PopMAC day 2: Computer Assisted Analysis of the Music of Elton John #popmac

Elton JohnComputer Assisted Analysis of the Music of Elton John. Rupert Till & Phillip Allcock (University of Huddersfield)

[abstract] This paper explores what part computational methods can play in the analysis of popular music, and how they can be combined with other approaches to form a better understanding of the analytical subject. This project investigates the use of Humdrum, a powerful computer toolkit that in the past has mostly been used to analyse classical music. Although it uses musical scores as its source, It offers a high level of flexibility, and can provide valuable objective data about musical content.

The music of Elton John is used as a case study, and the use of traditional musicological analytical tools is compared with computational methods, as is what other approaches might be required to deal with cultural issues such as gender, identity, and sexuality. The value of Humdrum in exploring the changes in musical style between the four distinct eras of Elton John s music is discussed.

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IASPM day 4: Popular Music as Prophecy (Rupert Till) #iaspm2013

Popular Music as Prophecy: Composing the Future. Rupert Till (University of Huddersfield, UK)

Attali describes how popular music organises the structures and movements of society into audible sound, before such socio-cultural developments are clearly visible. He described three eras of music and sound, as did Cutler and Frith after him. However he predicted in 1977 a fourth era of sound yet to come, focused on composition. This paper investigates this prophesied new world, discussing the implications of presenting creators of popular music as composers. It investigates how popular musicians describe their creations and what this means. It explores their aesthetics, why they write music, and what the relations are of their compositions to modes of mediation and distribution. It attempts to define popular music composition, and its relationships with songwriting, arrangement, improvisation and production. It asks what we might prophesy for the future of society, on the basis of a musical world where popular music composers circulate their music directly to their audience, in virtual and social media music communities outside of existing national geographic boundaries.

Rupert starts with his theoretical framework, citing Attali (1977), Cutler (1993) and Frith (1996). Allati has a ‘4th code’ focusing on composition [from his Four Stages of Music]. His Ritual (Oral – 10,000yrs)/Sacrifice (c.400yrs)/Repetition (recordings – c.100yrs)/Composition (deregulation – the future?). Attali’s view is that when the focus is on making and sharing music for pleasure we (will?) begin to enter the ‘composition’ phase.

He points out that popular music ‘composition’ deconstructs the elitism of the classical tradition and therefore may be more apt for a ‘Composition’ age. He then talks about songwriting and describes it as a ‘special case’ of composition, for several reasons, not least because it involves lyrics. He alludes to ‘team composition’ and the blurred line between songwriting, production and arrangement, especially in rehearsal/recording studio creative environments. In Attali’s view (1977, remember) was that in a notational ‘composition era’ these activities could be carried out at home, by an individual.

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