Living without authenticity

John Scannell

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference proceeding contributionpeer-review


It is perhaps strange that the qualification of authenticity remains a staple of popular music scholarship when the subject of its enquiry has, more often than not, depended upon rampant, non-attributed appropriation, if not downright theft. Whilst the politics of appropriation might incur protestations around an authenticity of provenance - particularly for those who have suffered at the hands of inadequate representation - a somewhat less deserving rumination is the authenticity of expression, which, in general, tends to operate as an assessment of relative subcultural capital, a reflection of the performer's ability to exact a successful reality effect. To all those musical artists who have stood and sufficiently passed this test, a hearty congratulations. Suffice to say that such equivocation of authenticity is subsumed in the process of its representation as 'real' or 'true', rather than being framed amid the more important concern of how it actually works. To paraphrase the French philosophers Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, at every turn we should not ask "What does it mean?", but rather "How does it work?" (Deleuze and Guattari 1983a: 109), no matter how seemingly inauthentic this musical text may be. For rather than engage in a game of 'spot the inauthentic', an inherently Platonic juxtaposition of inferior 'copy' against a better, truer 'model', we should, instead, defend the copy's right to exist, to enable the difference that emerges through repetition which is so critical to the artistic imperative.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInstruments of change
Subtitle of host publicationproceedings of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music Australia-New Zealand 2010 Conference
EditorsJennifer Cattermole, Graeme Smith, Shane Homan
Place of PublicationMelbourne
PublisherInternational Association for the Study of Popular Music
Number of pages5
ISBN (Print)9780975774748
Publication statusPublished - 2011
EventInternational Association for the Study of Popular Music Australia-New Zealand Conference - Melbourne
Duration: 24 Nov 201026 Nov 2010


ConferenceInternational Association for the Study of Popular Music Australia-New Zealand Conference


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