Music is rapidly being transformed by digital technologies; it is in the vanguard of the changes to contemporary cultures and cultural economies afforded by digitization, and is widely seen as a test case of digitization’s effects. Yet the academic music disciplines have not responded with research on these fundamental developments. This project, by combining two innovative interdisciplinary components, aims systematically to advance the state of contemporary music research, while contributing to social and media theory. It will be the first research programme to analyse comprehensively the range of interrelated transformations in music and musical experience wrought by digital technologies. The first element of the project is a comparative programme of ethnographic studies examining transformations in creative, performance and improvisation practices, the nature of music as a cultural object, new aesthetic forms, altered modes of musical consumption and circulation, and changing industry and institutional structures. Given the ease of transnational distribution of digitized musics, research will also follow certain genres as they circulate among diasporic groups. These and related issues will be studied in five countries, each intrinsically significant as well as yielding instructive comparisons between them: the UK, Cuba, Kenya, India and Turkey. The emphasis in each ethnography will be on analyzing the embedded nature of digital musical practices in local cultural, social, economic and political conditions. Second, on the basis of this programme, the project aims to advance contemporary music research by developing an interdisciplinary theory and methodology which progresses beyond the current state of the field. Music research has been divided between disciplines such as musicology and music analysis which address the musical object and centre on art musics, and sociological and anthropological approaches which privilege music’s social, institutional and discursive forms and focus primarily on popular and vernacular musics. The present project bridges these divisions by expounding an innovative theory and methodology focused on music’s mediation, one that integrates recent elements of social, anthropological and media theory. Moreover it addresses music’s digital transformations across the spectrum of contemporary musics: art, popular and vernacular, commercial and non-commercial. Given that music’s core properties – mediation, performance, improvisation, affect, complex materialities – are also core concerns of contemporary social theory, the research will in turn contribute to ‘musicalising’ social theory. The project aims to have far-reaching impacts, creating a field of comparative studies of digital music cultures while reconfiguring the interdisciplinary foundations of music research.