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Music and Sound Studies Colloquium Series

Monday, October 4
4:30 pm
Ferguson Hall, Room 280
Reception to follow
Free and open to the public


The New Capitalism, Globalization, and the Commodification of Taste

Timothy D. Taylor
Professor, Departments of Ethnomusicology and Musicology
University of California, Los Angeles

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, myriad discourses emerged that attempted
to understand the present: was it postmodern, the information age, the
postindustrial era, an era of the new capitalism? Many influential
publications adopted and fleshed out these various perspectives.
"Globalization" as a way of viewing the present and recent past
appeared relatively recently, yet it has come to dominate considerations of
the present, both in and out of academia, eliding some aspects of other
perspectives. This presentation examines what is lost when globalization as
an analytical framework becomes dominant.
"Globalization" as a perspective and related body of theory can help us
understand how musics travel, for example, but is less useful in explaining
what happens once world music has traveled and entered the Euro-American
music industry in an era of the new capitalism. With the explosion of music
available on the Internet and the difficulty of finding what one wants,
what emerges, among other things, is the importance of what people in the
culture industries call "search": the means of finding music or other
cultural products. The importance of search has resulted in the increasing
commodification of taste, both in the form of music supervisors, who choose
music for use in films and television programs and who have become
increasingly influential in the entertainment industry; and the rise of
complex algorithms that help consumers find music to listen to based on
their prior purchases or listening habits, and those of others.

Music and Sound Studies upcoming speakers
October 25: James Hepokoski
February 7: Ron Rodman
March 7: Mark Katz
April 8: Kiri Miller

Music and Sound Studies Colloquium Series
Sponsored by the U of M's Office of Interdisciplinary Initiatives