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Session 7A: Analysing Popular Music: A View from 2014

Thursday 18 September/Friday 19 September
Session Convenor: Allan Moore

Thursday 18 September
10.00     Allan Moore
Introduction: Analysing Popular Music: A View from 2014

1 Theory
Chair: Stan Hawkins                                

This session offers three papers which raise different issues in popular music theory. Some aspects of conventional tonal theory are relevant to the study of popular music, but what we have chosen to highlight here are three aspects of music theory which are more specific to popular music genres: a type of modulation readily found in pop recordings; texture and the virtual space set up by recordings; idiosyncratic subtleties of performed rhythm.

10.10     Dai Griffiths
Elevating Form and Elevating Modulation: So-called Popular Music as Music and as Discourse

10.40     Ruth Dockwray
Signifying Space: The Sound-Box

11.10     Anne Danielsen
Structure and Flexibility: Microrhythm in Groove-based Music

11.40     Questions/Debate                      

12.10     lunch break

2 Corpus Analysis
Chair: Michael Spitzer                             

This session presents work which is steadily growing in importance, and which bridges a gap between theory and individual analysis. The body of material which exists under the heading of ‘popular music’ is so vast that seeking proper context for individual analysis is highly pertinent, and which leads to a reconsideration of the importance of style analysis and cognate perspectives.

14.00     Ralf von Appen/Markus Frei-Hauenschild
Corpus Analysis: Song Form and Harmony in the Repertoire of the Rolling Stones

14.30     Katherine Williams
“This record is dedicated to me”: Rufus Wainwright’s Ego

15.00     Oliver Kautny
Vocal Rhythm in Rap Music

15.30     Questions/Debate                      

16.00     coffee break

3 Detailed Readings
Chair: Dai Griffiths                                   

This set of papers will appear more conventional, in that each will focus on one or two particular ‘pieces of music’ (because in most popular musicology the analysand is the recording, we use the term ‘track’ to identify the ‘musical work’), asking analytical questions of them. The same analytical foci as developed in the first two sets of papers will be followed through.

16.30     Kenneth Smith
A Neo-Riemannian Approach to Suede

17.00     Justin Williams
Intertextuality and Lineage in The Game’s We ain’t

17.30     André Doehring
Meaning and Alternating Form and Groove in Four Tet’s Electronic Dance Music

18.00     Questions/Debate                      


Friday 19 September

4 Interpretation
Chair: Ralf von Appen

Because the study of popular culture and its objects originated in disciplines like sociology, questions of their social function have always been important to their study. Accordingly, there is a strong strain of popular music analysis which asks, of tracks and the experience of them, questions of meaning and meaningfulness. This session offers three perspectives on these issues, exemplified in particular by tracks on which earlier presentations have focused.

10.00     Allan Moore
Addressing Meaningfulness in Popular Song

10.30     Michael Spitzer
Analysing Emotion in Popular Music

11.00     Stan Hawkins
Gender Performativity and Agency in Popular Song

11.30     Questions/Debate                       

12.00     coffee break                                          

5 Round Table Session
Chair: Kenneth Smith

The purpose of the round table is to present to attendees, who are perhaps unfamiliar with the history and development of a specifically popular music analysis, varied perspectives on this development, and to open up the possibility of conversation from the floor, across the popular/mainstream, or popular/classical, or popular/unpopular (!) divide, however one may construct and construe it.

Five of the session’s senior participants will each talk for 7-8 minutes on their particular perspective, after which a general discussion (of the entire session) is invited.
Griffiths and Moore will each address the development of popular music analysis from an Anglophone perspective. Both were involved in the first international conference on popular music analysis, held in London in 1992 (both also spoke at the 2nd European Analysis Conference, Trento, 1992), and also in the second, in Liverpool in 2013. This inordinate gap will provide a catalyst for these contributions.

Spitzer’s analytical work outside popular music is well-known – here he will present a perspective on the development of popular music analysis as seen very much from the outside.

Danielsen and Hawkins work in the same European institution, but have very different backgrounds. They will each address major features of popular music analysis outside the Anglo-American orbit, a perspective which is often too rarely given due consideration by most popular music analysts.

12.30     Kenneth Smith
Introduction to Round Table

12.45     Dai Griffiths, Allan Moore, Michael Spitzer, Anne Danielsen, Stan Hawkins
Discussion: Development of Popular Music Analysis

13.30     Discussion/Contributions from the floor, relating to entire session