Chiptune : the ludomusical shaping of identity

Reid, George (2020) Chiptune : the ludomusical shaping of identity. (PhD thesis), Kingston University, .


Chiptune is an early form of digital electronic music, which began its life in late 20th century video games and home computer software. Since, it has undergone a rapid evolution from an obsolete industry tool to a thriving global fan culture. In the present-day, chiptune spans a multitudinous array of musical practices; its signature ‘bleeps’ and ‘bloops’ branch into many other stylistic conventions and playful fannish crossovers. Wherever chiptune fans go, and whenever they musically play, the technological and timbral constraints that define chiptune’s sound remain a staple throughout their musical and fannish activities. Where previous research on chiptune predominantly documents chiptune’s rich techno-cultural history – often speculating as to its future – and the discourses of its participants, this study takes a wholly new approach and explores the ways in which chiptune’s signature technologies and timbres shape fan identities in their musical performance. Through its focus and interdisciplinary framework, this study not only develops new insights into chiptune fan culture, but also sheds light on the broader questions surrounding the playful relationship between technology, timbre, musical performativity, and fan identity.

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