Rogers, Holly. 2022. Canons. In: Tom Perchard; Stephen Graham; Tim Rutherford-Johnson and Holly Rogers, eds. Twentieth Century Music in the West. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 104-128. ISBN 9781108481984 [Book Section]

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This is the first introductory survey of western twentieth-century music to address popular music, art music and jazz on equal terms. It treats those forms as inextricably intertwined, and sets them in a wide variety of social and critical contexts. The book comprises four sections – Histories, Techniques and Technologies, Mediation, Identities – with 16 thematic chapters. Each of these explores a musical or cultural topic as it developed over many years, and as it appeared across a diversity of musical practices. In this way, the text introduces both key musical repertoire and critical-musicological approaches to that work. It historicises music and musical thinking, opening up debate in the present rather than offering a new but closed narrative of the past. In each chapter, an overview of the topic's chronology and main issues is illustrated by two detailed case studies.

As diverse as they may seem, the works of Schoenberg, Ella Fitzgerald, Ligeti, the Sex Pistols and Patti Smith all have something in common. From innovative, extended form to progressive and authentic performance style, the work of these diverse musicians has transcended changing tastes and styles to become firmly rooted in our musical culture. When the music of an artist continues to be played long after their death, or long after the music was released, and has exerted significant influence over subsequent musical practice, it can become part of a musical canon. A canon is a group of works considered by certain social and cultural groups to be the most significant and influential of a time period, style or genre. The consideration of a piece of music as an autonomous and bounded ‘work’ is a relatively new concept (➔Chapter 5, ‘Work and Notation’). In music, the Western art-music canon was the first to develop, but during the twentieth century, canons of punk, jazz, rock and pop formed as their commercial and critical apparatus developed.

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1 January 2022Accepted
1 September 2022Published

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17 Nov 2022 16:24

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02 May 2024 11:23


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