Why are some popular musical forms and performers universally reviled by critics and ignored by scholars-despite enjoying large-scale popularity? How has the notion of what makes "good" or "bad" music changed over the years-and what does this tell us about the writers who have assigned these tags to different musical genres? Many composers that are today part of the classical "canon" were greeted initially by bad reviews. Similarly, jazz, country, and pop musics were all once rejected as "bad" by the academy that now has courses on these and many other types of music. This book addresses why this is so through a series of essays on different musical forms and performers. It looks at alternate ways of judging musical performance beyond the critical/academic nexus, and suggests new paths to follow in understanding what makes some music "popular" even if it is judged to be "bad." For anyone who has ever secretly enjoyed ABBA, Kenny G, or disco, Bad Music will be a guilty pleasure!
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Chris Washburne is an Assistant Professor in the Music Department at Columbia University. He is also a trombonist who has played with major bands led by Tito Puente and Eddie Palmieri, and leads his own Latin-jazz group.
Maiken Derno holds a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in the Dept of Comparative Literature at the U of Copenhagen, and was a Fulbright Scholar at Columbia U from 1997-98. She also serves as an editor for Brondum Art Publishers, Copenhagen. They reside in New York City.
Every now and then a book comes along that is embedded in our collective cultural conscience that we rarely see publicly discussed. Bad Music: The Music We Love to Hate is such a volume.
–Laura J. Gray, University of Wartloo, Notes, September 2005
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