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It has long been assumed that people who prefer Led Zeppelin to Mozart live aesthetically impoverished lives. But why? In Listening to Popular Music, award-winning popular music scholar Theodore Gracyk argues that aesthetic value is just as important in popular listening as it is with “serious” music. And we don’t have to treat popular music as art in order to recognize it It has long been assumed that people who prefer Led Zeppelin to Mozart live aesthetically impoverished lives. But why? In Listening to Popular Music, award-winning popular music scholar Theodore Gracyk argues that aesthetic value is just as important in popular listening as it is with “serious” music. And we don’t have to treat popular music as art in order to recognize its worth. Aesthetic values are realized differently in different musical styles, and each requires listening skills that people must learn. Boldly merging insights from popular music studies, aesthetic theory, cognitive science, psychology, identity theory, and cultural studies, Gracyk crafts an innovative study that argues that understanding aesthetic value is crucial to the enjoyment of all forms of music. Listening to Popular Music thus offers a new, general framework for understanding what it means to appreciate music, showing that an informed preference for popular music is a response to real values of the music, including aesthetic values. "Finally, a book on aesthetics that's philosophically grounded, anti-elitist, and tailored to popular music. Much needed and deftly achieved." —William Echard, Department of Music, and Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art, and Culture, Carleton University "A sophisticated account of aesthetic value in popular music that revealingly challenges orthodoxies of cultural studies and traditional aesthetics." —Stephen Davies, Department of Philosophy, University of Auckland, and author of The Philosophy of Art"Gracyk's arguments are thoughtful, clear, and persuasive, and it's refreshing to see him expose the flaws in commonly repeated critiques of popular music. This book will challenge open-minded doubters to take popular music seriously." —Mark Katz, Assistant  Professor of Music, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and author of Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music Theodore Gracyk is Department Chair and Professor of Philosophy at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He is the author of Rhythm and Noise: An Aesthetics of Rock and I Wanna Be Me: Rock Music and the Politics of Identity, which won the 2002 IASPM-US Woody Guthrie Book Award.


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It has long been assumed that people who prefer Led Zeppelin to Mozart live aesthetically impoverished lives. But why? In Listening to Popular Music, award-winning popular music scholar Theodore Gracyk argues that aesthetic value is just as important in popular listening as it is with “serious” music. And we don’t have to treat popular music as art in order to recognize it It has long been assumed that people who prefer Led Zeppelin to Mozart live aesthetically impoverished lives. But why? In Listening to Popular Music, award-winning popular music scholar Theodore Gracyk argues that aesthetic value is just as important in popular listening as it is with “serious” music. And we don’t have to treat popular music as art in order to recognize its worth. Aesthetic values are realized differently in different musical styles, and each requires listening skills that people must learn. Boldly merging insights from popular music studies, aesthetic theory, cognitive science, psychology, identity theory, and cultural studies, Gracyk crafts an innovative study that argues that understanding aesthetic value is crucial to the enjoyment of all forms of music. Listening to Popular Music thus offers a new, general framework for understanding what it means to appreciate music, showing that an informed preference for popular music is a response to real values of the music, including aesthetic values. "Finally, a book on aesthetics that's philosophically grounded, anti-elitist, and tailored to popular music. Much needed and deftly achieved." —William Echard, Department of Music, and Institute for Comparative Studies in Literature, Art, and Culture, Carleton University "A sophisticated account of aesthetic value in popular music that revealingly challenges orthodoxies of cultural studies and traditional aesthetics." —Stephen Davies, Department of Philosophy, University of Auckland, and author of The Philosophy of Art"Gracyk's arguments are thoughtful, clear, and persuasive, and it's refreshing to see him expose the flaws in commonly repeated critiques of popular music. This book will challenge open-minded doubters to take popular music seriously." —Mark Katz, Assistant  Professor of Music, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and author of Capturing Sound: How Technology Has Changed Music Theodore Gracyk is Department Chair and Professor of Philosophy at Minnesota State University Moorhead. He is the author of Rhythm and Noise: An Aesthetics of Rock and I Wanna Be Me: Rock Music and the Politics of Identity, which won the 2002 IASPM-US Woody Guthrie Book Award.

31 review for Listening to Popular Music: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Led Zeppelin

  1. 4 out of 5

    James

    When I was just 'snacking' on selected passages in this book, it looked like it was going to be exciting. There are an article's-worth of good ideas in here, but the actual experience of reading the book is mostly a chore. It's never a good sign when someone extensively cites their own books and articles. Gracyk has clearly been hoeing the same row for a long time. Once you wade through all the academic onanism (I will admit that some of my frustration was with the necessarily graceless precisio When I was just 'snacking' on selected passages in this book, it looked like it was going to be exciting. There are an article's-worth of good ideas in here, but the actual experience of reading the book is mostly a chore. It's never a good sign when someone extensively cites their own books and articles. Gracyk has clearly been hoeing the same row for a long time. Once you wade through all the academic onanism (I will admit that some of my frustration was with the necessarily graceless precision of a philosophical argument), the thrust seems to be that listeners respond to popular music with an enjoyment that is unequivocally aesthetic; that one needs to know the 'rules' of any genre of music before it is even possible to discern its structure and 'listen' to it appreciatively; that it is ignorant to dismiss what you don't understand; and that teenagers love popular music because it somehow helps them with identity formation. Can't say that any of this was really news. On the plus side, there is a good close analysis of the song 'D'yer Maker,' and an informative discussion of the contrast between 18th- and 19th- century European conceptions of genius (technical mastery vs. personal expression).

  2. 4 out of 5

    AJ Conroy

    Based on the title, I thought this would be Klosterman-esqe or like Nick Hornby's Songbook. Nope. Reads like an academic journal, which makes sense since most of the chapters were originally published in academic journals. The author's explores the nature of popular music: is it art (whatever that is) and what is its cultural value. Interesting enough, I guess, just not what I expected. Based on the title, I thought this would be Klosterman-esqe or like Nick Hornby's Songbook. Nope. Reads like an academic journal, which makes sense since most of the chapters were originally published in academic journals. The author's explores the nature of popular music: is it art (whatever that is) and what is its cultural value. Interesting enough, I guess, just not what I expected.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

    I really enjoyed this book. The authors arguments about high cultures' lack of understanding and appreciation for the aesthetic value of "popular music" is only one of the interesting insights he elucidates. This book goes a long way to authenticating the musical experiences of listeners of all genres of music, not just popular. I highly recommend it as an education in humility for anyone who thinks "their" musical tastes are superior to anyone else. I really enjoyed this book. The authors arguments about high cultures' lack of understanding and appreciation for the aesthetic value of "popular music" is only one of the interesting insights he elucidates. This book goes a long way to authenticating the musical experiences of listeners of all genres of music, not just popular. I highly recommend it as an education in humility for anyone who thinks "their" musical tastes are superior to anyone else.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Alexander Vandecaveye

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tom Caufield

  6. 5 out of 5

    Andra Ivanescu

  7. 4 out of 5

    Rob Campbell

  8. 4 out of 5

    Nikki Wray

  9. 5 out of 5

    Miranda Shakes

  10. 5 out of 5

    Justin

  11. 4 out of 5

    Wikimedia Italia

  12. 4 out of 5

    Shellie Heaton

  13. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

  14. 5 out of 5

    Mani Claxton

  15. 4 out of 5

    Matthew Campbell

  16. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Robertson

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kayla Mckinney

  18. 4 out of 5

    Çağrı Koralay

  19. 4 out of 5

    BookDB

  20. 5 out of 5

    Sonia

  21. 5 out of 5

    Crystal Gail

  22. 5 out of 5

    Griff

  23. 5 out of 5

    f

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chris Herrick

  25. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin Fasching-Gray

  26. 4 out of 5

    Zachary

  27. 5 out of 5

    Emmy

  28. 5 out of 5

    Katie

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gloria

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ben Cook

  31. 5 out of 5

    Michalis

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