Hybrids and Fragments: Music, Genre, Culture and Technology

Gagen, Justin. 2019. Hybrids and Fragments: Music, Genre, Culture and Technology. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

Technologies are fundamental to music and its marketing and dissemination, as is the categorisation of music by genre. In this research we examine the relationship between musical genre and technology by examining genre proliferation, fragmentation and hybridity. We compare the movement of musical artists between genres in various technological eras, and evaluate the connections between the dissemination of music and its categorisation.

Cultural hybridity and fragmentation is thought to be the norm in the globalised era by many scholars, and the online music environment appears to be populated by hybrid genres and micro-genres. To examine this we study the representation of musical genre on the Internet. We acquire data from three main sources: The Echo Nest, a music-intelligence system, and two collectively constructed knowledge-bases, Wikidata and MusicBrainz. We discover geographical and commercial biases.

We calculate genre inception dates in order to examine category proliferation, and construct networks from these data, using the relationships between artists and genres to establish structure. Using network analyses to quantify genre hybridity we find increasing hybridisation, peaking at various periods in different datasets. Statistical analyses, comparing hybridity within our various data, validates our method and reveals a relationship between the activity of editing music information and the movement of musical artists between musical genres.

We also find evidence for the fragmentation of genre and the appearance of micro- genres. We consider artists that are invisible in mainstream systems using data from three alternative platforms, Bandcamp, CD Baby and SoundCloud, and examine rapid genre proliferation in Spotify. We then discuss hybridity and fragmentation in relation to postmodernity, hypermodernity and unimodernity, music and genre within society, and the ways genre intersects with technology.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Identification Number (DOI):



Music, Genre, Computing, Musicology, Cultural Analytics, Sociology, Network Analysis, Cultural Studies, Technology, Critical Internet Studies

Departments, Centres and Research Units:



31 December 2019

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

26 Feb 2020 10:45

Last Modified:

07 Sep 2022 17:15



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