The rapid development and adoption of personal computers and the Internet at the end of the twentieth and beginning of the twenty-first century have brought significant changes to popular musical culture and amateur music-making. In the era of Web 2.0, recreational sociomusical activity in cyberspace has intensified and online social networking has merged with home-based musical practices, creating cultures of Internet musicians.
In this dissertation, I present an ethnography of one particular culture of Internet musicians. These musicians use digital music production software on personal computers to compose, record and realize their musical ideas. They then leverage Internet technologies in order to perform, communicate, and collaborate with other musicians from around the world. Through the sociomusical processes in which these musicians engage, musical cyberplaces are established, meaningful relationships are formed, and communities are constructed. This dissertation deals primarily with one such community: iCompositions.com. Created in 2004 as a repository for musical creations by users of Apple, Inc.ís GarageBand software, iCompositions has grown into a large, world-wide community of musicians with diverse musical and cultural backgrounds, who work not only in isolated home studios, but also collaborate with each other with the help of the Internet.
This dissertation provides insights into the experience of musical life online. Through an investigation of both textual and musical interaction, I consider the shared authorship of music and the intersubjective experiences of the participant musicians within iCompositions. I focus particularly on the force of digital technology on musical knowledge and experience, the centrality of shared musical experiences in the construction of community, and processes of musical transformation through the collaborations resulting in the shared authorship of constantly evolving virtual music. Finally, this research provides a valuable case study that extends ethnomusicological inquiry into Internet-based, participatory musical cultures.