Music Matters XXXXIII – Thickening Something: Convergent Music, Affect, and Sociability on the Dancefloor

Diagram with details of Electronic Dance Music SeriesWe are excited to announce the next edition of Music Matters, entitled “Thickening Something: Convergent Music, Affect, and Sociability on the Dancefloor”, presented by Dr Luis Manuel Garcia-Mispireta from the University of Birmingham. The talk will take place on February 20th in the Heymanszaal, from 17:00-18:30.

This talk is the first in a semester-long series, entitled “EDM Matters”, with a particular focus on Electronic Dance Music. We’re delighted – and privileged – to have Dr Garcia-Mispireta as our first speaker, in support of his new book Together, Somehow available now through Duke University Press.

Please see below for the abstract and further details:

ABSTRACT: How is it that “the one rush of hearts”—that swirl of feelings and music and sweaty bodies on a crowded dancefloor—can thicken into something that feels like communion and community? In this talk, I turn to the nexus of sound, feeling, and togetherness to investigate how collective listening and dancing can give rise to a sense of inchoate sociality— that is, something like a “we” coalescing under the surface of shared musical experience. While the idea that “music brings people together” is a common trope that is especially pervasive in electronic dance music scenes (EDM), accounts vary as to how music exerts such socially binding force. In club cultures, partygoers often use the term “vibe” to describe how they understand music to work in these contexts, bringing dancers into a sort of *synchronicity of feeling*. By understanding “vibe” as a subcultural conceptualization of affect, I explore how music-driven emotional convergence intersects with scholarship on musical entrainment, emotional contagion, ritual practices, and resonance.


Luis Manuel Garcia-Mispireta is an Associate Professor in Ethnomusicology and Popular Music Studies at the University of Birmingham (UK), with previous appointments at the Max Planck Institute for Human Development (Berlin, DE) and the University of Groningen (NL). His research focuses on urban electronic dance music scenes, with a particular focus on affect, intimacy, stranger-sociability, embodiment, sexuality, creative industries and musical migration. He is currently conducting research on “grassroots” activism and queer nightlife collectives in Berlin; he has also a new monograph out, entitled Together Somehow: Music, Affect, and Intimacy on the Dancefloor (Duke University Press, 2023).

We look forward to seeing you there!

Poster for the Music Matters talk on Tuesday November 14th. Features artist names and a swirl on a yellow background

Music Matters XXXXII: Tamil Elegance: Recentering Tamil Heritage in the Diaspora

Poster for the Music Matters talk on Tuesday November 14th. Features artist names and a swirl on a yellow background

We are excited to announce the next edition of Music Matters, entitled “TAMIL ELEGANCE: RE-CENTERING TAMIL HERITAGE IN THE DIASPORA”, which will take place on 14 Nov 2023, from 4pm-530pm, in the A8 Academy Building.

Abstract: The Sri Lankan civil war (1983 – 2009) resulted in the ethnic cleansing of Tamil people as well as one of the mass refugee crisis in the twentieth century. The ethnoreligious divide between the Sinhala Buddhist majority and the Tamil Hindu minority continues to this day through the erasure of Tamil heritage and identity in the state via the destruction of Tamil memorial sites in Tamil Eelam (North Sri Lanka). Nearly twenty years since M.I.A. (Mathangi Arulpragasam) carved her own space internationally with her infusion of Tamil folk music and political messaging on Sri Lanka, there is a burgeoning music scene from the diasporic Eelam Tamil community in which themes of displacement, dispossession and exile are at the forefront. Canadian artists SVPD and Yanchan pay homage to their homeland while also forging a sense of communal belonging by performing their diasporic identity through their music. This panel, in conversation with the aforementioned artists explores how Tamil Eelam heritage is mediated sonically to uncover how the remembered past affects the present. Where memorial sites are threatened or erased, we can look for alternative routes of memorialization through sonic reconstructions of home. SVDP and Yanchan’s music is a necessary thread to sustain relationships across diasporic Eelam Tamil communities located across the globe.


SVDP is a Tamil Canadian rapper and director from Toronto, Ontario. SVDP released his debut album ‘Saviours’ in 2016 and is part of the Toronto based artist collective, sideways with Coleman Hell, La+ch, Mad Dog Jones, and Michah. His artistry is influenced by Tamil and classical South Indian music. Critics have dubbed him the Karnatic rapper.

Yanchan Rajmohan (Yanchan) is a Tamil Canadian artist, producer, and mrithangamist (South Indian hand drummer) from Scarborough, Toronto. Known for incorporating South Indian elements into his production work, Rajmohan creates Karnatic hip-hop fusion tracks. Most recently, Yanchan featured on the rapper Russ’ track ‘The Wind’ on the album ‘Santiago’.

Dr. Arththi Sathananthar is Lecturer at the Faculty of Arts at the University of Groningen and Visiting Scholar at the School of English, University of Leeds. Her research is positioned at the intersection of life writing and post/decolonial studies with a focus on diaspora, transculturalism, and home. Her research highlights narrative lives of the marginalized and dispossessed by creating an archive of diasporic heritage and identity.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Music Matters XXXXI: Recomposed with Kyle Devine


Everywhere you look, music is changing—overhauling itself in response to climate crisis. There are records made of plants and stereos that run on sunshine. There are sector-specific carbon calculators and literacy programs, organizations that size up (and draw down) the environmental impact of music on all levels. There are declarations of emergency, anthems for the anthropocene, playlists for the planet. Top to bottom, we are witnessing a climate-oriented recomposition of what music is and how it comes to be.

Music’s recomposition probably seems like a good thing. It is. And it isn’t. In this talk, Kyle Devine will highlight what is good about the good things, drawing on years of work with the people devoted to change. He will also explain what is not so good about the not-so-good things, showing how music gets stuck in ruts that turn even the best intentions into the problems they hope to solve. And he will suggests what could change in order to authorize the most daring hopes and audacious plans for rescuing the future of music—along with everything else.

This event takes place in the Harmony Building (1315.0049) on Monday 23rd October from 18:00 – 19:30.

Music Matters XXXX: Wild Music with Maria Sonevytsky

Music Matters kicks off the 2023-2024 with an exciting talk from Bard College’s Maria Sonevytsky, who will discuss her award winning book Wild MusicWild Music tracks vernacular Ukrainian discourses of “wildness” as they manifested in popular music during a volatile decade of Ukrainian political history bracketed by two revolutions. From the Eurovision Song Contest to reality TV, from Indigenous radio to the revolution stage, Sonevytsky assesses how these practices exhibit and re-imagine Ukrainian tradition and culture. As the rise of global populism forces us to confront the category of state sovereignty anew, Sonevytsky proposes innovative paradigms for thinking through the creative practices that constitute sovereignty, citizenship, and nationalism.

This event takes place in the Harmony Building (1315.0031) on Monday 11th September from 16:00-18:00.

Music Matters XXXVIII: “On Being Touched by Boeremusiek” with Willemien Froneman

The Music Matters at University of Groningen Performance and Lecture Series invites you to “On Being Touched by Boeremusiek: Listening as a Haptic Event” with dr. Willemien Froneman (Stellenbosch University, South Africa). This 38th talk of the series takes place at the room 1312.0018 in the RUG Harmony Building from 18:00 until 19:30 on Tuesday May 2nd, 2023. For further information on this talk, see the abstract below.

Continue reading

Music Matters XXXVII: “Saying It Differently” with Philip Ciantar

The Music Matters at University of Groningen Performance and Lecture Series invites you to “Saying It Differently: Political Activism and Parody Songs in Malta” with Philip Ciantar (Department of Music Studies, School of Performing Arts, University of Malta). This 37th talk of the series takes place at the Heymanszaal in the RUG Academy Building from 17:00 until 18:30 on Wednesday April 26th, 2023. For further information on this talk, see the abstract below.

Continue reading

Music Matters XXXVI: ESNS Diversity and Inclusion Panel

The Music Matters at University of Groningen Performance and Lecture Series invites you to its 36th event, the ESNS Diversity and Inclusion Panel with Lisa Schoemaker (Eurosonic Noorderslag), Ilona Deuring (Eurosonic Noorderslag), Juan Carlos Méndez Álvarez (Utrecht University), Dan Pădure (University of Groningen). This discussion takes place at the RUG Harmony Building, room 1312.0012 from 17:00 until 18:30 on March 21st, 2023.

Music Matters XXXV: “We Are All Improvisers” with Raymond Macdonald

The Music Matters at University of Groningen Performance and Lecture Series is proud to present Dr. Raymond Macdonald (University of Edinburgh), who will give the 35th Music Matters talk entitled “We Are All Improvisers: The Psychological Foundations of Musicality.” This talk takes place at the Heymanszaal in the RUG Academy Building from 17:00 until 18:30 on December 8th, 2022.

This presentation discusses the importance of improvisation as a defining feature of social and creative interactions. It outlines the relationship of community music, music therapy and music education by focusing upon what it means to be musical and how music plays a crucial role in defining who we are as individuals and socially. The role of music in health and wellbeing will be emphasized as will the topic of how improvisation can be utilized to help explore creativity and collaborations in multiple contexts from virtuoso performances to children’s first experiences of music. A new definition of virtuosity will be proposed which includes a broader range of musical skills than is conventionally accepted. The lecture will include some short practical demonstrations to highlight the key points.

Music Matters XXXIV: Telling Alternative Stories with Mimi Haddon

The Music Matters at University of Groningen Performance is proud to present Dr. Mimi Haddon (University of Sussex) who will give a talk entitled “Telling Alternative Stories: Women’s Knowledge Cultures of Music.” This talk takes place at the USVA Theatre (Munnekeholm 10) from 09:15 until 10:00. All are welcome to attend. Read an abstract of Dr. Haddon’s project below:

“This paper brings together two recent projects that share a broad aim. The first is an idea that emerged when writing my article on Joan Baez’s imitations of Bob Dylan, which was published in 2021 in the journal Twentieth-Century Music. By analysing mimicry, this article sought to challenge the assumption that true musical knowledge is best demonstrated by writing original songs. Drawing from academic interrogations of musical creativity and identity as well as the work of Leopoldina Fortunati, I offered the idea of the creative matrix and looked to recentre the listening subject as a way to engage matrilineal lineages in music and the underexplored musical ‘work’ of listening and intimacy.
This process of focusing on listening and decentring traditional notions of knowledge and creativity in music led me to a second project, which is the AHRC-funded network, Music for Girls. In collaboration with twelve women from the local East Sussex community and  two affiliates of the Museum of Ordinary People, we curated an exhibition of women’s music tastes and local women’s music stories, which opened for four days in September this year. The local participants ranged in age from 15 to 72 and, crucially, their level of music ‘expertise’ varied too — from professional musicians to lay people.
The aim in these two projects is this: By looking to the position of listener, to perceived non-expert knowledges, and feminist archives, can we develop new paradigms for the analysis and even teaching of popular music that go beyond fan studies and traditional paradigms? What emerges—at the level of sonic properties and music historiographies specifically—if we experiment with suspending what we think we ‘know’ about popular music cultures and engage instead with knowledge cultures as linked to femininity?”