The Relentless Pursuit of Tone: Timbre in Popular Music assembles a broad spectrum of contemporary perspectives on how "sound" functions in an equally wide array of popular music. Ranging from the twang of country banjoes and the sheen of hip-hop strings to the crunch of amplified guitars and the thump of subwoofers on the dance floor, this volume bridges the gap between timbre, our name for the purely acoustic characteristics of sound waves, and
tone, an emergent musical construct that straddles the borderline between the perceptual and the political. Essays engage with the entire history of popular music as recorded sound, from the 1930s to the present day, under four large categories. "Genre" asks how sonic signatures define musical identities and publics;
"Voice" considers the most naturalized musical instrument, the human voice, as racial and gendered signifier, as property or likeness, and as raw material for algorithmic perfection through software; "Instrument" tells stories of the way some iconic pop music machines-guitars, strings, synthesizers-got (or lost) their distinctive sounds; "Production" then puts it all together, asking structural questions about what happens in a recording studio, what is produced (sonic cartoons? rockist
authenticity? empty space?) and what it all might mean.
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Number of pages: 408
Weight: 706 g
Dimensions: 237 x 165 x 31 mm
This wide-ranging and ear-opening collection explores the often rich and dynamic space between tone and timbre. Engaging diverse repertories from a variety of interpretive angles, this volume provides a wonderful survey that demonstrates how "pursuing the tone" can be crucial to understanding popular music. * John Covach, Director, University of Rochester Institute for Popular Music, Professor of Theory, Eastman School of Music *
The Relentless Pursuit of Tone assembles a kaleidoscope of methods for studying timbre in popular music. Its chapters offer new approaches to the study of instruments, voices and technologies; studio production; listening practices and audience reception; music making - whether composed or improvised; performance; aesthetics; and music law. If you are interested in the relationship between sound and music, this collection is essential reading.