On Becoming a Rock Musician

By H. Stith Bennett | Go to book overview

A Guide for the Reader

European scholars laid the groundwork of theories that contemporary sociologists are still in the habit of citing, proving, disproving, debunking, resurrecting, and simply digging around in. Among the topics which were of interest to the "classical" social theorists was music. For example, Max Weber's unfinished and unpolished analysis of music and social life (The Rational and Social Foundations of Music,Weber: 1958 [1918]) was written near the end of his life and discusses the historical and social significance of Western European art music as a manifestation of rationalized, "modern" social relationships. The theme of rationalization appears and reappears throughout works on music and popular culture, and if Weber had not supplied a language for its explication a new and very similar language would have to be invented. Georg Simmel, another "classical" sociologist who dealt at length with the sociology of music, anticipated the concerns of contemporary "interactionist" sociology. His Pscyhological and Ethnological Studies on Music (Simmel: 1882, but see the translation in Etzkorn: 1964a) raises many of the issues which are of interest in present-day investigations of music as part of his refutation of Charles Darwin's theory that music is a result of general organismic sexuality. For Simmel music is a more complex and more highly developed phenomenon than sex, and is implicated in the forms of interaction which have grown to be appropriate to collective life in particular parts of the world. The idea that social reality and musical reality are somehow interlocked, are isomorphic manifestations of one another, or are even identical appears frequently in historical, anthropological, sociological, and musicological writing. Simmel's early arguments for this position represent a theme that runs throughout modern German thought, and extends to contemporary American thinking on the subject.

Although known primarily as a cultural historian, rather than as a sociologist, Wilhelm Dilthey included music as an important aspect of his analysis of German culture, and promoted the theory that a nation's "character" becomes embedded in musical form (Dilthey: 1933, or see Hodges: 1944). It is interesting and ironic to note that the self-proclaimed intention of Richard Wagner—that his music embody the German national spirit—foreshadows Dilthey's later "scientific" theories. This same genre of musicological thinking also appears in other

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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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