Missing a beat

Exploring experiences, perceptions and reflections of popular electronic musicians in UK higher education institutions

Authored by: Paul Thompson , Alex Stevenson

The Routledge Research Companion to Popular Music Education

Print publication date:  February  2017
Online publication date:  January  2017

Print ISBN: 9781472464989
eBook ISBN: 9781315613444
Adobe ISBN: 9781317042013


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Although formal educational institutions, particularly Higher Education (HE) institutions, in the UK have begun to acknowledge aspects of dance and hip-hop styles of music as useful inclusions in their curricula, there is still a notable lack of research into the relationship between popular electronic music production and formal education, with only a handful of studies in this area (e.g. Söderman & Folkestad, 2004; Snell & Söderman, 2014). Thompson (2012) argues that Western Art music pedagogy and its related conventions, as observed by Campbell (1991), are still evident in formal institutions today. Consequently the integration of popular electronic styles of music, such as hip-hop and house, into the curricula of formal educational syllabi has been decidedly slow. The popular electronic musician is “broadly defined through the notion that technology, such as the turntable or computer, is central to the interaction, performance and production of popular styles of electronic music such as dance and hip-hop” (Thompson, 2012, p. 46). The difficulty in integrating the popular electronic musician into formal educational and musical structures is generally linked to the use of music and recording technologies (Thompson, 2012). Consequently, popular electronic styles of music are often discounted in studies of musical practice, because an instrument is not ‘played’ in the traditional sense, 1 and are overlooked in musical analysis due to a lack of pertinent and appropriate musicological and contextual frameworks. 2 Moreover, the experiences of popular electronic musicians have been largely ignored in studies of popular music learning, which typically focus on rock-based 3 popular musicians (Green, 2002; Powell & Burstein, chapter 20, this volume). In order to illuminate the experiences of popular electronic musicians in formal education, the following study surveyed popular electronic musicians studying music-related 4 programmes at HE institutions across the UK, capturing some of their experiences, perceptions and reflections.

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