Conference Agenda

RN05_07c: Music and taste
Thursday, 22/Aug/2019:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Riie Heikkilä, Tampere University
Location: BS.G.36
Manchester Metropolitan University Building: Business School, Ground Floor Oxford Road


“Isn’t Opera Where They Sing ‘I Love You, I Love You, I Love You’ Or ‘I Am Dying, I Am Dying, I Die Now’ And It Takes Them 10 Minutes To Do So?”: Operatic Institutions And Practices Of Inclusion

Mikko Laamanen1, Benedetta Cappellini1, Virpi Näsänen2

1Royal Holloway University of London, United Kingdom; 2Hanken School of Economics, Finland

This paper describes early insights from a project on social capital, consumption practices and instituting taste in accessibility and outreach programmes by operatic institutions. Music is commonly considered creating distinction in consumption practice with its artistic institutions, such as opera, seen as an antithesis of everyday life for the non-bourgeois-elite (cf. Bourdieu, 1984; Leguina et al., 2017; Rössel, 2011). With taste and social capital traditionally providing a dialectical explanation of consumption in this setting, we follow Warde (2014) in seeking a practice-based explanation for consumer participation and inclusion.

We start with the simple question, ‘How is opera made accessible’. This question refers to both the institutions, the ‘product’ on offer and the practices that the institutions engage in to establish social practice (cf. Maciel and Wallendorf, 2017). We review and combine literatures on social capital, practice, and equality and inclusion in consumption with a particular view on the establishment of taste practices. We then assess existing interventions in situ, namely, consumer education and outreach programmes by operatic institutions as well as innovative methods of increasing participation. We analyse the target setting, modes of operation, and outcomes of the various approaches. Finally, we consider the implications of our analysis of the programmes against the literature to provide a starting point for an ethnographic study of inclusion and participation in the context.

Our paper proposes a new line of inquiry to institutional establishing of inclusive taste practices. We reintroduce the phenomenon of opera as both institution and performance into the literature of sociological research of consumption practice. Finally, our research has implications into considering the viability of cultural institutions’ interventions to change consumer / citizen tastes and practices.

A Feast for Melomaniacs: Embodiment of Cultural Capital and Implicit Fandom in Opera Festival Audiences

Roberta Bartoletti1, Laura Gemini1, Stefano Brilli2

1Università degli Studi di Urbino Carlo Bo; 2Università IUAV di Venezia, Italy

The growing number of audience development projects for opera, ballet, and classical music demonstrates how encouraging access to genres that are typically regarded as highbrow culture (Katz-Gerro 2002), is still considered a priority by European cultural organizations. Despite this, researches on opera and theatre audiences often tend to legitimize the gap between popular and elitist forms of cultural consumption, by excluding the use of analytical categories developed in the study popular culture, such that "fandom" and "fan practices" (Hills 2018). This paper aims to address this gap, by analysing the relationships between the labor of incorporation of cultural goods (Bourdieu 1979; Lizardo 2008), modes of opera consumption (Rössel 2011), and fan behaviours in the field of opera. The object of our study is the audience of the Rossini Opera Festival, the most prominent international event dedicated to the Italian composer. More specifically, the study addresses two research questions: 1) How the appreciation for different aspects of a monographic opera festival relates to the accumulation of cultural capital? 2) Do the festival attendees configure as fanlike consumers? The research uses a multi-method analysis that combines a survey conducted on attendees of the 2017 edition, 20 semi-structured interviews with international enthusiasts of the festival and three focus groups with local spectators. The preliminary analysis of the results reveals the prevalence of melomaniac, voracious and philologist behaviour, that, on the one hand, shows an incorporation of cultural capital favoured by a privileged family/class condition, on the other hand, displays an emotional and communal intensity typical of more popular and "fannish" forms of cultural consumption.

Walling off Collective Effervescence: A Study into the Boundary Maintenance of Dutch Music Concerts

Femke Vandenberg

Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands

Every country has its national music, sung in its national language relating to traditional themes. However, in a time of increased globalisation and multiculturalism, what cultural meaning does this music authorise for its audience? Focusing on music made by national artists for a mass public, this project delves into three different aspects of the Dutch music scene: folk music, classical crossover and hardcore. Drawing on theoretical insights from Bourdieu as well as a Durkheimian approach to the ritualistic aspect of music concerts, it uses a cognitive sociological entry to classification and categorisation to analyse the self-definition and the construction of symbolic boundaries of these audiences. While Durkheim’s notion of collective effervescence – a shared intensified mood drawn from collective assembly – has been readily used in research addressing national pride as well as concert experiences, little research has been done on the mental boundaries involved in the fostering of these feelings of collectively. On the basis of which criteria is an in-group constructed in the minds of audience members? In unearthing the symbolic and social boundaries produced and maintained at these music concerts, I aim to determine not only the cultural meaning of this music but also the social hierarchies and status negotiations at play.

Worse than Screaming Frogs or a Warm Blanket? The Impact of Repeated Listening on How People Experience Music

Koen van Eijck, Janna Michael

Erasmus University Rotterdam, Netherlands, The

This study explores the self-reported experiences of people listening repeatedly to two different music pieces. One piece was determined by the researchers (first movement of Dvorak’s 8th symphony), the other was chosen by the respondents themselves. How do people make personal connections with music? We interviewed participants about their preferences and listening habits and asked them to keep a listening diary during the process of listening to two pieces of music for seven times each. Previous research into repeated listening approached it mostly quantitatively and revealed interesting results regarding changes in cognition and affect. With our qualitative study we deepen our knowledge on how participants build relations with musical pieces and search for meaning in musical material. While some discover an increasing number of layers in music and build emotional attachment, others develop an increasing aversion to the same piece. Diaries have been identified as an effective tool for introspection. Keeping diaries about the listening experience enabled participants to capture their experience as close to in-the-moment as possible, gave them plenty of expressive freedom with their own emphasis and enriched interviews afterwards. We address theoretical accounts of response polarization and explore, how specific ways of listening are embedded in participants’ lives. Further, the context of this experiment itself added to the multilayered experience of the music.