Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Covach, John R. "The Rutles and the Use of Specific Models in Musical Satire." Indiana Theory Review 11 (1990): 119-44.

The 1978 NBC "docudrama," The Rutles: All You Need Is Cash, is a humorous satire of the music and history of the Beatles. According to Schopenhauer, an amused reaction arises as a response to the "recognition of incongruity between a representation and a concept." Thus, for a listener to experience an amused response to musical satire, he or she must possess "stylistic competencies" that allow for the recognition of the congruity-incongruity dialectic in the music. The fictitious Rutles's Hold My Hand is modeled on three Beatles songs, and it incorporates elements of lyrics, pitch, rhythm, harmony and instrumentation from the sources. Evidence of modeling in Ouch!, a parody of the Beatles' song, Help!, is found in instrumentation and in formal and harmonic similarities to the source. The harmonic parallelism is such that a dialogue between Ouch! and Help! emerges, which is facilitated by diminution of the model's harmonic rhythm and partial reordering of the harmonic progression. Leonard Meyer's theory of style, in combination with the semiotic theory of intertextuality, can become a powerful analytic device in explaining musical satire. The humor arises from the listener's recognition of the model and the clever alterations and juxtapositions of the original material. This recognition must take place on three different levels of specificity: dialectic or general style (e.g., British invasion), individual idiom (e.g., early Beatles style), and intraopus style or the style within a single work (e.g., the style of Help!).

Works: Neil Innes: Hold My Hand (124-32), Ouch! (133-37).

Sources: John Lennon and Paul McCartney: I Want to Hold Your Hand (124-32), She Loves You (124-32), All My Loving (124-32), Help! (133-37).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Popular, Film

Contributed by: Victoria Malawey, Sarah Florini

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