Do digital music archives inform the history of recorded music?

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOther


In this paper I want to examine some consequences that archival strategies of mass digitized environments might have on people’s relations to the history of recorded music. Archival strategies can make user-listeners connect tracks in surprising ways due to recommendation systems; they can make user-listeners get lost in the abundance of music; they can give user-listeners the impression that there is only ever one song that will work for each consecutive instant in time; and they can make user-listeners listen alongside digital information merging them with data. These issues have an impact on the ways our discourses of music, and of the history of recorded music, are forming and producing knowledge.
The first part of the paper will discuss digital music use as a pulsating structuration that cuts through the temporalities of the history of recorded music, which, I claim, should be thought ecologically to impose meaning for the user-listener. Engaging with a digital music platform puts one’s musical world picture together as a patchwork that continuously is ripped apart and recombined. The second part of the paper involves this ecological definition with a qualitative study conducted at the Danish Broadcast Corporation during Winter 2019/2020. In a dozen semi-structured interviews I engage my informants in contemplative conversations about conceptualizing “music history” after the so-called “digital turn”. Though different in their scopes, a commonality in all interviews turns out to be reflections on algorithmic control and measured opportunities for listening, which problematize digital music use as a political circuit creating sense of the historicity of music.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusUnpublished - 2020 Jun 10
EventMusikforskning idag - 2020 - Lund University, Lund, Sweden
Duration: 2020 Jun 102020 Jun 10


ConferenceMusikforskning idag - 2020

Subject classification (UKÄ)

  • Musicology


  • music history
  • Metadata
  • Archive
  • Listening
  • interview methods
  • interdisciplinary


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