Performing Rites

Performing Rites : Evaluating Popular Music

3.83 (98 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

Who'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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Product details

  • Paperback | 360 pages
  • 152 x 230 x 24mm | 458.14g
  • Oxford University Press
  • Oxford, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • 0192880608
  • 9780192880604
  • 570,481

Back cover copy

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 center of the aesthetics that structure our culture and color 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 popular aesthetics on our lives.
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Review quote

Pop music matters to Frith, and he gives one of the best accounts yet written of how and why this should be so ... a very necessary book. * Peter Aspden, Financial Times * quite simply one of the best books I've ever read about music * BBC Music Magazine * This is a good, and arguably a great book. * Colin McCabe, New Statesman & Society * Frith understands precisely what pop music is actually for, and thus has a right to write about it that few others share. * Pete Townshend *
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About 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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Table of contents

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS; PART I MUSIC TALK: 1 THE VALUE PROBLEM IN CULTURAL STUDIES; 2 THE SOCIOLOGICAL RESPONSE; 3 COMMON SENSE AND THE LANGUAGE OF CRITICISM; 4 GENRE RULES; PART II ON MUSIC ITSELF: 5 WHERE DO SOUNDS COME FROM?; 6 RHYTHM: RACE, SEX, AND THE BODY; 7 RHYTHM: TIME, SEX, AND THE MIND; 8 SONGS AS TEXTS; 9 THE VOICE; 10 PERFORMANCE; 11 TECHNOLOGY AND AUTHORITY; PART III WHY MUSIC MATTERS: 12 THE MEANING OF MUSIC; 13 TOWARD A POPULAR AESTHETIC; NOTES; INDEX.
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Rating details

98 ratings
3.83 out of 5 stars
5 23% (23)
4 42% (41)
3 30% (29)
2 5% (5)
1 0% (0)
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