Music and Capitalism: A History of the Present

University of Chicago Press
2
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iTunes. Spotify. Pandora. With these brief words one can map the landscape of music today, but these aren’t musicians, songs, or anything else actually musical—they are products and brands. In this book, Timothy D. Taylor explores just how pervasively capitalism has shaped music over the last few decades. Examining changes in the production, distribution, and consumption of music, he offers an incisive critique of the music industry’s shift in focus from creativity to profits, as well as stories of those who are laboring to find and make musical meaning in the shadows of the mainstream cultural industries.

Taylor explores everything from the branding of musicians to the globalization of music to the emergence of digital technologies in music production and consumption. Drawing on interviews with industry insiders, musicians, and indie label workers, he traces both the constricting forces of bottom-line economics and the revolutionary emergence of the affordable home studio, the global internet, and the mp3 that have shaped music in different ways. A sophisticated analysis of how music is made, repurposed, advertised, sold, pirated, and consumed, Music and Capitalism is a must read for anyone who cares about what they are listening to, how, and why.
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About the author

Timothy D. Taylor is professor in the Department of Ethnomusicology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He is the author of several books, most recently The Sounds of Capitalism, also published by the University of Chicago Press.
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Additional Information

Publisher
University of Chicago Press
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Published on
Dec 29, 2015
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9780226312026
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Language
English
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Genres
History / General
History / Modern / 20th Century
History / Modern / 21st Century
Music / Business Aspects
Music / General
Music / History & Criticism
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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Beethoven’s sixteen string quartets are some of the most extraordinary and challenging pieces of music ever written. Originally composed and performed between 1798 and 1826, they have inspired artists of all kinds—not only musicians—and have been subject to endless reinterpretation. But what is it like to personally take up the challenge of these compositions, not only as a musician, but as a member of a quartet, where each player has ideas about style and expression? To answer this question, Edward Dusinberre, first violinist of the renowned Takács Quartet, offers a rare peek inside the workings of his ensemble, while providing an insightful history of the compositions and their performance.

Founded in Hungary in 1975 and now based in Boulder, Colorado, the Takács is one of the world’s preeminent string quartets, and performances of Beethoven have been at the center of their work together for over forty years. Using the history of both the Takács Quartet and the Beethoven quartets as a foundation, Beethoven for a Later Age provides a backstage look at the daily life of a quartet, showing the necessary creative tension between individual and group and how four people can at the same time forge a lasting artistic connection and enjoy making music together over decades. The key, Dusinberre reveals, to a quartet crafting its own sound is in balancing continuity with change and experimentation—a theme that lies at the heart of Beethoven’s remarkable compositions. In an accessible style, suitable for novices and chamber music enthusiasts alike, Dusinberre illuminates the variety and contradictions of Beethoven's quartets, which were composed against the turbulent backdrop of the Napoleonic Wars and their aftermath, and he brings the technical aspects of the music to life.

Beethoven for a Later Age vividly shows that creative engagement with Beethoven’s radical and brilliant quartets continues to be as stimulating now as it was for its first performers and audiences. Musicians and music lovers will be intrigued by Dusinberre’s exploration of the close collaboration at the heart of any great performance.
In Beyond Exoticism, Timothy D. Taylor considers how western cultures’ understandings of racial, ethnic, and cultural differences have been incorporated into music from early operas to contemporary television advertisements, arguing that the commonly used term “exoticism” glosses over such differences in many studies of western music. Beyond Exoticism encompasses a range of musical genres and musicians, including Mozart, Beethoven, Jean-Philippe Rameau, Maurice Ravel, Charles Ives, Henry Cowell, Bally Sagoo, and Bill Laswell as well as opera, symphony, country music, and “world music.” Yet, more than anything else, it is an argument for expanding the purview of musicology to take into account not only composers’ lives and the formal properties of the music they produce but also the larger historical and cultural forces shaping both music and our understanding of it.

Beginning with a focus on musical manifestations of colonialism and imperialism, Taylor discusses how the “discovery” of the New World and the development of an understanding of self as distinct from the other, of “here” as different from “there,” was implicated in the development of tonality, a musical system which effectively creates centers and margins. He describes how musical practices signifying nonwestern peoples entered the western European musical vocabulary and how Darwinian thought shaped the cultural conditions of early-twentieth-century music. In the era of globalization, new communication technologies and the explosion of marketing and consumption have accelerated the production and circulation of tropes of otherness. Considering western music produced under rubrics including multiculturalism, collaboration, hybridity, and world music, Taylor scrutinizes contemporary representations of difference. He argues that musical interpretations of the nonwestern other developed hundreds of years ago have not necessarily been discarded; rather they have been recycled and retooled.

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