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date: 04 June 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Audiences have long been entertained by—and many scholars have critically examined—the constructed identities and performances of personae that are fundamental to popular musical culture. This chapter presents an ethnographic investigation of the live music scene of Second Life, examining the co-construction of musical identities among audiences and performers within this virtual world. In virtual worlds, where the musical experience is fractured by the disconnection between the perceived sound (the music) and its paradoxical source (the unseen person performing the music, but visually represented by an on-screen avatar), musicians depend on digitally constructed bodies, instruments, and stages that are vital for articulating the presence of the performer within the virtual space. The element of play inherent in the role-playing nature of avatar-based sociality bridges both musical performances and the act of Being in the virtual world.

Keywords: virtual worlds, Second Life, musical personae, identity, avatars, role playing, ethnomusicology

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