The Rise and Fall of Popular Music Kindle Ü The Rise

The Rise and Fall of Popular Music Kindle Ü The Rise

4 thoughts on “The Rise and Fall of Popular Music

  1. Liam Liam says:

    This ambitious book tracks the 20th Century rise of Popular that is to say commercial music in the USA from the primordial days when sheet music was big business to the advent of compact discs Throughout it pays close attention to the machinations of the business world and how their economically determined decisions had a direct effect on the music people made and heard The book is about 75% history and 25% commentary The history told is exhaustingly informative and is told chronologically though prioritizing genre over era I had before reading considered my knowledge of pre war music adeuate but I now realise how naively I had imagined the musical world of my great and great great grandparents or their American cousins I was continually surprised to simply learn how huge these populations of musicians were compared to my previous imagining of the musical past as anonymous functional and sparseClarke's writing pounds you relentlessly with names aloof to me in all but a fraction I must admit that my eyes started to glaze over than a few times when faced with innumerable paragraphs filled with names that had absolutely no meaning for me After a few seconds the meaning I took from many paragraphs dissolved into something like a famous person played with a lot of not famous people and became famous Ellington became leader of the Washingtonians when Snowden left in 1925 possibly because Greer didn't want to be leader At the beginning of this period it was just another dance band; at the end it was Ellington's playing his music Whetsol left to study medicine and was replaced by Bubber Miley; Fred Guy played banjo; Charlie Irvis who played a growling trombone was replaced by Joe 'Tricky Sam' Nanton and they were joined for a brief period by the profoundly influential Sidney Bechet Duke wrote music for the revue Choclate Kiddies which toured Europe with Sam Wooding but it is not clear whether Ellington's music was used p184I didn't retain much of passages like these but the brute force of Clarke's research and knowledge combined with his clear excitement for the sounds of these lost names is evocative in its way Clarke noticeably veers from telling a great men version of this history painstakingly namechecking band members regardless of who they worked for This is highly admirable but for a book without a single footnote or reference it also seems like an overestimation of his audience That said I have been motivated to listen to a lot of new old music and I will eagerly return to sections of chapters to appreciate this detail that was lost on meBut what made this book so compelling was the uncompromising and incisive nature of Clarke's historical conclusions and aesthetic observations He is not simply an obsessive documentor but a lover of music and an historian unafraid to make bold statements about the big picture from his densely laid knowledge about individuals In sections dominated by paragraphs such as the one above there are occasional geysers of passionate opinion that erupt from the default didactic tone Blacks in America had less to lose from self expression while hundreds of years of European Protestantism on top of three thousand years of Aristotelian consciousness had left whites somewhat restrained Slaves in America were often not allowed to learn to read; dependent upon the spoken word for communication they were forced to live in the present which is where you have to be to manipulate time while whites on the other hand felt guilty about the past or anxious about the future Rhythm is at the centre of African music and not melody as in European music The performer who is swinging is commenting on the beat which is somewhere else; swing is thus a polyrhythmic phenomenon One way to describe jazz is to say that in the performer's improvisations the rhythmic element works additional magic on the melodic and the harmonic p 83 Anyone who has recognized the names of these songs will recognize them as being amongst the greatest of the century Any younger readers whose musical experience has been too anaemic should get to know them They have never been far away but today's songs are so thin and popular music has developed into such a rich repertory that most of them are revived again and again Simply Red sings Porter's 'Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye' Mary Coughlan has revived 'The Laziest Girl in Town' The songs of that era will keep coming back the great lyricists grew up before television and even before radio so their speech had not been debased by advertising jinges and third rate entertainment p118 The verses and the musical accompaniment are like two voices the accompaniment is a commentary on the story being told and the result is a polyrhythmic almost poly emotional music The blues is not a vehicle for self pity contrary to the commonplace orthodoxy but a passionate intensely rhythmic way of keeping the spirit up by commenting on the problems of life and love with lyrics full of irony and earthy imagery defeating the enemy by confronting him Blues is above all a music of great human bravery p136 Dylan never intended to tell anyone what to think; the only thing he understood was that there was nothing to be understood that there are no rules and no answers except those that come from within us as individuals That is what freedom ultimately means; but this was not convenient for a generation who became consumers in the end like every generation and wanted their politics off the shelf like breakfast food p455The provocative title the rise and fall is an understatement of Clarke's deeply held belief that good music in the commercial sphere had been killed by the suits in search of easy money He believes that the decline can be traced to the emergence of Rock 'n' Roll in the 50s He says that the Swing generation of music men who had survived the war abdicated collectively adopting cynicism as a default mode and approaching the business of music not simply as the pragmatics of creativity but as a machine that could give the kids the stuff they want No longer with any serious intent to enable good musicianship but to creative profitable bubble gum that could barely be distinguished from jingles Rock'n'roll was not the problem The taste makers of earlier times were musicians mainly bandleaders then the DJs who played records because they liked them By 1960 they had abdicated broadcasting had sold its soul and there was a youth market encouraged to think that people with talent were kids just like them What we now call pop music defined as what we hear on the radio and including a large amount of 'rock' was invented in the late 1950s in an artistic and commercial vacuum Layers of this lucrative faddish rubbish have been accumulating for over thirty years p427He describes two landmarks in this transformation Firstly Elvis's 1956 appearance on the Stage Show with a markedly unenthusiastic accompaniment by Swing era giants the Dorsey Brothers Secondly the release of The Archies' incredibly lucrative single Sugar in 1969 The first was a sure sign that the jaded Swing generation having allowed Swing to die as the backbone of popular music unreplaced was now unwilling to support the groundswell fusion of roots styles that the young Elvis represented Clarke admits his iconic importance despite his opinion that he was a mediocre talent The Archies an imaginary cartoon band hitched to a popular comic were a sign of the devaluation of music over advertising and image The penultimate chapter The Heat Death of Pop Music is an enthralling angry essay describing in Clarke's view a sort of Mad Max wasteland in which survivors struggle to convince themselves they still live in a civilization After describing the last gasp of innocence of the 1960s he describes the era of the 70s to the time of writing 1995 as a time of desperate floundering confused posturing and an apathetic lack of values Is he right? I'm not sure However as much music as you might love from this era you will likely have to admit that you are ignoring the history of the chart in favour of fractured cultish musical scenes I had an epiphany while reading this chapter that I had been stand offish to his central argument because I had not even considered the biggest selling musicians as a part of Music History Why do we accept that the biggest sellers will inevitably be talentless hacks hawking cheap emotion or models lipsyncing now autotuned to regurgitated hooks? Why is it that bands and artists that have any money coming in are the ones we try the hardest to ignore?Clarke is clearly not very charitable in attiude when he hears any music from this era even music generally considered to be of high uality Punk was an indescribable noise of buzzsaw guitar whine and tuneless screaming New Wave was slick harmless and slightly cynical the pop video was coming along which meant that the stars could make films of themselves having fun and sell the films at a profit too Even PopRock avant gardists like Suicide are given the boot by Clarke to be fair most serious rock acts are trying to make their comment on the nasty world we live in but the only vocabulary they have is the same one Elvis Presley used and it will not do the job so they trash it and become part of the problem The serious avant gardists which I presume includes Industrial Noise and John Zorn types from the classical world are simply described as music made for not having a good time Clarke's greatest ire is reserved for Heavy Metal which he neatly demolishes in a paragraph following a respectful appraisal of its most prominent progenitor Led Zeppelin Heavy metal is the ultimate in phoney rebellion the logical and boring exaggeration of rock'n'roll as the music to make our parents angry just as a logical and boring heat death of the universe may be the ultimate result of the original Big Bang Heavy metal combines blues based rock with the portentous doom of progressive rock; it is the loudest music of all; it uses the imagery of vaguely Viking mythical heroes like the trashy children's cartoon 'He man' the arwork heroes ripple with muscles while heavy metal's guitar heroes are often skinny weeds Or the HM bands promote images of devil worship suicide and even Nazism showing a paucity of any values at all Yet heavy metal's largely working class audience is curiously well behaved; the male fans at the concert as ritual are succoured by the phallic symbolism of the guitar hero the females content to play their supportive roles and all go back to work on Monday morning feeling as though they have rebelled The cost of their cheap rebellion is that when they are older they will find that their hearing has been damaged p498Including the most excessive uote in the book as I have just done might well alienate people from reading it with its tone and not just metal fans however I feel that taking such unapologetic positions is exactly what made this book so exciting The book provokes you to take a side and not just to wallow in picturesue patronising reflections on the way things were It is a highly informative and intellectually unsettling read that I recommend to anyone who takes themselves to be a music lover

  2. Simon Mcleish Simon Mcleish says:

    Originally published on my blog here in October 2007What reuirements are there for a history of popular music? In some ways Clarke's work seems to fit the bill admirably While he doesn't actually define what he means by the phrase and discusses music which has never been all that popular with the general public the book basically covers music from non classical genres in the US from the early nineteenth century to the 1960s He talks briefly about British music in the eighteenth century and again looks at the UK in the prelude to the British invasion of the mid sixties and ends with some discussion of later trends of which later and a couple of paragraphs about the music of the rest of the world but actually he what Clarke is looking at and what the history of popular music effectively boils down to is the way that the modern music industry developed from the first publishers of sheet music for a mass market In musical terms the body of work produced by this industry most deserves the label popular as a major part of the American cultural domination of the modern world This doesn't just include music which is popular at the time but should reasonably also discuss the music which influences popular genres or is not yet popular such as the blues and popular music which is no longer primary in the market such as post war jazz Clarke does both perhaps concentrating too much on the latter Overall he has chosen a reasonable interpretation of what is meant by popular musicThe author of such a history must be knowledgeable about the subject; this is not so easy as it sounds as there are few people who know much about nineteenth century black face performers and about bebop While Clarke manages this admirably up to about 1965 he is opinionated and dismissive of almost all popular music since then jazz becoming a niche interest by that time no longer really falls into the popular category and should really have been discussed mainly to suggest reasons why it became less popular it became viewed as art music but was this because it became difficult to understand as a listener or was it due to perception or marketing?This brings us to the main problem with the book which is this antipathy to anything recent than 1965 or so that isn't jazz The problem with rock music as Clarke sees it is poor musicianship It is certainly true that the standard to which instruments are played is often lower though there are virtuoso players many heavy rock guitarists for example and the stars are often bolstered by unsung session musicians and Clarke misses the opportunity to point to one of the most famous examples of this the original single version of Mr Tamborine Man by the Byrds or by production techniues which smooth over the rough edges However the democratisation of popular music brought in by rock and roll is something of a return to the earlier traditions of folk musics with the first half of the twentieth century where professional players and singers provided music for the masses being something of an aberration This change though is effectively what Clarke means as the fall of popular music and he talks about it as the legacy of the fame of Elvis Presley as a former truck driver with no musical education and the Beatles who made it fashionable for bands to write their own material however poor rather than relying on professional song writers However rock music is popular without a doubt and despite the judgements explicitly promised in the title a history of popular music shouldn't be so dismissive particularly as it leads to the omission of several important developments It would be possible to dismiss jazz for eually personal reasons I used to feel that except in the hands of an absolute master improvised solos were just too banal to be worth listening to for example just because the author doesn't like a genre doesn't mean that it's not popular musicSome of the issues he raises have basically ceased to be the case Clarke bemoans the loss of local music stores with knowledgeable personnel and the Internet has or less replaced this as people can order just about any recording that's in print and many that aren't through or other record stores view Web sites which tell them anything they want to know about a band and listen to music from local or not so local up and coming musicians through MySpace and its competitors Similarly he is scathing about the uality of US radio and the rise of independent media such as podcasting has thrown up an alternative However since the nature of podcasts is that the listener needs to actively subscribe it reuires engagement than overhearing a radio station playing inside a shop so the two kinds of media are not precisely parallel The current fuss about the sharing of music over the Internet is also something which might well have been mentioned had the book been written now and the importance of the Internet is a measure of how much has changed in the last ten years it would follow on from the discussion of earlier attempts by the music industry to act restrictively against changes in the marketplaceIn other cases his opinionated stance means that Clarke almost completely ignores developments which to me seem to be important The rise of the power of an artist's image is really important in modern popular music and it is not something ever mentioned directly MTV and video crucial elements of this change get a brief mention There are entire genres and approaches to music making that are either completely punk or almost completely reggae left out Synthesisers are ignored As a result The Rise and Fall of Popular Music is at best a personal history of popular music rather than one which covers everything which should really be in such a bookIn the end it is fascinating to read but will probably infuriate many readers Re reading it now has certainly inspired me to listen to jazz and that means that The Rise and Fall of Popular Music has done the best thing that a book on music can do which is to send the reader back to the music itself

  3. Mel Mel says:

    I was really excited about this book at first but really It's just written very blandly It resembles a half assed dissertation than anything Couldn't get through it at all Very elementary and uninteresting which is unfortunate considering the subject matter itself is fascinating This could have been an amazing read with the proper execution

  4. Brandon Clark Brandon Clark says:

    I read the first 200 pages and uit I hate giving up on books but this one was unbearable A promising subject but executed poorly Very dull

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The Rise and Fall of Popular Music [Read] ➳ The Rise and Fall of Popular Music Author Donald Clarke – Popular music a melding of folk and commerical music with its roots in Renaissance Europe has reached both zenith and nadir in this century So argues music critic and historian Donald Clarke in his br Popular music a melding of and Fall eBook ↠ folk and commerical music with its roots in Renaissance Europe has reached both zenith and nadir in this century So argues music critic and historian Donald Clarke in his broad and vibrant history Navigating the many streams that flow into the river of pop his chronicle matches authoritative perspective with controversial and convincing commentary.