A very late update (it’s been a busy year!). I was fortunate enough to present at the University of Aberdeen’s Folklore, Ethnology, and Ethnomusicology Conference (FEECA 2016) titled “A Fieldworker’s Vision: Researching the Present”. A fantastic weekend with stimulating conversation and lovely people.
My abstract from the program:
Over many years of scholarship folk music has escaped comprehensive definition, resulting in unconnected fields of thought. A constructed polarity between nature and nurture approaches separate folk music as an evolving process and as heritage objects to preserve. This paper suggests that digital technologies approached with motivation and mindfulness hold opportunities to break down these binaries for a more holistic approach. Many online musical practices are implicitly self-documenting, allowing music to be both preserved and to change. How does this impact upon notions of folksong today? And how does the “magpie” nature of online tagging influence our approaches to musical genre? With these questions in mind, this paper specifically looks at documentation and discussion of folk music in online folksonomies, as informal, communally moderated organisation systems, with a focus on tagging. Via platforms of user-generated content, the hashtag “folk music” (#folkmusic) and its variants were monitored regularly from June 2015. Observations took into account the presence of the tags in media posts and updates on Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Reddit and WordPress. This paper reports on findings collected through observation and triangulated with statistical reports from Hashtagify, which tracks global data from twitter. In this I hope to contribute towards knowledge of folk music’s ongoing discourse and its presence online as diverse objects curated and held dear both culturally and personally.