PhD, Indiana University

Mark J. Butler’s research addresses popular music, rhythm, gender and sexuality, and technologically mediated performance. He previously served on the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania and has held fellowships at the American Academy in Berlin and The University of Texas at Austin (Donald D. Harrington Faculty Fellow). He was President of the U.S. branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music from 2015–2017.

Butler is the author of Unlocking the Groove (Indiana, 2006) and the editor of Electronica, Dance, and Club Music (Ashgate, 2012). His most recently published book is Playing with Something That Runs: Technology, Improvisation, and Composition in DJ and Laptop Performance (Oxford, 2014). It is based on extensive fieldwork with internationally active DJs and laptop musicians based in Berlin. By examining relationships between technology and improvisation, Butler reveals how these musicians create dynamic, novel performances through the transformation of seemingly “fixed” prerecorded objects. Playing with Something That Runs received the Outstanding Publication Award from the Popular Music Interest Group of the Society for Music Theory in 2015.

Selected Works/Publications


Playing with Something That Runs: Technology, Improvisation, and Composition in DJ and Laptop Performance. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Unlocking the Groove: Rhythm, Meter, and Musical Design in Electronic Dance Music. Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 2006.


Electronica, Dance and Club Music. The Library of Essays on Popular Music. Farnham, Surrey, UK: Ashgate, 2012.


“Kommunikative Strategien und Ideologien von Liveness bei Laptop-Performances.” In Techno Studies: Äesthetik und Geschichtsschreibung Elektronischer Tanzmusik, eds. Kim Feser and Matthias Pasdzierny, 211–220. Translation by Mathis Krause. Berlin: B_books, 2017.

“Listener Orientation.” In Sound as Popular Culture: A Research Companion, eds. Jens Gerritt Papenburg and Holger Schulze, 367–72. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 2016.

“(In)Visible Mediators: Interface Design and the Disappearing Computer in Berlin-Based Laptop Performances.” In The Oxford Handbook of Mobile Music Studies, ed. Sumanth Gopinath and Jason Stanyek, 259–91. New York: Oxford University Press, 2014.

“‘Some of Us Can Only Live in Songs of Love and Trouble’: Voice, Genre/Gender, and Sexuality in the Music of Stephin Merritt.” In Oh Boy! Masculinities in Popular Music, ed. Freya Jarman-Ivens, 235–60. New York: Routledge, 2007.

“Hearing Kaleidoscopes: Embedded Grouping Dissonance in Electronic Dance Music.” twentieth-century music 2, no. 2 (2005): 221–43.

“‘Everybody Needs a 303, Everybody Loves a Filter’: Electronic Dance Music and the Aesthetics of Obsolescence.” In Digital Media: Transformations in Human Communication, ed. Paul Messaris and Lee Humphreys, 111–18. 11 New York: Peter Lang, 2005.

“Taking It Seriously: Intertextuality and Authenticity in Two Covers by the Pet Shop Boys.” Popular Music 22, no. 1 (2003): 1–19.

“Turning the Beat Around: Reinterpretation, Metrical Dissonance, and Asymmetry in Electronic Dance Music.” Music Theory Online 7.6 (2001). Online Access


PhD candidate Miriam Piilonen wins major dissertation award

February 15, 2019

Mark J. Butler Publishes Scholarly Work on Dance Music

March 20, 2012

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