Stan Hawkins (2009) The British Pop Dandy

Stan Hawkins
The British Pop Dandy: Masculinity, Popular Music and Culture

(Aldershot: Ashgate 2009)
Review by Nathan Wiseman-Trowse

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In 1999 the British pop band The Divine Comedy released one of their most successful singles ‘National Express’. Secreted away as a B-side on the second CD single was a wonderfully wry and affectionate Noël Coward pastiche ‘Overstrand’. ‘Overstrand’ told the story of a Londonite coveting a well-to-do address in the metropolis to such an extent that he is willing to pimp himself to a ‘dirty old man’, murder a young woman in the Thames or even write for the Evening Standard in order to get his ideal, bourgeois home. Neil Hannon’s clever take on Coward marks out a clear link not only to a tradition of British comedy songs that have their roots in music hall, but he also connects himself, if somewhat archly, with a dandified persona that manifests itself throughout British popular culture, and British popular music specifically. Continue reading

Borderless Ethnomusicologies: SEM 2009 Annual Meeting

SEM 2009 Annual Meeting in Mexico City
November 19-22, 2009

The Society for Ethnomusicology will hold its 54th annual meeting on November 19-22, 2009, at the Meliã México Reforma Hotel in Mexico City and at the National Center for the Arts in nearby Coyoacán. This year’s meeting, titled “Borderless Ethnomusicologies,” will feature more than 400 presentations, as well as a variety of concerts and other special events hosted by arts institutions in Mexico City .

In conjunction with the 2009 meeting, there will be a pre-conference symposium, “The Past, Present, and Future of Musical Research in Mexico ,” on November 18 at the School of Music of the National Autonomous University of Mexico.

Visit www.ethnomusicology.org for more information about the meeting, hotel accommodations, and online registration.

Gerd Bayer (2009) Heavy Metal Music in Britain

Gerd Bayer
Heavy Metal Music in Britain

(Surrey: Ashgate 2009)
Review by Michelle Phillipov

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Heavy metal is one of popular music’s most enduring and commercially successful genres. Emerging in the late 1960s, metal has since undergone numerous transformations, from massive arena spectacles to obscure underground subgenres. Despite its longevity and sustained popularity over the past four decades, metal has enjoyed only limited scholarly attention. It was not until the early 1990s — over 20 years after the genre’s inception — that a significant body of scholarship began to emerge. But even then, the critical literature on metal has remained noticeably less than for other major musical genres and, significantly, it has also remained noticeably less favourable. Metal has been too often dismissed as conservative and reactionary; its apparent substitution of escapism for political commitment has contributed to a dominant stereotype of the genre as less empowering, less culturally significant and less worthy of study than other more straightforwardly ‘progressive’ alternatives. Continue reading

Sean Stroud (2008) The Defence of Tradition in Brazilian Popular Music

Sean Stroud
The Defence of Tradition in Brazilian Popular Music

(Hampshire: Ashgate, 2008)
Review by Alvaro Neder
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Stroud’s study “examines how notions of what constitutes Brazilian popular music have been constructed over a period of forty years or so since the mid 1960s” (p. 1). Under the “distinct impression” that “the influence of an essentially conservative group of writers and journalists . . . continues to exert a particular influence on public perceptions of a tradition of national popular music” (ibid.), the author aims to consider the role of these and other actors (the record industry, the broadcasting industry, the state, academics and individual researchers) who have shaped current notions of what is understood as Brazilian popular music, and what isn’t. One of his primary intentions is “to identify the influence of those actors in delineating the parameters of Brazilian popular music, and more particularly the construction of a tradition within the wider sphere of popular music as a whole, that is, Música Popular Brasileira (MPB), the socio/cultural/musical movement that has dominated the artistic scene in Brazil since the mid 1960s” (pp.1-2). Continue reading

Mi pueblo me hace cantar

La nueva canción latinoamericana: A 21st Century View
A Conference Hosted by the University of East Anglia
11th-12th September 2009
Call for Papers

Mi pueblo me hace cantar is a two-day multidisciplinary conference that brings together leading researchers in the field of Latin American music and politics to examine the impact and legacy of the new song movement, throughout Latin America, from a twenty-first century perspective. Continue reading

Sysmus09

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IPEM – Institute for Psychoacoustics and Electronic Music
Ghent, Belgium
November 18-20

Sysmus09 is a conference of students of Systematic Musicology with focus on the ongoing research developed by PhD and advanced Master students from the SysMus discipline and other disciplines engaged in music research. It is a privileged forum to disseminate new research initiatives and create international networks of research. In this second edition we will discuss and explore the potential and problems of the interdisciplinary tasks that challenges all spheres of SysMus and most part of the research in music. Continue reading

Dark Side of the Tune: Popular Music and Violence

Bruce Johnson and Martin Cloonan
Dark Side of the Tune: Popular Music and Violence

(Adlershot: Ashgate 2008)
Review by Carlo Nardi
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In his book The ragas of North India, Walter Kaufmann reports a conversation he had in 1934 with an eminent classical musician in then Bombay. On the basis that a rāga performed at a wrong time is inauspicious, the old man expressed his sense of frustration in these terms: “Do you know that you people in the West will soon experience a most terrible disaster? And do you know why? […] Because you people in the West abuse music and perform it at wrong times and occasions! You play funeral marches and sing dirges when there is no funeral and no cause for sadness, you sing love songs and spring songs when there is neither love nor spring, you play nocturnes during the day, wedding music when there is no wedding. How long – he roared – will the universe tolerate this abuse of music, music, mind you, a most sacred thing?” (Kaufmann 1968, p. 18). Continue reading