Smith, Adam (2012) The Influence of Literature in 1960s British Popular Music: Approaches to Popular Composition. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

There is a noticeable influence of literature and literary techniques in the popular music songs of the countercultural period in Britain (1965-71). These dates, as noted by Jonathon Green, characterize the beginning of the UK countercultural movement of the 1960s, culminating with the 1971 trial of the OZ magazine, which Green regards as marking the end of the period (1999).

There are three main questions that this project explores. In what ways did songwriters of the era use literature as an inspiration in the compositional process? How can literary influenced songwriting techniques be used and extended in contemporary popular composition? How useful are these techniques and the extensions of these techniques in the compositional process?

This project investigates the influence of literature on the songwriters of the era by analysing relevant song examples and subsequently inventing systematic forms that songwriters today can use as a basis for composition. A portfolio of original compositions is included, which demonstrates various approaches to composition that abide by the systematic forms, which stem from the literary influence of the 1960s songwriters. This project makes a contribution to our knowledge and understanding of popular music, as the influence of literature, especially the application of literary techniques in the compositional process, is a subject that has not been researched previously in any great depth. The abundance of available literary techniques and the possibilities for the invention of techniques is an exciting prospect when applied to popular composition.

After highlighting certain issues such as the homogeneity of songwriters and poets, a brief contextual background is given concerning 1960s counterculture and popular music. A taxonomy of systematic forms is created, into which are placed literary influenced techniques used by songwriters such as Syd Barrett and John Lennon, illustrated by a number of examples. Explanations of the original compositions included in the portfolio highlight the attributes of various songwriting approaches and conclusions are drawn that look into the differing levels of constraint and artistic intuition and how these factors affect the compositional process.

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