student Gillian Farmer’s memories of her whirlwind experience during May 1985, when THE CLASH landed unannounced in her local pub then stayed in her flat as she helped set up and witnessed the very last gigs of the band’s legendary ‘busking tour’. The film has gone on to form part of an interactive documentary project exploring issues of memory and fandom.

In July 2017 Graham Roberts along with colleagues from the international Research Centre for Interactive Storytelling (including Tom Pollard) organised a celebration of the 40th anniversary of the ‘summer of Punk’ – Some 7s Clash . Amongst the performers were Steve Micalef (founder of ‘sniffin’ glue’) reading poems from ‘The Punk Kings of Dyslexia’ and Allister Gall of imperfect cinema fame, ‘events’ included a ‘zine workshop and a showing of Man with the Movie Camera (Vertov, USSR, 1929) with improvised collaborative soundtrack. This event is now the basis of its own i-doc.

This presentation seeks to contribute to the discussion of how the field can integrate different disciplines and professions. The projects presented and discussed explore both music and its context; involve practitioners and researchers (and practitioner-researchers) and are predicated upon interdisciplinary and collaborative work.

The presenters will also recount how the legacy of our two projects is continued in our annual Leeds Strummerjam 20/8/17 (tentatively entitled ‘Joe Strummer’s Bus Pass’) (As part of the global strummerjam www.strummerjam.com)


Brexit and the UK live music industry: A tangled web? (taking a stock 2016-2018)

Dr Patrycja Rozbicka, Aston University, Birmingham – E-mail:p.rozbicka@aston.ac.uk

The question of a fallout from Brexit on the music industry is hunting a number of analysts. The trend in mushrooming publications (see for example: Billboard and Pitchfork portals)[1] and media coverage (with the Guardian and Politico.eu taking lead) confirms existing interest in the topic. Most of the analysts draw a distinction between the immediate-short term effect of the “leave” result stemming from the referendum and the long-term consequences of evoking the art. 50 and the UK leaving the European Union (EU). Contrary to the general focus on the music sector and leaving aside the short-term consequences, the below entry focuses on possible scenarios resulting from upcoming Brexit negotiations for a specific sub-sector of economy: the live music industry. We first bring about numbers and indicators underlying the importance of the sub-sector for the UK and Europe’s economies (briefly alluding also to its cultural value). Later, while bringing to the front the discussion of current arrangements for Norway, Switzerland, US and Canada, we suggest two possible scenarios. The conclusions are rather gloom and clearly indicate negative effects for involved stakeholders.

Key words: live music industry, Brexit, politics of music


Making Sense of Royal Trux’s “Ice Cream”: An Approach to Interpreting Ambiguous Meter in Experimental Rock

Paul Royse, University of Cincinnati CollegeConservatory of roysepl@mail.uc.edu Keywords:, Experimental Rock, Metric Ambiguity, Enculturation

Recent presentations on the subject of rhythm and meter have emphasized the importance of enculturation when interpreting rhythmic patterns as a response to established theoretical concepts such as metrical dissonance (Hudson, 2017). These ideas become useful when approaching rhythm and meter in experimental rock, which has been typified as not only rejecting and subverting rock tropes, but also for creating music that often seems to have no metrical basis. An example of this would be rock band Royal Trux’s experimental album, Twin Infinitives, released in 1990. Many tracks seem to lack meter due to production and composition techniques employed in the works, such as tape splitting. The blues-rock influence that pervades most of Royal Trux’s output is present, however, and provides a framework from which meter can be deciphered through aspects of enculturation (London 2001) and pulse stream perception (Roeder 1994). This paper will present an analysis of a song from Royal Trux’s album Twin Infinitives titled “Ice Cream.” A hybridized approach for interpreting the polytempic and polyphonic elements of this style of music will embrace both aspects of enculturation (London 2001) and pulse-stream perception (Roeder 1994). This involves comparisons of the song to earlier works that influenced Royal Trux. The offset rhythms of “Ice Cream” will be grouped by drawing from specific blues-rock figures sharing many similar features. This analysis will provide a method for interpreting meter in metrically ambiguous experimental rock music.


The Blackened Affect: Affect and Production in Black Metal

Keywords: blackened affect; record production; creative paradoxes; spacetime; Black Metal

Author: Dr Antti Sakari Saario Head of Music, Academy of Music and Theatre Arts, Falmouth University antti.saario@falmouth.ac.uk

The paper will discuss record and affect production, and their blackened dynamic in Black Metal. This exploration is framed through questions and considerations on the production processes and the musical-affective intent of Black Metal; the numerous paradoxes and oppositions, at play in Black Metals’ ‘creation’; and notions of space-time (immersion/entrapment) in Black Metal production and listener experience. Questions of affect and production: What is Black Metal affect and how it is produced? What is the role of production in Black Metal? What value does ‘production value’ hold in the blackened economy of Black Metal? How can we understand and experience the ouroborean feedback of the manifestations of Black Metal affect and record production? The seeming, and ‘sounding’, paradoxes and oppositional forces (‘tensegrity’) at play within Black Metal’s diversity of forms, value economies, modus operandi and manifestations, are considered the beating black heart of ‘creation’ (‘destruction’) in Black Metal. Notions of nihilism (active/passive) are used to dissect this dynamic in relation to affect and record production. Black Metal’s production intent seeks to operate across (and ‘activate’) emotions, feelings, affects and intensities, with the desire to induce negative, hateful, and often ‘passive’ states in the listener. The author seeks to understand this dynamic through the artist and producer’s approach to, and the listener’s experience of, space-time in Black Metal. Space in Black Metal record production, is taken as compositional and mix element, and as key sonic perspective for the discussion of Black Metal’s timbres, dynamics, structures and sonic affects.


Gimme Shelter: An Architectural Approach to Amsterdam’s Shift in Pop Music Paradigm from the Rockstar Era to the Disembodied DJ

Sydney Arvid Michel Schelvis, Universiteit van Amsterdam


prof. dr. J.J.E. Kursell

This paper studies the subtle shift of Amsterdam’s nightlife soundtrack from rock music to techno by analysing how club Shelter functions as a demonstrative institutionalisation of this process. The focus lies on its architecture in relation to acoustics, technology, and cultural context, where relevant juxtaposed to rock-aesthetic based “poppodia” (concert venues like Melkweg and Paradiso) as pivotal places in popular music and culture in Amsterdam. Issues of exclusivity and underground-ness, autonomy, anonymity, individuality, and hedonism are discussed, alongside themes like (dis)embodiment, performance, and authenticity. This study comprises two components. First, one can observe that electronic dance music (EDM) is gaining field in terms of popularity, institutionalisation, and intergeneric influence and integration within popular music at large. Second, I hypothesise that Shelter’s design is exemplary for this shift in the pop-music paradigm because it is based on, and influences, this process. Examples of how the above-mentioned notions are constituted in Shelter’s design are the non-elevated physical position of the DJ, the dim lights without specific focus, the sterile interior of the club, and the fact that it is literally underground – playing metaphorically on techno’s “underground” stereotype.


Making sound: Exploring engineering practice in Havana

Toby Seay, Drexel University, USA, Js553@drexel.edu

This paper examines the notion of sonic signatures within recording studios and recording centers. The Sound of Philadelphia, the Nashville Sound, and the Motown Sound are a few examples of music production communities whose output is commonly cited as sonically identifiable. Some writing has engaged with this notion of a characteristic sound with regard to either technological rationalization, commercialization, marketing discourses, or musical factors, such as particular arrangements and the input of local studio musicians (Théberge 1989 and 1997, Hemphill 1970, Ivey 1982, Fornatale/Mills 1980). By looking exclusively at sound, this paper focuses on studio technicians as content mediators and the relationships with recording technology, studio workflows, and performers that influence sonic creation.

To explore these notions, the author conducted a research project to study studio practitioners at Abdala Studios in Havana, Cuba. The methodology was to record a Cuban ensemble performance in a Cuban studio using in-house equipment with a Cuban engineer. The same ensemble was then recorded in the same space with the author as engineer. Using an anthropologist and musicologist to document the recording sessions, the author compares these two approaches to highlight the technological and procedural aspects that result in sonic and performance differences. Inserting the author into an unfamiliar culture provided notable sonic differences. While technological practices created sonic differences, this paper will show how workflow practices greatly altered the ensemble’s performance, magnifying the mutual influences among recording studio participants.

Keywords: Sound Signatures, Practice, Performance


Do You Wanna Build a Wall? Remix as Rhetoric in the Age of Trump

Ragnhild Brøvig-Hanssen and Aram Sinnreich

This article analyzes six different popular user-generated music remix videos, shared via social media platforms, explicitly critiquing or commenting upon Donald J. Trump throughout and after the 2016 election cycle. Our aim in this paper is to discover not just whether remix was being used as a vehicle of critique or support for the candidate/electee, but specifically how the affordances of remix production have been adapted into a rhetorical language for these purposes. We found that the vast majority of Trump remix videos—including all of the most popular ones—used some combination of six common remix techniques and four rhetorical remix tactics. We have called the tactics witnessing, pwning, noisification and incongruity, and the techniques lip-syncing, repetition, montage, juxtaposition, songification and songified karaoke. We use the term “technique” as Valéry (1964) did, to emphasize the role that the affordances of creative media play in enabling the conditions for stylistic innovation. Similarly, we adopt the term “tactic” from de Certeau (1984)—and, in its digital context, via Manovich (2013)—to highlight the agency exercised by everyday people seeking to express themselves and connect with others within the strictures and structures of industrialized communications systems. Ultimately, we argue that, in combination, the identified techniques and tactics yield a complex, nuanced, and yet widely understood and broadly accessible language of critique and commentary through remix.

Keywords: remix, music, rhetoric, technique, tactic

Institutional affiliation and contact information:

Ragnhild Brøvig-Hanssen

RITMO and Department of Musicology, University of Oslo

Email: ragnhild.brovig-hanssen@imv.uio.no

Aram Sinnreich

School of Communication, American University

Email: aram@american.edu


Spot the Difference: replication, rights and the musical work

Dr Dai Griffiths, Dr Jan Butler, Dr Jennifer Skellington, Joe Turner

Oxford Brookes University, Music Department

In 2010 the rock band Squeeze issued an album entitled Spot the Difference.  This consisted of new recordings of tracks that were originally recorded between 1978 and 1993, attempting note and production perfect reproductions of the originals in order to reclaim lost copyrights of the original tracks.  Spot the Difference raises many interesting questions, not least about the nature of the musical work, and is quite separable from, for example, tribute acts, re-recording for the purpose of better technological quality, or other kinds of re-packaging or re-issue.  This panel will set out the findings of our ongoing research into this exceptional album, with Dr Dai Griffiths discussing the overall context of the re-recordings in terms of Squeeze’s career and of the popular music work in general, Dr Jennifer Skellington outlining the rights histories of the tracks as they travel from publisher to publisher and Dr Jan Butler and Joe Turner discussing the transformation of the recordings over time through multiple formats, re-releases and remasters.  The evidence presented will include findings drawn from our research interview with Chris Difford himself, and other key personnel who participated in the creation of the album, to illuminate particular complexities relating to the (re)production of recorded music, copyright and the nature of the musical work.


Understanding Collectability: Production Aesthetics & Vertigo Records

Dr Veronica Skrimsjö, Liverpool Hope University, v.skrimsjo@gmail.com

Record collecting has been a practice enjoyed by many since at least the second half of the twentieth century, yet has often failed to receive the recognition it warrants by academics and journalists alike. The British Phonographic Industry (BPI) noted that in the UK in 2017 music consumption had increased by 9.5% from 2016, the biggest increase this millennium, and indicated that physical sales were largely responsible for this, with vinyl accounting for 3% of the music consumed.  With this continuing growing interest in vinyl in mind, this paper aims to examine what makes certain LPs more collectable and desirable than others through a case study of Vertigo Records’ ‘swirl’ years (1969-73) in an attempt to highlight why we are still, and at a growing rate since becoming a ‘moot’ format, interested in collecting and consuming LPs. Although Vertigo is regarded as a highly collectable label amongst rock record collectors it actually spanned a very diverse range of genres (e.g.  as represented by Black Sabbath, Nucleus and Jimmy Campbell) suggesting that genre preference alone is still not actually the key deciding factor when it comes to collectability. This paper will therefore consider if there is a particular production aesthetic lending itself to the notions of collectability, as well as unpopularity, non-fashionability and even catalogue numbers and label design.

Key words: record collecting, aesthetics, vinyl/LPs, studio production


The Role of Popular Music in Communication and Identity Formation

Kaitlin Sly, University of Victoria, kaitiesly@gmail.com

keywords: popular music, hip-hop, identity, communication, music industry

As a musician, I have performed a wide range of popular music. In my years of musical study and performance, I have been able to witness the vast impact popular music has on society. Whether it is the masses of screaming Beatles fans, or the bling, baggy pants, and explicit language of hip-­‐hop listeners, it is evident that popular music has a place in shaping the way we communicate and present ourselves to the world. There are countless examples throughout history that identify the power popular music has, both at a societal and individual level. In this paper, I have outlined some of the ways that popular music impacts the way we communicate, present, and identify ourselves. I will highlight some of the more potent examples in history where popular music has had a massive impact on society and how it has helped to shape the culture we have today. I will attempt to explain why or how music impacts us the way it does, using several examples to help illustrate my points.


An Aesthetic of Restriction for the Poetics of Contemporary Electronic Music Production

Dr Mark Slater: University of Hull; m.slater@hull.ac.uk

Dr Adam Martin: Leeds College of Music; adam.martin@lcm.ac.uk

Keywords: music production, aesthetics, poetics, electronic music, composition,

In March 2018, the album Nightports w/ Matthew Bourne will be released on The Leaf Label. This music is a collaboration between co-producers Mark Slater and Adam Martin (working under the Nightports title) and pianist Matthew Bourne. Nightports is bound by a fundamental aesthetic of restriction: only sounds produced by the featured musician can be used – nothing else – though these can be transformed, distorted, translated, reworked, stretched, cut, ordered and reordered without limitation. The resulting music is a hybrid of the specific characteristics of the musician’s playing plus the interventions of the producers. Such an aesthetic is nothing new (Stravinsky talked about it in his Poetics of Music; Oval did it by assembling a library of thousands of tiny sonic fragments; Matthew Herbert encodes it in his ‘Personal Contract for the Composition of Music’), but the appropriation of a stringent set of rulesis poignant in the context of an information- and technology-rich society where choice paralysis and/or homogeneity can easily undermine the creative potential of these tools. The digitisation of technology has brought changes to music production practices that have delivered a new compositional palette, a new sense of space and place, and a re-examination of the relationship between humans and machines (Brøvig-Hanssen and Danielsen 2016). The Nightports w/ Matthew Bourne case study will be used to explore the contemporary landscape of technologically-mediated production practices including both an appraisal of the theoretical and philosophical underpinnings of the project and practical examples to show how these are made manifest.


All Men Must Die

Karl Spracklen, Leeds Beckett University, K.Spracklen@leedsbeckett.ac.uk

Contemporary society is global, and hybrid, and has changed rapidly since heavy metal first emerged as a working-class, white male subculture in America and Europe in the 1970s and 1980s. As heavy metal became more cosmopolitan and welcoming of difference in this century, so mainstream society supposedly became more progressive and liberal. Far right activists in black metal were seen as aberrations, frustrated white men being angry about being overlooked. But the arrival of Donald Trump in the White House has shown that angry white men still wield huge social and cultural power. The aim of this paper is to explore how true metal, folk metal and extreme metal might be seen as leisure spaces that resist the norms and values of the mainstream; but also how they might also serve to re-affirm and construct those norms and values. In particular, I am interested in how these forms of metal might work to re-imagine masculinity, race, nation and class in an intersectional way. I have written already about hegemonic masculinity and nationalism in black metal, folk metal and Iron Maiden (Spracklen 2013, 2015, 2017). This paper builds on that work but is based on new, unpublished research. The focus is extended to true metal as well as folk metal and extreme (Viking/black/pagan) metal, because true metal captures (and, historically, inspired) the same lyrical and symbolic mythotypes about warriors, roots and nations, standing firm and being true in the face of change.  The focus is also extended to bands that use the warrior-nation mythotype in places and countries beyond the global North, and in ways that challenge or subvert hegemony.


How Soon Is Now? Live audio and video sync for simultaneous music performance in multiple locations using Internet2

Loudon Stearns and Joe Bennett, Berklee College of Music (USA)

In recent years Internet2 connections have afforded ever-faster simultaneous creative collaborations between geographically distant locations – in music, this is known as Networked Music Performance (NMP). In 2010 the first LOLA (LOw LAtency) long-distance simultaneous music performance took place between Trieste Italy and Paris France, based on research at two Italian institutions , and that system’s use has continued to spread as international transfer speeds and computing power has grown. As at January 2018, there are more than 100 music and performing arts universities and colleges using LOLA worldwide.

This paper describes and evaluates the technologies and methods used to achieve an ambitious simultaneous international music/dance/arts performance that took place in LA, Boston and Valencia. The project synchronised dancers, musicians, live visual artists, and Ableton Live, with simulcast camera work and video projection in all three locations, using Akamai video distribution and fixed latencies. The practical mechanisms used will be discussed in detail, including the role of the DAW, visual and auditory cue points, monitoring systems, and network challenges, including finding alternative streaming solutions when LOLA itself was not feasible. The technical lessons learned and the experience of the creative team will be triangulated to provide a set of guidelines to inform future work of this nature.

Keywords: LOLA, Ableton, Internet2, Real-Time Collaboration, Music Production


Another Take: The use of multi-tracks and video documentation in the study of record production.

Alex Stevenson

Despite the emergence of ethnographic scholarly activity in the study of record production, various barriers remain for researchers wishing to undertake fieldwork inside recording studios. Access to these spaces often relies on not only gaining the trust of the producer, engineers and musicians, but also commonly requires being an active participant in the creative or technical process (Bates, 2008; Thompson & Lashua, 2014). This paper therefor aims to explore the potential benefits of an alternative research approach by utilising access to digital multi-track recording sessions alongside video documentation of the recording process. Analysis of these sources will be supplemented by interviews with the musicians and production personnel in an attempt to gain a more comprehensive understanding of the processes that took place within the recording studio. Forming part of a PhD research project exploring machine aesthetics in contemporary popular music performance, this paper will focus on a specific case study; Manchester-based trio GoGo Penguin and their recent album ‘A Humdrum Star’ (2018), recorded at Low Floor studios, Manchester during the summer of 2017. Describing themselves as ‘recreating electronic music on acoustic instruments’ (Chris Illingworth, quoted in Blue Note, 2016), specific areas of interest will be the physical interactions of the musicians with their instruments, including their use of ‘various DIY twists’ (Rob Turner, quoted in Blue Note, 2018) to their acoustic instruments to achieve electronic sonic characteristics, together with consideration of the mediation of the recording technology used the production process and its impact on the perceived authenticity of the musical performance.


Pop Cults and the Psychology of Thought Reform

Jon Stewart

Keywords: Dylan, Lennon, Cult, Psychology, Lifton

Institutional affiliation: BIMM Institute, Brighton; University of Southampton

Email / Phone: jonsleeper@btopenworld.com

Rupert Till (2010) argued that pop cults have effectively replaced the social functions relinquished by outdated established religions.  He depicted these phenomena as a positive affirmation of transgressive youth culture and, in so-doing, successfully reclaimed the word “cult” from its negative connotations. In the spirit of interdisciplinarity at the heart of this conference, my paper synthesizes Till’s analysis with a core text from the field of psychology: Robert Jay Lifton’s Thought Reform and the Psychology of Totalism (1989).   This groundbreaking research identified eight criteria by which cults and other groups might influence the thoughts and actions of their participants: milieu control, mysticism, purity, confession, sacred science, thought-terminating clichés, doctrine over person, and dispensation over existence. My work maps Lifton’s criteria against the lyrics, texts and interviews of three canonical artists: John Lennon, George Harrison, and Bob Dylan.  Each experienced or encountered at least two forms of small group thought reform environment; some harmful, some benign, others beneficial.  They include evangelical Christian churches, high-demand destructive cults, New Religious Movements, Orthodox yeshiva, revolutionary Marxist cells, meditation retreats, therapy groups, and even fads diets. We are all subject to in-group thought reform and this work shows how iconic performers can be equally vulnerable, even those who might attain a “cult” status of their own.  It concludes by suggesting new directions for innovative interdisciplinary research.


Volcanic Sounds of End-Times: Envisioning the Anthropocene from Iceland

Tore Størvold, Doctoral Research Fellow, Department of Musicology, University of Oslo


When the volcano under the glacier Eyjafjällajökull erupted in 2010, the ash fall disrupted the patterns of mobility that has become the norm in contemporary society. Suddenly, millions of people were affected by the non-human agents of the world, revealing the entanglements of geology and the social in everyday practices like air travel. The most recent album by acclaimed Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós, titled Kveikur (“fuse”), was composed and recorded following the volcanic eruption, coinciding with a wider publicizing of the scientific term Anthropocene, heralding a new understanding of humans as a geophysical force. This paper bridges ecocriticism and popular music analysis. I consider the music of Sigur Rós in light of discussions of musical aesthetics in the Anthropocene and cultural representations of environmental apocalypse. Centering on the track “Brennisteinn” (“Sulphur”) and its accompanying music video, I illuminate the musical and audiovisual strategies used in its production. The analysis focuses on the sonic properties and cultural meanings of “dark” timbres. Drawing on goth, industrial and black metal styles, “Brennisteinn” features lyrical, sonic and audiovisual references to the apocalyptic. Apocalyptic visions contain different ways of imagining the causes, actions and effects of a world out of balance. Aesthetics enable or influence modes of engagement with a horizon of possible futures in the Anthropocene. With its emphasis on the volcanic, the apocalypse of Sigur Rós reveal the human species as implicated in geological time-scales, unsettling habitual modes of relating to the environment from a position of technical mastery.

Keywords: Sigur Rós; Ecocriticism; Apocalypse; Environment; Analysis


Digital Audio Workstations and Mainstream Record Production

Robert Strachan, University of Liverpool, r.strachan@liverpool.ac.uk

The ubiquity of digital music production technologies such as the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) has often been read in terms of a democratisation of popular music practice in tandem with broader strains of digitization. This paper examines how the same digital technologies have been centrally incorporated into the production practices of mainstream pop music through the development of new and dominant patterns of creative labour. Using analysis of the production contexts of contemporary hit records it examines the way in which the most commercially successful end of the current popular music market is now dominated by a relatively small number of hybrid songwriting/production teams who have utilized the flexibility and interoperability of the DAW within their creative processes. The DAW is now the site of songwriting, tracking and production for a significant section of cultural producers within the upper-echelons of the contemporary pop industry in a move away from the traditional creative context of the large commercial recording studio. The paper ultimately argues that digital production technologies have allowed large music companies to respond to shifts in the music economy that have led to a shrunken market for sound recordings, the unbundling of the album and shifts in portfolio management.

Keywords: digital technologies, record production, digitization, mainstream

Robert Strachan based in the School of Music at the University of Liverpool. He has published numerous articles on a variety of aspects of popular music culture including DIY music cultures, electronic music and creativity, sound art, the history of British black music and music and audiovisual media. He is author of Sonic Technologies: Popular Music, Digital Culture and the Creative Process (Bloomsbury 2017).


Rebooting the Historical Narrative of a Female Icon: Archival Study and the Interdisciplinary Approach as a Means of Uncovering Previously Unacknowledged Forms of Creative Agency in the Work of Billie Holiday

Jasmine Taylor

Popular media (such as the film Lady Sings the Blues, 1972) has tended to focus on Billie Holiday’s chaotic personal life rather than on her creative agency. This research aims to bring Holiday’s creative output to the forefront, in order to reveal original reinterpretations of her work in the context of music and gender. In this paper it will be argued that even in the case of well-known female jazz “stars” such as Holiday, it is possible for significant aspects of their work to be obscured or erased, and thus for her historical contribution to the jazz and popular music genres to be diminished.  The major research on Holiday’s life and work was written before the interdisciplinary approach advocated by the “new jazz studies” (particularly “gender” as a category of analysis), was able to be utilised, but it is now possible to do this in order to consider aspects of her music making not usually fore fronted, such as her song writing. This approach also made it possible to recover women’s culture and women as historical actors and also challenge a dominant jazz discourse where the contributions of women have often been erased or misrepresented. Nevertheless, modern day scholars have to wrestle with the pros and cons of the retrospective application of the interdisciplinary approach to the original archive material.

Beyond adding to the area of Holiday scholarship, this approach contributes to a broader and timely issue concerning histories of female artistic agency and suitable ways to research that methodologically.


“ReCon: Recording Consoles, Reconsidered”

Paul Théberge Carleton University Ottawa, CANADA paul.theberge@carleton.ca

In the rock press and in recent films and television programs, a number of accounts of audio production have marked the recording console as an object of popular mythology, establishing a nostalgic constellation of associations between analog mixing consoles, recording studios, artists, hit records and, more generally, the history and aesthetics of popular music. Ironically, this fetishizing of analog recording consoles follows a lengthy period in which digital consoles have increasingly gained market share over their analog counterparts. The recording console is a technology whose primary function is to simultaneously enable and reduce multiplicity: it combines, modifies and shapes multiple inputs and configures them for a small number of discrete outputs (and consumer formats). Of initial interest are the changes in console design that coincide with the historical development of multitrack recording practices. The console was, arguably, a singular device within the multitrack studio – a device whose affordances (Gibson) enabled multitracking as a technical process, mediated communications between musicians and producers, and supported the sound engineer’s claim to artistry. With the increasing complexity of contemporary studio recording, live touring, and cinema post-production practices, however, analog consoles have given way to multilayered digital control surfaces, where only a fraction of the mixing and processing functions are available to the sound mixer at any given time, resulting in new levels of abstraction and the possibility of full automation, digital storage and instant recall. These changes in design require a re-evaluation of the console: as a form of remediated technology (Bolter & Grusin), a set of shifting aesthetic practices, a network of human/non-human interactions (Latour), and as emblematic of cultural values in a digital age. The implications of this increasing integration of the recording console and computer technologies with regards to a shift from mixing-as-practice to mixing-asalgorithmic process will be discussed.


Creative Practice in the Recording Studio: Engineering Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall (1979)

Paul Thompson (Leeds Beckett University, UK) and

Phillip McIntyre (University of Newcastle, Australia)



Both romantic and inspirationalist understandings of creativity that promote the image of a lone, introverted ‘genius’, or the artist awaiting inspiration from their muse, are often reflected in the music industry by the ways in which artists discuss their work and the ways in which audiences imagine what happens inside the recording studio during the making of a record (McIntyre, 2012). These ideas are reinforced through Hollywood or documentary depictions of artists working inside the recording studio (Williams, 2011). These views of creativity not only privilege the individual within the creative process, they are often widely accepted as common sense (Boden, 2004). However, a growing body of research has dismissed these romantic ideas as myths (Ibid) with increasing evidence that creativity emerges through the conflation of several factors within a dynamic system of interaction (Csikszentmihalyi: 1988, 1997, 1999 & 2004).

This paper explores the systems model of creativity as it applies to the production of a popular music recording inside the recording studio. By drawing on a particular example during Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall (1979), the dynamic interaction of the system’s symbiotic factors of domain, field and agent are shown in operation at different interdependent scales whilst engineer Bruce Swedien engineers Jackson’s vocal performance.


Sound Archaeology: Producing the Ancient Past

Dr. Rupert Till, R.Till@hud.ac.uk, University of Huddersfield

Keywords: Sound Archaeology; Production; Ethnomusicology

This presentation explores a recording project that produced 5 albums of music played on reconstructions of musical instruments found by archaeologists. It asks what one must consider when trying to reconstruct the soundworld of the past? This project focused on 5 projects, the music of ancient Scotland and Pibroch traditions; music of ancient Scandinavia from prehistory and early Christian cultures; the Carnyx and other giant Celtic war trumpets or northern Europe; Palaeolithic bone flutes, the oldest musical instruments found; and Greek and Roman musical instruments. A number of production approaches were taken, including live recordings in a concert hall, overdubbing in a studio, recording on location in country, use of ancient manuscripts and sources, improvisation and performance of new compositions. It also explored wider acoustic ecologies, including the use of captured impulse responses from archaeological sites and environmental sound. Drawing on periods when definitions of popular and art music are irregular, this project used methods from a range of traditions. Technologically the project covers a broad range from portable laptop equipment and digital microphones, to classical recording techniques and DAW pop remix approaches. Using a mixed methodology of phenomenology, ethnomusicology, and experimental sound archaeology, this project asks what can be learned by exploring the sounds of our ancient ancestors.


Sexual Misconduct in the Music Industry: Then and Now Abstract

Dr Sini Timonen BIMM London Email: sinitimonen@bimm.co.uk

Late 2017 saw a worldwide trend of women speaking out about their experiences of sexual misconduct and harassment. The revelations affected the creative industries across the globe, indicating a problem of epidemic proportions. The music industry did not escape unscathed: within two months of the initial Weinstein accusations, there had been exposés on harassment in Sweden (Ingham, 2017) and in the UK (Mackenzie, 2017). Around the same time, a report on mental health in the music industry in the UK (Groves and Musgrave, 2017) argued that sexual abuse and harassment contributed to the considerable and widespread mental health issues within the industry. This paper seeks to put these discussions into historical context, examining the recent revelations in relation to narratives of women active in the music industry in the UK in the 1960s. In 1970, George Melly made the following blistering remark: ‘the whole pop scene is surrounded and frequently penetrated by exploiters both commercial and sexual’ (Melly, 2nd ed. 1989, p. 4). Drawing upon stories told by women active in the industry in the 1960s, this assertion is interrogated. How did these sexual exploiters operate and what was their impact on the careers of female musicians? Do the narratives of the women active in the 1960s substantially differ from the stories we have been told lately? Ultimately, how concerned should we be about the timelessness of these stories, and what can be done to ensure that the next generation of musicians and industry practitioners is no longer affected?


‘A Blaze in the Northern Suburbs’: Australian extreme metal’s penchant for parody and humour

Sam Vallen, Griffith University – Queensland Conservatorium,samuelvallen@gmail.com

Australia’s extreme metal scene developed parallel to, and in communication with, the emerging global underground in the mid to late-eighties through tape trading channels. Its earliest proponents, bands like Slaughter Lord, Hobbs’ Angel of Death, and Sadistik Exekution, formed somewhat contemporaneously to the rise of extreme metal substyles in America and Europe. But while extreme metal movements like North American death metal (Death, Morbid Angel), British grindcore (Napalm Death), and Scandinavian black metal (Mayhem) were characterised by largely serious subject matter and presentation, influential Australian band Sadistik Exekution incorporated parodic and absurd humour into their equivalently heavy music, mocking the gravity and severity of their contemporaries’ work. This paper will first dissect Sadistik Exekution’s musical and paramusical materials, examining the codes and qualities of extreme metal they rejected and outlining the decidedly Australian larrikinish mockery through which they challenged them. It will then examine the trajectory of Australian extreme metal acts since, such as Blood Duster and King Parrot, who perpetuated and extended this characteristic further. From Sadistik Exekution’s satirisation of grandiose metal pseudonyms (“Rok” and “Sloth” in the place of “Faust” or “Nocturno Culto”), to King Parrot’s parody of black metal “corpse paint” appearing green and gold (the national colours of Australia) rather than the grim black and white of the Norwegian scene, this trajectory and its coding is a fascinating counterpoint to the ubiquitous severity and seriousness of the global extreme metal underground.

Sam Vallen is a doctoral candidate at the Queensland Conservatorium on the Gold Coast, Australia. His thesis seeks to theoretically demarcate the quality of “progressiveness” in popular music, and subsequently reassess how this quality aligns with the ostensibly “progressive” rock music that rose to popularity in the early seventies and remains influential today. Vallen is also a guitarist, songwriter, and producer. He is best known for his work with established progressive alternative metal band Caligula’s Horse.


“DESAFINADO” a tune by Antonio Carlos Jobim: A comparison of four different written versions

Renato Vasconcellos, Universidade de Brasília

The proposed paper for the Crosstown Traffic Conference is a portion of my Doctoral thesis called The Lead Sheet and the Misdirections of Fake Books. The panel “Desafinado” by Antonio Carlos Jobim: A comparison of four different written versions is an attempt to show how fake books had changed the path of specific tunes. The song Desafinado was published in Brazil by Editora Musical Arapuã (1959) and in the United States by Hollis Music Incorporation (1962). Anyone can see at the front page of the American edition, found by this researcher at Instituto Antonio Carlos Jobim (*), the hand written anottation by Jobim himself: “Tudo errado”, which means all wrong. That was the motivation for my research and the answer for a question asked to myself over and over again during decades: “Why the Desafinado lead sheet published by the Real Book in 1975 is so mistaken and full of wrong notes and chords?”. It was easy to conclude that the editors of the Real Book might have used the Hollis Music’s edition as a reference for their “manuscript type” lead sheet. The proposed presentation put side by side the lead sheet made by the Real Book and three other written versions of Desafinado to analyze in detail every measure, every note and every chord, reaching the conclusion that publishers copied each other, corroborating and amalgamating errors of transcription.


Being Portuguese and European at a same time: identity discourses on the RTP Song Contest

Sofia Vieira Lopes sofiavieiralopes@gmail.com Ethnomusicology Institute, NOVA University of Lisbon, Portugal Project funded by Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia (FCT)

Keywords: Television, Identities, ethno-symbolism

The Portuguese Public Television (RTP) organizes the RTP Song Contest since 1964. This is the most longstanding song contest on Portuguese television. For many years it was a “national event”. This Contest has been a stage for original songs and a unique opportunity for different actors. Its winning song represents Portugal at the Eurovision Song Contest, watched by millions of viewers around the world. Due to the audio-visual nature of television, music and performance are crucial discursive tools; they are thought to mediate memories and trigger emotions. Music and expressive behavior acquire different meanings both in national and international contexts. Authors/producers have to negotiate Portuguese and European identities. These multiple identities are shaped to be displayed in a highly media, transnational, and globalized framework and molded by aesthetic, politic and economic assumptions. Identity discourses are set to gather multiple “imagined communities” (Anderson 1983). Through a Cultural Politics of Emotion (Ahmed 2004), authors appropriate identity symbols to create a utopian performance (Dolan 2005). This paper is a work in progress and it is grounded on the ideas outlined by internationalscholars (Tragaki 2013, Bohlman 2004). It aims is to contribute to the debate about the role of music in television and how it can be a pathway to promote identity discourses. I want to understand how music can objectify identities to abroad; to understand the discursive strategies of the Portuguese national television and; how authors and producers negotiate the dichotomies of «Being insider and outsider at the same time» (Meyrowitz 1986).


Investigating the Managerial Practice in Artist Management: Examining the Relationship between Artist Manager and Musician in the UK Music Industry

Yiyi Wang– University of Liverpool Y.Wang187@liverpool.ac.uk

A train of artist manager’s jobs involves strategically co-working with music companies, impartially coaxing musicians to develop their music careers, and persistently retaining a proper self-management. However, the fast-paced work rarely allows them to pause and think who they are and what they do. Most previous literature not only overlooks the role of artist manager but focuses on introducing the skill-sets to newcomers. It leaves a gap in the literature to attempt an account of mapping the day-to-day managerial activities and interactions between artist managers and their musicians. This study combines two research fields – artist management and orthodox management – to explore the micro-relationship between artist managers and musicians in the UK music industry. An ethnographic methodology will be proposed to capture primary research data. Eight grassroots artist managers and musicians are interviewed and share their views and experiences. It illustrates that artist managers as the multi-faces intermediator mainly adopt four artist management styles – Paternalistic, Semi-Democratic, Laissez-Faire and Authoritarian. With mapping and reflecting the dynamics, the existing challenges in the artist manager-musician relationship have been explored and analysed as creativity vs. commerce, public vs. private and superior vs. subordinates.

Keywords: Artist Management, Management Style, Artist Manager’ Role, Artist Manager-Musician Relationship


The Art of Collaboration. The importance of mirroring industry collaboration in Education.

David Ward: Executive Director JAMES

Founder and CEO: Gateway Professional Development Training.

All the creative industries rely on collaboration across many different disciplines. We only have to look at all the people involved in making a movie to see the depth of collaboration that needs to happen. There is only a slightly less depth in the production of recordings that involves: musicians, studios, technicians, mastering engineers, producers, designers, printers, record pressers, IT departments, record companies, publishers, sleeve writers, marketing personnel, sales personnel, an awful lot of management and often security personnel. The production of a live event involves many of the same people but the list of disciplines is even greater, lighting, audiovisual, rigging, live sound engineers, catering, front of house and many more. To prepare students for the world of work, it is vital that they are given the opportunity to collaborate across disciplines. In some institutions this is already in place and represents good practice; in others creating a framework for student collaboration has proved difficult because of political issues, funding and institutional structures. There are issues of process timelines and assessment across disciplines and in very few cases student resistance. In their accreditation process, JAMES has found that students are now becoming aware of the potential in collaboration and starting to demand structures that facilitate this. David Ward explains the findings of the JAMES accreditation teams and how the Gateway School was originally set up on the basis of collaboration, peer assessment and research based Guided Enquiry. He will discuss, how collaboration works or doesn’t; networking building is not just contacts but relationships; team and group building; models of group dynamics, facilitation and management, timelines, pre-production meetings and agreements. Emotional Learning and the importance of feelings in the collaboration process, listening for agreement, running meetings, dynamic choice making and planning. The importance of being flexible particularly when things go wrong. These are vital life skills for survival and resilience in a competitive industry.


Fixing and Unfixing National Musics: Field Recordings, Sound and Citizenship in Europe

Tom Western, School of Music, University of Edinburgh, thomwestern@gmail.com

Nationalism is back at the top of the political agenda across Europe. Borders are closing, and various voices are calling for the protection of national cultures. Recorded music is enrolled in these developments, and the resurgence of nationalism has run in parallel with an explosion of interest in historical field recordings of traditional musics. Heard as truthful transmissions of national pasts, these field recordings are understood as existing outside of mass culture, feeding into desires for national purity.

This paper connects these pasts and presents. The first half listens to histories of field recording in postwar Europe, centring on conversations about recording technologies that took place within the International Folk Music Council. Recordists affiliated with the IFMC used advanced technologies and production techniques to produce nations in sound. This was an act of fixing national musics – a kind of ethnos-musicology – performed in the face of the enormous displacements of people at the time, and denying sonic space to migration in national histories.

The second half turns an ethnographic ear to current displacement, drawing on fieldwork in Athens, Greece. Here, citizenship is produced and performed through music, and sound mediates relationships between refugee and host communities. Field recordings can create archives of interactions and relations rather than ethnicities and nations: unfixing national musics, and advancing understandings of integration and the politics of ‘refugee voices’. The paper thus argues for an expanded study of record production, advocating crosstalk between popular music studies, anthropology, sound studies, ethnomusicology and forced migration studies.

Keywords: Field recording, displacement, borders, refugee voices, national musics, production


Mechanical, Algorithmic, Binaural: Aesthetic considerations surrounding reverberation and spatialisation techniques explored in GoGo Penguin’s A Humdrum Star.

Dr Brendan Williams, University of Salford

This paper explores the prominent use of innovative reverberation and spatialisation techniques explored in the production of GoGo Penguin’s album A Humdrum Star (Blue Note Records 2018). As co-producer / engineer I have first-hand knowledge of the technical, practical and creative considerations which informed the decision-making process. The band’s affection for much Intelligent Dance Music production drew us as a creative unit towards the use of spring, plate and modulation-heavy legacy digital products, their jazz roots inspiring the use of ambitious multi-speaker re-amplification – in order to sonically reference a historically expected aesthetic –  captured using binaural microphone techniques. Further to this I will discuss the recording techniques necessary in isolating individual members of the ensemble, in order for this approach to spatialisation to be affective; how we arranged the band in order to maintain line of sight and how parallel distortion, compression and reverberation affected the bands performance at source, through careful attention to their personal monitor mixes. As listeners, we develop instinctive associations regarding the spatialisation of source material as our musical experiences broaden (Moorfield 2005). We associate specific reverberation transformations with particular genres and physical experiences, we make qualitative (even social-political) judgements based on these aesthetic choices. As record-makers we consider these associations deeply, contributing to the final presentation of the ‘primary artefact’ with critical awareness and creative judgement equal to that of the electro-acoustic composer.

The paper presentation will draw from multitrack mix projects and photographic / video materials.

Keywords: Producer, Engineering, Electronica, Reverberation


The Auschwitz Sonderkommando in Extreme Metal and Superhero Comics: The Holocaust Consciousness of Stigmatized Subcultures

Dr Dominic Williams, University of Leeds, d.p.williams@leeds.ac.uk

Scholars of the cultural memory of the Holocaust have moved beyond simply asserting that only high modernist artworks can convey the enormity of this historical catastrophe. However, the belief that certain cultural forms have no business addressing the Shoah is still widespread. Subcultures, such as superhero comics and metal, which carry a degree of stigma (which has varied historically between outright moral panic to contemptuous indifference to even a kind of patronising affection) have met with particular resistance to attempts to encroach upon this territory. The Wikipedia page for the Auschwitz Sonderkommando (SK – the almost exclusively Jewish group of prisoners in Auschwitz forced to work in the crematoria) used to contain a reference to Magneto, the X-Men antihero/supervillain, but it was removed after editors agreed that his backstory as part of the SK was ‘pathologically tasteless, if not revolting, ignorant, and offensive’. The Meads of Asphodel’s concept album Sonderkommando (2013) was greeted by many reviews asking whether choosing to represent the Holocaust revealed far-right sympathies.

And yet, as both of these examples reveal, comics and metal have been attracted not only to the Holocaust, but to one of its most difficult topics, the so-called ‘grey zone’ of privilege and collaboration in which Primo Levi placed the Sonderkommando. My paper will consider the ways in which this stigmatized group of prisoners figure as part of these subcultures’ ways of managing their own stigma: not only to reduce it but also to reimpose it upon themselves as a mark of distinction.

Keywords: Holocaust, Sonderkommando, comics, metal, stigma


“Now tell us who the terrorist is”: British-Arab Identity Politics in UK Hip-hop

Justin A. Williams, University of Bristol, Justin.williams@bristol.ac.uk

Given hip-hop’s African American origins and associations with “blackness,” it seems unsurprising that hip-hop studies has focused on figures and theories belonging to the “Black Atlantic” (Gilroy 2002) to frame hip-hop in the UK and in Europe (Rollefson 2017). And yet, several youth cultures beyond Black culture employ the language of hip-hop to express their diasporic hybrid identities in the UK, negotiating aspects of ethnically-defined national belonging vis-a-vis what Modood and Salt (2011) call the “tacit whiteness” of British identity.

This paper focuses on rappers such as the Palestinian-British “First Lady of Arabic Hip-hop” Shadia Mansour and Iraqi-British rapper Lowkey. I discuss the ways in which their Middle Eastern Diasporic identity acts as a “third space” (Bhabha 1994) context for wider political critiques, with lyrics frequently discussing war, terrorism and post-Imperial power relations in the Middle East. Given Britain’s role in “mandatory Palestine,” Iran, Iraq and other Arab nations after the fall of the Ottoman Empire, Arab-British rappers engage forcefully with the UK’s colonial and neocolonial politics. An analysis of selected tracks and music videos including Mansour’s “The Kuffiyah is Arab” and Lowkey’s “Cradle of Civilization” shows the relationship between these complex identities. Amidst the critical engagement with the macrocosm of war and the microcosm of their own displacements, these examples reveal sentiments on politics and belonging in postcolonial Britain that are individually unique yet diasporically related in a “family of resemblances” (Lipsitz 1994; Hill 2007) via hip-hop’s cultural citizenship.

Keywords: Hip-hop, Black Atlantic, Bhabha, Lipsitz, British Rap


Bitter Content: YouTube, the ukulele, and the smokescreen of participatory commodification

Emma Winston, Goldsmiths, University of London, e.winston@gold.ac.uk

Keywords: Popular Music; Internet Culture; Subcultures; Participatory Culture; Ukulele; YouTube

Over the last decade, the ukulele has experienced a resurgence in popularity amongst players spanning a remarkable range of demographics and ability levels. One of the instrument’s most intriguing fields of visibility is the online video platform YouTube, on which thousands of players congregate, performing covers and original songs to camera, and forming social bonds with one another which extend both to other social networks and to the offline sphere. Jean Burgess and Joshua Green (2009) have discussed YouTube’s potential as a site of ‘participatory culture’, in which the lines between creator and consumer become so blurred as to be indistinguishable. Low-cost and portable, with a shallow learning curve, the ukulele and YouTube seem ideally suited to one another, and have become widely viewed as signifiers of participatory independence. Simultaneously, however, YouTubers themselves report a constant navigation of a significant ‘creator-viewer divide’ which seemingly remains almost unobserved in academia, while corporate advertisers have seized upon both the ukulele and YouTube itself to create what I term a ‘smokescreen of smallness’, exploiting their associations with the uncommodified participatory in order to conceal the very act of their appropriation. Combining multimedia analysis with participant-observation conducted both online and at a London-based convention, this paper will explore the ukulele on YouTube in the context of an increasingly ambivalent and entangled relationship with mainstream and corporate media, and will both build upon and challenge established literature on participatory culture in the digital age.


The post-jazz praxis: interactions between the audience and performers

Adrian York

MuSIC Research Group, University of Westminster, London, UK.


Key words: audience, performer, interactive, jazz.

Digital technologies have transformed the performance practice, recording and distribution, economy and sonic landscape of music in a process of change that began in the early 1980s. Recent developments in control surfaces, motion tracking electronics, wearable technology and hand-held controllers have opened up the possibility of audiences as well as performers interacting with music in ways hitherto impossible. In this new world sound events can be triggered or manipulated through mapped movement, by means of proximity, via phone apps or gaming controllers to create a more immersive experience for the audience through a creative engagement with the music.

This paper maps ongoing research that seeks to re-engineer contemporary jazz performance as a collaborative improvisatory locus. Through the use of apps and movement controllers and using variety of interfaces the audience engages with programmed, sampled and live musical artefacts. This performance practice creates a much more transformative role for the audience than previously possible and the research focuses on developing the compositional and performance protocols to enable this transformative post-jazz praxis.


21st Century Music Practice Discussion

One Hour Discussion Event

Chaired by Simon Zagorski-Thomas (London College of Music, UWL).

The 21st Century Music Practice research network will be approaching the end of its second year during the Crosstown Traffic conference and this discussion event will examine the potential directions in its next phase through a series of case studies of practice-based outputs. The question of what level of detail an exegesis might be required to provide in order to allow peers to have access to the thought processes of a practice-based researcher is a thorny one. Does the created artefact in and of itself provide enough information for an expert to understand the process? It may be true that a musical score, a close-up video recording of a performance or a DAW session file provide sufficiently detailed information about the creative process through the nature of these representational systems. It is also likely that a meaningful assessment of the creative process requires some representation of the developmental timeline as well: the notated sketches and discarded ideas, the technical and expressive rehearsal process or the demo recordings, alternate takes and test mixes. And how can the creative metaphorical steps and leaps that underpin the suggestion of meaning through a representational system be communicated? By presenting some excerpts from multi-media practice-based research outputs as stimuli for discussion, this event will seek to elaborate on the ways in which practice can be analysed through non-text-based outputs. From conference presentations and journal ‘articles’ to PhD theses and monographs, how can we ensure rigour and comparability in publications of 21st century music practice research?


Mixed Messages: manipulating meaning in mediated music

Simon Zagorski-Thomas and Andrew Bourbon (London College of Music, UWL)

Based on the idea of mixing audio as the creation of affordances for the interpretation of recorded music (Zagorski-Thomas, 2014; Bourbon and Zagorski-Thomas, 2017), this presentation explores the practicalities of using theory to drive creative practice. The theoretical basis of this project can be distilled down to the idea that musical meaning grows out of the way that the sound of a person or persons performing some activity in some way (with or without some instrument or tool) in a space (Gibson, 1979; Clarke, 2005) affords either empathic or metaphorical meaning (Lakoff and Johnson, 2003). We break this down into five perceived features: the agent or agents, the type of energy being expended, the level of energy being expended, the materiality of the tool or instrument and the spatial characteristics (Schaeffer, 1977; Smalley, 1997; Zagorski-Thomas, 2018).

For this presentation we will explore three of these features in terms of the ways they can afford different metaphorical meanings and through examples of the way they can be manipulated in the mixing process. Using examples, we will explore a sound’s material quality through the invariant sonic properties of size or resonance – adjusting its dynamic morphology in a range of frequencies to alter our perception of size. Depending on the context this may also have metaphorical affordances for our interpretation of a sense of power or menace. This is part of larger book project which aims to steer the literature on mixing away from a focus on tool parameters and towards musical meaning through the broader theoretical notion of Sonic Cartoons (Zagorski-Thomas, 2014).


The (Dis) Embodied Voice: hearing meaning in vocal timbre

Simon Zagorski-Thomas (London College of Music, UWL)

Keywords: Vocal timbre, ecological perception, embodied cognition, sonic cartoons

It can be argued that since the persona of the performer is widely perceived to be the locus of meaning in popular music – as opposed to the more indirect voice of the composer in the western art music tradition – that the timbre of the voice and its control during performance should be the focal point of popular music analysis. This paper uses a framework combining the ecological approach to perception (Gibson, 1979; Clarke, 2005), embodied cognition (Lakoff and Johnson, 1999) and the neural theory of metaphor (Lakoff and Johnson, 2003; Feldman, 2008) to explore how the disembodied sound of the recorded voice in popular music is interpreted as a schematic representation of a human entity and action: a sonic cartoon (Zagorski-Thomas, 2014).

Using examples from around the world and which span the last century of popular music, the paper will explore how the recorded voice suggests the materiality of the body – from gender and age to size and race – and the forms of energy expenditure being engaged in. And these aural suggestions in turn create the affordance of metaphorical meaning – from the quite basic and largely cross-cultural suggestion of basic emotions like anger through sonic timbre to more culturally specific examples such as the association of a vocal sound with a particular religious activity. Further to this, morphologies of timbre can suggest complex narratives through more event or action-based metaphorical structures. The paper will use examples to explore the potential for an analytical methodology based on this theoretical framework.


Structural verticality in electronic dance music

Associate professor Hans T. Zeiner-Henriksen

Department of Musicology, University of Oslo, Norway

Experiencing a typical dance floor in a club with EDM-music is an experience of many movements in the vertical axis. From head nodding and foot taping of the bystanders, the dancing crowd can often be seen as a homogeneous body moving up and down in synchrony.  To what extent can this movement patterns be traced in the music?

This paper will explore the sounds of EDM and display musical features that may have an effect on the movements of the dancers. The basic rhythmic patterns, melodic structures, sound modulations and sidechain-compression effects are among the features that will be discussed. Theoretically the paper builds on literature of embodied cognition (Gibson 1979, Lakoff and Johnson 1980, 1999), but cultural implications will also be discussed, with questions concerning the individual, subjective experience and ideas of universality of our experience with music.


A report of popular music performance on Chinese TV shows

Xuefeng Zhou, Southwest University; Junjie Liu, MinShanLu primary school

email: xuefeng_zhou@outlook.com

Popular music performance on Chinese TV shows is a hot topic in general but seldom draws academic attention. In few literatures, one study focused on the reasons why TV show The voice of China won business and argued in favor of the voice’s own post (Zhang, 2013). Another study focused on audience demands in such TV show (Ji, 2014). That is to say,  there is no study of music performance. What special content of music performance does Chinese TV show contain? After concluded ten singing genres based on the analysis of juries’ talk – the total time of TV show exceeds 1100 minutes and effective talk of judges exceeds 180 minutes — of The voice of China•season one (2013), we found that both singing and the professional judges’ views appeared a mixture of the Western and Chinese in many Western songs. The study will report the difference of those Western songs being sung by Chinese singers and discuss aesthetical reasons of the difference, which benefit recording productions to fit for different cultures.

Keywords: talk of professional judges; singing genre; cultural context