Beautiful Monsters: Imagining the Classic in Musical Media / Edition 1

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Beautiful Monsters explores the ways in which "classical" music made its way into late twentieth-century American mainstream culture - in pop songs, movie scores, and print media. Beginning in the 1960s, Michael Long's entertaining and illuminating book surveys a complex cultural field and draws connections between "classical music" (as the phrase is understood in the United States) and selected "monster hits" of popular music. Addressing such wide-ranging subjects as surf music, Yiddish theater, Hollywood film scores, Freddie Mercury, Alfred Hitchcock, psychedelia, rap, disco, and video games, Long proposes a holistic musicology in which disparate musical elements might be brought together in dynamic and humane conversation. Beautiful Monsters considers the ways in which critical commonplaces like nostalgia, sentiment, triviality, and excess might be applied with greater nuance to musical media and media reception. It takes into account twentieth-century media's capacity to suggest visual and acoustical depth and the redemptive possibilities that lie beyond the surface elements of filmic narrative or musical style, showing us what a truly global view of late twentieth-century music in its manifold cultural and social contexts might be like.
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Editorial Reviews

American Music Teacher - Ellen Flint
“This extraordinary work demands and deserves to be read and re-read, time and again, for the ideas presented here are innovative, thought provoking, and among the freshest and most exciting to emerge in recent years.”
Choice - C. A. Traupman-Carr
“Extremely well written and thought-provoking.”
Journal Of The Society For American Music (Jsam)
“At the heart of this brilliant . . . book is an aesthetic vision of what classical music has come to mean.”
Journal Of Musicological Research
“Long has succeeded in that most welcome of humanistic scholarly achievements: to take a much-studied and familiar thing and find an original and persuasive way to see it, to hear it, and to understand it.”
Popular Music
“Beautiful Monsters is…doubly significant; it not only problematises the boundary between popular music and classical music, but also questions the disciplinary boundary between popular music studies and musicology.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520257207
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 10/2/2008
  • Series: California Studies in 20th-Century Music Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Michael Long is Associate Professor of Musicology at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York.

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Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Pt. 1 Registering the Classic

1 The Expressive Vernacular 11

2 Making Overtures 44

3 Yiddishkeit and the Musical Ethics of Cinema 73

Pt. 2 Envisioning the Classic

4 Hearing Monsters 109

5 The Fantastic, the Picturesque, and the Dimensions of Nostalgia 121

6 Listening in Dark Places 157

7 Concertos, Symphonies, Rhapsodies (and an Opera) 196

Conclusion: Sitting Down with Mnemosyne 233

Notes 241

Selected Bibliography 287

Index 299

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