1 Definitions and etymology 2 Characteristics 3 Development and influence
3.1 Stylistic evolution 3.2 Technology and media 3.3 Legitimacy in music criticism 3.4 International spread
4 See also 5 References 6 Further reading 7 External links
Definitions and etymology
David Hatch and Stephen Millward define pop music as "a body of music
which is distinguishable from popular, jazz, and folk musics".
According to Pete Seeger, pop music is "professional music which draws
upon both folk music and fine arts music". Although pop music is
seen as just the singles charts, it is not the sum of all chart music.
The music charts contain songs from a variety of sources, including
classical, jazz, rock, and novelty songs. Pop music, as a genre, is
seen as existing and developing separately. Thus "pop music" may be
used to describe a distinct genre, designed to appeal to all, often
characterized as "instant singles-based music aimed at teenagers" in
contrast to rock music as "album-based music for adults".
The Oxford Dictionary of Music states that the term "pop" refers to music performed by such artists as the Rolling Stones (pictured here in a 2006 performance)
According to the website of The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, called Grove Music Online, the term "pop music" "originated in Britain in the mid-1950s as a description for rock and roll and the new youth music styles that it influenced". The Oxford Dictionary of Music states that while pop's "earlier meaning meant concerts appealing to a wide audience ... since the late 1950s, however, pop has had the special meaning of non-classical mus[ic], usually in the form of songs, performed by such artists as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, ABBA, etc". Grove Music Online also states that "... in the early 1960s, [the term] 'pop music' competed terminologically with beat music [in England], while in the USA its coverage overlapped (as it still does) with that of 'rock and roll'". From about 1967, the term was increasingly used in opposition to the term rock music, a division that gave generic significance to both terms. Whereas rock aspired to authenticity and an expansion of the possibilities of popular music, pop was more commercial, ephemeral and accessible. According to British musicologist Simon Frith, pop music is produced "as a matter of enterprise not art", is "designed to appeal to everyone" and "doesn't come from any particular place or mark off any particular taste". It is "not driven by any significant ambition except profit and commercial reward ... and, in musical terms, it is essentially conservative". It is, "provided from on high (by record companies, radio programmers, and concert promoters) rather than being made from below ... Pop is not a do-it-yourself music but is professionally produced and packaged".
The Righteous Brothers – "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" (1965)
As of 2011[update], "You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'" ranks as the
most frequently played song in US radio history, described by
Nick Logan and
Problems playing this file? See media help.
According to Frith, characteristics of pop music include an aim of
appealing to a general audience, rather than to a particular
sub-culture or ideology, and an emphasis on craftsmanship rather than
formal "artistic" qualities. Music scholar Timothy Warner said it
typically has an emphasis on recording, production, and technology,
rather than live performance; a tendency to reflect existing trends
rather than progressive developments; and aims to encourage dancing or
uses dance-oriented rhythms.
The main medium of pop music is the song, often between two and a half
and three and a half minutes in length, generally marked by a
consistent and noticeable rhythmic element, a mainstream style and a
simple traditional structure. Common variants include the
verse-chorus form and the thirty-two-bar form, with a focus on
melodies and catchy hooks, and a chorus that contrasts melodically,
rhythmically and harmonically with the verse. The beat and the
melodies tend to be simple, with limited harmonic accompaniment.
The lyrics of modern pop songs typically focus on simple
themes – often love and romantic relationships –
although there are notable exceptions.
Development and influence Stylistic evolution See also: Traditional pop, Pop rock, Experimental pop, Orchestral pop, Progressive pop, Synthpop, and Indie pop
This section is missing information about the 1980s–2000s. Please expand the section to include this information. Further details may exist on the talk page. (October 2017)
Throughout its development, pop music has absorbed influences from
other genres of popular music. Early pop music drew on the sentimental
ballad for its form, gained its use of vocal harmonies from gospel and
soul music, instrumentation from jazz and rock music, orchestration
from classical music, tempo from dance music, backing from electronic
music, rhythmic elements from hip-hop music, and spoken passages from
In the 1960s, the majority of mainstream pop music fell in two
categories: guitar, drum and bass groups or singers backed by a
traditional orchestra. Since early in the decade, it was common
for pop producers, songwriters, and engineers to freely experiment
with musical form, orchestration, unnatural reverb, and other sound
effects. Some of the best known examples are Phil Spector's Wall of
Sound and Joe Meek's use of homemade electronic sound effects for acts
like the Tornados. At the same time, pop music on radio and in
both American and British film moved away from refined Tin Pan Alley
to more eccentric songwriting and incorporated reverb-drenched rock
guitar, symphonic strings, and horns played by groups of properly
arranged and rehearsed studio musicians.
During the mid-1960s, pop music made repeated forays into new sounds,
styles, and techniques that inspired public discourse among its
listeners. The word "progressive" was frequently used, and it was
thought that every song and single was to be a "progression" from the
last. Music critic
Left, Michael Jackson; right, Madonna known respectively as the "King and Queen of Pop".
In the 1940s improved microphone design allowed a more intimate
singing style and ten or twenty years later, inexpensive and more
durable 45 r.p.m. records for singles "revolutionized the manner in
which pop has been disseminated". This helped to move pop music to 'a
record/radio/film star system'. Another technological change was
the widespread availability of television in the 1950s; with televised
performances, "pop stars had to have a visual presence". In the
1960s, the introduction of inexpensive, portable transistor radios
meant that First World teenagers could listen to music outside of the
— Bob Stanley
^ Traditional Pop, Allmusic.com. Retrieved 25 August 2016
^ a b c R. Middleton, et al., "Pop", Grove music online, retrieved 14
March 2010. (subscription required)
^ a b Gilliland, John (1969). "Show 1 - Play A Simple Melody: Pete
Seeger on the origins of pop music" (audio). Pop Chronicles.
University of North Texas Libraries.
^ a b c d e f g S. Frith, W. Straw, and J. Street, eds, The Cambridge
Companion to Pop and Rock (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press),
ISBN 0-521-55660-0, pp. 95–105.
^ D. Hatch and S. Millward, From
This "further reading" section may contain inappropriate and/or excessive suggestions. Please ensure that only a reasonable number of balanced, topical, reliable, and notable further reading suggestions are given. Consider utilising appropriate texts as inline sources or creating a separate bibliography article. (December 2016)
Adorno, Theodor W., (1942) "On Popular Music", Institute of Social
Bell, John L., (2000) The Singing Thing: A Case for Congregational
Song, GIA Publications, ISBN 1-57999-100-9
Bindas, Kenneth J., (1992) America's Musical Pulse: Popular Music in
Twentieth-Century Society, Praeger.
Clarke, Donald, (1995) The Rise and Fall of Popular Music, St Martin's
Dolfsma, Wilfred, (1999) Valuing Pop Music: Institutions, Values and
Dolfsma, Wilfred, (2004) Institutional Economics and the Formation of
Preferences: The Advent of Pop Music, Edward Elgar Publishing.
Frith, Simon, Straw, Will, Street, John, eds, (2001), The Cambridge
Companion to Pop and Rock, Cambridge University Press,
Frith, Simon (2004) Popular Music: Critical Concepts in Media and
Cultural Studies, Routledge.
Gillett, Charlie, (1970) The Sound of the City. The Rise of Rock and
Roll, Outerbridge & Dienstfrey.
Hatch, David and Stephen Millward, (1987), From
Wikiquote has quotations related to: Pop music
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Pop music.
The Consumption of Music and the Expression of Values: A Social Economic Explanation for the Advent of Pop Music, Wilfred Dolfsma, American Journal of Economics and Sociology, October 1999.
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