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Categorizing SoundGenre and Twentieth-Century Popular Music$
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David Brackett

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780520248717

Published to California Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520248717.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM CALIFORNIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.california.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of California Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CALSO for personal use.date: 26 June 2022



They Never Even Knew

(p.1) 1 Introduction
Categorizing Sound

David Brackett

University of California Press

This chapter examines the concept of genre through an array of theoretical lenses. The first point is that music genres are relational: they are defined by their similarity to and difference from other genres. The chapter then advocates for a genealogical approach to history, with an emphasis on the conditions of a genre’s emergence. Other concepts explored are the importance of scale or level in understanding how genres function as assemblages; that authorship in genres arises from collective dialogue among participants in a “genre world”; and that genre functions through repetition and difference in a process of iteration or citation. The latter half of the chapter proposes a model for a range of possible relationships between musical categories and group identities. The chapter closes with a discussion of the importance of “crossover” for understanding music-identity relations, and of the role that music industry popularity charts will play in the book.

Keywords:   genre, genealogy, historicism, authorship, assemblage, iterative, crossover, popularity charts

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