'Well-worn grooves': music, materiality and biographical memory

Iain A. Taylor*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Recorded music, as both aesthetic listening experience, and as material culture, has a deep mnemonic resonance for a great many people. Starting from Csikszentmihalyi’s (1993) theorization on the significance of artefacts in the structuring of ‘well-worn grooves’ of consciousness, this article considers the biographical function of the metaphorical (and literal) ‘well-worn grooves’ of music-based artefacts such as records. Building upon existing arguments from material culture studies and popular music studies, this article uses excerpts from research interviews with self-identified ‘music enthusiasts’ to argue that an attentiveness to the complex and intertwined relationships between popular music listening, and its materiality, presents possibilities for look- ing beyond a broadly canonic understanding of popular music history, arguing for a greater attentiveness to the richness of individual music-based biographies as a means of exploring the relationship between popular music and the past.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-274
Number of pages19
JournalPopular Music History
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 13 Nov 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • music
  • memory
  • records
  • collection
  • materiality
  • biography


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