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The Popilar Music Studies

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  • Pages: 6
  • Word count: 1255
  • Category: Music

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Life can be so dull with out music and as for the popular music evolution; music has develop a new meaning in every peoples lives. This book “the popular music studies” by Andy Bennett, Barry Shank, and Jason Tonybee, had revealed the music’s probably not the most kept secret but something we ought to know, music wise.

Over the past few decade music studies has begun to develop its own strategies of formal analysis. Where traditional musicologist have often had a little to say about the harmonic structure, pitch pattern or interwoven themes of popular music. Most of the efforts to create a popular musicology eschew the traditional jargon while continuing to uncover musical meaning. Focusing on aspects such as the function of repletion, the effect of particular timbral qualities, and the new ways in which vocal styles and musical strategies encode place, race, class, and gender, the article that is presented here link musical sounds with socially inscribe and embodied meaning. The book’s first part begins with Richard Middleton’s classic analysis of repetition.

Middleton reminds us that one of the classic critiques of popular music is that it all sounds the same or that is repetitious. He points out that all music contains repetitions. In fact repetition is one of the key sources of musical pleasure. Theodor Adorno linked the repetitions found in popular music to its industrial conditions of production. Middleton finds the pleasure produced in and through repetition to be located at the intersection of several sets of determinations, conditions of productions, the larger political economy, and the effect of the musical traditions. Susan Mc Clary articulates an important use of musical repetition in her analysis of the musical style of Laurie Anderson.

As Mc Clary points out, traditional musicology is not very helpful in trying to identify why Anderson’s songs work. But Mc Clary sees that insistent repetitions as precisely the source of productive meaning in the song. Mc Clary identifies a pedal on middle C that reorients the traditional relationship between the Ab major chord and its relative minor, C minor.

Where traditional musicology, the major chords is heard as the more stable tonal center and the relative minor is heard as a momentary movement away from that center, the C pedals encourage us to hear the C minor as at least the equal of the Ab. Mc Clary’s analysis of gender in Anderson’s music is not limited to harmonic structures. Anderson’s performance styles, enters as well in Mc Clary’s analysis. Anderson’s strategies of electronically mediating and distancing the sounds produced by her violin focuses the audience attentions on the embodied nature of musical performance while escaping the objectifications of female bodies common to traditional performance styles.

Where Middleton and Mc Clary call our attentions to aspects of musical structure and performance, Dai Griffiths focuses on John Café’s voice to show us how particular vocal timbers and element of singing styles can evoke place home and a specific ethnic subjectivity. Griffiths listens across Café’s recorded output identifying moments of intensifying the vocal line such that the sounds of the voice becomes the key signifying element working with but also over coding the melody and the lyrics.

Griffiths links this used of vocal intensity to Weish history and to the effect of the effect to the rapid industrializations that have produced, among other things, a particular dark humor, a near complete loss of the Weish language and a distinctive rasp to Weish voices. Griffiths teaches us to hear these qualities in Café’s screams, in the ways in which he rushes the vocal line near the ends of songs in his use of sardonic laughter and in the ways in which his vocals sometimes sounds squeezed, as though emerging above ground after a long day in the coal mines. As Griffiths puts it, the Café voice is most immediately recognizable as that of the psychodrama.

David Brakett provides us with an alternative approach to the voice. Brakett shows us how two recordings of the same song by two different singers, Bing Crosby and Billie Holiday, can evoke two very different sets of musical meanings. Just as Griffiths used Café’s voice to link musical sounds to a particular context, Brakett insist that the voice never means only by itself, but as a means of evoking the signifying associations with that voice. In the ‘Ill be seeing you’ Brakett has located a key text for identifying the specific associations that contribute to the social construction of the musical meaning.

Brakett however encourage us to consider additional context that shape our understanding of the identities of the singers. Their recordings do not merely reflect the commonly known facts of their lives. Audiences were assumed to be familiar with Crosby’s real name, his image and style, as well as the physical condition of his band leader. No similar knowledge about Holiday was assumed. While the review of Holiday’s recording had to justify its space in the page of “Downbeat’, Crosby’s recording was discussed in a matter of fact way that indicted its immediate acceptance by jazz critics.

Phillip Tagg begins his analysis of subjectivity and soundscape with the image of a baby screaming. The sheer survival of the dependent young human is dependent upon that person’s ability to cut through all surroundings noise with the intensity of his or her wail. Tagg’s takes off on this commonly known fact to remind us that different cultures have different patterns and norms whereby the subject emerges out of the sonic background. Careful listening to the relative volume and timbre of popular music sounds can then tell us something about the relationship between the individual’s subjects and the social structure out of which that subject emerges.

Tagg’s uses the example of heavy metal music, which he argue is essential to the survival of underprivileged young people living in harsh urban environment the quite purr of a nice auto, the soft hum of the shopkeeper’s light- can sound oppressive to those who feel no ownership of the access to that success. Tagg’s argues that the pleasure of heavy metal derives at least in part from the ability of its musicians and fans to take symbolic control over an oppressive social structure by rising above its noise musically.

Each of these pieces encourage us to listen carefully to popular music and to develop ways of analyzing and decoding musical meaning that responds to the same qualities that the fans and the musicians finds meaningful and pleasurable. As a popular music study continues to grow and develop, new analytical strategies will emerge. Their usefulness will ultimately be dependent upon how well they link musical meaning, musical pleasure to the social, economic and cultural conditions within which those meanings and pleasures are experience.

The Popular Music Studies Reader brings together essentials new writings on popular music. The Reader places popular music in its cultural context. Looks st the significance of popular music in our everyday lives and examines the global nature of the music industry.

The Reader maps the changing nature of popular music over the last decade and consider how popular music studies has expanded and developed to deal with these changes. Articles discuss the increasing participations of women in the industry and the changing role of gender and sexuality in the popular music, the role of new technologies, especially in production and distributions, and the Reader is divided into parts, each with introductions by the editors.

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