Postmodernism and Music

While I was reading the chapter entitled “Post” from Nealon and Giroux’s “The Theory Toolbox”, I stumbled across a very intriguing quote: “Maybe all this suggests a postmodern insistence on process rather than a product: A “postmodern” cultural artifact is one that consistently questions itself and the context that it seems to fit within. Perhaps, preliminarily, we could say that postmodern cultural artifacts are constantly calling attention to the ways in which both the work and the viewer are constructing, deconstructing, and reconstructing meaning” (TT 141). This quote really resonated with me and gave me a much better understanding of what postmodernism may be (if there is any sort of understanding of what postmodernism actually is). Perhaps postmodernism is the fact that the product does indeed recognize the process that took place in order for the product to take shape. With this being said, my favorite aspect of life came into mind: music. When I think of music, I think of a long process that incorporates every aspect of life. First, you start with the actual music, then the lyrics, and so on. Once you are finished making a song, you end up with something that is a reflection of life; it may be about a past relationship or riding a motorcycle, but, in the grand scheme of everything, it is just life put into sound. And I think that there is a postmodern quality to being a musician because you have to recognize the fact that you are a musician: you have to recognize the process of making music and this has to come through your music. If you recognize that you are a musician, then the viewer is forced to recognize this fact. Alabama Shakes song “Sound and Color” is a great example of a song that definitely falls under the category “postmodern”. This song realizes that music is a source of sound and color that is able to reinvigorate a world, a life that has become distant and strange in this day and age. Take a listen.

2 Responses to Postmodernism and Music

  1. youngdw January 31, 2016 at 9:30 pm #

    I like what you said about music, Andrew. As someone who listens to most of my music emotionally, I can totally see music as putting life into sound. I always pay attention to the lyrics of a song and how they go along with the music, and I imagine an aspect of my life in relation to what I’m listening to. I’ve heard people say that you can tell what type of person someone is from what music they listen to. If someone were to try to figure me out by listening to my music collection, it would be pretty accurate. I also like how you left an interpretation of postmodernism to other possibilities. As someone who enjoys postmodernist literature, even I have trouble at grasping what it truly is at times.

  2. Prof VZ February 7, 2016 at 1:26 pm #

    I’d like to hear more about how the song / video is postmodern, how it is, in some ways, “about” music rather than being a song about something else. How does the song emphasize its own construction or its own materiality? Or reflect its own process? Any ideas?

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