On Becoming a Rock Musician

By H. Stith Bennett | Go to book overview

Technology and The Music

So far I have described a set of cultural arrangements which surround rock musicians without offering a description of rock music itself. There are a number of ways of going about this task, and since none tells the whole story I feel that the insight gained from several descriptive methods promotes a more complete understanding than any one method standing alone. Perhaps the richest and most obvious of approaches is to trace the cultural origins of American popular music. However this is much easier said than done—especially since the research and literature which are available on the topic remain contradictory, and a coherent historical account does not neatly appear after the data have been consulted and sifted. Nevertheless I will sketch several of the influences that seem worthy of consideration when responding to the question: Where did American popular music (and especially rock music) come from?

Africanisms First, the influence of African music is both historically recognized and musically noticeable. The problem with many accounts of "Africanisms" in American music, though, is that they consider the vast continent of Africa, with its tremendous geographical and cultural diversity, as if it had only one kind of music. Obviously this is untrue, and a more sensible approach (as suggested by Oliver) would be to trace the specifics of the slave trade and discern the features of the African music cultures that were most able to affect America. 1 This is complicated not only by immense historiographical difficulties (for example: Which people from which parts of Africa went to which North

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On Becoming a Rock Musician
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • On Becoming a Rock Musician *
  • Acknowledgments *
  • Contents *
  • Preface *
  • I - Group Dynamics *
  • Introduction *
  • Group Definition and Redefinition *
  • II - Rock Ecology *
  • Instruments and "The Outside World" *
  • Equipment and the Band Van *
  • Gigs *
  • III - Mastering the Technological Component *
  • Technology and the Music *
  • The Realities of Practice *
  • IV - Performance: Aesthetics and the Technological Imperative *
  • Playing *
  • "Other People's Music" *
  • Appendix *
  • Loudness and Equalization *
  • Notes *
  • A Guide for the Reader *
  • Bibliography *
  • Index *
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