Thursday, May 31, 2012

Annotated Bibliography:

Pratt, A.C. (2010) "Review essay: Simon Frith, Sound effects: youth, leisure and the politics of rock 'n' roll." International Journal of Cultural Policy. Retrieved from :

The author, Professor Andy Pratt of Culture, Media and Economy at the University of London, explores the relationship between music, subculture and politics. The article begins by explaining the inspiration behind this exploration; the 1981 book 'Sound Effects' by former music critic Simon Frith, which fundamentally examines production as well as consumption of music - how it is made, its context as well as the text itself. Pratt goes on to explain his views on rock music as a form of culture, rather than a subculture or separate cultural movement unto itself.
The author backs up the widely explored notion that there is a 'material culture and political economy to music'; this could be further examined and the conclusion made that music - in particular the fluidity between genres and relationships between musicians and the sounds they create - can be viewed as a metaphor for society. Thus, studying the politics of music can educate people as to the nature of society itself.
The credibility of the article is established in no small part through the allusions to comparison between the understanding of the artistic, cultural and creative industries that one can gain a greater understanding of policy-making within greater society. The significant use of relevant texts throughout the article, though occasionally outdated, validates Frith's views on politics and music, and how they come together within the outside world.

Rolling Stone (2012, May 29) "Bob Dylan Awarded Presidential Medal of Freedom", Rolling Stone. Retrieved from:

The author, not cited by Rolling Stone, simply reports on legendary blues musician Bob Dylan being the latest recipient of the United States' Presidential Medal of Freedom; the highest civilian honour in the States. On the topic of music and politics, the author brings attention to a previous media statement by the White House, in which President Barack Obama described Dylan as having a "considerable influence on the civil rights movement of the 1960s" - thus providing a solid example of popular music influencing the manner in which society perceives certain political issues such as race and equal rights.
The author goes on to explain the award itself; individuals who receive the Medal of Freedom are deemed to have made a significant contribution to the security or, in Dylan's case, the national interest of the U.S. - yet more evidence to substantiate the theory that the worlds of music and politics are more closely connected than mainstream society may give credit to.
The article itself is clearly favourable towards Dylan, citing previous awards the musician has received in recent times; and subtly praises President Obama as being involved in the Arts, music and the culture that surrounds the aforementioned.

Serpick, Evan (2003, March 6) "Musicians Divide Over Protesting the War", CNN Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved from:

Servick introduces the article by commenting on the division of popular musicians regarding their opinions on the war in Iraq; he also manages to implement his own opinion very quickly - that contemporary musicians do not match those popular during previous generations as a ' potent political force', however goes on to devote the rest of the article to providing quotes from various prominent musicians regarding their views on war and the politics of American involvement. 
The author is clearly personally invested in the article and does not hesitate to make his opinions known, through small asides regarding the decreasing involvement of musicians in politics, speaking of 'changing times and attitudes'. Though this obvious opinion piece provides valid commentary on the war and how band members use their music to convey political messages to their fans, the continual asides into personal speculation diminish the quality of reading from an objective point of view.
Servick cites several popular artists, including Norah Jones, Art Garfunkel and Mike Mills of R.E.M, however does not explore the involvement that alternative, rock and punk musicians have within political circles and influencing public attitudes to the war. A more diverse exploration into the links between music, culture and politics would find a more well-rounded conclusion. In the words of Billy Bragg, "The bottom line is.. to engage."

Service, Tom (2011, September 21) "But music and politics have always mixed", The Guardian. Retrieved from:

Service's article is a response to another, previous Guardian article by journalist Libby Brooks, entitled 'Music and Politics Don't Mix', which essentially suggests that for musicians to attempt to connect to (whom she refers to as) "real people" through their art is "embarrassing", and that the relationship between music and politics is strained at best. Service strongly disagrees, and thus uses the article to further his point that this view is 'philosophically wrong' and 'historically inaccurate' using a series of examples both from contemporary popular culture, and going so far as to reference Beethoven's influence on the social politics of his time.
Service raises the idea that an attempt to separate music from politics is in itself a political agenda; a concept which he backs up using not only popular contemporary musicians, but more obscure examples such as the cellist Steven Isserlis' views on his own involvement with the British Orchestra overseas and the ways in which it could be perceived in terms of the war in Iraq. Thus, by exploring the world of arts and music on a deeper level, along with discussing elements not only of recorded music but performance, Service manages to accurately convey the nature and societal impact of the close relationship between music and politics, both in today's society and throughout history.

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