IIPC Debate 3 May

IIPC Debate 115, Tuesday 3.5. 14-16, Arcanum 3rd floor, room A355/357 (Arcanuminkuja 1, University of Turku). Also online: https://utu.zoom.us/j/63586646433, Passcode: 009540

Words, words, words: reflections on a life in music journalism

Professor Emeritus Simon Frith (University of Edinburgh)

The usual story of popular music journalism is a familiar narrative of rise and fall, from emergence in the 1950s to decline in the 2000s.  But this reflects the experience of a particular kind of music journalist, the rock critic.  In this talk I start from a different perspective: making and listening to music always involves conversations.  We need, then, to consider the supply and demand of words about music and how such words are shaped. What kinds of words are needed?  What are their effects?  Why and how do they change? In exploring these questions I will draw on my own experiences of music commerce, the publishing industry, fandom, radio listening, gig going and the academy.

Simon Frith held the Tovey Chair of Music at the University of Edinburgh from 2005-2017, the culmination of an academic career that started out with a PhD in Sociology.  He combined his academic work with journalism, writing for a variety of magazines and newspapers in the UK and the USA.  He was the first rock critic of the London Sunday Times and chaired the judges of the Mercury Music Prize from 1992-2016. He contributed the chapter ‘Writing about Popular Music’ to The Cambridge History of Music Criticism.

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