Rhythm and Noise: An Aesthetics of Rock

Article excerpt

Rhythm and Noise: An Aesthetics of Rock. Theodore Gracyk. Durham, North Carolina: Duke University Press, 1996.

Moorhead State University philosophy professor Theodore Gracyk tackles a remarkable number of music-related issues, ideas, and personalities in this brief, well-documented study. He unapologetically justifies rock music as a cultural phenomenon unique to the 20th century. "Existing primarily as a social category," writes Gracyk, "rock eludes or supersedes aesthetics" (207). This conclusion is reached after the author has determined that rock recording is a cooperative artistic venture that is distinctively dependent upon technology. It is also an activity that is timebound, capsuled in a mediated format, both creative and commercial in nature, and fraught with potential misinterpretation. Gracyk manages to dispatch a variety of critics-including Theodore Adorno, Allan Bloom, and Camille Paglia-and to explode numerous production, performing, and lifestyle myths that haunt the rock idiom.

The author asserts, "The genius of rock music has been its ability to maintain musical creativity within a commercial framework" (193). This statement not only disarms critics, but also undermines several silly mythologies about artistic purity promulgated among popular music performers. Gracyk's ability to explore and expose stereotypes, distortions, and half-truths in respect to music, management, and marketing, places his sociological perceptions among the ranks of Charlie Gillett, Nick Tosches, Peter Guralnick, Simon Frith, and Phillip Ennis. …

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