Meeting “Belinda”: Researching Late-Modern Musicality and Musical Late-Modernity through Studying the Shared and Contested Social in the Idiosyncratic Individual

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Paper presented at the 31st European Seminar in Ethnomusicology ESEM, Limerick (Ireland), 18/9/2015. This paper presents a case study of ‘Belinda’, a Dutch woman in her early sixties who considers herself at the same time as ‘un-musical’ and musically hyper-sensitive. She is neither an ‘outstanding performer’ nor a ‘maverick’, but rather an idiosyncratic example of late-modern (i.c. Dutch) everyday life musicality.
Interesting as her particular case may be, the focus in this paper is theoretical and methodological. Through concisely discussing Belinda’s biography, I will be able to focus, theoretically, on using practice theory as formulated recently by German cultural sociologist Andreas Reckwitz as a possible foundation for studying music in late-modern western societies. Reckwitz considers culture as an inherently hybrid and dynamic arena of shared and contested individual understandings of the world, and sees practices – ‘ways of doing and saying’ – as the locus of culture. Methodologically, I posit – referring to Reckwitz but also to the seminal work of George Herbert Mead and others - that there is no need to think about the individual and the social as two mutually exclusive domains, but rather that the individual is inherently social and therefore the study of music in society (‘music as culture’; or maybe ‘ethnomusicology’) should base itself on a thorough micro-ethnographic study of individuals, rather than on more abstract groups, combining ethnographic methods with insights from qualitative sociology and Grounded Theory.
The paper hopes to contribute to theoretical and methodological discussions in ethnomusicology. Because the study of ‘Belinda’ is a strong example of a study by a researcher who has been born and bred in the same context of ‘shared and contested ways of doing and saying’ as the researched, the paper also hopes to contribute to ideas about the methodological particularities of ‘ethnomusicology-at-home’ and about the potential value of ethnomusicological studies of late-modern musicality and musical late-modernity.
Originele taal-2English
Aantal pagina's8
StatusPublished - 18 sep. 2015
Evenement31st Annual European Seminar in Ethnomusicology (ESEM) 2015 - University of Limerick, Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, Limerick, Ireland
Duur: 18 sep. 201520 sep. 2015
Congresnummer: 31st


Seminar31st Annual European Seminar in Ethnomusicology (ESEM) 2015
Verkorte titelESEM2015
Internet adres


  • ethnomusicologie
  • dagelijkse activiteit
  • idiosyncratie
  • individu
  • ethnografie

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