The use of irony in music is just beginning to be defined and critiqued, although it has been used, implied and decried by composers, performers, listeners and critics for centuries. Irony in popular music is especially worthy of study because it is pervasive, even fundamental to the music, the business of making music and the politics of messaging. Contributors to this collection address a variety of musical ironies found in the ’notes themselves,’ in the text or subtext, and through performance, reception and criticism. The chapters explore the linkages between irony and the comic, the tragic, the remembered, the forgotten, the co-opted, and the resistant. From the nineteenth to twenty-first centuries, through America, Europe and Asia, this provocative range of ironies course through issues of race, religion, class, the political left and right, country, punk, hip hop, folk, rock, easy listening, opera and the technologies that make possible our pop music experience. This interdisciplinary volume creates new methodologies and applies existing theories of irony to musical works that have made a cultural or political impact through the use of this most multifaceted of devices.
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This is the Sound of Irony: Music, Politics and Popular Culture
Katherine L. Turner holds a Ph.D. in Musicology and a doctoral portfolio in Women and Gender Studies from the University of Texas, Austin. Her interest in irony in popular music stems from the mythology surrounding her favorite childhood song, 'Ring Around the Rosie.' Additional research interests include the musical culture and education of early modern women and the music of the Long Civil Rights Era. She is currently working on a monograph of the anti-lynching song 'Strange Fruit.'
"It is certainly required reading for any who are interested in the ways irony can be used and understood in popular music."
- Melvin Backstrom, Department of Music Research, McGill University