There is a well-developed vocabulary for discussing classical music, but when it comes to popular music, how do we analyze its effects and its meaning? David Brackett draws from the disciplines of cultural studies and music theory to demonstrate how listeners form opinions about popular songs, and how they come to attribute a rich variety of meanings to them. Exploring several genres of popular music through recordings made by Billie Holiday, Bing Crosby, Hank Williams, James Brown, and Elvis Costello, Brackett develops a set of tools for looking at both the formal and cultural dimensions of popular music of all kinds.
David Brackett is Assistant Professor of Music at SUNY, Binghamton.
"[An] impressive and important contribution to popular music studies. . .[Brackett's] work could function not just as a model for popular music analysis but also as a very helpful introduction to popular music culture and history. Starting from a musicological perspective, Brackett addresses many of the problems raised by the sociological account of popular music that has so far dominated the field. . . . should become essential reading in any popular music course."—Simon Frith, author of Performing Rites: On the Value of Popular Music