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University of Guelph
MUSC 2150
Shannon Carter

STUDYING ROCK -rock music born out of controversy, rebellious image always appealed to fans. - mid-1950s, adults accustomed to fatherly crooning of Bing Crosby and the suave, Frank Sinatra shocked by Elvis Presley’s blues-influenced singing and suggestive dance moves. -Teenagers, of course, loved him. -Beatles’ moptop haircuts upset parents in mid-1960s; setting fashion trend among youngsters. -Rock pushed boundaries of what was accepted -artists: JimMorrison,AliceCooper, DavidBowiechallenged cultural values in late ’60s early ’70s, -Madonnaand Prince in 1980s. - Issues such as payola , obscene lyrics have been focus of federal government hearings. -only small portion of rock source of controversy or cultural struggle, nonconformity+ misbehavior central to the rock movement. - rock’s frequent (and sometimes militant) opposition to status quo, some people surprised to learn colleges and universities offering courses in rock - music historians look back on last century, obvious popular music played enormous role in recent development of Western musical tradition, -rock music has been dominant among popular styles. -Even music historians whose focuses on other genres and decades must take into account many and often farflung effects rock has had on world of music -Despite acknowledged importance of rock music, determining definition of “rock” constitutes/ means is difficult . -Some scholars use term “rock and roll” to describe first wave from 1954 to 1959 -Others describe music after 1964 as “rock.” -Using these distinct terms preserves many scholars and fans see as an important difference. -book will employ the term “rock” in broad sense, however, using term to designate popular music that is produced specifically for a youth audience. -more encompassing usage still problematic includes seeming contradictions. -Is rock defined by race, or musical style, or specific musical elements, such as instrumentation or lyrical content? -Can 1960s soul be considered rock? How about folk or rap? -Is all pop also rock, is all rock also pop? -how do we think about rock music after its musicians and audience have grown up? -Few argue artists : ElvisPresley,Beatles, RollingStones,Jimi Hendrix,Led Zeppelin,Police,andU2 central to rock movement. - artists like the Supremes, Madonna, and Kingston Trio harder to categorize. -book will tell history of popular music focuses on rock but includes other styles. -chapters that follow consider rock in inclusive manner, discussing artists -main purpose : enormous body of music that covers over fifty years of popular-music history—to make it easier to understand and appreciate. -Today more popular music available to listeners than any other time in history of recorded music. - Subsequent chapters organize music into styles and eras to make rock repertoire easier to understand and appreciate, = provide broad stylistic and historical perspectives ELEMENTSTOCONSIDER Rock History in the Media. -most fans have had some exposure to background information on artists and music. -those who havent studied rock as academic subject, historical information probably have come from general interest publications, radio, television, or Internet. - Magazines : Rolling Stoneand Mojo provide readers information about rock musicians, their music, aspects of entertainment industry. - Books targeted at general reader—often written by journalists and music critics— plentiful and varied. -Cable networks like VH-1 and MTV offer profiles of artists styles, -frequently taking larger historical patterns into account. - development of classic-rock radio format in early 1990s encouraged growing sense of rock’s history, along with time-tested oldies format which has existed for decades. -Be aware, however, scholarly approach will differ significantly from -many cases, information found in popular media designed primarily for entertainment rather than educational or research purposes. -Some of this information may be accurate, well researched, and balanced, but some also skewed, gossipy, and unreliable. -magazines and broadcast stations generate revenue through sale of advertising; -worst thing in such businesses : people to put the magazine down, change radio station, turn off the TV. -best interests of media outlets : deliver what they believe people want most, -lead to focus on more sensational and titillating aspects of biography, rather than serious consideration of musicians and their music. -textbook will attempt to provide a balanced fair account of history of rock music. -more artists and groups enter story than typically appear in general interest accounts. -Some more important in their day than since. -Others become more popular over time.. -following chapters : provide reliable information, historical context, and informed debate. -book in hopes will elicit informed discussion of contested issues in rock, like : relevance of popularity to historical importance, role of gender and masculinity in rock’s history, and responsibility of music executives to share profits with musicians. I Know What I Like: The Fan Mentality. -fans of rock passionate about the music they like. -what does it mean to be a fan? -Fans listen frequently to music of a particular artist, group, or style gather interesting facts about both artists and music. - As fans, absolutely nothing wrong ignoring artists, groups, or styles that do not interest us. -But as students of rock music, cannot simply ignore music we do not like. -must strive to be balanced as study rock’s history and development, often forces to consider carefully music probably wouldn’t choose to listen to otherwise. - If studying American history, wouldn’t be acceptable to study only presidents who shared your political persuasion. -When studying music, don’t have to suspend sense of judgment, but do have to work to keep fan mentality at bay. The Ups and Downs of Chart Positions. -book make frequent reference to chart positions. -familiar w/ charts that rank hit songs and albums by popularity for given week, -best-known American charts appear in Billboard magazine. -help draw general conclusions about popularity of song or album at time it was released. -useful to compare how certain songs did on pop charts w/ how they fared on rhythm and blues , country charts, even British charts. -More importantly :thisbookchartshelpusavoidfanmentality—keepushonest. -Among scholars, charts viewed w/ understandable suspicion -little is known about how they have been put together in the past, making them susceptible to manipulation. - charts not precision instruments to measure song or album’s success or popularity, -do not accurately reflect popularity or influence of some songs or albums. -A record can chart well have little influence, or moderately well (or even poorly) have a lot of influence. - broad sense, still best instruments available to judge listeners’ changing tastes, even if measurements are flawed. -Ideally access to comprehensive radio playlists of various eras, or actual number of records sold of any song or album. - playlist data not plentiful , record companies often manipulate sales numbers (frequent complaint of artists - Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) awards gold records
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