"Punk goes pop": a post-semiotic theory of gestural transformation as signifier of style, meaning, and authenticity

Upton, Robert John Peter (2017) "Punk goes pop": a post-semiotic theory of gestural transformation as signifier of style, meaning, and authenticity. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Abstract

The study of gesture offers a promising extension of semiotic theory. Naomi Cumming (2001), Robert Hatten (2004), and David Lidov (2005), and others have laid the foundations for a critical examination of gestures in music. Their work is, however, married to notated scores of the Western art music tradition: a fact that Giles Hooper (2013) regards as an ironic circling back towards music conceived through implicit analytical-structuralist assumptions.

In this thesis, I re-evaluate and develop current models of gesture into a theory of gestural transformation. I explore its practical applications as a tool for interpreting popular music by comparing two or more recorded performances of the same song to establish which alterations may transform perceptions of style, meaning, and authenticity. The small number of musicological studies that analyse recorded tracks are complicit in distorting the relative influence of particular musical features when defining musical meaning; these include analyses by David Brackett (2000) and Keir Keightley (2001). In confining discussion of the sonic artefact to readily definable aspects such as instrumentation, harmony and lyrics, these analyses oppose the common-sense view that musical meaning is contingent on the listener’s perceptual-imaginative interpretation of how a musical unit is performed.

To explore an alternative analytical method, I focus on case studies drawn from the "Punk Goes..." series of compilation albums, in which contemporary punk- rock artists re-record popular songs. These albums contain cover-versions by bands such as A Day To Remember, Woe, Is Me, and We Came As Romans, and demonstrate numerous approaches to creating a cover-version. This allows for a comprehensive application of the gestural transformation theory. The analyses

within this thesis challenge assumptions that equate musical phrases with fixed nodes of musical meaning, suggesting instead that the interpreted manner of performance is more significant than syntactical concerns. In addition, the analyses investigate a new concept of play that exposes the problems with established musicological taxonomies and plays a significant part in the construction of stylistic, subcultural, and personal authenticities.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Baragwanath, Nicholas
Adlington, Robert
Keywords: Gesture, semiotics, gestural transformation, punk rock, popular music, authenticity, covers, record production, music analysis, subcultures
Subjects: M Music and Literature on music > ML Literature of music
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Item ID: 43538
Depositing User: Upton, Robert
Date Deposited: 05 Sep 2017 07:31
Last Modified: 05 Sep 2017 07:40
URI: http://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/43538

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