Great thanks to everyone who’s read, subscribed to, or commented on our blog here at www.open.ac.uk/vem. The website will remain intact in its current form at the same address, but it’s now been migrated to a new site at www.valuingelectronicmusic.org. All content on this site has been moved, including reader comments. Posts here will be closed for comment – if you would like to add further comments to posts you have read here, please make them on the new site.
We’ll look forward to chatting with you at the new site!
To remind you of what you experienced – or to taunt you with what you missed – here is a selection of photographs from the Valuing Electronic Music free public event, taken by Jake Davis of HungryVisuals. Wish you’d been there? We wish you’d been there too. Maybe next time!
NB please excuse the ads at the beginning of the video, if you get any – a consequence of publishing the videos on a platform originally intended for broadcasting live gameplay rather than academic videos…
In my previous post on this topic, I introduced a problem – how to understand the work that explicit genre categorisations are made to do by people uploading tracks to the SoundCloud audio-sharing website – and a potential solution – identifying the three categories most frequently used by each individual in a sample and studying regularities in the ways in which pairs of categories tend to pop up within the same group of three. I also presented some partial and preliminary findings in the form of a matrix comparing co-occurrences of the five genre categories most frequently used by people within an initial sample. And I either glossed over or left unmentioned a slew of problems, some of which we’ve been more successful in addressing than others at present (because these are only blog posts, and we haven’t finished the research yet). The biggest problem is the sample itself: the analysis was done on the basis of a snowball sample, when a random sample would be more appropriate. Hence the provisionality of all this. The analysis will be redone soon on the basis of a sample that will enable us to make more robust claims, but in the meantime I wanted to share our thought processes and working methods with the world because – quite apart from anything else – I’m excited about the patterns that are emerging.
The (first?) Valuing Electronic Music public event took place on 6 June upstairs at the Lexington on Pentonville Rd in London. Which means that exactly seven days ago to the minute, I was standing in front of the mixing desk with Anna, wondering just how much longer I could credibly put off jumping onto the stage and introducing the whole thing. Thank you so much to everyone who made it happen (especially Glitch Lich, Winterlight, Slackk, Luis-Manuel Garcia, and our brilliant event producer, Josh McNorton), and to everyone who came along. Also to the people who spread the word, without whom so many fewer people would have come along. And thank you to the AHRC, because of whom the event was free.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll start uploading podcasts based on the event itself and on last month’s workshop.
One of the problems you’re always going to face when studying electronic music is the need to decide what you think ‘electronic music’ means. It’s a question of genre, and as Paul DiMaggio acknowledged in one of his most influential papers, genre is at once a formal and a social concept:
It’s now confirmed that the public event on 6 June (click here for the poster) will feature images from the Clubland project by HungryVisuals. One of the most interesting avenues that we’ve been exploring on the ethnographic side of the project is the embodied nature of valuing. Good DJs learn to read a crowd’s physical responses to music, for example. And different venues are characterised by different ways of physically expressing appreciation for the music played. The Clubland project is a unique attempt to document the London club scene through medium format photography, and as such it provides a powerful record of the embodiment of electronic music and its value.
We have been exploring how visualisations can illustrate over time how users comment on tracks in SoundCloud. Commenting has been highlighted in our qualitative research as a way of building relationships and showing appreciation of other musicians’ work. In fact, initial inspection of a sample set of comments is showing that most comments in our samples tend to be positive or constructive, rather than overly critical or negative.