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MJD 06-08-2014 06:40 AM

A thought about definitions
 
When i was in college I had one of those moments where a teacher said something which completely confirmed the way i had always defined pop music that i never questioned it. Until i got out of school and started talking to local musicians reading internet forums. He had said that Modern Western popular music starts in the Renaissance when composers started writing music that was for performance outside of the church and with non sacred texts. The way he viewed it, and I had up to that point and continue to do so,was there was Sacred music which was written for performance during a religious ceremony and Secular or Popular music that was everything else. I realize that this is a simplification of the 3 types of music ( Sacred, Secular, and Theatrical) that Renaissance authors referred to. The thing is when i say i heard a good pop song the other day and someone asks me who it's by and i say Nirvana or Slayer or Richard Rodgers they look at me like i have 2 heads. And i read people here who play in original bands saying how they love playing their stuff and hate playing pop music but i know they are playing clubs and not churches or religious festivals it confuses me cause i think of them as playing pop music too. When did the abbreviation Pop become a term for a style and not just a general umbrella term? I watched a vid on You Tube called Inside Pop which was a Television Program from I think the mid 60's and the sheer variety of styles that was on display is very much in keeping with my use of the term. It's not a term meant to be used as a descriptor of style but of purpose. I would like other's thoughts on this.

JustJames 06-08-2014 06:53 AM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
We need to use descriptions which are precise enough for the audience we are addressing.

It's a question of granularity. As you get closer to a subject, it opens up and you need finer and finer definitions to describe the view.

Off the top of my head: Blues, heavy metal, grunge, new wave, punk, glam rock, disco, folk rock, reggae, ska, rock, rock 'n roll, rockabilly, country, fusion, jazz, and yes, pop are all terms that I might use to describe a piece of popular music.

And pretty much each of those will have its own subdivisions.

I leave this Emo Philips video here as an example of meaningless subdivisions (ignore the lousy video quality):
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZBKIyCbppfs

MrInsanePolack 06-08-2014 07:58 AM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
I think in todays society that pop music is music for the masses. Slayer, to use your example, will never be for the masses. While Slayer is popular amongst almost ALL metalheads, Slayer will never be pop music. The masses, for the most part, either don't understand it or don't appreciate it and file it under noise. Hip hop had a similar beginning in everyday culture. While it was immediately embraced by many different populations in society, the masses did not find it a legitimate form of music and dismissed it as a fad. Think of it as the polar opposite as disco, which was immediately embraced by the masses but quickly died off after about a decade. Hip hop has passed the test of time and can now be thought of as pop music. The masses love hip hop now, and it and its influence can be found in many different forms of pop music. Slayer can not. They, and metals influence for that matter, are still a niche genre, and while metal is growing in popularity, it will never become mainstream and fall under the pop music umbrella.

No Way Jose 06-08-2014 12:54 PM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
I admire your teacher's ability to get paid for this.

GeoB 06-08-2014 01:21 PM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
Pop = Popular

Probably first categorized during the early days of radio.

In the 20's it was Jazz
In the 30's it was Jazz, Big Band
In the 40's it was Swing

Then it started shifting around to what was suitable for radio play. Since there were plenty of independent stations on the air there was diversity.

The 60's started the conglomerate radio affiliations and formatted stations started up in the early to mid 70's, with lots of independents still out there.

Fast forward to.... a time where suits, lawyers, and A&R staffs figure out what you want to hear.... and that's today's pop. There are a few (repeat a few) independents, but not many. And if you listen to radio (AM, FM, Satellite) you are listening to formatted stations with limited and approved playlists. No "B" sides, nothing but what Billboard has deemed as the hits (in limited quantity), and whatever bilge has been pumped and promoted into the RRHF. I saw a playlist back in the 80's of a "classic rock" station down the road from where I was living and it was 300 songs max... most of them were never heard.

GeoB 06-08-2014 01:21 PM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MrInsanePolack (Post 1266991)
The masses love hip hop now, and it and its influence can be found in many different forms of pop music. Slayer can not. .

Nor can Skid Row....

MJD 06-08-2014 07:09 PM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MrInsanePolack (Post 1266991)
I think in todays society that pop music is music for the masses. Slayer, to use your example, will never be for the masses. While Slayer is popular amongst almost ALL metalheads, Slayer will never be pop music. The masses, for the most part, either don't understand it or don't appreciate it and file it under noise. Hip hop had a similar beginning in everyday culture. While it was immediately embraced by many different populations in society, the masses did not find it a legitimate form of music and dismissed it as a fad. Think of it as the polar opposite as disco, which was immediately embraced by the masses but quickly died off after about a decade. Hip hop has passed the test of time and can now be thought of as pop music. The masses love hip hop now, and it and its influence can be found in many different forms of pop music. Slayer can not. They, and metals influence for that matter, are still a niche genre, and while metal is growing in popularity, it will never become mainstream and fall under the pop music umbrella.

I fail to see how they would not understand the music. It doesnt exactly use different musical materials you know. That is another thing that confuses me. People tell me about how rock was revolutionary and all i hear is a return to much older and simpler musical materials. I guess you can make the argument that the electric guitar was a new timbre but the basics are essentially the same. Perhaps I'm overtrained but i see a score as i listen to music and analyze the changes etc as i go. In my defense i have written 4 operas and wrote the full scores(orchestra and voices obviously) by hand so maybe i hear things a bit differently. Hip Hop i can see as more different because it marks the full on adoption of the german Sprechstimme technique for American Popular music outside of the Broadway stage. Disco which usually actually has a full orchestra or a close approximation is mostly interesting to me for the orchestral effects that the arrangers came up with.

MrInsanePolack 06-08-2014 07:31 PM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MJD (Post 1267070)
I fail to see how they would not understand the music. It doesnt exactly use different musical materials you know. That is another thing that confuses me. People tell me about how rock was revolutionary and all i hear is a return to much older and simpler musical materials. I guess you can make the argument that the electric guitar was a new timbre but the basics are essentially the same. Perhaps I'm overtrained but i see a score as i listen to music and analyze the changes etc as i go. In my defense i have written 4 operas and wrote the full scores(orchestra and voices obviously) by hand so maybe i hear things a bit differently. Hip Hop i can see as more different because it marks the full on adoption of the german Sprechstimme technique for American Popular music outside of the Broadway stage. Disco which usually actually has a full orchestra or a close approximation is mostly interesting to me for the orchestral effects that the arrangers came up with.

Most people don't see the score when they listen to music. They let their ears and the emotion the music brings them be the judge. If they don't like the sounds, or the music doesn't speak to them on an emotional level, they aren't going to get it. This is what I mean by they don't understand it. It doesn't speak to them. The average listener doesn't appreciate what goes into making music. They want something simple that they can sing along to in their car. Pop music has this nailed down. The music is easy to follow, and the average listener appreciates this. The average listener is also not as likely to give a crap about things like opera or concertos. It is the people who truly love music that get the benefits of other forms of music, and are more likely to explore other avenues of music than just what is popular at the time.

GeoB 06-09-2014 02:44 AM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by JustJames (Post 1266977)
We need to use descriptions which are precise enough for the audience we are addressing.

It's a question of granularity. As you get closer to a subject, it opens up and you need finer and finer definitions to describe the view.

... and probably all the genre' were named by music writers and critics to sort out the various forms for their readership and keep themselves in the business of showing off their impeccable taste in whatever it was that they felt was suitable or beneath those tastes.

And that's where the problems initially started....

The SunDog 06-09-2014 03:09 AM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
Country,rock,pop,blues, these are all subgroups of popular music. The idea that you can't hear the difference between opera or punk rock is what I find confusing.

Jeff Almeyda 06-09-2014 02:13 PM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MJD (Post 1267070)
Hip Hop i can see as more different because it marks the full on adoption of the german Sprechstimme technique for American Popular music outside of the Broadway stage.

I don't think that anyone else in the world has ever said this sentence before. Certainly not any rapper I've ever heard.

You are adding an inappropriate level of scholarship to the subject. You are also using the definition of pop in it's most archaic sense as in music for the people and not God or the king.

American groove music (which encompasses all "pop" styles today) was born when the slaves brought to America were forbidden to use their native instruments and sing their songs. They picked up the instruments that were available such as the drum and horn and began making music with it. The resulting combination of cultures led to Dixieland, blues, jazz, rock, country and all of their sub-genres. Those slaves were NOT influenced at all by the musical concepts of the Renaissance. They had had no contact with white culture before then.

Saying Western popular music began in the Renaissance is incredibly Euro-Centric. The pop music that we hear today has no real connection to that time period. Using the archaic definition of popular as "secular" is simply inappropriate.

GeoB 06-09-2014 08:32 PM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MJD (Post 1267070)
...because it marks the full on adoption of the german Sprechstimme technique for American Popular music outside of the Broadway stage. .

Hmmm...

I always thought that rap and hip hop came out of Jamaican mentos or early ska... only because I remember that rappin/Sprechstimme style going on that island years before Rap or Hip Hop developed.

WhoIsTony? 06-09-2014 08:49 PM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by GeoB (Post 1267365)
Hmmm...

I always thought that rap and hip hop came out of Jamaican mentos or early ska... only because I remember that rappin/Sprechstimme style going on that island years before Rap or Hip Hop developed.

hip hop came out of the streets and parks of the South Bronx in the early to mid 1970s

guys like DJ Kool Herc would set up speakers and two turn tables in the park or block party and spin beat breaks off rock, dub, R&B and funk records while an MC would basically be a hype man .... telling people to throw their hands in the air to keep the party going and sometimes putting little rhyming lines together about the DJ

soon NYC spoken word poets caught on and would speak their poetry over these beat breaks.... breaks were so short on most of these funk and R&B records that the DJ had to use two turn tables with the same record on each one to extend the beat break long enough to support the poet and keep the crowd dancing

and hip hop was born

Nancy_C 06-09-2014 09:17 PM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Jeff Almeyda (Post 1267295)
I don't think that anyone else in the world has ever said this sentence before. Certainly not any rapper I've ever heard.

Me, neither, but I'm going to use it myself as soon as possible.

"I say, you swarthy merchants of rhythm, your adoption of the German Sprechtimme technique in your street-corner urban vocal stylings really makes the crowd jump da fuck up. It takes me right back to the secular harpsichord renditions of my own Renaissance ancestors." *fist bump*

JustJames 06-09-2014 10:52 PM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
Meanwhile, over on Composerworld, somebody is asking:

"So, kick on 1 and 3, snare on 2 and 4, hats on the eighths...and that's all there is to rock drumming, right?"

Magenta 06-09-2014 11:15 PM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nancy_C (Post 1267384)
Me, neither, but I'm going to use it myself as soon as possible.

"I say, you swarthy merchants of rhythm, your adoption of the German Sprechtimme technique in your street-corner urban vocal stylings really makes the crowd jump da fuck up. It takes me right back to the secular harpsichord renditions of my own Renaissance ancestors." *fist bump*

Haga haga haga!.................

BacteriumFendYoke 06-09-2014 11:27 PM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
Firstly, paragraphs really help.

Secondly, I'm reminded of a lecture in my first year of University. We studied musical aesthetics, amongst other things.

The lecturer asked for a definition of 'Classical' music. He then turned around after a few answers and said 'essentially, anything by an old, dead, white guy'.

It was a throwaway line, said in jest - but it was a semi-serious point.

Otto 06-10-2014 01:19 AM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
I guess a defining mark of "Popular music" would be time frame of its popularity...

The current common use of the term seems to be a backward definition...encompassing the time frame that covers the advent of the popularity of the music as it currently appears.

Anon La Ply 06-10-2014 01:54 AM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by MJD (Post 1266968)
When i was in college I had one of those moments where a teacher said something which completely confirmed the way i had always defined pop music that i never questioned it.

Until i got out of school and started talking to local musicians reading internet forums. He had said that Modern Western popular music starts in the Renaissance when composers started writing music that was for performance outside of the church and with non sacred texts.

The way he viewed it, and I had up to that point and continue to do so,was there was Sacred music which was written for performance during a religious ceremony and Secular or Popular music that was everything else. I realize that this is a simplification of the 3 types of music ( Sacred, Secular, and Theatrical) that Renaissance authors referred to.

The thing is when i say i heard a good pop song the other day and someone asks me who it's by and i say Nirvana or Slayer or Richard Rodgers they look at me like i have 2 heads. And i read people here who play in original bands saying how they love playing their stuff and hate playing pop music but i know they are playing clubs and not churches or religious festivals it confuses me cause i think of them as playing pop music too.

When did the abbreviation Pop become a term for a style and not just a general umbrella term? I watched a vid on You Tube called Inside Pop which was a Television Program from I think the mid 60's and the sheer variety of styles that was on display is very much in keeping with my use of the term. It's not a term meant to be used as a descriptor of style but of purpose. I would like other's thoughts on this.

MJ, your distinctions are the same as seen on Wiki:
The terms "popular music" and "pop music" are often used interchangeably, even though the former is a description of music which is popular (and can include any style).
Europe's musical history is well worth talking about, and generally not done on this forum. We can't document the music of Americans 600 years ago (both the US and Australia were only marginally influenced by their indigenous music).

I suspect that "pop" may have split off as its own genre around the 40s as a result of the musicians' strike. Wiki again:
One unexpected result of the strike was the decline of the importance in popular music of the big bands of the 1930s and early 1940s. The strike was not the only cause of this decline, but it emphasized the shift from big bands with an accompanying vocalist to an emphasis on the vocalist, with the exclusion of the band. In the 1930s and pre–strike 1940s, big bands dominated popular music; after the strike, vocalists dominated popular music.

During the strike, vocalists could and did record without instrumentalists; instrumentalists could not record for the public at all. As historian Peter Soderbergh put it, "Until the war most singers were props. After the war they became the stars and the role of the bands was gradually subordinated."

Before the strike began there were signs that the increasing popularity of singers was beginning to reshape the big bands. When Frank Sinatra joined Tommy Dorsey's band in 1940, most selections started with a Tommy Dorsey solo. By the time Sinatra left in 1942, his songs with the band began with his singing, followed by any solos by Dorsey or others.

A significant moment in the rise of the vocalist occurred when Sinatra performed with Benny Goodman and his Orchestra at New York City's Paramount Theater on December 30, 1942. Sinatra was third–billed on the program and although he was the United States’ most popular singer, Goodman had never heard of him. Goodman announced him and the audience roared and shrieked for five minutes. Goodman’s response was, ”What the hell was that?” Once Sinatra started to sing, the audience continued to shriek during every song. As a saxophone player said, "When Frank hit that screaming bunch of kids, the big bands just went right into the background."

toddmc 06-10-2014 02:43 AM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
1 Attachment(s)
Quote:

Originally Posted by Nancy_C (Post 1267384)
Me, neither, but I'm going to use it myself as soon as possible.

"I say, you swarthy merchants of rhythm, your adoption of the German Sprechtimme technique in your street-corner urban vocal stylings really makes the crowd jump da fuck up. It takes me right back to the secular harpsichord renditions of my own Renaissance ancestors." *fist bump*

Damn, that quote was so good I gave it the royal treatment it deserves (sorry- couldn't resist)!
To the OP- I hope (for your sake) you didn't mention pop and Slayer in the same sentence to an actual Slayer fan!

con struct 06-10-2014 03:34 AM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
Confused about what Pop music is. Come on.

You've heard of Michael Jackson, of course you have. His music was pop music. In fact, he was the "King of Pop." The Carpenters played pop music. Boy bands are pop music. Lady Gaga is pop.

Surely you watch television, you must use the internet, and yet you're confused about what pop music is?

I just find it hard to believe that anyone today could be that out of touch, particularly a musician.

8Mile 06-10-2014 03:40 AM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by No Way Jose (Post 1267013)
I admire your teacher's ability to get paid for this.

This unappreciated gem wins the Internet.

Nancy_C 06-10-2014 06:24 AM

Re: A thought about definitions
 
Quote:

Originally Posted by toddmc (Post 1267498)
Damn, that quote was so good I gave it the royal treatment it deserves (sorry- couldn't resist)!

I'm giggling and clapping my hands like a toddler. This is the high point of my week. Yes, it's only Monday, but it would be hard to top this.

Thank you, toddmc!


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