Digital Nostalgia & Remembrance of Folk Music Past

An abstract from the recent NZMS conference “Searches for Tradition” held in beautiful Wellington, NZ, over the weekend:

From Homeric beginnings in Ancient Greece as a ‘longing to return’, or a diagnosable home-sickness, to Proust’s inspired deluge of memories, nostalgia is an effort to feel at home in the world. Consciously or otherwise, folk music is part of this plight, reiterating or imagining intimate local identities or sustaining memories of home contexts in diasporas. The nostalgia of traditional folk music present in scholarly literature associates with a sense, or fear of loss; be it loss of tradition, culture, language, land or as a result, identity. For new folk music, negotiating the influences of traditional folk music and evolving digital technologies, this anxiety of loss is amplified, but with its challenges come opportunities. Presenting on interviews conducted with folk musicians, online and physical fieldwork, as well as drawing from literature and media sources, the ubiquitous but rarely scrutinized notion of nostalgia in folk music and its use in digital worlds will be discussed. This research is part of a larger study exploring the nature of folk music in digital mediums and processes, with an emphasis on avenues opened for vernacular music endeavours on the Internet. Specifically, in this presentation I hope to contribute towards a better understanding of vernacular music online and to draw attention to the value of remix culture in the folk music paradigm, in this pivotal age of policy making for the Internet.

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