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Composing individuals: ethnographic reflections on success and prestige in the British New Music Network

Malcomson, Hettie (2013) Composing individuals: ethnographic reflections on success and prestige in the British New Music Network Twentieth-Century Music, 10, (1), pp. 115-136. (doi:10.1017/S1478572212000436).

Record type: Article


In contrast to established musicians, lesser-known composers have received scant attention in art music scholarship. This article, based on an ethnographic study, considers how a group of British composers construed ideas of success and prestige, which I analyse in terms of anthropological writings on exchange, Bourdieusian symbolic economies, and Foucauldian notions of disciplinary power. Prestige was ascribed to composers who created ‘interesting’ music, a category that eclipsed novelty as an aim. Individuality, enacted within a context of individualism, was key to assessing whether music was interesting. This individuality had to be tempered, structured, and embedded in the social norms of this and related ‘art worlds’. The article examines the social processes involved in creating this individuality, musical personality, and music considered interesting.

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Published date: 27 March 2013
Organisations: Music


Local EPrints ID: 343073
ISSN: 1478-5722
PURE UUID: 79a6ba16-6ab0-425a-b594-1f0eab67be9b

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Date deposited: 24 Sep 2012 10:44
Last modified: 18 Jul 2017 05:25

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