Essay about Popular Music and Contemporary U.S. Culture

3026 Words Aug 16th, 2013 13 Pages
Music in Different Cultures
Popular Music and Contemporary U.S. Culture

Popular Music in its Many Facets In its broadest sense, popular music is an umbrella term referring to a vast range of commercially mass-marketed musical genres contrasting with classical or art music and intended for mass consumption (e.g., rock, rock and roll, hip-hop, grunge, heavy metal, rhythm and blues, punk, soul, techno, funk, rap, house). This wide-ranging term encompasses a plethora of musical styles involving various rhythms, vocal styles, instruments, and technologies. Characteristically, popular music is a global cultural phenomenon and an accessible form of commercial music aimed at a worldwide audience. Traditionally,
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As Richard Middleton contends, attempting to define popular music is “riddled with complexities” (1990, 3). Studies of popular music encompass a range of approaches from musicological, whereby music is commonly analyzed as a text, to sociological, which tends to focus on the social uses of popular music and the dynamic and interactive relationship between popular music, culture, and society. Popular music is commonly understood as being intrinsically linked to popular culture. Sociological studies of popular music audiences tend to use either questionnaire-based survey methods; ethnographic approaches, such as participant observation and in-depth interviewing; or a combination of the two. Through survey research, tastes in popular music are understood as being shaped by a person's gender, age, social class background, and race/ethnicity. To a certain extent, sociological approaches to studying popular music stem from cultural studies, an offshoot of sociology developed primarily in the 1970s at the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) in Birmingham, England, led by Richard Hoggart and later Stuart Hall. A number of notable popular music theorists worked at the CCCS, including Dick Hebdige, Iain Chambers, Angela McRobbie, and Paul Willis. A major focus of the CCCS was the study of youth culture and subcultural analysis; subsequently, popular music was perceived as central to adolescent

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