From Microphone to the Wire: Cultural change in 1970s and 1980s music writing

Graham, Stephen. 2019. From Microphone to the Wire: Cultural change in 1970s and 1980s music writing. Twentieth-Century Music, 16(3), pp. 531-555. ISSN 1478-5722 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

I take an intensive look in this article at localised cultural change that nevertheless serves as an applied instance of broader late-twentieth changes. Focusing mostly on British, white, and male musicians and music writers active in the improvised and experimental music scenes of the UK (and, to a lesser extent, US and Europe) across the 1970s and early-1980s, I identify clear shifts in taste, attitude, and practice. These shifts arc across what Ben Piekut calls the ‘mixed avant-garde’ of the 1960s to what I describe as the ‘unpop avant-garde’ of the late-1970s and 80s, in which influences from popular and non-western music play more significant roles than before and liminal, quasi-popular practices such as noise are in the emergence. I trace the emergence of the unpop avant-garde through various independent music publications from the period, most prominently Microphone, Musics, Collusion, Impetus, and Re/Search, using these published scene discourses as barometers of the musical atmosphere of the time.

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avant-garde, experimental, music journalism

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2 September 2018Accepted
30 April 2019Published Online
October 2019Published

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Date Deposited:

12 Sep 2018 11:44

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:51

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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