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Popular Music & Age. Keith Negus Popular Music in Theory (1996)

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Presentation on theme: "Popular Music & Age. Keith Negus Popular Music in Theory (1996)"— Presentation transcript:

1 Popular Music & Age

2 Keith Negus Popular Music in Theory (1996)

3 Negus challenges the connection between popular music and youth culture. He argues that popular music is listened to and performed by an ageing demographic. Johnny Cash Rolling Stones Stevie NicksJohnny Cash Rolling Stones Stevie Nicks Popular Music and Age

4 He also takes issue with the view that popular music is inherently rebellious. NIRVANA DONNY OSMOND Popular Music and Age

5 Keith Negus, Popular Music in Theory (1996) Punk rock finally challenged, deconstructed and exposed the mythologies of rock at the very moment when the original teenagers and youth of the rock generation were beginning to grow old and beginning to hear things in a different way: songs of generational rebellion, sexual liberation and social concern were starting to be used to advertise wine coolers, executive cars and personal insurance. Keith Negus Histories, Popular Music in Theory (1996; Polity Press, Cambridge). Levis Marvin Gaye Ronettes The Clash Babylon Zoo Popular Music and Age

6 Criticism: Negus falls into the classic Frankfurt School trap of seeing all commercial uses of popular art as problematic. Popular Music and Age

7 Adorno saw Popular Music as the antithesis of Art Music. According to him it is pseudo- individualised offering only a thin veneer of diversionary pleasure that conceals from the listener its fundamentally formulaic quality. Popular Music and Age

8 Popular Music & Gender

9 Mary Hannon McRock: Pop as Commodity (1988) Norma Coates Revolution Now (1997)

10 Mary Hannon, McRock: Pop as Commodity (1988) Hannon looks at the messages and values encoded in genres of popular music. She argues that rock is suggestive of authenticity and the real, while pop is synonymous with in-authenticity and artificiality. Popular Music and Gender

11 Rock stands for geniuses and heroes. Mary Hannon, McRock: Pop as Commodity (1988) Popular Music and Gender

12 Pop stands formutability and glitter Mary Hannon, McRock: Pop as Commodity (1988) Popular Music and Gender

13 Generally speaking the notion of authenticity in relation to contemporary popular music is indexed quite clearly to the terms rock and pop. Mary Hannon observes this in her article McRock: Pop as Commodity. She suggests that while pop stands for mutability and glitter rock believes in geniuses and heroes. In every instance it would seem that pop testified its own artificiality while rock proclaims its authenticity. Mary Hannon, McRock: Pop as Commodity, (1988), pp Abba Led Zeppelin Popular Music and Gender

14 Norma Coates, Revolution Now (1997) Norma Coates extends the work of Mary Hannon. She focuses on the way in which authenticity is synonymous with the way in which gender is constructed. Popular Music and Gender

15 Rock is masculine Popular Music and Gender

16 Pop is feminine Popular Music and Gender

17 Norma Coates, Revolution Now (1987) (R)ock is metonymic with authenticity while pop is metonymic with artifice. Sliding even further down the metonymic slope, authentic becomes masculine while artificial become feminine. Rock, therefore, is masculine, pop is feminine, and the two are set in binary relation to each other, with the masculine, of course on top. Norma Coates, Revolution Now in Sexing The Groove – Popular Music and Gender by Sheila Whitely (ed) (1997; Routledge, London), p.53. Popular Music and Gender

18 Many theorists have moved beyond this binary and prefer to look at the more subtle ways in which gender and authenticity are constructed in musical performance. In an age before Madonna, Deborah Harry and Blondie blurred the boundaries between rock, pop and gender: a hybrid of music styles and gender performance. Popular Music and Gender

19 It is generally accepted that rock is no less performative and artificial than other genres of music. Bruce Springsteens image, for example, as the down to earth blue collar American is no less contrived than that of Madonna or Gwen Steffani. Popular Music and Gender

20 Post-modern approaches to Popular Music

21 Lawrence Grossberg The Media Economy of Rock Culture (1993) Andrew Goodwin Sample and Hold – Pop Music in the Digital Age of Reproduction (1990)

22 Laurence Grossberg argues that the first thing any pop theorist needs to do is admit everything is fake. There is no such thing as an authentic performance in the world of popular music. Postmodern approaches to Popular Music and

23 From the first gramophone recording to the twelve inch single, MTV to downloads popular music is the embodiment of post- modern cultural practise: a simulacrum (a copy without an original) Post-modern approaches to Popular Music and

24 Perhaps most well known, however, is Lawrence Grossbergs mediation of the notion of authenticity in The Media Economy of Rock. In this article he suggests that the only possible claim to authenticity in the music industry is derived from the knowledge and admission of your in-authenticity. He argues that the only authenticity is to know and even admit that you are not being authentic, to fake it without faking the fact that you are faking it. Lawrence Grossberg, The Media Economy of Rock Culture – Cinema, Postmodenrity and Authenticity in Sound and Vision: The Music Video Reader by Simon Frith, Andrew Goodwin and Lawrence Grossberg (eds), (1993; Routledge, London), p.206. Black BoxBlack Box Loleata HollowayLoleata Holloway Milli Vanilli GrammyMilli Vanilli Grammy Milli Vanilli Girl Im Gonna Miss You Milli Vanilli Girl Im Gonna Miss You Post-modern approaches to Popular Music and

25 Not only does he suggest that contemporary pop musicians have often learned to program every bit as skilfully as earlier generations learned to play but he ventures that, far from being an age of plunder, sampling culture actually recuperates pops history. Andrew Goodwin, Sample and Hold – Pop Music in the Digital Age of Reproduction, (1990). Hung UpHung Up Gimme GimmeGimme Bob SinclairBob Sinclair C + C Music FactoryC + C Music Factory Scissor SistersScissor Sisters Four Seasons Nolans Leo SayerFour SeasonsNolansLeo Sayer Post-modern approaches to Popular Music and

26 What shift is not the insidious qualities of the music itself but the way in which we interpret them. Abba is the same as Led Zeppelin is the same as Goldie Looking Chain is the same of Elvis Presley – there is a very narrow spectrum of difference. What changes is the narrative of authorship we impose upon popular music texts. Post-modern approaches to Popular Music

27 Conclusion

28 Popular music history is downloadable at the touch of a button and is incorporated into the portfolio of consumer choices that define contemporary life. Conclusion to Popular Music Theory

29 Consequently there is less anxiety about conflicting genres, time periods and value systems. It is okay to like Led Zeppelin and Abba. Conclusion to Popular Music Theory

30 Audiences have multiple strategies for listening. They can shift from The Beatles to The Neptunes because contemporary ideas about the self are less singular. Audiences have plural identities; they are dexterous. Conclusion to Popular Music Theory

31 And listening to popular music is one of the ways in which we find out how to produce new versions of ourselves. Conclusion to Popular Music Theory


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