Structures of Meaning: Popular Music and Society

Crozier, Hugh Ian. 1996. Structures of Meaning: Popular Music and Society. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

Text (Structures of Meaning: Popular Music and Society)
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Abstract or Description

The sociology of music has a long history and has attracted theorists because, although music has obvious effects on people which appear to be socially and culturally constrained, there is no 'meaning' which can be held accountable. Likewise, certain types of popular music, in particular 'rock' and 'reggae', are associated with identifiable social groups and yet homologies tying musical types with social structures are not easy to identify. Nevertheless, a feature of this field of study, which has been well received for some two decades, is to announce 'links' between certain popular musical styles and social structures. These 'links' are based on description and assumption rather than rigorous analysis. They are, however, an important feature of the myths which surround popular music, and an analysis of one group of myths in particular is offered.

This thesis works with two main propositions: first, that popular music can be addressed sociologically in the same way as 'serious' or 'classical' music; and second, that the musical analysis should be consistent with the musical type concerned as well as descriptive of the music itself. Popular music, even if formally notated, has considerable degrees of freedom, far more than are available to 'serious' music. The presence of these degrees of freedom makes formal notation an inappropriate document for popular music and might explain why its main method of distribution and reproduction this century has been in the form of recorded artefacts - discs, tapes, compact discs, etc. Although these aural records could be used, the disadvantage of these media is the lack of generalisation. For this reason appropriate written documents can be utilised. These are offered here in the form of charts which identify general rather than specific elements in the music and are here employed to demonstrate overall structures in musical texts.

It is from this position that it is possible to identify trends and similarities in popular music and this allows conclusions to be drawn concerning musical structures and social structures which are tied firmly to the musical texts involved. This both satisfies the musicological and sociological demands of such analyses by the identification of specific homologies. This thesis offers studies illustrating the method.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

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popular music; mythologies; sociology of music;

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Date Deposited:

23 Jun 2020 15:46

Last Modified:

08 Sep 2022 12:43


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