chapter  3
12 Pages

The Ghost of Goa Trance: A Retrospective


The question of origin is foundational to much of popular music affect and discourse. A scene is demarcated through its sonic reference to geographic locations it is supposed to come from and traverse. In a classic essay, Will Straw (1991) observes that the cultural logic of contemporary music scenes cannot be separated from a tension between their cosmopolitan and localising tendencies. The marketing and folkloristic forces that attempt to place a genre or musical phenomenon-reggae in Jamaica, grunge in Seattle, The Beatles in Liverpool-have a conservative impulse, trying to fi x what is intrinsically nebulous. Meanwhile, the international diffusion of a genre into a network of diverse scenes indexes its vitality. The paradox of authenticity in popular music is that it is exactly because of the diffusion and commodifi cation, hence transformation, of a genre that the question of its origin comes to the fore.