Song Means: Analysing and Interpreting Recorded Popular Song  book cover
1st Edition

Song Means: Analysing and Interpreting Recorded Popular Song

ISBN 9781409438021
Published March 28, 2012 by Routledge
412 Pages

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Book Description

The musicological study of popular music has developed, particularly over the past twenty years, into an established aspect of the discipline. The academic community is now well placed to discuss exactly what is going on in any example of popular music and the theoretical foundation for such analytical work has also been laid, although there is as yet no general agreement over all the details of popular music theory. However, this focus on the what of musical detail has left largely untouched the larger question - so what? What are the consequences of such theorization and analysis? Scholars from outside musicology have often argued that too close a focus on musicological detail has left untouched what they consider to be more urgent questions related to reception and meaning. Scholars from inside musicology have responded by importing into musicological discussion various aspects of cultural theory. It is in that tradition that this book lies, although its focus is slightly different. What is missing from the field, at present, is a coherent development of the what into the so what of music theory and analysis into questions of interpretation and hermeneutics. It is that fundamental gap that this book seeks to fill. Allan F. Moore presents a study of recorded popular song, from the recordings of the 1920s through to the present day. Analysis and interpretation are treated as separable but interdependent approaches to song. Analytical theory is revisited, covering conventional domains such as harmony, melody and rhythm, but does not privilege these at the expense of domains such as texture, the soundbox, vocal tone, and lyrics. These latter areas are highly significant in the experience of many listeners, but are frequently ignored or poorly treated in analytical work. Moore continues by developing a range of hermeneutic strategies largely drawn from outside the field (strategies originating, in the most part, within psychology and philosophy) but still deeply r



Allan F. Moore is Professor of Popular Music at the University of Surrey. Author of seven monographs and edited collections, he is series editor for Ashgate's Library of Essays in Popular Music, has been on the editorial board of Popular Music since 2000, and was founding co-editor of twentieth-century music. He has published nearly 100 articles and reviews in the field.


A Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2012 'Moore’s methodology is clear and easy to follow... [His] discussion of how listeners react to recordings is just as strong as his discussion of melodic modes. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty and professionals.' Choice 'Song Means is an astonishing achievement, and an exceptionally important book. Drawing on more than 20 years of his own writing on popular music, but synthesising and developing it in a quite remarkable way, Allan Moore accomplishes what seems almost impossible: a completely engaging, beautifully clear, authoritative, and undogmatic account of musical meaning across a huge range of pop songs. Written in direct, accessible and uncomplicated language, but tackling fundamental questions of musical meaning and the nature of musical materials, the book is rooted in Moore's own encyclopaedic knowledge of popular music set in a sophisticated conceptual framework. This is a landmark in the musicology of pop, and a book that will have a profound impact on how people think about, and understand, the most globally pervasive form of music of our times: the pop song.' Eric F. Clarke FBA, Heather Professor of Music, St Aldate's, University of Oxford, UK 'Song Means is firmly recommended for academic music libraries and any collections with an orientation toward popular music, theory, or analysis.' ARSC (Association for Recorded Sound Collections) '... for anyone interested in the academic analysis of a field of music that has profoundly influenced - some might say defined - whole generations, this book sets a benchmark that [...] will last for a long time.' Journal on the Art of Record Production '...Song Means is a worthy and important addition to the popular music scholarship canon.' Music Theory On-Line