SEEK: Salford Environment for Expertise and Knowledge

PhD Thesis
Mar 2015

Masked: Depictions of Anonymity in Electronic Dance Music

Cookney, D (2015) 'Masked: Depictions of Anonymity in Electronic Dance Music'.


 This thesis investigates a proliferation of anonymous practices used in electronic dance music (EDM). It examines how the deployment of pseudonyms and other ‘masked’ forms of representation have typified descriptions of the composer within genres that have arisen since the development of the club scene in the late 1980s. The research question asks: ‘Why is anonymity so prevalent within EDM?’ As such, the research is concerned with the motivations for these methods and the subsequent implications regarding perceptions of authorship within EDM. Do they, for example, represent an iconoclasm inherent to ‘underground’ music? Can these practices truly denounce the ‘pop star’ while giving folk hero status to the outlaw, the enigma, the cyborg or the shaman? And how does technology contribute to the development of these representative forms? The thesis aims to deliver an account of anonymous practices while also questioning other influences such as music sampling, ‘scene’ and the DJ set as an authored text. However, the reference to ‘depictions’ within the title of the thesis also acknowledges anonymity as presented or performed. Associated with this presentation of anonymity, elements that are external to music outputs are also examined. These texts – including associated visual material and the products of media engagement – are argued as being intrinsically linked to the dissemination of both music and conceptual ideas to construct identity and aid market differentiation.



Daniel Cookney


Michael Goddard

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