Category Archives: Music Studies

Richard Osborne talks to Laura Macy about the resurgence of interest in vinyl records (and his book)

Vinyl A History of the Analogue RecordThis month Ashgate is publishing a paperback edition of Richard Osborne’s highly successful Vinyl: A History of the Analogue Record. Commissioning editor Laura Macy asked Richard about the book and his interest in this enduring form of music production.

In the preface to the forthcoming paperback you say ‘In 2013, sales of vinyl in the UK rose by 101.2 per cent. Around 780,000 LPs and EPs were sold, the highest tally for 16 years.’ What do you think has caused this resurgence?

What’s interesting is that it is not one single factor, one single audience, one single type of record or one type of music that is driving these sales. The return of vinyl is certainly a reaction to digital technologies. However, as I argue in the book, it is also a complement to them. Consumers are buying new records that give them access to the same tracks online; they are also purchasing vinyl over the internet. It is not just people who grew up with vinyl who are buying the format, but also those who were born after it was supposed to be superseded. It has become something of a cliché to report that many of the younger buyers do not own record players, but I don’t think that it follows that they don’t know how one works or that they’re not actually hearing the records that they have bought. When I first started investigating this subject – a project that began ten years ago – it was sales of 7″ singles that were on the rise, but latterly it has been the LP that has witnessed the greatest growth in sales. Formerly, many of the big LP sales were amongst back catalogue releases, particularly in America, where the Beatles’ Abbey Road regularly topped the annual vinyl charts. These LP charts, in both Britain and America, are now dominated by new releases. Many of these are by ‘indie’ bands and are on indie labels, but the renaissance isn’t confined to this type of music. All of this is a roundabout way of saying that the appeal of vinyl is multiple, and that while the format is subject to nostalgia, there remains something contemporary about it.

Do you think there is more than a ‘collectibles’ aesthetic behind current vinyl sales?

There’s certainly a collectibles aspect when it comes to Record Store Day, an event that has grown so big that it is now suffering from a backlash. There are those in the vinyl community who oppose the ‘readymade’ collectibles that Record Store Day specializes in (for this year’s event there were over 650 new releases, which were made available in independent record shops for one day only). Somewhere inside most vinyl fans resides the argument that this is the format that makes music sound its best. However, most of them also know that they obsess about the object at least as much as they do about the music that it contains. Georges Bataille once wrote that ‘No collector could ever love a work of art as much as a fetishist loves a shoe’. One of the dilemmas that vinyl addicts wrestle with is whether they are collectors, who adore music, or whether they are fetishists, who have become consumed with passion for a ‘thing’. And of course, this ‘thing’ called vinyl is not only adored because it is the basis of an ever-growing collection, it is also adored because of the way it looks, feels and behaves.

When I was little I had a babysitter who used to arrive for her babysitting with a box of 78s – rather bigger than an ipod and she still needed to use our stereo system to play them. Do you want to comment on the changing material culture of popular music listening?

I am interested in continuities, as well as differences. The iPod clearly represented a sea-change in the amount of ‘owned’ music that people were able to carry with them. It did, however, build upon the listening cultures of the Walkman, as well as the radio, whose influence sometimes gets ignored. Radio made music portable long before the Walkman did (in my own case, it provided my first experience of listening with a headphone – not headphones – outdoors), and it also made a lot of music available. It’s also notable that people have tried to make their download and streaming listening more akin to radio listening. On the one hand, they randomise tracks by using shuffle modes, thus receiving music passively as you would when listening to the radio. On the other hand, they organise it into playlists, thus putting themselves in the position of the radio DJ. Another continuity is that people have way more music than they actually need. The difference is that this has been multiplied. I haven’t got a vast record collection, but many of the discs that are in it have lain dormant for years. These wasted records are now accompanied by the thousands of tracks I have on iTunes that have never or rarely been played. I still think that most of us only have a few key records. The continuity of BBC’s ‘Desert Island Discs’ programme would appear to support this idea. The show still has the same format as when it started, back in the era of the 78rpm disc. Although people could now be stranded with an iPod full of tunes, the castaways on ‘Desert Island Discs’ find nothing wrong with focusing their lives around eight individual records. They don’t even mention the b-sides!

More information about Vinyl: A History of the Analogue Record

SOAS Musicology series – a call for proposals

Posted by Emma Gallon, Assistant Editor

Ashgate was delighted to attend the recent Society for Ethnomusicology meeting in Indianapolis (13-17 November, 2013), where there was a lot of interest in the titles from our SOAS Musicology series on display. Here’s a little bit more about the series, including information on what we need from you if you would like to submit a book proposal:

SOAS MUSICOLOGY SERIES

The Editorial Board:

  • Professor Keith Howard (SOAS, University of London) (Chair)
  • Dr Peter Cooke (Research Fellow, SOAS, University of London)
  • Professor Giovanni Giuriati (La Sapienza, Roma)
  • Dr John Morgan O’Connell (University of Cardiff)
  • Professor Helen Rees (UCLA)
  • Professor Richard Widdess (SOAS, University of London)

About the series:

Music is cherished by every society in the world.  Music is, like language, a universal means of individual and cultural expression. It is also infinitely varied. Music in any society has intrinsic value in its own right, and can tell us much about the culture in which it developed. The core of the SOAS Musicology series comprises studies of different musics, analysed in the contexts of the societies of which they are part, and exploring repertories, performance practice, musical instruments, and the roles and impacts of individual composers and performers. The SOAS Musicology Series includes studies that integrate music with dance, theatre and the visual arts, and contextualized studies of music within the Western art canon. The series reflects a broad musicology, as much as the discipline of ethnomusicology.

The editors recognize the value of interdisciplinary and collaborative research. Volumes may utilize methodologies developed in anthropology, sociology, linguistics and psychology to explore music; they may seek to create a dialogue between scholars and musicians; or they may primarily be concerned with the evaluation of historical documentation. Monographs that explore contemporary and popular musics, the effect of globalization on musical production, or the comparison of different music cultures are also welcomed.

Keith Howard explains the background to the series:

“It’s a big world out there. The SOAS Musicology Series opens the curtain, just a little, on some of the many fascinating and diverse, beautiful and ethereal musical traditions of the world, and on the brilliant musicians, past and present, who champion those traditions.

I personally began my career as a musician, music teacher and composer in Britain, but began to explore what we now term ‘ethnomusicology’ – the study of the world’s music cultures – to discover more about why we human beings want music. Having discovered that music is cherished by every society in the world, I wondered why the dominant understandings of music (in teaching, composition, performance theory, music therapy, and so on) tended to focus on Western classical and pop musics… I have since researched (and sometimes performed) great music in Korea, Thailand, Nepal, Zimbabwe, and Siberia.

Recognising the need to make research on world music more available, I approached Ashgate in 1999 to see if they would publish a major series. I wrote a chapter in the very first book in the series, Indigenous Religious Musics, and have since contributed a chapter to the important book on the ethnomusicologist and anthropologist John Blacking, The Musical Human (Blacking was the supervisor of my PhD), edited two books, Zimbabwean Mbira Music on an International Stage and Music as Intangible Cultural Heritage, and written three more, Perspectives of Korean Music 1 and 2, and, with Chaesuk Lee and Nicholas Casswell, Korean Kayagum Sanjo. Now, but not because of my own contributions, I can confidently say that Ashgate’s SOAS Musicology Series is the leading world music/ethnomusicology series in the world.”

More about SOAS – School of Oriental and African Studies:

SOAS, University of London is the only Higher Education institution in Europe specialising in the study of Asia, Africa and the Near and Middle East. Uniquely combining language scholarship, disciplinary expertise and regional focus, it has the largest concentration in Europe of academic staff concerned with Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

***

Proposals for the SOAS Musicology Series should include: a statement of aims and rationale of the book, a synopsis of the project and chapter outline, a concise CV and a sample chapter.

Please send a copy of your proposal to:

Laura Macy, Senior Commissioning Editor, Ashgate Publishing Ltd, Wey Court East, Union Road, Farnham, Surrey   GU9 7PT

Recent titles in the SOAS Musicology series include:

Dāphā: Sacred Singing in a South Asian City (Richard Widdess, SOAS)

Brass Bands of the World: Militarism, Colonial Legacies, and Local Music Making (Suzel Ana Reily, Queen’s University Belfast and Katherine Brucher, DePaul University)

Alaturka: Style in Turkish Music (1923–1938) (John Morgan O’Connell, Cardiff University)

Hwang Byungki: Traditional Music and the Contemporary Composer in the Republic of Korea (Andrew Killick, University of Sheffield)

Music, Modernity and Locality in Prewar Japan: Osaka and Beyond (Hugh de Ferranti and Alison Tokita)

And We’re All Brothers: Singing in Yiddish in Contemporary North America (Abigail Wood, SOAS, University of London)

Icelandic Men and Me (Robert Faulkner, University of Western Australia)

Vinyl: A History of the Analogue Record – one of the best and most engaging books on phonography and/or recording formats in recent years

‘…this book is actually one of the best and most engaging books on phonography and/or recording formats in recent years.’ 2013 IASPM Book Prize Jury

‘Hats off to the excellent Richard Osborne for producing a thoroughly engaging and enjoyable romp through the musical history of polyvinyl chloride… The author has produced a valuable collection of sound bites and snapshots of what the 20th century sounded like.’ Times Higher Education

‘… a well-written and thoroughly engaging précis of vinyl’s journey from its origins to its constantly shifting presence throughout the 20th Century.’ Record Collector

‘… Richard Osborne has just released the most perfect book: a history of vinyl that does not neglect aesthetic or interpretative considerations, but focuses also on hard facts, and pays attention to technology, and economics… Osborne’s book proves a fascinating and essential read, and an elegant one at that.’ InMedia

OSBORNE JKT(240X159)Richard Osborne traces the evolution of the vinyl record from its roots in the first sound recording experiments, to its survival in the world of digital technologies. His book addresses the record’s relationship with music: how the analogue record was shaped by, and helped to shape, the music of the twentieth century. It also looks at the cult of vinyl records. Why are users so passionate about this format? Why has it become the subject of artworks and advertisements? Why are vinyl records still being produced?

Of all recording formats, it is the vinyl record that has had the most profound effect on the production and consumption of popular music; vinyl has also had the longest-lasting and deepest appeal. This book explores its subject using a distinctive approach: the author takes the vinyl record apart and historicizes its construction. Each chapter explores a different element and brings a fresh perspective to each of the themes: the groove, the disc shape, the label, vinyl itself, the album, the single, the B-side and the 12″ single, the sleeve.

About the Author: Richard Osborne is the programme leader for the popular music degrees at Middlesex University. He has published work on the themes of music technology, minstrelsy, alarms, Indian film and The Fall.

More about Vinyl: A History of the Analogue Record

Music Makes a Difference

Posted by Luana Life, Marketing Coordinator

If you are interested in exploring the relationship between music and wellbeing you will be excited to discover Music Asylums: Wellbeing Through Music in Everyday Life by Tia DeNora. Becoming available September 28, Music Asylums is the first book published in our new music series Music and Change: Ecological Perspectives, a cross-disciplinary series aiming to explore the question of how, where and when music makes a difference.

Here are some thoughts from one enthusiastic reader:Gortner

“…beautifully written…this book will be essential reading for anyone interested in the relationship between music, health and wellbeing. It offers a wealth of new insights and is both accessible and meticulously thought out. I loved it!”   Raymond MacDonald, University of Edinburgh

About the author: Tia DeNora is Professor of Sociology of Music, in Sociology, Philosophy and Anthropology at Exeter University. She is the author of Music-in-Action, Music in Everyday Life, After Adorno: Rethinking Music Sociology and Beethoven and the Construction of Genius. She directs the SocArts Research Group at Exeter.

Alexander Ivashkin and Andrew Kirkman talk about their new book on Shostakovich on Voice of Russia radio

Alice Lagnado and conductor Julian Gallant recently talked to Alexander Ivashkin and Andrew Kirkman about their recent edited volume, Contemplating Shostakovich: Life, Music and Film.

You can listen to the interview on The Voice of Russia radio.

Contemplating ShostakovichThe chapters in Contemplating Shostakovich uncover ‘outside’ stimuli behind Shostakovich’s works, allowing the reader to perceive the motivations behind his artistic choices.

His often ostensibly quirky choices are revealed as responses – by turns sentimental, moving, sardonic and angry – to the particular cultural, social, and political conditions, with all their absurdities and contradictions, that he had to negotiate. In the book we see the composer emerging from the role of tortured loner of older narratives into that of the gregarious and engaged member of his society that, for better and worse, characterized the everyday reality of his life.

This collection offers remarkable new insight into the nature of Shostakovich’s working circumstances and of his response to them.

Contributors: Elizabeth Wilson; Alexander Ivashkin; Gilbert C. Rappaport; Ivan Sokolov; Erik Heine; John Riley; Olga Dombrovskaia; Inna Barsova; Vladimir Orlov; Terry Klefstad; Olga Digonskaia.

James Gardner talks about Frank Zappa on Radio New Zealand

Auckland-based composer James Gardner, one of the contributors to Frank Zappa and the And, was on Radio New Zealand’s Upbeat programme recently, talking about his chapter contribution to the book.

You can listen to the interview on the Radio New Zealand website

CARR JKT(240X159)pathFrank Zappa and the And is a collection of essays representing the first academically focused volume exploring the creative idiolect of Frank Zappa. Several of the authors are known for contributing significantly to areas such as popular music, cultural, and translation studies, with expertise and interests ranging from musicology to poetics. Zappa’s interface with religion, horror, death, movies, modernism, satire, freaks, technology, resistance, censorship and the avant-garde are brought together analytically for the first time, and approached non chronologically, something that strongly complies with the non linear perspective of time Zappa highlights in both his autobiography and recordings. The book employs a variety of analytical approaches, ranging from literary and performance theory, ‘horrality’ and musicology, to post modern and textually determined readings, and serves as a unique and invaluable guide to Zappa’s legacy and creative force.

Contributors: Paul Carr; Richard J. Hand; Manuel de la Fuente; Kevin Seal; James Gardner; Nick Awde; Claude Chastagner; Geoffrey I. Wills; David Sanjek; Martin Knakkergaard; Michel Delville; Paula Hearsum.

Visit the Facebook page for Frank Zappa and the And

More about Frank Zappa and the And

Choice Outstanding Academic Titles

Posted by Martha McKenna, Marketing Manager

Ashgate is delighted to announce that three of its 2012 books have been named Outstanding Academic Titles by Choice Magazine. In 2012, Choice published reviews of 7,230 books and electronic resources, of which only 644 were considered to be of such high quality that they belong in every academic library.

We are proud that the following Ashgate titles have been recognized for their outstanding contributions to scholarship.

Nursing before NightingaleNursing before Nightingale, 1815–1899 by Carol Helmstadter and Judith Godden

Reading Photography, edited by Sri-Kartini Leet

Song MeansSong Means: Analysing and Interpreting Recorded Popular Song by Allan F. Moore

Michael Hooper and Christopher Mark talk on The Music Show about the Australian composers David Lumsdaine and Roger Smalley

Andrew Ford’s interview with Michael Hooper and Christopher Mark was first broadcast on The Music Show in Australia on Saturday 15th December, and you can download the podcast or listen again by going to the RadioNational website.

From RadioNational:

Authors Michael Hooper and Christopher Mark have written new books on two very important Australian composers: David Lumsdaine and Roger Smalley. One was born in England and now lives in Australia; the other was born here and now lives in the UK. Yet they are friends and oddly musically connected. The authors look at 20th century modernism through the prism of these composers’ works.

Roger SmalleyMore about Roger Smalley: A Case Study of Late Twentieth-Century Composition (Christopher Mark, University of Surrey, UK)

Music of David LumsdaineMore about The Music of David Lumsdaine: Kelly Ground to Cambewarra (Michael Hooper)

Ashgate author, Allan F. Moore, wins Inaugural Popular Music Interest Group Publication Award for his new book, Song Means: Analysing and Interpreting Recorded Popular Song

Posted by Luana Life, Marketing Coordinator

Ashgate author, Allan F. Moore, wins Inaugural Popular Music Interest Group Publication Award for his new book, Song Means: Analysing and Interpreting Recorded Popular Song.

Allan’s book also received the following review in Choice magazine:

Song Means“…the strongest contribution to appear in about a decade. Moore’s methodology is clear and easy to follow. He identifies elements of popular music that need to be considered alongside melody, harmony and rhythm—shape, form, delivery, style, friction, persona, reference, belonging and syntheses…He is particularly effective in effortless use of a broad base of examples from different genres, ranging from the Carpenters to Led Zeppelin, Fleetwood Mac to Radiohead and Vanessa Carlton to Blind Willie Johnson. Moore’s discussion of how listeners react to recordings is just as strong as his discussion of melodic modes…Highly Recommended.”   Choice, December 2012

Learn more about Song Means: Analysing and Interpreting Recorded Popular Song

More information on the Popular Music Interest Group Publication Award

To browse other newly reviewed Ashgate books in Choice see www.ashgate.com/choice

Matthew Reisz writes in the Times Higher about “Rock On: Women, Ageing and Popular Music”

The piece is entitled “This is not the end, my friends”…

Different strategies for dealing with ageing adopted by performers such as Courtney Love, Celia Cruz, Madonna and “mothers who rock”, are explored in a new collection edited by academics from the University of Gloucestershire.

‘Rock On’: Women, Ageing and Popular Music was put together by Ros Jennings, reader in cultural studies, and Abigail Gardner, subject group leader for media courses, who also contributed chapters on, respectively, Shirley Bassey and Petula Clark, and the “shock and awe” generated by the “ageless black body” of Grace Jones.

The editors describe themselves as women who are “getting on a bit” but “haven’t yet gravitated to the same deep love of Brahms as we have for pop … As ageing women, we are still buying new music and going to festivals (though now we take chairs).” Dr Gardner admitted that this could embarrass her children, but said her “students appreciate the fact I was there when Joy Division was around or that I saw Fela Kuti play at Glastonbury. I have a background of interests they can identify with.”

Read the full review on the Times Higher Ed website

 Further information about Rock On: Women, Ageing and Popular Music