Musical Borrowing
An Annotated Bibliography

Individual record

[+] Hung, Eric. “Hearing Emerson, Lake, and Palmer Anew: Progressive Rock as ‘Music of Attraction.’” Current Musicology 79-80 (2005): 245-59.

Progressive rock, a loose label for music which combines elements of rock and roll with those of various forms of art music from around the world, has in the past been viewed by critics and scholars as being most successful (or most appalling) when elements of “high” and “low” culture are synthesized. However, Emerson, Lake, and Palmer’s popular “free transcription” of Pictures at an Exhibition by Modest Mussorgsky frequently shifts between different styles, suggesting that its success is due not to stylistic synthesis but an “ever-changing, channel-surfing quality.” Pictures at an Exhibition, which was played at every Emerson, Lake, and Palmer concert from 1970 to 1988, allowed fans to react to the changes in texture as they happened, dancing when it was appropriate and cheering when Emerson would destroy his organ in the final “Great Gate of Kiev” movement. These fans showed an interest in being “present” at concerts, enjoying each subjective moment as it happens now, like the counter-cultural hippies from the 1960s. This is related to Susan Sontag’s call in “Against Interpretation” for greater focus on “presentness” in art criticism, and to Tom Gunning’s “cinema of attractions” concept, which states that in films before 1908 the audience’s focus was not on the plot narrative but on the moment-to-moment spectacle.

Works: Emerson, Lake, and Palmer: Pictures at an Exhibition (247-53).

Sources: Mussorgsky: Pictures at an Exhibition (247-53).

Index Classifications: 1900s, Popular

Contributed by: Nathan Landes

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Musical Borrowing and Reworking - - 2024
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