Finding Democracy in Music – the book

Robert Adlington and Esteban Buch (eds), Finding Democracy in Music (Routledge: 2020)

For a century and more, the idea of democracy has fuelled musicians’ imaginations. Seeking to go beyond music’s proven capacity to contribute to specific political causes, musicians have explored how aspects of their practice embody democratic principles. This may involve adopting particular approaches to compositional material, performance practice, relationships to audiences, or modes of dissemination and distribution.

Finding Democracy in Music is the first study to offer a wide-ranging investigation of ways in which democracy may thus be found in music. A guiding theme of the volume is that this takes place in a plurality of ways, depending upon the perspective taken to music’s manifold relationships, and the idea of democracy being entertained. Contributing authors explore various genres including orchestral composition, jazz, the post-war avant-garde, online performance, and contemporary popular music, as well as employing a wide array of theoretical, archival, and ethnographic methodologies. Particular attention is given to the contested nature of democracy as a category, and the gaps that frequently arise between utopian aspiration and reality. In so doing, the volume interrogates a key way in which music helps to articulate and shape our social lives and our politics.


[NB: links provided are to authors’ accepted manuscripts; the published version of chapters may differ in significant respects]

Robert Adlington and Esteban Buch, ‘Introduction: Looking for Democracy in Music and Elsewhere’ [authors’ accepted manuscript]

1          Tina K. Ramnarine, ‘”Unsociable sociability”: Orchestras, Conflict and Democratic Politics in Finland after 1917’

2          Ryan Weber, ‘Dismantling Borders, Assembling Hierarchies: Percy Grainger and the Idea of Democracy’ [author’s accepted manuscript > ‘Fine Arts in the News’]

3          Benjamin Givan, ‘How Democratic is Jazz?’ [author’s accepted manuscript]

4          Robert Adlington, ‘Curating Difference: Elliott Carter and Democracy’ [author’s accepted manuscript]

5          Emily Payne and Philip Thomas, ‘Getting Exercised: Ensemble Relations in Christian Wolff’s Exercises‘ [authors’ accepted manuscript]

6          Violeta Nigro Giunta, ‘Defining Audible Democracy: New Music in Post-Dictatorship Argentina’ [author’s accepted manuscript]

7          Christopher Haworth, ‘Network Music and Digital Utopianism: the Rise and Fall of the Res Rocket Surfer Project, 1994-2003’

8          Alessandro Bratus, ‘As the Band Hit Full Throttle: Live Event, Mediatisation and Collective Identification in Popular Music Concert Films’ [author’s accepted manuscript]

9          Georgina Born, ‘Reinventing Audiences––Imagining Radical Musical Democracies’

Image: (c) Esteban Buch

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