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Between Montmartre and the Mudd Club (2002) - Bernard Gendron
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Gendron wants to examine the ways that successive bohemias have been the sites where what used to be called High and Low culture met and interacted in the modern era, ultimately producing our postmodern age where the very terms High and Low can seem so obsolete. He's specifically interested in the ways that hipsters and esthetes have interacted with and appropriated popular musics, from the "vulgar" cabaret songs of Paris through swing and bebop to the New York punk rock/new wave/no wave of the 1970s." --New York Press [Google cache]
The "postmodern" 1960s were by no means the first period in which the boundaries between popular music and high culture had been seriously challenged. Rock was not the first popular music to cross the divide between high and low. We need only recall the Jazz Age of the 1920s when the avant-gardes of Paris and Berlin were enthusiastically consuming jazz and attempting to assimilate its aesthetic into their own practices. --Between Montmartre and the Mudd Club (2002) - Bernard Gendron, page 2
Bernard Gendron is a professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. [May 2006]
Between Montmartre and the Mudd Club (2002) - Bernard GendronGendron (philosophy, Univ. of Wisconsin, Milwaukee; Technology and the Human Condition) here traces the interaction between "high" and "low" culture specifically, between modernist visual art and popular music from the cabarets of Paris's Montmartre district in the 1880s through New York City's "art after midnight" clubs in the late 1970s and early 1980s. In scrupulously documented detail, he examines the development of the elite/mass, art/pop dialectic within its social and historical context in the 20th century, such as the metamorphosis of jazz from Dixieland into bebop, incorporating modernist postures, and the metamorphosis of rock from the Beatles into punk and new wave, aided and abetted by Warhol and Waring. With unprecedented depth, detail, and dedication, Gendron illustrates how jazz and rock, once considered banal entertainment, came to be validated as art forms. The author's language and references to Foucault, Lyotard, and Adorno will make this book useful for all academic libraries, though it will be an especially valuable addition to popular culture collections. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, popular music was considered nothing but vulgar entertainment. Today, jazz and rock music are seen as forms of art, and their practitioners are regularly accorded a status on par with the cultural and political elite. To take just one recent example, Bono, lead singer and lyricist of the rock band U2, got equal and sometimes higher billing than Pope John Paul II on their shared efforts in the Jubilee 2000 debt-relief project.
When and how did popular music earn so much cultural capital? To find out, Bernard Gendron investigates five key historical moments when popular music and avant-garde art transgressed the rigid boundaries separating high and low culture to form friendly alliances. He begins at the end of the nineteenth century in Paris's Montmartre district, where cabarets showcased popular music alongside poetry readings in spaces decorated with modernist art works. Two decades later, Parisian poets and musicians "slumming" in jazz clubs assimilated jazz's aesthetics in their performances and compositions. In the bebop revolution in mid-1940s America, jazz returned the compliment by absorbing modernist devices and postures, in effect transforming itself into an avant-garde art form. Mid-1960s rock music, under the leadership of the Beatles, went from being reviled as vulgar music to being acclaimed as a cutting-edge art form. Finally, Gendron takes us to the Mudd Club in the late 1970s, where New York punk and new wave rockers were setting the aesthetic agenda for a new generation of artists. "Between Montmartre and the Mudd Club should be on the shelves of anyone interested in the intersections between high and lowculture, art and music, or history and aesthetics. --via Google books
During the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, popular music was considered vulgar entertainment. But today, jazz and rock music are seen as forms of art, and their lead practitioners are regularly accorded a status on a par with the cultural elite. When and how did popular music earn so much cultural capital? To find out, Bernard Gendron investigates five key historical moments when popular music and avant-garde art transgressed the rigid boundaries separating high and low culture to form friendly alliances. Covering cabarets, jazz, rock and roll, punk rock, and new wave, "Between Montmartre and the Mudd Club locates the historical points where music and high art collided. It is a book that should be on the shelves of anyone interested in the intersections between high and low culture, art and music, or history and aesthetics. --via Google books
Punk as the intellectuals' favorite
"Punk was always the intellectuals' favorite," says Bernard Gendron, a professor of philosophy at the University of Wisconsin at Milwaukee. "Academics were interested in punk from the start, in England especially. One of the first really classic texts in cultural studies from the early 1980s was Dick Hebdige's Subculture, which stressed the semiotics of punk -- trying to read the 'live' texts of punk clothing's signifiers, for example. In the United States, it was the art world that was really taken with punk." Mr. Gendron traces the movement's ambivalent relationship with high culture (and vice versa) in his recent book, Between Montmartre and the Mudd Club: Popular Music and the Avant-Garde (University of Chicago Press). -- Scott McLemee
Bernard Gendron interview
An interview with the author of Between Montmartre and the Mudd Club: Popular Music and the Avant-Garde
Molly Sheridan: Let's talk a little bit about what drew you to this topic. What was so interesting to you about researching the worlds of popular culture and the avant-garde?
Bernard Gendron: For me it involved a certain recycling of my interests, because I used to write about the philosophy of science and the philosophy of technology. It was really that, aesthetically speaking, I've always liked popular music. I've always thought that at least some of it was aesthetically very good, but of course I was surrounded, being in a university, with lots of people who thought it was pretty low or good entertainment but for dancing, etc. So really it's aesthetics that drove me onward. But the factor along with it that interested me a lot is how in the past century popular music, or at least certain kinds of popular music, really grew in respect or, I wouldn't say prestige, but that more and more of it was taken seriously as music. I wanted to see how this happened, how something that was once simply seen as vulgar—a nice entertainment on the side even for the people who were more sophisticated—how it came to be regarded as itself a kind of art music. That's really my main interest. You might call it the cultural triumph of popular music. The other thing that interested me—to my surprise because I'd always thought there'd been a lot of hostility between high culture and mass culture—but I was struck by the fact that since the mid-19th century, there have been recurrent engagements between high culture and popular music, very friendly engagements as in the case of the artistic cabarets of the late-19th century in Paris where on the same stage you had poets, you had paintings hung on the walls, and you had popular singers. So my book actually traces high moments in those interactions between so-called high and so-called low, but my objective is to see how the low in that process gradually acquired a certain kind of cultural status.
--http://www.newmusicbox.org/article.nmbx?id=3558, 2002 [May 2006]
See also: Bernard Gendron - nobrow - popular music - art music
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