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Imaginary Soundscapes: Electronic Music Culture and the Aesthetics of the Virtual

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posted on 24.05.2021, 07:31 authored by Sara Wei-Ming Chan
This study is an exploration into how dance music cultures (better known as "rave" or "club" cultures) find ways to straddle the divide between human and machine through their incorporation of both of these oft-competing elements. Electronic dance music and its digital composition methods represent what Mike Berk calls "a new sonic paradigm." The different modes of production, performance and consumption within this paradigm require alternative ways of thinking about originality, creativity, and authenticity. While I do look briefly at issues of consumption and performance within dance music cultures, I focus specifically on how electronic music producers are bound by a unique vision of musical authenticity and creativity, borne out of their own "technological imagination" and the sonic possibilities enabled by digital technology. To use the concepts employed within my paper, I contend that dance music cultures make evident what Michael Punt calls the "postdigital analogue"--a cultural condition in which the decidedly more "human" or "analogue" elements of felt experience and authenticity coexist and converse with the predominance of the digital technologies of simulation and artifice. Dance music cultures are an emergent social formation, to use Williams' term, revising and questioning the typical relationships understood between digital and analogue. This postdigital analogue manifests in a number of ways in the cultural, aesthetic, and technological principles promoted by dance music cultures. In terms of production in particular, signs of digital and analogue coexist in a form of virtual authenticity, as the sound of the technological process engaged to make electronic dance music bears the mark of musical creativity and originality. This study reveals the unique manner in which dance music cultures incorporate both analogue and digital principles, bridging a sense of humanity with the acceptance of the technological.





Master of Arts


Communication and Culture

Granting Institution

Ryerson University

LAC Thesis Type