We are honoured to have the following keynote speakers (in order of appearance):

The name ‘Johannes Ismaiel-Wendt’ is mentioned in a paper uploaded to Academia by a well-known author: Funky reflections on popular music studies’ most relevant 'RE-': …

Re-cording, Re-sonating, Re-mix, Re-tro, Re-membering, ... the question of the most relevant ‘Re-‘ in Popular Music Studies can be answered tautologically very easily: it is the question of ‘Relevance’ of Popular Music Studies. Who actually needs Popular Music Studies? How do Popular Music Studies legitimize themselves? What are the hot topics? What is being abjected? Is the knowledge gathered only correct or is it also useful? If so: For whom?

In a performative dialogue with the scholars present and from a postcolonial perspective I will ask whether ‘Irrelevance’ is not the actual (unconscious) founding object of Popular Music Studies. There is some evidence to suggest that many publications in Popular Music Studies fulfill all categories of a “typology of irrelevance” (S.F. Alatas 2001). In order to reflect the situation not only pessimistically, I ask whether Popular Music Studies can learn something from their object of research, which flirts openly with ‘Irrelevance’.

Prof. Ismaiel-Wendt's keynote is kindly co-sponsored by the University of Amsterdam.

  • Saturday 9 October 2021 (TBC)Kristin McGee (Rijksuniversiteit Groningen, the Netherlands)

Regenerating the Recorded Music Archive at the Intersections of Jazz and Pop within Europe.

In “Subjectivity in the Groove,” Bernardo Attias identifies typical anxieties expressed as new technologies transform recorded musical cultures: that they “degrade the fidelity of musical recordings” and “threaten to undermine the development of musical technique” (Attias 2013, 20-21). As music institutions have consistently advocated for the committed study of canonical recordings to elevate instrumental techniques, the “flexible interpretation” of new technologies during the digital era re-animated such anxieties within the reception of especially hybrid combinations of electronic music, jazz and popular music throughout Europe. In Berlin, a city celebrated for its post-industrial exploration of electronic soundscapes within dance cultures, new techniques such as digital sound production and drum sequencing significantly transformed the aesthetics of jazz-inspired musical recordings and related performance practices. Especially the transformative 1990s witnessed the emergence of socially oriented record collecting communities which gradually grew into production led outfits (PLOs) committed, as “phonographic artists” (Katz), to the metamorphosis of coveted recordings within the hybrid digital studio and eventually through the now wide-spread remix format. In Utrecht, disbanded industrial buildings provided spaces for the revival of prior jazz aesthetics within music collectives who shared a fascination with a mythologized recorded music past. In Herräng, Sweden, the fastidiously studied canon of jazz and swing films from the 1930s and 40s too stimulated both transnational media pilgrimages and the subsequent transformation of architectural spaces as contemporary meeting points for the regeneration of corporeally driven popular music communities. And finally, the sampling of swing on contemporary jazz/pop recordings by European artists who later synchronized their recordings within the visually oriented music video medium expanded the historical and cultural impact of the recording archive for digitally oriented aesthetic communities populating the more diffuse virtual spaces of social media. All of these phenomena connected to a recorded music archive, exemplify a transnational commitment to regenerating the past to reposition jazz as popular music in the twenty-first century. 

This keynote examines the dialogical role performed by the recorded music archive for contemporary music communities within Europe, especially those working at the borders of jazz, electronic music, and pop. Drawing from ethnographic research, this lecture explores encounters and engagements with the past through especially three inter-related practices and contexts: the remix, the dance revival, and the YouTube archive. Each is recognized as catalysing corporeal connections to European arts communities centred within cities in flux. In short, this keynote explores the primacy of a fluctuating yet collectively imaged recorded music past as axis upon which to generate new music histories within the transforming spaces of an expanding European popular and jazz music culture.

Prof. McGee's keynote is kindly co-sponsored by the Rijksuniversiteit Groningen.