Much has been written about signifying, the dozens, and other species of word-play that are central to any understanding of African-American verbal culture. In its simplest form, it could be understood as highly stylised parody, particularly of pompous and uncool attitudes. See Gates, Henry Louis Jnr.:The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African American Literary Criticism (Oxford ,1988)
‘[...]corresponding exactly to analogous changes in meaning that occur in linguistic development, this ancient interest in faeces is transformed into the high valuation of gold and money [...].A great part of anal eroticism is thus carried over into the cathexis of the penis.[...] Faeces - money - gift - baby - penis are treated as though they meant the same thing [...]’.
Sigmund Freud : New Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis: (Penguin London 1973) p133-4
For a riveting account of Robert Johnson’s sense of distance from salvation, see Griel Marcus, Mystery Train, Penguin, 1975
‘[The New Man] is a response to the structural changes of the past decade, and specifically to the assertiveness and feminism of women’ Jonathan Rutherford, (1988) p32.
Quantise - to correct rhythmic variations by means of a computer.
‘Orally transmitted verse epics such as the Iliad and Beowulf have a number of features in common. Groups of words that fit the meter and rhythm [...] become formulas and are used repeatedly. [...] At a higher structural level, groups of words and phrases are joined in conventional action patterns (motifs), such as “greeting a guest”. [...] The shape of a series of episodes or a whole work is often based on principles of repetition (e.g., three attempts necessary for success), parallelism, [...] and reversed repetition.’ Robert Scholes, and Robert Kellogg: The Nature of Narrative: (OUP, New York, 1966)
See Fred Lehrdahl, and Ray Jackendoff, (1983), p 12.
Dick Hebdige (1979), p139. Hebdige examines the role of the critic of subcultural style, and remarks that “We [the analysts] are inside society but not inside it. The cord has been cut: we are cast in a marginal role, producing analyses of popular culture which are themselves anything but popular.”
“It would appear [...] that the harmonics produced in [...] the hard, rasping timbres of ‘cock’ rock are typically not those produced in [...] Top 40 pop.” John Shepherd (1991) p165.
“By ‘cock rock’ we mean music making in which the performance is an explicit, crude, and often aggressive expression of male sexuality .” Simon Frith and Angela McRobbie (1990) p374.
Dick Hebdige (1979), p154, and, Will Straw (1990), p97
Philip Novak, (1996). The final chapter discusses the essential similarities between two world visions, entitled ‘Afterword: Nietzsche or the Bhudda?’, p181.
Simon Frith and Angela McRobbie (1990), p374 and John Shepherd (1991) p 168.
Eagleton, Terry: The Ideology of the Aesthetic, p234/5
“The psychology of the orgy as an everlasting feeling of life and energy within which even pain acts as a stimulus provided me with the key to the concept of the tragic feeling [...] Affirmation of life even in its strangest and sternest problems, the will to life rejoicing in its own inexhaustibility [...] that is what I called Dionysian [..]” Friedrich Nietzsche: ‘Twilight of the Idols’: What I owe to the Ancients: Originally published 1889. Quoted in Philip Novak: ‘The Vision of Nietzsche’ (1996) p169.
Philip Tagg, ( 1991). Tagg suggests similar signifiers for the arpeggiated harp in Abba’s ‘Fernando’.
Steve Vai wrote the Eventide H-3000 Harmoniser setting. He says “It’s a left and right delay that repeats the note backwards and forwards at random in stereo with a lot of regeneration. It’s a great sound.” (Joe Gore, ibid., p23)
Carroll Smith-Rosenberg, (1985) p19.
Mary the Mediator, or Madonna Mediatrix and the ‘Queen of Heaven’ are two of the many roles and function of Mary in 13th and 14th century English poetry. Although these formulae seem rather remote from contemporary popular culture, it is arguable that the assimilation prototypes like these into western culture as a whole, forms a unified backcloth for African-American cultural projections. See Marina Warner, (1976), for a full examination of the cultural impact of the mythology surrounding the Virgin Mary.
Synecdoches appear all over popular music. The timbre of a Hawaiian guitar, even outside of any musical context, will suggest beaches, holiday in the sun and girls in grass skirts with hula hoops. Sometimes they operate more subtly, and often in bizarre ways. In popular TV comedy, the harpsichord comes to suggest the medieval period even though it was a baroque instrument. Synecdoche (sin-neck-dock-ee) is a Greek term meaning ‘to understand one thing by means of another’.
John Shepherd (1991) p12, writes: ‘[...] It is possible to argue that the internal qualities of a musical style are of themselves significant. [...] It can be asserted that because people create music, they reproduce in the basic qualities of the their music the basic qualities of their own thought processes’..
Susan McClary (1991) p12, argues that the sexual politics which permeate all levels of western society are encoded in fabric of the music. ‘I [...] argue that tonality itself - with its process of instilling expectation and subsequently withholding promised fulfilment until climax - is the principal musical means during the period 1600 -1900 for arousing and channelling desire’.
Max Weber (1930) p14
Henry Louis Gates, Jnr (1970)
Interview with John Lee Hooker by judah Bauer. "The Boogie Men", in Maximum Guitar, May 1997.
Kitson, C.H.,The Evolution of Harmony (Oxford, 1914), and Prout, E., Harmony:its Theory and Practice (London, 1898). These books became the staple diet of two generations of music students. They are generally regarded now as thorough and scholarly, if rather unexciting.
Real violins, cellos, guitars and bass guitars are not perfectly tempered in the way that a perfectly tuned piano is. Almost all of the tonal instruments used to generate these sounds are tuned to digital perfection, and for this reason C flat actually is B: they both have the same numeric frequency. Untempered acoustic instruments (like violins, guitars etc.) might well temper the pitch of the 3rds, 4ths and especially the 7ths to accord with the prevailing tonality.
Attributing associations of mood to particular musical phenomena is problematic, and has been extensively explored by Philip Tagg in Fernando (IASPM 1991). Tagg argues that, in order to establish that a particular musical passage has association of mood, other similar passages, where the association is clearly intended can be amassed as ‘evidence’. In the case of the lydian fourth, other similar passages that incorporate the fourth and intend to signify innocence and hope can easily be identified. E.g., ‘Maria’ (Sondheim), from West Side Story, ‘Bonjour’ (Alan Mencken) from the opening scene of the Disney cartoon ‘Beauty and the Beast’, or sections of John Williams’ music for the film ‘E.T.’.
‘For forty days and forty nights’,
the time rain fell upon Noah, and Christ spent in the wilderness, and Moses
up the Mountain, Elijah fed by ravens, etc., crops up not only in Muddy
Waters, but also in Michael Jackson’s eighties hit ‘Billie Jean’. The mystic
significance of the number derives from the powerful influence of biblical
scripture on African-American culture as a whole.