Edward Spencer

Research Interests

  • Electronic Dance Music (EDM) since 2010
  • Music and the Internet
  • Ways of moving to music
  • The crossmodal perception of timbre 
  • Aesthetics & Critical Theory

– Research Activities – 


(forth.). Touching Sounds: re-examining audiotactile affect with reference to ASMR YouTube content and musical production practices. In Dack, J., Spinks, T., & Stanovic, A. (Eds.), Music and Sound Art: Composition, Performance, Philosophy. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.

(2017). Re-orientating Spectromorphology and Space-form through a Hybrid Acoustemology. Organised Sound, 22(3), 324-335. doi:10.1017/S1355771817000486

John Lowell Osgood Memorial Prize Essay

Light and Shade: Re-examining the aesthetics of the sublime and the beautiful with reference to the third movement of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. [Submitted 19.9.16; prize awarded 29.3.17].

Conference Papers

(2019). On Trolling Sounds and Musical Emojis: An Exercise in Web-Based Acoustemology. 55th Annual Conference of the Royal Musical Association. Manchester: University of Manchester and Royal Northern College of Music.

(2018). Beyond Intoxication: On Sobering Experiences of Electronic Dance Music. AMS/SMT San Antonio 2018: Music & Philosophy Study Group Session. San Antonio, TX: Grand Hyatt Hotel.

(2017). When Play Becomes Political: An Acoustemology of Major League Gaming Montage Parodies (MLGMPs). Ludo2017: Sixth Annual Conference on Video Game Music and Sound. Bath: Bath Spa University.

(2016b). Towards an Acousmatic Acoustemology: Spectromorphology and Space-form meet Ecosemiotics in the case of Hybrid’s Finished Symphony. MuSA2016: Seventh International Symposium on Music and Sonic Art. Karlsruhe: IMWI / Hochschule für Musik.

(2016a). ‘Come Meditate on Bass Weight’: UK dubstep, the rhetoric of affect and the rise of the grotesque. Musedelica: First Symposium on Psychedelic Music and Related Areas. Brighton: University of Sussex.

Invited Talks

(2019c). The Fall of PLUR: listening to the drop and the (anti)social web. University of Huddersfield Music Research Seminar. Huddersfield: Department of Music & Drama.

(2019b). The Fairy Tale of Sonic Materialism [a provocation delivered in response to The Political Possibility of Sound: Fragments of Listening by Salomé Voegelin]. TaPRA: Sound, Voice & Music Working Group. Oxford: Faculty of Music.

(2019a). Why Does Musical Taste Evolve? Lincoln Leads Seminar. Oxford: Lincoln College.

Conference Organisation

(2018). Music and the Internet: A Joint Study Day of the RMA and BFE. Oxford: Faculty of Music.                             [co-organiser with Pablo Infante-Amate. Website: https://musicinternetoxford.wordpress.com/ Report: https://www.rma.ac.uk/2019/08/22/conference-review-music-and-the-internet-8-december-2018-oxford/]

Area of proposed thesis

Thesis Title

‘The Drop and its Discontents: An Investigation of Bass Music’

My thesis focuses on Electronic Dance Music (EDM) since 2010, specifically the ‘bass music’ genres of dubstep and trap. The project aims to investigate the sound of bass music and the sound of its online/offline consumption, focusing especially on what it is like – and what it means – to experience ‘the drop’ in various situations. Part I of the thesis examines the role of the drop in the Midwestern United States festival setting through fieldwork and digital ethnography. Part II investigates the drop as a tool for trolling with reference to Scary Monsters And Nice Sprites by Skrillex (2010) and YouTube videos uploaded during ‘The Great Meme War’ (2015-2016) featuring Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Part III discusses the drop and debased dancing, focusing on the Harlem Shake viral meme of 2013 and the animation dancing of Marquese Scott. The thesis problematizes longstanding priorities that have shaped EDM scholarship since the early 1990s and argues that the drop enables us to listen to the contradictions of the digital age.


Clarendon Scholarship

Subjects Taught

Undergraduate Tutorial Teaching

Musical Thought and Scholarship (FHS): Magdalen

Scenes & Subcultures (FHS): Merton

Global Hip-Hop (Prelims): St Peter’s, Worcester

History of Electronic Music (FHS): Merton, Univ, Worcester

Undergraduate Seminar Teaching

Critical Listening (Prelims)

Oxford International Programme

Popular Music, Youth Culture, Media & Communication