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As the world lurches towards technologies of artificial intelligence, algocracy, the Internet of Things, and ensuing privacy paradoxes, music practitioners and consumers have embraced and resisted new ways of listening, while reckoning with emerging sonic regimes. What, however, does technological privilege – and sudden catch-up – mean in a (one hopes) decolonising world still divided on the fault lines of politico-economic advantage, class, race and gender? This article makes several attempts at decentring mainstream views of digital musicking in light of broader themes of recirculations and remediations. It draws from examples around the world, ranging from African-American rap in K-pop, to ‘pathways’ carved by indigenous musicians hidden in plain sight on YouTube, to sonic subversion of internet memes. With an intersectional approach that considers alternative musical dimensions that generate their own logics in interaction with hegemonic powers, this chapter seeks to open windows onto today’s new, asymmetrically digital sonic regimes.
This chapter by a journalist-turned-ethnomusicologist begins with a personal anecdote, channelling critic Tim Quirk’s indictment of academia and journalism’s shared and ambivalent reliance on maintaining ‘dysfunctional relationships with the truth’. Where subjectivities have recently become the focus of writings about music, an autoethnographic account of a moment in history in Southeast Asia could usefully open a narrative about musical narratives. And so a version of ‘the truth’ begins: in 1998, a music graduate freshly returned from the UK (this writer) joined the lifestyle section of a national newspaper and was dispatched to review the debut of a Singaporean violinist. The performer, sixteen years old, had been studying with a celebrated pedagogue in the United States.
The essays in this volume offer rich and diverse perspectives on the encounter between Indigenous music and digital technologies. They explore how digital media -- whether on CD, VCD, the Internet, mobile technology, or in the studio -- have transformed and become part of the fabric of Indigenous cultural expression across the globe. Communication technologies have long been tools for nation building and imperial expansion, but these studies reveal how over recent decades digital media have become a creative and political resource for Indigenous peoples, often nurturing cultural revival, assisting activism, and complicating earlier hegemonic power structures. Bringing together the work of scholars and musicians across five continents, the volume addresses timely issues of transnationalism and sovereignty, production and consumption, archives and transmission, subjectivity and ownership, and virtuality and the posthuman. Music, Indigeneity, Digital Media is essential reading for scholars working on topics in ethnomusicology, Indigeneity, and media studies while also offering useful resources for Indigenous musicians and activists. The volume provides new perspectives on Indigenous music, refreshes and extends debates about digital culture, and points to how digital media shape what it means to be Indigenous in the twenty-first century. Contributors: Linda Barwick, Beverley Diamond, Thomas R. Hilder, Fiorella Montero-Diaz, John-Carlos Perea, Henry Stobart, Shzr Ee Tan, Russell Wallace Thomas R. Hilder is postdoctoral fellow in musicology at the University of Bergen. Henry Stobart is reader in music at Royal Holloway, University of London. Shzr Ee Tan is senior lecturer at Royal Holloway, University of London.
More than a decade since the settling of a controversial lawsuit involving pop group Enigma's use of Amis song in the 1993 hit “Return To Innocence,” aboriginal musicians in Taiwan are grappling with new ideas about mediation, self-representation, cultural ownership, and musical stewardship. Emerging issues in today's diversified networks of music production and consumption extend beyond old debates about copyright; a newer line of inquiry traces the interacting pathways old and new media platforms have carved out in recent years. This article examines how regionally oriented rural routes established through cassette cultures of the 1980s, still prevalent, are being tapped into by more modern (and superficially “urban”) channels of CD distribution. Internet and mobile technology have also remapped old configurations of cultural flow. This is observable not only in the development of parallel online and offline musical communities but also in the widening, global reach of music-interfaced aboriginal transnationalism. At the same time, these routes have also paved the way for emerging cultural disjunctures. In particular, I investigate how the digital divide can be articulated not as a “Han-vs.-aboriginal” or even a “rural-vs.-urban” pattern, but as a generation gap. I study how this gap is itself bridged through mediated musical practices that integrate live and physical dimensions. I look at how feedback between new and existing communities impacts aboriginal musical ecosystems, and study how cultural identities are deliberately or incidentally represented.
The sections to follow first challenge the idea of “newness” in new media, reexamining old tropes of recontextualization understood through differentiated aboriginal experiences of twenty-first century digitality. Here, unequal access to digital resources, information, and power privilege as well as disadvantage intersecting categories of cultural insiders and outsiders and the technologically savvy. Often, the digital quest for a musical connection requires the querent to know exactly what he or she is looking for, even before multiple hidden pathways to the holy grail can show themselves: thus, even slight alterations of Internet music video search parameters lead to dramatically different results. Next, I study how specific parties—from national institutions to commercial players, from local communities to cyberactivists—hold different digital stakes in the game of information representation and music exchange.