Pop culture used to be all the stuff you had to wait for after school to enjoy. But these days, pop culture is just as likely to be the stuff you study in school . In 1986 Michael Hannan establish a contemporary Popular Music program at Southern Cross University a trained classical pianist and musicologist he had previously worked in rock bands and for AC/DCs publisher. Hannan recounts how in 2000 at least 8 of the 37 universities in Australia are now offering degrees servicing aspects of the Popular Music, where as in 1985 there were none.
In institutions that have traditionally focused on classical music, there may be a realisation that a broader market of students needs to be targeted in order for them to survive in an era of declining public support for the arts . Hannan asks What are the reasons for this mini-revolution in music training in universities? and it is this is the question I hope to debate in this essay.
Hannan proposes that, music training has been traditionally limited to middle class students with a classical music background, most of whom qualify for university entry on the basis of the privately-funded individual music, not from the practical music experiences they have received in a public education system . This point is further reinforced by culture theorist Henry Giroux Of course, education has always been a product of privilege,”In that way, pop culture is much more available and accepted than the formal knowledge. ‘Order now
Hannans significantly focuses on the rapid rise of Popular Music as a serious educational topic while demonstrating a shift in traditional class values that influence what or how things are taught in education systems. This change in attitude does not however alter one specific fact, Most young people contemplating university music study, whether classical or popular, wish to do so because their cultural identity is bound up with music making .
In the terms of Popular Culture this affinity with music is even starker as the nature modern life and the volume of accessible media dictates that this exposure is, in essence is everywhere, Students come into college now having been immersed in pop culture since they were born. It’s what they know — it’s practically what they breathe. ” Simon Firth reiterates this in a musical context declaring, the sheer loudness of contemporary Popular Music as it competes with noise in our soundscape.
Traditionally pop music was and is still seen as a product for the lower classes; not worthy of social status, let alone study and is frequently referred to as being Normative. In opposition Classical music is then deemed intellectual, high brow, elitist and the fodder for the upper classes, with Popular Music referred to in the terms of the Negative of Classical i. e. what Classical is not!
There is some evidence that this trend is however changing, Many people talk as if classical music is in its essence an art and pop music in its essence, nothing but music created to make money. Neither of these statements is completely true, plenty of classical music has been commercial and plenty of pop has been created with no regard for money. Can we prove this seed shift in musical academia is not only happening with regards to established music studies but also in Cultural & Social areas.
In a 1997 review of Neil Nehrings book Popular Music, Gender, and Postmodernism Chris Foran wrote Rock music is at its heart a music of passion, spontaneity, fire. So why is it that many academics and music journalists dismiss the political and social value of emotion in Popular Music? . I would argue that Foran is wrong in that assumption? In that same year a Stamford University Online Report titled Rock & Roll: Does it Influence Teens Behaviour? used the book It’s Not Only Rock & Roll as its reference point.
The book in question draws its raw material from a senate report, which was concerned about the influences of pop music, efforts to censor it and is later quoted as offering some comfort to parents and others who are worried about graphic sex, morbid violence, overt racism and challenges to authority in Popular Music lyrics and videos. The report was raised after public concern about the relationship Popular Music in the form of gangsta rap, explicit videos and death rock etc was having on American youth culture.
This example confirms that the senate believed there is a valid need to understand Popular Music and that potentially this music may have a direct impact on the morals of society. Roberts links Popular Music with child development stating, Because children’s biological and social development rates are so variable, the authors suggest that perhaps the easiest way to tell if a particular child has reached adolescence is to notice whether he or she has developed a passion for Popular Music. So why does Popular Music have such a direct and threatening impact on society and what fuels this fear; the cause I would reason is consumption?
According to IFPI figures this years world-wide record industry sales exceed 36 billion dollars, with the UK coming in at 1. 170m and five major record companies holding the power base, Sony, BMI, Warner/AOL Universal and EMI. This represents a major and powerful cultural industry who in league with media companies are capable of directing and forming musical taste and consumption on a global level. By nature any industry of this magnitude will require professionals at all levels that have a vocational qualifications or formal education in that sphere.
More regularly we are finding that record companies are in alliance with educational establishments and therefore it can be rationally argued that their business needs, will directly or indirectly effect curriculum topics? Popular Music is part of the larger social context where traditions of culture, class, race, and gender, technology, and profit have now been overlaid with recently consolidated processes of modern mass-marketing and consumption. Having provided some background to the climate surrounding musical education, where does this leave the student and what type of scholar may you find considering Popular Music?
My belief is that the reasons for studying this topic are diverse, complex and most of all compelling but some possible reasons are as follows: Musicologists People who wish to study how music is formed through elitist, textual or personal motivators, which may lead to conflicts, which can in turn stimulate modernistic ideas. i. e. apart from Opera classical music is almost exclusively instrumental or melody based, while a great deal of Popular Music is rhythm or narrative driven.
I went around the room, and asked each student why he or she was taking the course. One student made a provocative comment — that pop music was attractive for its rhythm, and that classical music also had strong rhythm, but that people were discouraged from expressing it. Music Industry Students who see the rewards and career prospects offered by a major industry who wish to take up vocational careers in the music business such as musicians, managers, technicians, journalists or varied support roles.
Managers, particularly good managers, groom and train their bands or solo artists in a structured and purposeful way. Record companies (such as the classic case of Motown in the 1960s) often take this a stage further by employing specialised trainers for the skills and personal attributes relevant to particular genres of musical entertainment. Cultural or Social Studies Pupils who wish to study the impact of Popular Music on modern culture or society using issues such as history, economics, social awareness, politics, ideology, psychology, aesthetics or globalisation.
French theories, such as semiotics and post-structuralism, have inspired a greater interest in explicit or recorded culture. These theories are concerned with the ways in which texts can shape human behaviour and can be used as a source of power by elitists. Music Lovers Cradled over the smooth wooden curves, fingertips on steel, eyes closed. Listening. It might be a groove it might be, a particularly sweet chord, an intriguing phrase, maybe a little twist of melody that just has something. The song writer latches on to it, tries to understand its implications.
What does it feel like? Where does it want to go? What sort of song may grow from this tiny fragile seed? On college campuses nation-wide, pop culture is a hot academic topic. More than one million students will take a course with a pop culture theme in 2001, according to the Popular Culture Association of America. Meanwhile, on the latest generation of TV quiz shows (the closest television gets to academia), contestants are more likely to be grilled on sitcom stars and jingles than on science and history.