Fringe conference

"Fringes, Outsides and Undergrounds: The aesthetics and politics of unpopular music" 7 May 2016

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This one-day conference includes 18 scholars and researchers presenting papers on a wide variety of themes emerging from these fringe, underground musical practices.

Musical forms such as noise, extreme metal, performance art, experimental techno, free improv and more take inspiration from both popular and art traditions without being fully identifiable with either.

These forms exist either on the fringes of, or outside, commercial and cultural mainstreams, both in conventional musical centres such as London and Berlin and further afield, in South America, Japan and China.

Stephen Graham’s book, Sounds of the Underground (University of Michigan Press), will be launched during the closing reception. 

The conference also includes an evening concert, which will run from 6-9 pm in the Student’s Union at Goldsmiths and features Sharon Gal, Marlo Eggplant, Sly and the Family Drone and DunningWebsterUnderwood.

Attendance at both the conference and the concert is free. Full details, directions to Goldsmiths and recommendations of restaurants for the evening meal follow.


0945-1015: Registration and Introduction (RHB 137a)

1015-1145: Parallel Sessions 1&2 

Session 1: Audiences And Networks, Chair: Stephen Graham (Rhb 137a)

  • Susan Fitzpatrick/Stuart Arnot (York St John): In happy dissensus: The audience of the No Audience Underground 
  • Chris Anderton (Southampton Solent): Sonic archaeology: curation, cultural memory, and fan labour
  • Safa Canalp (Humboldt-Universität): Towards a Theory of Subcultural Transfer in Un-Popular Music Studies 

Session 2: Noise, Concepts, Practices, Chair: Lauren Redhead, Canterbury (Rhb 137)

  • Véra Vidal: The Boston underground network 
  • Ariane Gruet-Pelchat (Université Laval): Noise as self-subversion
  • Stan Erraught (Bucks New University): Unpopular or Nonpopular?
  • 1200-1330: Parallel Sessions 3&4

Session 3: Fringe And Underground Pop Musics, Chair: Lisa Busby, Goldsmiths (Rhb 137a)

  • Christopher Haworth (University of Leeds): Mapping Underground Musics: from Microsound to Vaporwave 
  • Adam Harper (University of Oxford): Unpopular pop? The roles of pop in underground musics 
  • Rachel McCarthy (Royal Holloway): Pop or pastiche: Underground music and the failure of postmodern satire) 

Session 4: Improvisation And Its Contexts, Chair: James Bulley, Goldsmiths (Rhb 137)

  • Alexander Hunter (Australian National University): Musical Anarchy in the Academy: Using free improvisation to deconstruct musical hierarchies
  • Thomas William Smith (University of New South Wales): Performing The Generic
  • Artur Vidal (Crisap, UAL): Hélène Smith's 'vocal utopias' and Derek Bailey's non-idiomatic improvisation: locating Free Improvisation within the history of modernity.
  • 1445-1615: Parallel Sessions 5&6

Session 5: Extreme Metal, Chair: John Harries (Rhb 137a)

  • Keith Kahn-Harris: On the fringe of the fringe: metal's ‘outsider artists’
  • Joseph O’Connell (Cardiff University): ‘Suffer Louder’: the cultural politics of the American metalcore canon
  • Owen Coggins (Open University): Drone Metal Minimalism

Session 6: The Politics Of Fringe Classical Music (6), Chair: Silvia Rosani, Goldsmiths (Rhb 137)

  • Lauren Redhead (Canterbury): ‘The Reason Why I am Unable to Live in my own Country as a Composer is a Political One’: the Politics of Self-Alienation in the Music of Chris Newman
  • Alexi Vellianitis (University of Oxford): Like a ‘North Korean gymnastic displays without the totalitarian ideology’: Youth Disobedience and Civil Unrest in Anna Meredith’s 'HandsFree'
  • Andy Ingamells (Birmingham Conservatoire): Grandchildren of Experimental Music
  • 1630-1700: Closing Remarks, Book Launch and Wine Reception (RHB 137a)
  • 1800-2100: Concert (Student’s Union)


Goldsmiths is a 4-5 minute walk from both New Cross Gate and New Cross train stations. Go to the Find-Us page on the website

A variety of buses also serve the area – see the TFL website 

Once you get to Goldsmiths please go to Reception in the Richard Hoggart Building (the main university building), where you will be directed to the main conference venue, RHB 137a.


Delegates will be attending New Cross House for lunch (please e-mail Stephen Graham at if you’d like to join us).

Dinner is being left open. The area has plenty of decent restaurants, amongst which we’d recommend the Royal Albert and New Cross House pubs; The Thailand (Thai food, obviously); Paranhodu (Korean); and Reyna (Turkish).

These are all reasonably priced and decent restaurants within 5 mins of Goldsmiths.