Challenging the drumkit: musical identities and habitus
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 11:10 by Sara Delavere
Within the cultural management of who has access to music, music education and musical opportunities, attempts to control the distribution and meaning of music are ‘naturalised’ and invisibilised. In limiting these challenges, and maintaining what is deemed ‘acceptable’, the musical instrument becomes a regulatory force, governing the developing embodiment of the musician. This is particularly true of instrumentalists, for whom the instrument becomes a central part of their identity. Exploring the regulatory power of the musical instrument as agentic matter, this thesis combines Deleuze’s representational thinking and Foucauldian understandings of power, more specifically Bourdieu’s habitus to better understand the ways that a musical instrument helps to preserve gendered roles and behaviours, specifically in regards to the female drummer. Placing these concepts alongside the well-known interventions of feminist theorists such as Judith Butler, the performance of gender is thus attached to the living habitus of musical instrument, cementing its role as an agent of meaning and of power. Focusing specifically on of the female drummer, this thesis explores the ways embodiment and identity are observed and policed in order to disavow challenges to the gendered habitus of the drumkit, and by extension, the discursive construction of gendered power in larger society.