Justin Williams, 22 January 2015

Title of the Talk: Toward a Sloanist Theory of Popular Music Production

When? Thursday 22 January 2015 (17:00-18:30)

Where? Ertegun House, St Giles, University of Oxford

Speaker: Justin Williams (Lecturer, Department of Music, University of Bristol)

Abstract: While a number of scholars have theorized links between music and industrial production developments within Fordist and post-Fordist frameworks, these studies often neglect a related aspect to such capitalist strategies: the upgrading or updating of cultural products (e.g. cars, computers, iPhones). This paper begins to outline the key aspects of what could be termed ‘Sloanism’ in cultural production. Using examples from pop production teams such as The Trackmasters, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, and Stock, Aitken and Waterman (SAW), a Sloanist perspective may help to provide a deeper understanding of not only popular music more generally, but also cultural products such as pop cover versions, film remakes, franchise re-boots, as well as the emphasis on speed in the updating/upgrading of certain musical products.

Speaker Biography: Justin Williams received a BA in History and a BA in Music from Stanford University in 2004, MMus in Music from King’s College London (2005) and a PhD from the University of Nottingham under the supervision of Adam Krims (2010). He has taught at Leeds College of Music, Lancaster University and Anglia Ruskin University, and has been published in Popular Music, Popular Music History, and The Journal of Musicology. His book Rhymin’ and Stealin’ (2013)on musical borrowing and intertextuality in hip-hop music, is published by University of Michigan Press for the ‘Tracking Pop’ series (eds. John Covach, Lori Burns, and Albin Zak). He has edited the Cambridge Companion to Hip-hop (2015) and is co-editing (with Katherine Williams) the Cambridge Companion to the Singer-Songwriter. 

As a professional trumpet and piano player in California, he ran a successful jazz piano trio and played with the band Bucho! which won a number of Sacramento Area Music Awards and were signed to two record labels. He is currently member of a number of societies, including the AMS, SAM, IASPM (US and UK branches), and the RMA. He is External Examiner for the popular music courses at Southampton Solent University.


Event hosted as part of the Seminar in Ethnomusicology and Sound Studies Series, based at St John’s College, University of Oxford.

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