A multiparameter analysis of a select repertoire of British punk rock of the first wave, 1976-1979

Van Zyl, Willem Adriaan (2006-12)

Thesis (M.Mus.)--University of Stellenbosch, 2006.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: Since 1979, the year in which British punk came to an end, it has enjoyed prominence in cultural studies, both in the United Kingdom and abroad. The majority of serious academic discourse on punk has dealt almost exclusively with the cultural significance thereof, taking into account its political stance, its fashion sense, its attitude towards class, and its legacy in Britain. Although there is a considerable amount of literature written about punk rock, there have not yet been any publications that deal explicitly with the music itself. Musicology has still not applied itself satisfactorily to popular music. Instead, musicologists use a variety of existing methods to analyse popular music, but with varying degrees of success. It is important to have an applicable analytical method, but the analyst must know where to find meaning in popular music first. In this thesis I attempt to find the loci of meaning in punk rock in order to demonstrate the musical significance of this extraordinary music. The study begins with an analysis of political and social conditions in postwar Britain, with particular reference to the emergence of punk as youth subculture. This is followed by a comparative discussion of existing approaches to popular music study (and their respective strengths and weaknesses), at the end of which Philip Tagg's multiparameter model of analysis is identified as particularly satisfactory. This model is then used to pay particular attention to the two major solidifications of popular music, namely structure and transmission. Once the various loci of meaning in music as sounding object, i.e. music in performance, have been identified, particular examples of punk rock are subjected to a set of parametric analyses according to an extensive checklist of what Tagg calls "parameters of musical expression", also taking into account aspects of musical performance that cannot be captured by music notation. Based on the findings of the multiparameter analyses of twenty-six punk songs, the thesis is concluded with some general remarks regarding the misrepresentation of punk rock in the existing literature.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Sedert 1979, die jaar waarin Britse punk tot 'n einde gekom het, beklee dit 'n prominente posisie in kulturele studies in die Verenigde Koninkryk, maar oak oorsee. Die meerderheid ernstige akademiese diskoerse oar punk het tot dusverfeitlik uitsluitlik gehandel oar die kulturele belang daarvan, met inbegrip van die politieke sieninge, die modesin, die houding teenoor klas, en die nalatenskap in Brittanje. Hoewel daar aansienlike literatuur bestaan met punk rock as onderwerp, is daar tot dusver nag geen publikasies wat die musiek op sigself bestudeer nie. Die Musiekweteskap het homself nag nie bevredigend toegespits op populere musiek nie. In plaas daarvan gebruik musiekwetenskaplikes 'n verskeidenheid bestaande metodes om populere musiek te analiseer, maar met gemengde welslae. Dit is belangrik om 'n toepaslike analitiese metode te he, maar eerstens moet die analis weet waar om betekenis in populere musiek op te spoor. In hierdie tesis poog ek om die ligging van betekenis in punk rock op te spoor, om sodoende die musikale beduidenis van hierdie uitsonderlike musiek te demonstreer. Die studie begin met 'n analise van die politieke en sosiale omstandighede in naoorlogse Brittanje, met besondere verwysing na die totstandkoming van punk as jeugsubkultuur. Hierop volg 'n vergelykende bespreking van bestaande benaderings tot die studie van populere musiek (en hul onderskeie sterk en swak punte), waarna Philip Tagg se veelparameter analitiese model as besonder bevredigend ge"identifiseer word. Hierdie model word dan gebruik om in die besonder aandag te skenk aan die twee hoofverwesenlikinge van populere musiek, naamlik struktuur en transmissie. Nadat die liggings van betekenis van musiek as klinkende objek, d.i. musiek in uitvoering, ge"identifiseer is, word spesifieke voorbeelde van punk rock onderwerp aan 'n stel parametriese analises, aan die hand van 'n uitgebreide oorsiglys van wat Tagg "parameters van musikale uitdrukking" noem, met inbegrip van aspekte van musiekuitvoering wat nie deur musieknotasie weergegee kan word nie. Op grand van die bevindinge van die veelparameter-analise van ses-en-twintig punkliedere, word die tesis afgesluit met enkele algemene opmerkings oar die wanvoorstelling van punk rock in die bestaande literatuur.

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