From Here, There and Everywhere
Recording Popular Music in the “Field”
Keywords:field recording, authenticity, popular music
From soundscape studies to ethnomusicology and popular music, the production and study of field recordings is usually framed in terms of their role in archival research, in cultural revivals, and the politics of engaging with the sonic other both “in” and “out” of the field. Few studies, however, have addressed the use of field recordings as a tool for actively constructing authenticity in contemporary global popular music. In the popular music industries, field recordings provide a musical experience that appears less “mediated”—less interfered with by producers, audio engineers, high-tech recording equipment and environmental noise purged by the studio. Such recordings help to authentically position the artist with respect to the fan in a reactionary move against the incessant progression of “new” technologies, technologies that have the ability to convert any performance into an acceptable product of mass consumption. This article critically explores such field recordings as an important site of the construction of “authenticity” in contemporary popular music.
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