Day 1 (July 6, 2001)
Spotlight on the Basics
Theory and Methodologies

Anahid Kassabian

As IASPM enters its third decade, what are the prevailing and/or competing theoretical and methodological paradigms of popular music studies? The purpose of this stream is to examine the status of long-standing debates today, and to identify new debates as they are emerging. Topics include:

  • Disciplinarity and disciplines:
    from where do we speak about popular musics, under what parameters, and within what boundaries?
  • Musical analysis and music as text:
    in the wake of critiques of aestheticism and formalism, is music textual analysis no longer necessary? If it should continue, what new shapes or directions might bring it into closer contact with other kinds of scholarship?
  • The call to ethnography:
    The critique of empiricism and theorizations of colonial knowledge production have called ethnography into question, even as ethnomusicologists and the turn to audiences in cultural studies provoked renewed calls for ethnography as the privileged methodology. Where does this debate stand?
  • The status of evidence:
    A generation of interdisciplinary scholarship has interrogated the very notion of evidence. Should it be empirically based? Quantitative? Qualitative? Textual? Theoretical?
  • Theory as methodology:
    What is the relationship between these terms? Can the process of theorizing be productively thought of as itself a methodology?