On the Discourse Community of Electronic Music


According to my observations on electronic music as a linguist, I have to declare that electronic music has its own terminology, which is shaped by the language users. The language users are the members of the discourse community of electronic music.

This community is layered; the two main layers are the musicians and the audience. Musicians – from a linguistic point of view – are the professional technical language users, and the people from audience – so called ‘fans‘ – are the members who know and partly use this language as well. More layers could be added as well, e.g. ‘tech talk‘ people (from different music companies who look after users‘ requests and questions) or journalists. But for the present post, it is more relevant to talk about the two main layers only.

Using Swales’s (1990) conceptualization of discourse community, the next six points can be stated for the discourse community of electronic music.

1. It has a common public goal what is the communication about electronic music.
2. It has own mechanisms of intercommunication.
3. These mechanisms were set up to provide information about electronic music.
4. It has more genres in the communicative furtherance, e.g. Internet genres (blogs, forums, web-pages etc.) and multimodal texts (flyers, posters, album covers etc.).
5. It has a specific lexis (e.g. pattern, MIDI, loop etc.).
6. Its common knowledge is based on the topic of electronic music (the members have wide knowledge about electronic music).

The aim of this post is proving the first point from the six; the others will be presented in my next blogposts on this issue. But why is it important to talk about this individual community? The community has very specific properties. With reading Internet forums, social networks, weblogs and analyzing multimodal texts about this music scene, these properties can be easily observed. Recently I collected a text-corpus on electronic music from these Internet genres; here are some short discussion pieces from one of my sources, the We are the music makers-forum, which prove the community’s common public goal, namely talking about electronic music. In these examples, the members are changing their feelings and opinions about Chris Clark’s new EP Fantasm Planes – that will be released in September 2012 on Warp Records.

‹Bewarethefriendlyfoil› I guess it was… okay
‹CraniumXII› Sounding pretty good so far… I’ll look forward to it!
Iradelphic was fine… Nothing really called my attention, but it wasn’t terrible. Liking the EP’s direction, so I’m fairly optimistic.
‹Compson› the money is moving towards live music, will be interesting to see how electronic music changes because of this
‹Kavinsky› He seems to be in love with long arpeggios synth lines, like com touché

From the lines above, it is clear that exchanging thoughts are vital actions of the community. It can be easily recognized as well that these short ‘talks‘ give a cohesive power to the community. There are many other examples from these Internet platforms, which prove my hypothesis that this music scene’s own discourse community uses electronic music terminology. Some examples for this terminology can be read above (e.g. arpeggios synth lines).


Swales, John (1990) Genre Analysis. English in academic and research settings. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press.


(to be continued)