Theories Of Popular Music Adorno, Hebdige[1] 1

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Theories Of Popular Music Adorno, Hebdige[1] 1

  1. 1. Theories of Popular Music <ul><li>In order to complete your Critical Evaluation to a decent standard, it is important that you are able to write about your product using a variety of critical (theoretical) perspectives. </li></ul><ul><li>Over the next few lessons, we will be looking at a variety of approaches that can be taken. </li></ul>
  2. 2. Theories of Popular Music <ul><li>You may choose to use some, or all, of these ideas throughout your Evaluation. It is important that you choose the most effective and appropriate parts of the Evaluation in order to put them into action. </li></ul><ul><li>It is also worth remembering that these ideas can be adapted and applied to work in other areas of the course, particularly the Critical Evaluation and the Media Debates topics of next term </li></ul>
  3. 3. The Frankfurt School <ul><li>A collection of Marxist philosophers, based in Germany in the mid 20 th century. Among their many writings, they were concerned with the role of popular culture in exploiting the masses and maintaining the power of the bourgeoisie </li></ul><ul><li>Their work, particularly that of Theodor Adorno, represents the first attempt to write about popular music </li></ul>
  4. 4. Theodor Adorno <ul><li>Adorno (1903-69) argued that capitalism fed people with the products of a 'culture industry' - the opposite of 'true' art - to keep them passively satisfied and politically apathetic. </li></ul>Adorno suggested that culture industries churn out a debased mass of unsophisticated, sentimental products which have replaced the more 'difficult' and critical art forms which might lead people to actually question social life.
  5. 5. Theodor Adorno <ul><li>False needs are cultivated in people by the culture industries. These are needs which can be both created and satisfied by the capitalist system, and which replace people's 'true' needs - freedom, full expression of human potential and creativity, genuine creative happiness. </li></ul><ul><li>These features are particularly true in the popular music industry. All popular music products are commodities to be sold to an audience who believe that they are consuming ‘true’ emotion </li></ul>
  6. 6. Theodor Adorno <ul><li>Popular music products are characterised by standardisation (they are basically formulaic and similar) and pseudo-individualisation (incidental differences make them seem distinctive, but they're not). </li></ul><ul><li>Products of the culture industry may be emotional or apparently moving, but Adorno sees this as cathartic - we might seek some comfort in a sad film or song, have a bit of a cry, and then feel restored again. </li></ul>
  7. 7. Dick Hebdige <ul><li>More modern theorists have tended to view Adorno’s ideas as overly pessimistic and dismissive of mass audiences as passive and easily manipulated </li></ul><ul><li>Hebdige argues that consumption is an active process in which differences in audiences’ social and ideological construction lead to different readings of the same cultural products </li></ul>
  8. 8. Dick Hebdige <ul><li>As such, the audience are free to resist the power of large companies by ignoring, undermining or finding alternative products to consume. Often this takes the form of the audience constructing themselves as distinct from mainstream culture – as subcultures </li></ul><ul><li>Major companies will inevitably attempt to assimilate this resistance by attempting to provide products which these audiences or subcultures will consume </li></ul><ul><li>The audiences must then decide whether to accept these products or whether to resist further. </li></ul>

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