- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1 edition (December 9, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0195310241
- ISBN-13: 978-0195310245
- Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 1.1 x 6.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 5 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #790,618 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Foundations of Rock: From "Blue Suede Shoes" to "Suite: Judy Blue Eyes" 1st Edition
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"A wide-ranging presentation of rock's fundamental elements compiled lovingly by a committed scholar with deep knowledge of the repertory." --Journal of the Society for American Music
"One to find space for in the curriculum, since it provides the basis for systematic work on popular music before and after its stated period." --Music Analysis
About the Author
Walter Everett is Professor of Music and Chair of the Department of Music Theory at The University of Michigan. He is author of The Beatles as Musicians: Revolver through the Anthology (OUP, 1999) and The Beatles as Musicians: The Quarry Men through Rubber Soul (OUP, 2001).
Top customer reviews
That said, there are a few things I could wish were different. Not all of them are the book's fault; some of them are just a matter of scope. One book can't do everything. But for the sake of context:
* I wish the analysis could have gone beyond the sixties. It makes sense to stop there--that's the real "common practice period" for rock, after which a lot of things changed (prog rock and various underground scenes in the seventies, and then with punk, post-punk and hiphop things started to really diversify). There's a lot more work to do. But you can only do so much in one book.
* Everett definitely starts from a standard music theoretical understanding of things like chord progressions, root movement, cadences and so on. This is absolutely bog-standard theory, developed through the common practice period of Western art music right through midcentury Tin Pan Alley songwriting. The trouble is, rock (and other blues-based forms) in many ways breaks the common practice mold, even inverts it in some ways. This has been pretty persuasively argued by Ken Stephenson (whose book "What to Listen For In Rock," available on Amazon, I recommend unreservedly) and Philip Tagg (whose "Analysing Popular Music: Theory, Method and Practice" can be found by googling). Everett doesn't really take this school of thought on systematically, and it would have been great to see what someone so thoughtful would have to say about it.
* The book is not always as easy to read as it could have been. The early chapters, on drums, guitars, keyboards and so on, are just kind of a catalog of instruments and the noises they can make. I'm not sure who the audience is for that, but if it has to be there for the sake of completeness, it could be better structured. There are fascinating discussions later that are hard to follow just because they don't have much structure (for instance, where Everett discusses periods, open phrase groups, bar forms and so on as ways sections are structured, it's a little hard to figure out exactly which thing he's talking about at times). But if you're willing to work at it a bit, there is so much great stuff in there to be found.
* From my standpoint, there are some idiosyncratic notation decisions that make it a little difficult to read. For instance, what I (and many musicians) known as (dominant) seventh chords are written as (something)m7, that is, as a major chord with a minor third on top, which is quite true but at odds with what I'm used to--I usually see C7, Cm7, Cmaj7 where Everett would use Cm7, cm7 and CM7. Not wrong, but nonstandard in my musical world.
So: needs to be read critically and actively to really get the most out of it, but highly recommended. Indispensable really. Let's hope that there are lots more books of this quality to be written about rock and pop music.
I've also read both volumes of 'The Beatles as Musicians'. I would rate those with five stars as well, but this book is probably more accessible.