Spinning the Child : Musical Constructions of Childhood through Records, Radio and Television book cover
1st Edition

Spinning the Child
Musical Constructions of Childhood through Records, Radio and Television

ISBN 9780367554330
Published April 29, 2022 by Routledge
264 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Spinning the Child examines music for children on records, radio and television by assessing how ideals of entertainment, education, ‘the child’ and ‘the family’ have been communicated through folk music, the BBC’s children’s radio broadcasting, the children’s songs of Woody Guthrie, Sesame Street, The Muppet Show and Bagpuss, the contemporary children’s music industry and other case studies.

The book provides the first sustained critical overview of recorded music for children, its production and dissemination. The music, lyrics and sonics of hundreds of recorded songs are analysed with reference to their specific social, historical and technological contexts. The chapters expose the attitudes, morals and desires that adults have communicated both to and about the child through the music that has been created and compiled for children. The musical representations of age, race, class and gender reveal how recordings have both reflected and shaped transformations in discourses of childhood.

This book is recommended for scholars in the sociology of childhood, the sociology of music, ethnomusicology, music education, popular musicology, children’s media and related fields. Spinning the Child’s emphasis on the analysis of musical, lyrical and sonic texts in specific contexts suggests its value as both a teaching and research resource.

Table of Contents

1 Musical constructions of childhood: An introduction
2 Folk music and childhood
3 Woody Guthrie’s 400 songs for children
4 How radio constructs childhood: The changing family values of the BBC’s Children’s Choice
5 The musical pedagogy of Sesame Street
6 How television music constructs childhood: Bagpuss and The Muppet Show
7 How the 21st century children’s music industry constructs childhood
8 Conclusion

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Dr. Liam Maloy is an independent researcher based in Nottingham, UK. He is an ex-member of Britpop band Soda. Since 2008, Liam has written, recorded and performed music for children with his band Johnny and the Raindrops.


"an important, thoroughly researched and highly valuable study, with plenty of further reading and encouragement for scholars. Children’s popular music is now officially an academic ‘thing’, and high time it was too."

Popular Music - Volume 40, Issue 1

"...[a] fascinating study...One of the strengths of this book is the range of sources and methods on which it draws, from investigating artefacts and archives in both the UK and the USA to interviews with artists and others in the present-day children’s music industry. Another valuable contribution to the author’s argument is made by his musical analysis: how words, melody, rhythm, visuals, and narrative mediate particular themes... Maloy makes a convincing case that music made (mostly by adults) for children projects what they want the child to know (or not to know). Ideologies may ‘construct and constrict childhood’, but ultimately, he contends, children can create their own response to what they hear."

Josephine L. Miller, Folk Music Journal - Volume 12 Number 2 (2022)