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The popularity of the motion picture soundtrack O Brother, Where Art Thou? brought an extraordinary amount of attention to bluegrass, but it also drew its share of criticism from some aficionados who felt the album's inclusion of more modern tracks misrepresented the genre. This soundtrack, these purists argued, wasn't bluegrass, but "roots music," a new and, indeed, more overarching category concocted by journalists and marketers. Why is it that popular music genres like these and others are so passionately contested? And how is it that these genres emerge, coalesce, change, and die out?

In Genre in Popular Music, Fabian Holt provides new understanding as to why we debate music categories, and why those terms are unstable and always shifting. To tackle the full complexity of genres in popular music, Holt embarks on a wide-ranging and ambitious collection of case studies. Here he examines not only the different reactions to O Brother, but also the impact of rock and roll's explosion in the 1950s and 1960s on country music and jazz, and how the jazz and indie music scenes in Chicago have intermingled to expand the borders of their respective genres. Throughout, Holt finds that genres are an integral part of musical culture—fundamental both to musical practice and experience and to the social organization of musical life.

Fabian Holt is associate professor of music and performance at the University of Roskilde.

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ISBN-10:  0226350398
ISBN-13:  978-0226350394
Author:  Fabian Holt
Genre:  Music History
Publisher:  University of Chicago Press
Date Published:  October 1, 2007
Format:  Hardcover
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review by . December 05, 2008
While conducting research for "Genre in Popular Music" author Fabian Holt was surprised to learn that most musicians rarely discuss or even think about this subject. According to his sources, this was a topic that was most commonly discussed by educators and writers. Yet, these same individuals were quite curious to learn what Holt had discovered while researching this book. They understood that how music gets categorized could have important consequences for their careers. As a collector …
Genre In Popular Music
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