David Hesmondhalgh, Why Music Matters, Wiley-Blackwell, August 2013

David Hesmondhalgh, Why Music Matters, Wiley-Blackwell, August 2013.


In what ways might music enrich the lives of people and of societies? What prevents it from doing so? Why Music Matters explores the role of music in our lives, and investigates the social and political significance of music in modern societies.

  • First book of its kind to explore music through a variety of theories and approaches and unite these theories using one authoritative voice
  • Combines a broad yet theoretically sophisticated approach to music and society with real clarity and accessibility
  • A historically and sociologically informed understanding of music in relation to questions of social power and inequality
  • By drawing on both popular and academic talk about a range of musical forms and practices, readers will engage with a wide musical terrain and a wealth of case studies

Author Information

David Hesmondhalgh is Professor of Media and Music Industries at the University of Leeds. He is the author of The Cultural Industries, now in its third edition (2013) and co-author (with Sarah Baker) of a study of working life in three cultural industries, including music, Creative Labour (2011). He is also the editor or co-editor of various collections, including Western Music and its Others (with Georgina Born, 2000) and Popular Music Studies (with Keith Negus, 2002).


Chapter 1       Music as Intimate and Social, Private and Public

Chapter 2       Feeling and Flourishing

  • 2.1 Music, affect, emotion
  • 2.2 Emotions, narrative play and music
  • 2.3 Human flourishing, aesthetic experience and music
  • 2.4 Musical flourishing beyond contemplative cultivation
  • 2.5 Musical aesthetics and bodily experience: dancing
  • 2.6 Approaches to music and emotion in everyday life: contributions and limitations
  • 2.7 Problems of self-realisation in modern life and their relation to music
  • 2.8 Competitive individualism and status competition through music
  • 2.9 Review: music’s constrained enrichment of lives

Chapter 3       Love and Sex

  • 3.1 Sex and love and rock and roll
  • 3.2 Two approaches to music, sex and sexuality
  • 3.3 The pop-rock divide and rock’s sexual politics
  • 3.4 Post-war pop’s emotional resources
  • 3.5 Sex and love on the dance floor
  • 3.6 Critiques of countercultural sexual freedom
  • 3.7 Sex and love in punk, alternative rock and metal
  • 3.8 Sexuality in twenty first century pop
  • 3.9 Black music and racialised sexuality

Chapter 4       Sociability and Place

  • 4.1 Ways of being together: forms of publicness
  • 4.2 Celebrations of musical participation and their limitations
  • 4.3 That syncing feeling
  • 4.4 Ordinary sociability I: singing together
  • 4.5 Ordinary sociability II: dancing together
  • 4.6 Playing together: amateur musicians
  • 4.7 Theorising positive musical sociality
  • 4.8 Spectres of capitalist modernity revisited: class and inequality
  • 4.9 Uneven musical development
  • 4.10 Elements of thriving musical places
  • 4.11 Quality of working life of professional musicians

Chapter 5       Commonality and Cosmopolitanism

  • 5.1 Mediated commonality in modern societies
  • 5.2 Aesthetic experience and aspirations to commonality
  • 5.3 Redeeming aesthetic experience?
  • 5.4 Talk about music, what it tells us, and what it doesn’t
  • 5.5 Music, politics and publicness
  • 5.6 Communities of shared taste? Subcultures, scenes and fans
  • 5.7 Nations, ethnicity, cosmopolitanism
  • 5.8 Rock as cosmopolitanism?
  • 5.9 Complexities of music and nation
  • 5.10 Strange journeys: working-class and ethnic musics become national musics
  • 5.11 Sentimental citizenship
  • 5.12 Music, the nation and the popular
  • 5.13 Music of the African diaspora: life-affirming collectivity in decline?
  • 5.14 A critical defence of music