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Synopsis

Singer-Songwriters and Musical Open Mics is an ethnographic exploration of New York City’s live music events where musicians signup and perform short sets. This sociological study dispels the common assumption that open mics are culturally monolithic and reserved for novice musicians. Open mics allow musicians at different locations within their musical development and career to interactively perform, practice, and network with other musicians. Important themes in the book include: the tension between self and society in the creative process, issues of creative authenticity and authorship, and on-going cultural changes central to the Do-It-Yourself cultural zeitgeist of the early 21st century. The open mic’s cultural antecedents include a radio format, folk hootenannies, and the jazz jam session.

Drawing from multiple qualitative methods, Aldredge describes how open mics have etched a vital organizational place in the western and urban musical landscape. Open mics represent a creative place where the boundaries of practicing and performing seemingly blur. This allows for a range of social settings from more competitive, stratified, and homogenous music scenes to culturally diverse weekly events often stretching late into the night.

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