Is Not That We Don’t Need Popular Music, but Rather How. Reflections on Disciplinary Spaces and Interstices, in Lieu of an Introduction

Alessandro Bratus


This special issue is aimed at examining the sphere of meaning evoked by the expression "popular music" and unpacking its implications for current music studies. Such topic is particularly urgent now, a time in which the changes in music production and circulation caused by widespread digital technology have brought together cultural elements originally separated from each other. In order to introduce the approach and the contributions included in this volume, in this essay I would like to sketch out the general framework of the discussion by addressing two correlated questions. The first concerns the interdisciplinary nature of popular music studies, and the second the very possibility of defining the latter as a discipline, severed from other areas of music studies. If in fact the expression "popular music", understood as a «third kind of music» [Scott 2009, 4], is a historically determined discursive formation ensuing from changes in the conditions of production in the late nineteenth century, it is difficult to see why we should not try to define which musical practices are included within it, after the radical transformations witnessed between the late twentieth and the early twenty-first century, and what conceptual and methodological tools are the most appropriate in dealing with them.

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