Evaluating Popular Music
By (author) Simon Frith
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Performing Rites by Simon Frith
Book DescriptionWho's better? Billie Holiday or P.J. Harvey? Blur or Oasis? Dylan or Keats? And how many friendships have ridden on the answer? Such questions aren't merely the stuff of fanzines and idle talk; they inform our most passionate arguments, distil our most deeply held values, make meaning of our ever-changing culture. In Performing Rites, one of the most influential writers on popular music asks what we talk about when we talk about music. What's good, what's bad? What's high, what's low? Why do such distinctions matter? Instead of dismissing emotional response and personal taste as inaccessible to the academic critic, Simon Frith takes these forms of engagement as his subject and discloses their place at the very centre of the aesthetics that structure our culture and colour our lives. Taking up hundreds of songs and writers, Frith insists on acts of evaluation of popular music as music. Ranging through and beyond the twentieth century, Performing Rites puts the Pet Shop Boys and Puccini, rhythm and lyric, voice and technology, into a dialogue about the undeniable impact of poplar aesthetics on our lives. How we nod our heads or tap our feet, grin or grimace or flip the dial; how we determine what's sublime and what's for real - these are part of the way we construct our social identities, and an essential response to the performance of all music. Frith argues that listening itself is a performance, both social gesture and bodily response. From how they are made to how they are received, popular songs appear here as not only meriting aesthetic judgements but also demanding them, and shaping our understanding of what all music means.
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Book DetailsISBN: 9780192880604
(236mm x 153mm x 23mm)
Imprint: Oxford Paperbacks
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publish Date: 16-May-1998
Country of Publication: United Kingdom
Books By Author Simon Frith
British Academy Lectures 2013-14, Paperback (February 2015)
British Academy lectures have previously been published in the Proceedings of the British Academy. Lectures are now made available in the new open access Journal of the British Academy. But they will also be printed in an annual volume. This volume publishes lectures from the 2012 and 2013 programmes, which were posted to the Journal in 2013.
Living Politics, Making Music, Hardback (May 2014)
The late Jan Fairley was a key figure in making world music a significant topic for popular music studies and this book celebrates her contribution to popular music scholarship by gathering her most important work together in a single place.
British Academy Lectures 2012-13, Hardback (February 2014)
British Academy lectures have previously been published in the Proceedings of the British Academy. Lectures are now made available in the new open access Journal of the British Academy and are also printed in an annual volume. This volume publishes 8 lectures from the 2012 and 2013 programmes, which were posted to the Journal in 2013.
History of Live Music in Britain, Hardback (March 2013)» View all books by Simon Frith
To date there has been a significant gap in existing knowledge about the social history of music in Britain from 1950 to the present day. The three volumes of The History of Live Music in Britain address this gap and do so from the unique perspective of the music promoter. The books offer new insights into a variety of issues.
US Kirkus Review » A strained and frequently patronizing evaluation of ideological, rhetorical, and sociological elements in popular music. In this study of the relationship of individuals to their favorite performers and music, Frith (Sound Effects, 1982, etc.) takes a relatively simple subject and smothers it with facts and theory. Viewing the act of listening to popular music as a performance in its own right ("we express ourselves through our deployment of other people's music"), Frith identifies how music is categorized for consumption and, in turn, associated - by artists, producers, and, ultimately, by listeners - with larger social and cultural distinctions. But his tone, by turns pedantic and flip (questioning taste, he asks, "Is the music fight for this situation - the Trammps' 'Disco Inferno' for a gay funeral? Whitney Houston's 'I Will Always Love You' for everyone else's?") is bound to turn off those readers who manage to keep up with the withering pace of his study. Frith veers off course somewhat in presuming to establish qualitatively and generically the "aptness of different sorts of judgment." He observes: "We can only begin to make sense of popular music when we understand, first, the language in which value judgments are articulated and expressed and, second, the social situations in which they are appropriate." While germane to the dispassionate study of the phenomenon of popular music, this suggestion, and this study as a whole, tells us little about what makes a young fan declare, "Led Zep rules!" - and why that is in itself a valid judgment. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Simon Frith
Simon Frith is currently a Professor of English and Director of the John Logie Baird Centre at Strathclyde University. He has been rock critic for the Village Voice, the Sunday Times (1981-4), and the Observer (1984-8). and Chairman of the Mercury Music Awards.
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