1st Edition

Analyzing Recorded Music Collected Perspectives on Popular Music Tracks

Edited By William Moylan, Lori Burns, Mike Alleyne Copyright 2023
    446 Pages 73 B/W Illustrations
    by Focal Press

    446 Pages 73 B/W Illustrations
    by Focal Press

    Analyzing Recorded Music: Collected Perspectives on Popular Music Tracks is a collection of essays dedicated to the study of recorded popular music, with the aim of exploring "how the record shapes the song" (Moylan, Recording Analysis, 2020) from a variety of perspectives. Introduced with a Foreword by Paul Théberge, the distinguished editorial team has brought together a group of reputable international contributors to write about a rich collection of recordings.

    Examining a diverse set of songs from a range of genres and points in history (spanning the years 1936–2020), the authors herein illuminate unique attributes of the selected tracks and reveal how the recording develops the expressive content of song performance.

    Analyzing Recorded Music will interest all those who study popular music, cultural studies, and the musicology of record production, as well as popular music listeners.

     Foreword by Paul Théberge

    Introduction: Analyzing and Interpreting Recorded Song Tracks

    Lori Burns, Mike Alleyne, and William Moylan

    Section I. Musical Genre, Culture, and Technology

    1. "I Been Studying Rain": What Do We Hear When We Listen to the Blues of Robert Johnson? ("Preachin’ Blues," 1936)

    Tom Attah

    2. Analyzing Hip-Hop Hacktivism and Automobility in Injury Reserve’s (2019) "Jailbreak the Tesla" (feat. Aminé)

    Steven Gamble and Justin Williams

    Section II. Track Revelations and Aural Mirrors

     3. Hearing through the Grapevine: Marvin Gaye, Norman Whitfield and the Long Journey of Motown’s Biggest Hit (1967)

    Andrew Flory

    4. "Let the Music Play" (1975): Hearing the Disco Mainstream in Barry White

    John Howland

    5. Reaching for Stardom: Live and Studio Sound in Prince’s "Purple Rain" (1984)

    Steve Waksman

    Section III. Layers Make the Record

    6. "In a Sky Full of People": Spatial and Cinematic Staging in Seal’s "Crazy" (1990)

    Mike Alleyne

    7. Come Together: Feeling the Distemper of Murk and Elation with the Beatles (1969) and with Sheila E. and Ringo Starr (2017 and 2020)

    Walter Everett and Katie Kapurch

    8. "A Tsunami of Voices": 10cc’s "I’m Not in Love" (1975)

    Mark Spicer and Stephen Spencer

    9. Counterpoint and Expression in the Music of U2: "Gloria" (1981)

    Timothy Koozin

    Section IV. Sonic Journeys

    10. On the Structure of Feeling in Bob Dylan’s "I’ve Made Up My Mind to Give Myself to You" (2020)

    Michael Millner and William Moylan

    11. "You Never Give Me Your Money": The Abbey Road Medley (1969)

    Albin Zak

    12. Listening Beyond the Recording: The Judds’ "John Deere Tractor" (1984)

    Jocelyn Neal

    Section V. Sampling and Reframing

    13. Sonic Materiality and Boom-Bap Embodiment in Conway’s "Biscotti Biscuit" (2018): An Autoethnography of Recording Analysis

    Michail Exarchos

    14. "It Ain’t But One Kind of Blues": Kid Koala’s Bluesy Embrace of the Fragmented (2012)

    Ragnhild Brøvig

    15. "Three and a Half Minutes of Attitude": Vocal Delivery, Groove, and Production in Azealia Banks’ "212" (2014)

    Anne Danielsen and Thea Sørli Paulsrud

    Section VI. Deconstructing the Mix and Production Process

    16. Can You Hear the Thunder? The Tech-Processual Construction of Environmental and Emotional Situ in Ghost’s "Cirice" (2015)

    Samantha Bennett

    17. Three-Dimensional Doom: My Dying Bride’s "Your Broken Shore" (2020)

    Mark Mynett

    18. Transforming A Pop Song: The Journey of the Extended Club Remix (Taz Vegas’ "Am I Dreaming," 2019)

    Phil Harding

    Section VII. Voicing Identity through Genre

    19. Framing the Female Voice in Doom Metal: Compositional and Sonic Elements in The Gathering’s "Strange Machines" (Mandylion, 1995)

    Lori Burns

    20. Masking: Queer Aesthetics and Production Tricks in Orville Peck’s "Hope to Die" (2019)

    Stan Hawkins and Zack Bresler

    21. "What Are You Gonna Tell Her?" (2020): Mickey Guyton’s Advocacy and Protest for Equality in Country Music

    Jada Watson

    22. Form, Genre, and Vocal Performance in Nicki Minaj’s "Stupid Hoe" (2011)

    Olivia Lucas

    23. Tracks and Transformations in The Wailers’ "Concrete Jungle" (1973)

    Mike Alleyne


    William Moylan is Distinguished University Professor (2019–2022) at the University of Massachusetts Lowell, where he is a Professor of Music and Sound Recording Technology and served as Chairperson of the Department of Music. As a recording engineer and a producer, he has worked with emerging and leading artists across a broad spectrum of popular and classical genres. William Moylan is the author of Understanding and Crafting the Mix, 3rd Edition (Focal Press, Routledge, 2015) and Recording Analysis: How the Record Shapes the Song (Focal Press, Routledge, 2020).

    Lori Burns is Professor of Music at the University of Ottawa. Burns’ interdisciplinary research merges musical analysis and cultural theory to explore representations of gender in the lyrical, musical, and visual texts of popular music. Her monograph, Disruptive Divas: Feminism, Identity, and Popular Music (2002), won the Pauline Alderman Award from the International Alliance for Women in Music (2005). She is co-editor of two previous essay collections: The Pop Palimpsest (2018) and The Bloomsbury Handbook of Popular Music Video Analysis (2019). She is co-editor of the Ashgate Popular and Folk Music Series and Associate Editor of Music Theory Spectrum.

    Mike Alleyne is Professor Emeritus with the Department of Recording Industry, Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) and a Visiting Professor at the Pop Akademie in Germany. His work has been published in Popular Music & Society, Rock Music Studies, and Billboard magazine. His books include The Essential Hendrix (2020) and The Encyclopedia of Reggae (2012), and a co-edited collection entitlted Prince and Popular Music (2020). He also writes and edits for the SAGE Business Case Series in Music Marketing and contributed liner notes to the groundbreaking 9-CD box set, The Smithsonian Anthology of Hip-Hop and Rap (2021).

    2023 Winner of the Society for Music Theory Award for Outstanding Multi-Author Collection

    'Moylan’s analytical framework provides a flexible yet coherent structure for this wonderfully eclectic and useful collection. Analyses of the recorded ‘texts’ of popular music are woven together with the ethnography of practice and cultural theory to provide an excellent range of case studies which, when combined, also provide a unifying methodology for future work.'

    Simon Zagorski-Thomas, University of West London

    'This essential collection beautifully illustrates how close sonic analysis can feed interpretations that skillfully enlighten how music impacts, and is in constant dialogue with, cultural, social, aesthetic, historical, technological, and other fundamental aspects of our lives. It makes us better understand why we love music so much.'

    Serge Lacasse, Laval University

    'In this expansive edited volume, Moylan, Burns & Alleyne invite a broad range of engineers, historians, theorists, and analysts to apply Moylan’s listening approach (2020) to a specific track within the history of recorded popular music. Analyzing Recorded Music provides a rich and diverse addition to any musical bookshelf for readers who seek to understand the interconnected elements and conditions that contribute to the creation of a recording.'

    Paul Thompson, Leeds Beckett University

    'We have thankfully arrived at a moment in the history of serious musical scholarship when the implements and artistry of the recording studio are understood to be as central to the creation of music as are the traditional considerations of pitches, harmonies, rhythms, song forms and "traditional" musical instruments. Mike Alleyne, Lori Burns and William Moylan have assembled an excellent collection of essays that will force and inspire music scholars across genres to come to terms with the ways our soundscape has been not only mediated, but shaped, by the creativity and ingenuity of the recording studio. The essays here span the analog and digital eras, brilliantly summarizing the interplay of studio technologies, aesthetics, histories and identities at the end of the twentieth century and into the twenty-first.'

    Michael Veal, Yale University