Browsing All posts tagged under »popular music criticism«

Monday Musing: Art, Folk, Pop And The Taxonomy Of Musical Culture

July 18, 2011

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There’s a broad classification of musical types that has some common currency, in artistic, marketing and academic circles. I want to briefly consider what it is, where it draws the lines between musics, whether it holds water, and what use it might be to those of us that think about music for whatever reason. There’s two additional widespread categories I could add to art, folk and popular music: jazz and world music. When I was training to teach music, my knowledge of music was assessed through a questionnaire which classified music on this basis...

Monday Musings: Music, Politics, Subculture and Resistance

July 11, 2011

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My thinking in various areas has been converging in recent months. For a while this weekly series of essays was alternating between pieces on the music industry, and pieces on music criticism: it’s getting steadily harder for me to maintain that distinction. For one thing, my valuations of music are not entirely independent of my position on various aspects of musical production: recordings that contain audible signs of artistic integrity tend to sound better to me than those that sound as though they were made with the market in mind.

Monday Musings: The Myth Of Popular Music

July 4, 2011

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Myths are everywhere, wrapped around common currency ideas, giving shape to our cultural narratives, and putting filters on the lenses of our minds. There’s a ‘myth’ about myths: it says that a myth is wrong. The term ‘urban myth’ perpetuates this usage, but that kind of a myth, the erroneous legend, is just a part of a broader class of ideological structure. King Arthur is a myth: a powerful narrative and conceptual complex, structured around the locus of a figure that may or may not have existed.

Monday Musings: Technique and Creativity

June 27, 2011

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There are some really skilled musicians around with very little to say: there are also some players with a very rudimentary technique who are able to stretch it into work of huge creative ambition. There are many more whose artistic strategies are too dependent on their technical aptitude to permit them to range very widely, or to produce much variety throughout their career, and on the other hand, there are those whose artistic vision outstrips their technical capacity to realise it.

Monday Musings: What Do Musicians Mean, And Does It Matter?

June 13, 2011

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Music fans very often want to know something about the author of their favourite sounds. It is a widespread assumption that details of an artist’s biography or personality can provide an insight into their art: while this may or may not be the case, it is undeniable that the idea of the artist, as it exists in the mind of the listener/ viewer/ reader, has a significant effect on the way that they interpret the work. Artists may adopt a variety of strategies to make the author a greater or lesser presence in the work, to make it more or less impersonal.

Monday Musings: Canons and Mainstreams

June 6, 2011

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How often does someone say ‘you must listen to/ read/ watch cultural artifact X’? How often is it assumed that you are familiar with a particular album, or does someone express shock that you are unfamiliar with another? This week’s topic concerns the cultural canon, and the idea of a mainstream. Certain artworks or artists can uncontroversially be described as canonical: in popular music, Elvis, The Beatles, Madonna and a number of others are likely to have made an impact on more or less everybody’s awareness.