Item Details

Ethnography in Western Popular Music Research Revisited: A Case Study and/as a Critique

Issue: Vol 8 No. 2 (2021)

Journal: Journal of World Popular Music

Subject Areas:

DOI: 10.1558/jwpm.41162


In this article, I focus on ethnomusicological and popular music studies’ examinations of Western popular music cultures, and provide a critique of some of their methods. Further, my main aim is not to propose a new method, but to suggest a re-emphasis of some of the fundamental ethnographic approaches in studying Western popular music cultures. These include participatory observation, grounded ethnography, materialism, thick description, and cultural relativism. To substantiate these arguments, I examine my own ethnographic research of American DIY (“do-it-yourself”) venues and scenes as an example of a participatory research of living and touring with DIY participants and studying their everyday lives. I recount my fieldwork methods and experiences and demonstrate how the focus on non-musical and private aspects of American DIY music cultures can produce a better understanding of their musical and public sides. Finally, I also argue how the proposed methodological re-evaluation can help to decolonize music studies.

Author: David Verbuč

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