Pop Music; Cultural Sensibilities and Places: Manchester 1976-1997

Giacomo Bottà
Department of Social Policy, University of Helsinki, Finland

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Ingår i: The ESF-LiU Conference Cities and Media: Cultural Perspectives on Urban Identities in a Mediatized World Vadstena; Sweden; 25-29 October; 2

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 20:11, s. 121–125

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Publicerad: 2007-03-06


ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


This paper’s claim is that popular music is able to implement places in powerful ways; forming new modalities to conceive and perceive them.

This is the result of a layering: popular music mediates places as textscapes; soundscapes and landscapes. Song lyrics referring to places make up a band’s textscape. The use of local music tradition; vernacular or typical city noises constitute a band’s soundscape. Finally; the landscape consists of all the visual elements (e.g. covers) referring to the same particular locality. Turning to the regeneration level; it seems important to note that music in itself is ethereal; but its production; circulation and fruition rely on material factors located in cities.

This kind of implementation on the representational and regeneration level could be analysed in Manchester. Since the late 1970s; the local popular music scene has adopted a particular ’cultural sensibility’. Bands such as The Smiths; The Fall; and Joy Division were able to root their poetics in the city; offering a chance to re-imagine it. In the same period; the independent music entrepreneur Tony Wilson developed The Haçienda FAC 51; which set the trend for the regeneration of a whole district. This case represents a convincing example of a cultural innovation; which relies on redefining the symbolic value of the city’s architectural and social past.


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