The Art of Musical Invective: Criticism and Innovation in Popular Music
Have you ever read a scathing critique of an artist you admire? Did that criticism affect your perception of or loyalty to that artist or even to an entire style/genre of music? This class will explore the impact of criticism, both positive and negative, on innovation and risk-taking in popular music in America and abroad. Our study includes an overview of popular and jazz music history, substantial reading and in-depth discussion of important musical criticism of the past 100 years, and detailed examinations of various eras and specific artists--particularly those embroiled in controversy both in and out of the recording studio. In addition to reading and parsing the writing of professional music critics, students will be responsible for writing their own positive and negative profiles (a la respected music journals such as Rolling Stone and Down Beat) of contemporary musical artists and gauging the potential impact of music critics on the trajectory of popular musical expression. Knowledge of music theory is not required.
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