When Genres Collide: Down Beat, Rolling Stone, and the Struggle between Jazz and Rock

When Genres Collide: Down Beat, Rolling Stone, and the Struggle between Jazz and Rock

Product details


  • Full Title: When Genres Collide: Down Beat, Rolling Stone, and the Struggle between Jazz and Rock
  • Autor: Matt Brennan
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Academic; Hardback edition
  • Publication Date: February 23, 2017
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1501326147
  • ISBN-13: 978-1501326141
  • Download File Format | Size: pdf | 3,89 Mb


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When Genres Collide is a provocative history that rethinks the relationship between jazz and rock through the lens of the two oldest surviving and most influential American popular music periodicals: Down Beat and Rolling Stone. Writing in 1955, Duke Ellington argued that the new music called rock ‘n’ roll “is the most raucous form of jazz, beyond a doubt.” So why did jazz and rock subsequently become treated as separate genres?

The rift between jazz and rock (and jazz and rock scholarship) is based on a set of received assumptions about their fundamental differences, but there are other ways popular music history could have been written. By offering a fresh examination of key historical moments when the trajectories and meanings of jazz and rock intersected, overlapped, or collided, it reveals how music critics constructed an ideological divide between jazz and rock that would be replicated in American musical discourse for decades to follow.


Editorial Reviews



“Matt Brennan looks to the music press of the 1950s and 60s, … [in doing so] revealing a tangled relationship between jazz and what would become rock.” – The Wire

“Based on Brennan’s doctoral research, the tone is learned but not turgid. This man has read serious truckloads of music magazines. Helluva job and he’s the man to do it.” – Jazzwise

“This book is a must read for both students and boffins of criticism, popular music and the social politics that accompanied it.” – London Jazz News

When Genres Collide is most interesting in the way it explains and discusses how the journalistic coverage of each genre tried, mostly unsuccessfully, to incorporate the other. … Brennan unmasks the history, and while it often seems like little common ground was found, it’s enlightening to read about how each side tried.” –Under the Radar

“…if you love learning not just about music and the lives of its creators, but also the framework in which music is discussed and understood (and I’m guessing that describes many Pitchfork readers), this book is for you. In the broadest sense, Brennan’s book is an overview of trends in American popular music criticism in the 20th century. Focusing on the most significant jazz publication of the century (Down Beat) and the one that popularized rock and pop criticism in the U.S. (Rolling Stone), Brennan digs deep to find what was valued and when, how distinctions between genres were drawn, what was held up as “art music” (in the 1940s, bebop; in the ’70s, guitar-based rock) and what was dismissed as merely “dance music” (in the ’40s, early R&B; in the ’70s, disco). Decade by decade, Brennan shows how the assumptions that guide our understanding of musical quality developed, and, in a fascinating tangent, he even uncovers who may have been the first “poptimist” critic: Down Beat’s first R&B columnist, the pioneering but now forgotten Ruth Cage.” – Pitchfork


About the Author


Matt Brennan is Reader in Popular Music at the University of Glasgow, UK.

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