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The Relentless Pursuit of ToneTimbre in Popular Music$
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Robert Fink, Melinda Latour, and Zachary Wallmark

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780199985227

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2018

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780199985227.001.0001

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Hearing Timbre

Hearing Timbre

Perceptual Learning among Early Bay Area Ravers

(p.21) 1 Hearing Timbre
The Relentless Pursuit of Tone

Cornelia Fales

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the concept of implicit perceptual learning through the lens of timbre sensitivity in San Francisco electronic dance music (EDM) listeners in the 1990s. Cross-fertilizing theories of timbre perception with Web ethnography, the chapter argues that members of this subculture created a shared lexicon with which to describe timbral changes in EDM music. Through this discourse, listeners slowly learned to hear their own music in a new way through a process of perceptual learning. The chapter explores the valorization of “nonspecificity” in the EDM community, claiming that timbre played a crucial role in the development of an aesthetic that eschewed conventional musical signification.

Keywords:   EDM, electronic dance music, perceptual learning, timbre perception, Web ethnography, San Francisco

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