Format, materiality and value: an examination of DIY music cassette tapes in archives

Currie, Amy Irene (2021) Format, materiality and value: an examination of DIY music cassette tapes in archives. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Due to Embargo and/or Third Party Copyright restrictions, this thesis is not available in this service.


While there has been a growing acceptance and collection of popular music materials in cultural heritage institutions such as archives, there is also a closing window of time to digitise recordings in most analogue audio formats due to the degradation of media and obsolescence of playback equipment. Although there are efforts underway to digitise recordings in at-risk audio formats, most institutions lack the resources to ensure that all will be digitised in time; they will have to make critical value judgements on which recordings will be digitised—and which will not. This thesis tackles the broader problem of value in appraisal, specifically focusing on the issues surrounding value and materiality through a format-specific study of a particular kind of popular music object: the DIY music cassette tape. It details a research study on and about DIY music cassette tapes—the material objects and the appraisal of their value—at three research sites: Special Collections & Archives at Goldsmiths, University of London; the Scottish Music Centre in Glasgow; and the Institute of Popular Music at the University of Liverpool. Its interpretive qualitative methodology was two-fold: 1.It employed a ‘mind in matter’ theoretical framework with material culture methods to consider values tied to the materiality of the DIY tapes, and 2. It employed a ‘mind over matter’ theoretical framework to guide and interpret interviews with those currently responsible for appraisal decisions to inquire of attitudes towards materiality and its influence in the appraisal of the examined DIY tapes. The ‘mind in matter’ methods resulted in various considerations of value—or values—not only communicated by the materiality of the objects but also entwined with certain material qualities particular to the objects as artefacts of DIY music-making communities and cultures. The findings from the interviews confirmed the presence of ‘mind over matter’ attitudes and approaches which limit appraisal decisions to collection-level evaluation and selection based on the relevance of the collection to the archival institution. Further analysis and exploration between the tensions of these findings, with the incidentalness of materiality as the major point of theoretical contention, show points of fusion by bringing in concepts of affordances, multistability, and mediations. The idea that the preservation from both the digitisation of audio content and the conservation of the analogue format container means one can ‘have your tape and hear it too’ is challenged. In the context of appraisal decisions and approaches towards these popular music materials in archives, the thesis’ conclusions have larger implications: for how concepts of materiality and value are currently addressed in archival theory, and for how current approaches towards the acquisition and preservation of the DIY tapes will impact how the objects are accessible to users.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Additional Information: Due to copyright restrictions this thesis is not available for viewing.
Keywords: format, materiality, archival value, DIY music cassette tapes, archives.
Subjects: A General Works > AM Museums (General). Collectors and collecting (General)
M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Z Bibliography. Library Science. Information Resources > Z665 Library Science. Information Science
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts > School of Humanities > Information Studies
Supervisor's Name: Anderson, Dr. Ian G.
Date of Award: 2021
Depositing User: Amy Irene Currie
Unique ID: glathesis:2021-82183
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 14 May 2021 13:04
Last Modified: 14 May 2021 13:04
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.82183

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item