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Changing the Tune : Programme de la Conférence

Changing the Tune Conference Programme
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The selected conference proceedings were published, under the title Politiques des musiques populaires au xxie siècle [The politics of popular music in the 21st century], Elsa Grassy and Jedediah Sklower, eds. Table of contents and order here.
Les actes choisis du colloque ont été publiés aux Éditions Mélanie Seteun, sous le titre Politiques des musiques populaires au xxie siècle. Consultez la table des matières et commandez l’ouvrage ici.

Here is the final programme for the "Changing the Tune": Popular Music and Politics in the XXIst Century. From the Fall of Communism to the Arab Spring" conference, to be held at the University of Strasbourg, on 7-8 June 2013.
Read the call for papers here / consulter l'appel à contributions.
Practical information & registration here / informations pratiques & inscription ici.


Friday 7 June 2013

12:00: Lunch

13:00-13:30: Conference opening, MISHA conference hall: Alenka Barber-Kersovan, Elsa Grassy, Jedediah Sklower

13:30-14:15: Dietrich Helms intervention

14:15 -14:30: Coffee break

14:30-16:00: Panels I

16:00-16:15: Coffee break

16:15-17:45: Panels II

18:00-20:00: Visit of Strasbourg’s historical center

19:00-20:00: Visit of Strasbourg by “bateau mouche”

20:30: Dinner at the Maison Kammerzell

Saturday 8 June 2013

9:30-11:00: Panels III

11:00-11:15: Coffee break

11:15-12:45: Panels IV

12:45-14:30: “Buffet” at the MISHA conference hall, and short concert within the Jazzdor Strasbourg-Berlin festival

14:30-15:15: Martin Cloonan presentation

15:15-15:30: Coffee break

15h30-17:00: Panels V

17:00-17:15: Coffee break

17:15-18:00: Conference conclusion & debate


Keynote Speakers

Dietrich Helms – University of Osnabrück

Jitterbugs with Attitudes. Thoughts on Pop and Politics

The relationship of popular music and politics is a complex one. Are the listeners of popular songs jitterbugs, in Adorno’s words, excepting blindly what is enforced on them, moving unconsciously to the beat of those in power, not willing to think but only searching for fun? Or are they part of subcultures that give a voice to those suppressed by a political and cultural mainstream? Plato has stated that whenever music is changed the State will change with it. Until today, however, we lack the proof that a song may overturn a political system. In the Western world some musicians frustratedly have given up expressing their political attitudes in their lyrics, no longer being convinced of music’s usefulness as a media for the transport of convictions. Listeners no longer expect popular music to express a political attitude, and even if it does a majority won’t notice. Analyzing the functioning of popular music as a communication system makes clear that it is a weak tool to change people’s convictions. It has hardly any mechanisms which may ensure that a message is being understood the way it is supposed to be. Popular music as such is not even useful to create stable social groups. However, given the right context, it may become a strong symbol, a flag waving over the fields of political battles, showing friends and foes where to collect and where to attack.

Martin Cloonan – University of Glasgow

Researching the UK's Musicians Union: Some Reflections on Politics and Power

The UK's Musicians Union traces its history back to 1893. This paper reports some initial findings from a four year project which will provide a social history of the Union. It argues that the Union has played a pivotal, but largely unexplored, role in the history of British music and its related industries. Based on a range of archive materials, press accounts and interviews, the paper will show how the Union has positioned itself both in opposition to, and alliances with, key organizations within the music industries. In 1893 the Union said that musicians main enemies were “amateurs, unscrupulous employers and ourselves”, 120 years later is this still the case? For more information see


The democratic agency of protest music

I. Music, society & political change

Moderator: Jedediah Sklower – Catholic University of Lille

Rajko Muršič – University of Ljubljana: Redemption Songs after Socialism: Popular Music as the Forerunner of Change, from Civil Society Movements in Socialist Yugoslavia to the Recent Anti-Neoliberalism Protest Movement in Slovenia