bk The Political Force of Musical Beauty

New from Barry Shank. I want it.

Detailed item info from the publisher
In The Political Force of Musical Beauty , Barry Shank shows how musical acts and performances generate their own aesthetic and political force, creating, however fleetingly, a shared sense of the world among otherwise diverse listeners. Rather than focusing on the ways in which music enables the circulation of political messages, he argues that communities grounded in the act and experience of listening can give rise to new political ideas and expression. Analyzing a wide range of “beautiful music” within popular and avant-garde genres–including the Japanese traditions within the music of Takemitsu Toru and Yoko Ono, the drone of the Velvet Underground, and the insistence of hardcore punk and Riot grrrl post-punk–Shank finds that when it fulfills the promise of combining sonic and lyrical differences into a cohesive whole, musical beauty has the power to reorganize the basis of social relations and produce communities that recognize meaningful difference.

Key Details
Author Barry Shank
Number Of Pages 344 pages
Series Refiguring American Music Ser.
Format Hardcover
Publication Date 2014-04-11
Language English
Publisher Duke University Press

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction. A Prelude 1
1. Listening to the Political 10
2. The Anthem and the Condensation of Context 38
3. Turning Inward, Inside Out: Two Japanese Musicians Confront the Limits of Tradition 72
4. “Heroin”; or, The Droning of the Commodity 108
5. The Conundrum of Authenticity and the Limits of Rock 147
6. 1969; or, The Performance of Political Melancholy 201
Coda. Listening through the Aural Imaginary 244
Notes 263
Bibliography 301
Discography 317
Index 319

Endorsements from the publisher’s page

“In this ambitious, original, and compelling book, Barry Shank addresses the relation of music to politics. In the process, he makes a significant contribution to aesthetic theory. It is beautifully written, nuanced yet accessible. Its central theme, on the political agency of music, is refreshing and Shank’s close readings and formal analyses of musical examples are both richly rewarding and entertaining.” — Bernard Gendron, author of Between Montmartre and the Mudd Club: Popular Music and the Avant-Garde

“Treating noise as the recalibration of our sensibility settings and a vision for building community on difference, Barry Shank makes a politics of thorny sound. Even better, when this formerLong Ryders member, turned chair of Comparative Studies, takes on Moby’s half-borrowed ‘Natural Blues,’ Yoko Ono’s obstacle course art, the Velvet Underground’s ‘Heroin’ drone, then Patti Smith, Bad Brains, Bikini Kill, and TV on the Radio with Tinariwen, we get something amazingly long in arriving: an exploration of college radio music by a passionate college professor.” — Eric Weisbard, editor of Pop When the World Falls Apart: Music in the Shadow of Doubt

Barry Shank is Professor of Comparative Studies at Ohio State University. He is the author of Dissonant Identities: The Rock ‘n’ Roll Scene in Austin, Texas, and A Token of My Affection: Greeting Cards and American Business Culture, and a coeditor of American Studies: An Anthology and The Popular Music Studies Reader.

His Journal of Popular Music Studies 2006 Abstraction and Embodiment: Yoko Ono and the Weaving of Global Musical Networks paper is online :


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