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The Role of Accent in Popular Music: An Interdisciplinary Approach

Gibson, Ryan Markus (2015) The Role of Accent in Popular Music: An Interdisciplinary Approach. Masters thesis, University of Huddersfield.

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In the thirty years that have passed since Peter Trudgill first published his study of British pop-song pronunciation, and fifteen years since Paul Simpson published his follow-up study of accents in pop and rock singing (1999), there have been several changes in the way linguists approach the sociolinguistics of singing. These changes include Franz Andres Morissey's introduction of sonority as a factor behind choosing particular phonological features, and the ongoing and evolving criticism of Trudgill's original assertion that singers were (and possibly still are) trying to 'imitate' Americans. The present study argues that existing theories are insufficient, and proposes a new framework for dealing with phonological choice in song, centred around three separate but unavoidably interrelated values that influence style choice – aesthetic, sonority, and indexicality. Unlike many related studies, it places emphasis on the interdisciplinary nature of the subject, drawing upon the work of musicologists, philosophers and linguists, in an attempt to bring a fresh perspective on the phenomenon. Special attention is given to the notion that singers use accents to create (or be appropriate to) a particular aesthetic. The view is taken that music scenes act as unique speech communities that possess both socially and musically derived linguistic norms that all members accept (both performers and audience), but only few actively utilise in their language use (the singers).

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > M Music
Schools: School of Music, Humanities and Media
Depositing User: Elizabeth Boulton
Date Deposited: 20 Oct 2015 09:38
Last Modified: 30 Mar 2018 11:31


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