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Sweet AirModernism, Regionalism, and American Popular Song$
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Edward P. Comentale

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780252037399

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252037399.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM ILLINOIS SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.illinois.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Illinois University Press, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in ISO for personal use.date: 15 October 2019

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Chapter:
(p.205) Chapter Five (   )
Source:
Sweet Air
Author(s):

Edward P. Comentale

Publisher:
University of Illinois Press
DOI:10.5406/illinois/9780252037399.003.0006

This chapter concerns the formal silence that pervades pop music in the late modern era, which both allows for greater experimentation in music and preserves, in the face of complete commercial appropriation, the utopian possibility of some more subtle form of engagement with modernity. It argues that Buddy Holly's music represents the moment when popular music became “pop music,” and moreover that both John Cage and Holly pursued silence to the point of freeing song (and specifically lyrical song) from the expressive demands of identity and tradition. The chapter then draws from Jacques Derrida's Speech and Phenomena to show that Holly's vocals work via a process of “indication” rather than “expression” and thus point toward the very world that they fail to name or include. Finally, this chapter links Holly's music—and pop music in general—to the Pop Art movement of the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Keywords:   pop music, late modern era, Buddy Holly, John Cage, Jacques Derrida, Speech and Phenomena, popular music, formal silence, Pop Art movement, modernity

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