Finding one’s rhythm: A ‘tour de force’ of fieldwork on the road with a band

Anna Lisa Ramella
Locating Media, University of Siegen

Research on mobility as a daily labour condition, as I have found, is best conducted as a bodily experience of movement. Drawing from the example of touring bands, I would like to point out the regularities and routines which shape the lifeworlds of the subject, but also require the will to experimentation from the researcher regarding the fieldwork situation. The methodology of participating in a full summer music tour meant not only an intimate engagement with the subjects, but a transformation of my own daily rhythm from a somewhat sedentary to a mobile lifestyle.

In this chapter I would like to add to the idea of experimental/collaborative value of ethnography with an example of double-engagement within a fieldwork “on the move“; while the musicians have developed and are constantly developing skills and strategies to enable a feeling of “place“ within their constant movement, their expertise is linked to specific, yet often indeterminable regularities. This nature of their automatisms is challenging to methods like participant observation and requires creativity in developing more experimental, sensory and intuitive field methods which often arise from the very need for stability of one’s own mobile experience. Collaboration in this sense may corrupt the researcher’s position, yet being undefined in this tight core of group dynamics – this process of positioning becomes the ground mark of finding one’s own rhythm within the infrastructures of the tour.

Anna RamellaAnna Lisa Ramella
is a doctoral researcher in the ‘Locating Media’ DFG Research Training Group at the University of Siegen, Germany. Her anthropological research examines the mobility of musicians with a focus on place-making, rhythm and media practices on tour. Employing mobile, digital and audiovisual ethnographic methods, her work takes into account the impact of the digitization and mediatization of music on the everyday experiences of touring musicians. She co-convenes the EASA Networks Anthropology and Mobility (ANTHROMOB) and Collaboratory for Ethnographic Experimentation (COLLEEX). Her audiovisual work can be found at and annaramella.