Adorno, Theodor - On Popular Music

March 27, 2018 | Author: etervyte3000 | Category: Harmony, Pop Culture, Jazz, Composers, Popular Music



Theodor W.Adorno On Popular Music With the assistance and collaboration of George Simpson The Musical Material The Two Spheres of Music [1] Popular music, which produces the stimuli we are here investigating, is usua lly characterized by its difference from serious music. This difference is gener ally taken for granted and is looked upon as a difference of levels considered s o well defined that most people regard the values within them as totally indepen dent of one another. We deem it necessary, however, first of all to translate th ese so-called levels into more precise terms, musical as well as social, which n ot only delimit them unequivocally but throw light upon the whole setting of the two musical spheres as well. [2] One possible method of achieving this clarification would be a historical an alysis of the division as it occurred in music production and of the roots of th e two main spheres. Since, however, the present study is concerned with the actu al function of popular music in its present status, it is more advisable to foll ow the line of characterization of the phenomenon itself as it is given today th an to trace it back to its origins. This is the more justified as the division i nto the two spheres of music took place in Europe long before American popular m usic arose. American music from its inception accepted the division as something pre-given, and therefore the historical background of the division applies to i t only indirectly. Hence we seek, first of all, an insight into the fundamental characteristics of popular music in the broadest sense. [3] A clear judgment concerning the relation of serious music to popular music c an be arrived at only by strict attention to the fundamental characteristic of p opular music: standardization.[1] The whole structure of popular music is standa rdized, even where the attempt is made to circumvent standardization. Standardiz ation extends from the most general features to the most specific ones. Best kno wn is the rule that the chorus consists of thirty two bars and that the range is limited to one octave and one note. The general types of hits are also standard ized: not only the dance types, the rigidity of whose pattern is understood, but also the "characters" such as mother songs, home songs, nonsense or "novelty" s ongs, pseudo-nursery rhymes, laments for a lost girl. Most important of all, the harmonic cornerstones of each hit--the beginning and the end of each part--must beat out the standard scheme. This scheme emphasizes the most primitive harmoni c facts no matter what has harmonically intervened. Complications have no conseq uences. This inexorable device guarantees that regardless of what aberrations oc cur, the hit will lead back to the same familiar experience, and nothing fundame ntally novel will be introduced. or that if the whole s till is perceivable in the dance types in serious music despite recurrence of th . it ser ves its function only as a cog in a machine. in turn. [6] Serious music. [7] Nothing corresponding to this can happen in popular music. the minuet to and scherzo of the classical Viennes e School. the reaction to the details. nor does the structure of the whole ever depend u pon the details. Taken in isolation the second theme would be disrobed to insignihcance. [5] The primary effect of this relation between the framework and the detail is that the listener becomes prone to evince stronger reactions to the part than to the whole. But no stress is ever placed upon the whole as a musical event. Details which occupy musically strat egic positions in the framework--the beginning of the chorus or its reentrance a fter the bridge--have a better chance for recognition and favorable reception th an details not so situated. for example. In popular music. since it is a mere musical automatism i tself. To this limited situati onal extent the detail depends upon the whole. may be thus characterized: Every de tail derives its musical sense from the concrete totality of the piece which. The interrelationship among the elements or the relationship o f the elements to the whole would be unaffected. however. in the introduction of the first movem ent of Beethoven's Seventh Symphony the second theme (in C-major) gets its true meaning only from the context. excep t to give them varying degrees of emphasis. It may be maintained either that this part of serious music is also to be comprehended in terms of detail rather than of whole. the listener c an supply the "framework" automatically." By following the preceding outburst it achie ves the utmost dramatic momentum. position is impor tant only in a living relation between a concrete totality and its concrete part s. and a whole t erminology exists for them such as break. to any great extent. His grasp of the whole does not lie in the living experience of this one concrete piece of music he has followed. Their standa rdization.[4] The details themselves are standardized no less than the form. it is not likely to influence. By omitting the exposition and development and starting with this repetition. But this si tuational nexus never interferes with the scheme itself. This contrasting character of the standardization of th e whole and part provides a rough. It would not affe ct the musical sense if any detail were taken out of the context. position is absolute. consists of the life relationship of the details and never of a mere enfo rcement of a musical scheme. is somewhat different from that of the framework. middle bars of the bridge. [8] The mere establishment of this difference is not yet suffcient. The whole is pre-given and pre. a whole built up of its very contr ast with the cant us hrmus-like character of the first theme. for instance. The beginning of the chorus is replaceable by the beginning of innumerabl e other choruses. for comparative purposes. Another example may be fou nd in the beginning of the recapitulation over the pedal point of the first move ment of Beethoven's "Appassionata. Only through the whole does it acquire its partic ular Iyrical and expressive quality--that is. preliminary setting for the effect upon the l istener. In Beethoven. For example. It is not overt like the latter but hidden behind a veneer of individual "effects" whose p rescriptions are handled as the experts' secret. It is possib le to object that the far-reaching standard schemes and types of popular music a re bound up with dance. and therefore are also applicable to dance derivatives i n serious cepted. dirty notes. blue chords. Every detail is substitutable. even before the actual experience of the music starts: therefore. all is lost. however open this secret may be to musicians generally. The whole device has been made dynamic. imperturbable. [12] To sum up the difference: in Beethoven and in good serious music in general --we are not concerned here with bad serious music which may be as rigid and mec hanical as popular music--the detail virtually contains the whole and leads to t he exposition of the whole. to be sure. then the answer of the winds. This dualism is not deve loped in a schematic way so that first the phrase of the strings is elaborated. aloof. then the introduction of a second part which may lead to more distant tonal regions--formalistically similar. the detail is mutilated by a device which it can never influence and alter. it is produced out of the c onception of the whole. a mute and meaningless game rul e to speak with meaning. The whole scheme has become sub ject to the inherent demands of this particular movement." stone like answer of the wind instruments. of question and reply. Not only the themes. dance like symmetry in the sequen ce of bars and periods. Thus. He takes up the idea of thematic dualism within the scherzo part. [9] The following consideration provides an answer to both objections by showing the radical differences even where serious music employs dance types. and then even more manifest within the context between t he two main themes. In popular music the relationship is fortuitous. What Beethoven takes from the traditiona l minuet to scheme in this scherzo is the Idea of outspoken contrast between a m inor minuet to. and unnoticed throughout the piece.e types. foreboding expression but even more by the very way in which its formal development is handled. He achieves complete consistency between the formal str ucture and its specific content. and then the string theme is mechanically repeated . not only by its threatening. which appears as an extraneous framework. the whole is never altered by the individual event and therefore remains. But he forces what was. [10] The classical minuet to scheme required first the appearance of the main th eme. what occurs before the e ntrance of the deep strings in C-major that marks the beginning of the trio). At the same time . But the specific form-idea of this movement as a concret e totality transvaluates the devices borrowed from the minuet to scheme. in the conventional minuet to. After the first occurrence of the second theme in the horns. and the en d of the scherzo part is actually marked. so that the detail remains inconsequential. A musical detail which is not permitte . the elaboration of its themes. by and large. as it were. at the same time. as it were. a major trio. not by the first but by the second the me. The whole scherzo part of this scherzo (that is to say. All this occurs in Bee thoven. which has overwhelmed the first musical phrase. the two essential elements are alternately interconnected in the manner of a dialogue. the creeping figure in the strings and the "objective. The det ail has no bearing on a wholes. and repetition of the minor minuet to. the repetition of the scherzo after the trio is scored so diff erently that it sounds like a mere shadow of the scherzo and assumes that haunti ng character which vanishes only with the afffirmative entry of the Finale theme . there is no reason why it should not be perceivable in modern popular m usic. but the musical f orm itself have been subjected to tension: the same tension which is already man ifcst within the twofold structure of the first theme that consists. to the "bridge" of today's popula r music--and finally the recurrence of the original part. while. and also ce rtain other characteristics such as the emphatic three-fourths rhythm often acce ntuated on the first fourth and. According to current formalistic views the scherzo of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony can be r egarded as a highly stylized minuet to. that is to say. The who le movement is conceived as an introduction to the hnale in order to createtreme ndous tension. co nsists of the dualism of two themes. [11] Furthermore. each musical element.d to develop becomes a caricature of its own potentialities. when faced with the complicated. however adventurous they appear. It is this structure of contemporary po pular music which in the last analysis. Standardization [13] The previous discussion shows that the difference between popular and serio us music can be grasped in more precise terms than those referring to musical le vels such as "lowbrow and highbrow. as it were by the inherent nature of this music itself. [15] No such mechanical substitution by stereotyped patterns is possible in seri ous music. Popular music is "pre. actua lly hears only the simple which it represents and perceives the complicated only as a parodistic distortion of the simple. Listening to popular music is manipulated not only by its promoters but. rhythmically simpler than stock arrangements of jazz. is composed In such a way that the p rocess of translation of the unique into the norm is already planned and. to a c ertain extent. The listener. For the complicated in popular music never functions as " itself" but only as a disguise or embellishment behind which the scheme can alwa ys be perceived. Harmonically. the wide intervals of a good many hits such as "Deep Purple" or "Sunrise Serenade" are more diffficult to follow per se than most melodies o f. The schematic buildup dictates the w ay in which he must listen while. the structure underlying the piece is abstract. Standardization and non standar dization are the key contrasting terms for the difference. This is basic to the illusion that certain compl ex harmonies are more easily understandable in popular music than the same harmo nies in serious music. for example. Melodically. however. In jazz the amateur listener is capable of replacing complicate d rhythmical or harmonic formulas by the schematic ones which they represent and which they still suggest. into a system of response mechanisms wholly antagon istic to the ideal of individuality in a free. This is how popular music divests the listener of his sponta neity and promotes conditioned reflexes. and even later sources. liberal society. Not only does it not require his effort to follow its concrete stream. it makes any effort in liste ning unnecessary." For example. without exception. Otherwise the music i s not "understood. e ven the simplest one. the supply of chords of the so-called classics i s invariably more limited than that of any current Tin Pan Alley composer who dr aws from Debussy. The ear deals with t he diffficulties of hit music by achieving slight substitutions derived from the knowledge of the patterns. [14] Structural Standardization Aims at Standard Reactions. the difference between the spheres cannot be adequately expre ssed in terms of complexity and simplicity. This has nothing to do with simplicity and complexity. Haydn.digested" in a way strongly resembling the fad of "digests" of prmted Material. at the same time. All works of the earlier Viennese cl assicism are. accounts for those changes of listening . [16] The composition hear s for the listener. it actually gives him models under which anythin g concrete still remaining may be subsumed." Popular music. how ever." "naive and sophistica ted. In hit music. In serious music. th e less possibility there is of substitution among the details. existing independent of th e specific course of the music." and the more highly organized the work is." "simple and complex. Here even the simplest event necessitates an effort to grasp it immed iately instead of summarizing it vaguely according to institutionalized prescrip tions capable of producing only institutionalized effects. which consist mainly of circumscriptions of tonic triads and second steps. is "itself. Ravel. achieved within the composition itself. in order to look more up-to-date. But these tonal relationships of the primitive music al language set barriers to whatever does not conform to them. . and made it imperative. they have been taken over by cartelized age ncies." This also accounts for rev ivals in popular music. a mere superstructure of this unde rlying musical language. The division o f labor among the composer. whereas the act of producing a song-hit still remains in a handicraft stage. the little tunes he whistles on his way home from school. The breath of free competition is st ill alive within them. but still "individualistic" in its social mode of production. Extravagances are tolerated only insofar as they can be recast into this so-called natural langua ge. Therefore. Under centralized conditions such as exist today these standar ds have become "frozen. namely. the final results of a competitive process. we must look for other reasons f or structural standardization--very different reasons from those which account f or the standardization of motor cars and breakfast foods. the famous old hits which are revived set the patterns which have become standardized. It would not increase the costs of production if the various composers of hit tunes did n ot follow certain standard patterns. simple language o f music itself. and rigidly enforced upon mat erial to be promoted. no matter how late the development might be which produced this natural language. to a large extent. As one particular song scored a great success. the hymns he sings in Sunday school. and arranger is not industrial but rathe r pretends industrialization. Of ficial musical culture is. The production of popular music is highly centralized in its economic organizati on. and "ratios " between elements were imitated. [19] This "freezing" of standards is socially enforced upon the agencies themsel ves. Though all indust rial mass production necessarily eventuates in standardization. The original patterns that are now standardized evolved in a more or less competitve way. the sum total of all the conventions and material formulas in music t o which he is accustomed and which he regards as the inherent. Noncompliance with the rules of the game became the basis for exclusion. the nursery rhymes. They do not have the outworn character of standardized p roducts manufactured after a given pattern."[2] That is.habits which we shall later discuss. Popular music must simultaneously meet two demands. Large-scale economic concentration institutionalized th e standardization. The musical standards of popular music were originally developed by a competitiv e process. The most successful hits types. and the process culminated in the crystallizat ion of standards. whereas it has a ctually adapted industrial methods for the technique of its promotion. as an inherent quality without explicit reference to the process of production or to the underlying causes for standardization. [18] Imitation offers a lead for coming to grips with the basic reasons for it. On the other hand. [17] So far standardization of popular music has been considered in structural t erms--that is. One is for stimuli that provoke the listener's attention. All these are vastly more important in the formation of musical language than his ability to d istinguish the beginning of Brahms's Third Symphony from that of his Second. the production o f popular music can be called "industrial" only in its promotion and distributio n. the major and minor tonalities and all the tona l relationships they imply. This natural language for the American listener stems from his earliest musical experiences. As a result. They are the golden age of the game rules. The standard patterns have become invested with the immunity of bigness--"the King can do no wrong. innovations by rugged in dividualists have been outlawed. harmonizer. hundreds of others spr ang up imitating the successful one. The other is for the material to fall within the category of what the musically untrained listener would call "natural" music : that is. a sy nthetic means of hiding standardization would have to be evolved. the musical function of the improvised detail is determined . for its part. If the individual handicraft elements of popular music were abolished altogether." and that it maintain the supremacy of the natural against s uch deviations. it is imperative to hide standardization. ownership is still diffuse. the standardization of popular music is only t he expression of this dual desideratum imposed upon it by the musical frame of m ind of the public--that it be "stimulatory" by deviating in some way from the es tablished "natural. conforms pcrfectly to that necessity which is essential from the viewpoint of cultural big business. at the same time. keeps them in li ne by making them forget that what they listen to is already listened to for the m. Pseudo-individualization. to a certain extent. while. Therefore the illusion and.[20] In terms of consumer demand. such as the "break" of pre-swing jazz. [23] The necessary correlate of musical standardization is pseudo. which institutionalizes desiderata which ori ginally might have come from the public. The "backwardness" of musical mass production.individualiza tion. Improvisations--passages where spontaneous ac tion of individuals is permitted ("Swing it boys")--are confined within the wall s of the harmonic and metric schcmc-. Standardization of song hits keeps the customers in line by doing their listenin g for them. By pseudo-individualization we mean endowing cultural mass production with the halo of free choice or open market on the basis of standardization itself. for while administrative control over life processes is c oncentrated. their improvisations have become so "normalized" as t o enable a whole terminology to be developed to express the standard devices of individualization: a terminology which in turn is ballyhooed by jazz publicity a gents to foster the myth of pioneer artisanship and at the same time flatter the fans by apparently allowing them to peep behind the curtain and get the inside story. The maintenance of it is grounded in ma terial reality itself." [24] The most drastic example of standardization of presumably individualized fe atures is to be found in so-called improvisations. Unhidden they would provoke res istance. Pseudo-individualization [21] The paradox in the desiderata--stimulatory and natural--accounts for the du al character of standardization itself. Concentration and control in our cult ure hide themselves in their very manifestation. to which popular music belongs and in w hich no necessities of life are immediately involved. Even though jazz musicians st ill improvise in practice. [22] In the sphere of luxury production. The attitude of the audiences toward the natural language is rei nforced by standardized production. the fact that it is still on a h andicraft level and not literally an industrial one. This pseudo-individualization is prescribed by the standardization of the framework. The latter is so rigid that the freedom it allows for any sort of im provisation is severely delimited. Stylization of the ever identical framew ork is only one aspect of standardization. even the reality of in dividual achievement must be maintained. Its elements a re even now in existence. as it were. t he residues of individualism are most alive there in the form of ideological cat egories such as taste and free choice. or "pre-digested. In a great many cases. This mec hanical dichotomy breaks down indifference it is imperative to fdvor sweet or sw ing if one wishes to continue to listen to popular music. standardization of the norm enhances i n a purely technical way standardization of its own deviation--pseudo-individual ization. The listener is presumed to be able to choose b etween them. One is the fact that the detail rem ains openly connected with the underlying scheme so that the listener always fee ls on safe ground. or rather the naked scheme. Popular music commands its own listening habits. The listener is encouraged by t he inexorable presence of these types psychologically to cross out what he disli kes and check what he likes. They can be r eceived only as embellishments. very few possibilities for actual improvisation remain. The most widely recognized differentiations are those between swing and sweet and such name bands as Benny Goodman and Guy Lombardo. Sincc thc-se possibilities were very quickly exhausted. Understanding popular music means obeying such c ommands for listening. due to the nece ssity of merely melodically circumscribing the same underlying harmonic function s. [26] There is another type of individualization claimed in terms of kinds of pop ular music and differences in name bands." that is. Here. There are two main t ypes and their derivatives from which to choose. The other is the function of "substitution"--the improvisatory f eatures forbid their being grasped as musical events inthemselves. t his in spite of the fundamental identity of the material and the great similarit y of the presentations apart from their emphasized distinguishing trademarks. The types of popular music are careful ly differentiated in production. The choice in individual alterations is so small that the per petual recurrence of the same variations is a reassuring signpost of the identic al behind them.completely by the scheme: the break can be nothing other than a disguised cadenc e. This. dirty notes. [25] This subservience of improvisation to standardization explains two main soc io-psychological qualities of popular music. any chord which does not fall strictly within the simplest har monic scheme demands being apperceived as "false. however. as a stimulus which carries with it the unambiguous prescription to substitute for it the right deta il. The limitation inherent in this choice and the clea r-cut alternative it entails provoke like-dislike patterns of behavior. in other words. Th is labeling technique. They are apperceived as exciting stimuli only because they are correc ted by the ear to the right note. but of a sociological kind outside the realm of strict musical technology . stereotyping of impro visatory details speedily occurred. play a conspic uous role. It provides trademarks of identification for differentiating between the actua lly undifferentiated. Any h armonic boldness. as regards type of music and band. is only an extreme instance of what happens less conspicuously in all individualization in popular music. THEORY ABOUT THE LISTENER Popular Music and "Leisure Time" . [27] Popular music becomes a multiple-choice questionnaire. The listener i s quickly able to distinguish the types of music and even the performing band. false notes. is pseudo-individualiz ation. Thus. It is a well-known fact that in daring jazz arra ngements worried notes. in deed. the gr eater the possibility of selling cultural commodities indiscriminately. popular music in general) maintains its hold on the masses. war. To be sure. As a substitute.e. The power of the process of production extends over th e time intervals which on the surface appear to be "free. People want to have fun. Its stimulations are met with the inability . on which it f eeds. or at office machines denie s people any novelty. A fully concentrated and conscious experience of art is possible only to t hose whose lives do not put such a strain on them that in their spare time they want relief from both boredom and effort simultaneously. has its "nonproductive" correlate in entertainment. the way in which they must work on the assembly line. This mode of production. because their leisure is an escape from wo rk and at the same time is molded after those psychological attitudes to which t heir workaday world exclusively habituates them. It induces relaxation bec ause it is patterned and pre-digested. Thus. Yet this ideology of vested interest cannot be dismissed so easily. there is justihcation for speaking of a pr eestablished harmony today between production and consumption of popular music. The customers of musical entertainment are themselves objects or. Popular music is for the masses a perpetual bus man's holiday." [32] But why do they want this stuff? In our present society the masses themselv es are kneaded by the same mode of production as the arti-craft material foisted upon them. some considerations of a general kin d may be appropriate. and which it perpetually reinforces. relaxatio n which does not involve the effort of concentration at all. products of the same mechanisms which determine the production of popular music. that is. [30] The notion of distraction can be properly understood only within its social setting and not in self-subsistent terms of individual psychology. [31] The promoters of commercialized entertainment exonerate themselves by refer ring to the fact that they are giving the masses what they want." They want standardize d goods and pseudo-individualization. It is a means instead of an end. they crave a stimulan t. On the other hand. [33] To escape boredom and avoid effort are incompatible--hence the reproduction of the very attitude from which escape is sought.. directly or indirectly. the stimuli they provide permit an es cape from the boredom of mechanized labor. but the strain and boredom associated w ith actual work leads to avoidance of effort in that leisure time which offers t he only chance for really new experience. They seek novelty. which engenders fears and anxiety about unemployment. Popular music comes to offer it. Distraction is bound to the present mode of production. in the factory. to the rationalized and mechanized p rocess of labor to which. This is an ideo logy appropriate to commercial purposes: the less the mass discriminates. masses are subject. is simultaneously one of distraction and inattention.[28] In order to understand why this whole type of music (i. Its being patterned and pre-digested serv es within the psychological household of the masses to spare them the effort of that participation (even in listening or observation) without which there can be no receptivity to art. [29] The frame of mind to which popular music originally appealed. The people clamor for what they are going to get anyhow. Their spare time serves only to reproduce their working capacity. The whole sphere of che ap commercial entertainment reflects this dual desire. It is not possible c ompletely to deny that mass consciousness can be molded by the operative agencie s only because the masses "want this stuff. Listeners are distracted from the demands of reality by enterta inment which does not demand attention either. loss of inc ome. . The impossibility of escape causes the widespread attitude of inattention toward popular music. This "adjustment" materializes in two d ifferent ways. The adjustment to anthropophagous collectivism is found as often among left-wing political groups as among right-wing groups. does music mean to them? The answer is that the language that is music is transformed by objective processes into a language which they think is their own--into a language which serves as a receptacle for their institutionalized w ants. both overlap: repression and crowd mindedness overtake the followers of bot h trends. [35] On the other hand. [37] Individuals of the rhythmically obedient type are mainly found among the yo uth--the so-called radio generation. the domain of production and plugging presupposes distra ction and. The psychologies tend to meet despite the surface distinctions in poli tical attitudes. One may go so f ar as to suggest that most listeners of popular music do not understand music as a language in itself. the inherent logic of which is inaccessi ble to them. The moment of recognition is that of effortless sensation.psychological types of mass beh avior toward music in general and popular music in particular. The tunes themselves lull the listener to inattention. It must arouse a ttention by means of ever-new products. The sudden attention attached to this moment burns itse lf out instanter and relegates the listener to a realm of inattention and distra ction. there is always the possibility that people will no longer accept it. Music today is largely a social cement. Wh at. is above all a means by which they achieve some psychical adjustmen t to the mechanisms of present-day life. corresponding to two major socio. If no attention is given to the song. if attention is paid to i t. The y tell him not to worry for he will not miss anything. grasped in each instant and related to all the precedent and subsequent moments. The less music is a language sz~i ge~eris to them. It is a circle w hich makes escape impossible. [34] In this situation the industry faces an insoluble vest effort in the ever-identical. The autonomy of music is replaced by a mere s ocio-psychological function. produces it. On the one hand. but this attention spells their doom. This means boredom again. distraction is not only a presupposition but also a prod uct of popular music. They are most susceptible to a process of m asochistic adjustment to authoritarian collectivism. it cannot be sold. then. the more does it become established as such a receptacle. then to rep eat the infanticidal maneuver again and again.[3] The Social Cement [36] It is safe to assume that music listened to with a general inattention whic h is only interrupted by sudden flashes of recognition is not followed as a sequ ence of experiences that have a clear-cut meaning of their own. to hound them to their graves. Ind eed. The type is not restricted to any one political attitude. on the other. the "rhythmically obedient" type and the "emotional" type. If they did it would be vastly difficult to explain how t hey could tolerate the incessant supply of largely undifferentiated material. This partly accounts for the constantly renewed effort t o sweep the market with new products. because they know it too well. And the mea ning listeners attribute to a material. But they do not merely supply categorical wish fulfillment for the girl behind the counter. and that a com munist youth organization adapted the melody of "Alexander's Ragtime Band" to it s own lyrics. that they reap new pleasure from their acceptance o f the unpleasant." The renunciation of dreami ng by these composers is an index that listeners are ready to replace dreaming b y adjustment to raw reality.individualizatio ns--counter-accents and other "differentiations"-occur. All these composers. and consequently adapt themselves to this world. as the standardized meter of dance music and of marching suggests the coordi nated battalions of a mechanical collectivity. Any musical experience of this type is based upon the un derlying. The cult of the machine which is represented by unabating jazz beats involves a self-renunciation that cannot but take root in the form of a fluctuating uneasiness somewhere in the pe rsonality of the obedient. unabating time unit of the music--its "beat. if one looks at the serious compositions which correspond to this cate gory of mass listening. Thus do the obedient inherit the earth. Those who ask for a song of social significance ask for it through a medium which deprives it of social significance. have expressed an "anti romantic" feeling. Such inconsistencies indicate that politi cal conviction and socio-psychological structure by no means coincide. The kinship is with the poor shop girl wh o derives gratification by identification with Ginger Rogers. They take what is called a realistic attitude and attempt to harv est consolation by identifying themselves with the external social forces which they think constitute the "machine age. The adaptation to machine music necessarily implies a renunciation of one's own human feelings and at the same time a fetishism of the machine such that its ins trumental character becomes obscured thereby. Howev er. [41] As to the other." To play rhythmically mea ns. the relation to the grou nd meter is preserved. to play in such a way that even if pseudo. who with her beaut iful legs and unsullied character.[38] This comes to the fore in popular music which appears to be aloof from poli tical partisanship. It may be noted that a moderate leftist theater production s uch as Pins and Needles uses ordinary jazz as its musical medium. marries the boss. They aimed at musical adaptation to reality--a real ity understood by them in terms of the "machine age. [39] This obedient type is the rhythmical type. For the machine is an end in itself only under given social conditions--where men are appendages of the machines on which they work. The uses of inexorable popul ar musical media is repressive per se. She does no t immediately identify herself with Ginger Rogers marrying. there is some justification for link ing it with a type of movie spectator. They are disillusioned about any possibility of realizing thei r own dreams in the world in which they live. to these people. the "emotional" type. This is the way in which their response to music immediately expresses their desire to obey. obedience to this rhythm by overc oming the responding individuals leads them to conceive of themselves as aggluti nized with the untold millions of the meek who must be similarly overcome. What does occur may . among them Stravinsky and Hindemith. Wish fulfillment IS Conside red the guiding principle in the social psychology of moving Pictures and simila rly in the pleasure obtained from emotional erotic music. [40] Yet. the word "rhythmical" being used in its everyday sense. and to fit even the syncopations into the basic time units. one finds one very characteristic feature: that of disil lusion." Yet the very disillusion upon which the ir coordination is based is there to mar their pleasure. is only superficially appropriate. To be musical means to them to be capable of following gi ven rhythmical patterns without being disturbed by "individualizing" aberrations . This explanation. [42] Hollywood and Tin Pan Alley may be dream factories. howe ver. strict art forms: "Certainly there are few more stringent verse forms in poetry than the sonnet. The authors fail. They are taken in by the musical expression of frustration rather than by that of happiness. song like 'Mandalay. or Iyric. the popular song is 'custom built. Music that permits its listeners the confession of their unhappiness reconciles them. namely." It is catharsis for the masses. by means of this "release." They conf use the mechanical patterns with highly organized. and the music is free to interpret ~he mea ning and feeling of the words without following a set pattern or form. One who weeps does not resist a ny more than one who marches. The influence of the standard Slavic melancholy typified by T chaikowsky and Dvorak is by far greater than that of the most "fulfilled" moment s of Mozart or of the young Beethoven. whereas the poem. p. "The chief difference between a pop ular song and a standard. T he actual function of sentimental music lies rather in the temporary release giv en to the awareness that one has missed fulfillment. of a standard n umber has no structural confinements. commercial character of those patterns which aims at canalized reactions expressed as follows: when the audience at a sentimental film or sentimental music become aware of the overwhelming possibility of happiness. It is this contamination which makes the insight into the basic standa rdization of popular music sterile. Not even the most g ullible individuals believe that eventually everyone will win the sweepstakes. ' is that the melody and the Iyric of a popular number are constructed within a definite pattern or structural form. my child. The experience of the shop girl is related to that of the old woman who weeps at the wedding services of others. NOTES [1] The basic importance of standardization has not altogether escaped the atten tion of current literature on popular music. in the language of the regu lar announcement of one particular radio program. however.' or 'Trees. "Come and weep.' 'Sylvia. Thus the standard pa ttern of popular music appears to them virtually on the same level as the law of a fugue. they dare to co nfess to themselves what the whole order of contemporary life ordinarily forbids them to admit.2. But the actual content of this emot ion can only be frustration. [43] The emotional listener listens to everything in terms of late romanticism a nd of the musical commodities derived from it which are already fashioned to fit the needs of emotional listening. A composer has just as much opportunity for exhibiting his talent and g enius in popular songs as in more serious music" (pp.' while the standard song allow s the composer freer play of imagination and interpretation. Putting i t another way. Emotional music has become the image of the mother who says. bl issfully becoming aware of the wretchedness of her own life. They consume music in order to be allowed to weep. to realize the externally superimposed. How to Wvite and Sel/ a Song Hit (New York." Abner Silver and R obert Bruce. and yet the greatest poets of all time have woven undying beauty within its small and limite d frame. The so-called releasing element of music is simply the opportunity to feel something. 1939)." to their social dependence. What is su pposed to be wish fulfillment is only the scant liberation that occurs with the realization that at last one need not deny oneself the happiness of knowing that one is unhappy and that one could be happy. 2-3). or serious. at "easy listening. It ought to be added that what Silver and Br uce call a "standard song" is just the opposite of what we mean by a standardize d popular song. that they actually have no part in happiness. . but cathars is which keeps them all the more firmly in line. 115. no copyright 2002 textz. Particularly youngsters who invest popular music with their own feelings are not yet complete ly blunted to all its effects. The whole problem of age levels with regard to po pular music. too.[2] See Max Horkheimer. is beyond the scope of the present study. Zeitschrift fur Sozialforschung 8 ( 1939). . however. [3] The attitude of distraction is not a completely universal one. Demographic prob lems. must remain out of rights reserved .
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