Popular Music Studies

Holger Schulze & Inger Damsholt
Popular Music Studies

(Course Code: HMVB01532U)


Every Wednesday


Popular music, unlike art music, is
(1) conceived for mass distribution to large and often socioculturally heterogeneous groups of listeners,
(2) stored and distributed in non-written form
(3) only possible in an industrial monetary economy where it becomes a commodity and
(4) in capitalist societies, subject to the laws of “free” enterprise, according to which it should ideally sell as much as possible of as little as possible to as many as possible.

Philipp Tagg, Analysing Popular Music

This is just one, though a very decisive definition of popular music; and in early 21st century one might for very good reasons question various of the distinctions made in here. But as many other efforts to define pop it refers to the laconic nature of everyday consumption in monetary, capitalist societies.

This introduction to pop music focuses on the vernacular and laconic character of pop music. Therefore we will be approaching pop by its main situations and formats.

In each session of this introduction we will enter a new situation, a new location, a new form of production, of distribution, and of consumption of popular music. And each situational dispositive of pop will include particular methodological, theoretical and historical approaches to music. The listening situations as well as the situations of distribution and of consumption will guide us through the vast field of pop music.

The series of the situations included in this introduction are: On the Move – In the Car – From the Radio – From the Jukebox – At the Mall – On the Dancefloor – In the Studio – In the Record Store – In the Office – In the Database – In the Stadium.

Basic references

Bennett, Andy & Waksman (eds.) (2015), The SAGE Handbook of Popular Music. London: SAGE.
Papenburg, Jens & Schulze, Holger (2016), Sound as Popular Culture. A Research Companion. MIT-Press: Cambridge/Mass. (forthcoming).
Zagorski-Thomas, Simon (2007): The Musicology of Record Production. Twentieth-Century Music 4/2.


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