Archived entries for Barthes
John Shepherd’s chapter ‘Text’ in Key Terms In Popular Music And Culture had my brain swinging like a pendulum this week. One page would have me fascinated by the notion of music being thought of as a text; firstly as an element of culture, subject to the various forms of cultural theory (Barthes etc.), secondly as the literal, musical form itself, subject to sonic musical analysis in terms of pitch, dynamics, timbre etc. A turn of the page, however, sent the bullshit alarms ringing in my head. For example, Shepherd argues that analysis of the early rock ‘n’ roll favoured by the motorbike gangs of the 1950s could provide social meanings such as; “three chords, the tonic, the dominant and the subdominant, together with either three or four beats to a measure….could be viewed as a basic code for the hierarchical structure of industrial capitalism.” Quite.
The quote ‘talking about music is like dancing about architecture’ kept ringing around my head. Having said that, the morning’s discussion around musical syntax, the signifiers and ‘musical punctuation’ that help us to decode music and its meanings had me completely hooked and involved.
I like talking about music and engaging in debate. Musical discourse is, after all, what this course is about. I’m also pretty sure that I’ve cut a rug to some funky architecture in the distant past too.