Popular Music And Urban Landscape. Live Music and Music Policies in Milan.
This project will start by analysing the literature regarding popular music studies, with a special focus on the Italian context where a strong academic tradition of popular music studies does not, yet, exist as it does in other countries (Fabbri, 2005). Many studies in Italy have focused on the textual and historical point of view, beyond the influences of cultural and social forces. Instead, this analysis is interested, from a sociological point of view, on those studies related to the notion of popular music as an experience of placing (Frith ed., 2004, p.37) and to music embedness in place, as well as in the power of music as a tool for the cultural and creative development of cities. The research will outline the value of popular music for the cultural, creative regeneration of Milan, analysing the city’s music scene, its relevance for the cultural growth and image of the city, and the role played by music policies, looking at bottom-up and top-down music initiatives. In particular, the music policies are meant as “a direct or indirect intervention into, and support for, music practice by local, national and local-national or international governing bodies based on conceptions of music’s social, cultural or economic significance” (Cohen, 2007, p. 126). The creation of a lively music scene depends upon the awareness of its cultural and economic relevance by these policies, which can influence it through regulations and financial supports. However, in many cases, this support of music can be in conflict with other interests and needs, between which policy-makers have to balance (Homan, 2003). In this perspective, qualitative methodology will be used with in-depth interviews with experts (with musicians, live music venues managers, festival organizers, cultural policy makers) in order to detect the dynamics and interactions between musical and institutional dimensions. Furthermore, by mapping the live music venues and by conducting participant-observation of venues and events, this project will attempt to understand the role live music plays in the cultural growth and image of the city as a ‘music city’. This approach is being used in the first pilot project analysed, the initiative LiveMi, where the focus is on the people involved in its organisation (both councillors and musicians), and to the live music performances of emerging bands.