Musicology Doctoral Student Wins Prestigious Dissertation Fellowship

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Matthew Blackmar just won the American Musicology Association’s Alvin H. Johnson AMS 50 Dissertation Fellowship. The AMS made five awards from a pool of applicants across all of North America. Fellows receive a substantial 12 month stipend to support dissertation research and writing.

Blackmar’s dissertation examines the fertile field of copyright and technological advances. The working title of his dissertation is “Just Pattern Recognition: Fair-Use Copyright, Hip Hop, and Digital Music Practice from The Era of Algorithms to The Era of AI.” Blackmar’s dissertation analyzes hip-hop and the mechanics of social media channels. It draws from a variety of scholarly fields, including popular music studies, copyright law, computer science and hip-hop studies.

The award committee praised Blackmar’s “incisive dissertation” as “urgent, important, and timely.” The committee marveled at Blackmar’s ability to render sophisticated ideas that traverse a number of highly technical fields accessible and intelligible for audiences. “The committee finds especially laudable this dissertation’s main intervention: the author persuasively shows how hip-hop artists’ musical choices are constrained by, develop from, and influence legal and political-economic forces in the arenas of fair-use jurisprudence, copyright, and generative AI.”

Matthew Blackmar is a doctoral student in the Department of Musicology at The UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music.