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Using Music Elicitation and Memory Work to Research People’s Relationship with Music Nicola Allett Morgan Centre for the Study of Relationships and Personal.

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Presentation on theme: "Using Music Elicitation and Memory Work to Research People’s Relationship with Music Nicola Allett Morgan Centre for the Study of Relationships and Personal."— Presentation transcript:

1 Using Music Elicitation and Memory Work to Research People’s Relationship with Music Nicola Allett Morgan Centre for the Study of Relationships and Personal Life University of Manchester

2 “Love’s Labours’: Extreme Metal music and its Feeling Community’ Aims: To theorise how particular subcultural identities are adopted, managed and sustained. To identify how individuals participate with others in creating and sustaining a sense of subcultural identity. To ascertain the specific character and social/cultural relations surrounding Extreme Metal music Methodology: Recurring group research:10 meetings, 6 participants Semi-structured interview with memory work, media elicitation and music elicitation. Field notes and research diary My participation as a ‘group member’

3 The Music Relationship CCCS - music subcultures. Post-subculture - playful youth identities. Fandom - focus on fan relationship with the music artist. Need for a consideration of the music relationship. BUT how can we draw out accounts of music experience and affect?

4 Music Elicitation To elicit Memory To elicit response and discussion To elicit accounts of feeling and attachment to music METHOD: Members bring a music track to the research group. The group listens to a group member’s music track. Members are supplied with notebook to write down thoughts/feelings/reaction. After the track is played, members take turns to describe reactions. Finally return to the participant who chose the music to give an account of their reaction accompanied by an explanation for their choice of track. This is repeated with each participant’s choice of music. Discussion follows.

5 Music Elicitation - Resulting Data It produced ‘feelings talk’. My respondents used romance language to describe affect and attachment. “As soon as that track starts I feel like this change comes over my body and I feel [pause] I feel totally powerful. I feel like I am standing on my own on a wind-swept plain, or something like that, and I feel like it brings out something. It puts me in a trance-like, almost psychotic, mood. There is something really primal in me, that [pause] it doesn’t come out here. I’m not really an aggressive person but it makes me just, [pause] I don’t know, it’s hard to explain”. (Ben, listening to Darkthrone) Darkthrone. ‘En As I Dype Skogen’ on Transylvanian Hunger © Peacevile Records

6 Insight into the everyday uses of music and descriptions of the listening experience “It’s not just that track. I like to listen to this album all the way through, if I can, because it gets more depressive as it goes along and the songs really fit together so well. I like the combination of Black Metal vocals with a more doomy tone. It’s his voice that creates atmosphere as well, because I think he really is at the end of the world. When I listen to it I like to zone out and listen to the whole album. That’s why whenever I’ve got a long journey I will play the album because you can just disappear into it”. (Rob, listening to Shining) Shining, ‘Och Med Insikt Skall Du Forga’, IV The Eerie Cold © Avantgarde Music.

7 Examples of how music is evaluated, collective distinctions of taste and notions of virtuosity and authenticity. “The reason I chose that is that it is a fairly new track and it is very, very derivative of like old stuff and one of the things I like about it is the enthusiasm behind it. The fact that the guys who made it have absorbed all their influences and are trying to cram it in to one song at once. It’s absolutely mental. It’s got Thrash, it’s got sort of amazing almost Speed Metal leads in there, it’s got like Grind and stuff like that all jumbled up and completely frenzied. It’s relatively crisp on the production but if you listen to it properly it’s insane, the drumming is all over the place and the guitar playing. It’s all mashed together in one big mess. It’s a homage to music. The enthusiasm it, like, just comes spilling out of the speakers.” (Jack, listening to Frightmare) Frightmare. ‘Angela’ on Bringing Back the Bloodshed © Razorback Records.

8 Group Discussion after Music Elicitation Ben: Imagine you woke up tomorrow morning, you put on a CD, and you got no feelings from it. You put on all your CDs, no feelings. Liam: That would be horrible. Ben: And then, what if you got feelings when you put some Jazz on? Liam: That’s horrific. Jack: Then you would listen to Jazz wouldn’t you? Ben: Well, yeah, that is what I think. Liam: I suppose you would. Yeah, because your inherent passion for music just would have shifted focus, I guess. Chloe: Mmm, yeah. But having been listening to Metal for the past 15 years that isn’t very likely.

9 Music Elicitation - Some Considerations... The method needs clear direction from the researcher. Size of group and group interaction There can be pressure placed on respondents to speak My respondents still found it difficult to describe their ‘feelings’

10 Memory Work To give insight into how respondents storied music into their lives To gain descriptions of music experiences /memories To consider my own construction of experiences METHOD: Introduced a title ‘Remember…’ group members were asked to write for a short period (10 to 15 minutes) they then took turns to read out their stories group discussion around what was written/read followed

11 Memory Work - Resulting Data Descriptive accounts and stories around remembered experience. Varied due to diversity of focus, in some instances provided accounts of music experience. Shared narrative repertoires. The method gained narratives on the affective and physical experiences of music and how respondents’ lives were storied around music.

12 ‘Remember a physical response to live music’ I was totally exhausted because it was so hot. I had drunk far too much and hadn’t drunk anything that wasn’t beer and had been head-banging so I was an absolute physical wreck. I lay on the ground and closed my eyes and thought ‘I’m gonna fall asleep’. A few minutes later they came on stage and started playing. I just felt the irresistible urge to get up again and start moving my body. I couldn’t keep still and by the end of the first song, I had rushed forwards into the crowd and was head-banging furiously throughout the whole set [performance]. And all the aching and pain and tiredness in my body seemed to be alleviated by the music. Even after they had stopped playing, I felt really revitalised and full of energy. (Ben)

13 ‘Remember a physical response to live music’ Head-banging, hair flying, sweat pouring, fists punching, bodies shoving, drinks thrown, people falling, picked up again, mosh-pit, devil horns, shouting, screaming, united in Metal. It could be any gig. The name of the band doesn’t matter. All that matters is that the instant the DJ stops playing and the band walks on stage. The first note of the night makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. The first song, if I know it, gets me to the front so I can see the band, nodding my head in time with the music, singing along if I know the words. As the set goes on I’ll probably start head- banging. After the gig, I usually stink of spilt beer and sweat, my neck aches and my ears ring. But I can’t wait to do it again. (Chloe)

14 ‘Remember a physical response to live music’ We were late arriving at the venue and we didn’t know they were going to be playing straight away. The whole venue was packed with people. I was pushing through the small gaps between broad shoulders. Everyone seemed taller than me. I couldn’t see anything of the stage and only could see a small grey corner of a projection screen. I gave up trying, found my own space (a very hot and cramped one) and stood listening. The music ran through my body so that the hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I knew the music, but it was far more intense, the bass feeling in my gut, the drums beating through me. Because I couldn’t see, my concentration upon the music seemed so much more powerful, and as the music raised so did my heart. It was an engulfing experience. I stood still, but felt so much energy. (N.A.)

15 Memory Work - Some Considerations... One should not assume literacy or willingness to write. It may be difficult to get respondents to analyse their stories. The title for memory stories may impact on what emerges.

16 Concluding Thoughts Using two very different methods in the group interview aided the collection of rich data about music fans’ experiences, feelings, attachments, and uses of music that gave insight into fan relationships with music. Different media have different strengths. Combining and experimenting with qualitative methods can enhance a research project.


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