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Lecture 12

MUS200H1 Lecture 12: Popular Music

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James Kippen

MUS200 Lecture 12 Popular Music • Not related to religion or spirituality • Tied to mediated listening and technology o music could be popular for the masses when recorded music allowed masses of people to access the same music • Tied to commercialism—embedded within the commercial music industry o certain styles of music appeal widely o these styles are industrialized, part of the music industry, large scale o popular music is constantly changing—reflection of cultural attitudes about popular culture, culture as a national/international project • Actual artists in popular music often remain elusive o inaccessible to an ethnomusicologist o little motivation to participate o something to consider before picking a topic of study o as a result, very few studies of popular music focus on popular artists today • Different genres (country, rock, heavy metal) have different modes of access between fans and artists o can be useful to an ethnomusicologists interested in fieldwork o meet and greet • Many successful popular music artist are interested in self-promotion, therefore writing about them takes place in magazines or biographies o ethnomusicologist looks at magazines about them to find information about them • Ethnomusicological perspective is underrepresented here—ethnomusicologist write about popular artists but artist’s voice are not represented o contradiction of principles of the discipline • Avoid “armchair anthropology” –original form of writing about culture from a distance o not engaging with people through fieldwork to learn about them but through documents o don’t have to leave their home to find information • Ellen Koskoff: the difference between historical musicology and ethnomusicology is “not the genres they may study or where…but rather their method of data collection—textwork versus fieldwork” Fieldwork with Celebrities • Ways to have access to popular artists who are celebrities • David B. Pruett (2011) “When the tribe goes triple platinum: a case study toward a n ethnomusicology of mainstream popular music in the US” • things he wants to hear when he’s talking to them don’t work • Complexity emerges from a fieldwork experience • Always try to find the complexity in something that seems simple and straightforward o Nostalgia o What do we do with popular music when it is no longer popular or current? ▪ some people think about the length of the song ▪ how it begins and ends o Karaoke and enka may present an interesting example of this Case Study: Japan • It’s a place that sees people coming and going • Cultural borrowing important o writing system from China o Buddhism from India through Korea and China o Connections to Chinese and Korean music and instruments important to history of traditional music • Also distinct periods of isolation that made independent creativity and adaptation necessary o during Edo period (1600-1867) • Japanese Popular Music o Mass media plays significant role in definition o Technology must be considered significant to the ways in which music in Japan are considered to be popular o Before technology and recorded sound, performers relied on the success of live performance, building rapport with audience o Commercial release recordings with aim to appeal to the mass audience ▪ Performance within a set of time limit : 3-5 mins ▪ a focus on theme that appeals to broad public ▪ stanza form and steady beat ▪ performers attempts in live performance to reproduce the recorded version of the music to fulfill audience expectations ▪ dramatic rise and fall in popularity over time • e.g., the 80s songs aren’t popular anymore but we have a nostalgic feeling for them o “Top 40” approach of contemporary popular music was different from the past o now songs are associated with specific periods of time ▪ generations identify with “their” songs ▪ result: music can be used to mark age o Mass media allowed music performed by professionals to become broadly available ▪ new form of listening to “others”—not live performance ▪ shared experience of mediated music leads to certain expectations for musical sound o Recordings were also brought from America and Europe since the 1970s ▪ interactive development of popular music that reflects other cultural influences and Japanese • Enka o Japanese song form o 1880s: development of enka through the People’s Rights Movement o Goal to establish democracy o Enka was used to express the goals of the movement o initially quite political th o Over the 20 century the songs from political topics to become sentimental songs full of nostalgia and longing ▪ 1880s: political themes/protest ▪ 1910/1920s: was comedic songs on the vaudeville stage in Japan, influence of Western popular music ▪ Post WWII: became highly sentimental genre, evoked images of sake bars, port towns o The generation that enjoyed enka grew o
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