Music is thoroughly embedded in many contexts and practices of contemporary society. It is ubiquitous across social spaces and media environments, and is arguably the dominant form of mediated popular-cultural expression.

As such, music is very important to people. Talk about music is therefore encountered everywhere. Talking about music, however, is also a way of talking about other things: a vehicle or resource for getting other kinds of social and cultural positioning negotiated. Talking about the music we like – and perhaps especially the music we do not like – is a way to express who we are in relation to each other, and thereby a way to produce and exhibit our respective positions in relation to regimes of aesthetic and cultural value. Talk about music involves evaluation, and this kind of evaluation has moral attributes. 

This is evident if we think of how ideas around social identity – ethnicity, class, gender, and other forms of social differentiation – are expressed through talk about music. Consider how conversations about, say, Michael Jackson, or Miley Cyrus, utilise the music and performance of these artists to ‘do work’ around sexuality, the politics of race and representation and so on.

There is also a fantastic quantity of academic research about music: in classical musicology, popular musicology, cultural studies, media studies, ethnomusicology, psychology, philosophy, and sociology. Of course, it is commonly through writing that we most thoroughly engage with this research. Nonetheless, it is not too much of a stretch to say that these perspectives also involve ‘talk’ about music, at least in the senses mentioned above.

One of the central features of these ways of talking, ‘vernacular’ or ‘specialised’, is that they can be understood as taking music as something located in the social world, in such a way as to tell us about other things concerning that world. Or rather, they can be understood in such a way as to enable us to tell these other things. This is arguably especially the case for those ways of talking which insist on being ‘just about the music’, thereby indicating a view of the world involving ‘art’ as an autonomous realm, separate from the everyday. At the very foundation of this way of talking about music, is an insistence that such talk can delineate music as a social practice abstracted from the context of its production, and yet simultaneously furnishing ground on which artistic comment can be made on that context.

This particular way of talking about music is surprisingly common, although we might not commonly think of it in this way. Music figures here as a sign of something good, in and of itself. Conversely, it is possible to talk about the degraded state of music (and especially ‘pop’ music) as sign and symptom of our own social degradation. Bad music is a bad sign, a sign of bad things in the world, a sign of a bad world (or at least, one which is getting worse). This draws on very longstanding ways of thinking about moral value with respect to music. We can conceptualise this drawing on Bourdieu. But we can also contextualise it in relation to anxieties about the corrupting effects of music stretching back at least to Plato.

This, then, is a way of talking about music as a ‘problem’. Some (most likely recent) music is deemed problematic, sometimes through juxtaposition with some other, possibly non-problematic or even edifying music (most likely not recent). In academic and in vernacular discourses, and across the political spectrum, these ways of talking also serve as ways of imagining social orders. Notably, they imagine how music contributes to the constitution of ‘good’ or ‘bad’ subjectivities for the social order we have or might want or prefer. Music comes to be posited as ‘doing things’ to people. Selves, moral systems, and social orders are invoked and interlinked – in conversations about music.

Here is a philosophical example, drawing on aesthetics and ethics, arguing that ‘singing along’ to gangsta rap could be morally bad for you. Here is another, from psychology, suggesting that ‘problem music’ is linked with ‘delinquent’ or ‘anti-social behaviour’. The genres of music deemed problematic are predictable, but very similar lines of argument can be shown in sociological work, sympathetic to the political left, which addresses popular music. In this work, it is the ‘poppier’ mainstream which is spoken of as troubling. The intellectual lineage here is customarily traced through Adorno, and these sorts of perspectives are very well known. Vernacular versions can be seen in authenticity discussions among fans – what is ‘true’ black metal, has that rapper sold out, is this band still ‘underground’ and so on. A good contemporary ethnomusicological iteration describes music colonized by the forces of neoliberal hegemony: genres of music become brands.

Despite apparently important differences in political persuasion (in what the desired subjectivities, moral orders, and social forms are), these ways of talking share at least one important feature: they invite the listener/reader to join the proponent of the argument in directing opprobrium at the ‘problem music’ and the social order for which it finds itself serving as a proxy. Whether the relationship is reader-writer or co-conversational, alignment is solicited, and a right-thinking ‘we’ who can make sense of this music is proposed and developed.

It is productive to think about these conversations and the work they get done in this way for a number of reasons. It is not so much that the arguments involved are more or less right or wrong, or tell us more or less successfully what we need to know about music. It is rather that these ways of talking and thinking are objects of inquiry in their own right, which go towards the production of the field that is ‘music’ and how it is understood. Music is a topic or resource for talk, and for the production and display of academic disciplinary orientations. It is therefore an important interactional and discursive means of getting sociality done, and of getting conceptions of the world and how it should be into view. Considering how these conversations and discourses work helps us to understand how ‘music’ is made sensible, and made a sensible and informative feature of the social world. It can also help us to understand thereby some of the means by which we talk that world up into a moral shape.

This piece is based on an article published by Sociological Research Online in May. The article can be found here.


Announcing Pacific Asian Breakcore Compilation! Submissions until May 2014.
Mengumumkan Pacific Asian Breakcore Kompilasi! Submissions sampai Mei 2014.
Mengumumkan Pasifik Asia Breakcore Penyusunan! Penyerahan sehingga Mei 2014
太平洋アジアブレイクコアコンピレーション登場! 2014年5月までの提出。
ประกาศเอเชียแปซิฟิก Breakcore รวบรวม! ส่งจนถึงพฤษภาคม 2014
태평양 아시아 Breakcore 편집 등장! 5 월 2014 년까지 제출.
ປະກາດປາຊີຟິກອາຊີ Breakcore ການຮວບຮວມ! ການຍື່ນສະເຫນີຈົນກ່ວາເດືອນພຶດສະພາປີ 2014.
প্যাসিফিক এশিয়ান Breakcore সংকলন ঘোষনা! মে 2014 পর্যন্ত জমা.
প্যাসিফিক এশিয়ান Breakcore সংকলন ঘোষনা! মে 2014 পর্যন্ত জমা.
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Tshaj tawm Pacific Neeg Esxias Breakcore ua pawg! Tso npe kom txog thaum lub Tsib Hlis 2014.
प्रशान्त एसियाली Breakcore प्रतियोगिता घोषणा! मे 2014 सम्म निवेदन।





Remix and EDMC Special Edition of Dancecult cfp

Guest Editor: Sheena Hyndman 
This special issue seeks to address topics and issues related to the remix as a component of electronic dance music culture. The remix, a form of derivative song composition that combines existing recorded sound with newly composed musical material, has become an increasingly popular subject of study both within and outside academia. While derivative musical and cultural expression is not a phenomenon exclusive to the present, the remix is unique from past forms of derivative music making because of the way it is defined by its relationship to the sound reproduction technologies of the 20th and 21st centuries. This combination of derivativeness and technology has encouraged an influx of scholarship addressing the problematic relationship of the remix with intellectual property to the exclusion of many other aspects of remixing, and in light of recent technological developments, the flourishing of participatory culture and the growing importance of the remix in the contemporary music industry, there remains a great deal of territory to explore with respect to the remix as an expression of contemporary music culture. Therefore, this special issue seeks to broaden understandings of remixing as a key element of electronic dance music culture by encouraging debate among composers, performers, promoters, fans and detractors. 
This special issue of Dancecult invites contributions from scholars in all areas on the subject of the remix as an expression of past and contemporary electronic dance music and culture. The goal of this special issue is to broaden the understanding of remixed music beyond the most commonly articulated tropes in existing scholarship. To this end, contributions from scholars, performers, music industry insiders, admirers and critics are welcomed and encouraged. While contributions from all areas of scholarship will be considered, it is requested that submissions be underpinned by a focus on remixing as it relates to electronic dance music culture. 
/ / Suggested Themes / /
The editor encourages that contributions be grounded in musical scholarship relating to remixing and EDMC. Potential topics include, but are not limited to:
- The history of remixing;
- Remix genres and scenes;
- Audience consumption and listening practices;
- Attitudes towards derivativeness in music;
- The remix as an expression of past, contemporary, popular and/or underground dance music cultures;
- The remix as a process of song composition;
- The remix as performance practice;
- The remix and the music industry;
- Authenticity and originality;
- Professional and amateur remixing;
- Types of compensation for producers of remixes;
- Music blogging;
- Cross-geographical and -temporal collaborative music making. 
/ / Submissions / /
Feature Articles: Feature Articles will be peer-reviewed and are 6000-9000 words in length (including endnotes, captions and bibliography). 
For policies, see: https://dj.dancecult.net/index.php/dancecult/about/editorialPolicies#sectionPolicies 
This special edition will also feature articles for our “From the Floor” section. Rather than being written in the formal style of the academic essay, submissions for this shorter format (750-2500 words) are more conversational, blog-like and informal in tone and may feature more experimental and creative styles of reporting. From the Floor contributions may take the form of dispatches from the field, mini-ethnographies, interviews and photo essays, and contributors are encouraged to include relevant multimedia components such as music, video and hypertext.
Articles must adhere to all style and formatting rules stipulated in the Dancecult Style Guide (DSG). Download it here: https://dj.dancecult.net/index.php/dancecult/manager/files/PublicFolder/dancecult_styleguide2.8.5.pdf

Multimedia Submissions: Dancecult encourages authors to complement their written work with audio and visual material. See the DSG for style and formatting requirements.
Language: Although the language of publication in Dancecult is English, the editor strongly encourages submissions from non-Anglophone scholars and will be happy to provide linguistic/stylistic support during the writing process. 
/ / Dates and Deadlines / /
This special edition is proposed for publication in Dancecult in November 2014. 
If interested, please send a 250 word abstract and brief author biography to Sheena Hyndman (sheena.hyndman [at] gmail.com) before February 16, 2014. If your abstract is accepted for guest editor review, the deadline for full article submission is May 31, 2014. 
Beyond that, the deadline for online submission to Dancecult (for peer review) is August 15, 2014. Please send inquiries and expressions of interest to Sheena Hyndman: sheena.hyndman [at] gmail.com.


Musical Materialities in the Digital Age cfp

Call for Papers 
Musical Materialities in the Digital Age 
27-28 June 2014, University of Sussex  
Keynote Speakers
Will Straw (Professor, Department of Art History and Communications Studies, McGill University; Director, McGill Institute for the Study of Canada)
Noel Lobley (Ethnomusicologist and Research Associate, Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford)  
Conference outline
Music, while summoning notions of intangibility, transience and loss, is also associated with material objects that serve to ground the musical, make the transient permanent and defer loss. Unearthing music’s association with materiality reveals a fascinating array of artefacts, including instruments, scores, transcribing devices, sound recordings and much more. Such artefacts provide vital reference points for historical research as well as inviting new creative uses, rediscoveries and (re)mediations. They also add to the ever-growing archives of past objects, whether stored in ‘physical’ or digital forms. Music’s material traces serve as vital ways of mediating memory, whether in private collections or public exhibitions. Furthermore, the use of musical ‘ephemera’ such as record sleeves, programmes, flyers and posters as a primary means for putting the popular musical past on display in museums and galleries has highlighted the ways in which such objects are not so ephemeral after all.  
The persistence of musical artefacts and musical materialities following the period of their initial use value poses interest questions. What is the fate of musical artefacts once they become obsolescent? What becomes of music and its objects once relegated to archives? What is the role of musical artefacts in helping us to understand the past? What is the relationship between the physical and the digital in terms of music’s objects? To what extent does a focus on music’s objects challenge the idea of music as a social process? Conversely, what role does musical materiality play in the maintenance and development of rituals long associated with music? What rituals reformulate musical materiality? What does the remediation of the musical past via ‘media’ archaeology’ have to tell us about present desires, anxieties and needs? What is the role of museums, galleries, sound archives and libraries in these processes?
Working from the premise that musical materiality matters, the aim of this two-day interdisciplinary conference (welcoming papers from media studies, music studies, cultural studies, museum studies, memory studies and other cognate disciplines) will be to reflect upon the materialities of music objects/technologies in the digital age, with an emphasis on:
  • Processes of remediation 
  • Residual media of ‘dead media’ 
  • Cultural waste 
  • Media archaeology (and particular manifestations relating to sound and music, e.g. ‘vinyl archaeology’) 
  • The recycling of memory and material culture 
  • The digital archive 
  • The future of music creation and consumption 
  • Nostalgia and ‘retromania’ 
  • Music as ‘thing’ and/or ‘process’ 
  • Commodification 

The contexts of reception, production and circulation of digital objects as well as existence of residual media and formats (playback devices, vinyl records, etc.) could be examined. We would welcome papers focusing on theoretical approaches (considering for instance the meanings and implications of digitisation), but also papers on particular case-studies (for instance on specific formats and devices i.e. MP3s, iPods, etc. or specific creative and consumptive practices). A broader contextualisation of the historical and technological scapes within which the issues of materiality and remediation emerge would also be very useful.  
The conference organisers welcome individual papers, proposals for panels and round table discussions, and proposals for practical demonstrations/performances related to the themes of the conference. For individual papers, demonstrations and performances, abstracts of no more than 300 words should be submitted. Panels and round table proposals should include a session overview, participant biographies and description of individual contributions. Abstracts and proposals (as well as event queries) should be sent to Dr Richard Elliott (R.Elliott [at] sussex.ac.uk) by 14 March 2014. 
Conference organisers Richard Elliott, University of Sussex Elodie Roy, Newcastle University