Popular music is criticized through ______ writing & _______ writing.

1) Journalistic (Reviews, Magazine articles, Interviews)


Hire a custom writer who has experience.
It's time for you to submit amazing papers!

order now

2) Acadamic (Books/Articles frm variety of different disciplines)

What is popular music and how is it defined?
(3 Main Points)

It is often defined by:


1) Commercialization

2) Status as a commodity

3) Mass Appeal

What are some “other” considerations used when definining popular music?

1) Geographical Location

2) Time Period

3) Social & Cultural Context

How is culture defined?

Understood as the ever-changing values, tradiations, social and political relationships, and world-views shared by a group of people bound together by a combination of factors that can include a common history, language, social class and/or religion

A ____   ____ stands at the centre of society.
Dominant Culture
_____  _____ lack access to power and resources within society.
Subordinate Cultures

The dominant centre of our culture still reflects:


White, upper-middle-class, Western, heterosexual male persepectives




1) Books, music and art that have been important and influential in shaping Western culture




2) The body of cultural knowledge that is said to be important for an educated or “cultured” person to know

The Western Canon

Colour of a musical sound, the quality that distinguishes one instrument from another (ex. a piano vs. a saxaphone)

The loudness of a musical sound.

We hear sound as wave vibrations. When a sound vibrates at a specific frequency, then it has a definite ____.


We identify rapidly vibrting sounds as high _____ and slower vibrations as low _____.

Pitch (es)
Measures how long a musical sound lasts.

1. The range of timbres in a performance


2. Instruments used (includes voice, electronic sounds, etc)

How the instruments are played or how the voice is used.
Performing Style

1. Gradations of intensity, volume levels (loud and soft)


2. Inflection is a subtle use of ______.

Dynamics (volume of a sound or note)

Slow change within one parameter, or an overlapping of two blocks of sound.

_____ is concernced with duration — it involves any aspect of the music considered as a function of time.
A group of notes played one after the other (is the tune). Often the easiest part of music to remember.
A group of notes heard as a simultaneous event (a chord)
Two different but intertwined ways of organizing pitch
Melody and Harmony
Describes the various relationships among parts (each voice or instrument is a part)
The organization of music in time; it emerges from the interactions of all the elements

1) The transformation of goods and services (or things that may not normally be regarded as goods or services) into a commodity.




2)The assignment of a commercial value to something previously valueless

The condition in which a standard has been successfully established;

 School of thought that stresses the examination and the critique of society and culture by applying knowledge from the social sciences and the humanities

Critical Theory
 German sociologist, philosopher and musicologist known for his critical theory of society. He was a leading member of the Frankfurt School of critical theory, whose work has come to be associated with thinkers such as Horkheimer and Marcuse, for whom the work of Freud, Marx and Hegel were essential to a critique of modern society.
Theodor Adorno (1903 – 1969)

•Made up of economic institutions

•It produces forms of culture that are commodities

•According to Adorno, the commodification of cultural products leads to a standardization of these products

•Standardization leads to passivity in consumers

The Culture Industry
The culture industry is successful in part because people fetishize cultural objects.
Commodity Fetishism
Popular Music is standardized in three ways:

1) a number of types that are immediately recognizable

2) a small number of structures

3) a small number of components to each song that are interchangeable

The type of variation that exists between standardized products; surfaces changes; they do not alter the basic structure
High culture = _____ music
Low culture = _____ music
Differences between High/Low Culture include:

1) Degree of Standardization


2) Level of Complexity


3) Market Context

– The use of popular music in advertising is growing

– Companies are attempting to reach a wider audience with the use of music

– Musicians seem more willing to have their music used for commercial purposes

David Allen on “On Popular Music in Advertising”
with reference to Theodor Adorno
An area of Manhattan around 28th street where much of the sheet music for the popular vaudeville tune of the late 19th and early 20th century were written.
Tin Pan Alley

Handwritten or printed form of music notation that uses modern music symbols

Sheet Music

•Irving Berlin was the most prolific of the Tin Pan Alley Composers

•Wrote songs such as “God Bless America” and “White Christmas”

•Other Tin Pan Alley songwriters include: Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein, George and Ida Gershwin, and Cole Porter

Important Tin Pan Alley Information
___  ___ records represented the beginning of the transition from written to recorded music.
78 r.p.m (see Technology & Mass Dissemination)
“On Wax”, Paul Whiteman and Mary Margaret McBride
Paul Whiteman’s Ambassador Orchestra achieved unprecedented commercial success
Consists of sound recording companies who develop and market artists and their music
The Music Industry
Publishing, Music Retail, Music Press, Music Hardware, Sound Recording, Tours and Concerts, Merchandising, Royalties and Rights
Othe industries branching from the Music Industry

Power centered in the hands of larger, international companies, such as:


  • Universal Music Group
  • Sony/BMG
  • Warner Music Group
  • EMI

The Economic Structure of the Popular Music Industry
The ownership of popular music production is __________ in the hands of a small number of companies
Concentrated ; Concentration
Where concentration of the music and media industries lead to control of the total production flow, from raw materials to wholesale
Vertical Integration

Some critics have observed that periods of concentration have produced a lot of similar music


Some have observed that this has lead to bursts of creativity by the public

  • Innovation is therefore linked to independent record labels
  • A cycle of innovations and consolidation

Large Record Companies vs. Independent Labels
With respect to Large Record Companies vs. Independent Labels, this framework has been argued against:

– Music production is more complicated


– Webs and networks operating within the music industry


– Interconnections between large and small companies

For the use of musical material collected on the behalf of writers and publishers when music is performed or broadcast

Performing Rights


Paid for the privilege of broadcasting or playing the actual recording in public
Public Performance Rights
Paid to the copyright holder every time a particular song or piece of music is recorded
Mechanical Rights

Income from rights — Copyright;


What are the three types of rights?

1) Performing

2) Public Performance

3) Mechanical

Provides a legal shield around the name, slogan, shape, or character image, and in conjuction with product licensing, makes it possible for the original proprietor to transfer this sign to second and third parties for a limited period of time in exchange for royalties
The forging of links of image and perception between a range of products; images are transferrable between different media

Necessitates the construction of a desirable appearance around the commodity


This stimulates the desire to purchase and possess

Commodity Aesthetics

Positive and negative aspects of technological advancements in sound recording

Sound Production

New recording technologies have opened up creative possibilities that have led to the emergence of new genres

Sound Recording

Developments in sound systems correspond to how, when and where we listen to music

Sound Reproduction and Dissemination

  • The rise of 1990s electronic dance music begins with the fall of disco
  • DJs developed a number of techniques to create new music
  • The DJ became central to the dance-music experience

Electronic Dance Music


  • While disco was still popular, Larry Levan established himself as one of New York’s top dance DJs
  • As disco faded, Levan developed his own approach to re-working and combining records
  • This New York approach to dance music is often called “Garage”
  • E.g. The City Peech Boys’ “Don’t Make Me Wait” (1982)

Larry Levan and the Paradise Garage

  • Developed at a Chicago dance club called the Warehouse
  • Frankie Knuckles brought Levan’s techniques with him to Chicago (c. 1977)
  • By the early 1980s the Chicago sound was developing (would soon be called “house”
  • E.g. Jesse Saunders’ “On and On” (1983)

House Music

  • takes disco’s use of a prominent bass/kickdrum on every beat (four-to-the-floor beat)
  • Heavy electronic synthesizer bassline, electronic drums, electronic effects, funk and pop samples

House Music

  • The Belleville Three (Juan Atkins, Derrick May, and Kevin saunderson) began producing a refined, futuristic, and sonically sophisticated version of dance music that many called “Detroit House”
  • Style now referred to as Techno
  • E.g. Juan Atkin’s “No UFOs” (1985)


  • Emerged in the early 1990s
  • Fast tempo broken-beat drums
  • Tracks often used ragga vocals
  • E.g Goldie “Angel” (1995)

Jungle / Drum and Bass (DnB)

  • This subgenre includes a wide range of contemporary electronic music designed for a wide range of uses
  • This music is not always intended for dancing (unlike most other types of EDM)
  • E.g. Moby “Natural Blues”


  • Mashups embody musical collisions
  • They often rely on irony and nostalgia
  • They have the potential to convey cultural critique
  • When listening to mashups, “we discover correspondences, connotations, and critical readings of performances that we may not have given a second thought” (307)
  • They have turned consumption into production

Mashup Poetics as Pedagogical Practice (2011), Wayne Marshall


  • Brought the genre into public discourse
  • Combined vocals from Jay-Z’s The Black Album (2003) with backing tracks from the Beatles’ White Album (1968), creating The Grey Album (2004)

DJ Danger Mouse (Mashups)

The documentary is particularly interested in the legal grey area of remixing existing works. The film features appearances by:

  • Gregg Gillis (better known as Girl Talk) an American musician specializing in mashup-style remixes, which often use a dozen or more unauthorized samples from different songs to create an entirely new track.
  • Director suggested we should take control back from government/industy
  • Issue with who is benefitting from copyright? (how much goes to the artist)

RiP! a Remix Manifesto


Directed by Brett Gaylor

– Article gives us othe side of Manifesto Documentary

– Focus on sampling in Hip Hop

– Criticism on artists who make hit songs by sampling old songs

– MC Hammer “Cant Touch This” samples Rick James “Superfreak”

Strauss:  “Popularity not due to rapper skills, but due to sample of other song”

– Questioned whether this was a sign of a creatival slump

Bracket, “Sample Mania”


Neil Strauss, “Sampling is a Creative Theft or Theft?)

What is popular music text?


“Text” refers to any media form that is self-contained and conveys cultural meaning


Ex. Recordings, Album Covers, Music Videos, Live Performances

Is concerned with identifying and analyzing the formal qualities of texts, their structures, and characteristics
Textual Analysis

•Intertextuality is the idea that a text communicates its meaning only when it is situated in relation to other texts
•Preferred reading: dominant messages set within the codes and conventions that went into the creation of the text
•A song’s meaning is not definite
•Context plays a large role in how meanings are interpreted
•Cultural meanings are made by consumers

Shuker, Chapter 5 (Sounds, Meanings and Interpretations)
What are the three (3) forms of text?

Graphic, Musical, Video

•Graphic Texts
?Concert posters
?Street flyers
?Packaging of albums
•Contribute to advertising/branding


•Musical Texts
?Includes the study of both music and lyrics


•Music Video
-Music videos are promotional devices
-There is often a pre-occupation with visual style
-Music videos abolish traditional boundaries between an image and its real-life referent

Shuker, Chapter 5 (Sounds, Meanings and Interpretations)

– A category or type


– An organizing element
    Musical chracteristics

    Time periods


    Types of listeners


– Defined in part by distinctions made by the music industry


– Genres standardize codes and conventions (Musical, lyric, visual, ideological)


– These codes are fluid

  • Placed in the context of historical roots and social context
  • Stylistic traits in the music
  • Non-musical stylistic traits
  • Primary audience
  • The style’s durability


Dimensions of Popular Music Genres

Dimensions of Popular Music Genres
In what 3 ways are genres categorized?






Large categories, that contain variety of genres
Category class below metagenres
Genres (Disco falls within pop)
Category below genre
Subgenre (screamo falls within rock)
Issues with Sampling:

1) Copyright


2) Creativity

Musical Borrowing and Appropration



The artistic use of another’s work in the creation of a new piece (ex. Andy Warhol: Campbell’s Soup Can Art)

Issue that comes up with covers is ________.

1. Author’s Intent
2. Style and Genre Manipulation
3. Musical Originality


Shuker talks about authneticity in terms of

Pop and Rock polarized:

– Pop = artiface (trick people)
– Rock = Authentic

Possessing original or inherent authority
Authenticity of Expression
Based on Allan Moore (2002), what are the there types of authenticity?
Expression, Experience, Execution

A modern visitor to a museum may not only see an object in a very different context from that which the artist intended, but may be unable to understand important aspects of the work. The authentic _______ may be impossible to recapture.

Authenticity of Experience
3rd Person Authenticity
Authenticity of Execution

– Originating moment


Spectrum of Copies
– Original
– Direct Copy
– Minor Interpreatation
– Major Interpretation
– Parody


  • Appropriation
  • Authenticity
  • Intertextuality
  • Context

    – Genre
    – Time period
    – Gender
    – Race
    – Location

Cover Songs