This paper responds to the common assumption in much recent ethnomusicology that today music is more accessible, ubiquitous and mobile than ever before. In particular, I argue that this assumption runs aground when confronted with sonic practices in South Africa. Based on fieldwork with electronic musicians in Johannesburg and its surrounding areas, I ask how music is practiced and experienced in a context where musical equipment and storage devices constantly break down and where people are largely immobile. I focus on four factors: the physical layout of urban spaces; the immanence of crime and theft; the breakdown of musical equipment; and the interruption of information storage and transfer. By examining these factors, I elucidate the ways in which breakdown, obduracy and failure have generative as well as negative effects on music production and experience.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Electronic music