Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Luckman, S., Gibson, C. R., Willoughby-Smith, J. & Brennan-Horley, C. R. (2008). Life in a northern (Australian) town: Darwin''s mercurial music scene. Continuum: Journal of Media and Cultural Studies, 22 (5), 623-637.


In the present article, we seek to bring critical attention to the idea of ‘scene’ in relation to musical activity in Darwin, an iconic northern, remote, (post)colonial city. The idea of ‘scenes’, in the sense of ‘connections between audiences, musicians, industry and infrastructure’ (Street 1995, 255–63) is pervasive in music scholarship and journalism (Cohen 1999). The word ‘scene’ has a certain linguistic utility, and it conveys a sense of social allegiance and interaction imbued with positive overtones – of people hanging out, creating music and experimenting together, and sharing aural pleasures. Whether explicitly or by default, the corpus of music scene research has been particularly attuned to the uniqueness of place. Ethnographic methods invariably focus research in particular places (Cohen 1995; Bennett 2000) and, more often than not, locational discourses permeate talk of ‘scenes’ to the extent that a scene and its place are often considered inseparable – a form of ‘place-consciousness’ (Street 1995; Connell and Gibson 2003). In some places, musical ‘sounds’ become associated with place because of their genesis in scenes that emerged in particular eras around certain venues, record labels, shops or city districts (Cohen 1994; Connell and Gibson 2003; McLeay 1994; Mitchell 1997). Accordingly, geographical detail and depth characterizes much music scene research.