Ex Omnibus Linguis
Book Reviews



Australian "All-Girls" Bands History Australian Pre-Jazz Era Beatles Studies Brazilian Sound
Concepts in Popular Music Early Blackface Minstrels Elvis England - A Place in the Mind
Global Pop Grateful Dead House Interpreting
Popular Music
Making Music and Consuming Musical Analysis Music, Politics and War Northern Soundscapes
Not Drowning,
Waving (NDW)
Politics and
Popular Music
Stax Records Story Valuing Pop Music Vowel 'O' - a sensory Experience  
You Ain't Playin', You're Consumin'
Review in RPM#26 (Summer 1998)

Théberge, Paul
Any Sound You Can Imagine.
Making Music/Consuming Technology.
Hanover & London 1997: Wesleyan/New England. 293 p.
293 pp; 11 illus.; notes; bibliography; index

In the historiography of Popular Music the technologies and techniques of this music have been largely ignored. Paul Théberge's Any Sound You Can Imagine quite aptly aims to fill this void, and to lead the reader towards a better understanding of the problems of musicians adopting new technology. One of Théberge's starting premises is that "recent innovations in musical technology -- alter the structure of musical practice and concepts of what music is and can be; and -- they place musicians and musical practice in a new relationship with consumer practices and with consumer society as a whole" (p. 3). He is especially concerned with the nature of technology as a certain kind of consumer product, and as part of consumerism of the latter half of 20th century. Furthermore, he examines the interplay between technology and modes of production, distribution, and consumption.

Any Sound You Can Imagine is structured according to these aspects of interplay; there are three separate sections in the book: I) Design/Production: The Musical Instrument Industry, 2) Mediation: Musicians' Magazines, Networks, and User Groups, 3) Consumption/Use: Technology and Musical Practice. Section I is mainly dealing with the instrument design and its problems in relation to technical innovations – from the social history of piano to more recent events of MIDI.

Section II focuses on the central media behind the formation of markets and communities of interest. The history of musical journals is discussed here together with the phenomenon of modern musicians' magazines. Also the nature of communications networks that are mediated technically is under scrutiny. Of special importance in this section are the interesting and ambiguous goals of "democratisation" pursued by International MIDI Association, for example.

Section III addresses, at first, the "practical" and formal acquisition of musical knowledge. Also the musicians' use of language, especially when one has to describe sounds, is dealt with here – in addition to the overall concept of "sound". The section ends with considerations of rationalisation of musical practice, and the relationship between this rationalisation and the developments from multitrack studio and MIDI to home studios.

The last chapter of section III is really a conclusion bringing together all Théberge's major points. I find at least two statements worth quoting here: "with the introduction of digital technologies and their attendant uses, the distinction between production and consumption has become increasingly blurred and, to a certain degree, meaningless" (p. 242), and "a pattern of consumption has become an integral aspect of [musicians'] musical production practices" (p. 245). Also, as it becomes obvious through an example, new technological innovations are substituting and dismantling older ones. This does not, in any case, mean that the battle – if there is one – has been lost/won; in Théberge's words, "each of these new technologies incorporates the same ambiguities of empowerment and dependency, creative potential and formal constraints, that lead to renewed levels of consumption" (p. 254).

Antti-Ville Kärjä
Univ. of Helsinki, Dept. of Musicology
Box 35, SF-00014 Helsinki

Emphasis on Economicsbr> Review in RPM#26 (Summer 1998)

Hull, Geoffrey P., The Recording Industry,
Boston 1998: Allyn and Bacon,
304 pages

Hull offers an economic portrait of the American music industry falling into three parts which deal with, in turn, the industry's scope and impact; its core functions; and the legal environment which surrounds it. This adds up to a wide-ranging survey of all the activities of the industry and the relationships between key players within it. Thus there are facts and figures about issues such as copyright, record store ownership and label structure. But here breadth is often at the expense of depth. We get a little of everything, but not much of anything.

The book's major weakness is its emphasis on economics. There is virtually nothing here on the industry's lifeblood, the music itself. Songs rarely appear except as examples of legal cases. This examination of a cultural industry with little reference to the culture makes for somewhat heavy going. This is exacerbated by the fact that there is a great deal of description of economic activities, but little economic critique. The logic of capitalism is simply accepted and the reader assured that the industry is run the way it is because this is the way that works. The writing often verges on sycophancy.

Previous academic works such as those by Chapple and Garofalo and Peterson are absent from Hull's work. Similarly Negus' work on the British music industry is ignored. Even in a book dealing solely with the American recording industry (to the exclusion of almost everywhere else) this is a glaring omission. It is also characteristic of a reluctance to engage in debate. This work is empirical to the extent of lacking almost any theoretical content.

The book includes a useful glossary of terms, a list of record company Websites and a lot of information on various parts of the American Recording industry. As such it is a useful source of information which will serve researchers well. But there is no passion here, no sense of pop's joys, no critique of the business which sells it to the public, and, simply, No Fun.

Martin Cloonan
EPD, University of Stirling,
Stirling, FK9 4LA

Persuading Fans or Political Scientists?
Review in RPM#26 (Summer 1998)

John Street, Politics and Popular Culture.
Cambridge 1997: Polity Press in association with Blackwell Publishers Ltd.,
282 pp.
ISBN 0-7456-1213-X
ISBN 0-7456-1214-8

Recently, Finnish media reported that the British Labour leader Tony Blair has appealed to the producers of the soap opera Coronation Street to get the series' principal character out of prison: "Everybody knows she is innocent". I can understand this news better now that I have read John Streets book about the linkages between politics and popular culture. Two of the arguments in the book are of particular relevance to the Finnish report.

First, politics is more and more vigorously flirting with popular culture. Blair is seeking to enhance his image, just as when he praised David Bowie at the British music industry awards ceremony. However, in the chapter "Politics as popular culture" Street's analysis extends further, contextualising the packaging of politics into a wider cultural context. Political communication cannot be separated from the store of symbols, gestures and mechanisms of popular communication. Thus, argues Street, the claim that political culture being occluded by packaging is simplistic.

On the other hand, Street also examines how our popular culture can be political. From this point of view, coronation is articulating both our emotions and our moralities. It poses questions and suggests answers regarding acceptable and desirable life styles. Street is careful not to overstate this case. Instead he offers a broadly based survey of the complicity of popular culture and politics, ranging from the contribution made by East German rock to demolishing the Berlin wall, to the caning of British student radicals in the 60s for wearing duffle-coats. While the breadth of this survey is impressive, it also leads to some loss of coherence in this section of the study.

One important issue raised by Street's book is that of the way political processes and ideologies affect the form and content of popular culture. Here he inquires into the political economy of popular culture on three levels: transnational, national and regional/local. The illuminating chapter on how national states manage popular culture could be charged with anglo-centrism: it does not provide us with many examples of the promised comparisons between states. Street gives respectful recognition to the empirical evidence provided in Wallis & Malm's work on the same subject, but notes their lack of a broad theoretical framework. In an inverted form this criticism could be applied to Street's bookThe book also offers a well-informed survey of the contemporary theoretical literature on the issues. As Street hopes, the book will surely help to persuade political scientists of the importance of popular culture. The achievement of the complementary goal, to persuade fans of popular culture of the importance of politics to their pleasures and passions, is perhaps more difficult. For researchers and students in the field of Popular Music the book is an important addition to the literature.

Helmi Järviluoma
University of Tampere
Kananperinteen laitos
Haarla 106
Hataupäänvaltatie 2
SF-33100 Tampere

Well off the Beaten Tracks
Review in RPM#26 (Summer 1998)

Swiss, Thomas; Sloop, John; Herman, Andrew (ed.):
Mapping the Beat. Popular Music and contemporary theory.
Malden, Oxford 1998: Blackwell,
270 pp.
ISBN 1- 5771-8078-X,

In the past years, Cultural- and Popular Music Studies have established a theoretical and methodological canon that many recent publications draw upon without really offering further developments. The basic references usually remain within anti-essentialism, Frankfurt and Birmingham Schools, Foucault-based analyses of power and deconstructivist approaches. A collection of interdisciplinary essays with the handy title "Mapping the Beat" could easily be considered as just 'one of those'. In the introduction, however, the editors thoroughly illustrate their project aiming at a "cartography of sound as a territory of power" which was first addressed in a 1996 conference at Drake University, Iowa. Whereas the "beat" is basically used as a generic term for the common subject matter "Popular Music", the theoretical focus lies on the questions of space, mobilities, territories and the shifting boundaries between them - both in a literal and a metaphorical sense. Thus, specific issues such as regional differences in music scenes or countries can be addressed just as well as the theoretical distinction e.g. Jacques Attali draws between "noise" and "music". This editorial concept leads well "off the beaten tracks" and the various essays tracing race, repetition, difference, noise, gender, Internet, queers, punks, drumming, memory, history, patriarchy & femininities, corporate culture, fields of practice, discourse of borderlands, MTV, materialist ethnography, scenes and cyberspace throughout offer theoretical and methodological stimuli that quite often go beyond the above mentioned canon of Cultural Studies. Researchers from abroad not yet as familiar with these threads of thought will therefore find points of contact more easily - a fact that shouldn't be quickly overlooked. And if you agree with Foucault that there also exist forms of productive power, you might want to read the "maps" in this book as an outline to an "gentrification" of Popular Music Studies (for detailed contents please see: http://www.blackwellpublishers.co.uk/scripts/webbooke.idc?

Jan Hemming
FB 9 - Music, University of Bremen
Postfach 330440
D-28334 Bremen

Contradictions, Ironies
and Political Difficulties
Review in RPM#26 (Summer 1998)

Taylor, Timothy D.
Global Pop: World Musics, World Markets,
London 1997: Routledge,
ISBN 0-415-91872-3 (Paperb.)
ISBN 0-415-91871-5 (Hardb.)

271 pp., 8 tables, 24 figures, 16 music examples,
Appendices, Discography, Musical Scores,
Filmography, Interviews, CD-ROMs, Internet Sites etc.

The topic is not a new one - how the "malleability" of contemporary Popular Music has lead to various forms of appropriations, collaborations, syncretisms and hybridisations in various locations - yet Timothy Taylor opens up many new perspectives on it in this excellent study. Taylor examines a whole host of different case studies in the globalisation of Popular Music and through some superlative detailed musical and cultural analyses, he illuminates the contradictions, ironies and political difficulties involved in this process. He shows for example, the double standards in the Popular Music industry and in Popular Music discourse that allow Rock acts such as Peter Gabriel to appropriate the musics of a host of artists from around the world, yet pressurise artists such as Youssou N’Dour to be "authentic", parochial and pre-modern. Taylor puts forward the argument that western acts that incorporate non-western musics such as Peter Gabriel or D’Cückoo, however reflexive and well-intentioned, are inevitably more appropriative than collaborative due to the relative economic and political positions of the developing and non-developed worlds, although this does not necessarily mean such projects are not musically valuable in themselves. In contrast, Taylor presents several case studies of collaborative work between musicians from different worlds, such as Johnny Clegg and Savuka, where neither party politically or musically overrides the other. The author also presents similarly finely nuanced discussions of the contradictions and difficulties involved when subordinate groups make "resistant" or "syncretic" musics, exploring a magnitude of researches from Apache Indian to Ladysmith Black Mambazo. The book ends with a useful discussion of the "global post-modern" that concludes that subordinate groups around the world are using music to project new selves that provide critiques of both global and local politics. There are of course problems with this book, in particular the focus on musical encounters between the most developed and least developed countries in the world betrays the fact that this is not really a book about the globalisation of music per se, but rather about a particular kind of globalisation. Nevertheless, this is a valuable addition to a growing literature.

Keith Harris
Goldsmiths College, London
Ground Floor flat, 13 Kingdon Road
London, NW6 1PJ
United Kingdom

Cross-cultural Encounters and Fusions
Review in RPM#26 (Summer 1998)

Hayward, Philip
Music at the Borders:
Not Drowning, Waving and their engagement
with Papua New Guinean Culture (1986-96)
Sydney 1998: John Libbey & Company
vii + 216 pp., photos, biblio-, disco-, filmography

This book is an in-depth study of the Melbourne band Not Drowning, Waving (NDW), with a particular focus on their encounters with Papua New Guinea (PNG) music and musicians which culminated in collaborative recordings in PNG in 1988-89 and subsequent bi-cultural tours of Australia and PNG. Drawing on extensive interviews and a wealth of published sources, Hayward traces the development of NDW's music and artistic vision, beginning with useful background on the Melbourne music scene and the band's early influences such as Brian Eno, Robert Fripp, and Jon Hassell, and including detailed discussion of the sound, style, and lyrics of each of their albums. Mark Worth's films on PNG sparked the group's interest in that culture, leading to their recordings in PNG with George Telek, the Moab Stringband and other local musicians. These resulted in the Australian release Tabaran and its somewhat different PNG cassette-only counterpart Not Drowning Waving. Hayward insightfully and meticulously analyses these cross-cultural fusions, including PNG musical influences, the nature of the collaborations with individual musicians and groups, details of the recording sessions and postproduction, and the differences between the two releases. Although there are no musical transcriptions, Hayward pays considerable attention to details of sounds and styles such as John Phillips's guitar playing and PNG string bands, and is quite successful in discussing musical elements without resorting to technical language. The author tries to avoid easy answers, and is gently but persistently critical of the many superficial and/or inaccurate interpretations of the PNG-related recordings and concerts found in the Australian press and elsewhere. The case study of NDW is used to address larger questions of politics and cultural sensitivity in "world music" borrowings and collaborations, including thoughtful discussions of the work of Steven Feld and of more famous musical explorations of Paul Simon and David Byrne. In all, this book is a successful and important work, and a very worthwhile read even for those who do not have easy access to NDW's recordings.

Larry Witzleben
Music Department
Chinese University of Hong Kong
Shatin, N.T.
Hong Kong

No Alternative to Musical Analysis!
Review in RPM#26 (Summer 1998)

Keeping Score: Music, Disciplinarity, Culture
edited by David Schwarz, Anahid Kassabian, &
Lawrence Siegel, Charlottesville & London 1997:
University Press of Virginia
307 pp., inc. music examples

The twelve essays of 'Keeping score' reflect on the disciplinary boundaries of US-American musicology and music theory, to show possibilities to escape these restricting disciplinary structures and to propose alternative strategies for the study of western Popular Music as well as fine-art music in its cultural context.

Patrick McCreless opens the volume with a comprehensive essay "Rethinking Contemporary Music Theory" exploring the idiosyncratic development of music studies in the US universities and recent attempts to overcome the modernists ideologies in music theory and musicology. Despite all criticism of the surprising academic power of music theorists in the USA - surprising at least for me as a German musicologist - most of the authors agree that there’s no alternative to musical analysis: to investigate in detail what’s really going on in the music. In a reply to Susan McClarys polemic attack to ivory tower-theorists, John Covach even presumes that the sociological (or cultural studies) orientated branch of "new musicology" and Popular Music research - the scholars looking only for social meaning and cultural messages - easily tend to become "new bosses" of music studies with new ideologies as restrictive and simplifying as the old ones.

Beside this debate, the pluralistic and often interdisciplinary approaches in Keeping score present lots of productive insights in music, music studies and music culture. Richard Hooker e.g. points at the mainly literary construction of "a future nation" in antebellum American music culture. Peter Winkler thoroughly reflects on the benefit of musical transcription to involve the analyst into the music - and not so much to give an appropriate visual representation of the music. Introducing psychoanalytical concepts of the "sonorous envelope" and the "acoustic mirror" David Schwarz investigates fantasies of an early, pre-symbolic childhood experience inscribed in the music of the post-modern composers John Adams and Steve Reich. Even if the volume also contains more trivial essays (e.g. a 18-page-long text recognising that different music genres require different modes of adequate listening) Keeping Score is very inspiring for everybody who’s engaged in the study of music in culture.

Martin Pfleiderer
Kienitzer Str. 86
D-12053 Berlin
Kienitzer Str. 86
D-12053 Berlin

A Multitude of Analytical Methods
Review in RPM#26 (Summer 1998)

Brackett, David,
"Interpreting Popular Music".
Cambridge 1995: Cambridge University Press, 1995.,
260 pp.
ISBN 0 521 47337 3

A title like "Interpreting Popular Music" seems to be modest and far-reaching at the same time, but David Brackett lives up to both. He gives a theoretical introduction relying a lot on semiotic methodology as lined out by Roland Barthes, Richard Middleton and others, but what is even better, is that in his case studies he does avoid the trap of semiotics, i.e. he doesn't mould his subjects to fit the method, but vice versa.

There are four chapters dedicated to mainly one song each: "I'll Be Seeing You" as recorded by Bing Crosby in comparison to Billie Holiday's version, Hank Williams' "Hey, Good Lookin'", James Browns "Superbad" and Elvis Costello's "Pills and Soaps". The author doesn't avoid to discuss the relation of "text and context", but he clearly stresses both in considerable and appropriate ways. A multitude of analytical methods is applied, such as (accurate) transcriptions, structuralistical charts and spectrographic analyses, as well as historical, sociological and philosophical excursions.

"Superbad" serves as a focal point for what might be called a major contribution to the everlasting issue of what "blackness" in music might be. Like Robert Walser in his work on Miles Davis, Brackett applies Henry Louis Gates´ dichotomy of Signification (western, rational, denotational) as opposed to Signifyin' (black, referential, improvised) and convincingly lines out how "Superbad" succeeds as a masterpiece in organising rhythmic and melodic variations on a micro- and macro-level — he even finds the "Golden Measure", just to show how much this kind of form-orientated analysis really tells us about the music.

There are simply to many points made in this book, to enable anyone to agree to all of them, but — as Brackett´s summary of his own discussion of "Superbad" indicates — they are not riddled with ideology: "The value of this analysis may well rest more in its ability to upset easy assumptions about this music than in its ability to provide a verifiable answer." There still is a gap to bridge, but David Brackett's book for sure is another brick in the bridge.

Thomas Boehm
Tannenhofstr. 4
D-35444 Biebertal

Elvis in every Corner of Life
Review in RPM#26 (Summer 1998)

Rodman, Gilbert B.
Elvis After Elvis: The posthumous career of a living legend.
London and New York 1996: Routledge
, 231 pp., 31 illus.
ISBN/ISSN: 0-415-11003-3

In this clearly reasoned and entertaining book, Gilbert B. Rodman takes on the question of Elvis Presley's current ubiquity in US culture. He is especially interested not in the conventional manifestations of Elvis as a pop star and actor, but in the seemingly gratuitous appearances of Elvis in unrelated advertisements, products and other cultural traces. Rodman finds Elvis in every corner of life, acting not at all as a dead star should; in fact, he finds Elvis' status in popular culture quite unique. He argues that the Elvis phenomenon is singular because Elvis himself was a different kind of star. As opposed to other dead cult figures who serve as symbols of one or two concepts, like James Dean or Marilyn Monroe, Elvis works as a point of articulation in pop culture; he is a free connector between otherwise disparate areas of everyday life. Using a cultural studies approach, Rodman examines Elvis vis a vis mythological formations of race, sexuality, class and the American dream. In another chapter, he deals with Memphis and Graceland. Rodman concludes by suggesting that Elvis is everywhere because "the cultural formation that first formed around Elvis has become the inherited set of conditions under which we make history today"

Mike Daley
120 Ward Avenue
Hamilton, ON
L8S 2G2

Outsiders vs. Established interests
Review in RPM#26 (Summer 1998)

Bowman, Rob
Soulsville USA: The Story of Stax Records
New York 1997: Schirmer Books,
450 pp.

From the nineteen fifties through the seventies, Memphis, Tennessee based Stax records and its affiliated labels Volt, Hip, and Enterprise along with its European affiliate Ace, released some of AmericaUs most compelling Rhythm & Blues, Funk, and Soul recordings. In Soulsville, Rob Bowman tells the equally compelling story of the people and company behind the music. Bowman admits to being obsessed with accuracy's and getting a manuscript two-and-a-half times his publisherUs desired length into print. To call this book a labour of love is an understatement. Author Bowman also had a hand in producing re-issue sets for the company and writing their liner notes, winning a Grammy in 1996 for the latter. He has lived and breathed Stax for well more than a decade.

Using company records, court documents, and extensive ethnographic interviews, Bowman constructs an exhaustive portrait of the internal workings and business history of the company, letting insiders share their views of its external impacts. Whatever aspect of the Stax story is of interest, readers will find it here. Bowman reconstructs the internal dynamics of songwriting and recording sessions through the eyes of the participants, moves facilely into the front office to discuss sales figures, marketing strategies, relations with radio and retail, lawsuits, and the ill-advised 1965 deal with Atlantic that gave up ownership of the companyUs masters.

Begun as Satellite Records in the late fifties with a companion retail operation, the company released recordings by Carla and Rufus Thomas, Booker T. and the MGUs, Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes, Wilson Pickett, Sam &Dave, Eddie Floyd, Don Covay, bluesman Albert King and many more. Throughout the most active years of the civil rights movement, Stax and its affiliated labels recorded and released music primarily for black audiences. Much of it with a social conscience. While some songs crossed over to the pop charts, it usually happened on the strength of the sounds, not intentional polish like the acts of its Northern cousins Motown and Tamla.

The story of Stax records is the story of outsidersUs struggles with AmericaUs established interests on many levels, South vs. North, the nation vs. New York, black vs. white, independents vs. majors foremost among them. Bowman lets the participants discuss these issues in their own terms, connected and supported by documentary evidence. Memphis, at the top of the Mississippi delta did much to assist the evolution of African-American derived music beyond the blues in the second half of this century. BowmanUs work here does much to chronicle this evolution in the period when Robert PalmerUs best work was already focused on Chicago. For this reader, Soulsville USA could have been titled Deep Soul.

Paul D.Fischer
Dept. of Recording Industry
Middle Tennessee State University
P.O. Box 2
Tennessee 37132

House - Crossing Atlantic & Channel
Review in RPM#26 (Summer 1998)

Rietveld, Hillegonda
This is our House
Aldershot 1998: Ashgate,
276 pp.
ISBN 1-95742-243-2 (hardback)
ISBN 1-85742-243-0 (paperback)

Since the late 1980s when house music began to travel from Chicago to Europe transforming itself into acid house, rave, and techno in the process, a stream of British-based commentary and analysis has tended to focus on it in the context of British youth and dance culture. Hillegonda Rietveld’s book offers a welcome corrective since it maps the changes in house music and culture both geographically and chronologically. Based on her doctoral thesis, the book focuses on the dynamic nature of house music as it changed meanings during its dispersion across the Atlantic and, later, the English Channel. Hence, the focus is less on the American origins and more on the younger scenes in England and Holland, Rietveld’s countries of residence and birth, respectively. Rietveld begins her analysis by taking issue with the concept of house as a global sound, and, after a summary of the Original Chicago scene, rewards the reader by paying close attention to locally constructed differences of musical meaning, particularly as they are reflected in patterns of consumption. As a result, the chapters on house in England and Holland, which are full of detail and first-hand data, make for particularly enlightening reading.

Rietveld’s prose is quite accessible and straightforward overall and she does well by placing herself into the context of her research and of the account based on it. The book opens with an anecdote of herself performing on the stage of the Paradise Garage in New York City and ends with an appendix entitled "Hillegonda re-enters the studio." Frank and engaging, Rietveld is as much a house musician as she is a house researcher. For anyone interested in global musical and cultural phenomena, as well as for any house music enthusiast, this book should be a satisfying read, notwithstanding some shortcomings in the formal presentation of the material. For example, there is neither an index nor a glossary of terms. The surprisingly high number of spelling and punctuation errors in the text may point to some oversight in the editing process, however, and should probably not be laid at the author’s door.

Kai Fikentscher
Department of Music
New York University
20 Seaman Avenue #1B,
New York, NY 10034

Sophisticated Beatles Studies
Review in RPM#27/28 (Winter/Spring 1998/1999)

Yrjö Heinonen, Tuomas Eerola, Jouni Koskimä ki,
Terhi Nurmesjä rvi, John Ricardson ed.
Beatlestudies 1; Songwriting, Recording and Style Change. 
Jyvä skyla 1998: University of Jyvä skyla, Department of Music
ISBN 951-39-0376-1, ISSN 0359-626X

Beatlestudies 1 openly emulates Alan Tyson's Beethoven Studies that 25 years ago pioneered a series of books focusing on the compositional process of individual classical composers including Chopin and Schubert. The reader will find contemporary methodology and theory from psychology and historiography applied to the Beatles as musical phenomena. Whereas the sophisticated methods go far to provide insight into the music of the Beatles, the Beatles as subject matter (due to their ongoing popularity) provide the authors with common Beatles facts that serve to clarify their description of historical and psychological theory.
In the chapter Variation as the Key Principle of Arrangement in Cry Baby Cry, Koskimaki & Heinonen find all available scores & sheet music of the song audibly incomplete. They then proceed to describe how using notation software, sequencer software, midi and high fidelity stereo equipment they were able to create a more exact transcription than any score commercially available. Although this is only one step in their exploration of variation within form of the song, it illustrates the practical methods clearly described in Beatlestudies 1 that can be used elsewhere. Other concepts and methods worthy of emulation are found in the section entitled Quantitative Style Analysis, which begins by reviewing previous writings which discussed stylistic periods of the Beatles. The process by which the authors further define the stylistic changes of the Beatles includes time-based evaluation of the composition/recording processes, isolation of stylistic features, analysis of individual [prototypical] songs and recording session chronology. Also the stylistic periods of the Beatles are charted using statistical methods. These charts are accompanied with a discussion of prototypical features of the experimental period (i.e. changing meter, flattened VII chord , descending baseline, Indian instruments, sound effects, psychedelic lyrics...) and the early period (i.e. bass-drums-rhythm-lead, three-part singing, romantic lyrics...). Finally these findings on style are compared with citations of computerised lyrical analysis of the Beatles lyrics, and Beatles interviews.
Other chapter subjects include; "The Effect of Group Development on Group Performance", "Songwriting as Coping with Inner Conflicts", "Dialogue, Dysphoric Coding and Death Drive in the music of Bernard Herrmann, The Beatles, Stevie Wonder and Coolio."
Beatlestudies 1 is part of a larger project entitled Beatles 2000, which will include sequel/s to Beatlestudies 1 and an international scholarly Beatles conference organised by The Department of Musicology at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland.

Darrell Jónsson
Pod novym lesem 52/137
CZ-16000 Prague 6 Velaslavin,
Czech Republic

Resilience of the Human Spirit
Review in RPM#27/28 (Winter/Spring 1998/1999)

Swanibor Pettan (ed.)
Music, Politics and War: Views From Croatia
Zagreb, Croatia 1998: Institute of Ethnology & Folklore Research
215 pp., several illustrations, enclosed CD
ISBN 953-6020-09-2

This collection of 10 essays outlines the use of music (both popular and classical) in the most stark of political contexts: war. As I write NATO is bombing Serbia and another crisis has erupted in the Balkans. This gives the book a poignancy which its authors would not have intended. It also make the task of reviewing particularly difficult. The book shows how music can be used as both a source of comfort - to build solidarity and resistance in towns which are being bombarded - and as a source of terror - as when it accompanies torture or is to terrorize prisoners who are forced to sing songs eulogizing their captors. In war all culture becomes political and a potential conscript to causes, both noble and ignoble. But is does not become monolithic. The book shows how opera, dance, modern pop, folk and religious songs have all been used to help define the Croatian nation.
'Music, Politics and War' helps to show that war is a diverse experience to which individuals and groups respond in different ways. Some call for peace, others to defend the nation. Some berate the enemy, others call for international help. All these emotions are captured here and on the accompanying CD (which is also notable for the range of musical responses to the war). The book often makes harrowing reading, but it does show the resilience of the human spirit. It is hard to pick out individual authors in a work of such intensity and variety, but to me the introduction by Svanibor Pettan and final chapter chapter, by Miroslava Hadzihyusejnovic-Valasek, are the highlights.
Pettan's introduction raises a number of important points about "official" and unofficial culture and the ways in which language becomes a symbol for certain types of Croatian politics. He also reminds us that music can be used to celebrate both life and death, to praise and deride. Hadzihyusejnovic-Valasek outlines the enormous range of musical activity took place in the Croat town of Osijek during the time that it was under siege from Serbian forces. This sheer defiance in the face of forbidding military odds shows how culture can be a tool in an armory.
In between chapters on military music during the Ottoman period, Slavonian baroque music, music and politics in nineteenth century North Croatia, Croatian opera, religious songs, the second world war, tambura, and dance illustrate the diversity of the complex relationship between culture and politics. This is a book which all those interested in that relationship should seek out.

Martin Cloonan
Institute of Education
University of Stirling
Stirling, FK9 4LA

Which Backyard do we come from?
Review in RPM#27/28 (Winter/Spring 1998/1999)

McGowan, Chris/ Pessanha, Ricardo
The Brazilian Sound: Samba, Bossa Nova
and the Popular Music of Brazil
Philadelphia/ USA 1998: Temple University Press,
256 pp. 167 illus.
cloth ISBN 1-56639-544-5; paper ISBN 1-56639-545-3

"The Brazilian Sound" is encyclopaedic, appealing to Brazilian Popular Music (MPB) connoisseurs and initiates alike. Although it covers a wide range of musical historiography, discography, and the musical geography of the country, it conveys a publicising perspective. The greatest features are venerated and emerging post-cards: Samba, Bossa Nova, Jazz and Rock, Axe-World Beat.

This entails an emphasis on fusion as the key organic idea throughout the whole past and present plethora of Brazilian sounds. Accordingly, the book is intended for those who are prepared or willing to identify with the universality of a mixing paradigm. The colourful cover is an invitation and a badge  for the "cannibalistic ethos" of a musical culture continuously on the make by absorbing and transforming foreign influence, to use Chris McGowan¹s words (The Beat, 1991). The target public is specific - "think of it as MPB 101 for gringos", the author says - but the image is one native Brazilians are keen on publicising.

Politically the book is successful, but its scope is limited to a political agenda and a stereotype. Its limits are also tied to the limitations of a descriptive catalogue. One should not expect a far-reaching cultural reflection beyond common-places like "the high level of poetry" in "one of the most musical tongues of the world" energised by "vibrant Afro-Brazilian rhythms", something akin to the national "myth of the three races" melted into sound. There is an intentional lack of musical value-judgement. The reader is seduced into a promise of locals embracing universals, which does not make justice to the Brazilian synthetic idiosyncrasies. The interesting issue at stake is not so much how influential this music has been abroad or how the external has been internally recreated. The Brazilian musical dilemma is the issue of Brazilianity, a recurrent theme in the national artistic and intellectual life. Music is a powerful attempt to account for this issue, a political statement that most of the time differs radically from the totallising "world" label which media and authors want to sell. If the cannibalistic metaphor is cogent, its purpose is not homogeneity, but rather the apology of tolerance, the conservation of discrete singularities within the coexisting whole. Rather than fusion, survival could be a more thought-provoking trope.

Obviously, such genealogical research into the atavistic fragments of Brazilian music - how precisely the African, the Amerindian and the European have become and still become Brazilian - is not the aim of the book. In its much-acclaimed second edition, it goes on voicing an universalism which many claim in Brazil; hence it is authentic. However behind the detailed data it begs the problematic question Brazilian musicians covertly ask: which backyard do we come from?

Guilherme Werlang
1c Gregory Place 
St.Andrews, Fife
KY16 9PU

England is often a place in the mind
Review in RPM#27/28 (Winter/Spring 1998/1999)

Kallioniemi, Kari,
"Put The Needle on the Record and Think of England" –
Notions of Englishness in the Post-War Debate on
British Pop Music
Turku 1998: Unipaps, 435 pp., No ISBN

Kallioniemi’s academic dissertation focuses on "pop-Englishness", as filtered through the integrated, context-based approach of cultural history. The surfacing of popular forms of neo-nationalism in the 1990s – which include Tony Blair’s "Cool Britannia" and the new wave of Britpop – triggers this research and its reconstruction of the debates around that very notion since the late 1950s. § Pop-Englishness, both a web of discourses and a "conscious and contrived spectacle", is conceptualized here in terms of pop music through a series of "strategies", constructed as it is through the combination of the viewpoint of an outsider (a Finnish author with studies in Manchester) and the articulations advanced by English researchers. § The essay offers its public a richly-textured and multi-faceted reading, while touching on familiar discourses in the popular music agenda (authenticity, nationhood, hegemony, local/national and American/Anglo dynamics, to name but a few). Its chapters form the open dialogue of different histories that take into account the contributions of various disciplines (cultural studies, ethnomusicology, sociology, etc.). Its angles reflect the new emphasis on the extended webs of public knowledge about popular music, and on "the growing importance of the so-called cultural intermediaries, exemplified by audience, entertainment industry, media & journalists and academics" (p.383). Kallioniemi (re)constructs the multiplicity and ambiguity of source materials that substantially come from music weeklies like Melody Maker or NME, "style bibles" like The Face, fanzines, quality press, teen-magazines, writers (rock commentators, cultural journalists, academics and fiction writers). § As a result, we plunge into the cultural references of an imagined community with a supposed uniqueness that has been changing over the years. To misquote an American novelist, England is often a place in the mind, and this particularly musical "Imaginary Englishness" is made of issues of class-gender-race incessantly traversing cultural-historical moments like the post-war clash between trad(itional)s and mod(ern)s, the myths of Swinging London and the British Invasion, the predictable nostalgia for "Mythical Englands", the punk and ain’t-no-black-in-the-Union-Jack agendas, Thatcherite England and the mid-1990s North/South feud between Oasis and Blur, that is, the core beginning of new perspectives for Britpop, where the suburban silent majority seems to be promoting a neo-national canonization of Englishness.

Franco Minganti
Università di Bologna
Dipartimento di Lingue e LSM
Via Cartoleria 5

Most academically studied Grateful Dead
Review in RPM#27/28 (Winter/Spring 1998/1999)

Rocco, John. Ed.
Dead Reckonings: The Life and Times of the Grateful Dead.
New York 1999: Schirmer Books, 345 pp., 33 illustrations.
ISBN 0-0286-4896-X.

The Grateful Dead are the most academically studied band in the world. They are the subject of at least twenty-five theses and dissertations and numerous articles in scholarly journals dating all the way back to 1972. John Rocco’s Dead Reckonings contributes to the study of the Dead by reprinting some of the vast body of material written about the band over the last four decades, including articles from academic journals, fanzines, trade publications, books, and news magazines.

Editor Rocco divides the book into four sections. The first section looks at the scene from which the Grateful Dead formed. Articles in this section include a 1967 Newsweek piece on hippies as well as several articles on writer Ken Kesey, an early associate of the Dead; in addition, there is an excerpt on the Beat writers, whom the band admired and were influenced by, from John Tytell’s book Naked Angels. First-hand historical accounts of the band’s beginnings and sociologist Rebecca Adams’ tribute to late Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia round out this section.

Articles relating to the Grateful Dead in the seventies, eighties and nineties comprise Dead Reckonings’ second section. Academic material is featured, such as Richard Tillinghast’s reflections on the Grateful Dead from the Michigan Quarterly Review, and a brand new article written solely for this book by English professor Granville Ganter comparing Daniel Webster’s oratory with the Grateful Dead’s performance structure. However, this section also includes personal show remembrances from writers Blair Jackson and George Plimpton, and articles on Charles Ives and Stockhausen by Richard Kostelanetz which show how the Grateful Dead fit into the avant-garde classical milieu. The editor concludes the second section with an original essay comparing the Dead with Punk rock and pointing out the similarities.

Three separate interviews (1989-1993) with Jerry Garcia reprinted from The Golden Road, Rolling Stone, and The New Yorker make up the book’s third section. The fourth and final section is devoted largely to tributes to Garcia, who died in 1995, although it also includes a reprinted entry from Skeleton Key: A Dictionary for Deadheads on the Dead’s first keyboardist Ron "Pigpen" McKernan. The tributes to Garcia include a piece by former Dead keyboardist Tom Constanten originally published in Relix magazine and a tribute by author Ken Kesey, "The False Notes He Never Played," originally published in the New York Times. A bibliography, band chronology, discography, Internet guide, and detailed index complete the volume. Dead Reckonings stands as a welcome addition to the study of this unique musical and cultural phenomenon.

Robert G. Weiner
Mahon Library/Reference Department
1306 9th Street
TX 79401

To understand the meaning of concepts
Review in RPM#27/28 (Winter/Spring 1998/1999)

Shuker, Roy.
Key Concepts in Popular Music
London, New York 1998: Routledge, 365 pp.
ISBN 0-415-16103-7(HB), 0-415-16104-5 (PB)

Shuker's book is an A-Z glossary of the main terms and concepts used in popular music studies including genres, subcultures, theories and methodologies, musicological terms and musical phenomena. The book also includes references for further reading, listening and viewing.

In the introduction Shuker deals with some important issues involved in popular music studies. He considers popular music to be "the main commercially produced and marketed musical genres, primarily in a Western context" (ix). The emphasis is on 'rock ' and 'pop' and their various styles and genres. The writer acknowledges the diversity and complexity of the field of popular music studies, e.g. the contradictions between musicology and sociological / cultural approaches. Yet he aims at "a comprehensive guide to the key terms and concepts present in the broad body of writing within popular music studies" (xi). This is an ambitious task. Further he states that this field is dynamic, which implies that concepts must be dealt with again from time to time.

Despite the 'Anglo-Americanism' of the book it has its definite advantages. The history of pop and rock is dominated by Western culture and written mainly in English. In order to understand history one has to understand the meanings of concepts. In some parts I would have expected there to be some connection to musicological concepts or theories (e.g. affect) but, it has clearly been a conscious choice of the author to exclude them. My opinion may also be due to my own education which has a musicological basis.

Students and researchers of popular music will surely welcome this reference book with open arms. I find the further reading notes especially useful - they lead one to the literature concerning the subject. The study of popular music has in some countries only recently established itself as an independent branch of research, which is acknowledged in the academic world. Despite the diversity of the field writings from 70's until today have created a firm ground for future study, which I see as an area of increasing importance. Books, such as Shuker's, indicate the improving state of the research and are needed to strengthen the field.

Terhi Nurmesjarvi-Skaniakos
University of Jyvaskyla
Dept.of Musicology
P.O.Box 35 (M)
FIN- 40351 Jyvaskyla

The vowel 'O' as a sensory experience
Review in RPM#27/28 (Winter/Spring 1998/1999)

Bruce R. Smith
The Acoustic World of Early Modern England: Attending to the O-Factor
Chicago & London 1999: University of Chicago Press, pp.386, ill.,
ISBN 0 226 76376

As far back as the thirties, William Haller observed that re-modern Christian piety was largely the written construction of a literate clerisy, and it was reasonable to assume that the great majority of the populace were barely Christian and even atheistic. As long as it is assumed that culture and history are inscribed in print, obligingly accessible to a scopic regime, vast regions of cultural practice remain beyond ken.

This study brings the past within earshot, covering the outer temporal limits of the English Renaissance and the pivotal epistemological transition from medieval to modern. The book opens with a discussion of the sound of the human voice, in which the ‘O-Factor’ refers to the articulation of the vowel ‘O’, which the author begins by configuring as a sensory experience, implicitly pointing towards the role of bio-acoustics in aural communication. He proceeds to vocal sound as bearer of lexical meanings, and as political intervention. ‘Mapping the Field (chapter 2) introduces sound as territorial and identity marker, in a way that recalls the work of R. Murray Schafer. In chapter 3, an exploration of the soundscapes of city, country and court in 16th to 17th century England begins appropriately with a reference to Francis Bacon, the major Anglophone pioneer of the paradigm shifts of the scientific revolution. Although this shift has been dominated by ocularcentric regimes, the parallel world of aurality as traced by Smith provides a counterpoint that is especially illuminating (!!) to those interested in the growing critique of the scopism of modernity. Chapter 4 traces the relationship between corporeality and the construction and transmission of meaning: in musical terms, kinesthetic, the way in which expressivity is a function of a bodily memory rather than just cognitive design. Smith’s interest goes well beyond music, however, to the role of the body in practices including writing and speech and their changing relationship to print. The second section is devoted broadly to the soundscape of everyday life in Elizabethan England, ranging through public and private dialogue, games, the oral ballad tradition, and a fascinating study of the play of sound in the Elizabethan theatre. Although the geographical focus is on England, but there is also concluding coverage of the emerging colonial empire, and the definition of the colonial Other through sound.

This is an invaluable contribution to that growing body of literature which maps culture acoustically. This is a far richer field for the social construction of meaning than has ever been suggested by the dominant text-centred historiographies, and confirms how limited is the attempt to retrieve the experiences and beliefs of a largely illiterate society exclusively through an analysis of surviving writings of a literate elite.

Bruce Johnson
School of English
University of New South Wales
AUS-2052 Sydney, NSW,

Multi-stratified pre-jazz era of Australia
Review in RPM#27/28 (Winter/Spring 1998/1999)

Whiteoak, John
Playing ad lib: Improvisatory Music in Australia 1836-1970,
Sydney/Australia 1998: Currency Press, 
345 pp., 86 music ex., 50 illus., detailed referencing, discography, 
ISBN 086819 543 X,

Like many other countries, Australia (and in particular Melbourne, the main focus of the book) generated a variety of improvisatory music during this period, from Paganini-like virtuosity (Chap.1) to circus music, coon song (Chap.2), blackface minstrelsy (Chap.3), silent movie accompaniment, church organ services, ragtime (Chap.4), hot dance, swing (Chap. 5), bebop, third-stream jazz, modal jazz, avant-garde a la Stockhausen (Chap.6), experimental theatre and other genres (Chap.7). The author makes extensive use of historical documents (especially through Chap.5) and of his own transcriptions in cases where recordings are available (especially Chap. 6 and 7).

To cover such a wide range of music-making activity coherently, John Whiteoak first of all avoids the usual dichotomies between "high" and "low" or "art" and "popular", and proposes instead a distinction between "approved" and "anonymous" genres. The former, which roughly correspond to "classical" music, have discouraged improvisation since the mid-19th century, whereas the latter have continued to foster its evolution. The author notes that the divergence between these two strains implies a shift in Victorian aesthetics towards fixed repertoire and performance.

In a number of passages Whiteoak refutes the view that Australian musicians have simply received and imitated American and British music. Partly because of geographical distance, Australia’s contacts with overseas cultural models have been limited, so that improvisers have often had to invent and adapt their practices in relative isolation. The result is what the author calls "`imitation-ecstatic’ performance practice", that is to say, a "mode of performance which seeks to present an imitation or representation of qualities that are associated with authentically ecstatic performance, such as immediacy, excitation and spontaneity" (p.xiv). This applies to anonymous vaudeville pianists as well as to the contemporary composer Keith Humble.

The strongest part of the book is its discussion of the pre-jazz era. The author, navigating through a maze of primary sources, successfully dissects a complex of socially and culturally multi-stratified musical life, including theatre and cinema, brass bands and dance hall, piano rolls and recordings, serious experimentation and novelty effects. Overall, the book provides a reliable reference not only for scholars of Australian music but also for those who study 19th-century popular music, early jazz and film music, and post-war experimental music.

Shuhei Hoshokava
2-41-21-401 Fujigaoka, Aoba
J-227-0043 Yokohama

Musicology useless to value Pop
Review in RPM#27/28 (Winter/Spring 1998/1999)

Dolfsma, Wilfred
Valuing Pop Music -- Institutions, VALUES and Economics
Uitgeverij Eburon: Delft, Nederland, 1999

No, there is not an error... VALUES is supposed to be in all capitals. The author wishes to distinguish VALUES, "strong underlying socio-cultural convictions many people in a group or in society hold," from values, "the specific trade/exchange established in society for specific goods or services." His premise is that traditional economic theory is insufficient by itself to explain the value which people attach to cultural commodities such as popular music.

Dolfsma says he wishes "to suggest a theoretical framework to study the social construction of people's value for particular items." He says that "when a mismatch between the VALUES that a particular group of people subscribes to and an institutional setting occurs, tensions arise that result in changes in either the socio-cultural values or the institutions--usually the institutional setting has to change." He constructs a "Social Value Nexus" which posits that institutions mitigate between socio-cultural VALUES and economic values. Most importantly, he argues that the economic "value" of pop music cannot be understood without reference to culture. Hence, he says, we need to appreciate "cultural economics." He combines the research tools of the economist and the sociologist to make his argument in convincing fashion.

The book focuses on the evolution of popular music in the Netherlands but the underlying premise is applicable anywhere. Dolfsma begins with an historical recapitulation of the rise of popular music, particularly rock, in the Netherlands. He expounds on how the economic theories of value are not adequate to explain the rise of pop music and how Dutch institutions (particularly radio) reacted when social values began to change.

Do not expect a musicological analysis of popular music or its idioms. Indeed, Dolfsma states, "the value of pop music for its audience cannot be established by musicological research." His point is, "By consuming pop music, you show that you are an autonomous person, that you determine what you prefer on your own and are not influenced by or dependent on the judgement of other people such as parents or the media." Pop music's value is thus largely extrinsic to its content.

The English text is generally quite readable but contains occasional non-idiomatic usages and constructions. For someone not familiar with economics, some of the theoretical discussion would be slow reading. On the other hand, the chapter with the survey research and focus group interviews about why and how Dutch teens in the nineteen-sixties consumed pop music was a delight to read.

Geoffrey Hull
Recording Industry Dept.
Middle Tennessee State Univ,
Murfreesboro, Tennessee, 

To reconstruct early minstrelsy
Review in RPM#27/28 (Winter/Spring 1998/1999)

Dale Cockrell
Demons of Disorder:
Early Blackface Minstrels and their World
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997) 256pp.
ISBN 0 521 56828 5

From a modern standpoint the phenomenon of blackface minstrelsy is problematic, not least for its racist connotations. Demons of Disorder makes an important contribution challenging the received view of blackface and its cultural signification. This study covers the period from 1829 to 1843 when minstrelsy was evolving as a theatrical entertainment, but its scope extends beyond documenting repertoire and biographies, to a thorough interrogation of the cultural context in which these performances had significance. The whole is underpinned by impressive scholarly research evident in the extensive notes and very comprehensive 25-page bibliography. To reconstruct the social context of early minstrelsy, Cockrell has made extensive use of reports of court proceedings in metropolitan daily newspapers, which provide many insights into the life and attitudes of the urban lower classes; music and dance figuring rather more prominently than might have been expected. The writing style throughout is refreshingly frank and engaging, yet with no compromise in the rigor of either scholarship or argument.

The opening chapters explore the experience of the early nineteenth-century American audience with the phenomenon of blackface on the theatrical stage and also its use in familiar folk rituals and theatricals. Cockrell argues convincingly that in these contexts the blackened face was perceived as a mask or a representation of "otherness," and at least in the initial stages, blackface was not primarily a signification of race. Its cultural association for both lower class whites and blacks was with street entertainment and familiar folk festivals and some degree of civil disorder.

The following chapters focus in turn on three significant songs, spanning the period under investigation, "Jim Crow", "Zip Coon" and "Old Dan Tucker." These pieces musically, textually and contextually are placed as signposts in the evolution of early blackface minstrelsy, demonstrating a phased increase in musical sophistication and racial signification, and a corresponding decrease in political or social commentary. A detailed account of the pioneer of concert blackface, George W. Dixon ("Zip Coon"), gives insightful interpretation of the social ambiguities of his life.

Cockrell contends that by 1843 the audience for blackface minstrelsy differed substantially from the mixed-race working class audience of only fifteen years earlier. The Virginia Minstrels and their successors molded polite musical entertainment for the white middle class, and the change in racial signification of blackface was an accommodation to and reinforcement of the attitudes of this new well-paying audience. Demons of Disorder draws out the inappropriateness of interpreting early minstrelsy in the light of its later manifestations, and provides a valuable perspective on the ambiguity of race and minstrelsy.

Anne-Marie Forbes
School of Music
University of Queensland
AUS-4072 Brisbane, QLD

History of "all-girl" bands in Australia
Review in RPM#27/28 (Winter/Spring 1998/1999)

Dreyfuss, Kay
The Sweethearts of Rhythm:
The story of Australia's all-girll bands and orchestras
to the end of the second world war
Currency Press, Sydney 1999
ISBN 0 86819 452 2

This is a brief but fascinating history of "all-girl" bands in Australia. It is enlightening to read that there were over 190 travelling women's orchestras in Europe in 1897, and that in the nineteenth century there were more female music students than males in England, Europe and Australia.

Most of the book is devoted to the stories of specific musical ensembles. Some of them were American ensembles that toured Australia, others originated in Australia and toured in the Far Eats during the Great Depression. Dozens of pictures enable the reader to get a glimpse of what these bands looked like, and what instruments they played.

It would be interesting to know why virtually all of these bands used arrangements by male composers. The book tells specific stories of such musicians as Grace Funston, and doesn't really present a broad over-view of the scene. Dreyfus does point out that the availability of work collapsed when World War Two ended, and women were replaced by men in most of the orchestras. The repertoire that is listed in the book is mostly light pop or semi-classical music, although a number of the musicians claim that the ability to improvise was an important component of these bands. It doesn't appear that these bands ever recorded. It would be a great addition to be able to hear the music discussed in the book.

Dick Weissman
Associate Professor
College of Arts & Media
University of Colorado at Denver

Not Northerness alone
Review in RPM#27/28 (Winter/Spring 1998/1999)

Schafer, R.M. and Jarviluoma, H., eds,
Northern Soundscapes ,
Yearbook of Soundscape Studies Vol.1, 1998.
Tampere 1998: Univ. of Tampere, 167 pp., ISBN 951-44-4371-3

I was misled by the book’s title – I expected [esp. in the framework of a review for IASPM] the book Northern Soundscapes to deal with studies relating to the musical genre of soundscapes , or at least environmental sounds recorded as art-artefacts. The book, then, deals with textual analyses of recorded found sound environments for the purposes of deduction and its subsequent results – improved human engineering to achieve more effective evocation of emotional response [nostalgic/imaginative].

The discipline of Soundscape Studies [as implied too by the digit indicating this volumes position in the series – which promises to cover the globe – I ] is apparently not that developed that northernness alone would supply a reason to compose a soundscape study related text; most of the texts provided their own definitions of what is implicitly assumed in their texts – that soundscapes exist [are worth discussing] and that the text’s readers know and/or agree on what a soundscape is. This is to be expected [and appreciated] in a[ny] discipline which is yet forming and/or wishes to avid getting rutted in puristic definitions.

The lack of Northern uniqueness in soundscapes and/or soundscape studies [saving those depicting specific Northern soundscapes with the apparent intention of emotional evocation] is positive too for it indicates that abstraction is wished for and may indeed be arrived at from depictions of Northern soundscapes and the methodologies deduced from/used for their analysis.

Judging from the spectrum presented in this collection,[the motivations of] soundscape studies may be roughly divided into these not necessarily opposing tendencies

  • to transcribe auditory registrations which do not privilege musicality [+often their psychoacoustic impact - the emotions experienced at / as a result of the registration]
  • to deduce from the less motive descriptions methodologies for influencing the auditory qualities of man-made environments and achieving a certain psychoacoustic impact.

Itae Amit
Shma'ja 5
IL-68024 Jaffa 

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