Popular music and autobiographical memory

Intimate connections over the life course

Authored by: Lauren Istvandity

The Routledge Companion to Popular Music History and Heritage

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138237636
eBook ISBN: 9781315299310
Adobe ISBN:


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The experience of hearing music can often bring back memories that are personally significant, and rich in meaning. These musical memories play a special role in popular music heritage in that they continue to situate individuals in the greater contexts of music history through their own lived experience. Music interacts with autobiographical memory in ways that are distinct from cultural or collective memories. This chapter outlines published research to date that includes specific reference to this very particular connection. The establishment of musical memory as a specific phenomenon began in psychology, and has since extended into the field of memory studies. A small but integral number of studies in the humanities are detailed in this chapter for the perspectives they bring to an emerging understanding of how musical memories are situated in both personal and social contexts. The chapter concludes with reference to the abstracted use of music heritage to promote well-being in aged care via alternative music-based therapies, drawing attention to the role of individual memories in the construction of popular music history.

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