Tuesday, February 15, 2011

archaeology of grunge

CBGB club facade, Bowery St, New York City. Photograph by Adam Di Carlo, taken 10/1/2005. Wikipedia Commons.

Interesting note in British Archaeology about an archaeology of grunge. Building on Paul Graves Brown's 2009 critique of the usual monumentalizing, place-based orientation towards musical heritage, Steve Ashby argues for a focus on the ephemeral, disposable detritus of popular music: "material created simply as a means to communicate information about what really mattered - the music".

What sort of archaeology of sound and music might we imagine for New York City? Might we tell these archaeological histories not through text and words, but through sound and image? Arguably, the songs and shows we hear today are already doing that. Whether Lady Gaga reworking Madonna for the 20teens, or Scissor Sister singing 21st century disco - current artists continue to draw upon and rework the material traces of New York's music, providing a radical challenge to our archaelogical modes of story telling.

Graves-Brown, P (2009). "Nowhere man: urban life and the virtualization of popular music." Popular Music History 4(2): 220–241.

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