Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pg. 99: Jennifer C. Lena's "Banding Together"

Today's feature at the Page 99 Test: Banding Together: How Communities Create Genres in Popular Music by Jennifer C. Lena.

About the book, from the publisher:
Why do some music styles gain mass popularity while others thrive in small niches? Banding Together explores this question and reveals the attributes that together explain the growth of twentieth-century American popular music. Drawing on a vast array of examples from sixty musical styles--ranging from rap and bluegrass to death metal and South Texas polka, and including several created outside the United States--Jennifer Lena uncovers the shared grammar that allows us to understand the cultural language and evolution of popular music.

What are the common economic, organizational, ideological, and aesthetic traits among contemporary genres? Do genres follow patterns in their development? Lena discovers four dominant forms--Avant-garde, Scene-based, Industry-based, and Traditionalist--and two dominant trajectories that describe how American pop music genres develop. Outside the United States there exists a fifth form: the Government-purposed genre, which she examines in the music of China, Serbia, Nigeria, and Chile. Offering a rare analysis of how music communities operate, she looks at the shared obstacles and opportunities creative people face and reveals the ways in which people collaborate around ideas, artworks, individuals, and organizations that support their work.
Learn more about the book and author at Jennifer C. Lena's website.

Jennifer C. Lena is a Visiting Assistant Professor at Barnard College in New York. A classical music composition that Lena helped to commission (“Hilos” by Alias Chamber Music Ensemble and Gabriela Lena Frank) was nominated for a 2012 Grammy Award for Best Small Ensemble Performance.

The Page 99 Test: Banding Together.

--Marshal Zeringue