Tuesday 8 December 2015

Blogpost for Verso: On Music and Folk Politics

I've written a blogpost - click here to read it - for Verso reflecting on some of the aesthetic implications of the critique of 'folk politics' in their new book by Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams, Inventing the Future: Postcapitalism and a World Without Work:

When, in Inventing the Future, Nick Srnicek and Alex Williams critique the collection of tendencies within the contemporary left they call 'folk politics,' they could also be lamenting the aesthetics that now dominates those areas of popular music that were once progressive. Whether it's underground, or 'indie,' or even happens to be in the charts, contemporary popular music routinely 'chooses the familiarities of the past over the unknowns of the future;... habitually chooses the small over the large' and 'value[s] withdrawal or exit rather than building a broad counter-hegemony'. For independent music as in folk politics, 'organisations and communities are to be transparent, rejecting in advance any conceptual mediation, or even modest amounts of complexity' and both 'emphasis[e] the local and the authentic, the temporary and the spontaneous, the autonomous and the particular'. Srnicek and Williams show that these strategies arose and achieved much in the special political circumstances of the mid-twentieth century, and again, as aesthetic strategies in popular music, they arose during the same period in the countercultural atmosphere of jazz, rock, punk and, indeed, folk musics. And for both folk politics and folk-political music, the time has come to invent what happens next...


  1. I need the roman numeral analysis of chopin s prelude op. 28 no. 6 i have spent all weekend and all of today trying to figure this out. It s all foreign to me. If you cant give me the numeral analysis could you at the least tell me the points of modulation at least? Please and thanks
    Get Me The Ball

  2. Soundcloud and YouTube are not even remotely underground. They are private corporations. They are not democratically controlled and they are the very definition of neoliberal capital.

    Your theories would have a lot more ground to stand on if you were promoting the use of technologies like Tor, Bitcoin, Freenet, Bittorrent, and IPFS.

    Since none of these artists seem to be too upset about the ramifications of which platforms they choose to publish with, I can't help but think they are motivated by nothing more than the simple narcissistic pleasures that fuel the general obsession with posting selfies on Instagram.

  3. A fair, if slightly uncharitable point. There were few who criticised earlier musical undergrounds for their reliance on such infrastructure - blank casettes and musical instruments manufactured by corporations. The Quantum Natives label I mentioned did build their own website though, And there are plenty of artists who are upset about the ramifications of these platforms. Astra Taylor's book The People's Platform is very good on these topics.

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  4. There's a big difference between using blank cassettes and musical instruments manufactured by corporations and "publishing" to corporate controlled platforms.

    Twitter and Instagram, like the faux town squares seen in a corporate shopping malls, are not public properties and they have every right to curate their property as they see fit.

    Bitcoin might be the first instance of what could safely be considered public property on the Internet. The world wide web is nothing more than a collection of private properties. Unlike public streets and squares, the edges of the network do not exist. There are only nodes. Any communication that happens on a web site is at the behest of the persons who operate the servers.

    What we need to be exploring is what it means to publish a creative work, how that relates to individual rights, and how these notions are expressed in legal constructs like copyright and the freedom of the press.

    Thanks for letting me know about The People's Platform, this looks like an interesting read and it definitely seems to be asking similar questions!

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