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Beating up the classics: aspects of a compact discourse

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 November 2008


Although much has been written about the changes wrought to art in the age of mechanical reproduction, these same changes as they have impacted on music through the phenomenon of the phonograph have not received equivalent attention or, if they have, then their discussion has been restricted to particular sectors of the music industry. This failure to address an important facet of contemporary music practice derives from a continuing tendency to abstract musical questions from their context and to obscure the material contributions that technology makes to such practice (Shepherd 1977, 1991; Scott 1990). With some musics this is more apparent than others. For instance, while there has been an extensive analysis of the degree to which the recording industry has influenced and been an integral element in the development of popular music, there has not been an equivalent analysis of its influence on classical music. This is because in the case of the former the links between the two have been somewhat more dramatic. The recording industry, particularly through its links with radio and television stations, has in large measure facilitated the spread of popular music across the world as a dominant element of a globalised culture, as one of its master codes.

Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1997

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