[ Insert Website Name Here ]     |     home


 [1] The basic importance of standardization has not altogether escaped the attention of current literature on popular music. "The chief difference between a popular song and a standard, or serious, song like 'Mandalay,' 'Sylvia,' or 'Trees,' is that the melody and the Iyric of a popular number are constructed within a definite pattern or structural form, whereas the poem, or Iyric, of a standard number has no structural confinements, and the music is free to interpret ~he meaning and feeling of the words without following a set pattern or form. Putting it another way, the popular song is 'custom built,' while the standard song allows the composer freer play of imagination and interpretation." Abner Silver and Robert Bruce, How to Wvite and Sel/ a Song Hit (New York, 1939), p.2. The authors fail, however, to realize the externally superimposed, commercial character of those patterns which aims at canalized reactions or, in the language of the regular announcement of one particular radio program, at "easy listening." They confuse the mechanical patterns with highly organized, strict art forms: "Certainly there are few more stringent verse forms in poetry than the sonnet, and yet the greatest poets of all time have woven undying beauty within its small and limited frame. A composer has just as much opportunity for exhibiting his talent and genius in popular songs as in more serious music" (pp. 2-3). Thus the standard pattern of popular music appears to them virtually on the same level as the law of a fugue. It is this contamination which makes the insight into the basic standardization of popular music sterile. It ought to be added that what Silver and Bruce call a "standard song" is just the opposite of what we mean by a standardized popular song.

 [2] See Max Horkheimer, Zeitschrift fur Sozialforschung 8 ( 1939), p. 115.

 [3] The attitude of distraction is not a completely universal one. Particularly youngsters who invest popular music with their own feelings are not yet completely blunted to all its effects. The whole problem of age levels with regard to popular music, however, is beyond the scope of the present study. Demographic problems, too, must remain out of consideration.

no copyright 2001  - no rights reserved