University of Michigan Press

Tracking Pop

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Are We Not New Wave?

Modern Pop at the Turn of the 1980s

Theo Cateforis

“Are We Not New Wave? is destined to become the definitive study of new wave music.” —Mark Spicer, coeditor of Sounding Out Pop New wave emerged at the turn of the 1980s as a pop music movement cast in the image of punk rock’s sneering demeanor, yet rendered more accessible and sophisticated. Artists such as the Cars, Devo, the Talking Heads, and the Human League leapt into the Top 40 with a novel sound that broke with the staid rock clichés of the 1970s and pointed the way to a more modern pop style. In Are We Not New Wave? Theo Cateforis provides the first musical and cultural history of the new wave movement, charting its rise out of mid-1970s punk to its ubiquitous early 1980s MTV presence and downfall in the mid-1980s. The book also explores the meanings behind the music’s distinctive traits—its characteristic whiteness and nervousness; its playful irony, electronic melodies, and crossover experimentations. Cateforis traces new wave’s modern sensibilities back to the space-age consumer culture of the late 1950s/early 1960s. Three decades after its rise and fall, new wave’s influence looms large over the contemporary pop scene, recycled and celebrated not only in reunion tours, VH1 nostalgia specials, and “80s night” dance clubs but in the music of artists as diverse as Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Miley Cyrus, and the Killers.

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Bytes and Backbeats

Repurposing Music in the Digital Age

Steve Savage

From Attali’s “cold social silence” to Baudrillard’s hallucinatory reality, reproduced music has long been the target of critical attack. Steve Savage, however, deploys an innovative combination of designed recording projects, ethnographic studies of contemporary music practice, and critical analysis to challenge many of these traditional attitudes about the creation and reception of music. Savage adopts the notion of “repurposing” as central to understanding how every aspect of musical activity, from creation to reception, has been transformed, arguing that the tension within production between a naturalizing “art” and a self-conscious “artifice” reflects and feeds into our evolving notions of creativity, authenticity, and community. Three original audio projects form an integral part of the work, drawing from rock & roll, jazz, and traditional African music. Through these projects, Savage is able to target areas of contemporary practice that are particularly significant in the cultural evolution of the musical experience from the perspective of composers, musicians, and listeners. This work stems from Savage’s experience as a professional recording engineer and record producer. “Instead of focusing solely on legal aspects, as many authors have done, Savage takes the time to study not only how technologies have altered the way we make and consume music, but also how technology relates to culture. This balance between ‘empirical’ and ‘critical’ approaches is powerful.” — Serge Lacasse, Université Laval

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Good Vibrations

Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys in Critical Perspective

Philip Lambert, Editor

Good Vibrations brings together scholars with a variety of expertise, from music to cultural studies to literature, to assess the full extent of the contributions to popular culture and popular music of one the most successful and influential pop bands of the 20th century. The book covers the full fifty-year history of the Beach Boys’ music, from essays on some of the group’s best-known music—such as their hit single “Good Vibrations”—to their mythical unfinished masterpiece, Smile. Throughout, the book places special focus on the individual whose creative vision brought the whole enterprise to life, Brian Wilson, advancing our understanding of his gifts as a songwriter, arranger, and producer.

The book joins a growing body of literature on the popular music of the 1960s, in general, and on Brian Wilson and the Beach Boys in particular. But Good Vibrations extends the investigation further and deeper than it has gone before, not only offering new understanding and insights into individual songs and albums, but also providing close examination of compositional techniques and reflections on the group’s place in American popular culture.

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I Don't Sound Like Nobody

Remaking Music in 1950s America

Albin J. Zak III

The 1950s marked a radical transformation in American popular music, as the nation drifted away from its love affair with big band swing to embrace the unschooled and unruly new sounds of rock 'n' roll. The sudden flood of records from the margins of the music industry left impressions on the pop soundscape that would eventually reshape long-established listening habits and expectations, as well as conventions of songwriting, performance, and recording. When Elvis Presley claimed, "I don't sound like nobody," a year before he made his first commercial record, he was unwittingly articulating a musical Zeitgeist. The central story line of I Don't Sound Like Nobody is change itself. The book's characters include not just performers but engineers, producers, songwriters, label owners, and radio personalities---all of them key players in the decade's musical transformation. Written in engaging, accessible prose, Albin Zak's I Don't Sound Like Nobody is the first book to approach musical and historical issues of the 1950s through the lens of recordings and to fashion a compelling story of the birth of a new musical language. The book belongs on the shelf of every modern music aficionado and every scholar of rock 'n' roll. Albin J. Zak III is Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Music at the University at Albany, State University of New York. He is the editor of The Velvet Underground Companion and the author of The Poetics of Rock: Cutting Tracks, Making Records, a groundbreaking study of rock music production. Zak is also a recording engineer, record producer, songwriter, singer, and guitarist. Keywords: rock and roll, nineteen-fifties, sound recording, radio, popular music

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I Hear a Symphony

Motown and Crossover R&B

Andrew Flory

I Hear a Symphony opens new territory in the study of Motown’s legacy, arguing that the music of Motown was indelibly shaped by the ideals of Detroit’s postwar black middle class; that Motown’s creative personnel participated in an African-American tradition of dialogism in rhythm and blues while developing the famous “Motown Sound.” Throughout the book, Flory focuses on the central importance of “crossover” to the Motown story; first as a key concept in the company’s efforts to reach across American commercial markets, then as a means to extend influence internationally, and finally as a way to expand the brand beyond strictly musical products. Flory’s work reveals the richness of the Motown sound, and equally rich and complex cultural influence Motown still exerts.

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Krautrock

German Music in the Seventies

Ulrich Adelt

Krautrock is a catch-all term for the music of various white German rock groups of the 1970s that blended influences of African American and Anglo-American music with the experimental and electronic music of European composers. Groups such as Can, Popol Vuh, Faust, and Tangerine Dream arose out of the German student movement of 1968 and connected leftist political activism with experimental rock music and, later, electronic sounds. Since the 1970s, American and British popular genres such as indie, post-rock, techno, and hip hop have drawn heavily on krautrock, ironically reversing a flow of influence krautrock originally set out to disrupt.

Among other topics, individual chapters of the book focus on the redefinition of German identity in the music of Kraftwerk, Can, and Neu!; on community and conflict in the music of Amon Düül, Faust, and Ton Steine Scherben; on “cosmic music” and New Age; and on Donna Summer’s and David Bowie’s connections to Germany. Rather than providing a purely musicological or historical account, Krautrock discusses the music as being constructed through performance and articulated through various forms of expressive culture, including communal living, spirituality, and sound.

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Powerful Voices

The Musical and Social World of Collegiate A Cappella

Joshua S. Duchan

Collegiate a cappella, part of a long tradition of unaccompanied singing, is known to date back on American college campuses to at least the colonial era. Considered in the context of college glee clubs, barbershop quartets, early-twentieth-century vocal pop groups, doo-wop groups, and late-twentieth-century a cappella manifestations in pop music, collegiate a cappella is an extension of a very old tradition of close harmony singing---one that includes but also goes beyond the founding of the Yale Whiffenpoofs. Yet despite this important history, collegiate a cappella has until now never been the subject of scholarly examination. In Powerful Voices: The Musical and Social World of Collegiate A Cappella, Joshua S. Duchan offers the first thorough accounting of the music's history and reveals how the critical issues of sociability, gender, performance, and technology affect its music and experience. Just as importantly, Duchan provides a vital contribution to music scholarship more broadly, in several important ways: by expanding the small body of literature on choruses and amateur music; by addressing musical and social processes in a field where the vast majority of scholarship focuses on individuals and their products; and by highlighting a musical context long neglected by musicologists---the college campus. Ultimately, Powerful Voices is a window on a world of amateur music that has begun to expand its reach internationally, carrying this uniquely American musical form to new global audiences, while playing an important role in the social, cultural, and musical education of countless singers over the last century.

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Rhymin' and Stealin'

Musical Borrowing in Hip-Hop

Justin A. Williams

Rhymin’ and Stealin’ begins with a crucial premise: the fundamental element of hip-hop culture and aesthetics is the overt use of preexisting material to new ends. Whether it is taking an old dance move for a breakdancing battle, using spray paint to create street art, quoting from a famous speech, or sampling a rapper or 1970s funk song, hip-hop aesthetics involve borrowing from the past. By appropriating and reappropriating these elements, they become transformed into something new, something different, something hip-hop. Rhymin’ and Stealin’ is the first book-length study of musical borrowing in hip-hop music, which not only includes digital sampling but also demonstrates a wider web of references and quotations within the hip-hop world. Examples from Nas, Jay-Z, A Tribe Called Quest, Eminem, and many others show that the transformation of preexisting material is the fundamental element of hip-hop aesthetics. Although all music genres use and adapt preexisting material in different ways, hip-hop music celebrates and flaunts its “open source” culture through highly varied means. It is this interest in the web of references, borrowed material, and digitally sampled sounds that forms the basis of this book—sampling and other types of borrowing becomes a framework with which to analyze hip-hop music and wider cultural trends.

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Soul Music

Tracking the Spiritual Roots of Pop from Plato to Motown

Joel Rudinow

Exceptionally illuminating and philosophically sophisticated. ---Ted Cohen, Professor of Philosophy, University of Chicago "In this audacious and long-awaited book, Joel Rudinow takes seriously a range of interrelated issues that most music theorizing is embarrassed to tackle. People often ask me about music and spirituality. With Soul Music, I can finally recommend a book that offers genuine philosophical insight into the topic." ---Theodore Gracyk, Professor of Philosophy, Minnesota State University Moorhead The idea is as strange as it is commonplace---that the "soul" in soul music is more than just a name, that somehow the music truly taps into something essential rooted in the spiritual notion of the soul itself. Or is it strange? From the civil rights movement and beyond, soul music has played a key, indisputable role in moments of national healing. Of course, American popular music has long been embroiled in controversies over its spiritual purity (or lack thereof). But why? However easy it might seem to dismiss these ideas and debates as quaint and merely symbolic, they persist. In Soul Music: Tracking the Spiritual Roots of Pop from Plato to Motown, Joel Rudinow, a philosopher of music, takes these peculiar notions and exposes them to serious scrutiny. How, Rudinow asks, does music truly work upon the soul, individually and collectively? And what does it mean to say that music can be spiritually therapeutic or toxic? This illuminating, meditative exploration leads from the metaphysical idea of the soul to the legend of Robert Johnson to the philosophies of Plato and Leo Strauss to the history of race and racism in American popular culture to current clinical practices of music therapy. Joel Rudinow teaches in the Philosophy and Humanities Departments at Santa Rosa Junior College and is the coauthor of Invitation to Critical Thinking and the coeditor of Ethics and Values in the Information Age.

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