History of popular music pdf

History of popular music pdf DEFAULT

Pop music

This article is about a specific music genre. For popular music in general, see Popular music. For other uses, see Pop music (disambiguation).

"Pop song" redirects here. For other uses, see Pop Song.

genre of music

Pop is a genre of popular music that originated in its modern form during the mid-1950s in the United States and the United Kingdom.[4] The terms popular music and pop music are often used interchangeably, although the former describes all music that is popular and includes many disparate styles. During the 1950s and 1960s, pop music encompassed rock and roll and the youth-oriented styles it influenced. Rock and pop music remained roughly synonymous until the late 1960s, after which pop became associated with music that was more commercial, ephemeral, and accessible.

Although much of the music that appears on record charts is seen as pop music, the genre is distinguished from chart music. Identifying factors usually include repeated choruses and hooks, short to medium-length songs written in a basic format (often the verse-chorus structure), and rhythms or tempos that can be easily danced to. Much pop music also borrows elements from other styles such as rock, urban, dance, Latin, and country.

Definitions and etymology[edit]

David Hatch and Stephen Millward define pop music as "a body of music which is distinguishable from popular, jazz, and folk music".[5] According to Pete Seeger, pop music is "professional music which draws upon both folk music and fine arts music".[3] David Boyle, a music researcher, states pop music as any type of music that a person has been exposed to by the mass media. [6] Most individuals think that pop music is just the singles charts and not the sum of all chart music. The music charts contain songs from a variety of sources, including classical, jazz, rock, and novelty songs. As a genre, pop music is seen to exist and develop separately.[7] Therefore, the term "pop music" may be used to describe a distinct genre, designed to appeal to all, often characterized as "instant singles-based music aimed at teenagers" in contrast to rock music as "album-based music for adults".[4][9]

Pop music continuously evolves along with the term's definition. According to music writer Bill Lamb, popular music is defined as "the music since industrialization in the 1800s that is most in line with the tastes and interests of the urban middle class."[10] The term "pop song" was first used in 1926, in the sense of a piece of music "having popular appeal".[11] Hatch and Millward indicate that many events in the history of recording in the 1920s can be seen as the birth of the modern pop music industry, including in country, blues, and hillbilly music.[12]

The Oxford Dictionary of Musicstates that the term "pop" refers to music performed by such artists as the Rolling Stones(pictured here in a 2006 performance).

According to the website of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, the term "pop music" "originated in Britain in the mid-1950s as a description for rock and roll and the new youth music styles that it influenced".[2]The Oxford Dictionary of Music states that while pop's "earlier meaning meant concerts appealing to a wide audience [...] since the late 1950s, however, pop has had the special meaning of non-classical mus[ic], usually in the form of songs, performed by such artists as The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, ABBA, etc."[13]Grove Music Online also states that "[...] in the early 1960s, [the term] 'pop music' competed terminologically with beat music [in England], while in the US its coverage overlapped (as it still does) with that of 'rock and roll'".[2]

From about 1967, the term “pop music” was increasingly used in opposition to the term rock music, a division that gave generic significance to both terms.[14] While rock aspired to authenticity and an expansion of the possibilities of popular music,[14] pop was more commercial, ephemeral, and accessible.[15] According to British musicologist Simon Frith, pop music is produced "as a matter of enterprise not art", and is "designed to appeal to everyone" but "doesn't come from any particular place or mark off any particular taste". Frith adds that it is "not driven by any significant ambition except profit and commercial reward [...] and, in musical terms, it is essentially conservative". It is, "provided from on high (by record companies, radio programmers, and concert promoters) rather than being made from below ... Pop is not a do-it-yourself music but is professionally produced and packaged".[4]


According to Frith, characteristics of pop music include an aim of appealing to a general audience, rather than to a particular sub-culture or ideology, and an emphasis on craftsmanship rather than formal "artistic" qualities.[4] Besides, Frith also offers three identifying characteristics of pop music: light entertainment, commercial imperatives, and personal identification. Pop music grew out of a light entertainment/ easy listening tradition.[18] Pop music is more conservative than other music genres such as folk, blues, country, and tradition. Many pop songs do not contain themes of resistance, opposition, or political themes, rather focusing more on love and relationships. Therefore, pop music does not challenge its audiences socially, and does not cause political activism. Frith also said the main purpose of pop music is to create revenue. It is not a medium of free articulation of the people. Instead, pop music seeks to supply the nature of personal desire and achieve the instant empathy with cliche personalities, sterotypes, and melodrama that appeals to listeners. It is mostly about how much revenue pop music makes for record companies.[19] Music scholar Timothy Warner said pop music typically has an emphasis on recording, production, and technology, rather than live performance; a tendency to reflect existing trends rather than progressive developments; and seeks to encourage dancing or uses dance-oriented rhythms.[15]

The main medium of pop music is the song, often between two and a half and three and a half minutes in length, generally marked by a consistent and noticeable rhythmic element, a mainstream style and a simple traditional structure.[20] The structure of many popular songs is that of a verse and a chorus, the chorus serving as the portion of the track that is designed to stick in the ear through simple repetition both musically and lyrically. The chorus is often where the music builds towards and is often preceded by "the drop" where the base and drum parts "drop out".[21] Common variants include the verse-chorus form and the thirty-two-bar form, with a focus on melodies and catchy hooks, and a chorus that contrasts melodically, rhythmically and harmonically with the verse.[22] The beat and the melodies tend to be simple, with limited harmonic accompaniment.[23] The lyrics of modern pop songs typically focus on simple themes – often love and romantic relationships – although there are notable exceptions.[4]

Harmony and chord progressions in pop music are often "that of classical European tonality, only more simple-minded."[24] Clichés include the barbershop quartet-style harmony (i.e. ii – V – I) and blues scale-influenced harmony.[25] There was a lessening of the influence of traditional views of the circle of fifths between the mid-1950s and the late 1970s, including less predominance for the dominantfunction.[26]

Development and influence[edit]

Technology and media[edit]

In the 1940s, improved microphone design allowed a more intimate singing style and, ten or twenty years later, inexpensive and more durable 45 rpm records for singles "revolutionized the manner in which pop has been disseminated", which helped to move pop music to "a record/radio/film star system".[28] Another technological change was the widespread availability of television in the 1950s with televised performances, forcing "pop stars had to have a visual presence".[28] In the 1960s, the introduction of inexpensive, portable transistor radios meant that teenagers in the developed world could listen to music outside of the home.[28] By the early 1980s, the promotion of pop music had been greatly affected by the rise of music television channels like MTV, which "favoured those artists such as Michael Jackson and Madonna who had a strong visual appeal".[28]

Multi-track recording (from the 1960s) and digital sampling (from the 1980s) have also been utilized as methods for the creation and elaboration of pop music.[4] During the mid-1960s, pop music made repeated forays into new sounds, styles, and techniques that inspired public discourse among its listeners. The word "progressive" was frequently used, and it was thought that every song and single was to be a "progression" from the last.[29]Music criticSimon Reynolds writes that beginning with 1967, a divide would exist between "progressive" pop and "mass/chart" pop, a separation which was "also, broadly, one between boys and girls, middle-class and working-class."[30]

The latter half of the 20th-century included a large-scale trend in American culture in which the boundaries between art and pop music were increasingly blurred.[31] Between 1950 and 1970, there was a debate of pop versus art.[32] Since then, certain music publications have embraced the music's legitimacy, a trend referred to as "poptimism".[32]

Stylistic evolution[edit]

Throughout its development, pop music has absorbed influences from other genres of popular music. Early pop music drew on the sentimental ballad for its form, gained its use of vocal harmonies from gospel and soul music, instrumentation from jazz and rock music, orchestration from classical music, tempo from dance music, backing from electronic music, rhythmic elements from hip-hop music, and spoken passages from rap.[4][verification needed] In 2016, a Scientific Reports study that examined over 464,000 recordings of popular music recorded between 1955 and 2010 found that, compared to 1960s pop music, contemporary pop music uses a smaller variety of pitch progressions, greater average volume,[33] less diverse instrumentation and recording techniques, and less timbral variety.[34]Scientific American's John Matson reported that this "seems to support the popular anecdotal observation that pop music of yore was "better", or at least more varied, than today's top-40 stuff". However, he also noted that the study may not have been entirely representative of pop in each generation.[34]

In the 1960s, the majority of mainstream pop music fell in two categories: guitar, drum and bass groups or singers backed by a traditional orchestra.[35] Since early in the decade, it was common for pop producers, songwriters, and engineers to freely experiment with musical form, orchestration, unnatural reverb, and other sound effects. Some of the best known examples are Phil Spector's Wall of Sound and Joe Meek's use of homemade electronic sound effects for acts like the Tornados.[36] At the same time, pop music on radio and in both American and British film moved away from refined Tin Pan Alley to more eccentric songwriting and incorporated reverb-drenched rock guitar, symphonic strings, and horns played by groups of properly arranged and rehearsed studio musicians.[37] A 2019 study held by New York University in which 643 participants had to rank how familiar a pop song is to them, songs from the 1960s turned out to be the most memorable, significantly more than songs from recent years 2000 to 2015.[38]

Before the progressive pop of the late 1960s, performers were typically unable to decide on the artistic content of their music.[39] Assisted by the mid-1960s economic boom, record labels began investing in artists, giving them the freedom to experiment, and offering them limited control over their content and marketing. This situation declined after the late 1970s and would not reemerge until the rise of Internet stars.Indie pop, which developed in the late 1970s, marked another departure from the glamour of contemporary pop music, with guitar bands formed on the then-novel premise that one could record and release their own music without having to procure a record contract from a major label.[41]

The 1980s are commonly remembered for an increase in the use of digital recording, associated with the usage of synthesizers, with synth-pop music and other electronic genres featuring non-traditional instruments increasing in popularity.[43] By 2014, pop music worldwide had been permeated by electronic dance music.[44] In 2018, researchers at the University of California, Irvine, concluded that pop music has become 'sadder' since the 1980s. The elements of happiness and brightness have eventually been replaced with electronic beats making pop music more 'sad yet danceable'.[45]

International spread and crosspollination[edit]

The story of pop music is largely the story of the intertwining pop culture of the United States and the United Kingdom in the postwar era.

 — Bob Stanley[44]

Pop music has been dominated by the American and (from the mid-1960s) British music industries, whose influence has made pop music something of an international monoculture, but most regions and countries have their own form of pop music, sometimes producing local versions of wider trends, and lending them local characteristics.[46] Some of these trends (for example Europop) have had a significant impact on the development of the genre.[47]

According to Grove Music Online, "Western-derived pop styles, whether coexisting with or marginalizing distinctively local genres, have spread throughout the world and have come to constitute stylistic common denominators in global commercial music cultures".[48] Some non-Western countries, such as Japan, have developed a thriving pop music industry, most of which is devoted to Western-style pop. Japan has for several years produced a greater quantity of music than everywhere except the US.[clarification needed][48] The spread of Western-style pop music has been interpreted variously as representing processes of Americanization, homogenization, modernization, creative appropriation, cultural imperialism, or a more general process of globalization.[48]

One of the pop music styles that developed alongside other music styles is Latin pop, which rose in popularity in the US during the 1950s with early rock and roll success Ritchie Valens.[49] Later, as Los Lobos garnered major Chicano rock popularity during the 1970s and 1980s, musician Selena saw large-scale pop music presence as the 1980s and 1990s progressed, along with crossover appeal with fans of Tejano music pioneers Lydia Mendoza and Little Joe.[50] With later Hispanic and Latino Americans seeing success within pop music charts, 1990s pop successes stayed popular in both their original genres and in broader pop music.[51] Latin pop hit singles, such as "Macarena" by Los del Río and "Despacito" by Luis Fonsi, have seen record-breaking success on worldwide pop music charts.[52]

See also[edit]


  1. ^Traditional Pop, Allmusic.com. Retrieved 25 August 2016
  2. ^ abcR. Middleton, et al., "Pop", Grove music online, retrieved 14 March 2010. (subscription required)Archived 13 January 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ abGilliland, John (1969). "Show 1 – Play A Simple Melody: Pete Seeger on the origins of pop music"(audio). Pop Chronicles. University of North Texas Libraries.
  4. ^ abcdefghS. Frith, W. Straw, and J. Street, eds, The Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press), ISBN 0-521-55660-0, pp. 95–105.
  5. ^D. Hatch and S. Millward, From Blues to Rock: an Analytical History of Pop Music (Manchester: Manchester University Press, 1987), ISBN 0-7190-1489-1, p. 1.
  6. ^Boyle, J. David; Hosterman, Glenn L.; Ramsey, Darhyl S. (1981-04-01). "Factors Influencing Pop Music Preferences of Young People". Journal of Research in Music Education. 29 (1): 47–55. doi:10.2307/3344679. ISSN 0022-4294. JSTOR 3344679. S2CID 145122624.
  7. ^R. Serge Denisoff and William L. Schurk, Tarnished Gold: the Record Industry Revisited (New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers, 3rd edn., 1986), ISBN 0-88738-618-0, pp. 2–3.
  8. ^Moore, Allan F. (2016). Song Means: Analysing and Interpreting Recorded Popular Song. Routledge. ISBN .
  9. ^Musicologist Allan Moore surmises that the term "pop music" itself may have been popularized by Pop art.[8]
  10. ^Lamb, Bill (29 September 2018). "What Is Pop Music?". ThoughtCo.
  11. ^J. Simpson and E. Weiner, Oxford English Dictionary(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1989). ISBN 0-19-861186-2, cf. pop.
  12. ^D. Hatch and S. Millward, From Blues to Rock: an Analytical History of Pop Music, ISBN 0-7190-1489-1, p. 49.
  13. ^"Pop", The Oxford Dictionary of Music, retrieved 9 March 2010.(subscription required)Archived 12 November 2017 at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ abKenneth Gloag in The Oxford Companion to Music (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), ISBN 0-19-866212-2, p. 983.
  15. ^ abT. Warner, Pop Music: Technology and Creativity: Trevor Horn and the Digital Revolution (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2003), ISBN 0-7546-3132-X, pp. 3–4.
  16. ^"Van's Brown Eyed Girl hits the 10 million mark in US". BBC. 5 October 2011.
  17. ^Steve Sullivan (2013). Encyclopedia of Great Popular Song Recordings, Volume 2. Scarecrow Press. pp. 101–103. ISBN .
  18. ^Rojek, Chris (2011). Pop music, pop culture. Polity; 1st edition (June 13, 2011). pp. 2–3. ISBN .
  19. ^Rojek, Chris (2011). Pop music, pop culture. Polity; 1st edition (June 13, 2011). pp. 2–3.
  20. ^W. Everett, Expression in Pop-rock Music: A Collection of Critical and Analytical Essays (London: Taylor & Francis, 2000), p. 272.
  21. ^"Characteristics of Pop Music: An Introduction". Cmuse.org. Retrieved 2020-07-07.
  22. ^J. Shepherd, Continuum Encyclopedia of Popular Music of the World: Performance and production (Continuum, 2003), p. 508.
  23. ^V. Kramarz, The Pop Formulas: Harmonic Tools of the Hit Makers (Mel Bay Publications, 2007), p. 61.
  24. ^Winkler, Peter (1978). "Toward a theory of pop harmony", In Theory Only, 4, pp. 3–26.
  25. ^Sargeant, p. 198. cited in Winkler (1978), p. 4.
  26. ^Winkler (1978), p. 22.
  27. ^Gilliland, John (1994). Pop Chronicles the 40s: The Lively Story of Pop Music in the 40s.
  28. ^ abcdD. Buckley, "Pop" "II. Implications of technology", Grove Music Online, retrieved 15 March 2010.
  29. ^Hewitt, Paolo; Hellier, John (2015). Steve Marriott: All Too Beautiful. Dean Street Press. p. 162. ISBN .
  30. ^Reynolds, Simon (2006). "New Pop and its Aftermath". On Record: Rock, Pop and the Written Word. Routledge. p. 398. ISBN .
  31. ^Edmondson, Jacqueline, ed. (2013). Music in American Life: An Encyclopedia of the Songs, Styles, Stars, and Stories that Shaped our Culture. ABC-CLIO. pp. 317, 1233. ISBN .
  32. ^ abLoss, Robert (August 10, 2015). "No Apologies: A Critique of the Rockist v. Poptimist Paradigm". PopMatters.
  33. ^Serrà, Joan; Corral, Álvaro; Boguñá, Marián; Haro, Martín; Arcos, Josep Ll. (2012). "Measuring the Evolution of Contemporary Western Popular Music". Scientific Reports. 2: 521. arXiv:1205.5651. Bibcode:2012NatSR...2E.521S. doi:10.1038/srep00521. PMC 3405292. PMID 22837813.
  34. ^ abJohn Matson, "Is Pop Music Evolving, or Is It Just Getting Louder?", Scientific American, 26 July 2012. Retrieved 30 March 2016
  35. ^"Making Arrangements—A Rough Guide To Song Construction & Arrangement, Part 1". Sound on Sound. October 1997. Archived from the original on 8 May 2014. Retrieved 8 May 2014.
  36. ^Blake, Andrew (2009). "Recording practices and the role of the producer". In Cook, Nicholas; Clarke, Eric; Leech-Wilkinson, Daniel (eds.). The Cambridge Companion to Recorded Music. Cambridge University Press. p. 45. ISBN .
  37. ^Pareles, Jon (October 31, 2008). "Orchestral Pop, the Way It Was (More or Less)". The New York Times. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
  38. ^"The greatest decade for pop music has been revealed (according to science)". Smooth. Retrieved 2019-03-31.
  39. ^Willis, Paul E. (2014). Profane Culture. Princeton University Press. p. 217. ISBN .
  40. ^Abebe, Nitsuh (24 October 2005), "Twee as Fuck: The Story of Indie Pop", Pitchfork Media, archived from the original on 24 February 2011
  41. ^McGee, Alan (August 20, 2008). "Madonna Pop Art". The Guardian. Retrieved April 17, 2013.
  42. ^Collins, Glenn (1988-08-29). "Rap Music, Brash And Swaggering, Enters Mainstream". The New York Times.
  43. ^ abChristgau, Robert (2014). "Anti-Rockism's Hall of Fame". The Barnes & Noble Review. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  44. ^"New study finds pop music has gotten extremely depressing but also more fun to dance to". The FADER. Retrieved 2018-05-21.
  45. ^J. Kun, Audiotopia: Music, Race, and America (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2005), ISBN 0-520-24424-9, p. 201.
  46. ^"Star profiles" in S. Frith, W. Stray and J. Street, The Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock (Cambridge University Press, 2001), ISBN 0-521-55660-0, pp. 199–200.
  47. ^ abcP. Manuel, "Pop. Non-Western cultures 1. Global dissemination", Grove Music Online, retrieved 14 March 2010.
  48. ^"Los Lobos, Ritchie Valens, and the Day the Music Died". Strachwitz Frontera Collection. February 16, 2017. Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  49. ^Lucero, Mario J. "The problem with how the music streaming industry handles data". Quartz. Retrieved November 18, 2020.
  50. ^Aldama, A.J.; Sandoval, C.; García, P.J. (2012). Performing the US Latina and Latino Borderlands. Indiana University Press. p. 224. ISBN . Retrieved February 14, 2020.
  51. ^Villafañe, Veronica (August 14, 2017). "Still No.1, Record-Breaking 'Despacito' Ties 'Macarena' Streak On Hot 100, But Is Snubbed By MTV". Forbes. Retrieved February 14, 2020.

Further reading[edit]

  • Adorno, Theodor W., (1942) "On Popular Music", Institute of Social Research.
  • Bell, John L., (2000) The Singing Thing: A Case for Congregational Song, GIA Publications, ISBN 1-57999-100-9
  • Bindas, Kenneth J., (1992) America's Musical Pulse: Popular Music in Twentieth-Century Society, Praeger.
  • Clarke, Donald, (1995) The Rise and Fall of Popular Music, St Martin's Press. [1]
  • Dolfsma, Wilfred, (1999) Valuing Pop Music: Institutions, Values and Economics, Eburon.
  • Dolfsma, Wilfred, (2004) Institutional Economics and the Formation of Preferences: The Advent of Pop Music, Edward Elgar Publishing.
  • Frith, Simon, Straw, Will, Street, John, eds, (2001), The Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock, Cambridge University Press,
  • Frith, Simon (2004) Popular Music: Critical Concepts in Media and Cultural Studies, Routledge.
  • Gillett, Charlie, (1970) The Sound of the City. The Rise of Rock and Roll, Outerbridge & Dienstfrey.
  • Hatch, David and Stephen Millward, (1987), From Blues to Rock: an Analytical History of Pop Music, Manchester University Press, ISBN 0-7190-1489-1
  • Johnson, Julian, (2002) Who Needs Classical Music?: Cultural Choice and Musical Value, Oxford University Press, ISBN 0-19-514681-6.
  • Kent, Jeff, (1983) The Rise and Fall of Rock, Witan Books, ISBN 0-9508981-0-4.
  • Lonergan, David F., (2004) Hit Records, 1950–1975, Scarecrow Press, ISBN 0-8108-5129-6.
  • Maultsby, Portia K., (7907) Intra- and International Identities in American Popular Music, Trading Culture.
  • Middleton, Richard, (1990) Studying Popular Music, Open University Press.
  • Negus, Bob, (1999) Music Genres and Corporate Cultures, Routledge, ISBN 0-415-17399-X.
  • Pleasants, Henry (1969) Serious Music and All That Jazz, Simon & Schuster.
  • Roxon, Lillian, (1969) Rock Encyclopedia, Grosset & Dunlap.
  • Shuker, Roy, (2002) Popular Music: The Key Concepts, Routledge, (2nd edn.) ISBN 0-415-28425-2.
  • Starr, Larry & Waterman, Christopher, (2002) American Popular Music: From Minstrelsy to MTV, Oxford University Press.
  • Watkins, S. Craig, (2005) Hip Hop Matters: Politics, Pop Culture, and the Struggle for the Soul of a Movement, Beacon Press, ISBN 0-8070-0982-2.

External links[edit]

Wikiquote has quotations related to: Pop music
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pop music.
Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pop_music

What is popular music? And what isn’t? An assessment, after 30 years of popular music studies

Musiikki 2/2010 Sisällys 2/2010 (40. vuosikerta) Markus Mantere: Foreword ..................................................................... 3 Musicology in the 3rd Millennium Lari Aaltonen & Antti-Ville Kärjä: Mediating music through humour: the birth of Pensselisetä ................................................................ 5 Jennifer Daniel: Swanhunter: Communicating the Kalevala, and constructing the “Idea of North” for a young audience .................. 22 Markus Mantere: The North in Music: Issues of Geography, Aesthetics, and Ideology ................................................................................. 41 Gabriel Pareyon: Traditional patterns and textures as values for meaningful automatization in music .............................................. 53 Timo Leisiö and Martin Ebeling: Neuronal Basis of Seeker Tone Theory. A Mathematical Solution. .............................................................. 60 Franco Fabbri: What is popular music? And what isn’t? An assessment, after 30 years of popular music studies .......................................... 72 Lektiot, arvostelut, puheenvuorot Elina Hytönen: Le Jazz – Jazz and Music Criticism in France (Jordan, Matthew J. Le Jazz: Jazz and French Cultural Identity.) ......................... 93 Musiikki-lehden ilmoitushinnat; Etusisäkansi 200 euroa; Muut sivut 1/1 s. 180 euroa; 1/2 s. 100 euroa; 1/4 s. 60 euroa; Toistoalennus 25 %. Kaikki ilmoitukset ovat mustavalkoi- sia. Alv sisältyy hintoihin. Ilmoitusasioita hoitaa lehden päätoimittaja Markus Mante- re, Sibelius-Akatemia, P-talo, Kutomotie 9, 00380 Helsinki, [email protected]fi Toimituksen osoite: Musiikki-lehti / Sibelius-Akatemia, P-talo, Kutomotie 9, 00380 Helsinki; www.musiik- kilehti.fi; Päätoimittaja: FT Markus Mantere, Sibelius-Akatemia, P-talo, Kutomotie 9, 00380 Helsinki, mar- [email protected]fi; Toimitussihteeri ja taittaja: Henri Terho, [email protected]fi; Toimitusneuvosto: Tuomas Eerola (pj), Vesa Kurkela, Markus Mantere, Veijo Murtomäki, Risto-Pekka Pennanen, Ari Poutiai- nen, Tuire Ranta-Meyer, Riitta Rautio ja Juha Torvinen; Tilaukset ja osoitteenmuutokset: Suomen musiik- kitieteellisen seuran sihteeri Jonna Vuoskoski, Jyväskylän yliopisto, Musiikin laitos, PL 35, 40014 Jyväskylän yliopisto, [email protected]; Tilaushinnat: Vuosikerta 40 euroa (Pohjoismaiden ulkopuolelle 45 euroa), irtonumerohinta 10 euroa (kaksoisnumero 15 euroa); Vanhoja vuosikertoja ja seuran julkaisuja välittää: Ostinato Oy, Tykistökatu 7, 00260 Helsinki, (09) 443 116, [email protected]fi, www.ostinato.fi 3 Foreword This issue of Musiikki is devoted to the proceedings of Musicology in the 3rd Mil- lenium, an interdisciplinary and international symposium organized by Sibelius Academy, Department of Folk Music, The Doctoral School of Music, Theatre and Dance, and University Consortium of Seinäjoki in collaboration with The Finnish Musicological Society and The Finnish Society for Ethnomusicology, 17th–19th of March 2010, in Sokos Hotel Lakeus, Seinäjoki, Finland. The particular scholarly focus of the symposium was on the recent and future technological, economical, legal and aesthetic changes embedded in the production and consumption of music, as well as on the challenges these changes bring on to musicology. The totality of presentations, almost all posi- tioned at the proximity of these important issues, provided the participants a lively, critical and intellectually high-standard venue for scholarly discussions and international networking. Even though the variety between different approaches and topic areas on display at the symposium was wide, there were some uniting larger issues. For instance, the intellectual and cultural current we’ve come to call “postmodern- ism”, still seems to offer whole new ways of looking at society, culture and history around us. Globalization, technological mediation and hybridicization all have had an impact on how we experience music around us. In this issue, Lari Aal- tonen and Antti-Ville Kärjä bring up a most acute topic in their article: the case of “Pensselisetä” (Uncle Paintbrush) who enjoyed enormous media popularity for some time in Finland over a year ago. His fame, however, was not based on traditional means. Based on a carnevalistic “mistranslation” of a performance of a Syrian popular folk song Pinsedî Zêde by a Syrian musician Ebdo Mihemed, an anonymous YouTube-user TheKassitus “made” “Pensselisetä” so famous, that we can with good reason talk about an “internet sensation” – as I write this, the per- formance has been downloaded on YouTube more than 2,5 million times”. Soon after the initial break into the public consciousness, Mihemed visited Finland giv- ing performances of his music, even on Finnish national television. Aaltonen’s and Kärjä’s article makes an interesting case of the interlinking of music, social media and humour constructing, negotiating, and maintaining cultural representations and meanings. They also address the prominent role of YouTube as a techno- logical platform in the mediation of music. If you want to understand what was culturally and ideologically at issue in the Pensselisetä-phenomenon, Aaltonen’s and Kärjä’s article is a good source to turn to. The North in many of its meanings was one of the prominent themes in the symposium. In her article, Jenny Daniel discusses an English opera, Swanhunter, the libretto of which is based on the Finnish national epic, Kalevala. Through ethnographic observation and interviews, Daniel’s intention is to elucidate the reasons why a Finnish folk epic was chosen for the story of an English opera, and some of the ways that this tale has been treated by librettist, composer and production team to create the opera UK company, Opera North. Another presentation on “the North” reaching the pages of this journal was given by Markus Mantere, the editor of Musiikki. Mantere discusses the Idea of North as an aesthetic, historical and ideological category, with the help of which it’s been possible to draw borders between “us” and “them”, and also to estab- lish distinctions between superficial entertainment and pure art. Using Eduard Hanslick’s, Percy Grainger’s and R. Murray Schafer’s ideas as a source for his discussion on the North, Mantere also demonstrates how this stereotypical idea has been used as a source of prejudice towards the “other”, particularly in the writings of Hanslick and Grainger. In a more cognitive approach to music and signification, Gabriel Pareyon discusses the accelerated loss of traditional sound patterning in musics, parallel to the exponential loss of linguistic and cultural variety in a world increasingly globalized by aggressive market policies and economic liberalization. Through his presentation, Pareyon calls for composers and music theorists to explore the world of design and patterning by grammar rules from non-dominant cultures, and to make an effort to understand their contextual use and its transformation in order to better appreciate their symbolism and aesthetic depth. Timo Leisiö and Martin Ebeling, in turn, present the first full-scale scientific formulation of “Seeker tone theory”, a theory explaining the cognitive processes related to the tonal experience of music. Based on anthropological and neuronal findings of professor Leisiö, Seeker tone theory explains the functioning of human auditory system and proposes a justification for the use of the Seeker tone as a research tool with the help of neuronal autocorrelation. Leisiö and Ebeling demonstrate how the theory can be used as the basis for typological research of syntaxes un- derlying any melody to be met with in human song. Colleagues working in this field in Finland are few, and I hope this international issue will help find Leisiö’s and Ebeling’s work the international commentators that it deserves. In closing, let me take the opportunity to thank the organizers and finan- cial supporters of the symposium. I also want to thank the participants who ultimately made it so – the relaxed yet scholarly rigorous atmosphere provided food for thought for us all, as well as an opportunity to meet with interesting new musicological friends. Last but not least, I will save my dearest thanks to professor Franco Fabbri, whose keynote for the symposium“What is popular music? And what isn’t? An assessment, after 30 years of popular music studies” is printed here in its totality. Fabbri is one of the established scholars in popular music studies, and it is truly an honour to have his contribution to this journal. Fabbri’s retrospective presentation on the development of popular music stud- ies helps to illuminate trans-paradigmatic and cross-disciplinary evolvement of a now flourishing field of popular music studies. Popular music has not always been a legitimate object of academic study, and Fabbri’s account of “how we became what we are now” is a must-read for any young scholar planning a career in musicology. Six months after the fact, in the cold, soon-white North, Markus Mantere FOREWORD MUSIIKKI 2/2010 — 4 What is popular music? And what isn’t? An assessment, after 30 years of popular music studies Franco Fabbri “What Is Popular Music” was the title of the Second International Conference on Popular Music Studies, held in Reggio Emilia (Italy) in 1983. Iaspm (the Inter- national Association for the Study of Popular Music) already existed then, but Iaspm’s Executive Committee members didn’t find it inappropriate to ask schol- ars from many countries to reflect about “what popular music really is”. Later on, it appeared that the question had found an answer: not just in the names and titles of institutions and journals, but especially in the common sense of scholars. At some point, PMS (Popular Music Studies) became a familiar ac- ronym, indicating an interdisciplinary practice that didn’t seem to need any further explication. “We all know what popular music studies are”, one could hear saying. So, there came to be not only a commonsense recognition of what popular music is, but also of the dominant practices involved in its study. However, under the thin crust of such an apparently wide agreement, mag- matic currents are still moving and clashing, and emerge here and there dur- ing scholarly meetings, in blogs and mailing lists, in institutional debates. I will address a number of issues that seem to me to be related both to that surface agreement and to those deep streams of disagreement about the identity of the popular music universe. In July 2009 Iaspm organized its fourteenth international conference, in Liverpool. I was surprised to discover that the only attendants who also had participated in the first conference, in Amsterdam (1981), were David Horn and myself. It didn’t go unnoticed that many of the first-generation popular music scholars, even those who live not very far from Liverpool, didn’t attend, and that others (like a few US scholars) who attended in Rome or Mexico City, didn’t undertake the easier and cheaper trip to the Merseyside: I’d say that in the first couple of days this was one of the most common topics of conversa- tion during session breaks. Some commented that international conferences had become a place for young scholars trying to promote their careers, others added that in the UK local conferences offered better focus and more conven- ient dates during the academic year, so those were the places where the “big ones” (or elderly ones) would go: all signs of a mature situation, very much unlike early adventurous conferences like Amsterdam or Reggio Emilia (1983), not to mention Accra (1987). Liverpool ended up being an excellent confer- ence. And, especially, whatever the reasons for scholars in their sixties not to attend, the growth of popular music studies in the past three decades is such, that people attending the earliest conferences would be a small minority any- way. There were eighteen papers presented in Amsterdam in 1981, forty-one in 72 Franco Fabbri: What is popular music? And what isn’t? An assessment, after 30 years of popular music studies — 73 Reggio Emilia in 1983, three hundred twenty-six in Rome 2005, two hundred seventeen in Mexico City 2007, two hundred twenty-two in Liverpool 2009. It is obvious (even if there are no detailed data on the subject) that the vast majority of current popular music scholars, like the more than thousand Iaspm members around the world, are now in their thirties or forties, and weren’t there when Iaspm was established and the first few conferences were held. On the other hand, there doesn’t seem to exist a visible practice of popular music studies history. That’s why, begging patience from those who were there from the beginning, I’ll try to investigate first the origins of organized popular music studies, in the early eighties. I have said “organized”, because I am not going to dedicate more than a few paragraphs to earlier and more or less isolated attempts to take popular music as an object of study, be they (going back in time) Wolfgang Sandner’s (ed.) Rockmusik. Aspekte zur Geschichte, Ästhetik, Production (1977); or the Ches- ter-Merton debate and Andrew Chester’s initial observation (in 1970) that “for three years rock music has been considered, both within and outside its social base, as a subject of serious critical attention” (and he added: “yet the standard of writing about rock remains poor and the major breakthrough to found a genuine rock aesthetic is still to be accomplished”); or Umberto Eco’s introduc- tion to Le canzoni della cattiva coscienza (Jona, Liberovici, Straniero, De Maria, 1964), and the book itself; or On Popular Music (1941) and other preceding and following essays by Adorno; or Duncan MacDougald, Jr.’s “The Popular Music Industry” (a study referenced by Adorno in his more famous article) in Paul F. Lazarsfeld’s and Frank N. Stanton’s (eds.) Radio research 1941 (which also in- cludes Adorno’s “The Radio Symphony. An Experiment in Theory”). Each of these examples, anyway, deserves some attention, as they help re- vealing both the reasons why it took so long for popular music studies to find their way in research and educational institutions, and the shape they came to have. MacDougald Jr.’s essay contains an illuminating description of what the au- thor calls “the popular music industry”. It is – of course – the music publishing industry in the US, or, better, Tin Pan Alley in the later Thirties and early Forties: which makes the essay a wonderful educational tool for those students of ours who, by “music industry”, mean (with the same inflexible confidence as Mac- Dougald in 1941, but with a different content) today’s phonogram industry, and just that. MacDougald describes how the music publishing industry created, promoted and sold its products, almost inevitably suggesting a Fordist char- acter in its proceedings and emphasizing the role of “plugging”. Reading the essay, one is led to believe that whatever song the music publishing executives thought to be correctly ‘built’ aiming at commercial success would probably get it, provided the correct plugging procedures were followed. The author hon- estly admits that plugging sometimes did not work, and individual songs could remain unpopular, but the overall ideological atmosphere of the essay, quite understandably as it was part of an early stream of studies on ‘culture industry’, seems to be based on a too easy identification of the procedures of popular music industry with those of Fordist industry. As a quotation from The Enquirer reveals, the music industry itself looked at the songs’ competition for airplay more in the terms of a horse race than of a deterministic technological process (which also explains the later adoption of the term “disc jockey”): ‘All the Things You Are’ took first place, with 11 lengths to spare, guided by Ed- die Wolpin and staff, who also spotted ‘I Didn’t Know What Time It Was’ in third place tie for Hanry Spitzer at Chappell’s. Clever work, boys. ‘Who Told You I cared’ grabbed place coin, handled by Norman Foley and Colleagues – Jack Robbins’ staff piloted ‘Lilacs in the Rain’ into 6th position, while Johnny White’s warriors dropped ‘Can I Help It’ into the 5th hole. The Santly-Joy staff upped ‘Honestly’ from 14th to 9th place (The Enquirer, December 18, 1939, quoted in MacDougald 1941, 99–100). But this could also be seen as a way to romanticize an otherwise dull promo- tional work, based on strict schedules, “high pressure plugging”, etc. Adorno’s reading of MacDougald’s article, in his well known “On Popular Music”, conforms to the Fordist interpretation. “Standardization” is the key con- cept, and it is very hard today to escape the suspect that MacDougald’s essay was at that time the major (the only?) source of Adorno’s information about the music publishing industry. In a footnote, Adorno writes: As the actual working of the plugging mechanism on the American scene of popular music is described in full detail in a study of Duncan MacDougald [--], the present study confines itself to a theoretical discussion of some of the more general aspects of the enforcement of the material (Adorno 1941, 447). At least, it could be said that “On Popular Music” should be read keeping Mac- Dougald’s essay in mind. To be more explicit, we could say that one should read “On Popular Music” knowing that the information on music publishing procedures on which it is based is drawn from an essay ideologically biased to present “the popular music industry” as a modern, Fordist industry tout-court, based on standardized products (the 32 bar Tin Pan Alley song) and standard- ized procedures. This is not the place for a much more articulated critique of Adorno’s “On Popular Music”, available from many valid sources (Paddison 1982, Gendron 1986, Middleton 1990, Robinson 1994, Krims 2003), most of which address the fact that Adorno’s perception of music around him (when it wasn’t “serious mu- sic”) was, to say the least, ill-informed. The only addition I would allow myself is that in the whole article (except for a few hints at lyrical detail) there isn’t one attempt to even the briefest musical analysis of a popular song, while there are several (albeit schematic) descriptions of pieces by Beethoven, Haydn, Wagner, etc.; all songs are described as based on a fixed 32 bar structure, and there are several repetitions of the concept that no detail of a popular song is related to the whole (as in “serious music”), and all elements are easily interchange- able. However, Adorno never wonders why Tin Pan Alley songs have an AABA structure, and not ABAA. But let me also note that many critical comments of Adorno’s essays date from the early years of organized popular music studies, which is a sign of the impact that Adorno’s theories had on their development. MUSICOLOGY IN THE 3RD MILLENIUM MUSIIKKI 2/2010 — 74 Franco Fabbri: What is popular music? And what isn’t? An assessment, after 30 years of popular music studies — 75 It is well known that Adorno, one of the most respected defendants of musi- cal modernism, was seen after the Second World War as a reliable reference for progressive intellectuals also outside the musical circles, and so his bitter and snobbish attitude towards popular music and jazz (or, as we now know, towards what he thought to represent those genres) helped create or heighten a barrier to keep them out of educational institutions. Conservative musicolo- gists were against “light music” already. If the champion of modern music was against too, and progressive writers, playwrights, artists, philosophers, politi- cians would trust his implacable (and, alas, rather undialectical) criticism, who could do anything? But sometimes we tend to forget that Adorno’s theories on standardization were also used within the popular music discourse, and I would not doubt that to a certain degree they even contributed (in a dialectical, typi- cally Adornian fashion) to the development of popular music studies. An example is offered by Le canzoni della cattiva coscienza (“Songs of/from bad conscience”), a book published in Italy in 1964, written by Michele L. Straniero, Sergio Liberovici, Emilio Jona, and Giorgio De Maria, former members of the group of singers, songwriters, poets, and writers named “Cantacronache” (“chronicle singer”), established in Turin around 1957–8, with the declared aim to “escape escapism”. While the music activity of the group (which included also Margherita Galante Garrone and Fausto Amodei, and benefited from the collaboration of intellectuals like Italo Calvino, Franco Fortini, Umberto Eco and others) was influenced by French and German models (Georges Brassens, Brecht-Eisler, Ernst Busch), their critical stance was strongly shaped by some of Adorno’s essays, which had been translated into Italian. Not “On Popular Mu- sic” (its first Italian translation was published very late, in 2004), but especially Dissonanzen, the collection of essays including “Über den Fetisch-charakter in der Musik und die Regression des Hörens”, that was published in Italian in 1959, with a translation by Giacomo Manzoni (a music critic and one of the best known Italian avant-garde composers, who also wrote some music for Cantacronache). Also Philosophie der neuen Musik was translated by Manzoni, and published in the same year, 1959. So, it can be said that the introduction of some of Adorno’s most important musical writings to Italian readers took place very close (chronologically, and even geographically) to members and collaborators of Cantacronache. The impact on Italian musicology and more in general on intellectual circles was explosive. Some of the essays in Le canzoni della cattiva coscienza (especially the one by Liberovici) attack the products of contemporary popular music industry with the same tones of Adorno’s most contemptuous critiques of mass-distributed music. But there are two notable differences. First, songs and their arrangements are subject to a detailed anal- ysis, though most often based on Adornian prejudices, and sometimes even turning them upside down: so, if Adorno seems to respect arrangers more than songwriters, Liberovici treats the very practice of arranging as a corrupting mu- sical activity, quite in line with the very essential or bare accompaniments in the production of Cantacronache records. But, second, Le canzoni della cattiva coscienza puts forward the idea that there can be “other” songs, and that song writing can escape the alienating machinery of the music industry, just like Can- tacronache had been doing for a few years. Umberto Eco, in his foreword, acknowledges the authors’ effort to construct a critique of “gastronomic music”, or “consumption song”, but also acknowl- edges the existence of “authors, musicians, singers who make songs differently” (Eco 1964a, 11; italics are his) and their proposals of “’different’ songs” (p. 12). Quite interestingly, Eco observes that “’different’ songs require respect and in- terest”, and so “they still represent, although within the boundaries of mass cul- ture, a ‘cultivated’ option” (p. 13). What Eco suggests in the following pages is a deep analysis, without aristocratic prejudices, of so-called “consumption songs” (what we would probably call mainstream popular music), aimed not just at a destructive critique of industrial practices, but especially at understanding the basic emotional and cultural needs of those who listen to those songs. And he wonders: do “different” songs answer to those needs? So, to many respects, Eco takes a distance from the book he’s asked to introduce, as can be gathered from his final sentence: “In this framework, the book by our four authors must be received as a first step (an inevitable pars destruens) of a discussion that we are more and more urgently prompted to continue” (p. 28). Eco’s foreword was published in the same year also in his collection of essays Apocalittici e integrati. Comunicazioni di massa e teorie della cultura di massa, under the title “La canzone di consumo” (Eco 1964b).1 Though the book was at the centre of an animated debate in Italian intellectual circles, and marked the beginning of a new season in mass communication studies (including amongst their objects radio, television, advertising, comics), that urgent discussion on popular music didn’t actually continue. The suggestion of oppositional practices and ideologies based on contra- dictions within popular music had been put forward since the early Fifties by sociologists like David Riesman (1950) or Howard S. Becker (1963),2 sometimes with a direct critique of Adorno’s theories, otherwise implicitly. Whether con- sidering the opposition between rock’n’roll fans and supporters of Tin Pan Alley songs and crooners, or professional jazz-oriented musicians against commercial dance music, or between folk revivalists and pop singers (epitomized by the Newport “scandal” of 1965), it can be said that by the later Sixties a commer- cial vs. anti-commercial debate was established in its essential terms, based on the assumption (contrary to all Adorno’s writings on the subject) that popular music isn’t necessarily lost in the industry’s greedy hands, and that it can be “saved”. Eco’s caveats about “different” songs remained unknown or unheard. The Chester-Merton discussion in 1970 (Chester 1970a, Merton 1970, Chester 1970b) shows how Adorno can be “used” within a discourse where the aes- thetic value of popular music can be considered or even taken for granted, 1 Apocalypse Postponed (Eco 1994), a collection of essays based on Apocalittici, with the addition of more recent material, does not include a translation of “La musica di consumo”. 2 Reference is to a collection of articles, some of which date back to the early 1950’s. MUSICOLOGY IN THE 3RD MILLENIUM MUSIIKKI 2/2010 — 76 Franco Fabbri: What is popular music? And what isn’t? An assessment, after 30 years of popular music studies — 77 and not only when Merton (quoting an earlier article) states: “Perhaps a polari- zation Stones/Beatles such as Adorno constructed between Schoenberg and Stravinsky might actually be a fruitful exercise” (Merton 1970). Rock vs. pop, the autonomy of the oeuvre vs. the context, a musicological approach vs. a cultural/sociological one, the wholeness of a piece of music vs. the analysis of its constituent parts, music analysis vs. the commentary of lyrical content, intensionality vs. extensionality: many of the key concepts of the subsequent debate are already present under the umbrella of Marxist dialectic materialism, and foreshadowed by the everlasting suggestion (by Lenin, and Mao) that “the ‘people’ are never a stable category: their identity is mutable and conjunctural, because they are perpetually redefined by the conflict of the classes and their culture” (Lenin, Collected Works, Vol. 9, 112; quoted in Merton 1970). “The familiar simplicity of the phrase [‘popular music’]”, writes Merton, “conceals a quicksand. Who are the people?” A very good question. Rock journalism in the 1970’s avoids the quicksand (or jumps lightheart- edly into it) by identifying “the people” with the young audience of rock: rock is modern popular music, rock is today’s folk music (Landau 1972, 130), rock is even (in Wolgang Sandner’s somehow ironic annotation) “die E-Musik der Popmusik” (Sandner 1977, 31). It’s rock that deserves critical attention, also in serious essays (Laing 1970, Gillett 1970, Denisoff and Peterson 1972, Marcus 1975, Sandner 1977), because of its social and political relevance in contempo- rary “advanced” societies, and because of its growing musical refinement. The journal Popular Music and Society, founded in 1971, accepts constructively the fuzziness of both concepts, “popular” and “society”, but (while there are other possible subjects that could be peripheral to the journal’s interest, being scarce- ly popular or not being analyzed with society in their background) there is no doubt that rock be both popular and social. Sandner’s pioneering collection of essays is in many respects exemplary of this climate, and at the same time an- ticipates some future developments: it’s titled “Rock music. Perspectives about [its] history, aesthetics, production”, it’s published by Schott, Germany’s histori- cal music and academic publisher, it contains essays by one of the founders of modern music sociology, Tibor Kneif, and it contains transcriptions and analy- ses of pieces by Chuck Berry and Gentle Giant. The study of such music isn’t yet admitted into the institutions, but is now knocking heavily at their gates. But before we come to the establishment of “organized” popular music studies, we have to consider another distinct and complementary driving force, separated from those of social and cultural criticism, of rock journalism and early rock musicology, or from the demands of rock musicians and producers, in search of recognition for their increasingly complex work. I’m talking about schoolteachers, and music teachers. Schoolteachers were under the pressure of their pupils, asking explanations about the music they listened to: they felt disempowered, as most of that music was outside the range of their profes- sional curricula. The same happened to music teachers working in schools. It is worth noting that three of the eighteen papers presented in Amsterdam in 1981 were about this subject (Tagg 1982, Josephs 1982, Straarup 1982). And there were also independent music teachers, former or active jazz, rock, pop, folk musicians, wanting to discuss their methods with colleagues, looking for social and institutional recognition, wondering why the instruments, genres and theo- ries they were teaching could not be introduced in conservatories or universi- ties. In some countries this came to be a significant social movement: in Italy it brought to the establishment (in 1979) of a monthly magazine, Laboratorio musica, edited by composer Luigi Nono and published jointly by Ricordi (the music publisher) and Arci (the cultural and recreational organization of Italian left), which hosted some of the first studies on popular music after Le canzoni della cattiva coscienza. The whole of this current was less focussed on rock, was more oriented to consider all music genres and cultures excluded from/by the academy, was sensitive to issues of localism, and (subject to ideological forces of the time) of “cultural imperialism”. I suggest that these aspects have to be considered to explain why the scope of popular music studies (or research, like in the title of the 1981 conference) was then broadened to include all genres, repertories, cultures, events, excluded from academic institutions, comprehending special- ized industrial products like film and tv music, title tunes, jingles, and of course music cultures from all around the world, using for them the same Anglo-Ameri- can expression: “popular music”. Though I think that the “stream” metaphor shouldn’t be taken without criti- cism, I would say that organized popular music studies were started when the more recent wave of studies (mostly based on musicology and semiotics) joined the previous stream of sociologically and anthropologically oriented studies, with the intermediation of cultural studies from the Birmingham school (based on sociology’s tradition but oriented by French structuralism). Too simple, may- be, but rather apt to describe the diverse disciplinary interests of the scholars (and musicians, and teachers, and journalists, and radio programmers) who took part in the conferences on popular music research held in the early Eight- ies, or those who wrote articles for the newly founded journal, Popular Music. Anyway, there are solid traces of that confluence in the statutes of Iaspm (article 2.1): The aim of the Association is to provide an international, interdisciplinary and in- terprofessional organization for promoting the study of popular music. A guiding principle should be that a fair and balanced representation of different continents, nations, cultures and specializations be aimed at in the policy and activity of the Association. There was no suggestion to establish a new discipline, called “popular mu- sic studies”. Rather, there were hints that the study of popular music would or should change the structure of existing disciplines, especially musicology: see, for example, Richard Middleton’s invitation to re-construct musical his- tory (1985a and 1985b), or Philip Tagg’s statement that what was really needed wasn’t an association for the study of popular music, but an association for the popular study of music. Such invitations and statements were not new in MUSICOLOGY IN THE 3RD MILLENIUM MUSIIKKI 2/2010 — 78 Franco Fabbri: What is popular music? And what isn’t? An assessment, after 30 years of popular music studies — 79 the history of musicologies: they had been central in the development of new disciplines, whenever the resistance of conservative (and powerful) scholars prevented the inclusion of new objects of study, since the creation of compara- tive musicology, up to the birth of ethnomusicology and of music anthropology. It must be said, however, that promises to include more music (or all music!) as the object of study of new or extended musicologies were never really kept: for a long time in the history of ethnomusicology popular music had been seen as the enemy’s field, and even Charles Seeger’s effort for a unitary field for musicology (Seeger 1970) excluded some music that the author didn’t like! The value or taste issue, based also on a long-established Weberian tradition, may explain the inclusion in the second volume of the journal Popular Music of an article like William Brooks’ “On Being Tasteless”, and is one of the reasons why Philip Tagg’s first monumental approach to an individual song (1981) is based on Abba’s “Fernando” and not, say, Gentle Giant’s “Design”, the piece analyzed in Sandner’s book (1977), both songs being from the same year, 1976: [--] when Mahavisnu Orchestra, Gentle Giant or similar exponents of ‘difficult’ rock music perform for their fans, it is questionable whether such a musical occasion should be termed ‘popular’, since the sociomusical function involved includes such typical sociocultural art music phenomena as peer group identification connected with notions of aesthetic superiority (Tagg 1979.) So, the effort to define popular music, in a theoretical framework that would allow to consider differences and analogies amongst diverse kinds of music, can be seen not just as the indispensable search for the “borders” of a new research field, but also, or rather, as a way to find an objective base, to prevent that popular music studies become simply the collection of individual scholars’ in- terests and tastes. Please allow me a brief personal remark. I’d like to point out that I don’t see anything wrong in studying how values and canons are created, or how taste is formed (and how it works), in any music culture, be it European late Romanticism, heavy metal, or Kaluli tradition. And I am very much inter- ested in the importance of these issues in what we might call metamusicology: that is, why does one choose to study Mahler, Deep Purple or the music of people living in the Bosavi region? But this is another issue. When I presented my rather primitive “theory of musical genres” in Amsterdam, a close friend of mine told me: “Fine, you are giving an overview of genres that exist, and how they work. But what is really needed is a theory to establish which genre is the best one!” In view of the subdued ebullience of Adornian themes, as remnants of the 1970’s rock aesthetics but also due to the incumbent presence of that stone guest in academic discourse (one of the papers presented in Amsterdam was titled “Et si l’on reparlait d’Adorno?”, Beaud 1982), many of the popular music scholars active in the early 1980’s distanced themselves from issues of taste and value, in various ways and for various reasons: some – like Tagg – even refrained to study music they cherished, choosing to work rather on the mainstream of transnational popular music; some warned against the hegemony of con- ventional musicology’s canonist attitude, implying that popular music studies should be more established before value-intensive genres (so to speak) like pro- gressive or avant-rock be studied extensively. This antiaestheticist pre-emptive action was probably too severe, but it prompted useful discussions, for example on uncommercial popular music, as Umberto Fiori defined it in the paper he presented in Reggio Emilia: Shall we call 30,000 people listening to Anthony Braxton in Perugia a social élite? What number of listeners is necessary to enable us to speak unambiguously of the music they listen to as popular music? What number of listeners is necessary for us to regard their motivations as ‘the need for better music’ instead of ‘the search of aesthetic superiority’? In other words, is popular music somehow defined by quan- tity? [--] Uncommercial popular music is still popular music. (Fiori 1985, 14.) I remember disagreeing, at that time, both with Fiori and with the passage in Tagg’s Kojak (the one I also quoted above) that Fiori criticized. I don’t think anybody would call Anthony Braxton’s music “popular music”, whatever the number of its listeners (and I’m sure, having met Braxton, that he would never call it that way either): in his polemics, Fiori fell into the same quantitative trap he was warning against. And, at the same time, he was finding himself in the quicksand Merton had described, identifying Italian politically progressive youth (forming the audience of Umbria Jazz Festival in the later Seventies) with “the people”. But he was right – especially in a conference titled “What is Popu- lar Music?” – pointing out that any definition of popular music should allow for the existence of uncommercial popular music. I would also add, in partial disagreement with Tagg’s ideas on the subject, that ‘muso music’, the music that amateur and professional musicians like, but has a very marginal or non existent appeal on large popular music audiences, should be of great interest for popular music scholars, for the influence it exerts on very important communities in popular music making. But let’s go back to definitions. At the same time when Iaspm launched the call for papers for its second international conference (titled “What is Popu- lar Music?”), Cambridge University Press was about to issue Volume 2 of the journal Popular Music (titled “Theory and Method”). This is no coincidence, of course. Many articles in that volume address the matter of music catego- ries, relating them to methodological issues: “Analysing Popular Music: Theory, Method And Practice” by Philip Tagg (1982b), “A Theoretical Model For The Sociomusicological Analysis Of Popular Music” by John Shepherd (1982), Ri- chard Middleton’s “Editor’s Introduction To Volume 2” (Middleton 1982), and my own “What Kind Of Music?” (Fabbri 1982b). A full section of the proceed- ings of the Reggio Emilia conference is titled “Theoretical Perspectives”, and I think it to be useful to list all papers included: “What Is Popular Music?”, by Chris Cutler (1985), “Popular Music: Theory, Practice, Value”, by Umberto Fiori (1985), “Popular Music, Class Conflict And The Music-Historical Field”, by Richard Middleton (1985), “Popularity in Music: Some Aspects of a Historical Materialist Theory of Popular Music”, by Peter Wicke (1985), “A Latin-American MUSICOLOGY IN THE 3RD MILLENIUM MUSIIKKI 2/2010 — 80 Franco Fabbri: What is popular music? And what isn’t? An assessment, after 30 years of popular music studies — 81 Approach in a Pioneering Essay”, by Coriún Aharonián (1985), “ The Wondrous World of Popular Intonation”, by Vladimir Zak (1985), “Definition as Mystifica- tion: a Consideration of Labels as a Hindrance to Understand Significance in Music” by John Shepherd (1985), “Definitions and Research Orientation: Do We Need a Definition of Popular Music?”, by Frans. A.J. Birrer (1985), “’Popu- lar Music’ in the Terminology of Communication and Information Theory”, by Manfred P. Galden (1985). Shepherd quotes an article by Gaynor G. Jones and Jay Rahn, “Definitions of Popular Music: Recycled” published in 1981 in a collection of writings on New Music (!) assembled by Gregory Battcock (other articles are by, amongst others, Earle Brown, Cornelius Cardew, Brian Eno, Nam June Paik, Steve Reich): There are at least twelve criteria by which one can determine the popularity of any given music: 1) number of people involved; 2) combined homogeneity and het- erogeneity of audience, 3) unpredictability of listeners; 4) size of the business that markets the product; 5) efficiency (that is, breadth and cheapness) of transmission; 6) aural rather than visual transmission; 7) secular or entertainment function; 8) simplicity of the aesthetic object; 9) emphasis on performer rather than composer; 10) standardisation; 11) range of variability; 12) degree of ephemerality (Jones & Rahn 1981, 47–48). No doubt about why Shepherd found labels as a hindrance to understand sig- nificance in music, or why Fiori suspected the presence of quantitative criteria. However, lists of criteria similar in their aspect to Jones’s and Rahn’s could be assembled as the unfolding of more complex descriptions of a multidimensional musical field, like the ones presented by Tagg in a graph (1982b, 42) or by my- self: A system so examined would appear like a matrix with rows of rules and columns of genres, in which each single element aij would indicate the value of the rule i for the genre j (Fabbri 1982, 54). A “system”, in the “theory of genres” I presented in the early 1980’s, was an assembly or set of genres, so the scheme could be applied to any combination of music types: sub-genres belonging to a genre; genres belonging to a music category like “art”, “folk”, “popular”; or categories like the former belonging to “music”, intended as the assembly of all musics (music events) in the world. In fact it evolved, until very recently, from a theory of genres within popular music to a theory on music categorization, applicable to all types or kinds of music, including individual “works”, which actually are – in my perspective – sets of distinct music events referred to with the same title (Fabbri 2006). It wasn’t (and it isn’t) a normative theory, in that norms, rules, codes (as well as prototypes, “family resemblances”, etc.) defining a genre or music type must be discovered empirically, and are not based on scholars’ assumptions (which are, anyway, subject to Popperian falsification); and it wasn’t (and it isn’t) a “static” theory, as some said (Frith 1996, Negus 1999, Santoro 2010), because the intermingling and stratification of different norms and codes, in the context of different com- petences and changing communities, give genres and other music categories a fuzzy, vibrating, ever-changing quality. The aspect of that theory that most sat- isfied me was exactly its ability to describe how new genres could be formed, how they could be interpreted differently by different communities, how they could evolve and even disappear. What’s “static” about this? Music categories are more “folk” categories than scientific taxa: a kind of music, and even music itself, is defined by the people who “perform any kind of activity around any kind of sound” as Gino Stefani (1976) put it. And “music is anything a community considers as such” (Stefani, Guerra Lisi 2004, 126–127), he added, with an obvious and explicit reference to what John Cage and Lu- ciano Berio said on this matter. This acceptance of an emic definition of mu- sic and its subcategories wasn’t yet clear in all theories and discussions about the definition of popular music in the early phase of organized popular music studies, but it was the implicit foundation of a good percentage of the papers presented in Reggio Emilia, the ones which addressed “National and Regional Perspectives”. Many of them were about non-English speaking communities, so the problem of translating “popular music” into the corresponding expressions (if any!) in other languages (or vice-versa) added complexity to the task of un- derstanding whether a certain music culture or activity should be considered as “folk”, or “popular” or whatever else. In fact, many ethnomusicologists partici- pated in the second Iaspm’s conference (second, to this respect, only to Mexico City 2007), as the question in the tile solicited them to test the “borders” of their discipline. “Musica popolare” in Italian means traditional (or folk) music, so when the graphic designer brought me his idea for the conference’s poster, I wasn’t too surprised to see that he had drawn a kind of six-string banjo, where the strings were stretched between a blue sky and green earth. Following my suggestions (at that point we didn’t have time nor money to change the poster entirely) he added a red phone-style electric guitar cable and plug. This can be, perhaps, a demonstration of the concept that whatever one considers to be popular music, it is popular music: which isn’t exactly what I meant talking about “folk” categories, emic descriptions, Stefani, Cage and Be- rio, and so on. But it may be an introduction to the climate that followed after Reggio and its focus on definition, especially if one considers the times, places, contexts and purposes of next conferences: Montreal in 1985, the first confer- ence in North America, after a rapid growth of Iaspm as a truly international organization; Accra in 1987, a tribute to African music in the year of the com- mercial “invention” of world music; Paris in 1989 (history, of course); Berlin in 1991 (should have been East Berlin, but the wall went down earlier). Had the popular studies community in the meanwhile embraced any definition of popu- lar music? Had they accepted Shepherd’s or Birrer’s suggestion that definitions were an obstacle or simply were not needed? Or were they in search of new, more convincing ones? By the end of that period, Italian young scholar Roberto Agostini (1992) wrote an article titled “Studiare la popular music” (“studying popular music”) for a book edited by Gino Stefani (1992), where the results of some pioneering Italian studies were collected (they were all extracts from dissertations at the MUSICOLOGY IN THE 3RD MILLENIUM MUSIIKKI 2/2010 — 82 Franco Fabbri: What is popular music? And what isn’t? An assessment, after 30 years of popular music studies — 83 University of Bologna, at a time when such studies were flourishing, thanks to the efforts of Stefani, Mario Baroni and Roberto Leydi). Agostini says: The recent discussion on the subject of popular music originated from this sort of in- tuitive popular music concept, which at a general level is substantially agreed upon, but at a deeper level reveals an outstandingly multifaceted character and prompts disagreement. Within our contemporary musical universe it is possible to delimitate intuitively a vast set of musical activities which aren’t ‘serious’ or ‘folk’, ranging from punk to rock’n’roll, from reggae to hip-hop, from ambient music to commercial jingles, from film and television music to songs of any kind, reaching areas where categorization is more difficult, like jazz, progressive rock, tango, minimalism. Now, notwithstanding evident differences, we have anyway the impression of facing a certain degree of homogeneity, some common elements. Indeed, all these music activities: are not studied in public institutions (conservatories, universities, schools of any type, research institutes); take place in the context of complex activities (multimedia communication, sub- cultures and countercultures, background of public and private environments); circulate largely in reproduced form (mass media, records, tapes, cds, etc.) and are mainly produced in recoding studios; systematically access modern electro-acoustic technologies; are encountered every day, even when one is not willing; are generally approached in a ‘distracted’ mode; sometimes they aren’t even ‘listened to’, but simply ‘sensed’; aren’t subsidized by public money, but are based on free market; are professional activities; are widespread in modern industrialized society, where they are the music in- dustry’s more representative products; generally are not accompanied by any musical or aesthetic theory of their own; often can be found in the lowest social classes. It is this impression of homogeneity that is indicated by the expression ‘popular music’ (Agostini 1992, 169–170). One can disagree radically or partially with each of Agostini’s points, but to do him justice I must say that the above “intuitive concept”, so articulated, is precisely what Agostini in the following part of his article criticizes and deems to be obsolete, or in need of a much more refined articulation. As he suggests, however, it is a very good snapshot of the situation at that time (1992) in that place (Italy), or an expression “of the feelings of researchers who in the Sev- enties had an interest in musics that public institutions continued to ignore” (Agostini 1992, 171). But let’s now turn to a much more recent effort to give a similar discursive definition, in Roy Shuker’s ”Introduction” to his Popular Music. The Key Con- cepts: The term ‘popular music’ defies precise, straightforward definition [--] In one sense, popular music encompasses any style of music that has a following, and would accordingly include many genres and styles that are largely excluded from this vol- ume, most notably the various forms of classical music and jazz. Obviously, the criteria for what counts as popular, and their application to specific musical styles and genres, are open to considerable debate. Record sales, concert attendance, numbers of performers, radio and television air play, are all quantifiable indicators of popularity, but classical music clearly has sufficient following to be considered popular, while, conversely, some forms of popular music are quite exclusive (e.g. death metal) [--] For the purposes of this study, I have largely followed conventional academic practice, equating ‘popular music’ with the main commercially produced and marketed musical genres, primarily in a Western context. I am conscious that this emphasis is open to charges of ignoring many significant forms of popular music, located primarily in non-Western settings, but boundaries were necessary to make the project viable.3 Further, Western styles of popular music continue to dominate the international market place, at the same time appropriating local music styles [--] Accordingly, the emphasis is on traditional ‘rock’ and ‘pop’ forms, and their various derivative styles/genres, along with more recently prominent genres such as rap, ‘world music’ and the various styles of dance music (Shuker 2005, xii–xiii). A rather vague description for a book bearing that title! An excellent book in many respects, however, if one considers the Anglophone academic reader- ship at which it is aimed. There is a “popular music” entry, of course, where the author duly (and very briefly) reports about “various attempts to provide a definition” (most of them from the early 1980’s, amongst the ones I discussed extensively above), having noted however that “difficulties lead some writers on popular music to slide over the question of definition, and take a ‘common- sense’ understanding of the term for granted” (Shuker 2005, 203–204). I sympathize with Shuker, but I don’t see much progress with respect to the description of “the feelings of researchers” given by Agostini thirteen years earlier, and his “intuitive popular music concept”. The key concepts here (I apologize for any unwanted irony) are: “conven- tional academic practice”, “quantifiable indicators”, “Western context”, “inter- national market place”. And they are inevitably ideologically loaded, because (for example), academic practice in English-speaking countries may differ greatly from that of Latin American, or Nordic, or Central European, or Southern Euro- pean, or Middle Eastern, or African, or any other academic practice on popular music in countries different from the UK, Ireland, Canada, USA. And quantifiable indicators are subject to the same criticism raised by Fiori more than thirty years earlier (though the matter of uncommercial or “niche” popular music practices is reported by Shuker, in his annotation about death metal: maybe not the most uncommercial of uncommercial popular music that one can think about). The Western context is, of course, a choice. But even within such an ethnocentric perspective, does the West include just English-speaking countries? Aren’t Brazil, or Argentina, or Mexico or Cuba westerly enough? Isn’t Greece part of Western civilization? Or Russia? And remaining within strict quantitative criteria, which international market place are we talking about: are we considering the millions of copies sold of each successful single or album by popular artists in Egypt, or India? Do figures about the Arabic record market or live performance business belong to the international market place? And if not, why? 3 Italics are mine. MUSICOLOGY IN THE 3RD MILLENIUM MUSIIKKI 2/2010 — 84 Franco Fabbri: What is popular music? And what isn’t? An assessment, after 30 years of popular music studies — 85 There is something odd in the currently common concession that “this posi- tion can be accused of ethnocentrism, but...”, and that “but” is generally fol- lowed by good or very excuses (like “within the scope of this study”, or “oth- erwise the size of this book would be excessive”, and so on). It makes us feel nostalgic of good old ethnocentrism, that didn’t need to give explanations. However, like in the case of Agostini, we know that Shuker can’t be accused for reporting the common-sense of his own time, and place. And he is quite right when he says that “some writers on popular music” were led “to slide over the question of definition”. I would argue: much more than just some. I have searched through the programmes of the three most recent international con- ferences organized by Iaspm (that I attended: in Rome, Mexico City, Liverpool), and I was able to find just nine papers, out of a few hundreds, addressing (in various ways) problems related with a definition of “popular music”, all of them from the 2005 Rome conference (none from 2007 or 2009): three by Italian scholars, two by French scholars, two by Canadian scholars (one of them being actually English, or Swedish: Philip Tagg), one by a US scholar, one by a Nor- wegian scholar. Obviously, this is also the sign that popular music studies are a mature interdisciplinary “field”, and that scholars and students are now focuss- ing on more detailed subjects, some of which actually transcend the ‘bounda- ries’ of Western ‘conventional academic practice’.4 But do we really know what popular music studies are? Or is this an expression equivalent to “conventional academic practice”? And anyway, what are the risks involved in undervaluing definitional issues? Let’s face them, to conclude, one by one. The socio-conceptual issue: what is “the people”, and what is “popular”? One of the reasons why the expression “popular music” was chosen to label a distinctive “field” of study was the polysemy of the adjective “popular” in Eng- lish, and of corresponding adjectives in other languages. “Appealing to many” and “belonging to the people” are meanings that no other expression vehicles so efficiently at the same time: “media music”, or “mediatized music”, or similar equivalents do not account for “grassroots” activities that many scholars see as essential to a definition of the music they study; and any effort to describe the latter aspect fails to account for the music’s industrialized production and mass distribution. Quantitative (“positivist”) and essentialist definitions are incompat- ible, but “popular” (the adjective) does the trick quite well. Richard Middleton commented at length this issue in the first paragraph (titled “What is popular music?”) of his book, Studying Popular Music (Middleton 1990, 3-7), drawing on the taxonomy of definitions suggested by Frans Birrer in his paper for Reg- 4 When I use terms like ‘field’ and ‘boundary’, they have to be interpreted within a multidimensional space. That’s why I put them between quotes, meaning that they don’t have to be understood as literal metaphors of a bi-dimensional space. gio Emilia (Birrer 1985), and preparing the ground for the introduction of the concept of ‘articulation’: [--] in class society, the society is internally contradictory. What the term ‘popular music’ tries to do is to put a finger on that space, that terrain, of contradiction – be- tween ‘imposed’ and ‘authentic’, ‘elite’ and ‘common’, predominant and subordi- nate, then and now, theirs and ours, and so on – and organize it in particular ways (Middleton 1990, 7). Relations between culture and society, or better, between cultures or subcul- tures and the social groups within which they are developed, are contradictory, not deterministic, and they change with time. Stuart Hall wrote: Today’s rebel folksinger ends up, tomorrow, on the cover of the Observer colour magazine. The meaning of a cultural symbol is given in part by the social field into which it is incorporated, the practices with which it articulates and is made to reso- nate. What matters is not the intrinsic or historically fixed objects of culture, but the state of play in cultural relations: to put it bluntly and in oversimplified form – what counts is the class struggle in and over culture. (Hall 1981/2006, 484.) History: that’s where the principle of articulation, that Middleton draws from Hall, and Hall from Gramsci, is situated. And Middleton traces in history (es- pecially in the history of British and US popular music) changes in the mean- ing of “popular”. But what about changes in the meaning of “the people”, as suggested (via Merton) by Lenin and Mao (who were both much less popular in 1990 than in 1970, I’d say)? Middleton quite rightly relates a shifting of the meaning of “popular” to changes in the meaning of “the people”, for example under the pressure of democratic ideologies (since the American revolution), but I would argue that a certain degree of autonomy exists also between the noun and the adjective: “people” has meanings that can’t be easily transferred to “popular”, and vice-versa. Just think of the official tone of “the people” in political or juridical discourse, for example. Not to mention the populist drift that both the noun and the adjective have been subjected to (independently) in many countries, in the twenty years that separate us from Middleton’s reflec- tions on the subject. We might even wonder if that polysemy is still at work, and if it’s still worth exploiting. But this aspect takes us to the next issue, the linguistic issue. MUSICOLOGY IN THE 3RD MILLENIUM MUSIIKKI 2/2010 — 86 Franco Fabbri: What is popular music? And what isn’t? An assessment, after 30 years of popular music studies — 87 How does the expression “popular music” translate into other languages? Although it is clear that many communities of scholars accepted to use the English expression anyway, how do “local” terms (like música popular, musica popolare, populäre Musik, musique populaire, musique de varietés, etc.) affect the perception of this/these “kinds of music”? To answer these questions, first of all, one should be able to trace the develop- ment of the concepts and meanings of “the people” and “popular” in each lan- guage, in each culture, in each nation’s history. There are some hints about this aspect both in Hall and in Middleton, but it must be said that a homogeneous development across cultures is not to be taken for granted. I am not raising any charge of ethnocentricity here, but of course one cannot expect that the concept of “people” has been the same and has evolved in parallel fashion even within nationalist Europe. Just pronouncing the German word “Volk” (especially if pre- ceded by an article: “ein Volk”) makes me think of “the people” with a shiver. And the meaning of “popolo” today still has connotations related to the usage of the word during Fascism. Only few days ago the Italian right-wing government proclaimed the celebration, every year, of a “Giornata nazionale della musica popolare”, where “musica popolare” doesn’t mean popular music, nor even tra- ditional or folk music (as Italian ethnomusicologists have called it for decades), but the music of brass bands, of folkloric music and dance groups, and everything related to the usage of folklore by Mussolini in his age. And how is Silvio Berlus- coni’s party named? “Popolo della libertà”, of course. In Italy, “musica popolare” never had a modern meaning: left-wing parties, whenever they tried to regulate public funding of music activities, including popular music, used the expression “musica popolare contemporanea”,5 but “musica popolare” still suffers of the of- ficial distinction made during the Fascist rule between “musica leggera” (light mu- sic) and “musica popolare” (folk music). The English expression “popular music” is used in universities and in some conservatories, and by a few journalists (specially younger ones, who attended courses in universities or read academic books on the subject), but the adoption of that conventional label cannot compensate for the lack in Italian of an equivalent common-sense expression of any kind: neither “musica leggera”, nor “musica di consumo”, nor “musica mediatica”, etc. So I often wonder how different it has to be for an Italian popular music scholar or student to think about his/her own object of study, compared to a British or US colleague, who doesn’t see any distance, any fault, between the conventional field of study and a common-sense concept rooted in language and culture since almost a century. And I think that this kind of conceptual schizophrenia affects many non-Anglophone scholars. That’s why we (I mean, the non-Anglophones) ask so many, maybe too many questions on the subject. Like the following. 5 Even very recently, for a regional law on music activities in Tuscany. The ethnocentric vs. multicultural issue: is popular music just the Anglo- American pop-rock mainstream? What is ‘world music’, then? I have dealt with this issue already. So, I will add just a few considerations. My personal ethnography (that is, participating in many conferences on popular music, lecturing in Anglophone countries, corresponding with friends, discuss- ing in mailing lists) suggests to me that for many colleagues, especially in the USA, it is almost inescapable to think of popular music as ”American popular music” (of course, other colleagues have objected for years to the use of the continent’s name to indicate an individual country, but I will not comment any further on this). Or, ”American popular music” plus the Beatles and what followed. Often I have the impression that some people think that referring to tango, or timba, or French chanson, or Greek néo kyma, with the expres- sion ”popular music” be an act of political correctness, that can be dispensed of when talking ”amongst us”. And music that any good effort to define the popular music concept would recognize as popular music from other countries, is called by many ”world music”. Although the expression ”world music” as a genre label is probably of British origin (Frith 2000 reports it to have been adopted by English record producers in July 1987, but Peter Gabriel was using it months before),6 it resonates with the concept of ”the world” being ”not us”, that was at the base of the hymn “We Are the World”, a hit in 1985 (re-enacted recently for Haiti). It appears to be a special act of generosity to say that ”we” are the world: usually, ”they” are the world. ”World music”, of course, has many meanings (anyone can say: “We all know what world music is!”). No musicological police can prevent communi- ties from using genre labels as they wish. Even when members of the ”Canter- bury scene” (one of the sub-genres of progressive rock) never happened to live or perform in Canterbury. But the scholars’ community is a special one. It was a good choice, I think, that of referring to genre labels as they emerge from, so to speak, genres themselves. But, I would suggest, at a distance. Before being a matter of multiculturalism, it is a matter of scholarship. Explore common-sense; look for its structure, its networks; relate it with observable facts, with texts, performances, music events; relate the emic with the etic: these are the basics, I think, of any music study. But then, at least two other aspects of popular mu- sic’s ”academic common practice” need to be shortly commented, again. 6 “I go into many record stores and I see, as well as a reggae section, there’s an African music section, and in five or 10 years I hope there will be a world music section.” Peter Gabriel, interviewed by Ray Hammond, Sound on Sound, Vol. 2, Issue 3, January 1987. MUSICOLOGY IN THE 3RD MILLENIUM MUSIIKKI 2/2010 — 88 Franco Fabbri: What is popular music? And what isn’t? An assessment, after 30 years of popular music studies — 89 The ”modern media” issue: is popular music just media-related music? What about nineteenth century fado, Stephen Foster’s Ethiopian songs, ”classic” Neapolitan song? What makes ”media music” popular? And is the concept of ”media”, accepted when the expression ”popular music” was adopted, still valid now? I had to ponder these questions in the past ten years or so, when I was asked by Italian publishers to write short, and later less short, accounts on the history of popular music. And, at the same time, when I was appointed to lecture at the University of Turin about the same subject. Where to start? Which genres to include? How to locate popular music chronologically and geographically? I followed various criteria (that I exposed throughout this paper), and decided to use the beginnings of the music publishing industry as a reference. There, in the age of the bourgeois and industrial revolutions, are the roots of the dif- ferentiation and displacement of music categories – like physical forces after the Big Bang – that gave room for a new one, popular music (though, but this is quite common in such historical processes, it received a name only decades later). But then, I had to think of definitions of popular music which give sound recording a great importance, identifying media with mechanic or electronic means of producing, distributing and reproducing sound, and at the same time implying that most popular music is not notated. What was, then, the music sold in millions of printed copies before Edison’s invention or while the pho- nograph was still a device to dictate letters in offices? Like “Funiculì funiculà” (1880) or “After the Ball” (1892)? And if Adorno in 1941 (quite rightly, I think) called ”music industry” the music publishing industry, shouldn’t we think of the media as a more articulate category, or even abandon the concept at all, as it is unable to account for the heterogeneity of phenomena as diverse as music printing and social networks? And finally, the ”popularity” issue: is popular music just any kind of mainstream? Does ”unpopular popular music” really exist? These questions are more delicate than they seem. ”Niche” popular genres exist, any popular artist wasn’t popular when he started, and the activity of very many amateurs or would-be stars is essential to any definition of pop- ular music, even if the vast majority of them will never achieve any kind of success, even locally, and will never even record their music. But this doesn’t mean that any ”niche” genre or any music activity that hasn’t a large following (how much?), and that happens to be not studied institutionally, be ”unpopular popular music”. Like Anthony Braxton in Fiori’s polemic example. I think that popular music studies cannot carry the load of all music that is not studied by conventional musicology, ethnomusicology, jazz studies, although this was, in their early years, a very powerful glue. On the other hand, I think that there is some responsibility, and pride, amongst popular music scholars, to have point- ed out that a great part of music activities on the planet wasn’t covered, until only thirty years ago, by academic music studies, and still wouldn’t, if it hadn’t been for those “serious young men and women with goatee beards and glasses” meeting in Amsterdam in 1981, as reported by the New Musical Express (and commented by Tagg 1982b). And that responsibility remains, as we point out that until a unified ”field” of musicology is established, many relevant human activities with and around sound will fall in the gaps between disciplines, and will not be dealt with by any. This is a reasonable, and not impossible, task for musicology in the years to come. References Adorno, T.W. (with the assistance of George Simpson) (1941) “On Popular Music”, in Leppert, R. (ed.) 2002. Essays on Music. Theodor W. 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An assessment, after 30 years of popular music studies — 91 Fabbri, F. 2006. “Tipos, categorías, géneros musicales. ¿Hace falta una teoría?”, paper presented at the VII Congreso Iaspm AL, Casa de las Americas, La Habana, Cuba, 21 June 2006. Fiori, U. 1985. “Popular Music: Theory, Practice, Value”, in Horn 1985, 13–23. Frith, S. 1983. Sound Effects: Youth, Leisure and the Politics of Rock‘n’Roll, London: Constable. Frith, S. 1996. Performing Rites. On the Value of Popular Music, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Frith, S. 2000. “The Discourse of World Music”, in G. Born & D. Hesmondalgh (eds) Western Music and its Others. Difference, Representation and Appropriation in Mu- sic, Berkeley: University of California Press, 305–322. Frith, S., Straw, W., and Street, J. (eds) 2001. The Cambridge Companion to Pop and Rock, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Galden, M.P. 1985. “’Popular Music’ in the Terminology of Communication and Infor- mation Theory”, in Horn 1985, 106–116. Garofalo, R. 1997. Rockin’ Out: Popular Music in the USA, Needham Heights, MA: Allyn & Bacon. Gendron, B. 1986. “Theodor Adorno meets The Cadillacs”, in Tania Modleski (ed.), Studies in Entertainment, Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 18–36. Gillett, C. 1970. The Sound of the City. The Rise of Rock’n’Roll, New York: Dell. Hall, S. 1981. “Notes on deconstructing ‘the popular’”, in R. Samuel (ed) People’s His- tory and Socialist Theory, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 227–240; now in J. Storey (ed) Cultural Theory and Popular Culture: a Reader, Edinburgh: Pearson Edu- cation Ltd., 477–486. Horn, D. 1985. (ed) Popular Music Perspectives 2. Papers from the Second International Conference on Popular Music Studies, Reggio Emilia, September 19–24, Göteborg & Exeter: Iaspm. Horn, D., Tagg, P. (eds) 1982. Popular Music Perspectives. Papers from The First Inter- national Conference on Popular Music Research, Amsterdam, June 1981, Göteborg, Exeter, Ottawa, Reggio Emilia: Iaspm. Jones, G.G. & Rahn, J. 1981. “Definitions of Popular Music: Recycled”, in Battcock, G. (ed), Breaking the Sound Barrier. A Critical Anthology of the New Music, New York: E.P. Dutton, 38–52. Josephs, N. 1982. “Popular Music Research: Its Uses in Education”, in Horn & Tagg 1982, 243–245. Krims, A. 2003. “Marxist music analysis without Adorno: popular music and urban ge- ography”, in Moore, A. (ed.), Analyzing Popular Music, Cambridge: Cambridge Uni- versity Press, 131–157. Landau, J. 1972. It’s Too Late to Stop Now. A Rock and Roll Journal, San Francisco: Straight Arrow. Laing, D. 1970. The Sound of Our Time, Chicago: Quadrangle Books. Longhurst, B. 1995. Popular Music and Society, Cambridge: Polity Press. MacDougald, D., Jr. 1941. “The Popular Music Industry”, in Lazarsfeld, Paul F., Stanton, Frank K. (eds.) Radio Research 1941, New York: Duell, Sloan and Pearce, 65–109. Marcus, G. 1975. Mystery Train. Images of America in Rock’n’Roll Music. New York: E.P. Dutton. Merton, R. 1970. “Comment”, in New Left Review, 59/1970. Middleton, R. 1982. “Editor’s introduction to Volume 2”, in Popular Music 2, 1–8. Middleton, R. 1985a. Popular Music, Class Conflict and the Music-Historical Field, Göte- borg, Exeter, Ottawa, Reggio Emilia: Iaspm, 24–46. Middleton, R. 1985b. “Articulating Musical Meaning / Re-Constructing Musical History / Locating the ‘Popular’“, in Popular Music, Volume 5, 5–44. Middleton, R. 1990. Studying Popular Music, Milton Keynes: Open University Press. Negus, K. 1996. Popular Music in Theory, Cambridge: Polity Press. Negus, K. 1999. Music Genres and Corporate Cultures, London: Routledge. Paddison, M. 1982. “The critique criticised: Adorno and popular music”, in Popular Music, Volume 2, 201–218. Riesman, D. 1950. “Listening Popular Music”, in American Quarterly, 2, 4, 359–371. Robinson, J.B. 1994. “The jazz essays of Theodor Adorno: some thoughts on jazz recep- tion in Weimar Germany”, in Popular Music, Volume 13, Issue 01, 1–25. Sandner, W. (ed.) 1977. Rockmusik. Aspekte zur Geschichte, Ästhetik, Production, Mainz: B. Schott’s Söhne. Santoro, M. 2010. Effetto Tenco. Genealogia della canzone d’autore, Bologna: Il Mulino. Seeger, C. 1970. “Toward a Unitary Field Theory for Musicology”, in Selected Reports, Volume 1, No. 3, Los Angeles: University of California. Shepherd, J. 1982. “A theoretical model for the sociomusicological analyis of popular music” in Popular Music 2, 145–177. Shepherd, J. 1985. “Definition as Mystification: a Consideration of Labels as a Hin- drance to Understand Significance in Music” in Horn 1985, 84–98. Shuker, R. 1998. Key Concepts in Popular Music, London and New York: Routledge. Stefani, G. 1976. “Musica come. Progetti antropologici (e didattici)”, Nuova Rivista Mu- sicale Italiana, X/3. Stefani, G. (ed) 1992. Dal blues al liscio. Studi sull’esperienza musicale comune, Verona, IANUA. Stefani, G., Guerra Lisi, S. 2004. Dizionario di musica nella Globalità dei Linguaggi, Luc- ca: LIM. Straniero, M.L., Liberovici, S., Jona, E., De Maria, G. 1964. Le canzoni della cattiva co- scienza, Milano: Bompiani. Straarup, O. 1982. “Popular Music Research: Needs and Uses in Education”, in Horn & Tagg 1982, 246–248. Tagg, P. 1979. Kojak – 50 Seconds of Television Music. Toward the Analysis of Affect in Popular Music, Göteborg: Göteborgs Universitet. Tagg, P. 1982a. “Music Teacher Training Problems and Popular Music Research“, in Horn & Tagg 1982, 232–242. Tagg, P. 1982b. “Analysing Popular Music: Theory, Method and Practice”, in Popular Music 2, 37–67. Wicke, P. 1985. “Popularity in Music: Some Aspects of a Historical Materialist Theory of Popular Music”, in Horn 1985, 47–51. Dr. Franco Fabbri ([email protected]) teaches popular music, musicology and Music in media at the universities of Turin, Milan, and Genoa. Fabbri has served as chairman of the International Association for the Study of Popular Mu- sic (IASPM). MUSICOLOGY IN THE 3RD MILLENIUM MUSIIKKI 2/2010 — 92

Sours: https://www.academia.edu/4167988/What_is_popular_music_And_what_isn_t_An_assessment_after_30_years_of_popular_music_studies
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Popular music

For the musical genre, see Pop music. For the 2004 film, see Popular Music (film).

"Popular song" redirects here. For other uses, see Popular Song (disambiguation).

Music genres distributed to large audiences and considered to have wide appeal

Popular music is music with wide appeal[1][2][3] that is typically distributed to large audiences through the music industry. These forms and styles can be enjoyed and performed by people with little or no musical training.[1] It stands in contrast to both art music[4][5][6] and traditional or "folk" music. Art music was historically disseminated through the performances of written music, although since the beginning of the recording industry, it is also disseminated through recordings. Traditional music forms such as early blues songs or hymns were passed along orally, or to smaller, local audiences.[4][5][6]

The original application of the term is to music of the 1880s Tin Pan Alley period in the United States.[1] Although popular music sometimes is known as "pop music", the two terms are not interchangeable.[7] Popular music is a generic term for a wide variety of genres of music that appeal to the tastes of a large segment of the population,[8] whereas pop music usually refers to a specific musical genre within popular music.[9] Popular music songs and pieces typically have easily singable melodies. The song structure of popular music commonly involves repetition of sections, with the verse and chorus or refrain repeating throughout the song and the bridge providing a contrasting and transitional section within a piece.[10] From the 1960s through the mid 2000s, albums collecting songs were the dominant form for recording and consuming English-language popular music, in a period known as the album era.[11]

In the 2000s, with songs and pieces available as digital sound files, it has become easier for music to spread from one country or region to another. Some popular music forms have become global, while others have a wide appeal within the culture of their origin.[12] Through the mixture of musical genres, new popular music forms are created to reflect the ideals of a global culture.[13] The examples of Africa, Indonesia, and the Middle East show how Western pop music styles can blend with local musical traditions to create new hybrid styles.[clarification needed]


Further information: Folk music

See also: Art music § Popular music

Some sort of popular music has existed for as long as there has been an urban middle class to consume it. What distinguishes it above all is the aesthetic level it is aimed at. The cultural elite has always endowed music with an exalted if not self-important religious or aesthetic status, while for the rural folk, it has been practical and unselfconscious, an accompaniment to fieldwork or to the festivals that provide periodic escape from toil. But since Rome and Alexandria, professional entertainers have diverted and edified city dwellers with songs, marches, and dances, whose pretensions fell somewhere in between."

— Robert Christgau, in Collier's Encyclopedia (1984)[14]

Scholars have classified music as "popular" based on various factors, including whether a song or piece becomes known to listeners mainly from hearing the music (in contrast with classical music, in which many musicians learn pieces from sheet music); its appeal to diverse listeners, its treatment as a marketplace commodity in a capitalist context, and other factors.[6] Sales of 'recordings' or sheet music are one measure. Middleton and Manuel note that this definition has problems because multiple listens or plays of the same song or piece are not counted.[2] Evaluating appeal based on size of audience (mass appeal) or whether audience is of a certain social class is another way to define popular music, but this, too, has problems in that social categories of people cannot be applied accurately to musical styles. Manuel states that one criticism of popular music is that it is produced by large media conglomerates and passively consumed by the public, who merely buy or reject what music is being produced. He claims that the listeners in the scenario would not have been able to make the choice of their favorite music, which negates the previous conception of popular music.[15] Moreover, "understandings of popular music have changed with time".[2] Middleton argues that if research were to be done on the field of popular music, there would be a level of stability within societies to characterize historical periods, distribution of music, and the patterns of influence and continuity within the popular styles of music.[16]

Anahid Kassabian separated popular music into four categories:

  • "popular as populist," or having overtones of liberation and expression;
  • "popular as folk," or stating that the music is written by the people, for themselves;
  • "popular as counterculture," or empowering citizens to act against the oppression they face;
  • "popular as mass," or the music becomes the tool for oppression.[17]

A society's popular music reflects the ideals that are prevalent at the time it is performed or published.[18]David Riesman states that the youth audiences of popular music fit into either a majority group or a subculture. The majority group listens to the commercially produced styles while the subcultures find a minority style to transmit their own values.[16] This allows youth to choose what music they identify with, which gives them power as consumers to control the market of popular music.[16]

Music critic Robert Christgau coined the term "semipopular music" in 1970, to describe records that seemed accessible for popular consumption but proved unsuccessful commercially. "I recognized that something else was going on—the distribution system appeared to be faltering, FM and all", he later wrote in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981), citing that records like The Velvet Underground and The Gilded Palace of Sin (by Flying Burrito Brothers) possessed populist qualities yet failed to impact the record charts. "Just as semiclassical music is a systematic dilution of highbrow preferences, semipopular music is a cross-bred concentration of fashionable modes."[19] In his mind, a liking "for the nasty, brutish, and short intensifies a common semipopular tendency in which lyrical and conceptual sophistication are applauded while musical sophistication—jazz chops or classical design or avant-garde innovation—is left to the specialists."[20]

Form of Western popular music[edit]

Main article: Song structure

Form in popular music is most often sectional, the most common sections being verse, chorus or refrain, and bridge. Other common forms include thirty-two-bar form, chorus form *(Middleton pg 30), and twelve-bar blues. Popular music songs are rarely composed using different music for each stanza of the lyrics (songs composed in this fashion are said to be "through-composed").[10]

The verse and chorus are considered the primary elements. Each verse usually has the same melody (possibly with some slight modifications), but the lyrics change for most verses. The chorus (or "refrain") usually has a melodic phrase and a key lyrical line which is repeated. Pop songs may have an introduction and coda ("tag"), but these elements are not essential to the identity of most songs. Pop songs that use verses and choruses often have a bridge, a section which connects the verse and chorus at one or more points in the song.[10]

The verse and chorus are usually repeated throughout a song, while the bridge, intro, and coda (also called an "outro") tend to be used only once. Some pop songs may have a solo section, particularly in rock or blues-influenced pop. During the solo section, one or more instruments play a melodic line which may be the melody used by the singer, or, in blues- or jazz-influenced pop, the solo may be improvised based on the chord progression. A solo usually features a single instrumental performer (e.g., a guitarist or a harmonica player) or less commonly, more than one instrumentalist (e.g., a trumpeter and a sax player).[10]

Thirty-two-bar form uses four sections, most often eight measures long each (4×8=32), two verses or A sections, a contrasting B section (the bridge or "middle-eight") and a return of the verse in one last A section (AABA).[21] Verse-chorus form or ABA form may be combined with AABA form, in compound AABA forms. Variations such as a1 and a2 can also be used. The repetition of one chord progression may mark off the only section in a simple verse form such as the twelve bar blues.[10]

Development in North America and Europe[edit]


Main article: Music industry

See also: Album era

"The most significant feature of the emergent popular music industry of the late 18th and early 19th centuries was the extent of its focus on the commodity form of sheet music".[22] The availability of inexpensive, widely available sheet music versions of popular songs and instrumental music pieces made it possible for music to be disseminated to a wide audience of amateur, middle-class music-makers, who could play and sing popular music at home. Amateur music-making in the 19th century often centred around the piano, as this instrument could play melodies, chords and basslines, thus enabling a pianist to reproduce popular songs and pieces. In addition to the influence of sheet music, another factor was the increasing availability during the late 18th and early 19th century of public popular music performances in "pleasure gardens and dance halls, popular theatres and concert rooms".[22]

The early popular music performers worked hand-in-hand with the sheet music industry to promote popular sheet music. One of the early popular music performers to attain widespread popularity was a Swedish opera singer Jenny Lind, who toured the US in the mid-19th century. In addition to living room amateur music-making during the 19th century, more people began getting involved in music during this era by participating in amateur choirs, joining brass bands or playing in amateur orchestras.[citation needed]

The centre of the music publishing industry in the US during the late 19th century was in New York's 'Tin Pan Alley' district. The Tin Pan Alley music publishers developed a new method for promoting sheet music: incessant promotion of new songs. One of the technological innovations that helped to spread popular music around the turn of the century was player pianos. A player piano could be used to record a skilled pianist's rendition of a piano piece. This recorded performance could be "played back" on another player piano. This allowed a larger number of music lovers to hear the new popular piano tunes.[22] By the early 1900s, the big trends in popular music were the increasing popularity of vaudeville theaters and dance halls and a new invention—the gramophone player. The record industry grew very rapidly; "By 1920 there were almost 80 record companies in Britain, and almost 200 in the USA".[22] The availability of records enabled a larger percentage of the population to hear the top singers and bands.[citation needed]

Radio broadcasting of music, which began in the early 1920s, helped to spread popular songs to a huge audience, enabling a much larger proportion of the population to hear songs performed by professional singers and music ensembles, including individuals from lower income groups who previously would not have been able to afford concert tickets. Radio broadcasting increased the ability of songwriters, singers and bandleaders to become nationally known. Another factor which helped to disseminate popular music was the introduction of "talking pictures"—sound films—in the late 1920s, which also included music and songs. In the late 1920s and throughout the 1930s, there was a move towards consolidation in the recording industry, which led several major companies to dominate the record industry.[22]

In the 1950s and 1960s, the new invention of television began to play an increasingly important role in disseminating new popular music. Variety shows regularly showcased popular singers and bands. In the 1960s, the development of new technologies in recording, such as multitrack recorders gave sound engineers and record producers an increasingly important role in popular music. By using multitrack recording techniques, sound engineers could create new sounds and sound effects that were not possible using traditional "live" recording techniques,[22] such as singers performing their own backup vocals or having lead guitarists play rhythm guitars behind their guitar solo. During the 1960s era of psychedelic music, the recording studio was used to create even more unusual sounds, in order to mimic the effect of taking hallucinogenic drugs, some songs used tapes of instruments played backwards or panned the music from one side to the other of the stereo image.[citation needed] The next decade saw moves away from these sensibilities, as Robert Christgau noted in Christgau's Record Guide: Rock Albums of the Seventies (1981):

"In popular music, embracing the '70s meant both an elitist withdrawal from the messy concert and counterculture scene and a profiteering pursuit of the lowest common denominator in FM radio and album rock ... In the '70s the powerful took over, as rock industrialists capitalized on the national mood to reduce potent music to an often reactionary species of entertainment—and to transmute rock's popular base from audience to market."[23]

In the 1970s, the trend towards consolidation in the recording industry continued to the point that the "... dominance was in the hands of five huge transnational organizations, three American-owned (WEA, RCA, CBS) and two European-owned companies (EMI, Polygram)".[according to whom?] In the 1990s, the consolidation trend took a new turn: inter-media consolidation. This trend saw music recording companies being consolidated with film, television, magazines, and other media companies, an approach which facilitated cross-marketing promotion between subsidiaries. For example, a record company's singing star could be cross-promoted by the conglomerate's television talk shows and magazine arms.[22]

The "introduction of digital equipment (mixing desks, synthesizers, samplers, sequencers)" in the 1980s resulted in what Grove Dictionary of Music dubbed the creation of "new sound worlds", as well as facilitating DIY music production by amateur musicians and "tiny independent record labels".[22] In the 1990s, the availability of sound recording software and effects units software meant that an amateur indie band could record an album—which required a fully equipped recording studio in previous decades—using little more than a laptop and a good quality microphone.[citation needed] That said, the audio quality of modern recording studios still outstrips what an amateur can produce.[24]


Main article: Music journalist

See also: Rockism and poptimism


In addition to many changes in specific sounds and technologies used, there has been a shift in the content and key elements of popular music since the 1960s. One major change is that popular music has gotten slower; the average BPM of popular songs from the 1960s was 116, while the average of the 2000s was 100BPM.[25] Additionally, songs getting radio play in the 1960s were, on average, only about three minutes long.[26] In contrast, most of the songs in the Billboard Top 5 in 2018 were between 3:21 and 3:40 minutes long.[27] There has also been a drop in the use of major keys and a rise in the use of minor keys since the 1960s; 85% of songs were in a major key in that decade, while only around 40% of songs are in a major key now.[28] The subject matter and lyrics of popular music have also undergone major change, becoming sadder[29][30] as well as more antisocial and self-centered since the 1960s.[28] There has also been an increasing trend of songs' emotional content, key, and tempo not following common associations; for example, fast songs with sad subject matters or in a minor key, or slow songs with happier content or in a major key.[28]

There are multiple possible explanations for many of these changes. One reason for the brevity of songs in the past was the physical capability of records. Vinyl record singles, which were heavily favored for radio play, only had room for about three minutes of music, physically limiting the possible length of popular songs.[26] With the invention of CDs in 1982, and more recently with streaming, music can be as long or short as both writers and listeners wish. However, songs have gotten shorter again, partially due to the ubiquity of streaming. The average song length in 2018 was 3 minutes and 30 seconds, 20 seconds shorter than the average in 2014.[31] The most probable cause of this is that artists are now paid per individual stream, and longer songs could mean fewer streams. As for the difference in songs' subject matter and emotional content, popular music since the late 1960s has increasingly been used to promote social change and political agendas. Artists since that time have often focused their music on current events and subjects relevant to the current generations. Another theory is that globalization makes audiences' tastes more diverse, so different ideas in music have a chance to gain popularity.[28]

Global perspective[edit]

In contrast to Western popular music, a genre of music that is popular outside of a Western nation, is categorized into World music. This label turns otherwise popular styles of music into an exotic and unknown category. The Western concept of 'World Music' homogenizes many different genres of popular music under one accessible term for Western audiences.[17] New media technology has led urban music styles to filter into distant rural areas across the globe. The rural areas, in turn, are able to give feedback to the urban centers about the new styles of music.[16] Urbanization, modernization, exposure to foreign music and mass media have contributed to hybrid urban pop styles. The hybrid styles have also found a space within Western popular music through the expressions of their national culture.[15] Recipient cultures borrow elements from host cultures and alter the meaning and context found in the host culture. Many Western styles, in turn, have become international styles through multinational recording studios.[15]


See also: African popular music

Popular African music styles have stemmed from traditional entertainment genres, rather than evolving from music used with certain traditional ceremonies like weddings, births, or funerals.[15] African popular music as a whole has been influenced by European countries, African-American and Afro-Latin music, and region-specific styles that became popular across a wider range of people. Although due to the significance and strong position of culture in traditional African music, African popular music tends to stay within the roots of traditional African Popular Music.[32][15] The genre of music, Maskanda, is popular in its culture of origin, South Africa. Although maskanda is a traditional music genre by definition, the people who listen to it influence the ideals that are brought forth in the music.[33] A popular maskandi artist, Phuzekhemisi, had to lessen the political influence within his music to be ready for the public sphere. His music producer, West Nikosi, was looking for the commercial success in Phuzekhemisi's music rather than starting a political controversy.[33]

Political songs have been an important category of African popular music in many societies. During the continent's struggle against colonial rule, nationalistic songs boosted citizens' morale. These songs were based on Western marches and hymns reflecting the European education system that the early nationalistic leaders grew up in. Not all African political songs were based on Western styles. For example, in South Africa, the political songs during the Anti-Apartheid Movement were based on traditional tribal styles along with hybrid forms of imported genres.[15] Activists used protest and freedom songs to persuade individuals to take action, become educated with the struggle, and empower others to be politically conscious.[34] These songs reflected the nuances between the different classes involved in the liberation struggle.[15]

One of the genres people of Africa use for political expression is Hip hop.[35] Although hip hop in Africa is based on the North American template, it has been remade to produce new meanings for African young people. This allows the genre to be both locally and globally influential.[35] African youth are shaped by the fast-growing genre's ability to communicate, educate, empower, and entertain.[35] Artists who would have started in traditional music genres, like maskanda, became hip hop artists to provide a stronger career path for themselves. These rappers compare themselves to the traditional artists like the griot and oral storyteller, who both had a role in reflecting on the internal dynamics of the larger society.[35] African hip hop creates youth culture, community intelligence, and global solidarity.[35]



See also: Music of Indonesia

Noah, one of Indonesia's popular bands

Popular music in Indonesia can be categorized as hybrid forms of Western rock to genres that are originated in Indonesia and indigenous in style.[15] The genre of music, Dangdut, is a genre of popular music specifically found in Indonesia. Dangdut formed two other styles of popular music, Indo-pop and Underground,[36] together to create a new hybrid or fusion genre. The genre takes the noisy instrumentation from Underground, but still makes it easy to listen to like Indo-pop. Dangdut attempts to form many popular music genres like rock, pop, and traditional music to create this new sound that lines up with the consumers' tastes.[37] This genre has formed into a larger social movement that includes clothing, youth culture, the resurgence of Islam, and the capitalist entertainment industry.[15]

Another music scene that is popular in Indonesia is Punk rock. This genre was shaped in Indonesia by the local interpretations of the media from the larger global punk movement.[36] Jeremy Wallach argues that while Green Day was seen as the "death of punk," in Indonesia they were the catalyst for a larger punk movement.[36] Punk in Indonesia calls on the English-speaking world to embrace the global sects of the punk culture and become open-minded to the transnational genre.[36]


In a 2015 study involving young students in Shanghai, youths stated they enjoyed listening to both Chinese, other Asian nationalities, and Anglo-American popular music. There are three ways that young people of China were able to access global music.[18] The first reason was a policy change since the late 1970s where the country was opened up to the rest of the world instead of being self-contained. This created more opportunities for Chinese people to interact with people outside of their country of origin to create a more globalized culture. The second reason is that the Chinese television and music industry since the 1980s has broadcast television shows from their neighboring Asian societies and the West. The third reason is the impact of the internet and smartphones on the accessibility of streaming music.[18]

In 2015, students in China accounted for 30.2% of China's internet population and the third and fifth most popular uses of the internet were respectively, internet music and internet video use. The youths described being able to connect to the emotions and language of the Chinese music, but also enjoyed the melodies found within Anglo-American music. The students also believed that listening to the English music would improve their English language skills.[18]

Middle East[edit]

Iranian rock band Kiosk, live in 2007

Modernization of music in the Arab world involved borrowing inspiration from Turkish music and Western musical styles.[38] The late Egyptian singer, Umm Kulthum, stated,

"We must respect ourselves and our art. The Indians have set a good example for us - they show great respect for themselves and their arts. Wherever they are, they wear their native dress and their music is known throughout the world. This is the right way."

She discussed this to explain why Egypt and the Arab world needed to take pride in the popular music styles originating in their culture so the styles were not lost in the modernization.[38] Local musicians learned Western instrumental styles to create their own popular styles including their native languages and indigenous musical features.[38] Communities in throughout the Arab world place high value on their indigenous musical identities while assimilating to new musical styles from neighboring countries or mass media.[38] Through the 1980s and 1990s, popular music has been seen as a problem for the Iranian government because of the non-religious meanings within the music and the bodily movements of dancing or headbanging.[39] During this time period, metal became a popular underground subculture through the Middle East. Just like their Western counterparts, Middle Eastern metal followers expressed their feelings of alienation. But their thoughts came from war and social restrictions on youth.[40]

In interviews of Iranian teenagers between 1990 and 2004, the youth overall preferred Western popular music, even though it was banned by the government.[39] Iranian underground rock bands are composed of members who are young, urban-minded, educated, relatively well-off, and global beings. Iranian rock is described by the traits that these band members possess.[39] The youth who take part in underground music in the Middle East are aware of the social constraints of their countries, but they are not optimistic about social change.[40] Iranian rock bands have taken up an internationalist position to express their rebellion from the discourses in their national governments.[39]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ abcPopular Music. (2015). Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia
  2. ^ abcMiddleton, Richard; Manuel, Peter (2001). "Popular Music". Grove Music Online. Oxford Index. ISBN .
  3. ^"Definition of "popular music" | Collins English Dictionary". www.collinsdictionary.com. Archived from the original on 2019-03-27. Retrieved 2015-11-15.
  4. ^ abArnold, Denis (1983). The New Oxford Companion Music, Volume 1: A-J. Oxford University Press. p. 111. ISBN .
  5. ^ abArnold, Denis (1983). The New Oxford Companion to Music, Volume 2: K-Z. Oxford University Press. p. 1467. ISBN .
  6. ^ abcPhilip Tagg (1982). "Analysing popular music: theory, method and practice"(PDF). Popular Music. 2: 37–67. CiteSeerX doi:10.1017/S0261143000001227. Archived(PDF) from the original on 2019-04-12. Retrieved 2018-10-13.
  7. ^Lamb, Bill. "Pop Music Defined". About Entertainment. About.com. Archived from the original on 20 October 2005. Retrieved 13 November 2015.
  8. ^Allen, Robert. "Popular music". Pocket Fowler's Modern English Usage. 2004.
  9. ^Laurie, Timothy (2014). "Music Genre As Method". Cultural Studies Review. 20 (2), pp. 283-292.
  10. ^ abcdeSadie, Stanley, ed. (2001). "Popular Music: Form". The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians. 20. New York: Grove. pp. 142–144. ISBN .
  11. ^Bus, Natalia (August 3, 2017). "An ode to the iPod: the enduring impact of the world's most successful music player". New Statesman. Archived from the original on November 10, 2020. Retrieved November 9, 2020.
  12. ^Lashua, Brett (2014). Sounds and the City: Popular Music, Place and Globalization. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan. p. 19. ISBN .
  13. ^Furlong, Andy (2013). Youth Studies: An Introduction. London: Routledge. p. 237. ISBN .
  14. ^Christgau, Robert (1984). "Popular Music". In Halsey, William Darrach (ed.). Collier's Encyclopedia. Archived from the original on June 20, 2020. Retrieved June 19, 2020 – via robertchristgau.com.
  15. ^ abcdefghiManuel, Peter (1988). Popular Musics of the Non-Western World. New York: Oxford University Press. pp. 7, 11–12, 20, 85–86, 88, 205, 210, 212, 220. ISBN .
  16. ^ abcdMiddleton, Richard (1990). Studying Popular Music. Philadelphia: Open University Press. pp. 46, 136, 155, 249, 293. ISBN .
  17. ^ abEisentraut, Jochen (2012). The Accessibility of Music: Participation, Reception and Contact. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 41–42, 197–198. ISBN .
  18. ^ abcdLaw, Wing-Wah; Ho, Wai-Chung (2015-08-01). "Popular music and school music education: Chinese students' preferences and dilemmas in Shanghai, China". International Journal of Music Education. 33 (3): 304–324. doi:10.1177/0255761415569115. hdl:10722/229528. ISSN 0255-7614.
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Further reading[edit]

  • T.W. Adorno with G. Simpson: 'On Popular Music', Studies in Philosophy and Social Science, ix (1941), 17–48
  • D. Brackett: Interpreting Popular Music (Cambridge, 1995)
  • Brøvig-Hanssen, Ragnhild & Danielsen, Anne (2016). Digital Signatures: The Impact of Digitization on Popular Music Sound. MIT Press. ISBN 9780262034142
  • Larry Freeman: The Melody Lingers on: 50 Years of Popular Song (Watkins Glen, N.Y.: Century House, 1951). 212 p. N.B.: Includes a chronology, "50 Years of Song Hits", on p. 193-215.
  • P. Gammond: The Oxford Companion to Popular Music (Oxford, 1991)
  • Haddix, Chuck. Rags to Be-bop: the Sounds of Kansas City Music, 1890-1945. [Text by] Chuck Haddix (Kansas City, Mo.: University of Missouri at Kansas City, University Libraries, Marr Sound Archives, 1991). Without ISBN
  • P. Hardy and D. Laing: The Faber Companion to 20th-Century Popular Music (London, 1990/R)
  • R. Iwaschkin: Popular Music: a Reference Guide (New York, 1986)
  • J. Kotarba, B. Merrill, J. P. Williams, & P. Vannini Understanding Society through Popular Music. NY:Routledge, 2013 (second ed.) ISBN 9780415 641951
  • Larkin, Colin. The Encyclopedia of Popular Music. Oxford University Press, 2006 ISBN 9780195313734 (10 volumes)
  • R. Middleton: Studying Popular Music (Milton Keynes, 1990)
  • Moore, Allan F., ed. Analyzing popular music. Cambridge University Press, 2003.
  • M. Sorce Keller: "Continuing Opera with Other Means: Opera, Neapolitan song, and popular music among Italian immigrants overseas", Forum Italicum, Vol. XLIX(2015), No 3, 1- 20.

External links[edit]

  • Genres of popular music - Interactive relationships diagram
  • Famous Music Videos - Music Video Databases - YouTube, Google Video, MySpace TV, MetaCafe, DailyMotion, Veoh, Current.com, ClipFish.de, MyVideo.de, Break.com and EyeSpot
  • The 1950s-2000's Week-By-Week - Looks at pop music/albums/radio and music news through these decades.
  • Pop Culture Madness Features the most requested pop songs 1920s through today
  • The Daily Vault music reviews
  • Yale Music Library Guide to Pop Music Research
  • Volume! the French academic journal dedicated to the study of popular music
  • Éditions Mélanie Seteun ! a French publisher dedicated to popular music studies - publishes Volume!, the French journal of PMS.
Sours: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Popular_music

From the 1920s on, popular music in Southeast Asia was a mass-audience phenomenon that drew new connections between indigenous musical styles and contemporary genres from elsewhere to create new, hybrid forms. This book presents a cultural history of modern Southeast Asia from the vantage point of popular music, considering not just singers and musicians but their fans as well, showing how the music was intrinsically bound up with modern life and the societal changes that came with it. Reaching new audiences across national borders, popular music of the period helped push social change, and at times served as a medium for expressions of social or political discontent.


history; southeast asia; popular music


Amsterdam University Press

Publisher website

Publication date and place


South East Asia


Sours: https://library.oapen.org/handle/20.500.12657/31148

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