Making (Un)popular Music: Musicking, Authenticity, Eudaimonism

I begin this paper by posing the question, “what’s the point in making popular music?” I gently park the notion of art for art’s sake, since music is always made by a person or persons, for one or more people – maybe for the artist/s themselves, or for others. I then explore some possible answers to the opening question through complementary lenses. Musicking (Small 1998) situates music-making in social contexts, emphasizing the parts played by all involved, from imagination and origination to reception and appreciation. Musicing (Elliott and Silverman 2014) focuses on music-making as ethically sound processes and music learning as an action-orientated social justice imperative. Authenticity and authentication (Moore 2002, Parkinson and Smith 2015) invite us to consider integrity, value and meaning in how music is conceived, produced, taught and consumed. Eudaimonism is a philosophy that promotes flourishing – or eudaimonia – for individuals and groups (Smith and Silverman 2020); it embraces materials, expression, construction, values and spirituality/liminality (Boyce-Tillman 2020). With some brief examples of my own practice as a drummer and experiences as a music learner and fan, I invite colleagues to join me in a discursive reflection on the places and purposes of popular music studies and popular music education.