Musical meaning and social significance : techno triggers for dancing
Gadir, Tami Ester
Electronically-produced dance music has only recently achieved as much visibility in the global pop music industry as ‘live’ or instrumental pop. Yet the fascination of cultural scholars and sociologists with dance music predates its rise as a product of mass culture. Much of this interest derives from early associations of dance music with marginalised groups and oppositional ideologies. It therefore follows that many explorations of dance music focus on the ways in which techno, house and practices of ‘raving’ are expressions of dissent. As a result, the cultural aspects of dance music are necessarily the focus of these studies, with few musicologists addressing musical features and fewer dance scholars considering the specifics of dance movement. What is more, these differing approaches tend to compete rather than collaborate. In my thesis, I seek to address this divergence and to draw attention to the ways that contrasting disciplinary approaches can complement and enrich the study of any music. I use contemporary techno club nights in Edinburgh as a focal point for addressing musical and social triggers for dancing. I explore subjective experiences of dancing, DJing and producing by interspersing a review of existing literature with my own ethnographic research and musical analysis. Subsequently, I consider how the philosophies of techno are embodied within the movements and postures of the dancing body and social interaction. Participants in techno settings adopt strikingly similar attitudes to the institutionalised classical music world, despite the fundamental differences between the practices of composition, performance and listening. Moreover, these attitudes are repeatedly disseminated by participants, journalists and scholars. My enquiry into social and musical dancing triggers leads me to question the perpetuation of these ideas.