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Reading Pop: Approaches to Textual Analysis in Popular Music [Kindle Edition]

Richard Middleton

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There is a typically perspicacious new introductory chapter from Middleton, which helpfully gives a summary of the entire terrain of popular music studies for the newcomer ... this collection is invaluable in that it gives a 'greatest hits' selection from a journal which some undergraduates may not have access ... In the main, the writing in this collection is admirable and the concerns refreshingly pluralistic. Years Work in Critical and Cultural Theory Extensive introduction is particularly valuable ... the paperback price is worth it for the introduction, and the Bjornberg and Tagg essays, alone. Allan More, British Journal of Music Education


Why do we enjoy pop songs (or not)? Why do they mean so much to us? What do they mean? Is it the sounds, the rhythms, or the words? Is it the singing, the personae of the stars, or the messages and images that the songs conjure up?

Plenty of people have written about pop personalities, the music industry, or about their own tastes, but serious analysis of the songs themselves is still rare. This collection of essays, all previously published in the leading journal Popular Music, brings together key studies by many of the leading scholars studying pop music today. Together they add up to the first substantial anthology to focus on musical "texts." Collecting a wide range of approaches, and looking at songs by performers as varied as Irving Berlin, Hank Williams, Chuck Berry, Buddy Holly, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, Peter Gabriel, Jimi Hendrix, John Mellencamp, David Bowie, James Brown, Randy Newman, and John Zorn, the book marks out a distinctive new territory characterized by the fusion of cultural studies and pop musicology.

Reading Pop will be required reading for all serious students and lovers of popular music.


  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • Dateigröße: 5745 KB
  • Seitenzahl der Print-Ausgabe: 400 Seiten
  • Verlag: Oxford University Press; Auflage: 1 (7. September 2000)
  • Verkauf durch: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • Text-to-Speech (Vorlesemodus): Aktiviert
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  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: #772.602 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop (Siehe Top 100 Bezahlt in Kindle-Shop)

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11 von 11 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
3.0 von 5 Sternen Academia Goes Pop 7. September 2002
Von disco75 - Veröffentlicht auf
This volume is an uneven affair but a valuable contribution to the oft-neglected examination of popular music. While many academicians lament the dwindling attention and support given to cultured music-- i.e. classical, and to some extent to jazz-- these same musicologists and ethnomusicologists are missing the vitality of the current world. Music has genuinely become a soundtrack to our lives, bursting forth from all kinds of sources and in so many venues. Try conducting daily life in markets, stores, restaurants, cafes, even streets without being exposed to contemporary pop music. The authors of the pieces in "Reading Pop" have in fact realized the ubiquity of pop music and address its role in modern life.
There are interesting data contained in many of these essays. The many elements that make some pop music memorable are explored. This includes the music and/or lyrics of such artists as Randy Newman, Prince, James Brown, Peter Gabriel, and Bruce Springsteen, among others. Theories about what is important in contemporary popular music are put forth; the ideas are valuable. There is an informative and well-written chapter about torch singers by John Moore. Also included is a "Method Of Analysis" chapter by Philip Tagg. It looks at musicology and compares modes of folk, pop and art music transmission. Tagg provides a checklist of features that might be analyzed in pop music, and gives examples of how these features might be described in rich and meaningful ways. Tagg unfortunately falls prey to his own jargon.
Actually, most of the book suffers from a particularly virulent case of "academ-ese." Esoteric jargon from the ivory tower suffuses the prolix writing. The sentences are structured in knotted prose, running on and on in complex clauses and sub-clauses that are too often difficult to disentangle. The obnoxious reliance on trendy phrases and supposedly clever writing devices-- heavy uses of slash marks and words with some syllables parenthesized: these are pretentions that reflect poor style and bad habits.
Four sentences illustrate this problem, sentences from the editor's own introduction to the book: "Interestingly, if any emergent analytic paradigm may be represented as currently possessing the potential for dominance, it is, in my view, 'dialogics.' Congruent with theories of discourse, mediation, and (post)modern ethnography, its recent prominence is nevertheless associated with a more specific influence, that of Mikhail Bakhtin. Bakhtin's materialist seminology posits-- against structural formalisms and sociological and economic reductionisms alike-- that meaning is always both socially and historically situated, and generically specific. Heteroglot networks of discursive conventions resulting from never-ending, historically contingent exchanges create a kind of giant intertextuality, operating both between utterances, texts, styles, genres, and social groups, and within individual examples of each."
One can only imagine the bloated egos or inferiority fears that fuel such composition. Because of the way it is written, this volume really serves only those with recent training in musicology-- other readers are apt to become too frustrated with the authorial style. Too bad for these writers-- their ideas make a contribution, but the ideas are apt to fall on a limited audience.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
4.0 von 5 Sternen More people should (try to) read this book. 17. Dezember 2005
Von Tiros - Veröffentlicht auf
This is one of several books I've read on music analysis. What separates this one from the others is the focus on pop music. It provides a solid foundation for how to analyze a song, not just review it from the traditional "I liked it / I didn't like it" perspective.

Using many familiar songwriters, and comparing works against other music genres, helps to drive home the author's points. The only criticizm I'll make is that I agree with the other reviewer - this book is heavy on academic verbosity. I could see this scaring away some potential readers.
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