Peak Music Experiences : A New Perspective on Popular music, Identity and Scenes book cover
1st Edition

Peak Music Experiences
A New Perspective on Popular music, Identity and Scenes

ISBN 9780367553845
Published November 12, 2021 by Routledge
190 Pages

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USD $160.00

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Book Description

Peak music experiences are a recurring feature of popular music journalism, biography and fan culture, where they are often credited as pivotal in people’s relationships with music and in their lives more generally. Ben Green investigates the phenomenon from a social and cultural perspective, including discussions of peak music experiences as sources of inspiration and influence; as a core motivation for ongoing musical and social activity; the significance of live music experiences; and the key role of peak music experiences in defining and perpetuating music scenes. The book draws from both global media analysis and situated ethnographic research in the dance, hip hop, indie and rock ‘n’ roll music scenes of Brisbane, Australia, including participant observation and in-depth interviews. These case studies demonstrate the methodological value of peak music experiences as a lens through which to understand individual and collective musical life. The theoretical analysis is interwoven with selected interview data, illuminating the profound and everyday ways that music informs people’s lives. The book will therefore be of interest to the interdisciplinary field of popular music studies as well as sociology and cultural studies beyond the study of music.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Introducing peak music experiences

Chapter 2: Theorising peak music experiences

Chapter 3: Histories of listening: First encounters, gateways and conversion experiences

Chapter 4: Life-changing moments: Experiences of inspiration and influence

Chapter 5: Why music? Peak music experiences as motivation

Chapter 6: Listening together: Peak music experiences and interpersonal relationships

Chapter 7: Live music experiences: Presence and affective space

Chapter 8: Ideal experiences: Scenes, aesthetics and belonging

Chapter 9: Themes and conclusions: Peak music experiences and new perspectives

Appendix 1: Interview participants


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Dr Ben Green is a cultural sociologist with interests in popular music and youth studies. He is a member of the Griffith Centre for Social and Cultural Research and teaches at Griffith University. Ben’s work exploring musical experience in memory, identity and belonging has been published in journals including Sociology, Popular Music and Journal of Sociology and in edited books including The Routledge Companion to Popular Music History and Heritage.


Green's book makes a major contribution to the sociology of popular music. Through introducing the term 'peak music experience' Green brings compelling new insights regarding the everyday meaning of popular music and its resonance with memory and emotion. Of equal importance is Green's consideration of how technological developments since the early 2000s also critically inform the way that people (re)experience music in their daily lives. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted in the city of Brisbane, the state capital of Queensland, Australia, Green also brings fresh perspectives to our understanding of the connections between local, trans-local and global scenes. This book will be essential reading for popular music scholars interested in music's significance as an everyday resource.

Andy Bennett (Griffith University)