‘Do you remember rock ‘n’ roll radio?’ How audiences talk about music-related personal memories, preferences and localities

Authored by: Amanda Brandellero , Marc Verboord , Susanne Janssen

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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This chapter explores how people recall personal music memories from their youth and how they relate their past and present-day music preferences to particular local, regional and national identity signifiers. The findings are based on an online survey carried out in the Netherlands and the UK, as part of a European project on popular music, cultural memory and identity. The survey contained a mix of open questions – where respondents could elaborate on their music preferences and memories – and closed questions that were analysed to reveal how background characteristics (age, education, profession) and listening habits can help explain variations in attachment to regional and national music styles. Early music memories are often associated with family and friendship bonds, and they trigger nostalgic and emotionally charged reminiscing of family outings, holidays or first contacts with music or favourite acts. Language and locality are important markers of authenticity, while canonical acts are more often cited. We also note a strong bias towards positive reminiscing. The quantitative analysis reveals generational differences in listening practices and attachment to regional and national music, while also shedding light on how first experiences of music have become less convivial and more individualised in recent decades.

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