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.
The Valuing Electronic Music workshop took place yesterday at the Open University’s London offices in Camden, with contributions from Kate Oakley, Nick Crossley, Maddy Radcliff, Simon Tanner, Charlotte Tupman, Alistair Willis, and Matthew Yee King as well as Anna, Byron, and myself. It was a great opportunity to share what we’ve found so far with an expert audience and get informed feedback on the project as a whole.
It’s a scary thought, but we’re halfway through the funded stage of this project. The timescale is tightly compressed and it’s been a bit manic at times (especially right now, with a workshop next week and a public event in less than a month).
But we’ve already learnt so much. So I’d like to reflect briefly on an observation Byron made last month, reflecting on the interviews he’d been carrying out with electronic music producers: ‘when I ask questions about valuing and appreciation, people answer about relationships.’ Outside the spheres of commercial music (where value is expressed in economic terms) and art music (where it is expressed in terms of grants, academic appointments, etc), human relationships are the beginning and the end of musical value. So perhaps it’s true that when musicians build relationships through music, they are producing not the opportunity to produce value (the aim of ‘business networking‘), but value itself.
I’m happy to announce that qualitative research is now underway on the project! I conducted our first interview last Friday with a London-based producer of electronic music. It was a thought-provoking discussion, suggesting a number of avenues for the research ahead: on the one hand for the ethnographic components of our work and on the other for the kinds of data we might examine from SoundCloud. The members of the research team had some time to discuss the implications at this week’s meeting in Camden.