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ABOUT The World ...  

Par Claude Chastagner, professeur d'anglais à l'Université Paul Valéry à Montpellier.

"The Song Remains the Same".

On creativity in popular music.aniviolo.gif (8222 octets)Clic and Listen to music.mid 
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  "The Song Remains the Same".

  So, a new model was developed, sometimes called "the revolution principle", which introduced the notions of confrontation and contradiction. In this new proposal, rock history is more than the juxtaposition of unrelated styles, one following the other in a series of degenerative processes. It is not a static, tension-free art form. On the contrary, the essence of rock music is that it is made up of a succession of crises followed by their resolutions. This dialectical model gives rock music a dynamic, cyclical nature.

The same pattern seems to have been followed ever since the music came into existence: a new, controversial or counter-cultural genre emerges from the fringes of the musical scene with the avowed goal to topple existing forms, until the success it encounters turns it into a more palatable form for mass consumption, which calls for a new revolution. This is true for every period: Rock & Roll overthrowing 50s white crooners, beat music against teen idols, folk and psychedelic rock against commercial pop, punk against the juggernauts of mainstream and progressive rock... The same could be said of later genres such as rap, grunge or techno, which emerged as reactions against the musical establishment of the day.

   What this model provides is an explanation for the emergence of new forms: they are deliberate reactions, conscious moves to overthrow what is considered as having become irrelevant. It results that evolution is no longer seen as a downward but as an upward movement. Creativity is the fruit of a revolutionary attitude.

Several authors have taken this route. Iain Chambers, for instance, explains that "more frequently, fresh proposals represent a real intrusion upon an earlier organisation of the music and its surrounding culture" (xi). 
His vocabulary is quite representative of the oppositional model: "a sound powerful enough to threaten", "the succession of cultural struggles", "aesthetic criteria and judgements have to be defended", etc. (xii). 

It is mostly the punk movement which triggered this new theory as punks were the first to clearly formulate their revolutionary intentions. The Sex Pistols, the Clash and other less famed groups all explicitely stated they had come to destroy existing genres and artists, from Paul McCartney to Elvis, from the Rolling Stones to Genesis. 

This is also the point of view of many punk scholars such as Caroline Coon for whom punk was a rock revolution stripping it to its bare essentials.

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° Rubrique About The World