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Cultures of Listening: The popular aesthetics of 'difficult music'.

Atton, Chris


Chris Atton


Difficulty and complexity are values most often associated with a modernist avant-garde of ‘serious’ music. Their presence in popular music tends to attract the opprobrium of critics who seek to maintain a purity for popular music founded on values of authenticity, sincerity and directness of expression. In my presentation I will explore the critical discourse of audiences for difficult music in popular culture, such as avant-rock, Noise and free improvisation. I will show how and where audiences listen to and derive pleasure from music that sits on the intersection between the popular and the avant-garde. Rather than engage in arid exercises in intellectualism, which is how many critics might expect such audiences to behave, fans of the popular avant-garde encounter difficulty and complexity through a fertile variety of social situations, interpretations and aesthetic judgements.

Presentation Conference Type Presentation / Talk
Start Date Oct 2, 2013
End Date Oct 2, 2013
Publication Date Oct 2, 2013
Deposit Date Oct 2, 2013
Peer Reviewed Not Peer Reviewed
Keywords Popular music; audience response; listening; cultural discourse; avant-rock; Noise; free improvisation;
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