Psyculture in Bristol
: Careers, Projects and Strategies in Digital Music-Making

  • Christopher Charles

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy (PhD)


This thesis looks at the careers of psychedelic trance or ‘psytrance’ musicians in the city of Bristol, UK. Looking at the various projects and strategies enacted by a small group of intervieweecorrespondents, I demonstrate the ways in which these contribute to a musical participant’s overall career, creating and foreclosing opportunities for further musical engagement. The activities of different participants are also shown to interlock, forming the local, translocal and virtual aspects of the scene. Crucially, I do not divide these activities into ‘amateur’ and ‘professional’ status, but rather look at the multitude of approaches available to participants, many of which are aimed at building the scene rather than making immediate profit. Throughout, conventional notions of cultural value and hierarchy building on Pierre Bourdieu’s ‘capital’, ‘field’ and ‘habitus’ (and Sarah Thornton’s related notion of ‘subcultural capital’) are challenged by way of Actor-Network Theory and a wider musical network ontology which stresses the importance of ‘boundary’ objects and concepts which can belong to more than one network. This, I suggest, allows us to more fully appreciate diversity within musical systems, a point which I demonstrate through analysis of music by local producers. Musical and technological detail are also given, drawing on my own experience as a producer, performer and learner of psytrance music.
The seven chapters of the thesis deal with event promotion, DJ and live-electronic performance, the use of internet platforms and services, genre and internet tags, genre and music production, and creation of resources for self-directed learning. Together, these build up a picture of a modern-day career in digital music-making.
Date of Award31 Jan 2019
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • The University of Bristol
SupervisorJustin A Williams (Supervisor) & Katharine Ellis (Supervisor)

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