Culture Popular Music in its Many Facets In its broadest sense, popular music is an umbrella term referring to a vast range of commercially mass-marketed musical genres contrasting with classical or art music and intended for mass consumption (e. G. , rock, rock and roll, hip-hop, grunge. Heavy metal, rhythm and blues, punk, soul, techno, funk, rap, house).
This wide- ranging term encompasses a plethora of musical styles involving various rhythms, vocal styles, Instruments, and technologies. Characteristically, popular music Is a lobar cultural phenomenon and an accessible form of commercial music aimed at a worldwide audience. Traditionally, British and American forms of popular music have tended to dominate the industry. Corresponding to social, economic, and technological change, popular music Is intimately linked to the identity of musicians, performers, or artists, as well as audiences and fans.
Popular music Is ubiquitous; from shopping malls and advertising to gymnasiums/fleetness classes and political campaigns, popular music is a common feature of people’s everyday lives and a significant aspect of consumer culture. For fans and enthusiasts, popular music can e a leisure-time pursuit occurring on evenings or weekends; alternatively, It can constitute a lifestyle, or way of life (e. G. , Deadheads-?a group of fans of the American band Grateful Dead who saw the band at as many gigs and festivals as possible from the sass onward).
For many people, the consumption of popular music Is a significant means of Identification, affiliation, and belonging. Different forms of popular music can create pleasure and excitement for some and moral panic and dread for others; it is a much debated and important realm of cultural life with significant implications for our understanding of consumer culture. Providing a concrete and tangible definition of what constitutes popular music has been the subject of much academic debate. As Richard Middleton contends, attempting to define popular music is “riddled with complexities” (1990, 3).
Studies of popular commonly analyzed as a text, to sociological, which tends to focus on the social uses of popular music and the dynamic and interactive relationship between popular music, culture, and society. Popular music is commonly understood as being Intrinsically linked to popular culture. Sociological studies of popular music audiences tend to use either questionnaire-based survey methods; ethnographic approaches, such as participant observation and in-depth interviewing; or a combination of the two.
Through survey research, tastes in popular music are understood as being shaped by a person’s gender, age, social class background, and race/ethnicity. To a certain extent, sociological approaches to studying popular music stem from cultural studies, an offshoot of sociology developed primarily in the sass at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CSS) in Birmingham, England, led by Richard Haggard and later Stuart Hall. A number of notable popular music theorists worked at the CSS, including Dick Hebrides, lain Chambers, Angela
Microbes, and Paul Willis. A major focus of the CSS was the study of youth culture and subcultures analysis; subsequently, popular music was perceived as central to adolescent resistance, understood as key to the development of sociology of youth, and viewed as a crucial realm of youth consumption practices and identification. Thus, popular music research since the sass has tended to focus on teenagers and groups of youths that coalesce around particular music styles.
Few academic studies of popular music existed pre-1970, and the subject received relatively little scholarly attention during the sass and sass, with the exception of aforementioned theorists that worked at institutions such as the CSS and key theorists such as Lawrence Grosser in the United States and Simon Firth in the United Kingdom. Since the sass, there has been a proliferation of survey research, theoretical material, and ethnographic work concerned with the production and consumption of popular music and particularly its reception in society.
Thomas Edison invented sound recording in 1877 in the United States; as a result, the era of recorded music began. The emergence of many popular music genres during the twentieth century can be linked to technological advancements of the same period. The rise of recorded music together with more stringent copyright protection laws facilitated the development of the music business in capitalist society and more specifically the centralization of the American music publishing business and songwriters in an area of New York known as Tin Pan Alley in the late-nineteenth century.
The Tin Pan Alley era initially specialized in ballads and novelty songs but later began to incorporate popular styles of the period, including ragtime, Jazz, and blues. Significant technological innovations such as the widespread use of radio, the increasing quality and affordability of the gramophone, the introduction of the microphone in the sass, and the inception of amplification and electric recording paved the way for new musical styles to emerge, such as rhythm and blues and rock and roll, leading to surge in popularity of record buying, particularly in Britain and America but also on global scale.
Theodore Adorn, a critical theorist and leading member of the Frankfurt school in Germany, coined the term culture industry in his critique of mass culture that made specific reference to popular music. The majority of Adorns account is based on his views of popular music produced in the Tin Pan Alley era and repetitive, and unequivocally contrasts with “serious” music: A clear Judgment concerning the relation of serious to popular music can be arrived at only by strict attention to the fundamental characteristic of popular music: standardization.
The whole structure of popular music is standardized even where the attempt is made to circumvent standardization. (1941 , 302) Thus, in Adorns view, popular music fails to negate the dominant social order, encompass an oppositional stance, or express critical thought. Instead, popular music is “rigid” and “mechanical. ” This is unlike serious music, which is “non-standardized,” and “[every] detail derives its musical sense from the concrete totality of the piece” (1941 , 303-305). For Adorn, popular music is not only standardized, but also it standardizes responses and reactions on behalf of the listener.
It promotes habituated impulses and leaves the listener devoid of spontaneity. Moreover, popular music entails pseudo- individualizing, referring to the idea that cultural products intended for mass consumption, such as hit songs, are undifferentiated in their musical frameworks. The listener is merely given an illusion of choice in regard to the types of popular music they can appreciate and listen to. Adorn contends that the standardization of popular songs leads to compliant consumers because songs are heard in accordance with other standardized popular songs.
Essentially, popular songs do their listening for them. Simultaneously, pseudo-individualizing propagates compliant consumers because the audience is made to forget that this is the case, the listener misled into thinking that what they listen to is new and is not listened to for them, or “pre- digested” (1941 , 308). The effects of standardization and pseudo-individualizing on the listener are, according to Adorn, escapism and diversion: “Listeners are distracted from the demands of reality by entertainment which does not demand attention either” (310).
During the twentieth century, a vast number of musical genres and styles emerged, particularly during the postwar period. Critics of Adorns work have commented on his tendency to ignore the rise of rock and roll and ensuing popular music genres that could be considered to negate the dominant social order and offer non-standardized musical frameworks (Firth 1983). The first solid-body electric guitars were mass produced in the sass, such as the Less Paul Gibson and the Fender Esquire.
The electric guitar was a crucial instrument in the development of rock and roll in the sass and subsequent genres such as rock and its various offshoots in the sass and sass (e. G. , progressive rock, psychedelic rock, blues rock). The electric guitar’s sound was increasingly distorted and modified and led to genres such as heavy metal and punk, which entailed a do-it-yourself (DID) ethos and emphasized that anyone could pick up an instrument, regardless of skill, and become a pop star.
In the sass and sass, sampling technologies and digitization led to the emergence of genres such as rap and hip-hop and electronic dance music (EDM) genres, such as house, techno, and trance to name a few. The organization of the popular music business entails a number of major and independent labels. As of 2010, there are four major record labels that dominate the industry and popular music output internationally: Warner Music Group, Electric & Musical Industries Ltd. MI Group), Sony Music, and Universal Music Group. Popular music is an international multimillion dollar industry that has been dominated by the ore recently, Japan and Europe. Sociologists of popular music have made several attempts to theorize the production of popular music and the organization of the music industry. Richard Peterson (1976) proposes a production of culture perspective in his analysis of the development and organization of the music business during the postwar period.
Peterson and David Berger suggest that the period 1948 through 1973 is characterized by cyclical phases of concentration in the music industry and outbursts of competition and diversity driven by consumer demand. In a later study, Peterson (1990) identifies six factors that constrain or assist he production of popular music: organizational structure, industry structure, occupational careers, markets, technology, and law or regulation. Howard Becker coined the term art world to refer to the social organization of people involved in the sphere of art production, commission, promotion, and sale.
This term has been appropriated into popular music studies by theorists such as Firth (1996), who contends that three art worlds exist within the music industry: the art music world, the folk music world, and the commercial music world. Historically, popular music has been consumed in a multitude of ways. The consumption of popular music may entail purchasing recorded music on vinyl, cassette tape, or compact disc (CD); listening to the radio; watching music videos on television channels, such as MET; home tape/CD recording; and more recently, downloading music from the Internet.
Simultaneously, people may read the music press, go clubbing, or see bands perform live at gigs and concerts. The popular music press, including Melody Maker and the New Musical Express (NAME) in the United Kingdom and Rolling Stone in the United States, has played a major role in the popular music charts, propelling bands and artists to major chart success and influencing young people with regard to the latest music and fashion trends. During the postwar period, popular music has been viewed as central to teenage consumption and identity formation.
From moods to rockers, punks to clubbers, the consumption of popular music is widespread and has become increasingly diverse as popular music genres have evolved. Sociological readings of popular music have tended to focus on the social uses of popular music, particularly in relation to the collective action of people forming music scenes and using music as a means of identification and expression of a sense of self. In the sass, subcultures theorists, such as Paul Willis, gave attention to popular music consumption as a signifier of a group’s style, outlook, and focus.
Willis advocated a structural homology evaluation “concerned with how far, in their structure and content, particular items parallel and reflect the structure, style, typical concerns, attitudes and feelings of the social group” (Willis 1978, 191). Thus, for Willis and other subcultures theorists, it was argued that a “fit” was evident between specific fashions and styles-?in respect to popular music and clothing-? and a group’s identity and coloratura values and beliefs.
A crucial concern for subcultures analysts was the issue of Juvenile deviance and resistance and the various ways British working- class youth cultures used music and associated fashion styles and cultural practices to express themselves (see Hall and Jefferson 1976). Hebrides seminal study of punk culture in Britain focused primarily on these issues and exemplified the homology between the consumption of popular music and particular social groups. Popular boys” of the sass and punks of the late sass were understood as representative of this view.
The consumption of popular music was recognized as being symbolic of a person’s social class background, gender, and race and ethnicity. It was viewed as a highly significant realm of culture, defining assemblages of individuals bound by their affiliation to a particular musical style and coupled with style, dress and appearance, recreational drug experiences, and cultural practices. Subcultures theory has incited numerous criticisms since its inception during the sass.
Some of these include its focus on groups of young males and neglect of girls and their relationship with youth subcultures, its inherent rigidity and fixedness, and the apparent absorption of so-called underground subcultures into the mainstream. Sarah Thornton attempts to rework the term into her analysis of dance music cultures in Britain by using the phrase club cultures and discussing the significance of subcultures capital in the EDM world. In contrast to subcultures approaches, the use of the term scene featured in many popular music studies of the sass onward endeavoring to redefine popular music communities.
Will Straw uses the term to describe “that cultural space in which a range of musical practices coexist, interacting with each other within a variety of processes of differentiation, and according to widely varying trajectories of change and cross-fertilization” (1991 , 373). A music scene is created as “coalitions” and “alliances” coalesce around musical styles, convey “a sense of purpose,” and form boundaries signifying who is “in” and “out” and therefore forming and maintaining social groups (373).
The term scene denotes an increasing sense of fluidity in music cultures, and Andy Bennett provides an interpretation of urban dance music communities in Britain that takes into account the necessity for less rigid accounts of groups of popular music fans. Bennett coins the term neo-tribes to describe groups of young dance music fans. He suggests that the club setting can be viewed as one of the many forms of temporal engagement through which neo-tribal associations are formed because it provides a space for expressions of “togetherness” based on articulations of fun, relaxation, and pleasure.
Clubbing appears to be regarded less as a singularly definable activity and more as a series of fragmented, temporal experiences as clubbers move between different dance floors and engage with different crowds. References Researching popular music requires numerous theoretical and methodological approaches due to its fast-changing and progressive nature. The focus on youth cultures in studies of popular music is now being questioned as academics have begun to recognize the longevity of popular music genres and aging popular music fan base.
Similarly, concerns with popular music consumption as representative of cultural values and a form of political resistance have been challenged by research that concentrates on the significance of popular music in our everyday lives to influence moods and offer routine (e. G. , De Nora 2000). The rise of disc Jockey (DC) culture and subsequent blurring of the production and consumption of popular USIA in accordance with technological developments have led to an increase in studies of clubbers and EDM fans, which contest the privileging of rock music and live gigs in traditional popular music research.
Defining popular music is highly problematic, and there has been a blurring of popular forms of music and classical in groups such as the Three Tenors. Certainly, it is vital to note that what constitutes popular music is subjective and often culturally and historically dependent. Major contemporary concern within popular music research and the popular music industry is the impact of the Internet on producing and consuming popular music. On one hand, some perceive the Internet as a threat to the music business involving dramatic financial losses due to piracy and peer-to-peer file sharing.