Low End Theories

Bass Culture, Sound Systems, and Popular Music

Welcome to the Low End Theories conference website.

Dates: 19–20 May 2023

This free, fully online conference responded to the multidisciplinary field emerging around low-frequency sound and the sound system-enabled dimensions of popular music, especially from the African diaspora: what is increasingly termed bass culture.

The conference aimed to identify important research issues and develop a diverse network of researchers that can foster future activities. Over two days, we brought together researchers from across music studies and the wider arts & humanities for talks and discussion.

With its name inspired by the multiple meanings of A Tribe Called Quest’s 1991 hip-hop album The Low End Theory, the conference strove to generate thoughtful debate about low-end sonic cultures, ideas, and practices with sensitivity to their social and political histories. We went beyond the mere mystification of specific frequencies to critically explore what bass culture is, where it comes from, how it works, and how/why it is—or should be—studied.

Read the archived call for papers.

All talks were recorded via Zoom: access the videos and abstracts here.