Interpreting Popular Music: With a new preface by the author

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University of California Press, Oct 25, 2000 - Music - 275 pages
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There is a well-developed vocabulary for discussing classical music, but when it comes to popular music, how do we analyze its effects and its meaning? David Brackett draws from the disciplines of cultural studies and music theory to demonstrate how listeners form opinions about popular songs, and how they come to attribute a rich variety of meanings to them. Exploring several genres of popular music through recordings made by Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, Hank Williams, James Brown, and Elvis Costello, Brackett develops a set of tools for looking at both the formal and cultural dimensions of popular music of all kinds.
 

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Contents

I Codes and competences
9
II Who is the author?
14
III Musicology and popular music
17
IV Postlude
31
Family values in music? Billie Holidays and Bing Crosbys Ill Be Seeing You
34
I A tale of two or three recordings
35
II Critical discourse
38
III Biographical discourse
44
I The discursive space of black music
109
II Signifying words and performance
119
III Musical Signifying
127
Writing music dancing and architecture in Elvis Costellos Pills and Soap
157
I The popular aesthetic
159
II Style and aesthetics
163
III Interpretation and postmodern pop
171
IV A question of influence
195

IV Style and history
54
V Performance effect and affect
58
When youre lookin at Hank youre looking at country
75
I Lyrics metanarratives and the great authenticity debate
77
II Sound performance gender and the honkytonk
89
III A feeling called the blues
96
IV The emergence of countrywestern
99
James Browns Superbad and the doublevoiced utterance
108
Afterword the citizens of Simpleton
199
A Reading the spectrum photos
203
Notes
205
Bibliography
237
Select discography
249
Index
251
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Page 16 - The reader is the space on which all the quotations that make up a writing are inscribed without any of them being lost; a text's unity lies not in its origin but in its destination.

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About the author (2000)

David Brackett is Assistant Professor of Music at SUNY, Binghamton.

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