Authorship and the Popular Song

Negus, Keith. 2011. Authorship and the Popular Song. Music and Letters, 92(4), pp. 607-629. ISSN 0027-4224 [Article]

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Abstract or Description

Within the broad field of musicology and music criticism the author as creative originator and authority remains a central figure. Yet sociologists have been sceptical of the emphasis placed on authorship in the arts and humanities, and argued that creativity, artworks and artistic reputations are produced through social processes and struggles. Meanwhile, a strand of cultural theory has followed Barthes’ pronouncement of ‘the death of the author’ and deemed authorship irrelevant to critical debate about meaning and value. In this article I advocate an intermediate or mediating approach, attuned to the insights from both musicology and sociology, and suggest ways that concepts drawn from the study of fictional narrative can be used to ‘unbundle’ the author. Through this I open up a series of questions about how authorship is constructed, conveyed, communicated and contested through the mediations of pop songs and identities of songwriters.

Item Type:


Identification Number (DOI):


keith negus, authorship and the popular song, music and letters, article,

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

Music > Popular Music Research Unit
Research Office > REF2014


1 November 2011Published

Item ID:


Date Deposited:

30 Nov 2011 16:01

Last Modified:

29 Apr 2020 16:43

Peer Reviewed:

Yes, this version has been peer-reviewed.


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