Why don't Guitar Hero players just pick up real guitars? What happens when millions of people play the role of a young black gang member in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas? How are YouTube-based music lessons changing the nature of amateur musicianship? This book is about play, performance, and participatory culture in the digital age. Miller shows how video games and social media are bridging virtual and visceral experience, creating dispersed communities who forge meaningful connections by "playing along" with popular culture. Playing Along reveals how digital media are brought to bear in the transmission of embodied knowledge: how a Grand Theft Auto player uses a virtual radio to hear with her avatar's ears; how a Guitar Hero player channels the experience of a live rock performer; and how a beginning guitar student translates a two-dimensional, pre-recorded online music lesson into three-dimensional physical practice and an intimate relationship with a distant teacher. Through a series of engaging ethnographic case studies, Miller demonstrates that our everyday experiences with interactive digital media are gradually transforming our understanding of musicality, creativity, play, and participation.
About the Author
Kiri Miller is the Manning Assistant Professor of Music at Brown University. She is the author of Traveling Home: Sacred Harp Singing and American Pluralism (2008). Her research stands at the intersection of ethnomusicology, popular music studies, and digital media studies. Her work has been supported by fellowships from the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and the American Council of Learned Societies.
Table of ContentsAbout the companion website
Introduction: Playing Along
Part One: Playing Along with Grand Theft Auto
1. Straight Outta Ganton: Virtual Tourism, Fieldwork, and Performance
2. Jacking the Dial: Radio, Race, and Place in San Andreas
Part Two: Playing Along with Guitar Hero and Rock Band
3. How Musical is Guitar Hero?
4. Just Add Performance: Staging Schizophonia
Part Three: Playing Along with Communities of Practice
5. Music Lessons 2.0