Thursday, July 21, 2011

My Music, Part Two


I am sometimes asked whether I will ever join my old colleagues, Charlie Keil and Sue Crafts, and create an updated version of My Music: Explorations of Music in Daily Life, which we published in 1993. But I have to say that it seems to me that Bob Boilen and Robin Hilton are doing just that lately over at All Songs Considered. They've now produced two great podcasts based on audience submissions and stories; one was on "Summer Music Memories" and the latest is about "Songs That Make You Weep." The show usually features Boilen and Hilton (and sometimes other critics, as well, including Stephen Thompson and Ann Powers) highlighting their favorite new releases or shows, but these episodes offer stories of ordinary people using music in the daily lives, often in their own voices.

So much has changed in the world of popular music, especially in terms of its technology, business model, and distribution. However, at the same time, Boilen and Hilton are pointing to many of the same meanings and actions that we discovered in the Music in Daily Life Project back in the late 1980s: the uses of music to shift or match mood, the deep connections between music and memory, and the transformative power of being moved by a song. This is a balance that really interests me: what has changed about the practice of audiencing, thanks to new technologies and social forces, and what remains the same, thanks to the constants of cultural and human behavior?

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