Durham University


Music, Media and Technologies

Safa Canalp (Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin) – Towards a notion of subcultural transfer: circulation of media, and hierarchies of knowledge, taste and behavior

11:00-13:00 - Session II: Media and transnational flows

In her seminal work Club Cultures, to emphasize the significance of knowledge, taste and behavior for the accumulation of subcultural capital, Thornton (1995) suggests that “In knowing, owning and playing the music, DJs, in particular, are sometimes positioned as the masters of the scene….” (p. 28). Casting aside this specific example which is adduced by Thornton who keeps track of the passage from live music to recorded music in club cultures, how can we reconsider the experience and dissemination of musics (that shape subcultures) after more than twenty years of observing the emergence of new media and rapid development of new technologies?

This paper intends to foster discussion on these issues with border-crossing and up-to-date approaches and through agonizing over a fairly illustrative transnational question: “To what extent and through which processes, a Turkish fan becomes able to appreciate the music of Boards of Canada and what does she or he gains from it?” At first, on a scale that ranges from concert-going to YouTube-streaming, it proposes to understand subcultural musical experience through making differentiations between knowledge, taste and behavior. It naturally observes that since Adorno’s celebration of musical experience as a distinctive event and Benjamin’s denouncement of the loss of aura, many things have changed. Secondly, drawing upon the mid-European notion of cultural transfer and with reference to Will Straw’s arguments on the changing value of cultural commodities in different markets and populations, the paper makes a methodological proposition on analyzing the transfer and circulation of subcultural media and their reception and appropriation in transnational contexts. And finally, concerning the dissemination of music, the paper propounds that Thornton’s conception of niche media and micro media should be reconsidered along with the conventional shift to social media.

The methodological approaches of this paper are presented with the data that I have been collecting for my doctoral research on Turkey’s independent music scene and subculture.

Main References

Adorno, T.W. (2002).”On Popular Music [With the Assistance of George Simpson] (1941).” In R. Leppert (ed.), Susan H. Gillespie (trans.), Essays on Music, pp. 437-469. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Benjamin, W. (2007). “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” In H. Arrendt (ed.), Harry Zohn (trans.), Illuminations: Essays and Reflections (2007 ed.), pp. 217-252. New York: Schocken Books.

Canalp, S. (2016). “Towards a Theory1 of Subcultural Transfer in Unpopular Music Studies,” paper presented at Fringes, Outsides and Undergrounds: The Aesthetics and Politics of Unpopular Music, Goldsmiths, University of London, United Kingdom, 7 May 2016.

Canalp, S. (2017). “Towards a Theory2 of Subcultural Transfer – Part 2: the Great Expectations,” paper to be presented at International Conference on Musical Cultures, University of Hull, United Kingdom, 3-5 April 2017.

Espagne, M. (2013). “La notion de transfert culturel.” Revue Sciences/Lettres (Online), Vol. 1 on ‘Transferts culturels’. Retrieved from: http://rsl.revues.org/219; DOI : 10.4000/rsl.219. Date retrieved: 01.03.2017.

Lüsebrink, H.J. (2012). Interkulturelle Kommunikation: Interaktion, Fremdwahrnehmung, Kulturtransfer (2012 ed.). Stuttgart: J.B. Metzler

Peterson, R.A. (2005). “Problems in comparative research: The example of omnivorousness.” Poetics, Vol. 33, pp. 257-282.

Straw, W. (1991). “Systems of articulation, logics of change: Communities and scenes in popular music.” Cultural Studies, Vol. 5-3, pp. 368-388.

Thornton, S. (1995). Club Cultures: Music, Media and Subcultural Capital. Cambridge: Polity.